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HMG handouts and humble acquiescence won't erase Foreclosures or Rebuild Lives

HMG handouts and humble acquiescence won’t erase Foreclosures or Rebuild Lives

Those of us who are more conscious of and share the responsibility for existence in Montserrat often get the question, “If your economy is so nearly dead and with all the related problems, why are you people still staying there?” It is a question when put in those terms that is not that easy to answer.

The foregoing is taken from 2001. Today, yesterday and many months, years before now the question arises with the very familiar words, words that when put in context may not tell the real story, “things hard, the economy dead.” But those words really belong to those who do not consider and understand that there are those who have never suffered as badly as others, who have been suffering throughout. (the crisis).

So let’s continue from 2001. We have used the heading just as then. The following is as was printed then in the Editorial, except for the obvious comments.

So aside from the belief — more a hope now — that things will get better and that life here is as safe if not safer than in many other countries, there is no clear plan that one can articulate as to the way forward.

The hard reality is that the only businesses that beneficially exist, although they both depend on the rest of us being here, are the civil service and the construction industry. Every other business and industry, except for a few, is being ground more and more into the ashes and cannot identify with those who promote rising out of the ashes.

When Secretary of State Clare Short said that no one in Montserrat must benefit (get rich) from the crisis aid that she would approve for Montserrat, we could only have been looking at it from the perspectives of her ministry’s undertaking, “which seeks to work with business, civil society and the research community to encourage progress which will help reduce poverty.”

It is why we continue to say that DFID is the wrong agency to have been working with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) when coming to our aid in this on-going crisis. Montserrat’s case is not just one of “progress and alleviating poverty.”

One huge, killing problem faced by many is that of having to repay a mortgage for a house or property, private or business, in the exclusion zone. The banks are reportedly taking people to court for non-payment of loans made for properties they hold as securities in the exclusion zone. Only if you are living in Montserrat is it a problem; if you now live overseas, don’t come back; or don’t let your bank or Inland Revenue know that you are on island, and you won’t risk being hauled before the court or prevented from leaving.

And who should be taking the lead? How can a civil servant exist, if he had a loan on a house in Plymouth or elsewhere, now submerged in volcanic material, irrecoverable, which he cannot pay off from insurance settlement? Having had to either build again or rent, how can he still pay that outstanding portion for a property he or his children will never see again?

It is the same for anyone else. Why and with what conscience HMG and local government continue to allow civil servants to have their funds deducted from their salaries. So they do not run the risk of going to jail, but they starve just the same or deny themselves some other basic necessities for healthy existence. There’s one reason why the same civil servants have difficulty when they see funds being paid to others, businesses or otherwise without really understanding that it is more often than not for services duly rendered or properly due.

So the banks say if the government is doing it, why shouldn’t we? And then we remember that government has majority shares in Bank of Montserrat Ltd. and to the best of our knowledge has no policy directives or suggestions for the banks or financial institutions, some who struggle to find enough funds help fellow Montserratians survive.

But getting back to the only guaranteed businesses on the island. Most of the construction being done in Montserrat involves capital projects and will include the building of much needed homes. But as Labour Speaks suggests, there are no real development projects. Dr. Lowell Lewis reduced himself to responding to issues outside of his own ministerial portfolio, seemingly the spokesman for his government on all issues, including his own, the controversial airport issue.

To remind the people that there will $20 million in circulation and that that will bring considerable revenue to the island is more than misleading, taking all circumstances on board. A few of those will reveal that in construction the view is taken that there is a 60-40 percent split between labour and materials on a given project.

Simple mathematics shows that $8 million will be spent outside Montserrat, since nearly all material except sand, stones and blocks is imported, and even some of that is imported. That leaves $12 million dollars to be paid to labourers, architects, contractors, etc.

Then we are told that almost 60 percent of the labour force are non-Montserratians who send about 60 percent or $7.2 million out of Montserrat to support their families overseas. That leaves $4.8 million dollars to be circulated in Montserrat between now and June, some of which will be spent shopping regularly in Antigua. Based on estimates, that suggests a further $270,000 over that period. That now leaves $4.53 million dollars, which translates to 22.65 percent of the $20 million, which is further reduced when Montserratians living here must also send sums overseas to support their own families abroad.

Now, of course, some if only a few of the situations described are no longer the same, while some have been exacerbated. But more than a few are representative of the latter.

Continue: Do we really know where we are and what has taken place over the last 15 years. Look out for more on this. Meantime, may we have some comments, your thoughts and ideas.

Meanwhile our leaders boast the desire to bring Montserrat out of grant-in-aid while refusing to seek the necessary support for revenue-bearing developmental projects, non-existent at worst and quite marginal at best, to encourage or support investment in the island.

There is also the complete lack of understanding about money coming into the country in currency or kind, as against money being spent outside of the island. There is a deplorable attitude of those responsible to understand the “spend local and buy local,” so very critical and necessary to support any island economy.

The lame promise to Montserratians in Antigua, “I am not here to tell you to come home, but to tell you that whenever you want to come home, Montserrat is yours and every door will remain open to you,” is hypocritical. What, when the John Osborne government has agreed to exclude relocated and evacuated Montserratians from benefiting from the new housing program of $10 million? People are interested in positive statements of directions and signs of progress.

To date government has managed to bring on the ground projects that were approved during the time of the previous administration. It is sad that they had to spend so much energy doing that while not in the meantime putting some real development strategies in place. Well, why don’t we know about them and why is it so easy to find every excuse? Why shouldn’t we, for example, have more offshore banks being registered in Montserrat? Are we waiting to figure out a way that a few individuals can cream the market before we get moving? That is only one of the several initiatives we can work on that do not require too much infrastructure. 

As long as we sit back and wait on the HMG for their handouts, while we cuddle with them in the blocks to our development, it will not be just the economy, but the population that will become extinct. 


Posted in Editorial, International, Local, Regional0 Comments


EARTHQUAKE- Magnitude 3.50 quake rocks BVI

TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands, Jul. 14, CMC – An earthquake with a magnitude of 3.50 was felt in the British Virgin Islands late Thursday.

earthquakeeThe Puerto Rico Seismic Network says the quake occurred  7:23 pm (local time) at 18.27, longitude 64.66, or 16.67 kilometres south-south-east of Road Town, at a depth of 21 kilometres.

The government’s Department of Disaster Management said “No tsunami watches or warnings were issued for the Virgin Islands from this event.”

However, it reminded residents that they live in a seismically active zone, which makes the territory vulnerable to earthquakes.

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19 memorialised in 20th year of remembrance

Of the nineteen (19) persons who lost lives on June 25, 1997

The 20th year of remembrance of the 19 persons who lost their lives in volcanic event of June 25, 1997 was advertised by the media as a Remembrance Service. It was advertised in perhaps a more significant place, where hundreds if not thousands gather each weekend, the churches, as a Thanksgiving Service.

The ceremony organized by the Government of Montserrat through the Premier’s office to pay tribute to the nineteen persons took place on Sunday, June 25, 2017, and to commemorate 20 years since the tragedy occurred back in 1997.

Following the playing of the National Anthem, Territorial Song of Montserrat, rendition by the Emerald Community Singers and prayer, the chairman of the organizing Committee, Mrs. Adelina Tuitt advised that there would not be a chairperson but the program would simply flow as presented.

Remarks from several dignitaries beginning with the Hon. Premier Donaldson Romeo who highlighted that the tragedy took place despite efforts by himself and others to convince the authorities to evacuate the areas that were affected, remarking also that there are those “who have struggled with terrible feelings of guilt and loss.”

“…And I know from many conversations I had and I’ve had over the past years that I’ve not been the only one who have struggled with terrible feelings of guilt and loss after that fateful day. I also know that facing up squarely to the full truth of why they died is a crucial part of the healing process for all of us I often say the truth however painful will set us all free,” he said.

On behalf of the Government and People of Montserrat, he officiaIly, “express our sympathy and offer prayers and support to the families and friends of those who lost their lives twenty years ago today.  This commemoration indicates that we remember your pain and your grief and we will never forget each and every one of the 19 who lost their lives that day…”

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Her Excellency the Governor Miss Elizabeth Carriere brought greetings of her own and those from the Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO). “Anyone who knows anything about Montserrat and its history is aware that 25 June 1997 was a significant day, not just as part of that history, but also as the darkest time of the volcanic eruption,” she began, adding, “But it will always be remembered as the day when 19 people died,” while  suggesting  her understand that there may have been others who died that day.

She acknowledged the presence of former Governor Frank Savage whose name will be long remembered, being the Governor when the crisis began and for some time after, featuring in many things associated with the eruption and the crisis; and who, “continues to support Montserrat today through the Montserrat Foundation.”

The Governor read then, a message from the new Minister for the Overseas Territories Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on the commemoration, who first expressed his delight and honour, “to have been appointed the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister with responsibility for the Overseas Territories. The minister said: “The start of the eruption in 1995 and the tragic loss of lives in 1997 will never be forgotten.  Nothing can erase the shock of the eruption and the tragic loss of life that was suffered,” promising like several before him, “The UK stands with Montserrat and is committed to working with the government and the people of Montserrat to build a better future for the island.”

“As you mark the events of 25 June 1997, my thoughts and prayers are with all who lost loved ones and all those affected by this tragic event,” the message ended.

Originally, the FCO minister was due to attend in person at the remembrance but for the general election and Lord Tariq’s new appointment.

Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. Easton Taylor-Farrell, added his brief remarks, also noting that June 25, 1997 was still a painful memory for many in the community. He remembered. “…nineteen family members who lost their lives no words can explain your loss and none suitable to ease your pain.,” he said. “They were our mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, niece and nephews, husbands and wives. They were our schoolmates, our colleagues and friends, all together our fellow countrymen and women. They all left home that morning to carry out their daily chores but never to return home, never a moment to say goodbye.”

The Department for International Development (DFID) representative Martin Dawson, also read a message from the Rt Hon The Lord Bates of Langbaurgh (Minister of State, Department for International Development)  to the people of Montserrat on the 20th anniversary of the Montserrat volcanic eruption on 25 June 1997.

“I am honoured to join Lord Ahmad, FCO Minister for the Overseas Territories in marking the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the devastating Soufriere Hills volcanic eruption on 25 June 1997. An event that claimed 19 lives,” he said adding how, “I recall well the devastation and tragic loss of life on that day and the huge outpouring of sympathy and support for Montserrat and its people.”

“The loss of loved ones will undoubtedly be as raw today as it was on that fateful day,” he said in the message, adding, “It is fitting that you remember all those who were tragically affected but also take time to reflect on how far you have progressed as a country since then, with your strength and resilience. As you mark this occasion, my thoughts and best wishes are with you all.”

On the program/Order of Service, under the item Brief Tributes, a single tribute was presented by the chairperson. It came from Finola Grant the daughter of the deceased Beryl Naomi Grant-Farrell.  The single tribute from Finola in Toronto, Canada, represented Beryl’s other children, Matha, Edward, Hilarine, Sylvester and Eustace.

Mrs. Tuitt read. “There is a saying that time heals wounds, but 20 years later, we will still miss her so much. It still feels like yesterday. For us there is no closure, Hence I say to all love and cherish your parents when they are still alive with you…We never the chance at any time to repay her, sing with her, hug her, console her, No, she was just taken away swiftly and painfully…”

After renditions by the Emerald Community Singers who were seated onstage throughout, the Montserrat Christian Council featured Pastor Tony Allen read the scripture passage taken from 2 Chronicles Chapter 7:12-22 and followed by Bishop Abraham Riley who delivered a homily which was fitting with the theme of healing that backed the 20th Year Remember service.

Bishop Riley began with what he says is a song he sings wherever he goes, “I know the Lord will make a way for me.” He said that he will base his homily on verse 14 of the just read scripture reading. “This,” he said, “is probably the most well-known and best loved verse in 2 Chronicles.” It reads: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, “then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

“If we pray and if we seek his face and if we turn from our wicked ways, some ways are good and some are wicked…a covenant God is making with his people) I will hear from heaven and I will forgive their sins and I will heal their land – God wants to heal us, God wants to forgive us, God wants to bless us, we talk about blessings, What we have had in the past will be nothing if we will humble ourselves before God, tell God we are sorry where we need to, turn from our immorality, turn from our injustice, turn from our ungodliness, turn from our unrighteousness…let’s walk humbly before our God,” he ends.

The hymn ‘Search me O God’ closed the service followed by the unveiling of a plaque with the names of the persons who died. The plaque was shown for viewing and then militarily escorted to the National Museum where former Governor of Montserrat Frank Savage was to place it on the select wall at the museum.

This last event was symbolically performed by the Governor as it arrived too late for the necessary preparations to be made. This unfortunate delay turned out to be some blessing in disguise as it was soon realised that the names shown on the plaque, were incorrect. There was an incorrect name of Bernadine Celestine while that of Anthony Sutton, husband of Virginia Sutton, was missing.

Governor Savage gave some brief remarks with his symbolic gesture of placing the plaque on the wall. He began by expressing how honoured he was to be invited by Her Excellency and the Hon. Premier “to assist in the placing of the memorial plaque today.”

“Today is a most poignant day in the history of Montserrat, as we come together to remember and commemorate the lives of those who of died tragically on June 25, 1997…” he said

He said there those present who could remember what they were doing and where they were at that time, recalling how his wife Veronica and he were landing in a plane at Blackburne airport (the last official LIAT flight to have landed at Blackburne).

“The event changed all our lives forever. This memorial will now serve as a bleak reminder…we use it as a reminder of the needs of the community to remain ever vigilant against the power of the occasional wrath of nature.

“Montserrat Standing as it does in the Eastern Caribbean has faced extreme dangers, hurricane and earthquakes, and volcano …, all of which have extracted a great toll on this community, adding, Montserratians have developed a great resilience and incomparable spirit and an insatiable desire to remain on this beautiful island and to overcome the forces of nature…”

The Governor said the day is one to remember and thanking those who gave so much to assist with the most vulnerable members of our community throughout the height of volcanic activity, remembering, the police force, defence force, fire service red cross, the members of the Disaster Management agency…

He then symbolically noted the plaque and closed by hoping that he will return one day to see it in place, finally thanking the international community for the support given during the crisis, noting the scientists and prime ministers and people throughout the region.

We are to remember these people, the correct names of those that will eventually end up on the plaque. Their deaths brought urgent attention which again to this day as we recall 20 years since the tragic event, the question still is how strong the indication of the casual way the Montserrat recovery has progressed, or retrogressed.

  • Alwin Allen, 44, a livestock farmer, died in Farms.
  • Winston Allen, 41, chauffeur and livestock farmer, died in Farms.
  • Benjamin / Joseph Brown, 71, a farmer, died in the central area of Montserrat.
  • Felina Celestine, 45, a farmer, died in Farrells. ((sister of Isolyn)
  • Melville Cuffy, 39, a farm worker, died in Farrells.
  • Beryl Grant, 73, farmer and huckster, died in Harris.
  • Edith Greenaway, 69, resident, died at her home in Streathams.
  • Joseph Greenaway, 62, resident, died at his home in Windy Hill.
  • Mary Bernardine Harris, 44, resident, died at her home in Farms.
  • Alicia Joseph, 23, resident, died at her home in Farms.
  • Allister Joseph, 3-months, died with his mother in Farms.
  • Isolyn Lewis, 43, a farmer, died in Farrells. (sister of Felina)
  • Chana Rueben Boatswaine/Horrance Murraine, 66, airport worker, died in Farms.
  • Keithley Ponde, 32, a farmer, died in Farrells.
  • Hezekiah Riley, age unknown, described as mentally unstable, died at his home in Streathams.
  • Phillip Robinson, 66, a farmer, died in Streathams.
  • Anthony Sutton, 72, resident, died at his home in Farms.
  • Virginia Sutton, 70, resident, died at her home in Farms. (wife)
  • Joseph / Simon Tuitt / White, 45, airport worker, died in Farms.

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

St Maarten airport

Woman dies from powerful jet engine blast

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten, Jul 13, CMC  – A 57 year old woman from New Zealand was killed after the blast from a powerful jet engine knocked her to the ground at the Princess Juliana International Airport .

The local police reported that on Wednesday, the woman was at the airport, which is just metres from the beach , when the force of the engines on Boeing 737 jet threw her backwards causing serious injury.

St Maarten airport  She was rushed to hospital, but later died.

In a statement, the police said they visit the area daily to discourage tourists from clinging to the runway fence.

“The landing and taking off of all types and size of aircraft at the international airport of St Maarten is well known worldwide as major tourist attraction,” police said.

“Many tourists come to the island to experience the thrills of the landing of approaching aircraft flying low above their heads and the holding on to the airport fence and standing in the jet blast of large aircraft taking off. Doing this is, however, extremely dangerous.”

The director of tourism on the island, Rolando Brison, in an interview with the New Zealand Herald said he spoke to the woman’s family.

“I met with the family of the deceased this evening and while they recognised that what they did was wrong, through the clearly visible danger signs, they regret that risk they took turned out in the worst possible way,” he said.

The landing strip on the Dutch overseas territory is notorious as planes fly extremely low over packed tourist beaches.

Many holiday makers flock to the site seeking to feel the blast of the jet engines as they land and take off.

Despite  prominent warning signs in the area instructing beachgoers not to stand near the fence because of the dangerous air blasts – the warning is often ignored.

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ACM President to be recognised by NABJ

 BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Jul. 13, CMC – President of the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM), Wesley Gibbings will receive the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Percy Qoboza Foreign Journalist Award at the NABJ Convention and Career Fair in New Orleans next month.

Gibbings_619665109Gibbings, a Trinidadian newspaper columnist, freelance journalist and  media trainer will receive this award in recognition of his work over the decades in the promotion of press freedom throughout the Caribbean.

The function will be held on August 11.

The Percy Qoboza Foreign Journalist Award earns its name from the late South African journalist, Percy Peter Tshidiso Qoboza.

Qoboza was editor of The World, a Soweto newspaper.

His dynamic columns ranged from coverage of the 1976 Soweto riots to the tragic horror of apartheid and the white minority government’s treatment of millions of black Africans. He remains a credit to his profession and has been an inspiration for many journalists.

Gibbings has been a journalist for over 35 years and is the founding president of the ACM which was established in 2001.

He is also a former president of the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (Matt) and has served on the Council of the International Freedom of Exchange (IFEX) and the inaugural Steering Committee of the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD).

Gibbings’ journalistic career has spanned the broadcast and print media. His work has not only been disseminated in the Caribbean region but has been published in newspapers and journals internationally.

His significance as one of the region’s premier journalists has included extensive published works on Caribbean media affairs and he has presented papers on a wide range of subjects related to press freedom at conferences and seminars all over the world.

Gibbings has also edited and contributed to a number of journalistic handbooks and has served as visiting lecturer at the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication, University of the West Indies (UWI) in Jamaica and as a training coordinator for the Media Development Authority of Fiji.

He is well known in Latin America and the Caribbean for his work on the promotion of press freedom and freedom of expression and is regularly cited on issues related to the media industry in the Caribbean. He has also been involved in journalism training programmes throughout the region and has served as a mentor to many.

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Application to inspect election ballots to be heard in new law term

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Jul 13,  CMC – The application by lawyers for the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) to inspect documents from the December 2015 general elections as part of the two petitions filed to challenge the outcome of that poll, will not be heard before mid September.

When the matter came up for hearing on Wednesday, it was adjourned to a date to be fixed by the Registrar of the High Court in the new law term.

criminal-justiceThe current law term ends this month.

Justice Esco Henry, who is presiding over the matter, also gave a six-point order outlining actions that the parties must take and their timeline.

Ben Exeter, who was the NDP’s candidate in Central Leeward in the 2015 general elections, has filed a petition challenging the outcome of the elections there.

His colleague, Lauron Baptiste, the NDP’s candidate in North Windward, has mounted a similar challenge in that district.

Electoral officials say those constituencies are among the eight won by the Unity Labour Party of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves to secure a fourth consecutive term in office while the remaining seven seats went to the NDP.

When the motion to inspect the ballot boxes and other election documents came up for hearing on Wednesday, there was a long delay to allow for three foreign lawyers who have joined the government’s team to be called to the Vincentian Bar.

After they were seated, the court having processed their documents, which the judge noted were “hurriedly filed”, Senior Counsel Douglas Mendez of Trinidad and Tobago, who this month took over from Dominican Anthony Astaphan, SC as lead counsel for the respondents, asked for an adjournment.

He said he was requesting an adjournment, hopefully, to later this month, to give the respondents an opportunity to file affidavits in response to the petitioners’ request to inspect the election documents.

The petitions, which have been before the court since December 2015, will go to trial after a ruling by Justice Henry on June 30 that they are not invalid, as the respondents had claimed.

After that ruling, Astaphan said he has been battling ill health for some time and cannot continue as lead counsel, since he also has a backlog in Dominica.

Mendez told the court that it was only after the June 30 ruling by Justice Henry that the parties knew that they had to proceed to the next stage.

He said he was approached not long after that ruling, but, when questioned by Justice Henry, said he could not recall the exact date when he was retained, but said it was one or two days after the June 30 ruling.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves had announced on June 30 that the legal team for the respondents was in consultation with Mendez.

Mendez told the court on Wednesday that there hasn’t been enough time to take instructions from the respondents.

He said he was asking for a seven-day adjournment to be able to file affidavits and respond to the motion.

Lead counsel for the petitioners, Queen’s Counsel Stanley “Stalky” John, told the court that he had no objections to the seven-day adjournment, providing that the matter definitely proceeds then.

He noted that Mendez had referred to the petitions being before the court for more than 18 months.

John said he was making this point to say that a lot of time can be saved if disclosure is made.

But Justice Henry was having none of it and told John that that is a discussion that could take place in the corridors among the parties.

Kay Bacchus-Baptiste, who is lead counsel for Baptiste, said that his legal team intends to file a similar application to inspect the ballots.

John further told the court that submissions related to the application to inspect the ballots were first filed on March 4, 2016 and served on the respondents shortly after.

He said that while they were discontinued because of a ruling of the court, the new application would rely on the same submissions.

Mendez told the court that he was not aware of those submissions.

Justice Brian Cottle, who had later thrown out the petitions as improperly filed, had ruled that allowing the parties to inspect the ballot boxes would amount to a fishing expedition.

He had further claimed that doing so would allow the inspector to determine how electors voted, a claim that has shocked the nation, but upon which electoral officials have refused to comment.

The law terms end in July and the judge said that she has to attend the annual judicial conference from July 26 to 29, adding that she doesn’t think that the court can entertain the motion before the new law term.

Mendez also said that he had commitments in court in Trinidad that would make him unavailable for a few days towards the end of this month.

Among other things, by inspecting the ballot boxes, Exeter is hoping to determine whether 769 ballots from four polling stations in Central Leeward were validly cast.

The petitioners also want to determine whether the counterfoils for such defective ballots were endorsed by the initials of the presiding officer.  .

Exeter’s lawyers have laid out a number of grounds to support their motion, noting that their client has complained of undue return or undue election of Sir Louis Straker, who has been declared the winner of the Central Leeward seat.

They say that by inspecting the ballot boxes, it may be determined that Sir Louis was unduly elected or returned and that the election was void, or that he, Exeter, was duly elected and ought to be returned.

The lawyers are asking the court for an order for scrutiny and recount in respect of the defective ballots to which the objections were made by Exeter and/or his representative/agents.

A lawyer for the petitioners has told iWitness News that “the pivotal objective of the petitions is to establish that the form of the ballots was illegal and that as a result the sanctity of the secrecy of voting was compromised and that hundreds of illegally cast ballots were counted in contravention of the Representation of the People’s Act and regulations made under that law.

“Both the Supervisor and the Returning Officer for Central Leeward have each filed sworn affidavits admitting to the latter fact. The petitioner, Exeter, has filed a motion seeking inspection of the ballots, scrutiny and a recount as part of the trial process.”

Posted in Court, Local, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

Monica La Bennett, signs the MOU between CDB and EXIM Bank of China

CDB signs MOU with Bank of China

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Jul 13, CMC. – The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of China have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) which will allow both parties to discuss opportunities for cooperation and coordination in CDB’s Borrowing Member Countries (BMCs).

Monica La Bennett, signs the MOU between CDB and EXIM Bank of China
Monica La Bennett, signs MOU between CDB and EXIM Bank of China

The MOU will allow both institutions to explore co-financing options, as well as coordinate development strategies, concepts and activities in those countries.

During the signing ceremony, CBD Vice-President (Operations), Monica La Bennett said that both CDB and the EXIM Bank hold a common conviction of the importance of trade in promoting economic ties between China and Caribbean countries. She noted, therefore, that the partnership had tremendous potential.

“We are especially optimistic about the prospects for co-financing projects in key sectors such as infrastructure; human resource development; agriculture; and renewable energy and energy efficiency. We, therefore, welcome this collaboration with the Export-Import Bank of China and look forward to combining our resources, knowledge and expertise to further the development of the Caribbean Region for the benefit of its people,” she said.

“CDB and EXIM Bank, we share the same target, to improve the economic development of Caribbean countries…I am quite sure that by signing this MOU we will expand this kind of cooperation and achieve the given result, the economic cooperation between China and Caribbean agencies,” added Yu Wen, Deputy General Manager, Corporate Business Department, Export-Import Bank of China.

The signing ceremony took place during a CDB-hosted conference on the use of Chinese Renminbi in the Caribbean earlier this week.

China EXIM Bank is a state-owned policy bank that supports China’s foreign trade, investment and international economic cooperation. It implements projects around the world, including in Latin America and the Caribbean. China has been a member country of CDB since 1998.

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Jimmy Henry

Agriculture Minister resigns

 CASTRIES, St Lucia Jul. 12, CMC – Agriculture Minister Jimmy Henry has resigned following reports that he was recently  stopped and searched at the George Charles Airport .
Jimmy Henry
Jimmy Henry

Henry, who announced his resignation Wednesday, in a video  on social media, said he decided to step down for personal reasons.

” I have decided to tender my resignation with immediate effect from the senate and as a Minister. Due to these personal matters at this time, I am unable to give the attention necessary to my Ministerial duties,” Henry said.

He thanked his supporters in his east coast village of Dennery and said he would continue to maintain a keen interest in the community.

However, former government minister  and talk show host, Richard Frederick has alleged that Henry was stopped at George Charles Airport and questioned about an undisclosed sum on money in his possession.

But National Security Minister Hermanguild Francis, on Tuesday, denied knowledge of any such investigation regarding Henry and suggested that the allegation is political mischief.

In response, top cop, Milton Desir, told reporters that he gave no order to investigate Henry, who had previously declined to comment on the matter – until now.

Henry contested the Dennery North seat in the last general election and lost to Shawn Edward of the St Lucia Labour Party.

Unconfirmed news says that Henry was earlier stopped at the airport and questioned over moneys he had in his possession.

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Taiwan announces visa-free entry for allies in Caribbean

TAIPEI, Jul. 12, CMC – The Government of Taiwan on Wednesday announced visa-free entry for nationals of its diplomatic allies in the Caribbean, with immediate effect.

visa-freeAccording Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this is being done to “demonstrate the closeness between Taiwan and its allies in the Caribbean “ and “the principles of mutual benefit and reciprocity”.

With this development, nationals of Belize, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, St Kitts Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines will be given visa-exempt stays of up to 30 days.

Meanwhile, nationals of El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, and Nicaragua will be granted visa-free stays of up to 90 days.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry in its statement said It is hoped that the change “will lead to an increase in tourism, business, trade and cultural exchanges at multiple levels.”

The announcement was made  during Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes’s state visit to Taiwan, was meant to highlight the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the Republic of Paraguay and to commemorate the two countries’ friendship.

Paraguay first granted Taiwanese nationals 90-day landing visas on November 20, 2012, while the 10 other allies already grant visa-free entry to Taiwanese nationals.

All 11 allies were included in Taiwan’s e-visa program on Jan. 12 last year, the ministry said.

Cartes’ visit comes after Panama cut formal ties with Taiwan and established diplomatic relations with China on June 13, leaving Taipei with only 20 diplomatic allies.

Posted in International, Local, News, Regional, Travel0 Comments

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit

Prime Minister to sue member of Election Commission

ROSEAU, Dominica, Jul. 12, CMC – Lawyers for  Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica  say they will be filing a lawsuit against a member of the Election Commission for statements made on a radio programme that they determined to be defamatory .

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit

The lawyers had written to Hillary Shillingford demanding a “prompt reaction and an apology  in terms to be agreed by him and his attorneys”.

The lawyers gave Shillingford a deadline of  July 5 at 12:00pm and also demanded payment of compensation and costs.

It was also noted that if Shillingford failed to meet the demands, a lawsuit would be filed.

The lawyers also demanded a retraction and apology from the management of the radio station Q95fm .

The radio station was given the deadline of July 7.

The legal team said if this was not done, legal proceedings will also be instituted against them.

According to the head of the Skerrit’s team of lawyers, Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphan, during a radio programme June 27, Shillingford made statements that implied that the Prime Minister abused his office.

“The words meant and were understood by the listeners of Q95 Radio on live radio and via the internet to mean that our client misused and abused the office and Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and unlawfully in breach of his duties, diverted and used public moneys and in particular moneys intended for use at the Princess Margaret Hospital, for the illegal and unlawful purpose of paying for the transportation of supporters in the Diaspora to travel to Dominica to vote.”

Hillary Shillingford
Hillary Shillingford

These allegations are not only completely false , disc hones and lies manufactured by you, but are premised on a factual impossibility,” the lawyers said in a letter to Shillingford.

In an interview with the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), Astaphan said the Prime Minister has now decided on “zero-tolerance”.

“The Prime Minister of  the Commonwealth of Dominica has decided that after many years of tolerance and patience and non-stop smear campaign against him by the leader of the United Workers Party and his supporters and members that he appoints through various commissions  – he has decided on zero tolerance on matters such as this.”

Astaphan said the Prime Minister had no alternative to instruct his legal team to write Shillingford and a case will be filed in a matter of days

“This foolishness must stop – this prostitution of the freedom of the media, freedom of press and freedom of speech that you can use it as a platform to manufacture lies ad spread fake news and false news repeatedly has to stop. – somebody has to take action , and we are moving forward,” Astaphan said.

Posted in Court, Legal, Local, News, Politics, Regional1 Comment