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President Granger describes talks as “successful engagement”

President Granger describes talks as “successful engagement”

by staff writer

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Jan 9, CMC – President David Granger Wednesday described his 75-minute discussion with Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo as “a successful engagement” and has sought to re-assure the population that they are working towards a solution “which they will be satisfied with”.

Granger’s coalition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) collapsed on December 21 after a government back bencher, Charrandass Persaud sided with the motion of no confidence against the government by Jagdeo, to give the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) a 33-32 victory in the 65-member National Assembly.

President David Granger speaking after meeting
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo (CMC Photo)

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

In a brief statement, following the discussions, Granger said he would describe the deliberations as ‘ a successful engagement” adding “both the Leader of the Opposition and the president are concerned about the situation.

“We would like to assure the public in Guyana that we are working to a solution which they will be satisfied with. The public interest is our paramount concern,” he said.

Granger said that the meeting had discussed two main issues, namely the function of the National Assembly and the function of the government.

“Neither of these two important institutions, the legislative branch and the executive branch, could be allowed to fail. Public services have to be delivered…and therefore the two sides reach broad agreement on how these two institutions…will continue to function,” Granger said.

He said regarding general and regional elections, the government has had legal recourse to the courts in order to determine the validity of the votes cast in the National assembly during the motion of no confidence.

“This is quite legitimate and there is no intention on the part of the two parties to derail the constitutional or legislative process. We have agreed that the two sides will continue to work together, to engage GECOM (Guyana Elections Commission) to ensure that elections are held within the administrative capabilities of the Guyana Elections Commission”.

As he emerged from the meeting Jagdeo told reporters that “it was a good meeting so far” and Attorney General Carl; Greenidge told reporters that the meeting was a win for everybody without elaborating.

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

Meanwhile the Opposition Leader maintains call for fresh general elections

Jan 9, CMC – Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo Wednesday maintained his call for fresh regional and general elections in Guyana following talks with President David Granger on the way forward for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country following last December’s successful motion of no confidence that toppled the three and a half year old coalition.

Jagdeo, speaking at a news conference following the talks said that his People’s progressive Party (PPP) which lost the 2015 polls, had not changed its position and called for the elections to be held in keeping with the country’s constitution.

Bharrat Jagdeo

On December 21, then government backbencher,  Charrandass Persaud sided with the motion of no confidence against the government filed by Jagdeo, giving the opposition a 33-32 victory in the 65-member National Assembly.

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

Jagdeo told reporters that the PPP believes that the legislative arm of the Government has spoken definitively and he believes that immediately the Constitutional provisions should be applied.

“The fact that you go to Court now to seek a remedy does not change that”, Jagdeo said, in reference to the moves by the government to seek a High Court ruling declaring that Persad’s vote was null and void.

Jagdeo did not provide details on agreements reached with President Granger but said that elections have to be held before April 30 this year otherwise the government would be illegitimate.

He told the news conference that during the talks, the two sides agreed that to meet with the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) regarding its readiness for the elections.

He said that the teams to the meeting will be headed by the two Chief Whips in the National Assembly, but gave no indication when the talks will take place.

In a statement following the talks, President Granger said the meeting with GECOM is ‘to ensure that elections are held within the administrative capabilities of the Guyana Elections Commission”.

Jagdeo said the coalition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) government, cannot behave as if it was business as usual with the regular work of the National Assembly and said he expressed that position to Granger.

He said PPP legislators would only attend sittings of the National Assembly when issues related to the elections are being discussed.

Jagdeo said that the PPP had requested the government withdraw its court challenges but received a blanket no from the President.

The two parties are expected to issue a joint communique later on Wednesday.

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President Granger and Opposition Leader Jagdeo end talks

President Granger and Opposition Leader Jagdeo end talks

by staff writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Opposition Leader confirms senator no longer a legislator

Opposition Leader confirms senator no longer a legislator

by staff writer

ROSEAU, Dominica, Jan 9, CMC – Opposition Leader Lennox Linton Wednesday confirmed that an opposition legislator, Dr. Thompson Fontaine, was no longer a parliamentarian after Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit announced on Tuesday night that he had missed three consecutive meetings of the legislative chamber.

“Mr. Thomson Fontaine, as we speak, is no longer a senator in Dominica because he missed three consecutive sittings without the expressed authority of the Speaker,” Skerrit told television viewers.

Opposition Leader Lennox Linton

Linton, speaking on a private radio station here, acknowledged that Fontaine, an economist who is reported to be employed as the Senior Economic and International Policy Adviser on the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, overseeing implementation of Agreement on Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan, had written to the Speaker Alix Boyd-Knights about his unavailability to attend Parliament.

“Thompson Fontaine is under pressure because the Speaker will not accept his notification or his word to the Speaker that he can’t attend parliament. She decides what she wants and since is sole judge of that under the rules of the parliament…so she decides what she accepts and what she doesn’t accept.

“But Thompson had already decided that it would be better for him to move on and he was going to resign the Senate position anyway, “said Linton who had named him as a senator following the 2014 general elections.

He said the decision by the economist “had nothing to do with leadership or this sort” and that Prime Minister Skerrit “is trying to make a deal about it” even as he, Skerrit has not informed the nation about the position regarding a parliamentary secretary Ivor Stephenson, who was appointed in April last year and is yet to make an appearance in Parliament.

“When you put the Thompson Fontaine situation side by side with what has happened with Ivor Stephenson and how he as prime minister has managed it…with an elected member incapable of going to Parliament …and he is happy that through the machinations of the Speaker they have declared the Thompson Fontaine seat in the Senate vacant”.

Skerrit had told television viewers that Linton had shown poor leadership by allowing Fontaine to miss the three consecutive sitting of the parliament “to the point where the Speaker would write to the President informing the President that a senator has missed three sittings and therefore, he has vacated his seat in the “Parliament.

“I can tell the country that this would never happen to me as prime minister with an elected member of parliament, far more, for a senator,” he added.

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Bulgarian - stole from ATM Antigua

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

 

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

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

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

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

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Governor grants Caribbean nationals clemency

Governor grants Caribbean nationals clemency

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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CARICOM RBM life-cycle approach

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

TMR December 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1] Vision-setting

2] Defining the results map and RBM framework

3] Planning for monitoring and evaluation

4] Implementation with monitoring

5] Managing that uses evaluation

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

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

CARICOM’s top-level priorities are:

1] Economic: sustainable, resilient growth

2] Social: improved quality of life for all

3] Environmental: reduced vulnerability

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

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

6] Governance: strengthening community governance

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

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

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

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

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

[2]     See: http://baastel.com/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Sir Fenton Ramsahoye QC

Sir Fenton’s remains for homeland, Guyana

Sir Fenton Ramsahoye QC

SIR Fenton Ramsahoye, QC,who died in Barbados on Thursday last week, will be cremated there and his remains taken to his homeland of Guyana.

An article in the Stabroek News of Guyana quoted Ramsahoye’s brother, Dr Walter Ramsahoye, as saying the leading regional lawyer died at Bayview Hospital after a brief illness, with one of his two sons, Bernard, at his bedside.

Walter said his brother’s wish was “to have his remains cremated wherever he died and to have them returned to Guyana to be buried in the Blankenburg Anglican churchyard, closer to his childhood home in Blankenburg, West Coast Demerara.”

Ramsahoye, 89, was Guyana’s first attorney general. He lived and worked in TT for many years. He leaves to mourn his widow Phyllis and sons. Bernard is a professor of medicine.

The Stabroek News reported, “Speaking of his brother, Walter said Sir Fenton was a lawyer par excellence, having the reputation in the British Commonwealth of winning more cases in the Privy Council in London, than any other lawyer in the commonwealth.”

It quoted a tribute from Guyana’s bar association which said, “Sir Fenton was one of the greatest legal luminaries ever produced by Guyana.”

An official from the Law Association of TT told Newsday it would pay tribute to Ramsahoye in a media release this week.

Former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, SC, said he worked with Ramsahoye in over 20 cases from TT’s High Court to the Privy Council.

He recalled when he was jailed for contempt of court in 1976 by the late Sonny Maharaj for refusing to apologise to the judge, “It was Ramsahoye who argued my case in the Appeal Court and the Privy Council. The law lords in their judgment agreed with Fenton that lawyers must not be subservient to judges if they feel they are misconducting themselves on the bench to the detriment of clients.”

Maharaj also recalled the famous case of the Judge’s Wife, which dealt with the rights of the media to report on matters affecting the public interest.

Ramsahoye, Maharaj said, was a strong advocate of retaining the Privy Council.

“He was strong in his view that justice was too important for the average man and woman to be left for small societies like ours to have the final say.”

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Romeo - PDM

Breakthroughs and projects funding ready

by Bennette Roach

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

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

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

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

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

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

Premier Donaldson Romeo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Governor Pearce delivering his Christmas message following his December press conference

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(See full statement on page xx)

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

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

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

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

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

 

Paul Lewis, Minister of Communications and Works

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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US-based group writes Speaker of Guyana Parliament

US-based group writes Speaker of Guyana Parliament

By Nelson A. King

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

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

Guyana Parliament Building (File Photo)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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