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Beauty Plus Salon now opens in full-service expansion

By Bennette Roach
Miss Dagriee Wilson of Brades, Montserrat, realised a dream come true when she cut the ribbon to her new home of Beauty Plus Salon on Brades main road, in Cudjoe Head, only yards away from where she operated for several years past. A dream that Bishop Melroy Meade who was the master of ceremonies at a brief dedication of the Salon, described from his “own experience”, “it’s been hard work and many sleepless nights…”
The opening event took place at 5.30p.m. on Monday, April 17, 2017 at Brades, where a small gathering witnessed Dagriee cut the ribbon to her building following a brief ceremony with family, colleagues, patrons, well-wishers and friends, who heard Bishop Meade say, “…welcome all of you and trust that this short ceremony would be one which would make some sense,” followed by prayers where he thanked God, “for your goodness, we thank you for your mercy, we thank you God for your blessings … we pray God for what will convene here this evening…”
Former Government Minister of Communications & Works, Charles Kirnon is a close neighbor of Dagriee, spoke next and said: “Dagriee Wilson, my next-door neighbor, my friend, while most people go into the Diaspora, there’s a saying that they go for self-betterment; I think Dagriee has proven just that.”
He too spoke of her hard work he has seen, “the hours she has worked night and day, for hard work kills no one, but it gains success. And what we have here today is product of that hard work,” he said, recalling when she started and how small it was and what she has grown it.
The former Minister concluded with a toast before which he shared: “She was a woman on a mission and I believe this is part of the accomplishment of that mission which does not end here I’m sure. The writer that says, “the heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight but they while their companions slept were toiling upward in the night,” he said is quite applicable to Dagriee Wilson. “I pray God that your continue to grow from strength to strength God Bless you.”
Before Fr Vyphius offered prayers of dedication, a longtime patron as she describes herself. Mrs. Cynthia Dyett offered congratulations to Dagriee “on the opening of this new establishment.” Suggesting, “Dagriee has been experiencing some different kinds of stress as a woman dealing with construction, but she has endured and we are now here to enjoy with her, her new environment.”

She continued: “Dagriee normally tries to give us the best customer care that she can and we should be proud as customers that she wants better for herself and for her customers. I know God would continue to bless her, bless you Dagriee,” adding, “…as you go forward with new progress will come new challenges – but I know with her dedication and her attitude for work, a hard worker… we’re looking forward to your service and we’re all looking forward to this new environment like you and I know we’ll enjoy it.”
Before Dagriee said thanks, Fr. Vyphius offered prayers of dedication. “…If we do our work well whatever it may be and offer it to God we purify ourselves and through the labor of our own hands and minds we build up Gods creation. Our work enables us to practice charity and to help the less fortunate… Let us bless the Lord and pray that he will shower his blessings on all those who work in this place,” he prayed.
Following his blessing and sprinkling of the building, Fr. Vyphius declared the building open, upon which the Salon owner cut the ribbon circling the front doors.
Originally from Guyana, Miss Wilson who told TMR she first arrived in Montserrat in 1999 and immediately began providing hair care styling and products, recalls while giving thanks to Mrs. Nadine Tuitt a long standing and still operating hairdresser in Manjack, for her encouragement and support.
The Salon operative owner upon cutting the ribbon said thanks to those who joined with her at the ceremony. She was brief, undoubtedly anxious to show off the inside of her full-service salon said, “I would like to say thank you to everybody that is here, thank you to all my loyal customers over the years, new customers, well wishers, persons who give me kind words encouragement. Thank you to everybody for being here thank you,” as she led the way to what you can see a sample of in the photos here.

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Mrs. Dulcie  James

Montserrat included in Tax Haven Blacklisting

By Bennette Roach

Mr John Skerrit

There has been much reported about the US state of Illinois has blacklisted some thirteen Caribbean countries and territories to include Montserrat, as tax havens. They include also Bermuda, the Cayman Island and Turks and Caicos Islands; as well as Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, the Bahamas, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

This comes just a couple of weeks ago after we have confirmed from our Financial Services authorities (FSC) that Montserrat as well as others have been practically bending over backwards in complicity with several international requirements to show cleanliness in meeting their required standards. These being Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act (FATCA); the OECD’s Common Reporting Standards CRS); Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and others. In fact, it is nearly thirty years when Montserrat was restricted by the UK from practicing meaningfully in the promotion as an ‘off-shore banking’ provider.

We have researched a series of reports but present here excerpts Dominica News Online, adapted where necessary as it outlines as some countries have done on an individual basis rejection, resentment to the actions of the US state.

Mrs Dulcie James

The US state of Illinois has blacklisted Montserrat and a number of Caribbean countries and other countries worldwide as “foreign tax havens” in the recent House Bill 3419.

The Bill has gone through two readings as of March 23, 2017 and is expected to have a third reading and a short debate soon.

It deals with companies which operate in these “foreign tax havens” with characteristics which classify them as “Expatriate Corporations.”

A “restricted list” of these companies will be created and they may be subject to divestment unless they cease all activities which classify them as “Expatriate Corporations”.

The move by the state of Illinois is not going down well with the Caribbean Association of Banks Inc (CAB).

In a statement on Thursday, CAB said that while fully supports Illinois’ efforts to combat tax evasion, it considers the labelling of Caribbean countries as “Foreign Tax Havens” prejudicial.

CAB pointed out the following:

  1. According to the latest update of the IRS’ Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) listing, twelve (12) Caribbean countries have Inter-Governmental Agreements in-force with the U.S.; five (5) countries have signed the agreement and one (1) has agreed in substance. Our Governments and Financial Institutions have incurred great cost to make all relevant tax information readily available to U.S. authorities.
    2. Seven (7) Caribbean territories have committed to the OECD’s Common Reporting Standards (CRS) in 2017 and nine (9) are committed to begin reporting in 2018. CRS will legally require Caribbean jurisdictions to exchange relevant tax information with tax authorities of the originating country.
    3. Thirteen (13) Caribbean territories have been labelled largely compliant with the OECD’s Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes.
    4. All Caribbean countries are identified as having no strategic AML/CFT deficiencies by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

CAB also said in fulfilling its mandate, it “works closely with its members as well as regional and international stakeholders, to ensure compliance and training are fully operable at international standards.”

“The effects of this ‘black listing’ cannot be understated as the reputational damage of such an action may have catastrophic consequences for the Region’s financial services sector as well as the functioning of its economies,” the organization said. “It may also serve to exacerbate the perception of our Region as a high risk area and consequently negatively impact the Risk Rating Profile of regional financial institutions by correspondent banks.”

CAB stated that the US is the Caribbean’s largest trading partner facilitating in excess of US$20bn in trade for 2016 of which US$11.7bn comprised of exports to the Region.

“The U.S. is also the largest source of tourism for the Region, accounting for twenty eight (28) percent of regional GDP, or in excess of US$45bn . This Bill threatens to unhinge the financial linkages between the U.S. and the Caribbean by unnecessarily increasing the risk perception of the region as well as deterring foreign direct investment. This no doubt can cripple the very livelihoods of the Caribbean people,” CAB said in a statement.

The organization said it has written to key members of congress and Representatives from the State House of Illinois advising them of the disastrous consequences of the Bill and urging the removal of the Caribbean countries listed as foreign tax havens.

This has been a source of serious concern for many who have had to challenge for reversal the characterisations and listings that continue to be thrown at Caribbean countries. Just last week, President of the Barbados International Business Association Gregory McConnie complained that there was a worrying perception of Barbados as a tax haven, which was hampering the island’s status as a jurisdiction in which to do business.

Barbados’ Minister of International Business Donville Inniss, told Barbados TODAY he would submit a formal notice of objection to the authorities in the Midwestern state, who he said had acted out of a “genuine abundance of ignorance”.

Only late last year, Inniss had angrily dismissed as “wicked”, “mischievous” and “grossly misleading”, the categorization of Barbados by the UK-based aid and development charity Oxfam as one of the world’s 15 worst tax havens.

In a presentation as far back as July 2015 Commissioner Dulcie James of the FSC told the audience that Montserrat was largely compliant with international standards. More has been done since.

At the same time the matter of potential blacklisting by the European Union (EU) surfaced and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders gathering at an annual summit where they discussed recurrent issues ranging from the impact of the ongoing global economic crisis to climate change dominating the three-day event, the EU blacklisting matter featured.

The EU ambassador in Barbados, Mikael Barfod had told the Caribbean countries that the decision to release the list of international tax havens should not be regarded as an attempt to blacklist any country.

He said “the criteria may not be blacklisting, in a traditional sense, as it is very often perceived.

“It could even show what a specific EU member state believes are low tax rates or a harmful tax regime…that is something that these countries need to find out,” he added.

ntigua, Dominica, BVI, St. Kitts-Nevis have all had similar complaints. Now it is more than painful for Montserrat who has been out in the cold and just considering to re-enter as it prepared to upgrade its own International Business Companies (IBC) legislation.

The CAB is a community of banks and other financial institutions in the Caribbean Region, which proactively influences issues impacting the financial services sector through advocacy, education and networking. The CAB represents fifty-two (52) banks and financial institutions in the Caribbean with an asset base in excess of US$40 billion as at Dec 31, 2016, in addition to eighteen (18) Service members comprising regional and international technological and professional institutions and three (3) Honorary Members.

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Latest YouGov poll suggests Tories as most popular party

Theresa May asks MPs to back snap election

SKYMewshttp://news.sky.com/story/theresa-may-asks-mps-to-back-snap-election-10842088

12:49, UK, Tuesday 18 April 2017

 

Prime Minister Theresa May makes a statement in Downing Street, London, announcing a snap general election on June 8. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday April 18, 2017. See PA story POLITICS May. Photo credit should read: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

 
Video: Theresa May moves to hold 8 June election
 By Nick Lester, News Producer

Theresa May is seeking to hold a General Election on 8 June arguing it is the only way to secure stability ahead of Brexit.

The shock move follows speculation the Prime Minister would call a poll to shore up her parliamentary position as Britain leaves the EU and given Labour’s dire position in the polls.

:: Live: PM calls for General Election in June

Mrs May informed the Queen of her decision by phone on Monday, according to Downing Street.

Under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, introduced under the last coalition government, the next election was not due until 2020.

However, a poll can be called before then if backed by two thirds of MPs or if there is a no confidence vote in the Government.

The PM is to table a motion in the House of Commons on Wednesday and has called on MPs to back an election.

Jeremy Corbyn has said he welcomes the poll move, but many of his MPs are likely to have private reservations, given the party’s poor performance.

Making the dramatic announcement, following the weekly Cabinet meeting, Mrs May said she had come to the decision “reluctantly”, but argued other political parties opposed Brexit.

Speaking in Downing Street she said: “At this moment of enormous national significance, there should be unity in Westminster, but instead there is division.

“In recent weeks Labour have threatened to vote against the final agreement we reached with the European Union.

 
 
Video: Corbyn reacts to May’s election call

“The Liberal Democrats have said they want to grind the business of government to a standstill.

“The Scottish National Party say they will vote against the legislation that formerly repeals Britain’s membership of the European Union and unelected members of the House of Lords have vowed to fight us every step of the way.”

:: Why is Theresa May going to the polls now?

She added: “They underestimate our determination to get the job done And I am not prepared to let them endanger the security of millions of working people across the country.

“Because what they are doing jeopardises the work we must do to prepare for Brexit at home.

“And it weakens the Government’s negotiating position in Europe.

“If we do not hold a General Election now, their political gameplaying will continue.

“And the negotiations with the European Union will reach their most difficult stage in the run-up to the next scheduled election.

“So we need a general election and we need it now.”

 
 
Video: IDS: PM right to call for election

In a stark message to political opponents, Mrs May said: “You have criticised the Government’s vision for Brexit, you have challenged our objectives, you have threatened to block the legislation we put before Parliament.

“This is your moment to show you mean it, to show you are not opposing the Government for the sake of it, to show that you do not treat politics as a game.

“So tomorrow vote for an election, let us put forward our plans for Brexit and our alternative programmes for government and then let the people decide.”

The PM said the decision facing the country would be about leadership.

She said: “It will be a choice between strong and stable leadership in the national interest, with me as your Prime Minister, or weak and unstable coalition government led by Jeremy Corbyn, propped up by the Liberal Democrats, who want to reopen the divisions of the referendum, and Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP.”

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Map of earthquake location Apr 16 17

Leeward Islands jolted by strong tremor

By Staff Reporter

Map shows Montserrat off left between Antigua and Guadeloupe

Olveston, Montserrat: An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.8 rocked the Leeward Islands to include Montserrat, Antigua and St. Kitts Nevis early Monday, but there are no early reports of injuries or damage.

One person out of Antigua reportedly though they felt another tremor later in the morning.

The Trinidad-based Seismic Research Unit  (SRU) says the tremor was recorded at 1:23 am (local time) at a Latitude of 17.48 N, Longitude of 61.20 W at depth of 10 km., confirmed by information coming from the Montserrat Volcano Observatory.

DATE AND TIME:
2017-04-17 01:23 am (Local Time)
2017-04-17 05:23 (UTC)

MAGNITUDE: 5.8
LOCATION:
Latitude: 17.48N
Longitude: 61.20W
Depth: 10 km

The centre  of the quake was located 83 km NE of St. John’s, Antigua; 141 Km NNE of Point-Pitre, Guadeloupe and 171 km East of Basseterre, with Montserrat located west in the middle of these two islands. Many people have reported feeling this tremor around the reported time.

The UWI, SRC – Automatic Earthquake Location, naming NEARBY CITIES:
83 km NE of Saint John’s, Antigua and Barbuda
141 km NNE of Point-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe
171 km E of Basseterre, Saint Kitts and Nevis.

Further details will be reported later, but meanwhile the MVO through their website is asking: if you felt this earthquake, please tell us at: (http://uwiseismic.com/EarthquakeFeedback.aspx

With a disclaimer: “this event has NOT been reviewed by an analyst. It was automatically located by a seismological computational system, therefore, it is a PRELIMINARY result and this may vary when new additional data are processed.”

 

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The Montserrat Budget!

The Montserrat Budget!

Another postponement for presentation of Montserrat budget – no date…

Following the report of the postponement of the Montserrat budget, which normally comes only after its approval by Her Majesty’s Government in the UK, a statement had said, “The postponement is occasioned by the change in UK Ministerial responsibility, which has caused a delay in the approval of Montserrat’s Financial Aid Business Case by the UK Minister.”

Premier Donaldson Romeo

 

The statement had said, supported by a short report by the Premier on radio, that the postponement of the budget presentation, usually due by  March 31 each year, would take place on April 13, 2017 and that Premier Donaldson Romeo, who is also of Finance will authorise funds through the Consolidated Fund “to allow government spending to continue until passage of the Appropriation Act in April.

This authorisation was effected through a Provisional General Warrant, addressed to the Accountant General by the Minister of Finance, approved by Cabinet on Thursday, March 23.

Two weeks later the Premier is forced to issue a new release informing further reasons. “I’m advised that there is a greater scrutiny over DfID itself in London and in turn over our budget and that has caused further delay.” He said.

A new release issued: “…confirm that Premier Romeo has signed the “Provisional General Warrant” allowing the government ministries to continue to spend funds from April 1, until the budget is approved.”

“We confirm that we have yet to receive any confirmation from DFID (Department for International Development) with regards to Montserrat’s Financial Aid Business Case as the Ministers of DFID have yet to complete their review.”

But, with the postponement date of April 13 only one week away the Premier did not give a new date when he expected to be in a position to present the budget as Minister of Finance. He however drew attention to the fact that Montserrat was not alone in having delayed budget approval by the UK, citing St. Helena who was able to implement a ‘roll over budget’ until their final budget is approved.

News out of St. Helena, confirmed, “A formal meeting of Legislative Council took place Thursday, March 30, 2017. The Order Paper for the meeting includes four Motions, three of which deals with two Bills and the Roll Over Budget, six Questions for oral reply and ten Sessional Papers.”

The report explained, “The Roll Over Budget is necessary as confirmation has not yet been received from DFID as to the financial settlement for the next financial year.”

Just as this report continues, as statement from the Minister of Finance’s office could have said: “…Consequently,… when the Appropriation Bill is presented it will be done at a future meeting of LegAss, details of when, will be published as soon as possible.

Prior to 2015, the previous government for consecutive years presented what we referred to as ‘sham budgets’ which were seem similar to the roll-over budget used in St. Helena. The Assembly on those occasions went through the motions, and it was not based on the final UK approved budget.

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Davy Hill Community Centre opens

By B. Roach

The Davy Hill community can now revel in what was called a ‘historic moment’, the reality of a Community Centre, which all say will be a welcome and long in coming one for the area. This was cause for some ceremony on March 26, 2017.

In mid-August last year, the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) managed by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) announced the recommencement of work on the Davy Hill Community Resource Centre project after having awarded the completion contract of the building to Ryan Investments Ltd.

Once begun this was to have been completed in twelve weeks as this was part of the effort by the BNTF on the ground to complete that and other sub-projects before CDBs terminal disbursement date on December 31. 2016, under the BNTF eight project cycle.

On Sunday afternoon of March 26, past, a gathering of mostly Davy Hill residents, businesses, BNTF and government officials, to include Premier Romeo, gathered in a ceremony to mark the opening of the Resource Centre.

There were several speakers all who spoke of different and supporting terms of what made up the centre and its functions that will be undertaken there ready to go and in the future. A vision stated on the program of the official handover states: “a multi-purpose centre that facilitates a range of activities that promotes learning, sustainable livelihoods, disaster mitigation, socialization, healthy lifestyles, fundraising and revenue generation.”

Emile Duberry, a PDM election campaign candidate is Vice President and longtime associated with the Davy Hill Action Group officiated as chairperson at the official handover ceremony of the building.  He welcomed, “all to our ceremony this afternoon in this historic occasion where we are witnessing the opening of the Davy Hill Community Centre.” He added: “The residents’ of Davy Hill welcome this community centre and there are different uses that are planned for this community centre and even before its inception, the community of Davy Hill through the community group was aware of what they want for the community.”

Continuing his brief welcome and opening remarks Duberry said, speaking for the community:  “…we see this as uplifting for the community… in Davy Hill we see this community building as a way of bringing people together… at this time we are very proud and glad that we have this building to our use,” he said, explaining, “There are many activities that are planned for this building, I don’t know how we’re going to get through them but there are lots of activities…We expect to see graduates coming out of this building through our night classes that we would have.”

Duberry said in concluding his explanation: “And I think one of the program that is coming up that will be happening very soon is the baking program,” in which he said he was sure the men would be delighted.”

Duberry spoke following the singing of the national song by Teona Aymer, president of the Davy Hill Action Group (DAG), and an opening prayer. 

Mr. Mervin Browne, BNTF project manager in Montserrat gave an overview of the project. “The BNTF is a CDB grant funded program which is responsible for tackling poverty reduction programs throughout the Caribbean region,” he said, citing that, “This sub-project the Davy Hill Community Resource Centre commenced in October 2014 and it was completed this month March.”

Browne said the project had delays for various reasons, “but despite the delays and the obstacles, the BNTF office was determined to complete this very important community project which we have been working on for more than three years.”

Confirming Duberry’s explanation of the Centre’s functions, he noted:  “in addition use will be empowered through skills training which will lead to increased economic activity and micro enterprise within the community – it will also be used as a hurricane shelter.”

He pointed out that the facility has a total of 1,900 sq. ft. of usable space which will house a computer training room, a kitchen, male and female toilets and bathrooms, meeting hall, lobby, office and a store room.  Constructed on half an acre of land which is owned by the GoM.

He said confirming again Duberry’s explanation, that part of the human resource development aspect of the BNTF program, “a baking and agro processing skills training project will be conducted in this facility, beginning on the 10th of April which is also funded under the BNTF 7 skills training human resource development component.”

There were brief remarks that followed. Premier Romeo said that he had been calling for this centre for seventeen plus years which would have been before he contested the national general elections. “It’s said that good things come to those who wait and today this is a reality as we look around at this beautiful multi-purpose building,” as he also mentions, “that will host a range of activities and will promote learning, sustainable livelihoods, healthy lifestyles, social gatherings, fund raisers and be the central community meeting place.”

“I expect that recreational space will be properly managed and maintained,” he said, expanding on how the facility is useful, he said: “we will be able to facilitate lectures, concerts, plays, indoor outdoor games, food and beverage preparation as mentioned, trainings and eventually provide that sort of training for our youths to assist them in gainful employment later on in their lives. The centre will be a home to the youth in this community for sure”

He said he would take the opportunity to commend the Davy Hill Action Group in the pursuit of this outcome here today, reminding of “of a departed member of the group Mrs. Denise Philip who would have stood here with us today to commemorate this historical moment.”

The Hon. Delmaude Ryan Minister of Education, Health and Social Services, whose picture appears on the program turning the soil to start construction of the building, was represented by Hon Gregory Willock, Parliamentary Secretary. In his brief which he said “could not be so brief,” declared in his representation he was also speaking for everyone as he feels close to the community also. “…But I have to be a little extra and I’m saying to you that Davy Hill is one community that holds a special place in my heart. And you guys know I’m not just here as a member of the ruling administration, I’m not just here as a member of the parliament, I’m here as a member that will be committed to helping, working, serving in the areas that you would want me to serve in,…” he said.

Leader of the Opposition Hon. Easton Taylor Farrell was a final speaker, although he had substituted in delivering the opening prayer and performed the dedication of the facility in the absence of Pastor Simon Peter Buffonge, DAG trustee of Davy Hill, and Pastor Kellar MFarlane of the Davy Hill Wesleyan Holiness Church.

While introducing the Opposition Leader, Duberry noted that he as Minister of Agriculture and Lands made the lands which will allow for a mini sporting court, available for the facility to be constructed. Dub: erry informed the gathering“…at the beginning of this building when we were thinking about it we didn’t have any land and I remember the Honorable Easton Farrell came to our meeting and – we said that we need some land. “OK I believe I could work out something so that we can afford this land – So we got two lots for the Community Centre and this we are grateful to Mr. Farrell.

 Farrell in his brief remarks confirmed what Duberry said. “I vividly remember that on this site stood some wooden buildings which were used for many persons during the height of the volcanic crisis… I recall the numerous times, numerous calls, numerous emails I received from the project officer Mr. Browne,” who insisted even though he told him the land was there.

He said Browne would continue to call informing that there were buildings on the land. “I was tired I had to do, something. Eventually we demolished the buildings and then Mr. Browne stopped calling me,” he concluded to applause.

President Teona Aymer gave a vote of thanks and directed the gathering as well to the Acknolwedgements on the back of the program. This proceeded the cutting a ribbon by the Premier, group pictures and  a tour of the facility to include refreshments.

In 2014 the Caribbean Development Bank approved the award of a civil works contract for the sub project enhancement of community facilities and services delivery at Davy Hill for the construction of the Davy Hill Resource Centre. By December 2014 the main structure of the building was completed. However, December 31st that year was the final date for disbursement of funds by CDB for the BNTF six cycle under which this sub project was being administered and so CDB had to bring the project to a halt. In order to continue CDB required a new submission of the sub project to meet its normal approval procedures, whereupon approval allowed the project to continue from August last year. According to Montserrat BNTF manager, Mervyn Browne the project must be completed by June 31, this year.

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Maureen Estwick-Dir of Dev Planning and Policy OofthePremier

Who Stopped the Lecture?

The week’s warped discussion – didn’t stop or mar the festivities

by Bennette Roach

It, had become a fixture on the St. Patrick’s Day week of commemorations, celebrations and festivities for several years now, the local UWI campus sponsored St. Patrick’s Day Lecture. There are many visitors and residents alike who have come to look forward to learning and participating in the ensuing discussions.

Such topics in this decade have been as follows: Last year, “The Importance of  the Montserrat Creole ‘Nation Language’  in Forging a National Identity,” by Ann Marie Dewar. In 2013, Miss Ethlyn Weekes, “Montserrat response to development in a world that is changing fast.” And, “Education: The Key to Unshackle us from the Bonds of Economic Slavery”, in 2011 by Dr. Samuel Joseph;

This year the UWI campus head, Miss Gracelyn Cassell was early enough with her invitation to the media and most likely others, when she emailed, as so many others fail to figure out on February 28: “…invite you to the Annual St. Patrick’s Lecture which takes place at the Cultural Centre in Little Bay on March 14, 2017 at 6 pm.  The presenter this year is Miss Angela Estwick, Director of Development Planning and Policy in the Office of the Premier, and she has chosen to speak on the topic “St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations in Montserrat: Cultural Development or Cultural Irresponsibility.”

For perspective to what was to follow and her eventual announcement she informed: “Miss Estwick has observed the increasing hype surrounding our national heritage celebration. This extends to heavy investments of time, effort and money – resources that constitute key inputs for achieving development goals.  But, from a development perspective, and noting the interrelationship between culture and development, she explores whether or not these scarce resources are being appropriately channeled…  Is the true role of culture in Montserrat’s development objectives being borne out in the way we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?  Is the meaning of this celebration truly understood?”

That Lecture never took place, but a discussion since there was an audience present as Miss Cassell would explain. When the news broke, there appeared the usual questions and in some places surprise, and of course the adverse and misplaced comments.

There were questions and speculations as to who caused the Lecture not to take place. ZJB Radio reported the UWI Campus Head’s explanation, that no one had instructed or asked for the Lecture to be stopped. She said that she had agreed to have a discussion instead on the topic, (one which she reported later as, “very fruitful) as Miss Estwick informed her that her work had to be ‘vetted’ and she could not have it done in time. “…the lecture was never stopped by any persons or group of people,” Miss Cassell said.

She explained as follows to ZJB Radio: “A few hours before the lecture was due to start I got a call from Ms. Estwick who was very apologetic. She explained that the content of her presentation had to be vetted and there was not enough time for that to be done for her to be able to present the lecture last evening…Now I have heard suggestions that we were stopped and various other things. I’d like to set the record straight nobody called me and said stop the lecture, I have had no such call.”

Cassell further said that in discussion she advised she would not ‘postpone’ the session as “we have not given enough time to people to let them know that we’re changing…So we’ll go ahead…we will engage the audience in a discussion around the topic.”

Later in another Radio news broadcast senior broadcaster James White Jr. reported Miss Estwick’s direct explanation of the events which the Deputy Governor says speaks correctly to what transpired between them.

“Miss Estwick who is the Director of Policy and Planning in the Office of the Premier said she received a call from the Honorable Deputy Governor Lyndell Simpson on the afternoon of the day of the lecture. Miss Estwick stated that Mrs. Simpson inquired whether or not she was scheduled to deliver a lecture on that day. The Deputy Governor then informed Miss Estwick that she received a complaint that the speech that was to be presented was considered controversial as it would be addressing government policy. Mrs. Simpson told Miss Estwick that as Deputy Governor she had a duty to investigate the matter to ensure that she would not breach general orders the legislation governing civil servants.

“Miss Estwick told ZJB News that she found it strange that this determination was made as she didn’t share her speech with anyone., she told ZJB News that she then offered to have the speech reviewed by the Deputy Governor or the Attorney General but the offer was not taken up.”

“Miss Estwick said contrary to other media reports she at one point refused to make the presentation and was fully prepared to do so up until the time at which she spoke to the deputy governor.”

The report continues: ”She said, if given the opportunity to have the speech vetted she would be more than prepared to deliver the speech at a later date.”

Prior and following these explanations the media social, the gossip and the mischief pervaded the eyes and ears. These included speculations and questions, as to the involvement of the political directorate, as premier, ministers and others were accused of stopping the lecture, even in the face of explanations given.

The Deputy Governor (DG) informed TMR as she said publicly otherwise at a UWI forum on Wednesday, a continuation – “Let All ideas contend”, ‘for the record’, that no one in authority prevented the St. Patrick’s Day lecture from happening; and that there was no attempt to censor anyone.

Advising she would not like to address the matter in detail, recognizing the “elephant in the room” she said, “The only comment I am going to make on that because I do realize that there is somehow that perception that somebody on this side (pointing to the Governor and herself) stopped the lecture. What I want to draw your attention to, is Miss Estwick’s statement in the press – go back to that, make reference to that, because it has to be understood that there was absolutely no attempt on this side to censor or to stop…”

The Premier Donaldson Romeo was drawn into the speculations and ‘to the public outcry’ as referred to in one report, responded to accusations of his involvement denying any interference by him or any other member of his administration.

I had absolutely nothing to do with stopping the St. Patrick’s lecture yesterday, I gave no instructions to do such,” commenting further. “What this is it’s another example of where we need to do research, get the facts, get the truth and not go slandering accusing and spreading rumors it is not good.”

General Orders Amendments

 Mrs. Simpson made the comments when both she and H E Governor Carriere were participating as panelists with Dr. Samuel Joseph and Jamal Jeffers in a discussion on new amendments due to be made in due haste to General Orders. The matters of concern arose out of the ongoing debate as to the aborted St. Patrick’s Day Lecture.

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corn beef

More Caribbean countries place ban on corn beef and meat products from Brazil

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Mar 22, CMC – The number of Caribbean Community (CARICOM)countries placing a temporary ban on the importation of corn beef or meat products from Brazil increased by two with Barbados and the Bahamas joining their CARICOM partners from Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica.

The Bahamas government said that it is aware of the meat scandal unfolding in Brazil relative to food inspectors taking bribes to allow sales of rotten and salmonella-tainted meats and that the South American country has suspended exports from 21 meat-processing units.

corn beefIt said to safeguard the Bahamian population it is placing a “precautionary ban of meat imports from Brazil.

“Until further notice, no permits for the importation of processed meat products from Brazil will be issued. This includes corned beef as well as other beef products and beef by-products.

“The Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources will continue to monitor this issue over the next 60 days and should we be satisfied that imports from Brazil be resumed, it would be with the following proviso that beef must be slaughtered and processed at an approved Government abattoir and processing facility”.

In addition the Bahamas said there would be need for a Sanitary certificate to accompany all imports from Brazil an inspection of all batch containers be done at the Port of Entry, an import permit must be sought by all importers from the relevant Government Agency and a registry must be compiled of all importers of beef and beef products from Brazil.

Meanwhile, Barbados has implemented its own temporary ban with Senior Veterinary Officer, Dr. Mark Trotman, indicating that the ban had been effected pending further investigation as to whether any of the product had come into the island.

He is also advising retailers to withdraw all Brazilian meat products from their shelves and warned consumers not to purchase corned beef or other canned meats manufactured in Brazil until the investigation was completed.

 “As part of our investigations, samples of product are being collected and will be analysed by the Veterinary Services Laboratory and the Government Analytical Services Laboratory,” he added.

Posted in Featured, Health, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

st luciaexplo

Four killed, several others injured in explosion

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Mar 22, CMC – At least four people were killed, more than 20 injured and at least four others airlifted to the neighbouring French island of Martinique as police launched an investigation into an explosion at a construction site in Cul de Sac, east of here on Tuesday evening.

Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has called on the nation to pray for the families of the victims.

st luciaexplo“Our hearts go out to those who lost loved ones and those who are still waiting to find out information about their family members. You are all in our prayers in this difficult time. We must all support each other at this time and pray for our fellow St. Lucians,” Chastanet said.

“We must say thanks to the emergency personnel, the police and fire officers, who responded to the incident and who are still working tirelessly … at the site to find persons. The staff, the nurses and doctors, of the Victoria Hospital, who responded, some without being called and who are working overtime to attend to the injured must be thanked for their selfless dedication in the wake of this crisis,” he said, adding that the incident has taken the nation by shock.

The explosion was heard miles away, shattered glass windows and doors of nearby businesses, and destroyed offices and several pieces of heavy duty equipment on site.

It remains uncertain as to what caused the explosion but a supervisor told reporters that it may have been triggered by workers engaged in a welding operation in close proximity to a container loaded with explosive material, including dynamite.

Initially, many persons in communities further away from the blast, called state radio saying that they mistook the explosion for an earthquake, as another section of the capital engaged in a major regional tsunami response exercise referred to as “Caribewave 2017”.

The exercise held across the Caribbean and Latin America stimulated a widespread tsunami watch and warning situation throughout the region requiring the activation of local tsunami response plans.

According to health officials 22 persons had been brought to the Victoria Hospital (VH) with four people, including three at the site confirmed dead.

The officials said that four persons had to be airlifted by military aircraft to Martinique and that one person is reported missing following the incident that occurred at Rayneau Construction.

Posted in Featured, Local, News, Police, Regional1 Comment

Dunkkley

Opposition calls for Premier to step down or call fresh general election

By Ivan Clifford

HAMILTON, Bermuda, Mar 17, CMC  — The opposition Progressive Labour Party (PLP) has demanded Premier Michael Dunkley steps down or calls a snap general election after backbencher Mark Pettingill resigned on Thursday, leaving the ruling One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) as a minority party.

Pettingill, a former Attorney-General and legislator for the past 10 years, said he would sit as an independent in his Warwick North East constituency until the next election, due later this year, when he would probably quit politics altogether.

Dunkley, whose OBA won the 2012 general election by 19 seats to 17 but has now lost two of its MPs, described Pettingill’s departure as “disappointing” but refused to cave in to PLP demands.

Dunkkley
Premier Michael Dunkley

Pettingill’s colleague Shawn Crockwell, a former tourism and transport minister, resigned from the OBA in protest at Dunkley’s leadership a year ago and has since sat in the House of Assembly as an independent.

It means the OBA and the PLP each has 17 MPs in the House of Assembly, with two independents, although the PLP’s Randy Horton is the Speaker of the House and can vote only in the case of a tie.

Governor John Rankin was asked for comment on whether the Pettingill resignation required him to act, since the government no longer had a majority of members in the House.

A Government House spokesman would only say “in considering any developments in the House of Assembly, the Governor will continue to act in accordance with the terms of the Bermuda constitution.”

Pettingill said he felt compelled to leave the governing party due to conflicts with his legal work, revealing his firm, Chancery Legal, has been in talks with patients of former PLP Premier Dr Ewart Brown, after police recently raided Brown’s clinics.

Pettingill added that he “diametrically and philosophically” opposes the government’s position on numerous issues.

The PLP said in a statement after Pettingill told the media he was quitting the OBA that the Premier should resign or call an election.

“The news that yet another OBA MP, Mark Pettingill, has found it necessary to resign from the party he helped found to sit as an independent calls into question the direction of the country and is yet another signal that the leadership of Michael Dunkley is directionless, ineffective and weak,” the PLP said.

“It should be jarring to all Bermudians that we now, for the first time ever, have a minority government at the helm, and that the OBA cannot secure the passage of any legislation without the assistance of the independent or opposition members.

Mark Pettingill
Mark Pettingill

“On the anniversary of the day MP Shawn Crockwell resigned from cabinet over the government’s mishandling of immigration, this is yet another sign that it is time for the Premier to either resign or go to the country and seek a mandate from the people through a general election.”

In an earlier statement, Dunkley described Pettingill’s resignation as a “disappointing development for a government that has been making steady progress on big problems facing the people of Bermuda”.

“While (Mr Pettingill) explained that he found himself in ‘ongoing professional legal conflict with the government’ on various matters involving his law firm, I also note his statement that the government ‘will have my support on any number of pending legislative matters’.

“I therefore look forward to continuing to work with MP Pettingill on the important matters facing Bermuda — as well as the other independent MP Mr Shawn Crockwell — and thank Mr Pettingill for his service to the OBA.”

In recent months, Pettingill has been a vocal critic of the party he helped to form in May 2011. This year, he delivered a speech on race in the House, which revealed his deep concern with his party’s handling of the issue and was praised by several PLP MPs.

“I have this morning advised the Premier that I will be resigning from the One Bermuda Alliance. I intend to sit as an independent MP until the next general election, at which time I will likely resign from politics,” Pettingill told reporters on Thursday.

“I find myself in a position of ongoing professional legal conflict with the government on various existing litigation and potential matters that my law firm has been approached about having conduct over.

“Furthermore, I have unfortunately found myself diametrically and philosophically opposed to the government’s position or approach on numerous issues in endeavouring to move Bermuda forward. I respect that the Premier, and the cabinet, takes a different view.

“In the interest of the country, I sincerely wish the government every success for the remainder of their tenure in office, recognising that they have in fact accomplished many positive things for the island.”

Pettingill was first elected as an MP for the now defunct United Bermuda Party (UBP), which ran the country for 30 years until it was ousted by the PLP in 1998, in Warwick West in 2007.

Two years later, he was a member of a breakaway group of UBP MPs which formed the Bermuda Democratic Alliance (BDA). In 2011, the BDA merged with the UBP to found the OBA.

In the 2012 election, Pettingill switched to Warwick North East, where he defeated long-serving PLP MP Dale Butler as the OBA won power for the first time.

Posted in Featured, International, Local, News, Politics0 Comments

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