Gates Foundation Offering Funds to Trinidad & Tobago

Bill Gates
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T&T Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has announced that Trinidad and Tobago has been chosen to receive funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which he described as “not-insignificant”.

Dr Rowley made the announcement at a news conference he hosted at the Piarco International Airport on his return to T&T from Guyana yesterday.

“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.

Dr Rowley, however, did not expound on what qualified T&T for the funds and what the amount of it would be as he went on to discuss other matters.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (which retained its name and mission despite the split between Bill and Melinda) works to help people lead healthy, productive lives and particularly in developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty.

At its helm is one of the world’s richest men, billionaire Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

Relations between T&T, Guyana good

As he addressed a wide range of topics, Dr Rowley noted that relations between Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana are good and said he also had good relations with Guyana’s Vice-President Bharrat Jagdeo, who had raised the ire of some when he described T&T’s economy as “falling apart” earlier this year.

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

He said the concerns raised by Guyana’s business chamber on the non-tariff barriers were a case of their business community wanting the best for their country.

He said that as long as barriers do not hurt T&T’s economy and added that the Treaty of Chaguaramas regarding trade should take precedence if the interests of Caricom and the interests of the free market and economy 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.

He added that Trinidad and Tobago continues to work with Guyana’s energy sector and that the National Helicopter Service has confirmed its third contract to service the offshore Repsol fields in Guyana.

The prime minister also announced that the month of June will be a very busy month for Trinidad and Tobago and Caricom internationally.

He said he has made a decision to attend the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles from June 6 to June 10 and that the majority of Caricom members will attend.

Caricom had objected to the United States’ position towards Cuba but Dr Rowley said that with the US making some concessions, it was felt that Caricom needed to attend to address issues that are important to the region.

Dr Rowley said a T&T contingent led by Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Amery Browne will also attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference in Rwanda beginning of June 21 and that T&T will vote for Jamaican Foreign Affairs Minister Kamina Johnson Smith as the new Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.

Dr Rowley will not attend CHOGM but will be attending a world summit called by the European Union on June 21 and 22 to discuss matters of development that T&T and the region are interested in.

He will represent Caricom together with Caricom’s chairman, Prime Minister of Belize John Briceno, and Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

Three Latin American leaders will also attend, together with the leaders of EU countries, the President of the United States of America and leaders of Asian countries.

“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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