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first_imgSpeaking at the opening of the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO’s) Air Transport Conference at the Guyana Conference Centre at Liliendaal on 21 November 2018, Caricom Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, said the Caribbean Community (Caricom) is seeking to re-introduce the single security check for direct transit passengers on multi-stop intra-community flights. He said this will no doubt be “a welcome initiative for regional travellers.”High-level officials at the Opening Ceremony of the ICAO Air Transport Conference in GuyanaCaricom had successfully implemented a single security check initiative during the Region’s hosting of the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2007. That arrangement has since been put on pause, and intra-regional travellers making transit stops are required to go through security checks until they reach their final destination.Secretary-General LaRocque told the meeting that under the auspices of the Caribbean Aviation Safety and Security Oversight System (CASSOS), work will soon commence on the development of a regional policy through which the single security check would enhance travellers’ experience in the Region and minimise inconvenience.Formally launched in 2009, CASSOS has been facilitating growth and development of the regional aviation sector through training; resource sharing; and harmonisation of policies and procedures, among other areas.CASSOS member states seek to uphold the highest standards of safety and security in aviation, as determined by the rules and regulations of the ICAO, the Secretary-General told the meeting.He said the actions Caricom has been taking were not limited to its domestic situation, but were also in pursuit of enhancing global transportation links, with consequent benefit flowing to the regional tourism product.In this regard, he said, a consultancy has been launched to formulate a regional airlift policy and strategy; with technical reviews, analytical work, and stakeholder consultations in member states already undertaken.The objective of the regional airlift policy and strategy, Ambassador LaRocque said, is to harmonise aviation policies in the Community, and support the expansion of the tourism sector as a major contributor to the sustainable growth of member states.Noting that those objectives have key linkages with the objectives of the Air Transport Conference, he said the presence of the Honourable Joseph Kofi Adda, Minister of Aviation of Ghana; and Her Excellency Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy of the African Union Commission, presents an opportunity to explore possibilities for air links and consequent increase in travel among the African diaspora.The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) conference has advanced the outcome of a special event on promoting air links between African states and the diaspora which was held in Accra, Ghana in 2017.Emphasising the conference’s vast potential for improving tourism and trade linkages between the African continent and Caricom member states, the Secretary-General encouraged the meeting to advance those prospects.Dr Amani Abou-Zeid, in her remarks at the opening of the Conference, invited Ambassador LaRocque to discuss connecting the Caribbean and the African continent. Underscoring the immense potential of this collaboration, she said Africa’s population is expected to double to 2.5 billion people by 2020, and the African diaspora is estimated at more than 150 million, with 23 million in the Caribbean alone.Noting the need for follow-up on this discussion, which began in 2014, she said, “Aviation provides a critical infrastructure link for the promotion of tourism between the Caribbean and the continent, and for linking the people of the Caribbean to the motherland.”last_img read more


first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant In recent months, Villaraigosa has cited the expected budget shortfall for decisions ranging from rejecting some city unions’ salary demands to continuing to send the city’s trash to Sunshine Canyon Landfill. While the budget’s structural deficit – the difference between revenue and spending – is currently estimated at $270 million to $295 million, the Mayor’s Office projects that it could grow to $450 million by 2010. The surge would be fueled mainly by increasing pension and health care costs, while pending legislative and legal actions could drastically reduce the city’s revenue from utility taxes and communications franchises. City Councilman Dennis Zine added that rising prices for construction materials has tacked millions of dollars onto the cost of many projects. This week, for example, officials said the cost of new police headquarters will jump to more than $340 million – a $37 million increase. “Every time we … get into a program, we budget one (thing), and we end up with multiple times what it’s scheduled to be,” Zine said. Villaraigosa said budget totals escalated after more than 1,000 city positions were added in the 2002 fiscal year budget. Right after its adoption, the situation was dramatically changed by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the lingering damage of the technology collapse, state government raids on local funds and skyrocketing costs for health care, workers’ compensation and employee pensions. There also was a $110 million price tag for the Rampart police corruption scandal and resulting federal court consent decree. Critics on Wednesday, however, seized on the fact that, despite the troubles, city government has been able to turn in a balanced budget for each fiscal year through the current one. “This city has predicted deficits and banked massive surpluses for 10 years running, and they will do so again,” said Robert Aquino, executive director of the Engineers and Architects Association, an employee union that has been agitating for a contract equal to a lucrative deal approved last year for Department of Water and Power workers. But Villaraigosa said there is no surplus, just the appearance of fiscal health achieved through budgetary gimmicks. “Even though we’ve been operating at a deficit, we’ve created the fiction that in fact we have a balanced budget,” he said. The mayor accused past city officials of using short-term revenue sources, such as borrowed money and the sale of city-owned properties, to prop up the annual budget. Villaraigosa repeatedly referred to his “inherited” deficit, even though he spent two years on the City Council before becoming mayor. Former Mayor James Hahn could not be reached for comment. Jack Kyser, chief economist at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, compared past city budgeting practices to those that led to the state’s economic crisis. “It’s been: Let’s see how we can paper it over this year and not look at the longer-range situation,” Kyser said. Villaraigosa said he would not rely on such practices to make it appear the budget is sound. In one concrete step, he said he will stop the practice of taking what city officials call a “supplemental transfer” of money from the DWP. Each year the DWP sends 5 percent of gross water revenues and 7 percent of gross power revenues – $185 million combined for fiscal 2006 – to the city’s general fund. But from 2003 to 2006, city officials used a legal loophole to take an extra $104 million, which, according to Villaraigosa, masked a structural deficit and put pressure on the utility to raise rates. Jim Alger, president of the Northridge West Neighborhood Council and a vocal advocate for DWP ratepayers, called the mayor’s move a step in the right direction. “There’s an argument to be made for the annual transfer, but the supplemental transfer you never can make a good argument for,” Alger said. Villaraigosa said that before making cuts in municipal services that will directly affect residents, he will see how much can be saved through increased efficiency. The mayor has asked every general manager to find overlapping and ineffective programs to be trimmed, and he has begun implementing some fiscal recommendations from Controller Laura Chick’s audits. Villaraigosa cited his recent move, inspired by Chick, to use $5 million of an underutilized $21 million recreation and parks fund to pay for part of the costly renovation of city pools, including pools in Canoga Park and Northridge. The mayor might be able to balance the budget with such incremental steps, but only if revenues stay strong and officials hold the line on personnel costs, said Councilman Bernard Parks. “All of these pieces are things that are doable, but they’re tough decisions, and every time you squeeze the balloon, it pops out somewhere else,” said Parks, who chairs the council’s budget committee. An example of the challenge was on clear display at City Hall on Wednesday, when almost a dozen employees of the Information Technology Agency did not show up for work in a purported attempt to draw attention to a contract dispute by stymieing the City Council meeting. Information Technology General Manager Thera Bradshaw said the employees will be asked to explain their absences, while City Clerk Frank Martinez said the council meeting was not affected. Aquino, whose Engineers and Architects Association represents many workers in the agency, said there was no official labor action. “If members are not showing up, it’s because members are unhappy with being treated the way they’re treated,” he said. Dan Laidman, (213) 978-0390 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Facing a budget deficit that has ballooned to nearly $300 million, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa vowed Wednesday to eliminate the massive shortfall in five years even if it means slashing public services, hiking fees or laying off city workers. In his first extensive comments on the coming year’s budget, set for release in April, the mayor said he hopes to avoid such drastic measures by finding efficiencies and slowing government growth. But he acknowledged that that might be hard to achieve in city government’s $5.98 billion operating budget. “We’re looking at a crisis here in the city if we continue spending the way we have in the past and (do) not make some tough decisions,” Villaraigosa said. Villaraigosa was short on specifics, saying details will emerge in the coming weeks as this year’s revenues come in and the budget proposal takes shape. last_img read more