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President Granger and Opposition Leader Jagdeo end talks

President Granger and Opposition Leader Jagdeo end talks

by staff writer

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Jan 9, CMC – President David Granger said Wednesday that agreement had been reached with Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo that regional and general elections will be held within the administrative capability of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

Granger, speaking following the 75-mnute talks with Jagdeo on the way forward following the December 21 motion of no confidence that led to the downfall of his coalition A Partnership for National Unity (PNU) said he has also assured the opposition that there is no intention by his administration to derail the Constitution of Guyana.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo (left) and President David Granger (Right) greet each other prior to the talks (DPI Photo)

“He is assuring the public that both sides are working towards a solution and that public interest remains paramount for the Coalition Government,” according to a government statement issued follow the meeting.

The talks were held at the Ministry of the Presidency and follows the decision of former government back bencher, Charrandass Persaud, who sided with the motion by Jagdeo, to give the People Progressive Party (PPP) a 33-32 victory in the 65-member National Assembly.

The PPP has since called on the government to name the date for fresh general elections which it says must be held before March this year.

As he emerged from the meeting Jagdeo told reporters that “it was a good meeting so far”.

Granger was accompanied by a delegation that includes Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan and Foreign Affairs Minister, Carl Greenidge while Jagdeo’s J six-member delegation includes Juan Edghill, Anil Nandlall, Odinga Lumumba and Dr. Frank Anthony.

Greenidge  told reporters that the meeting was a win for everybody without elaborating.

A joint communique is  expected to be issued later and Jagdeo and members of his delegation are expected to host a news conference at 2.00 pm (local time) on Wednesday.

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Bulgarian - stole from ATM Antigua

Bulgarian charged with stealing more than $25K from ATM in Antigua

 

Police over the weekend charged Mark Vas Nelsen, a Bulgarian/Canadian citizen with stealing more than $25,000 from a local bank. The authorities did not name the bank but said the man used fraudulent means to obtain the funds from the ATM.

The alleged offences took place over the period of one month from November 27 to December 27, 2018.

Nelsen was arrested last Friday after police searched his hotel and found what appears to be a machine used in the act. Several credit cards were also found.

Earlier this year, another Bulgarian, Martin Dimitrov Dachenski was charged with larceny in connection with another ATM fraud. He was ordered by the court to repay close to $25,000.

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Governor grants Caribbean nationals clemency

Governor grants Caribbean nationals clemency

NEW YORK, Jan 1, CMC – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has granted pardons to several Caribbean nationals, including five Jamaicans, convicted of minor drug and other offenses and saving them from possible deportation under the Donald Trump administration’s tough policy on immigrants.

Cuomo said he was granting clemency to 29 immigrants “who have demonstrated substantial evidence of rehabilitation and a commitment to community crime reduction.

“While President Trump shuts down the federal government over his obsession with keeping immigrants out, New York stands strong in our support for immigrant communities,” said Cuomo, adding “these actions will help keep immigrant families together and take a critical step toward a more just, fairer and more compassionate New York.”

Five Jamaicans, a Trinidadian, one Haitian and six nationals from the Dominican Republic were among those granted pardons.

The Governor said the pardons are in recognition of the immigrants’ “rehabilitative efforts and to remove the barriers that their criminal records present to their immigration status.

“Some are facing deportation, while others wish to be able to participate in their communities as citizens of the country they call home. In each case, a pardon will make immigration-related relief possible, if not automatic,” he said.

Cuomo said Jamaican Olive Ferguson, 75, was convicted of attempted criminal sale of a controlled substance in 1991 and that “she has been crime-free ever since”.

He said Ferguson is “an active member of her church. She has remained crime-free for 27 years. A pardon will minimize her risk of deportation.”

Jamaican Rohan Hylton, 47, was convicted of a similar offense in 1992 as well as criminal possession of marijuana in 2001 and 2003.

Cuomo said Hylton came to the United States over 30 years ago with his family “to escape political persecution.

“As a father and dedicated family man, he now lives and works in Queens. A pardon will allow him to apply for discretionary relief from his deportation order. He has not been convicted of any misdemeanours or felonies for 12 years.”

Cuomo said another Jamaican, Kerrone Kay-Marie Parks, 33, was convicted in 2013 on drug-related charges.

“She is a domestic violence survivor, a mother of three children on the honour roll, and currently volunteers full-time at a nursing home. She has remained crime-free for five years.”

Jamaican Jeremy Grant, 58, was also convicted of drug-related charges in 2005 “when an individual in a group he was a member of sold drugs to an undercover cop and the entire group was convicted in Manhattan,” the New York governor said.

He said Grant “has been in prolonged removal proceedings since 2006,” and “has remained crime-free for 13 years.

“A pardon would remove the barriers to apply for a green card renewal, and prevent him from being deported and losing his access to necessary medical treatment,” Cuomo said.

He said Grant’s compatriot, Trevor Elliot, 67, was convicted of drugs in the early 1990s and has worked at a non-profit that provides social services for the youth and as an elder care provider.

“A pardon would allow Mr. Elliot to apply for citizenship. He has maintained a crime-free lifestyle for 10 years.”

Trinidadian Anthony Khan, 66, was convicted of a drug offense in 1980 when he accompanied an acquaintance to sell a controlled substance and was arrested as part of a sting operation in the Bronx.

Cuomo said Khan, who migrated to the United States in 1971, is “an active church goer and a husband and father, who has worked with the Taxi and Limousine Commission for 35 years.”

He has remained crime-free for 37 years, the governor said.

Haitian Reginald Castel, 45, was convicted of assault in 1999 and Cuomo said Castel, who came to the United States at the age of eight, is married with four children and was deported without notice in September 2017.

“A pardon will allow Mr. Castel to apply for re-entry to the United States and reunite with his family. He has remained crime free for 19 years.”

Alisa Wellek, executive director of New York’s Immigrant Defense Project, said that in pardoning immigrant New Yorkers who face deportation, despite years of contributing to the community, Cuomo “has used a powerful tool to restore dignity to people for whom punishment will otherwise never end, simply because they were not born here.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the Governor’s office and our Immigrant Clemency Project to provide immigrant New Yorkers with a fighting chance to remain with their families in the face of Trump’s hateful agenda,” she said.

Cuomo had last year announced a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s policy of forced family separation on the US southern border.

To protect the Caribbean and other immigrants from overly aggressive deportation tactics increasingly utilized by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, the governor also issued executive orders to prohibit ICE arrests in New York state facilities without a warrant.

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CARICOM RBM life-cycle approach

CARICOM: Manage by Results! (To cure “implementation deficit disorder”)

TMR December 2018

CARICOM[1] and its fifteen member states (including Montserrat) have long struggled with “implementation deficit disorder.” Such a region-wide problem has to be tackled on a regional basis, and CARICOM has set out to do just that.

Accordingly, the fifteen member Caribbean regional body has undertaken a CDB-funded US$ 600,000 project with Baastel,[2] a sustainable development oriented consultancy firm, in order to improve delivery of strategic results. Mr Evan Green (Baastel’s vice-president of Results Based Management [RBM] and disaster risk management), is therefore helping the region to create a “CARICOM Gender Sensitive Results-Based Management System.”

This is why a four-member high level CARICOM delegation recently visited Montserrat as part of a regional series [3] of meetings and seminars on RBM.[4] The delegation was led by Ambassador Dr Manorma Soeknandan, CARICOM’s Deputy Secretary General. The delegation was hosted through the Office of the Premier and held consultations with Government, Legislators, the Senior Civil Service and also with representatives of Civil Society on Monday, November 26th 2018. TMR was invited, and we now share our observations.

Premier Romeo welcomes the CARICOM RBM delegation headed by Amb. Soeknandan, as HE Governor Pearce looks on [Cr. CARICOM]

In his remarks, His Excellency Governor Pearce emphasised the need to drastically simplify delay-prone bureaucratic procedures and to break the cycle of chained consultancies on consultancies on consultancies. For example, “if you want to go on leave you fill in a form and then it has to go round about 10 people. By the time it eventually comes back to you to confirm you can go on leave you’re near retirement.” Likewise, “there are consultancy reports analyzing previous consultancies going back decades; and there’s a consultancy on every conceivable thing you can think of.” (The Governor’s remarks were picked up in news reports and have sparked a wider public discussion, as TMR has reported.[5])

Premier Romeo then emphasised the ongoing, much needed shift to a more results-based expedited implementation of priority projects and programmes that consults with and is accountable to stakeholders. Including, voters.

Ambassador Dr Soeknandan gave introductory remarks on the behalf of CARICOM.  She pointed to the “implementation deficit disorder” and noted that CARICOM is not a third party in the region, we are Caricom. In July 2014 CARICOM adopted a five-year strategic plan aimed at economic growth, reducing environmental vulnerability, integration, better communication and equity for all.   Resource Based Management (RBM) seeks to shift focus and assessments from activities (such as training) towards achieving strategic results. RBM is based on accountability for results, including to our taxpayers.

Mr. Craig Beresford, Director of CARICOM’s Strategic Management Unit,  summarised the CARICOM Strategic Plan 2015 – 19.[6] He noted that many stakeholders across the region do not feel the presence and benefits of CARICOM, pointing to communication/ awareness and effectiveness issues. Effects of the 2008 – 9 global economic crisis linger across the region. Environmental vulnerability can be seen from how the 2017 hurricane wiped out a year’s GDP for Dominica. Regional decision-making is weak and slow, e.g. a regional rights agreement took fourteen years to complete.  The region is not short on plans, implementation is a key gap. Going forward a logical framework approach and a scorecard system will increase accountability.

Consultant Mr. Evan Green then made a slide presentation on Results Based Management. RBM moves beyond the pattern of twenty years ago where the focus was on what was done rather than what was achieved. At that time, the number one progress indicator for many projects was “number of people trained,” and the number two indicator was “number of workshops held.” Instead, RBM emphasises accountability over delivering strategic results and benefits to stakeholders.

RBM has thus become the preferred approach of International Development Partners (aka donor agencies), many states and Non-Government Organisations. 

Considered from a life cycle point of view, in RBM there is an outer loop of planning, monitoring and evaluation. (This loop is common to all management.) Stakeholder participation is at the pivot. The RMB cycle has five phases:

1] Vision-setting

2] Defining the results map and RBM framework

3] Planning for monitoring and evaluation

4] Implementation with monitoring

5] Managing that uses evaluation

Results-based Management (RBM) also incorporates Project Cycle Management [7] and Management of Programmes of Action as components. It also makes use of logical framework [8] (“log frame”) tools and scorecards that track achievement of results. CARICOM is emphasising gender concerns in all of this process.

The “log frame” project and programme planning approaches focus on inputs, activities, outputs, outcomes and long-term impacts on the economy, our society and our natural environment. There is also an emphasis on using open source information technology tools and on common standards.

CARICOM’s top-level priorities are:

1] Economic: sustainable, resilient growth

2] Social: improved quality of life for all

3] Environmental: reduced vulnerability

4] Technology: innovative, ICT-enabled economies and society

5] CARICOM Identity/Community: an integrated community with equity for all

6] Governance: strengthening community governance

7] Co-ordinated International Relations: CARICOM is favourably positioned in the global community.

In order to successfully implement RBM and achieve these results, capacity has to be built both in CARICOM and in member countries. Including, here in Montserrat.

After the presentations, the session was opened up for a question and discussion period, as part of the needed stakeholder participation. Much of that discussion highlighted a communication deficit, so that people do not “feel” CARICOM’s presence and impacts.  Indeed, some people who work with or use services of CARICOM agencies do not recognise that these bodies are CARICOM at work – “CARICOM” lacks brand recognition. Another concern was the tendency of international development partners to specifically exclude Overseas Territories such as Montserrat from funding on grounds that they should look to the UK or the like; though there are notable exceptions such as a recent fisheries project. Montserratian Officials pointed out that it is then a considerable challenge to negotiate line by line for replacement funding.

Clearly, Results Based Management is a major CARICOM thrust. One, that calls us to work together to address our region’s implementation deficit disorder.

[1]     See: https://caricom.org/membership

[2]     See: http://baastel.com/

[3]     See Channel 5 Belize video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jffvweko7jM

[4]     See UN Handbook: https://www.un.cv/files/UNDG%20RBM%20Handbook.pdf

[5]     See TMR, Dec 14 2018, p. 1: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/development-stifled-and-public-service/

[6]     See https://www.caricom.org/STRATEGIC%20PLAN%202016_opt.pdf

[7]     See https://idscs.org.mk/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/WEB-Handbook-for-EU-Project-Design-and-Project-Cycle-Management-1.pdf, also: https://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/sites/devco/files/methodology-aid-delivery-methods-project-cycle-management-200403_en_2.pdf

[8]     See http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/783001468134383368/pdf/31240b0LFhandbook.pdf

Later in Belize: CARICOM Results Based Management Systems-Channel 5 Belize

 

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Romeo - PDM

Honourable Premier Donaldson Romeo 2019 New Year Statement


First, let me wish a happy, God-blessed new year to the people of Montserrat young and old, near and far; to all citizens, residents, visitors and friends. May we all go forward with God together in this New Year which God has graciously allowed us to see.

As we move forward into 2019, there is great hope and good reason to be optimistic. Over the past two years we have been blessed with several breakthroughs that open up opportunities to build a sound future. Yes, the sea port, the undersea fibre optic cable, geothermal and solar energy development, the pending hospital, the EU funding, the new growth strategy, a five-year capital programme, several investment opportunities and more are now open before us, as I discussed in my recent interview with our acting Communications Director.

In the past four years the Government of Montserrat (GoM) has been able to weave the landscape that now projects the opportunity for growth, development and a thriving economy.  We stood on our own two feet before this crisis, and after 23 years of resilience training, we are ready to do it again. 

First I must give some good news on private sector investment initiatives. For example, in Dick Hill the Art Housing project has put in place the foundations and the road infrastructure to the 10 unit villa project.  The next stage will resume where we shall see the buildings going up. This was confirmed on my recent visit to the UK.  Meanwhile, we continue to advance potential projects in water bottling and the digital sector of our economy. These projects will provide services to the outside world and bring significant employment and revenue to the Government and People of Montserrat.

Let us now take note of the progress with various ongoing projects. Some of the following projects are more visible than others, but we are making good progress that will help us to build a solid future:

Carr’s Bay Bridge: With funding in place, we can all see that frameworks have been set up, concrete has been poured for the main bridge structures and work is ongoing. The bridge deck, base and vertical walls are already in place. The wing walls, the catchment, the outfall and the head walls will follow. Works on the Carr’s Bay Bridge are scheduled to be completed by January 31st.

Barzeys Road and bridge:  We have completed 820ft  of concrete roadway with an average width of 20ft.  The work also required kerbs, drains, retaining walls, building a bridge and re-aligning the roadway. The resilience, safety and access on this section of road have been greatly improved as a result of the works completed. 

Sea Port, Phase 1: A year ago, Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) approved 14.4M pounds (about EC $50 million) for the development of Port Little Bay under the UKCIF fund.  GoM will provide an additional 7M pounds (EC 24 Million) to assist with the project expenditure. CDB & GoM have developed Terms of Reference (ToRs) for the procurement of the Project Manager, Marine Consultants, Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Consultant (ESIA). Land has to be acquired; asking prices suggest that we will need to take the compulsory acquisition process route.

The Public Procurement Board has issued an award letter in Dec 2018 to STANTEC Consultants out of Barbados, who will be on ­­­­­­­­island in early January 2019. A Project Coordinator for the Port project is expected to be in place by February 2019. The ESIA for the Port Project will be done by the Technical Consultants, to meet a deadline of Mar 2019. The Technical Consultants will also advance the tender process for the Design Build Contractor. This should start in June or July.  Under the European Development Fund (EDF), the Port project must be completed by 2020/21.

Airport: Construction drawings for the new Air Traffic Control Tower are nearly complete and tender documents are being developed.  The Prefabricated Cab for the Tower was expected on island by end of December 2018.  Of the EC$2.315m of GoM/Department for International Development (DFID) and EU funding for this project, EC$961,531.00 has been spent on the Cab.  EC$324,732.04 has been spent on equipment for the new Air Traffic Control Tower.  The remainder will be spent on a final payment for the pre-fabricated cab, as well as on the construction of the Shaft.  

Fibre Optics Cable: This is a priority project for GoM and DfID.  It will greatly enhance resiliency of our communications in the face of hurricanes and open the way for a powerful digital sector in our economy. Funding of about £5 millions is assured. The request for proposals is being finalized and should go to the Market this month.  It will then take another month to have a contract in place. We intend to have the fibre optic cable in place for the peak of the Hurricane season, August.

Hospital and healthcare: The hospital project is a part of the five-year capital programme being further developed with the UK, which helps to secure funding.  A steering committee is being set up for the project. Wider ongoing developments include better pediatric care, improved psychiatric care, sharing of anaesthesiology resources with neighbouring islands and creation of Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs).  Options are being explored for better air ambulance services to Guadeloupe.  Healthcare in Montserrat continues to benefit from technical support through the UK departments, such as Public Health England and the Department of Health, as well as DFID and FCO in meeting its international health obligations while we address local challenges.

ZJB New Building: This is now nearing completion and the Station will soon be moving house.  Equipment for the new building was successfully tendered and a new generator should arrive shortly.  While waiting on the new equipment to arrive I have given the directive for them to occupy and broadcast from the New ZJB building with our present equipment. 

250 kW Solar PV project: This project is expected to be completed by the middle of March and will increase the resilience of our Electricity supply through solar energy.  Upon completion the roof top solar installation is expected to produce 250 kw of solar energy. This project’s capacity is approximately 10% of our peak power load, and it is intended to develop a second phase, of 750 kW, as was announced last November when CARICOM Energy Month was launched here. Installation is scheduled to begin on the 14th January 2019. The total expenditure to-date has been $870,490.

Geothermal Well 3: Regarding the drilling of the third well, DFID will provide an update on the negotiation between DFID and Iceland Drilling Company (IDC). This should inform the strategic approach on the final drilling completion and development of the third well.

Geothermal power plant: GOM has completed an early market engagement on the development of a geothermal surface plant to generate electricity. DFID and GOM after assessing the early market engagement report agreed to move to the geothermal generation stage.  The technical assistance required for the geothermal surface plant development and implementation will be financed by DFID.

Housing: We were able to provide permanent housing to five households who were able to enjoy their first Christmas living in their new homes.  Montserratians have a strong desire to own a piece of the rock and as a result we will be providing new lots in the Lookout Area.  We intend to extend the Drummonds housing development, through the construction of another complex with six two-bedroom apartments.  We are presently negotiating with DfID, our funding partner, to build a number of new homes over the next five years. 

Port Buildings Project: Work was to be done on the Montserrat Port Authourity (MPA) warehouse roof and on the Ferry terminal. Of the EC$1.1M, spend to date is $670,000. The other $430,000 is to be spent on the Office Accommodation and the final aspects of the Ferry Terminal Canopy.  The project is 85% complete and works are expected to be completed by March 2019. The MPA roof repairs and Ferry Terminal Canopy Cover are completed, including construction of a staircase, a verandah at the arrival section, paving works and reconfiguration of the fencing.  The anticipated Canopy which will form the roof for the newly paved areas will be installed shortly.  

Liquid Waste Management Project: This project has four components: [1] the Margetson Sewage Treatment Plant, [2] The Lookout warden assisted accommodation walkway, [3] the Lookout warden assisted accommodation sewage balancing tank and [4] the New Windward sewage stabilization ponds. The first three components are already completed.  Work on the New Windward ponds is still in progress. The installation of the pond liners was delayed due to late arrival.  Completion of this project is now scheduled for later this month.

Tourism: The new tourism director will now be in place shortly.  It is anticipated that he will advance the discussion of the formal twinning of Montserrat and Antigua as one tourist destination. The future looks bright for the anticipated EU funded tourism development which would increase the tourism dollars for the private sector.

Another key sign of progress comes from the testimony to the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) by Lord Ahmad, Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) Minister for Overseas Territories, on December 18th 2018. This is the same FAC that I testified before and also submitted written evidence. 

In his testimony Lord Ahmad confirmed that along with the Secretary of State, (Penny Mordaunt) and his colleague Lord Bates, the view they are now taking involves much more long-term support of Capital projects in Montserrat as in each British Overseas Territory.  He confirmed that we  are working  through  the  details  of  a  £30  million-plus  programme  supporting infrastructure. However, having surveyed our needs, GoM asked for significantly more than £50 million. 

GoM acknowledges and thank Lord Ahmad and Lord Bates for the critical role they have played so far in the negotiations over the 5-year Capital programme.  For it is time we agree a real programme of action to recreate a civilized home for the People of Montserrat.

Given the legal obligations to support OT’s, Montserrat has a priority claim on DfID’s £12 billion plus development aid budget. According to the 2002 UK International Development Act, we must not be put in competition with very poor third world countries.  The key projects we are proposing are transformative and — with timely and adequate support — will help to get Montserrat out of dependency on annual grants from the UK.

It is definitely good news that, apart from having discussions with us year after year over budget support, GoM, FCO and DfID are now also discussing the first long-term capital programme with many projects.  This will not only help to set Montserrat on a course out of dependency on the British tax payers but will fulfill the UK’s obligations under the United Nations Charter, Article 73, by ensuring our advancement, economically, socially, educationally and even politically while also promoting constructive measures of development.

That is why I shall continue to call on HMG to honour the UK’s policies which are very supportive and allows them to do what is right by the people of Montserrat while doing what is in the interest of the British tax payers. 

So, 2019 is indeed the time for UK policies and actions to match. 

2019 is also the time for us as a people to be assertive about our rights as British Nationals under the UN Charter.  Those who refuse to accept this and who sometimes even laugh at it are unintentionally working against Montserrat’s interests. That must now stop and we must come together to move forward with a united force.

Finally, the key strategic move for 2019 and beyond is to turn our breakthroughs into a breakout that moves us beyond dependency and lingering impacts of the volcano disaster to resilient, self-sustaining, inclusive growth and development.  With key infrastructure and projects coming in place, 2019 is the year for us to all work together to continue to attract the right kinds of support. This includes local and foreign investments and business that will build a modern, thriving, diverse, resilient, and lasting economy. One, in which all of our people, whether citizens, residents, visitors or friends, young and old — through enterprise and initiative — can fulfil their hopes in a truly democratic and God-fearing society

Let us therefore continue to commit 2019 into God’s hands and seek his wisdom as we work together to build our future.

God bless the People and Government of Montserrat in this year of our Lord, 2019.

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Romeo - PDM

Breakthroughs and projects funding ready

by Bennette Roach

GoM ends the year ready to roll with continuing and new projects

Work goes on well into thenights on teh Carrs Bay bridge and road reconstruction

As a somewhat up and down year draws to a close, the government of Montserrat (GoM) rests easy and perhaps happier that it can speak to what the Premiere has been referring to as ‘breakthroughs’ well into the new year.

This, although it may not see movement on the ground as noted by His Excellency Governor Andrew Pearce, during his last 2018 press brief with local media on December 19. His Excellency suggested that Montserrat is like a new comer “hasn’t quite yet found its new place in the world, but is on the verge of a new sort of paradigm in a way…”

 The Governor hinted that while there is no “simple or easy solution,” there had been agreement between the U.K. and the Montserrat Government (GoM) “for a substantial aid package.”

H.E. later noted in his Christmas message repeated the information of “which he said he would “not go into all the details.” “That’s really for the Premier and ministerial colleagues,” but said also, “the total sum of money being invested, committed now to Montserrat is very substantial.”

Premier Donaldson Romeo

The Premier confirmed the information shortly after and had been hinting some successful negotiation upon his return from the UK, although lamenting it was not as much as negotiated; information that had also come out from a release on Lord Ahmad. In his Christmas message, he confined himself to the Christian message of Christmas.

“As we celebrate the birth of the Giver of Life, let us pause to remember those no longer with us. Let us also not forget to share good tidings with our neighbours and friends who may have lost a loved one, or may just be alone this Christmas. Christmas is truly a time of caring and sharing.

“May we be inspired by the One who made Himself the Greatest Gift to us all; hope to the hopeless, mercy for every mistake, restoration for every failure, and a comeback for every setback…,” he said.

The Premier then in his New Year’s message has outlined, having prefaced: “Over the past two years we have been blessed with several breakthroughs that open up opportunities to build a sound future.”

“Yes,” he said, “the sea port, the undersea fibre optic cable, geothermal and solar energy development, the pending hospital, the EU funding, the new growth strategy, a five-year capital programme, several investment opportunities and more are now open before us,” which he said he had prior, “discussed in my recent interview with our acting Communications Director,” which we believe he would have been better served in a media conference.

He gave as he said, “some good news on private sector investment initiatives. Ongoing projects in Dick Hill the Art Housing project has put in place the foundations and the road infrastructure to the 10 unit villa project.

Speaking at the FAC Inquiry: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the UN, and Ben Merrick (rt) Director, OTs, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

He said the next stage will resume, “where we shall see the buildings going up, noting, “This was confirmed on my recent visit to the UK.  Meanwhile, we continue to advance potential projects in water bottling and the digital sector of our economy.”  

He then outlined the progress with various ongoing projects, some of which he said, “… are more visible than others. But we are making good progress that will help us to build a solid future”

Governor Pearce delivering his Christmas message following his December press conference

Carr’s Bay Bridge: With funding in place, we can all see that frameworks have been set up, concrete has been poured for the main bridge structures and work is ongoing.

Barzeys Road and bridge:  We have completed 820ft  of concrete roadway with an average width of 20ft.

Sea Port, Phase 1: A year ago, Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) approved 14.4M pounds (about EC $50 million) for the development of Port Little Bay under the UKCIF fund. 

Airport: Construction drawings for the new AirTraffic Control Tower are nearly complete and tender documents are being developed. 

Fibre Optics Cable: This is a priority project for GoM and DfID.  It will greatly enhance resiliency of our communications in the face of hurricanes and open the way for a powerful digital sector in our economy. Funding of about £5 millions is assured.

The construction of this ZJB building was completed well before the PDM Government took office in September, 2014. With much controversy and shrouded in some rumours of corruption regarding its construction and its occupation, it is currently waiting to be fitted with equipment said to be now available

Hospital and healthcare: The hospital project is a part of the five-year capital programme being further developed with the UK, which helps to secure funding. 

ZJB New Building: This is now nearing completion and the Station will soon be moving house.

250 kW Solar PV project: This project is expected to be completed by the middle of March and will increase the resilience of our Electricity supply through solar energy. 

Geothermal Well 3: Regarding the drilling of the third well, DFID will provide an update on the negotiation between DFID and Iceland Drilling Company (IDC).

Geothermal power plant: GOM has completed an early market engagement on the development of a geothermal surface plant to generate electricity

Housing: We were able to provide permanent housing to five households who were able to enjoy their first Christmas living in their new homes. 

Port Buildings Project: Work was to be done on the Montserrat Port Authourity (MPA) warehouse roof and on the Ferry terminal.

Liquid Waste Management Project: This project has four components: [1] the Margetson Sewage Treatment Plant, [2] The Lookout warden assisted accommodation walkway, [3] the Lookout warden assisted accommodation sewage balancing tank and [4] the New Windward sewage stabilization ponds.

Tourism: The new tourism director will now be in place shortly.  It is anticipated that he will advance the discussion of the formal twinning of Montserrat and Antigua as one tourist destination.

(See full statement on page xx)

The Premier cited as a key sign of progress, coming from the testimony to the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) by Lord Ahmad, Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) Minister for Overseas Territories, on December 18, 2018.

He noted that the Minister confirmed that along with the Secretary of State, (Penny Mordaunt) and his colleague Lord Bates, the view they are now taking involves much more long-term support of Capital projects in Montserrat as in each British Overseas Territory.

“Lord Ahmad,” he said, “confirmed that we are working through the details of a £30 million-plus programme supporting infrastructure. However, having surveyed our needs, GoM asked for significantly more than £50 million.” 

Indeed, it is confirmed from the inquiry with Lord Ahmad indicating to the Committee, that, in addition to the agreed funding for the Port expansion project, the UK government has agreed and is in detailed discussions regarding £30 Plus Million in capital aid for Montserrat.  He acknowledged that Montserrat’s requirements were more like £50 Million.

In his New Year statement, the Premier acknowledges on behalf of GoM as he thanks Lord Ahmad and Lord Bates for the critical role they have played so far in the negotiations over the 5-year Capital programme. 

 

Paul Lewis, Minister of Communications and Works

He said, “it is time we agree a real programme of action to recreate a civilized home for the People of Montserrat,” pointing out once again, “Given the legal obligations to support OT’s, Montserrat has a priority claim on DfID’s £12 billion plus development aid budget.”

 

Minister of Communications and Works Paul Lewis, according to reports, in his Christmas message hinted on the same theme of a slow ‘on the ground’ movement of the projects. He said Montserrat development is not set in stone despite the government’s best aims to negotiate the best deal for Montserrat with funding partners. He then joins the Premier saying, it would take a joint effort to ensure that the truest form of development achieved for Montserrat.

 

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Caribbeean News Service logo

Forces in Trinidad and Tobago linked to downfall of Guyana government

Dec 28, 2018 – Caribbean News Service – A senior official of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) Friday said “forces in Trinidad and Tobago” had colluded with the main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) to bring about the demise of the coalition government.

“It should be noted that Charrandass Persaud himself acknowledges the bribe by asking ‘what is wrong if I get paid?’ In his own words, he has admitted his embrace to the treacherous PPP culture of getting rich through corruption and lawlessness,” said PNC executive member Aubrey Norton.

Persaud voted with the PPP last Friday after Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo successfully tabled a motion of no confidence that brought about the downfall of the David Granger-led, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) government.

The APNU had enjoyed a slender one seat majority in the 65-member National Assembly and Persaud later told reporters he had voted with the opposition in a bid to clear his conscience.

Norton told a news conference that the party is in possession of the information regarding the role played by the Trinidad and Tobago forces and knows of the meetings at hotels in Trinidad, but it will not provide the details of its information to the public at this time. He told reporters that a senior PPP official is obsessed with wanting to control the wealth of Guyana that will emanate from the oil sector and as a result was willing to do anything to achieve his objectives.

Norton said that it was for this reason, the senior PPP official “colluded with forces in Trinidad and mobilised resources to bribe a sitting member of parliament in pursuance of his hunger for wealth and power.”

Norton said that the APNU, whose other significant member includes the Alliance for Change (AFC), to which Persaud was a sitting member when he voted to bring about the downfall of the government, is prepared to contest any general and presidential election. But he said the government as well as the PNCR were keeping “all options” open and dismissed calls by Jagdeo for the present administration to resign.

Jagdeo has also said that the PPP has no plans to attend Parliament next Thursday and is open to meeting with the government before then to discuss elections matters.

On Friday, Jagdeo held talks with representatives of the major western missions here to brief them on the recent passage of the no confidence motion and to outline the PPP’s concerns.

The one-hour meeting was attended by officials of the United States, Canadian and British missions as well as the European Union.

Neither Jagdeo nor the officials would comment following the meeting.

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PM says Speaker will have to address allegations that legislator was bribed

PM says Speaker will have to address allegations that legislator was bribed

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Dec 29, CMC – Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo says the Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr. Barton Scotland,  will have to address allegations that former government back bencher Charrandass Persaud had been bribed into voting in favour of a successful opposition inspired motion of no confidence against the government last weekend.

“If a vote in the National Assembly was procured by unlawful means to overthrow a constitutionally elected government that will have serious implications and the Speaker will have to address that issue,” Nagamootoo said.

“If you had a member of parliament who knew that he had lost confidence in his party or his slate, he should have indicated to the House that he no longer wanted to support his slate and he wanted to endorse another slate so that the House would know how to deal with that situation,” he added.

Persaud, who has since announced his resignation from the ruling coalition government, has said that he voted with the opposition in a bid to clear his conscience.

“My conscience was stifled for long…they (government) voted for things that should not have happened, period”, Persaud told reporters soon after the vote.

But there have been several reports posted on social media claiming that a bribe had been paid to the former legislator and on Friday, a senior official of the ruling People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), Aubrey Norton, accused a senior official of the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) of colluding “with forces in Trinidad and mobilised resources to bribe a sitting member of parliament in pursuance of his hunger for wealth and power”.

Nagamootoo said that the Speaker of the House will also have to consider whether a simple 33 or 34 votes were needed for the motion to be carried. He said there is an overwhelming view that the motion needed 34 votes to pass and that this was known to the opposition.

“They were privy to a legal opinion that says you needed 34. And so, they are in a quandary now how to deal with the situation because the Speaker had indicated at the last sitting that he will return on the 3rd of January to address the consequences of the votes, meaning, did it meet the threshold under the constitution for a majority?”

Prime Minister Nagamootoo said people are “coming to grips” with the reality that it is not a majority that is catered for in the Standing Orders, as the House regulates its own procedures. The majority, he said, is addressed in the Constitution.

“So, the constitutional majority will have weigh, more significance on how does one arrive at a majority… The formula has been one half plus one. So, if you have 64 members of the parliament, your one half would be 32 and a majority would be 33. How then can you have 33 as a majority for 65, unless you can prove that 64 is equal to 65.

“So, you can see already that it is producing an absurd conclusion, and the constitution would have never contemplated the creation of an absurdity,” he added.

Following the 2015 presidential and general elections, the coalition government received a slender one seat majority in the 65-member National Assembly and Prime Minister Nagamootoo defended the earlier decision of the government to accept the ruling last Friday that the motion had been successfully put to the vote.

“We accepted the ruling of the Speaker, because as an attorney-at-law when a judge makes a ruling, you accept the ruling until you’re able to have that ruling withdrawn, those are things a court would do if it found it had been in error,” he said.

 

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US-based group writes Speaker of Guyana Parliament

US-based group writes Speaker of Guyana Parliament

By Nelson A. King

NEW YORK, Dec 26, CMC – The US-based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) has written to the Speaker of the Guyana Parliament, Dr. Bartland Scotland, requesting that he considers annulling last weekend’s vote of no confidence that brought down the in the David Grange coalition government.

In the letter, the CGID said it is relying on Article 153 (a) and (b) of the Guyana Constitution, that notes  “a member of the National Assembly elected on a list shall cease to be a member of the Assembly if: (a) “He or she declares in writing to the Speaker or to the Representative of the list from which his or her name was extracted that he or she will not support the list from which his or her name was extracted;” and (b) “He or she declares in writing to the Speaker or to the Representative of the list from which his or her name was extracted, his or her support for another list.”

Guyana Parliament Building (File Photo)

Last Friday, government backbencher Charandass Persaud voted with the opposition Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) to win the no-confidence motion in the 65-seat National Assembly after several hours of debate.

The Granger led A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) coalition had held a slender one-seat majority since the 2015 general elections.

In the December 24 letter, CGID said that “Persaud publicly withdrew his support for the APNU+AFC coalition List from which he was extracted and declared his support for the PPP/C List.

“Consequently, in accordance with Article 153 (a) and (b) of the Guyana Constitution, it is the position of CGID, having consulted with several attorneys in Guyana and internationally, that Mr. Charrandass Persaud’s vote for the no confidence motion against the government on December 21 is null, void and of no legal effect, and should be vitiated,” CGID wrote.

“The institute, therefore, respectfully solicits your review and sanction of this matter of urgent national importance,” it added.

The CGID said that, prior to the Constitution Amendment Act of 2007, Article 156.3, an original provision of the Constitution, stated that “A member of the national Assembly elected on a list shall be disqualified from being a member of the Assembly, if he or she in the prescribed manner, declares that he or she will not support the list from which his or her name was extracted or, declares that he or she abstain from supporting that list or, declares his or her support for another list.”

CGID said this original provision, Article 156.3, was repealed and replaced with the extant provisions of Article 153 by the Constitution Amendment Act of 2007.

“The amendment, notwithstanding the fundamental intent of the framers of the Constitution, remains applicable and paramount to the interpretation of the extant provisions of Article 153,” CGID wrote, adding that the Constitution “comprises binding rules which govern the organization, powers and administration of government and society.

“The intent of the framers, thereof, is the jurisprudential standard for constitutional interpretation,” it added.

CGID said the framers of the Guyana Constitution intended, in Article 153 (a) and (b), that “a member of the Assembly, elected by the people and extracted from his party’s List, cannot act against, refuse to support nor vote against the List from which he or she was extracted, and neither can a member vote for, with or in support of another List, without first declaring such intent to the Speaker in writing.”

Consequently, the US based group said that Article 153 (a) and (b) of the Guyana Constitution “mandates that any member who, accordingly, makes such declaration against the List from which he or she is extracted or in support of another List, shall cease to be a member of the National Assembly.

“The commission of an act against the List from which a member was extracted, as well as an act in support of another List, for which a written declaration was deliberately and deceitfully withheld from the Speaker, likewise violate the provisions of Article 153 (a) and (b), and similarly disqualifies such a member immediately from the Assembly, since the intention of the Constitution is for the member to fully honor the content of Article 153 to the letter,” it said.

CGID said Article 153 clearly mandates that “before a member acts against the List from which he or she was extracted, or in support of another List, a declaration of that intent must be first submitted to the Speaker, the consequence of which, or the failure to so declare, require nullification of the act by the Speaker and disqualification of the member from the Assembly.

“Article 153, therefore, safeguards against the government side of the Assembly bringing itself down,” CGID said. “It follows, therefore, that a public withdrawal of support for the List from which a member was extracted and the public declaration of support for another List, with or without a declaration to the Speaker, automatically triggers or invokes Article 153 (a) and (b), and such member shall cease to be a member of the Assembly.

“Honourable, Speaker, on Friday, December, 21, 2018, Mr. Charrandass Persaud, then a member of the Assembly, who was extracted from the APNU+AFC coalition List, voted in favour of the no confidence motion that was tabled in the National Assembly by the parliamentary opposition, against the APNU+AFC coalition government of Guyana, enabling its passage,” added CGID in its letter to Scotland.

As a result of Friday’s no confidence vote, Guyana is preparing for general elections early next year.

Persaud, a lawyer, told reporters after the vote that his conscience had been “stifled for long,” adding that he had not been offered any money or position by the opposition to vote against the government.

Persaud, who had long criticized the PPP as “corrupt” and “out-of-touch”, among other things, said he will be tendering his resignation to Parliament and the Alliance for Change (AFC), a partner in the coalition government, and that he would not be returning to the House as a Member of Parliament for the AFC.

In the interim, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, a former president, said that he plans to meet with Granger on several issues. The meeting is scheduled for next month.

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ILO Dec 18

Labour Overview 2018: Unemployment in Latin America and the Caribbeandown slightly in 2018

18 December 2018

After three years on the rise, unemployment in Latin America and the Caribbean dipped slightly in 2018, according to the ILO’s Labour Overview 2018. But there is uncertainty about future trends, amid slow growth, high volatility and concerns about the high rate of youth unemployment.

LIMA (ILO News) – The unemployment rate in Latin America and the Caribbean fell slightly to a forecast 7.8 in 2018, from 8.1 per cent in 2017, reversing a three-year trend of rising unemployment, the ILO said in its Labour Overview 2018 regional report.

“In a context of slow economic growth, the improvement in the unemployment rate has been modest,” said ILO interim Regional Director Carlos Rodriguez, adding that there is a need “to increase the speed at which we generate more and better jobs “. He pointed out that the latest figures, based on data collected up to the third quarter 2018, mean that some 25 million women and men in the region are unemployed.

ILO regional economist Hugo Ñopo pointed out that youth unemployment in the region was at alarming levels. One in five people in the 14-25 age group were looking for work, but failing to find any in the third quarter 2018.

The report highlights the need to step up efforts to reduce gender inequality in the world of work. The labour force participation rate for women has remained constant, at 50.3 per cent in the third quarter, 20 percentage points below the rate for men. The unemployment rate for women reached 10 per cent in the third quarter of 2018, as compared with a 7.3 per cent rate for men.

While the average unemployment rate for the region dropped, it actually increased in 10 countries and fell in seven. The decrease in the regional rate was driven in large part by an improvement in Brazil – home to 40 per cent of the region’s economically active population – which saw the unemployment rate drop by 0.6 percentage points.

At the same time, real minimum wages increased regionally, and in 12 of the 16 countries that provided data for this indicator.

The report says one million jobs could be created if an IMF forecast for a 2.2 per cent growth in 2019 is realized. But it also warns that future trends in the region remain uncertain amid labour market vulnerability to political, trade and investment fluctuations.

Labour Overview marks its 25th anniversary this year, at a time when the ILO is gearing up to mark its centenary, starting in January 2019.

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