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Antigua and Barbuda observing 37th anniversary of independence

Antigua and Barbuda observing 37th anniversary of independence

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Nov 1, CMC – Antigua and Barbuda is celebrating its 37th anniversary of political independence from Britain on Thursday, with Prime Minister Gaston Browne saying that independence would not be complete with London still being in control of the country’s judicial system.

Voters go to the polls on November 6 in a referendum to decide whether to retain the Privy Council or choose instead the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as the island’s final court.

Prime Minister Browne in a radio and television broadcast said that it was necessary for the island to remember the history of the trade union movement as well as the right to vote in the country before the attainment of independence.

He said there were those who are still opposed to the move towards the CCJ, which was established in 2001 and also functions as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the 15-member regional integration movement.

“They know, but they refuse to say it that only the wealthy or specially funded persons can access appeals to the British Privy Council even up to today. They know that it costs more than EC$150,000 (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) on average to take a case to London and that no poor person in Antigua and Barbuda has ever been able to do so.”

Prime Minister Gaston Browne addressing the nation on
the 37th anniversary of political independence (CMC Photo)

Browne said those opposed to the move know “that by retaining the Privy Council they are depriving the ordinary citizens of our country to justice to which every one of them is rightly entitled.

“They also know that access to justice is affordable with the Caribbean Court of Justice. That is a fully and independent appellate court. It is funded by a trust fund, not directed by any government. No government has a hand in the appointment of judges, they are appointed by an independent Caribbean legal services commission.”

Browne told the nation that in the 13 years since it had been in operation, the CCJ “has handed down more decisions against governments than for them.

“They know that the CCJ is a court for the people, built by Caribbean people for all the people. But it suits them even in this 37th year of our independence to deny our people pride in who we are and what we are, and to make us as inferior by suggesting that we do not have the integrity to preside over our own dispensation of justice”.

Prime Minister Browne said this “type of self-hatred and condemnation of our own has no place in our modern and enlightened society”.

He told the nation that on November 6, they must show the naysayers and others “that we believe in ourselves, that we are the inferior of none, that we have confidence in our capacity and certainly in our own.

“We must show them they are the backward looking ones mired in partisan politics and selfishness,” he added.

In his address, Prime Minister Browne also told citizens that despite the challenges the twin-island nation has accomplished much to be proud of.

“Antigua and Barbudans live in a country where the air of freedom and economic opportunity is breathed by all where no one lives in fear for their opinion being stifled or of their rights being constrained,” Browne said in his independence message.

He said these were not conditions available to the population before independence, adding “there was much inequality based on race and class and of colour”.

Browne said the health sector stands out like a jewel in the list of accomplishment since independence and thanked “those heroes” whom he said had the foresight to ensure that their descendants should have a better future.

“They made it possible for us to be where we are today. Their legacy must never be squandered, nor their struggle wasted. They looked to the future and even as we honour them we must look to the future too,” Browne said in his radio and television broadcast.

He said the future must include a stable financial environment, better education, improved health services as well as full employment among other goals “for all our peoples whatever their background.

“This is not an impossible dream. We are not striving to reach and unreachable star or to fight an unbeatable foe. This is a glorious quest for which we have already begun the resolute march with measurable and evidence success.”.

Browne said that his administration will be spending millions of dollars in developing the infrastructure of the island and ensuring employment opportunities for all nationals.

Meanwhile, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary General, Irwin LaRocque has praised the island’s “invaluable contribution” to regional integration.

“Under your leadership as Head of Government responsible for Services within the CARICOM Quasi-Cabinet, Antigua and Barbuda has advanced the region’s efforts, as it seeks to build competitiveness, unleash key economic drivers to growth and address the grave challenges to its financial services,” LaRocque said in his congratulatory message to Prime Minister Browne.

He said that Antigua and Barbuda has made great strides in its development since independence.

“Indeed the theme for this year’s Independence celebration, “Antigua and Barbuda: Forward Together” is an apt reflection of the firm determination and steadfastness of the Antiguan and Barbudan people in their efforts to ensure the sustainable development of the nation,” he added.

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Antigua independence

CARICOM congratulates Antigua/Barbuda on its 37th Independence Anniversary

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana)     Antigua and Barbuda’s ‘invaluable contribution’ to regional integration and ‘active participation in the Councils’ of the Caribbean Community have been highlighted as CARICOM congratulates the country on 37 years of Independence.
Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, in a congratulatory message to Prime Minister Hon. Gaston Browne said:
“Under your leadership as Head of Government responsible for Services within the CARICOM Quasi-Cabinet, Antigua and Barbuda has advanced the Region’s efforts, as it seeks to build competitiveness, unleash key economic drivers to growth and address the grave challenges to its financial services.”
The Secretary-General also noted that Antigua and Barbuda has made great strides in its development since independence.
“Indeed the theme for this year’s Independence celebration, “Antigua and Barbuda: Forward Together” is an apt reflection of the firm determination and steadfastness of the Antiguan and Barbudan people in their efforts to ensure the sustainable development of the nation,” he stated.
Antigua and Barbuda observe their Independence Anniversary on Thursday 1 November 2018.



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BVI institutes policy to protect public officers in the workplace

BVI institutes policy to protect public officers in the workplace

TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands, Oct. 28, CMC – The Government of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) says a policy is now in place to protect the health, safety and welfare of the Territory’s public officers in the workplace.

On Friday the Government that its cabinet recently approved the Health and Safety Policy and Procedure Manual that outlines the government’s “commitment to ensuring the protection of its officers, clients, contractors, suppliers, visitors, neighbors and the public from hazards and risks associated with its operations, and to the provision of adequate workplace facilities.”

Health and Safety Coordinator in the Department of Human Resources, Dawn Leonard said that the policy’s implementation has already begun, adding that “it is envisioned that it will be fully implemented over a two-year period.

She said the primary goal of the policy is “to protect officers from injuries arising on the job.”

“She also hopes that the Public Service will emerge as a leader in the promotion of healthy, safe and congenial working environments in the Territory and eventually the region,” the statement said, adding that the BVI Government is now compliant with Section 138 (1) a, “which speaks to a workplace having a policy.”

“The policy compliments the information outlined in the Virgin Islands Labor Code, 2010, as it relates to work place safety, and can be used as a guide for other organizations in the Territory,” the statement said.

It said the policy will be enforced in part by a team of public officers from various ministries and departments, who make up a committee called the Joint Workplace Health and Safety Oversight Committee.

“The committee’s responsibilities are to conduct, where necessary, accident investigation, and provide expert advice on health and safety matters to the Deputy Governor and Director of Human Resources,” the statement said.

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CDB to fund energy project in Dominica

CDB to fund energy project in Dominica

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Oct 30, CMC – The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) says it is assisting Dominica undertake a project to conduct energy audits on 15 public buildings and facilities.

The CDB said that Dominica will be also getting assistance the European Union and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID).

It said that the grant of US$127,000 from the Bank’s Sustainable Energy for the Eastern Caribbean (SEEC) Programme will help Roseau conduct the energy audits.

The programme provides blended resources to address energy security issues through renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions, particularly in the public sector.

The project is in line with CDB’s strategic objective of supporting inclusive growth and sustainable development within its Borrowing Member Countries (BMC) as well as the Bank’s corporate priority of strengthening and modernising social and economic infrastructure.

The identified buildings, which include major government complexes such as the Financial Centre, the Douglas-Charles Airport and Dominica State College, currently consume some 4,459, 402 kilowatt hours of energy annually, costing more than four million EC dollars (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) annually.

The CDB said that the audits will analyse the energy performance of the buildings, and identify and recommend cost-effective and feasible energy efficiency measures.

Acting Head of the Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency Unit, CDB, Joseph Williams said the project could result in cost and carbon emission savings for Dominica.

“Through this project, the government of Dominica could benefit from a reduction in its annual expenditure on electricity of an estimated two million US dollars.

“Implementing energy efficiency measures could result in a decrease of about 30 percent in energy consumption and savings of 1,929 megawatt hours of electricity per year, equivalent to a reduction of 1,254 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, helping Dominica meet its nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement,” he added.

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Motion against Premier Donaldson Romeo government defeated

Motion against Premier Donaldson Romeo government defeated

BRADES, Montserrat, Oct 29, CMC – The motion of no confidence against the government of Premier Donaldson Romeo was defeated as expected on Monday after all five government legislators voted to keep the four-year old administration in office.

“I wish the PDM (People’s Democratic Movement) well in the next year in office,” said opposition member Dr. Ingrid Buffonge, who had tabled the motion against the government, she was once a member.

Premier Donaldson Romeo, speaking in Parliament
on Monday (CMC Photo)

But as she wound up the debate, she said she wanted to caution Montserratians “to vote wisely” adding “let us not make the same mistake”.

The motion was born out of her disgruntlements and disatisfaction, with the Ministry of Health, surrounding health care, ending in her request to the health minnister Delmaude Ryan to resign, and to the Premier to dismiss her if she didn’t resign.

Buffonge said that she was pleased in bringing the motion since it was important to “hold the government to account”, but acknowledged that the vote would not be in support of removing the Romeo administration, no doubt in apparent reference to the decision by former agriculture minister Claude Hogan to side with the government.

Some obviously uninformed so-called political observers had expected Hogan, who was fired by Romeo last year, to vote in support of the opposition that included two former PDM members.

But when he made his contribution to the debate, arriving back from the UK moments earlier on Thursday night, Hogan said that he had no intention of voting against the government that came to power in 2014, winning seven of the nine seats at stake in the Legislative Assembly.

“We should withdraw the vote of no confidence.  If you want to change the premier there is a way to do it,” said Hogan, putting to nought the observers speculations.

Buffonge, had earlier said that she wanted to inform legislators, foreign investors and other stakeholders interested in the development of the volcano-ravaged British Overseas Territory that the motion does not signal “political instability” here.

“My colleagues in opposition and myself as well as others who will be elected in the next general election, and I do speak for some of them no, after four years of getting things so terribly wrong we pledge to get it right.”

Earlier Premier Romeo dismissed the arguments made against by the opposition as he defended his tenure in office.

He told legislators also that while being appreciative of the role Britain plays in the development of the volcano ravaged island, London was also imposing all manner of restrictions stifling his administration.

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Poll finds majority of Antiguans in favour of replacing Privy Council

Poll finds majority of Antiguans in favour of replacing Privy Council

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Oct 30, CMC – The majority of people in Antigua and Barbuda favour replacing the London-based Privy Council with the Caribbean Court of Appeal, according to an opinion poll released here on Tuesday.

The poll, conducted by the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Research Services Inc (CADRES) found that 62 per cent of the 800 people polled during the period October 12-14, said they supported a move to the Trinidad-based CCJ as the island’s final court.

Antigua and Barbuda will vote in a referendum on November 6.

CADRES said that the opinion poll was devoted to an exploration of the referendum issue and sought to understand how Antiguans felt about the CCJ in principle and also how they planned to vote on November 6 .

“In addition, questions as to major reasons why people supported and opposed the CCJ were explored in an effort to provide some amount of context on this issue,” the pollster said, adding that the methodology used was similar to that of previous CADRES polls in Antigua and Barbuda.

It said the face to face survey exercise was conducted by interviewers who administered a short, standardised questionnaire to approximately 800 respondents that were randomly selected from all constituencies across Antigua.

According to CADRES, the majority of those polled (62 per cent) said they “Supported the move to the CCJ” either now or in the future, while 17 per cent said they “did not support the move to the CCJ” and 22 per cent preferred “not to say” how they felt about this issue.

“Thereafter respondents were presented with a list of possible reasons why they would vote “For” or “Against” the CCJ and asked to indicate which single reason appealed to them most. Among those who supported the CCJ, the most compelling reason was the suggestion that the CCJ was “cheaper to access” while” those who opposed the CCJ thought that it would be “more open to political influence”.

CADRES said that responses to the central question of how persons intend to vote at this time if restricted to those committed to vote either “For” or “Against” demonstrate that the required threshold of 66.6 per cent has narrowly been achieved at this time.

However, CADRES would caution that this outcome could be affected either by any variation in the margin of error of the poll (+/- 5%) or if the participation of the Barbudan voters (two per cent) shifts the pendulum away from the “Yes” vote”.

CADRES acknowledged that the views of Barbudans were not canvased on this occasion, but noted that a 2016 poll did cover the island still recovering from the ravages of Hurricane Irma.

“Comparatively, we note a marginal improvement in the level of support for the CCJ, a plus two per cent compared to a marginal reduction in the level of opposition, a minus two per cent, which can easily be explained by the exclusion of Barbuda on this occasion which was purely on account of our client’s timeline for completion”.

In October 2016 CADRES indicated that it felt the referendum would “narrowly achieve the margin necessary for the measure to pass” and at this time “we are similarly persuaded, but caution that the margin here is “razor thin”.

CADRES said it also explored the reasons for support and opposition more exhaustively and noted that the primary characteristic that separated those “For” from those “Against” is their political affiliation with supporters of the ruling Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) being more inclined to support the CCJ, while supporters of the United Progressive Party (UPP) are less inclined.

“This relationship was noted in 2016 an is no less pronounced on this occasion, notwithstanding efforts to de-politicise the vote. There were; however other reasons for support and opposition gleaned on this occasion and we believe that this information will be a useful basis for dialogue in the final weeks leading up to November 6, 2018,” CADRES said.

The CCJ was established by regional governments on 2001 to replace the Privy Council as the Caribbean final court. But while most of the regional countries are members of the court’s Original Jurisdiction, only Barbados, Dominica, Belize and Guyana are signatories to the Appellate Jurisdiction of the CCJ that also serves as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaraas that governs the regional integration movement.

Apart from Antigua and Barbuda, voters will also be casting ballots in a referendum on November 6 on the CCJ issue.

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Foreign Minister urges voters to dismiss petty political difference ahead of referendum

Foreign Minister urges voters to dismiss petty political difference ahead of referendum

By Linda Straker

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Oct 29, CMC – Foreign Affairs Minister Peter David has called on Grenadians to put aside their petty political differences and vote in favour of a referendum that will allow the island to replace the London-based Privy Council as its final court.

The referendum is schedule for November 6, the same day another when Antigua and Barbuda, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country stages its own referendum on whether to replace the Privy Council with the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

Foreign Minister Peter David (left) and Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell (File Photo)

Speaking at the convention of the ruling New National party (NNP) on Sunday, David said “I want to speak to everybody out there, who loves Grenada, who loves this country let us for once put Grenada first”.

David, who was retained as assistant General Secretary, said there should be support for the CCj that was established by CARICOM leaders in 2001 as the region’s final court and which also serves as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the r4gional integration movement.

“If you believe in the CCJ, if you NDC (National Democratic Congress), NNP, PLP (People’s Labour Party), whatever you are, let us vote CCJ,” David said.

“I heard the leaders of the trade unions say they support the CCJ, I have heard the church leaders say they support the CCJ, I have heard the leader of the NNP say he supports CCJ, I have never heard so many sectors of our country say they support something,” said David.

“It’s the one time when I see that leaders have unanimity on an issue, everybody says they support it, well if you do support it then vote for it because you cannot allow petty differences, to stop us. I am speaking to my friends who are not here, you cannot allow partisan tribalism as you had allowed in 1983 to separate us.

“If we support it, we support it. If the leaders of the trade union movement say they support it, then vote for it on November 6. The workers who follow them must do what they say and support it, if the leaders of the NDC say they support it, then members of the NDC should vote for it, if the leader of the NNP says he supports it and the party supports it, then the party members must support it, the point I am making is this, we have to come together,” said David.

“Let us disagree on other issues, let us disagree about other kinds of things, there is enough to disagree on, but let us agree on what we agree on. If not now, then when? If is over 100 years we fighting for independence, we have the chance now so let us do it,” David told the NNP convention.

He said that when Grenada got its independence in 1974 from Britain, London gave the island a court that citizens had no say in deciding upon.

“Did any of you vote for this two-thirds majority? We just got it because the British give it to us; We have a chance now to assert our independence, we have a chance to agree on something. I urge all of you to go out and get your people to vote, mobilise, take your car and seek them out to vote for CCJ,” he recommended.

“It is a chance for us to say to the world that Grenada can unite on something, it is a chance for us to say to the world that we are one on an issue. It is chance for us to present to the world that we are a proud people, an independent people,” said the foreign minister.

“I don’t want to bow my head in shame when I am ask what Grenada do when asked about our independence and bringing our court system into our jurisdiction and I have to say we voted against it.

“I don’t want to be going into the corridors of power throughout the world as the foreign minister and having to explain, well you know sir everybody agreed with it but because we belong to different tribes they voted against it,” said David, adding “we are one tribe, we are Grenada, I say this to my NDC brethren, to my church brethren, to my labour brethren, we are one, let us agree and vote for the CCJ”.

Political leader and Prime Minister, Dr Keith Mitchell told his supporters that they should see a yes vote as an investment for future generations.

“Give this exercise support, see this vote as one for our children and grandchildren future, don’t just vote but encourage others to vote,” he said.

Two years ago, Grenadians voted 12,434 to 9,492 against the 2016 Constitution of Grenada (Caribbean Court of Justice and other justice-related matters) Bill in a November 2016 referendum.

The CCJ Bill was one of seven which the electorate voted on separately in 2016. A two-thirds majority was needed for the amendments to pass, but all seven Bills were rejected by voters.

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St. Vincent and the Grenadines celebrating 39th anniversary of independence

St. Vincent and the Grenadines celebrating 39th anniversary of independence

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Oct 27, CMC – St. Vincent and the Grenadines is celebrating its 39th anniversary of political independence from Britain on Saturday with Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves indicating that the country has made “modest’ economic growth over the past year.

Addressing the Military Parade here, Gonsalves said that th3e island’s diversified economy is growing and being placed on a sound footing.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves addressing
the Military parade (CMC Photo)

“Indeed this year, our country is experiencing economic growth albeit it modest following upon marginal to modest economic growth in each of the last seven years.

“At the same time the government’s fiscal condition has improved despite the loss of substantial resources under the PetroCaribe agreement occasioned by the unwise banking and financial sanctions against Venezuela,” Gonsalves said.

PetroCaribe is an oil alliance of many Caribbean states with Venezuela to purchase oil on conditions of preferential payment. The alliance was launched on the 29th of June 2005 in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela. In 2013, PetroCaribe agreed for links with the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), to go beyond oil and promote economic cooperation.

Gonsalves told the nation that amidst all the challenges facing the country “we have not gone to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) nor have we sold our citizenship and passport” he said in reference to the move by some Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries to lure foreign investors through the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) that allows them to get citizenship in return for making a significant contribution to the socio-economic development of their countries.

“Our passports and citizenship are not commodities for sale. We oppose such sale in principle and in practice. I so re-affirm today,” Gonsalves said.

He said that the various sectors of the economy, including the banking, and credit unions “continue to play a significant role in our country’s development.

“Current initiatives by the state sector facilitate and fuel further developmental advance. We see so in the consolidating and expansion of education, health and housing revolution,” he said, noting the new Argyle International Airport is now playing a significant role in the development of the tourism industry.

He said those who had been very critical of the airport were on the losing side “again and again and again” and that the “existing hotel stock is expanding and new hotels and apartments are currently being built”.

He also made reference to the proposed US$145 million modern cargo project and the multi-million dollar plans to re-develop the city.

In his address, Gonsalves said that during the period 2010-17, St. Vincent and the Grenadines suffered losses estimated at EC$700 million (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) or one third of the gross domestic product (GDP) due to the impact of climate change.

“Climate change is now unfamiliar in time, type and seasonality. Unprecedented in their frequency and intensity and thus urgent beyond measure. Both the pre-existing condition of countries like ours and the immediacy of climate change have given rise to the many sided concept of small state exceptionalism as a category in the global political economy which deserves a special carve out and recognition beyond the traditional rubric hitherto of special and differential treatment,” Gonsalves added.

Meanwhile, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has extended congratulations to St. Vincent and the Grenadines with Secretary General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, saying that  “the chosen theme for this year’s festivities ‘Working together to enhance national pride’ encourages Vincentians to combine their efforts, not only to ensure a prosperous and secure future for the next generation, but also to strengthen their fraternal bonds.

“Prime Minister, the commitment of the government and People of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in promoting regional integration, particularly as it relates to the Regional agenda for transport, is most appreciated.

“This is illustrated by the dedicated efforts to ensure that the importance of transport to the sustainable development of the Community remains at the forefront”, LaRocque added.

Gonsalves is the prime minister with lead responsibility for Transportation, Maritime and Aviation in the CARICOM Quasi-Cabinet.

“CARICOM looks forward to the continued active engagement of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in strengthening the development of the Community,” the Secretary-General said.

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Prime Minister Mitchell to take witness stand in corruption probe

Prime Minister Mitchell to take witness stand in corruption probe

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Oct 26, CMC – Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell is expected to be among witnesses summoned to testify in a financial wrongdoings and corrupt practices investigation into the Marketing and National Importing Board (MNIB).

The probe is being undertaken by the Office of Integrity Commission and Mitchell confirmed that he is prepared to be called as a witness.

“Question under oath is coming, they (the Integrity Commission) sought to have resources from us and we were positive to that; They may call me too, but as I say I am prepared to be called to give an idea of my knowledge and information,” Mitchell told reporters, when asked to provide an update on the investigation which was announced in July.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell

As a state-owned enterprise, the MNIB falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Finance headed by Mitchell.

The Commission was established to ensure that public officials uphold high standards of integrity in the performance of their public functions and to give effect to the provisions of The Inter-American Convention against Corruption. It will assist in improving the standards of good governance, transparency and accountability in government.

In July, Mitchell announced that Cabinet had endorsed a recommendation for a thorough investigation amid revelations of possible inappropriate use of MNIB funds.

Mitchell had also acknowledged that a lot had gone wrong at the MNIB and following the appointment of a new board in March, the then chief executive officer, Ruel Edwards left his job for a new post within the Ministry of Economic Development.

Edwards has since been placed on leave by the Public Service Commission (PSC), the body that contracted him to the post to the new post.

In September, the Integrity Commission said that further to media reports and statements circulating about financial wrongdoings at the MNIB it had commenced investigations into the operations of the board.

Mitchell said that Cabinet will endorse the Commission investigation and will accept its findings.

He told reporters Wednesday that the investigation will be led by “outside legal personnel” and that other government departments were also under investigations by the Commission.

“We have to be honest with ourselves, those who don’t want to admit it that is their business…if we want to say there are not corrupt practice within the public service, the could say so, I know there is corruption in every single Department of Government, that is a fact, it may be at different levels,” he said.

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DFID to fund next Geothermal phase for Montserrat

Hon. Minister of Energy Paul Lewis

The Department for International Development (DFID) has agreed to fund the next phase in the development of a geothermal power plant on Montserrat.

According to the Hon. Minister of Energy Paul Lewis, the agency will source the funding to engage experts to move the geothermal plant development forward. “This expertise could take the form of a “Client Engineer” that will aid in the formulation of turnkey service for the project,” a release from Lewis’ ministry stated.

Minister Lewis shared that the client engineer is expected to have experience in public private partnerships as it is the proposed way the plant is to be developed. The engineer would be responsible to guide the development of the Montserrat Geothermal Plant Project.

He added that his ministry’s data gathering has revealed that it is possible to get a cheaper cost of power delivery to the consumer and they want to ensure that the public receives the best price on the market.

In August, the minister informed that his team met with their DFID counterparts on August 28 to finalise the Report of the Early Market Engagement (EME), announced at a press conference on January 23, this year. In attendance at the meeting were Permanent Secretary, Beverley Mendes, Energy Advisor Owen Lewis, and DFID representatives Moira Marshall, Allan Clarkin and Iftikhar Ahmad.

According to the press statement released on Wednesday, “there was a common consensus that the Early Market Engagement process was a success. There is a clear indication of interest in Montserrat’s geothermal prospects based on the number of well qualified geothermal players that participated in the exercise. It was further recognized that the current wells developed through investments provided by the UK Government has aided the advancement of Montserrat’s quest for geothermal energy.”

The EME proposed scope of works included, design, engineering, procurement, construction and partial financing services for Montserrat Geothermal 2.5 – 3.5 MW Plant Development.

Minister Lewis said the EME was an attempt to inform and engage the market and secure information.

“All parties were in agreement that the main concept behind the drive for the Geothermal project was to establish economic growth for Montserrat. It is therefore paramount that there is an attractive energy tariff rate to create investors interest in the island and for the local consumers to help improve their standards of living. Both the Government of Montserrat and DFID team have established action points that were agreed in the meeting. These action points will continue to drive the realization of geothermal energy,” said the release.

Meanwhile, a final agreement to complete drilling and short-term testing of Mon 3 has not yet been completed with the Iceland Drilling Company (IDC). No word on why the negotiations are still ongoing, as this has been the status since the start of the year.

A final decision on DFID funding contribution of the proposed geothermal plant has not been communicated to the government to date. Both parties have agreed to form a working group to determine how the geothermal project will proceed.

However, news of the positive sounds for the future movement on the six-year-old geothermal project have been met with criticism that the project has fallen this far behind. The argument says that there was a funding agreement in principle in 2014. That the project would have produced at minimum the base load with the new Genset as a backup. The information said that a third well was agreed at that time which would have allowed for expansion to at least 4.5MW production using two production wells and the third being for reinjection.

That information was highlighted, but in a different way during the ‘no confidence motion’ in Parliament this week, when Minister Paul Lewis said that the idea or the decision to acquire a 1.5 genset was a mistake, even though the idea and the need may have been a good one. He was challenged for not providing the facts, but countered that there was no knowledge at the time with the generators in use were constantly failing, when geothermal would have been in operation.

The unfortunate situation is that the new genset seemed up to now to be like ‘a lemon’ since as this report is written, it is with a sigh of relief, we say there hasn’t been any regular power outage over the past couple weeks.

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