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Avellon Williams 

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO- Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Rowley, informed the nation that it had been selected for funding by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which he referred to as “not insignificant”.

The announcement was made by Dr. Rowley at a news conference he hosted yesterday at the Piarco International Airport as he returned from Guyana.

“Today I have been advised that we are lucky to be identified for a not-insignificant share of some funding to be made available from the Bill Gates Foundation. I spoke to the Secretary-General of the United Nations who has identified us for that gift that we will accept and put to good use in T&T,” Dr. Rowley said.

While discussing other subjects, Dr. Rowley did not elaborate on what qualified T&T for the funds or what the amount of it would be.

As part of its mission and name (which remain unchanged despite the split between Bill and Melinda), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation strives to help people live healthy, productive lives in developing countries, where it seeks to alleviate poverty and hunger and improve people’s health.

Bill Gates and Melinda Gates /Image, CL/

At the helm of the company is Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, and one of the world’s wealthiest men.

Dr. Rowley noted that Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana have good relations, and he also says he has good relationships with Guyana’s Vice-President, Bharrat Jagdeo, who earlier this year drew attention when he said the economy of T&T was “falling apart.”

“He will tell you and I will tell you we get along very well,” Dr. Rowley said.

Rowley said the concerns raised by Guyana’s business chamber about non-tariff barriers were a result of their desire for the best for their country.

In the event that barriers are not hurting T&T’s economy, then the Treaty of Chaguaramas concerning trade should take precedence if the interests of both the Caricom and the free market are to prevail.

“I have been in Guyana for a week and I’ve had nothing but a warm welcome and a clear understanding and enthusiasm from the government and people of Guyana,” he said.

In addition, Trinidad and Tobago continues to work with Guyana’s energy sector, and the National Helicopter Service has just confirmed its third contract to service Repsol’s offshore fields in Guyana, Dr.Rowley said.

/Image, WR/

Additionally, the prime minister indicated the month of June will be very busy for Trinidad and Tobago and Caricom.

Dr. Rowley said he would participate in the Summit of the Americas from June 6 to June 10 in Los Angeles, and that the majority of Caricom members will attend.

Dr. Rowley noted that Caricom had criticized the United States’ position towards Cuba, but now that the US has made some concessions, it felt that the region needs to address important issues.

As well as participating at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference in Rwanda beginning on June 21, Dr. Rowley said a T&T contingent led by Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Amery Browne would vote for Jamaican Foreign Affairs Minister Kamina Johnson Smith as Commonwealth Secretary-General.

/Image, CW/

In lieu of participating in CHOGM, Dr. Rowley will attend a world summit in London on June 21 and 22 organized by the European Union to discuss development issues that concern T&T and the region.

Along with Belize’s Prime Minister John Briceno, he’ll represent Caricom along with the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness.

In addition to the leaders of EU countries, the President of the United States of America, and the leaders of Asian countries, three Latin American leaders are scheduled to attend.

“So June is a very busy month for me, T&T, and Caricom because significant decision-making is to be had,” Dr. Rowley said.

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Avellon Williams

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