Archive | Hurricane

Dominica aerial

PM Skerrit says despite no revenue, government keeping financial obligations to public servants

ROSEAU, Dominica, Oct 4, CMC – Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit Wednesday said that public servants had received their salaries for the month of September even though the government has not received “one dollar” since Hurricane Maria pummelled the island on September 18.

Speaking at the daily briefing updating Dominicans on the progress of rehabilitation, Skerrit said that his administration was also in talks with the private sector on plans to get them functional as quickly as possible and hinted at the possibility of providing land and concessions in that regard.

Dominica aerial
Aerial view of the damage caused to Dominica by Hurricane Maria

He said while the World Bank had made available loans and grants totalling more than US$60 million to the island, he was hoping for further negotiations to bring the figure up to US$100 million and would soon be holding talks with representatives of the Washington-based financial institution.

He said while the salaries were paid and the government had been meeting its financial obligations, “further discussions will be held with our creditors.

“We have not earned one dollar since the hurricane,” Skerrit told the briefing, adding that his administration is bracing for the “serious fiscal challenge that the government will have now and in the months to come”.

Skerrit also announced that the authorities have decided to declare the capital a “pedestrian area” banning all vehicular traffic into the city.

Just too many people come into the city…if you have no business in town just don’t come into town,” he said, adding that the government will enter into an agreement with several bus drivers to provide free rides for people to and from the outskirts of the city.

“My appeal to all of us is to cooperate,” he said, adding that the high number of vehicles in the capital was hampering the work of the rescue and other teams.

Skerrit also acknowledged that the country is facing a problem with heavy duty equipment to clear roads and as a result an agreement had been reached with operators in the region so that in the next few days heavy fleet of equipment expected here soon.

“Our intention is to clean from Roseau going out,” he said, adding that heavy equipment will also be placed in the north of the island to help in the cleaning up exercise.

“Our intention is to get commercial activity going on,” Skerrit said.

Prime Minister Skerrit also indicated that the authorities would be examining the possibility of lifting the state of emergency and curfew in some areas, but said that would depend on the advice provided by the police.

“The intention is to end the curfew in some parts of the country…but that advice will be given by the Commissioner of Police later today,” he said.

Regarding the availability of supplies, Skerrit said that while many friendly governments were providing relief material to Dominica, his government had entered into an agreement with a business concern in Barbados for the supply of supplies.

He said a decision on the re-opening of the Douglas-Charles airport, north of here will also be taken soon and reminded Dominicans “this is not the time for any type of complains”.

Hurricane Maria left a trail of death and destruction when it hit the island last month, with preliminary estimated indicating that the damage could be in the vicinity of billions of dollars (one EC dollar=US$0.37 cents).

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UK joint task force

UK Joint Task Force head says territories ‘moving back towards normality’ after Hurricane Irma devastation

 TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands, Oct. 8, CMC – One month after the most powerful hurricane in decades pummeled the Caribbean, head of the United Kingdom (UK) Joint Task Force, Chris Austin, says life in affected British Overseas Territories is “moving back towards normality.”

“We have had a month of extensive emergency relief – stopping people from getting blown away, and giving them basic shelter and basic foods,”  Austin told the British Press Association.

UK joint task force “Through to schools now reopening, airports and ports are functioning, hospitals functioning, power is being reconnected, the water supply fixed – all of those things we have helped with, largely with the brilliant military effort,” he added. “So, the next stage is how we are going to get the economy rebooted.”

Austin said across the Turks and Caicos, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands (BVI), the territories “are in different ways, open for tourists,” adding that hotel bookings and cruise ships are starting to “line themselves up.”

“It is moving back towards normality, but it is still pretty rough; and there will be people in all of those territories who have got it worse than others.”

At least 38 people were killed in the Caribbean by Hurricane Irma, with the weather  also blamed for manydeaths across the American states of Florida, South Carolina and Georgia.

Less than two weeks later, the region was rocked by a second major storm, Hurricane Maria, which narrowly missed hitting the affected British Overseas Territories with full force – but decimated Dominica and Puerto Rico.

To date, the UK government has pledged £57 million towards hurricane relief efforts, and announced an additional £5 million in financial support for the island of Dominica.

More than 132 tons of UK aid has also already arrived in the region and at the peak of relief efforts, there were more than 2,000 UK military personnel working in the Caribbean – “making it the largest deployment of British troops anywhere in the world.”

But Austin said that the military response is now “drawing down”, stating: “They will have pretty much left by the middle of next week.”

UK International Development Secretary, Priti Patel, who visited the BVI and Anguilla days after Hurricane Maria barreled through the Caribbean, said there are “signs of daily life getting back to normal.”

“Our UK Task Force is now working with the governments of the overseas territories to help them get on with the vital reconstruction work and to make sure the islands are built back more resiliently than in the past, so a future hurricane won’t be as devastating,” she said.

But, with the hurricane season set to run into November, Austin warned that the recovery is “still quite fragile” and another major storm could “reverse” any progression.

“If there is another hurricane, we are ready to respond as quickly as we did to Irma, which I think was a quick response rather than a slow response,” Austin said.

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Skerrit and UN Sec. Gen

UN Secretary General says Dominica was decimated by Hurricane Maria

ROSEAU, Dominica, Oct. 8, CMC – United Nations Secretary General António Guterres described  as “dramatic”, the devastation of Dominica following the passage of Hurricane Maria on September 18.

Speaking at press conference here on Sunday, Guterres noted that every community ielt the impact of the powerful category 5 storm.

“I have never seen anywhere else in the world – a forest completely decimated without one single leaf on any three and even if I have come from Barbuda, where most of the houses were destroyed, Barbuda is a small island linked to Antigua  – and Antigua can support Barbuda But your country, it’s the whole country that has been decimated and its in every community . I’ve seen most of the buildings destroyed or heavily damaged.”

Skerrit and UN Sec. GenHowever, the UN Secretary General, also said he was also mpressed by the resilience of the people.

“I was impressed by the effective response that your government and your people, was able to put together. A response that allows what I see today to be very different from what we could see immediately after the hurricane.”

Gutteres, reiterated the need for the International community  to recognise that the intensity of hurricanes is linked to climate change.

“The intensity of hurricanes in this season is not an accident, it is as a result of climate change. Sometimes people say “we always have hurricanes”  – it is true , but what we have never had is the intensity, the frequency and the devastating impact.”

He pointed to scientific proof of the link between climate change and the intensity of hurricanes in the Caribbean.

“It is clear that the level of support that Dominica requires cannot be achieved through the traditional instruments. Even if Dominica is a middle income country – it is a middle income country with enormous vulnerability that  was proven now in a very dramatic way, there must be a review of the way , middle income countries are supported.”

Guterres said there must be new financial instruments and bonds of different natures as well as several forms of financing for the country to rebuild .

“The United Nations is entirely at your side, we have been cooperating in your efforts with our limited capacity, but I’m proud that my colleagues are doing their best. But our voice will be together with your voice,  calling for the world to assume its responsibilities in relation to climate change and for the adequate financial instruments to be created and with easy access for your reconstruction to become a real possibility for the benefit of the people of Dominica.

Guterres’s trip forms part of a two-day visit to see the damage caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

On Saturday, the UN Secretary General visited Barbuda, followed by his tour of DOminica where Hurricane Maria ploughed through killed more than two dozen people and left thousands homeless.

For his part, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said Dominica has the “unique opportunity” to show the world how a country rebounds of disaster.

“We can be an example to the world of how an entire nation rebounds of disaster and how and entire nation can be climate resilient for the future. We did not choose this opportunity …having had it thrust upon us, we have chosen to be that example to the world.”

Skerrit said Dominica is on a journey to become the world’s first climate resistant nation in the climate change era.

“I see an important role for the United Nations in guiding us with good analysis on how to achieve and monitor national climate resilience. And we know we must do this all in a professional and well governed manner that will encourage the international development agencies to invest their funds….we caution that this is not an academic debate first, it is real and present.”

Skerrit said a critical challenge, is having access to funds and the manifestation on the ground.

“This is one of the message we would like to echo to the international community – that we must work together to overcoming the bureaucratic hurdles in accessing the funds quickly,” the Prime Minister said.

UN Secretary General describes Barbuda as “paradise transformed to hell”

 By Anika Kentish

CODRINGTON, Barbuda, Oct 7, CMC –United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, Saturday described the hurricane-ravaged island of Barbuda as a “paradise transformed to hell” and has renewed his commitment to seeing that small island states affected by devastating hurricanes remain in the forefront for consideration for critical aid needed to rebuild.

UN Secretary General António Guterres speaking to reporters (CMC Photo)

“I have just witnessed a level of devastation I’ve never seen in my life,” Guterres told reporters at news conference on his return to Antigua, adding “I’ve been in areas torn by conflict; in my own country I’ve seen earthquakes, I’ve seen storms; I’ve never seen such a high level of devastation like the one I have seen in Barbuda.

“To see a paradise transformed (to) hell is something that creates to us all that live in this planet a responsibility. We need to preserve our paradises. We need to make climate action our top priority.”

The short visit to the 62 square mile island allowed the Secretary General to see first-hand widespread damage caused by Hurricane Irma, a deadly Category 5 storm that ripped through the island in September. The 68-year-old Portuguese diplomat spent about an hour, walking the streets of Codrington and taking in the scenes of roofless homes, mangled galvanise, water-logged properties and downed trees and utility lines.

Guterres was accompanied by a team of Antiguan & Barbudan officials including Prime Minister Gaston Browne, Health Minister Molwyn Joseph, and Barbuda Council Chairperson Knacyntar Need.

The tour included unscheduled stops at people’s homes to speak to residents who had returned to clean their properties. In some instances, the UN leader broke away from his entourage to wade his way through scattered debris and peer into damaged homes and businesses. Stepping back, he would shake his head in disbelief and return to his waiting party.

Another stop allowed him to meet with Barbudans Knackbill Nedd and Nigil Lewis. The two men were among several who returned to the island to assist with the clean-up.  They both shared their experience weathering the storm and their outlook for rebuilding the island and restoring people’s livelihood.

“Certain things have to come back before you get work, like utilities will have to be back in place. That will have a spill off so you’ll get some work from that… those things have to come back in place so that you can get a job,” Lewis explained to the UN boss.

“In terms of economic loss, it’s a total loss,” Prime Minister Gaston Browne added. He also noted that most Barbudans build from accrued savings and that many will not be able to save enough to rebuild what was lost.

“We have a true friend in the secretary general,” Prime Minister Browne told the Barbudan men as he sought to ensure them that the island will receive the aide need.

During the post-tour press conference at the Prime Minister’s office in Antigua, Guterres told reporters there was a clear link between the level of greenhouse gasses, water temperature and the intensity of storms, thereby strengthening the case for taking action against climate change.

During last month’s UN General Assembly, Guterres and global leaders agreed to accelerate efforts on climate action and to implement the Paris Agreement.

In a statement, the UN said the discussions heralded “a new phase in efforts aimed at mobilizing and scaling up transformative action that will allow the world to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Though he was not satisfied with the level of response from the international community, Guterres remained hopeful that his visit would raise awareness to the plight of hurricane-ravaged island states and spur donors into action.

Browne was satisfied that Guterres’ visit not only allowed the diplomat to see significant portion of the damage, but to put the plight of the island’s residents on the world stage.

“I think he would have done three miles walking and would have observed first-hand the exent of the devastation,” Browne said. “He came his own conclusion that it was a transformation of paradise latterly into hell.”

Guterres’s trip forms part of a two-day visit that would allow him to see the damage caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The second leg of the tour takes him to “Nature Isle” Dominica where Hurricane Maria ploughed through killing more than two dozen people and rendering thousands homeless.

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Press Statement of the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC)

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – The following is the full text of statement issued by the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) following an incident involving our correspondent Mr. Kenton Chance and a member of the Barbados Coast Guard in Dominica on October 5, 2017.

“The Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) is aware of an incident between our correspondent Kenton Chance and a member of the Barbados Defence Force (BDF) that occurred in Dominica on Thursday, October, 5.

CMC1“Mr. Chance reported that while on assignment covering the relief efforts at the Dominica Port with officials from the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), a member of the Barbados Coast Guard “grabbed” his camera while he was filming the activities there.  Our correspondent said that the uniformed member of the Barbados Coast Guard, who was armed with an assault rifle, forcefully relieved him of his camera at the instruction of a man in civilian wear.  The Coast Guard official had also threatened to delete the footage already gathered.

“The equipment was only returned following the intervention of Acting Inspector of Police Hospidales of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Force and another member of his team who accompanied Chance back to the scene of the incident. Chance also informed (Retired) Brigadier General Earl Arthurs of CDEMA, who spoke to Hospidales and the man, after which the camera was returned to him.

“CMC strongly condemns the actions of the member of the Barbados Coast Guard. As the premier regional media outfit our primary role is to engender and foster the tenets of regional unity through information gathering and sharing.

“We gladly embraced the invitation to go to Dominica through a partnership between CDEMA and the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU) to ensure that the Caribbean and the diaspora are made fully aware of the unfolding situation in Dominica as a result of Hurricane Maria.

“The role of the authentic media is even more important now in light of the trend in societies to embrace what is often termed “fake news”; some of which were peddled in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Maria striking Dominica.

“CMC has since taken note of a statement issued by the BDF that it intends to carry out a full investigation into the matter and the apology issued therein.

“CMC will continue to support the work of its correspondents across the region as it seeks to carry out its mandate to provide credible information to all the publics in the Caribbean.

“In that regard, we will continue to work with all stakeholders, including the Barbados Defence Force, the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) and the CBU.

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Karolin Toubetzkoy

Regional hoteliers launch “One Caribbean Family” initiative

MIAMI, Oct 3, CMC – The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) has launched a booking initiative that allows hotels across the region to help those who have been adversely impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The CHTA said that the initiative will also highlight the fact that more than 70 per cent of Caribbean destinations have not been affected and are ready to welcome visitors as usual.

Karolin Toubetzkoy
Karolin Toubetzkoy

CHTA said that it’s “One Caribbean Family” movement has been developed to help the vital tourism industry get back on its feet and will serve as a hub for hotels, travel advisors and tour operators who would like to make a contribution through guest bookings.

It said donations made through the initiative are sent to the Caribbean Tourism Recovery Fund managed by Tourism Cares, a non-profit organization which has partnered with CHTA to anchor the tourism industry’s hurricane recovery efforts in the Caribbean.

“We want to show our solidarity with the Caribbean countries affected by these storms, not just in words but with actions that can bring relief to those in need,” said CHTA president, Karolin Troubetzkoy.

She said while she is encouraged by the initial pledges of support for the One Caribbean Family initiative by some of the region’s hotels and international tour operators and travel advisors, she would like to see more Caribbean hotels and trade partners come on board.

“How can any hotel or hotel chain in the region and our trade partners feel good about securing incremental business as a result of hotel closures due to hurricanes?”

“While this may sound idealistic, the need to come together and act as one Caribbean tourism family has never been greater,” she said, applauding the tourism industry partners who have launched fundraising initiatives of their own, but hopes these will not deter them from also participating in the One Caribbean Family initiative.

“To bring aid to the countries and the people who were affected will be an enormous task, and the One Caribbean Family initiative is a unique way to spread the good word that most of the Caribbean is open for business while helping those destinations most in need,” she opined.

Troubetzkoy said her company is pledging to donate up to US$50 for each booking for travel between October 1, 2017 and December 19, 2018.

“We started this pledge for direct reservations and bookings through our travel advisors, but now we are also including some wholesalers who will match our donation,” she said, adding that guests wishing to make additional contributions to the Fund will receive resort credits up to US$250, depending on their contribution.

“When any part of the region is affected, it hits us so close to home, because the entire Caribbean is our home,” she said, adding “this is one tangible way our tourism community can stand in solidarity with our neighbours.”

The Caribbean Tourism Recovery Fund allows tourism industry stakeholders and friends of the region throughout the world to pool their resources in support of vulnerable, devastated parts of the Caribbean that welcome millions of visitors in a region that supports 2.4 million tourism-related jobs.

The Fund’s focus on the recovery of islands directly affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria complements existing relief efforts and gives the tourism industry a way to leverage its resources to help the region bounce back, ideally better than before.

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Prime Minister R Skerrit

Dominica reiterates importance of agriculture as it rebuilds following Hurricane Maria

ROSEAU, Dominica, Oct 6, CMC – The Dominica government Friday reiterated that the agricultural sector remains ‘a  critical” aspect of the island’s re-development following the passage of Hurricane Maria late month that killed 28 people and left billions of dollars in damages.

“We have said many times since the hurricane, that agriculture is a critical component of our re-building efforts, to ensure that we can start producing food and make food available not only to our domestic markets but also to our export markets in the region,” Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit told the daily news briefing here.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit

He said people in several parts of the part of the island depend on agriculture for their livelihood, sustenance as well as income “and we need to ensure that our people can go back to work in the quickest possible time”.

Skerrit said that a loan facility in place at the Agricultural Industrial and Development (AID) Bank prior to the hurricane, targeted farmers and said ‘we shall be reviewing that financing facility…to allow it to be more robust and more nimble in its application so that those funds can get into the farms, fields and farmers as quickly as possible.

“The idea is to provide both an advance technical assistance to farmers, planting material to farmers, assisting them with the payment of farm labour , to accelerate their planting opportunities,” Skerrit said, adding that the Ministry of Agriculture will outline later on Friday ‘special initiatives” outlined by the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) “which we have greatly accepted”.

Skerrit said that seedlings would be distributed to farmers “but the whole idea is to get farmers back in the fields post haste, to start with the short term crops…things that we can harvest in two to six weeks”.

He said the intention also is to have bananas and plantains available in the country within the next seven months, not only for domestic but for regional consumption.

Skerrit told reporters that his administration is in discussions with the food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), OECS, the European Union, Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and other stakeholders and that the hope is ‘that very soon we shall convene a stakeholders consultation with all of our partners…specifically targeting agriculture and livestock”.

He said the government was also putting in place a national task force  for the resurgence of agriculture in Dominica” with the membership coming from “beyond our boundaries…to monitor, to assess the implementation of the strategy”

Skerrit said instruction had also been given to the Ministry of Agriculture to get the abattoir up and running and provide assistance to livestock farmers in that regard.

Skerrit said that Dominica has not been importing eggs more than 25 years and he hopes that it would remain so as the farmers move quickly to rehabilitate their farms.

“Agriculture for us, food security for us is priority number one and we will be articulating further some of the more specific interventions, specific support we will be providing to the farmers across the country,” Skerrit added.

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Governor Carriere claims harassment – ends press conference

We had already expressed our displeasure that the Governor’s press conference where her guest was the Deputy Head of DFID department scheduled for Friday, October 6, 2017, would be reduced to 45 minutes. We noted that it highlighted the disinterest or as we have said before the ignorance in keeping especially the public of Montserrat, appropriately informed.

Here then was Governor Carriere expressing her frustration and asking Bennette Roach if he was harassing her while he tried to get from her the specifics regarding the State of Emergency she said she had signed but was eventually not published.

A knowledgeable source of government matters shared the recording which can be heard here: ( and shared with the following: “Listen to the end. DFID official totally inept and disingenuous. Then listen as Bennette Roach is calling out the Governor for lying about her attempt to unilaterally declare a State of Emergency. She gets flustered and claims harassment and abruptly ends the Press Conference.”

Another source said: “She is totally lying… ask a few other people what she said in the meeting. One of the biggest things for me was when she went out of her way to state that, ‘it is Your Constitution’ that you voted for.’”

That source opined on an issue that has been reported in government circles: “…that statement was made because she knew she was upstaging the Premier…but she was saying neither he nor anybody could stop it because, ‘it is our Constitution.’” This information went on to say she said: “I have just signed the papers and I am declaring a state of Public Emergency.”

The question to the Governor came from Radio Montserrat’s James White: “…it’s been rumoured. that there was a plan to invoke a state of emergency at some point in time, what even triggered this thought? James asked.

The Governor no doubt expected the question, as the matter raised many questions and some reactions, being more than a rumour to some of the media.

“OK,” she began, “I think that’s useful to clarify that because a lot of people don’t understand that every time we have a disaster approaching the documents for declaring a state of emergency or proclaiming a state of emergency are prepared and those documents are for the governor to sign – And we did that as we always do we did… so that was just before we sort of knew the full situation and what kind of response we were we could expect from the U.K… So, I can say I signed the document. But that does not mean that there was a declaration because it has to be decided…” continuing to speak in confused terms even though it was declared understood.

She eventually continued, “And it became obvious that it wasn’t needed… So it was never proclaimed so there was no state of emergency that was just a preparation for a state of emergency and I really want to clarify that so however it is very important that we understand the whole process and I think what this instance brought to light was that we I don’t think we were as prepared as we should have been.”

Her response really said little as why she signed the ‘frustrated” declaration, but continuing to circumvent the real problem that developed after she had boasted about having signed the declaration of a State of public emergency.

Listen here:

She moved to clarify further, and without saying why her declaration became stuck. “Because you know we need to have more consultation – but we need to have consultation outside of the NDPRAC (National Disaster Preparedness and Response Advisory Committee) because although we talked about that quite a bit in the NDPRAC it needs to be outside and the there is this body the National Advisory Committee, (here she must have erred slightly as it must be she was referring to the National Advisory Council) that is mandated in the Constitution.

Section 18 of the Constitution deals with: Provisions for periods of public emergency

“Section 18.—(1) The Governor may, by proclamation published in the Gazette, declare that a period of public emergency exists.

(2) Without prejudice to the power of the Legislature to make laws under this Constitution, during a period of public emergency the Governor may make such regulations for Montserrat as appear to him or her to be necessary or expedient for securing the public safety, the defence of Montserrat or the maintenance of public order, or for maintaining supplies and services essential to the life of the community.”

(4) Before exercising any function under subsection (1) or (2) or under any emergency law enacted by the Legislature, the Governor shall consult the National Advisory Council or, if that is not practicable in the circumstances, the Premier;”

After pointing out that the NAC (which of course is also the synonym for National Advisory Committee under the NDPRAC) “it hasn’t met for five years,” adding, “when I looked into it and I looked into what the Constitution said about what their responsibilities with regard to security in general but also with regard to emergencies, I thought it would be important to convene that group very quickly which I have done…” much of which was quite irrelevant but served only to divert thought on the matter and the real issue of what invoked her misfire…

She moved further to point out that the NAC (Constitution’s National Advisory Council) had one additional member in the leader of the Opposition, to the NAC – NDPRAC.

Governor Carriere’s claim of being harrassed

Following the convoluted attempt at clarity to the question on the thought behind the signed proclamation of public emergency and questions directed at her guest the Deputy Head of DFID Mr. Indranil Chakrabarti, aware that the Governor had not been quite forthcoming with her response on the Emergency issue, I sought of her to be more forthright on the matter of her signed but (stalled) unpublished declaration and the necessity for it.

Following is what ensued, following which Governor Carriere exited the room leaving her guest behind. “…and actually if you look at the Constitution you will see that part of that consultation should be with the N A C. Now that that motion or that document was not enacted – so there was no state of emergency. OK. So so I want to be clear on that there was no emergency proclamation that was legally enacte,” “Your excellency…,” I interrupted, “Are you harassing me Mr Roach?” You can call that whatever you wish…” I said…whereupon she continued, “Well I think I’m going to bring this line of questioning to a close because we have reached the end of our time…” She proceeded to end the press conference, with five minutes still to go of the 45 minutes she had allowed, storming out, leaving her guest behind.

Listen here:

Here is the press conference:


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Fibre Optic Cable Shocker

Fibre Optic Cable Shocker

This will be taken forward as a ‘joint venture between UK Government and Montserrat”

When the media gathered at the Governor’s press conference at the Governor’s office today, October 6, 2017, at 8.30 which was scheduled to be a contended time of 45 minute, there were high expectations to hear about the stalled Fibre Optic Cable installation for Montserrat; of which we had strangely heard absolutely nothing, from the exited on-island DFID Representative Martin Dawson. It should have been the ONE thing that he could have claimed as ‘an achievement’ during his three-year tenure in Montserrat.

Today the four-month appointed Deputy Head for the Montserrat department in DFID Mr. Indranil Chakrabarti told the Montserrat press: “I’ve had a number of discussions about fibre optics this week with the relevant stakeholders here on the island. It’s not really for me to say what the next steps are; it’s with the relevant stakeholders here to set those out but. As with the broader reconstruction effort. It will require a joint government, private sector potentially.”

DFID Mr. Indranil Chakrabarti

When pressed, Mr Chackrabarti merely said: “…the UK Government stands ready to facilitate leverage support necessary to meet the reasononable infrastructure needs for Montserrat…”

When pressed further, H E Carriere protected, by declaring, “I think you got the answer that Mr Chakrabarti is able to give you so I think we should move on to another question…”

As we reported  in the August 20, 2017 newspaper, “The Montserrat Reporter has learnt the delay in this already long approved Fibre-Optic reinstallation back in 2013 in Montserrat was seriously affected by someone with knowledge of what strings to pull at a time when the UK high spend share of its budget, Department for International Development was undergoing scrutiny and review, occasioned by its new Minister Priti Patel.

“… Expressions of Interest request was published…it was submitted again this time by DFID for a Response Required By Mon 29 August 2016…”

Premier Romeo has here and abroad, lamented on this among other projects which have been languishing. Very recently Minister of Communications and Works reported that there has been no progress on the project but that it was hoped to be revised soon.

This shocking news is being processed, quietly as of today, by Government as informed by the DFID-MNI Deputy head and there is speculation that outrage is expected to begin to flow early next week.

In May 2013 a Government Information Unit (GIU) informed: “The United Kingdom is making good on its commitment to support Montserrat’s redevelopment and move towards financial independence.

“Department for International Development (DfID) Minister of State, Alan Duncan, and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), Mark Simmonds, the UK government has reaffirmed its commitment to finance future capital projects for the island as long as they were clearly justified and sustainable.”

“The ministers reiterated that all investment decisions must be based on the following: that they “(i) are financially and economically viable, both individually and taken as a whole; (ii) contribute to reducing budget dependency; (iii) account fully for the contingent and reputational risks, and (iv) clarify any institutional changes and other arrangements required to make the SGP a success.”

The UK government had said it will proceed with the implementation of other SGP components: Fibre optic cable being one of three components, whereby “– GoM should work on the planning, design and appraisal phase. If a viable economic and financial business case that fully explores private sector participation is made it will be considered for funding.”

That had progressed to approval where in early 2014 Premier Meade reported, “Fiber optics” – Already promisedand that as we later confirmed was approved following a 32 page Business Case Intervention Summary, which among other convincing and accepted statements, said in, “Footnotes to Economic Appraisal (Table 1): Assumed total construction cost of US$7.45 million, £4.84 million (EC$20.68 million), with completion over an 18-month period.  This provides 2 links, Montserrat to St. Kitts and Montserrat to Antigua.  This excludes the costs of the laying of cable ducts along road alignments (included in the proposed AO1 and AO2 road projects).”

During the press conference Governor Carriere prior to the shocking news, reporting on the just past hurricanes, Irma, Jose and particularly Maria mentioned the setbacks including communication shortcomings which would have included the lack of fibre optic cabling.

 But quoting from the Business Case, “Montserrat has remained without international fibre optic connectivity since 1997, and is one of the last Caribbean states or territories without it… The fragility of the existing Montserratian telecommunications network has been identified as the island’s single biggest weakness in the event of regional hurricane activity… The goal of Montserrat’s undersea and terrestrial network development should be to eliminate uncertainty surrounding the country’s ICT development and provide future-proof broadband capacity as a cornerstone of growth and access, coupled with the island’s strategy to open sea and air access and promote macroeconomic growth.  International investors, including retirees, will have the confidence that they will be able to remain on island with full ICT service availability.

This also represents a significant area of market failure and the justification for UK public sector intervention.

It is against the foregoing and more that we present the shocking news.

Please read on line or August 4, 2017 newspaper print copy:

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Cash-strapped regional airline also affected by passage of hurricanes

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Oct 6, CMC – A senior official of the financially-strapped regional airline, LIAT, says the struggling Antigua-based carrier should be considered also for assistance as the region emerges from the devastation caused by the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria through the Lesser Antilles last month.

LIAT’s chief executive officer, Julie-Reifer Jones.

LIAT’s chief executive officer, Julie-Reifer Jones, made the suggestion on the side-lines of the presentation of a US$550,000 cheque by CIBC FirstCaribbean to assist with evacuation flights and other forms of relief for seven storm-battered territories, namely Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, St Kitts and Nevis, St Martin and Turks and Caicos Islands.

She said LIAT had suffered substantial losses as a result of the passage of the two hurricanes adding “frankly the discussions about relief efforts going forward should include relief efforts for LIAT.”

She said that the loss to the carrier’s network as a result of the recent storms had been estimated at more than four million US dollars and that LIAT  to date, had completed 54 relief flights to affected countries that were mostly “unfunded”.

“We are still in the process of refining these numbers but I would have to say between four to six million US dollars,” she said, adding that “we have been severely impacted by the removal of literally four territories out of the network overnight”.

Prior to the hurricanes, the regional airline had reported that it expected to record an EC$9.2 million (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) loss at the end of this year.

Chairman of the airline’s shareholder governments, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, said LIAT’s  budgeted total revenue for 2016 was EC$318.8 million, with a small net profit of  five million EC dollars reported up to August last year.

However, Gonsalves had also stated at the time that shareholders were considering a request to provide an additional five million EC dollars for the airline, which, once approved, would be divided between Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Antigua and Barbuda, who along with Dominica are its four major shareholders.

But Reifer-Jones acknowledged that with the airline’s total bookings now down 24 per cent, a review of LIAT’s operations was necessary in the wake of the hurricanes.

“We are still in the process of doing an assessment of the full impact [of the storms]. But, I can tell you that it is substantial,” she said, adding that “we will have to step back and review how we go forward in terms of air transportation for the region.

“The issue for us, and this is based on our experience with hurricanes over the years, is that the recovery at the market is not immediate.

“So, it’s not just about the hurricanes. What you have to do is to look at the impact covering the next six to nine months,” Reifer-Jones said, while indicating that it had taken Dominica nine months to a year to return to “a normal state” for travel after Tropical Storm Erika struck the island in August 2015.

“So, during that time the amount of flights we had to Dominica were reduced from five to two and over time we increased to the normal levels,” she said while highlighting the need for a robust regional disaster planning system.

“We need to have a mechanism in place,” Reifer-Jones said, noting “these things have a cost on the regional air transportation services”.

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Hurricane articles

Hurricane articles

Bermuda takes in hurricane-hit Caribbean families 

HAMILTON, Bermuda, Sep 27, CMC  – The Bermuda government has rolled out the welcome mat to families across the region whose homes have been devastated by hurricanes in recent weeks.
A family of four from the British Virgin Islands (BVI), who have relatives in Bermuda, were processed by the Department of Immigration and arrived here last Saturday, officials announced on Tuesday.
The department has also processed 12 work permit applications for staff from overseas-based companies which want to relocate to avoid disruption and more requests are being considered on a case-by-case basis.
Several islands were badly damaged as Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria swept through the Caribbean this month.
A department spokeswoman said: “Due to the serious hurricane damage inflicted to our neighbour islands to the south, Bermuda stands ready to assist any personnel from overseas-based companies in those areas seeking to relocate to Bermuda for the duration of any possible disruption.
“We have already received and processed 12 work permit applications, some of which have dependents — spouses and children — relocating with them.As was the case in 2004 and 2007, Bermuda seeks no gain from the possible misfortune of our neighbours. On September 23, the Department of Immigration landed a family of four non-work permit holders from BVI who have family working in Bermuda.”

She noted that persons relocating under the listed conditions –  either for work or generally, will be expected to return to their respective overseas territories as soon as conditions allow.
“The Department of Immigration processes requests as they receive them. Each request is considered on a case-by-case basis.”
The spokeswoman said the department would expedite short-term work permits for staff being brought in.
She said applications need to be complete, including the payment of fees, while local host companies should provide a list of all relocated staff and their dependents, their nationality, their expected length of stay, and their dates of arrival.
Companies may also need to consult with the Registrar of Companies, Bermuda Monetary Authority and Bermuda Bar Council over some aspects of their applications.
Meanwhile, a detachment of 30 Bermuda soldiers and six police officers flew to Turks and Caicos earlier this month on a mercy mission to help repair hurricane damage.
And a team of six linemen from the Bermuda Electricity Company (Belco) is scheduled to depart for the BVI on Wednesday.
The linemen were set to go 10 days ago but the approach of Maria forced them to delay their departure from Bermuda.
They will spend the next four weeks working with the BVI Electric Company to rebuild BVI’s electricity infrastructure and restore electricity.
Belco’s vice-president of grid operations, Dennis Pimentel, said: “I am extremely proud of these guys. This is no small task and will not be undertaken in an environment of comfort.
“Their expertise is going to be used to bring back some sense of hope to BVI residents as they work through the rebuilding of infrastructure and restoration of power.”

Mitchell lauds regional response to hurricanes


Chairman of CARICOM and Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr Keith Mitchell

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, September 26, CMC – Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell Tuesday hailed the regional response to the recent major hurricanes in the Caribbean, saying it is further evidence of the need to continue to pursue the goal of regional integration.

Earlier this month Barbuda was one of several islands in the northern Caribbean that was battered by Hurricane Irma, prompting a call for a mandatory evacuation of the island by Prime Minister Gaston Browne.  Last week the powerful Hurricane Maria swept over Dominica, leaving widespread destruction in her wake.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell

“I am heartened by the fact that the response throughout the region, within the limited means available to us has been swift and decisive,” Mitchell told the sixth annual meeting of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Development Fund here.

“We don’t have a choice. Because the world in 2004 was a bit different than this one today.  The language from the north is certainly different than Grenada found it in 2004,” Mitchell said, in reference to his own country’s experience with Hurricane Ivan in 2004, which decimated the island.

The CARICOM Chairman warned that the road to recovery will be a long and arduous one, which will carry “a huge unenviable price tag”.

“We must therefore maintain the demonstration of solidarity I mentioned earlier on, and build on a momentum that was created post Irma and post Maria in the emergency relief and recovery phase,” he said, before departing for Dominica where he was expected to meet with Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit.

Meanwhile CDF Chairman, Sherwin Williams told the meeting that the Fund stands ready to assist Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica with their reconstruction efforts in the wake of hurricanes Irma and Maria under the current funding cycle.

“While the official damage assessments have not yet been completed, we already know that the magnitude of this economic rebuilding effort will be far too great for the region to handle on its own; so we must also be able to attract external resources.

‘Therefore, I want to take this opportunity to invite interested development agencies present here and those who will otherwise receive this message, to partner with the CDF in designing and implementing economic reconstruction programmes in the disaster-stricken countries of the region. But we need to move quickly, since these programmes would need to start taking effect within the next few months,” Williams said.

According to him, these natural disasters provide the CDF with an opportunity to allocate some of the resources earmarked for country assistance programmes towards the recovery and rebuilding efforts.

“Indeed, it was contemplated when the Fund was set up that we would assist regions disadvantaged by reason of impairment of resources resulting from natural disasters,” Williams said.

CARICOM chairman calls for new approach to dealing with the aftermath of natural disasters 

ROSEAU, Dominica, Sept 26, CMC – Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, Tuesday called on the region to re-think the “whole process” for dealing with the aftermath of a natural disaster.

Mitchell, along with CARICOM Secretary General Irwin la Rocque and the president of the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Dr. Warren Smith, toured several areas devastated by Hurricane Maria when it slammed into Dominica last Monday, killing at least 27 people and causing widespread destruction estimated at billions of dollars.

“What happens after a natural disaster? We must re-think in my view the whole process. How do we integrate the efforts of the private sector or financial institutions, governments and all institutions in a post if disaster event.

“I still believe that we are literally doing guess work with not sufficient integration in the process. I believe this whole thing tells us there must be deeper planning and Secretary General it seems to me that one of major issues for Caribbean heads is how do we prepare appropriate,” Michell told a news conference.

He said that given the situation where the Caribbean has been hit by several hurricanes in the recent past, it is not now a question of if, but when.

“A lot of the things Dominica is going through today, probably should not have to go through it. There should almost be a system that takes off automatically. I am convinced that we have to do more than we have done,” he told reporters in the presence of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit.

The Grenadian prime minister said that on his visits to the other Caribbean countries that have been impacted by hurricanes so far this year, he found that “in the midst of all the destruction, in an area where all the buildings were on the ground there are one or two buildings that remained as though the hurricane never passed.

“What does that tell us? In fact I think it was Turks and Caicos that told us about an area where because of a previous hurricane all the houses were built back at a certain standard. The hurricane passed there again, all the buildings that were not built back were flattened and the ones that wee built back stood up.

“That tells us the whole question of a building code, a regional building code …because colleagues as I have said, it is not if, it is when,” he said, urging Dominicans to be united in the reconstruction of the battered country”.

He said that in terms of adversity, it was necessary for all citizens to put aside their differences and work together for the betterment of the island.

“I make a call…for our brothers and sisters of the opposition in the country to join hands with the government and I make a similar call to the prime minister to join hands with the opposition. There is enough time for the political divide,” he said.

Mitchell said the presence of the delegation to the island is to demonstrate the “Caribbeanness and spirit of love, camaraderie and the willingness to join with you in the rebuilding effort of your beautiful country.

Mitchell also took the opportunity to urge the international community to re-think its policies that have led to several Caribbean countries being regarded as those of middle income earners and “graduated away from concessionary financing when in one stroke we have gone back to zero.

“Grenada 200 per cent of GDP (gross domestic product) in three hours, your case was five hours. We were set back to a road of absolute recovery from day one. So to tell us that we have done well, we are now middle income, I don’t know how they define it and we no longer should get concessionary financing makes no sense. It is a farce and that we have to call the bluff as it is and we need to have a united force, a united platform to send the message powerfully,” Mitchell told reporters.

During the news conference, Mitchell also dismissed the notion that climate change does not exist, telling reporters that as a scientist himself, the evidence is clear for all to see.

“I don’t understand anyone, maybe for political reasons you make such a statement, but I say deep down, I can’t see how you can deny the fact that climate change is real. The sea temperature rises is there for everyone to see and everyone knows a hurricane gains its speed, the hot air comes through the sea temperature ….that is physics it is there, I don’t know how you can deny it,” he added.

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The Montserrat Reporter - August 18, 2017