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US court asked to subpoena British Overseas Territories security advisor

US court asked to subpoena British Overseas Territories security advisor

Most or all of the stories and articles featured in this newspaper from time to time are for reason that there are matters of important relevance and benefit to Montserrat. The following Caribbean News article bears much relevance and similarities to matters that go on with regards to Montserrat and some circumstances that have thwarted our progress on an individual level and a government level.

If persons and government were to have the guts and the people of Montserrat at heart we would in the not too distant future see situations develop as has been the case in TCI and now Cayman Islands, and elsewhere.

Covington visits Montserrat regularly in his capacity as described in the article and Tony Bates heads the Governor’s office here in Montserrat.

Pic – (L-R) British Overseas Territories security adviser Larry Covington with Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) Commissioner David Baines and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) official Tony Bates in May 2012

By Caribbean News Now contributor

MIAMI, USA — Attorneys acting for former Cayman Islands premier, McKeeva Bush, have filed an application in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida seeking an order granting Bush leave to issue and serve a subpoena on Lawrence ‘Larry’ Covington, Britain’s overseas territories security adviser, who was and is a resident of Miami-Dade County, Florida.

The application has been made pursuant to 28 USC § 1782 for judicial assistance in obtaining evidence located in the state of Florida for use in a foreign and international proceeding, namely, a currently pending case before the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands filed by Bush against Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) Commissioner David Baines, former Cayman Islands governor, Duncan Taylor, and the attorney general of the Cayman Islands, Sam Bulgin, for conspiracy and malicious prosecution.

According to the US court filing, the gist of the Cayman action is that Baines, Taylor and Bulgin conspired for Bush to be arrested in the Cayman Islands and charged with the “crime” of using his government issued credit card for personal expenditures. Bush asserts that his prosecution was malicious and/or brought for an improper purpose, which was to remove him from his office as premier of the Cayman Islands in 2012 and render him unable to retain his office in the 2013 elections.

Evidence submitted to courts in the Cayman Islands and the United States for the purpose of obtaining search orders and evidence under mutual legal assistance provisions falsely stated that Bush had breached Cayman Islands government policy by using his credit card for personal reasons. Bush was ultimately exonerated by a jury following a full trial on all of the charges and filed suit to recover damages from the alleged conspirators.

Evidence introduced in the Cayman action is said to demonstrate that Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) was involved in bringing the false criminal charges against Bush.

Specifically, an email dated February 5, 2012, from then governor Taylor to Tony Bates, who was the head of the Caribbean and Bermuda Section in the Overseas Territories Directorate at the FCO in London, stated that “the Commissioner and his team are doing everything they can to expedite matters and are well aware of the potential difficulties if we are unable to get to the point of charging McKeeva ahead of the elections.”

Another email from Taylor to Bates at the FCO reported that Taylor had “tipped off a [media source]” as to where Bush’s charge sheet could be found and inspected so that the media source could “write a piece” about Bush’s arrest.

In yet another email from Taylor to Bates, Taylor suggested that he will be opening a bottle of champagne in celebration after Bush’s arrest, as he remarks in his email, “Not opening any quiet bubbly until after it [charges against Bush] has been confirmed!”

Bush claims that these emails demonstrate that the FCO was heavily involved in the manufactured charges against him.

Covington was the law enforcement adviser for Britain’s Caribbean Overseas
Territories and his role was to provide guidance and advice to the governor and commissioner of police.

The nature of Covington’s role in law enforcement in the UK overseas territories is said to be illustrated by a judgment issued by the Cayman Islands Grand Court, which records the then-governor of the Cayman Islands accepting a recommendation from Covington, described as the law enforcement adviser in the FCO, to investigate allegedly criminal conduct in the Cayman Islands under the code name “Operation Tempura”.

Operation Tempura was an investigation conducted by senior Scotland Yard detectives into alleged corruption and other criminal conduct in the Cayman Islands in 2008, and itself turned into an unmitigated disaster, resulting in a series allegations, counter allegations and recriminations.

The lead investigator in the Operation Tempura probe, Martin Bridger, has steadfastly maintained that the initial investigation by the local police, which involved an illegal entry into the offices of a local newspaper, was discussed with and approved by former governor Stuart Jack, Covington and Bulgin, all of whom issued unconvincing denials.

According to Bush’s attorneys, given this background and the high profile and controversial nature of the investigation and failed prosecution of Bush, there can be no doubt that Covington personally played a central role. There can also be no doubt that he would have created and would have received documentary material in relation to both the investigation and the failed prosecution of Bush.

Specifically, given Covington’s title and role played in the investigation and prosecution of Bush, it is simply not possible that no documents have been sent to, or generated by, Covington during the entire process.

“Although one would have hoped Mr Covington might volunteer his records to assist the defendants to comply with their discovery obligations in the Cayman Islands, Mr Covington has not done so and the other defendants in the Cayman action assert that these documents are not within their possession,” Bush’s attorneys state.

Thus, they assert that Covington is a key person in these proceedings and Bush has therefore applied to the US court to obtain information relevant to the Cayman action, including:

  1. copies of all emails sent or received by Covington (including for the avoidance of doubt archived or deleted emails or other electronic documents) between January
    1, 2009, and December 31, 2014, relating to the intended and actual investigation and subsequent prosecution and trial of Bush, and;
  2. any and all notes, reports, memoranda or other documents of any kind and in any format created between January 1, 2009, and December 31, 2014, that relate to the intended and actual investigation and subsequent prosecution and trial of Bush, his removal from office as premier of the Cayman Islands and/or the 2013 elections.

Bush also seeks that Covington attend a deposition to answer questions as to the role he played in the prosecution of Bush and to explain the documents that are produced.

The relevant court filings are publicly accessible at the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida under case number 1:18-mc-20228-JEM In Re: Application of William McKeeva Bush OBE.

 

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Grenada Flagg

Grenada celebrates 44th anniversary of independence with eye on general election

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Feb 7, CMC – Grenada is celebrating its 44th anniversary of political independence from Britain with the traditional military parade , a public holiday and Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell keeping an eye firmly on next month’s general election.

“This current generation of Grenadians who have inherited the victories and achievements from slavery to independence, has carried the torch of social progress valiantly over the course of these past years, even more determined to consolidate the foundation for a future of which the next generation will be proud.

Grenada Flagg“On every occasion like this, we must pause, as a nation – to take stock – and to set out a new path for the future. The experiences of the first 44 years have made us even more ready to write the next chapter,” said Mitchell.

He paid tribute to the “many heroes” of the country and that the dreams that gave rise to past struggles still endure.

“This nation, inspired by heroes and built by champions – is rising. Our trajectory is upwards, and we shall not put any limits to the possibilities of which we dream,” he said in his Independence address.

Mitchell, who will lead his ruling New National Party (NNP) into the March 13 general election, said that as the island celebrates 44 years of political independence, “those of us here…must take this country forward with the commitment and determination of those gone before.

“But we must also take it forward with the deep and abiding sense of responsibility that befits our roles as one people, and one nation. We must take this country forward in unity of purpose, patriotism, sacrifice, hard work, and with a vision for its sustainability.”

He acknowledged that Grenada has changed, “is changing and can continue to change for the better, but we have to keep moving forward with this enduring belief and commitment—toward an even brighter tomorrow.

“We must, therefore, avoid risking this once again successful experiment on speculations, promises and innuendos. Instead, we must celebrate the gains we have made and work toward consolidating them,”’ he said in an apparent reference to the campaign promises of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) that will challenge the NNP for control of the 15-member Parliament.

Mitchell said he is pleased that the country had come together in the last few years to rise out of economic stagnation, saying that such unity among the various stakeholders “has been a model tool, demonstrating what can be achieved when we join hands across this nation.

“Today, our nation and its people are reaping the rewards of sacrifice. The seeds sown by hard toil and sweat are beginning to bear a bountiful harvest of which all must share,” he said, making reference to the socio-economic problems that the island faced when his NNP came to power in 2013 winning all 15 seats.

“Those of us who answered the call in the last five years were not afraid to make the tough decisions, because we knew that in spite of the challenges, Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique must always come before self,” he said, outlining the achievements of his administration over the past five years.

“Our resolve is to continue to build a country that can withstand external shocks, such as those that come with climate change and other man-made disasters. Our resolve is to pass on such a country to our children and grandchildren. Our resolve is to show that we can achieve all of this together, because we have come this far in such a short time by doing it together,” he said.

Meanwhile, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary General, Irwin LaRocque has commended Grenada for its unwavering commitment to the regional integration movement.

In a congratulatory message to Mitchell, the Secretary-General lauded the commitment and leadership he demonstrated as Chairman of the 15-member grouping uring the past unprecedented hurricane season. He said Mitchell’s chairmanship of the World Bank’s Small States Forum 2017, served to heighten the visibility of the challenges facing the Small State.

“There is much for Grenada to be proud of as a nation,” LaRocque said, adding that over the years the people have demonstrated “great resilience as they charted a way forward to enhancing their standard of living.”

He said that the theme of this year’s independence celebration “One People, One Country, Our Responsibility,” shows Grenadians collective willingness to work together for the country’s continued socio-economic development.

“The Community looks forward to Grenada’s continued active participation in the work of the Community, and importantly to its leading our efforts in Science and Technology, for which the country has responsibility within the CARICOM Quasi-Cabinet, a critical element of the Community’s Strategic Plan,” LaRocque said.

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U.S. President Donald Trump attends a roundtable at the Customs and Border Protection National Targeting Center in Reston, Va., on Friday.

Trump claims memo ‘totally vindicates’ him in Russia probe

From the description and all the opinions seen, this memo sounds like what Trump calls ‘Fake News’ on the assumption that it is refered to as inaccurate, incomplete; Bombshell, dud, or something in between?
Question of interest: How can anyone who is not yet charged, who claims innocence in a matter being investigated, can be so anxious to claim vindication? Why?

FBI expressed ‘grave concerns’ about memo’s release and called it inaccurate, incomplete

The Associated Press Posted: Last Updated: Feb 03, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump attends a roundtable at the Customs and Border Protection National Targeting Center in Reston, Va., on Friday.

U.S. President Donald Trump attends a roundtable at the Customs and Border Protection National Targeting Center in Reston, Va., on Friday. (Andrew Harnik/Associated Press)

U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday claimed complete vindication from a congressional memo that alleges the FBI abused its surveillance powers during the investigation into his campaign’s possible Russia ties. But the memo also includes revelations that might complicate efforts by Trump and his allies to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry.

The four-page document released Friday contends that the FBI, when it applied for a surveillance warrant on a one-time Trump campaign associate, relied excessively on an ex-British spy whose opposition research was funded by Democrats. At the same time, the memo confirms that the investigation into potential Trump links to Russia actually began several months earlier, and was “triggered” by information involving a different campaign aide.

Christopher Steele, the former spy who compiled the allegations, acknowledged having strong anti-Trump sentiments. But he also was a “longtime FBI source” with a credible track record, according to the memo from House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes and his staff.

The warrant authorizing the FBI to monitor the communications of former campaign adviser Carter Page was not a one-time request, but was approved by a judge on four occasions, the memo says, and even signed off on by the second-ranking official at the Justice Department, Rod Rosenstein, whom Trump appointed as deputy attorney general.

‘This is an American disgrace’

Trump, however, tweeted from Florida, where he was spending the weekend, that the memo puts him in the clear.

“This memo totally vindicates `Trump’ in probe,” he said. “But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on. Their was no Collusion and there was no Obstruction (the word now used because, after one year of looking endlessly and finding NOTHING, collusion is dead). This is an American disgrace!”

 90,550 replies 36,571 retweets 128,068 likes
Replying to

Libs know 45’s a treasonous POS. Dems know. ExGOP know. Non-Brainwashed GOP know. Majority of the world knows. But not Faux News (TRUMP STATE TV/Modern day Tokyo Roses) watching, Fool Aid swilling . Who’s wrong? The world? Or the tiny population of ? 🤔

The underlying materials that served as the basis for the warrant application were not made public in the memo. As a result, the document only further intensified a partisan battle over how to interpret the actions of the FBI and Justice Department during the early stages of the counterintelligence investigation that Mueller later inherited. Even as Democrats described it as inaccurate, some Republicans quickly cited the memo — released over the objections of the FBI and Justice Department — in their arguments that Mueller’s investigation is politically tainted.

‘Picked a bunch of the wrong cherries’

A closer read presents a far more nuanced picture.

“Having decided to cherry-pick, the Nunes team picked a bunch of the wrong cherries for its own narrative,” Matthew Waxman, a Columbia University law professor and former Bush administration official, wrote in an email.

The memo’s central allegation is that agents and prosecutors, in applying in October 2016 to monitor Page’s communications, failed to tell a judge that the opposition research that provided grounds for the FBI’s suspicion received funding from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Page had stopped advising the campaign sometime around the end of that summer.

Trump Russia Probe

The warrant authorizing the FBI to monitor the communications of former campaign adviser Carter Page was not a one-time request, but was approved by a judge on four occasions, the memo says. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

Steele’s research, according to the memo, “formed an essential part” of the warrant application. But it’s unclear how much or what information Steele collected made it into the application, or how much has been corroborated. Steele was working for Fusion GPS, a firm initially hired by the conservative Washington Free Beacon to do opposition research on Trump. Steele didn’t begin work on the project until after Democratic groups took over the funding.

Republicans say a judge should have known that “political actors” were involved in allegations that led the Justice Department to believe Page might be an agent of a foreign power — an accusation he has consistently and strenuously denied.

‘Grave concerns’ about memo

The FBI this week expressed “grave concerns” about the memo and called it inaccurate and incomplete. Democrats said it was a set of cherry-picked claims aimed at smearing law enforcement and that releasing the memo would damage law enforcement and intelligence work.

For one, Democrats said it was misleading and incorrect to say a judge was not told of the potential political motivations of the people paying for Steele’s research.

Beyond that, though, the memo confirms the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign began in July 2016, months before the surveillance warrant was sought, and was “triggered” by information concerning campaign aide George Papadopoulos. He pleaded guilty last year to lying to the FBI.

Trump says memo on Russia probe vindicates him

The confirmation about Papadopoulos is “the most important fact disclosed in this otherwise shoddy memo,” California Rep. Adam Schiff, the House committee’s top Democrat, said in a tweet Saturday in response to Trump’s assertion that the document vindicated him.

The timing makes clear that other Trump associates beyond Page, who was part of the election effort for only a short period and was not in Trump’s inner circle, had generated law enforcement scrutiny. The memo also omits that Page had been on the FBI’s radar a few years earlier as part of a separate counterintelligence investigation into Russian influence.

The memo focuses on Page, but Democrats on the House committee said “this ignores the inconvenient fact that the investigation did not begin with, or arise from Christopher Steele or the dossier, and that the investigation would persist on the basis of wholly independent evidence had Christopher Steele never entered the picture.”

All should appreciate the FBI speaking up. I wish more of our leaders would. But take heart: American history shows that, in the long run, weasels and liars never hold the field, so long as good people stand up. Not a lot of schools or streets named for Joe McCarthy.

Other details in the memo could also challenge Republican claims of bias. The warrant requested was renewed on three additional occasions, meaning that judges approved it four times.

The memo had been classified because it deals with warrants obtained from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The White House declassified it Friday and sent it to Nunes for immediate release.

That disclosure is extraordinary because it involves details about surveillance of Americans, national security information the government regards as among its most highly classified. The release is likely to further escalate the conflict between the White House and Trump’s law enforcement leaders. Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray had personally lobbied against the memo’s disclosure, arguing it could set a dangerous precedent.

The memo’s release also comes amid an effort by Trump and congressional Republicans to discredit Mueller’s investigation. His probe focuses not only on whether the Trump campaign co-ordinated with Russia but also on whether the president sought to obstruct justice.

As It Happens -Listen
 

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Fact check: What Trump got wrong in his State of the Union address

State of the Union under scores why Trump is his own worst enemy

By Mark Z. Barabak

Jan 30, 2018 | 9:10 PM

President Trump gives the State of the Union address in the chamber of the
U.S. House of Representatives in Washington. (Pool Photo)

For over an hour Tuesday night, Presidential Trump vied with pugnacious Trump.

The White House had promised a conciliatory and uplifting State of the Union address, which stood to reason. It’s one thing to inveigh against the mess Trump said he inherited a year ago and another to laud the job he claims to have done cleaning it up.

FULL COVERAGE: State of the Union »

Gone, then, was the wreckage, the ruin and the dystopian “American carnage” he deplored in the glowering speech at his inauguration. Instead, Trump offered a vision of hopefulness and light — for a time, anyway.

“This is our new American moment,” he said loftily in the early moments of his address. “There has never been a better time to start living the American dream.”

But those grace notes were soon overshadowed by an increasingly harsh tone, as though the president couldn’t or didn’t care to contain his more ad-libbed and aggressive self.

He needled Democrats over the partial dismantling of the Affordable Care Act, one of his predecessor’s proudest achievements. He resurrected the controversy over the national anthem and the dissent of kneeling black athletes.

When he spoke of immigration, perhaps the touchiest issue facing a gridlocked Congress, he placed it in a dark frame, with talk of gang violence, of alien intruders stealing jobs and a suggestion of unending “chain” migrants — aunts, uncles, cousins and other family members — leaching taxpayer dollars.

In his closest approximation to an olive branch, Trump said he would support a proposal offering a path to citizenship for 1.8 million children — so-called Dreamers — who were brought to America illegally by their parents. But only, he said, if Democrats would agree to a border wall and other changes in legal immigration they consider anathema.

The result was groans and hisses and boos from that side of the House chamber.

In State of Union, Trump calls for unity in hopes of altering a threatening tide

In State of Union, Trump calls for unity in hopes of altering a threatening tide

Jan 30, 2018 | 9:20 PM

The annual speech to Congress is one of Washington’s most carefully choreographed set pieces, and for portions of it Trump hewed closely to a familiar script

He assayed the state of the union, pronouncing it “strong.” He outlined an ambitious agenda — which lawmakers will mostly ignore — crowed about his achievements, made a feint in the direction of bipartisanship and saluted a large number of invited guests who served as props representing different bullet points (immigration, a strong military, the opioid addiction crisis) of his speech.

It was all terribly conventional, but only to a point.

There were many long sections that could just have easily been delivered at one of Trump’s roisterous “Make America Great Again” campaign rallies, down to the moment when the ranks of Republican lawmakers broke into a lusty chant of “USA! USA!” as the president, chin out, approvingly took in the scene.

The contrast to the last time Trump stood in the well of the House was striking.

Eleven months ago, he delivered a more subdued performance, earning plaudits and generating widespread talk of a presidential turning point or, in that most overused expression, a pivot toward a more staid and conformist style of governance.

Then, days later, Trump was back to tweeting about a “bad (or sick)” President Obama bugging Trump Tower, a figment that roused his political base but instantly banished any Democratic goodwill or notions of presidential normalcy.

Fact check: What Trump got wrong in his State of the Union address

Fact check: What Trump got wrong in his State of the Union address

Jan 30, 2018 | 8:40 PM

Trump has shattered political convention in so many ways that it is difficult to enumerate them all. One of the most significant is this: Although the economy is perking smartly along and Americans tell pollsters they feel better about their financial well-being than they have in years, the president has gotten very little credit.

Indeed, his approval rating stands at a historical low for a chief executive this early in his term, severing the long-standing correlation between economic good times and voter satisfaction.

His speech Tuesday night, with its prime-time prominence and audience reaching in the tens of millions, offered a chance to address that problem. “Over the last year, we have made incredible progress and achieved extraordinary success,” Trump said, reeling off a number of favorable economic statistics.

But much of the address seemed aimed at a far narrower audience.

To a greater degree than any recent president, Trump has used his time in office to appease the relatively narrow slice of the electorate — older, whiter, alienated, aggrieved — that placed him in power, opting not to reach out, bend and seek to broaden that coalition.

His uncompromising performance Tuesday night perfectly encapsulated that approach. Supporters found much to like and detractors plenty to reinforce their contempt.

It is too much to expect any single speech, much less one as politically freighted as the State of the Union, to instantly bridge such a yawning gap. If anything, though, Trump’s provocative remarks seemed likely to push warring Democrats and Republicans even further apart.

mark.barabak@latimes.com

@markzbarabak

 

 

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Gonsalves at OAS

PM confident of defeating “no confidence” vote

By Kenton X. Chance

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Jan 30, CMC – Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says he is confident his ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) administration will defeat a motion of no confidence filed by the opposition when it comes up for debate on Wednesday.

“I would wish this motion to be heard speedily. We do not do like some other places, duck and run from motions of no confidence because I’m quite sure that the eight members on this side are more than seven members on the other side and all eight members have confidence in the government.

Gonsalves at OAS
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves

“So that, Mr. Speaker, motion is doomed to fail,” Gonsalves said, noting that the Constitution makes it clear that only parliamentary representatives can vote on a motion of no confidence.

“I would wish to get this motion out of the way,” he added.

Opposition Leader Dr. Godwin Friday filed the motion of no confidence just before opposition lawmakers walked out of the Parliament on Monday.

Monday’s parliamentary session meeting included debate on the first Estimates of Income and Expenditure to be presented by Finance Minister Camillo Gonsalves, since becoming Minister of Finance, last month.

Gonsalves made his presentation in the absence of the opposition law makers who are protesting his ’ continued silence in the an on-going court matter in which a former 23-year-old model, Yugge Farrell, who is  charged with using abusive language to Gonsalves’ wife claimed she and the minister were involved in an extramarital relationship that ended in 2016.

The alleged affair came to light after Farrell was hauled before the court on January 5 and then sent to undergo psychiatric evaluation at the Mental Health Centre. She has since been released on EC$1,000 (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) bail and will re-appear in court on December, 17 this year.

The main opposition New Democratic Party (NDC) has seven of the 15 seats in the Parliament and the Opposition Leader on Monday did not comment on the grounds on which opposition lawmakers brought the motion of no confidence.

However, according to a copy of the motion circulated to the media, the opposition legislators contend that the Gonsalves government “has been failing the people miserably in providing a satisfactory quality of life” and its priorities of the Government in its use of taxpayers’ money have produced totally inadequate health services and basic maintenance of roads”.

The motion also states that “the collapse of the economy has deprived our youth of hope and employment opportunities” and that there is “a climate of fear through intimidation at all levels of Vincentian society”.

The opposition claim that the climate of fear, has become “widespread due to the manifest abuse of the powers of the State of its institutions, which are often employed as weapons against citizens, to serve the agenda of Government officials, their family members and associates”.

The motion further speaks of “a breakdown in law and order as demonstrated by the incidence of rampant crime and the failure of the various agencies of law enforcement to protect the more vulnerable members of society, including the elderly, women and young persons”.

Prime Minister Gonsalves told legislators that Tuesday would have been too soon to respond to the motion because lawmakers need to study it to be able to respond and that the island will be hosting the foreign minister of Taiwan on Thursday.

He said he was also worried that should the debate begin on Friday, it might not end in time for the commencement of the Sabbath for those legislators who are members of the Seventh – day Adventist faith and recommended the suspension of the motion until Wednesday, when two other members of the government side will debate the Estimates.

The debate of the motion will commence immediately thereafter.

“We don’t set a particular time for it since we don’t know when the debate is going to be finished. So it’s on the Order Paper.   There would be an Order Paper in accordance with the Standing Orders of the House. The Estimates would be there, and then the vote of no confidence.”

The government must debate the motion within seven days, and political observers have noted that the government would be minded to get it out of the way before the new finance minister presents his first budget, scheduled for next Monday, February  5.

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Peter NNP

NNP looking for second consecutive whitewash at the polls

By Linda Straker

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Jan 29, CMC – Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell Sunday night announced March 13 as the date for fresh general elections in Grenada telling supporters that the last five years had seen tremendous socio-economic growth in the tri-nation country.

“My friends we are far from finish, we cannot turn back now, that’s why brothers and sisters we will continue to pursue all economic opportunities, “ Mitchell told supporters of the ruling New National Party (NNP) at the National Stadium on the outskirts of the capital.

Peter NNP
Peter David, (standing) who will now be contesting the election on behalf of NNP

He said that the prospect for “oil and gas exploration looks very exciting.” Adding “we had a report two evenings ago, I say to you Grenada is bless, your country is blessed by the almighty God, so he is making all sorts of opportunities for you”.

Nomination Day will be on February 20 and Mitchell has indicated that he would like a repeat of the 2013 election results when the NNPO won all 15 seats defeating the then ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) headed by prime minister Tillman Thomas.

The final day for registration of voters is Monday, January 29 and it is estimated at more than 75,000 people will be eligible to cast ballots in the election that will be held here for the second time on March 13.

On the first occasion in 1990, the NDC won seven seats, the Grenada United labour Party (GULP) four seats. The NNP won two seats, the same as the National Party (NP).

The NDC later formed the government when one of the GULP members, the late Edzel Thomas, gave support to the party.

The election this year is likely to be a straight fight between the NNP and the NDC.

Addressing the rally where the NNP presented its candidates for the elections, Mitchell said prior to being sworn in as Prime Minister in February 2013, “assets were being sold to pay salaries, Grenada was defaulting on its debts and we were loaning money, even from St Vincent and the Grenadines and other neighbouring islands where they have they own challenges too.

“People were not just losing their home but also losing their minds,” he told the supporters,’ saying that the NDC, which is now headed by former finance minister Nazim Burke, “not only victimised our people but pauperised our people.

“But for the grace of God and the sacrifice of our people, brothers and sisters, 2018 looks far different than 2013. Five years later we face a new dawn,” he said, with the NNP introducing Peter David, a former senior NDC cabinet minister, who was expelled from the party a few years ago, as one of its candidates.

An optimistic Mitchell, one of the longest serving heads of government in the region, told supporters that because of the work done by his administration over the last five years “the rhythm of Grenadian life is a bouncing melody of optimism this time.

“With proper fiscal management, the cooperation from our social partners, the stimulator of investor confidence, the sacrifices of our citizens and the overall promotion of national unity, this country has been able to experience positive economic growth, averaging over five per cent for the last five years.

“Our national debt has been lowered significantly, from 108 per cent of GDP (gross domestic product) to 69 per cent and some people in the opposition simple cannot get it right,” he said.

Giving the supporters justifications as to why they need to return the NNP to office Mitchell said “the choice now is ours, do we keep moving forward with the New National Party or do we get side track with uncertainty and chaos, do we uphold the principle of sound management or do we go back to the day of mismanagement and infighting”.

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Barbuda hur

Opposition parties criticise PM over remarks made in Barbuda

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Jan 29, CMC – Two opposition political parties have criticised what they have labelled to be the behaviour last weekend of Prime Minister Gaston Browne in which he is alleged to have made statements highly critical of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) officials and accusing the organisation of “opportunism”.

Barbuda hur
Hurricane damage in Barbuda (CMC Photo)

Both the main opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) and the minority National Alliance (DNA) said they wanted to apologise to the international agency over the remarks made by Browne.

UPP leader Harold Lovell, speaking on a radio programme here, said that an external agency erecting or displaying signage after contributing to a project in a foreign country is not unheard of but rather, it is “standard procedure.”

“I’m making assumptions here but they have to account to their principles. Their principles as well as the Chinese government at some point would want to do some sort of inspection. They would want to see where their money has been spent.”

Browne is reported to have told the UNDP officials in Barbuda over the last weekend “you can’t come and take credit for all the work that my Government did.

“It’s unacceptable. When we do all the work and then you come and put big signs on there as though you did everything that is what is happening. You got to stop it. You can’t come and give few sheets of plywood and then go and take all the credit. You have to stop it,” Browne said as he also criticised the UNDP that has had a presence on Barbuda since the island was hit by the Category 5 Hurricane Irma last September.

Browne told the UNDP officials to remove stickers, which displayed two logos, – one for the UNDP and one for the Government of China – from on a number of homes.

Official said that the stickers, were placed to indicate that the roof of the house was repaired with material from the UNDP procurement project funded by the People’s Republic of China.

“So you cannot now offer a few sheets of plywood and then put a UNDP sticker on the building to suggest that it was done by the UNDP. That is opportunism. And I have directed that every single sticker on this building be taken down. I’m not trying to be controversial. But we do not want a situation whereby the domestic population gets the impression that the government is not making any contribution and that everything is coming from abroad,” he said.

“And by the way, the UNDP is our employee. We employ them to do this. They’re not doing it for free. The people who we are to be grateful to are the donors – the Indian Government, the Chinese Government,” Browne added.

But Lovell told radio listeners that Browne’s behaviour on Friday was “pompous and obnoxious” and questioned whether the intent was to “publicly humiliate everyone.

“Even if [the prime minister] thought he had a point, it’s not the way you deal with it. Call a meeting or pull people aside and you could make your point just as strongly.”

The DNA said the party wanted to “apologise on behalf of the citizens of Antigua and Barbuda for the display by our Prime Minister to the international donor agencies that are here to help us”.

CMC/ad/ir/2018

Posted in Buisness/Economy/Banking, Climate/Weather, Hurricane, Local, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

Mitchell at NNP

Grenada PM names March 13 as election date

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Jan 28, CMC – Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell Sunday night announced March 13 as the date for fresh general elections in Grenada.

Addressing a rally of his ruling New National Party (NNP) at the National Stadium in the capital, Mitchell told supporters that Nomination Day is February 20.

Mitchell at NNP
Prime Minister and NNP leader Dr. Keith Mitchell addressing party supporters

In the 2013 general election, the NNP won all 15 seats defeating the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government of then prime minister Tillman Thomas.

This will be the second time that a general election will be held on March 13. On the first occasion in 1990, the NDC won seven seats, the Grenada United Labour Party (GULP) four seats. The NNP won two seats, the same as the National Party (NP).

March 13, 1979 is also a historic date here when members of the New Jewel Movement (NJM) headed by Maurice Bishop staged the first coup in the English-speaking Caribbean, removing the then prime minister Sir Eric Gairy from office while he was on a visit to the United States.

Mitchell told supporters that he is confident of regaining office in the upcoming general election.

Monday is the final day of registration for the poll.

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

Prime Minister Gaston Browne

Relief for needy and no new taxes in 2018 Budget

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Jan. 25, CMC – Prime Minister Gaston Browne on Thursday unveiled several programmes geared towards helping public sector employees.

Some of the programmes include a housing grant and vehicle concessions.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne
Prime Minister Gaston Browne

“There will be a housing grant of EC$10 thousand (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) to public servants to assist with the downpayment and the purchase price of a home from the National Housing  and urban Renewal Company.Vehicle concessions will be given once every five years beginning the February 28, public servants will receive 50 to 100 percent waiver on import duty on new and used vehicles.”

Concerning home ownership, the Prime Minister, who is also the Minister of Finance, said public servants including teachers, nurses and members of the police force will be given priority access to homes provided by National Housing.

“For those who do not wish to purchase a home from National Housing, a special window will be established through the Construct Antigua Barbuda Initiative that will allow fast-track access to the incentives offered through this programme.

Additionally, public servants will be eligible to receive concessions on the importation of household furnishings and major appliances to furnish their new homes.

The Government wants as many public servants as possible to take advantage of these empowering programmes.”

On the issue of health insurance for public servants, the Prime Minister said the feasibility of establishing a group health insurance plan is being examined.

“This plan would be optional with the premium being paid by the employee and the government. Ultimately, the practicality of this venture will depend on the number of public servants who choose to participate.”

The Prime Minister had more in store for the public sector workers and announced that given that the negotiation process between the unions and the Government’s team will take sometime there will be an interim increase in basic salary for public servants.

“This is not intended to prejudice the negotiations, nor is it an indication of the Government’s final offer as it relates to a wage increase. I promised in 2017, that public servants would receive an increase in pay and while the process for arriving at a negotiated my still be unfolding. I am to determine to deliver on that promise.

The interim increase took effect on January 1.

The Prime Minister also acknowledged that the government still owes some public sector workers in back pay.

“This government proposes to settle the outstanding back  pay by offering every public servant who was employed to the government on Dec 31, 2002. One month of his or her basic salary free of all deductions. If this proposal is accepted, the government will focus on clearing the arrears immediately.  .

The Prime Minister  also announced a relief initiative for the needy and said that his administration will provide come to the aid of households where arrears have led to the disconnection of electricity, water or telephone service.

“ These families should not have to be deprived of a basic service indefinitely simply because of their socio-economic circumstances. If, as at December 31, 2017, a household has been without either electricity, water or telephone service for more than 90 days, the Government will wipe-off the arrears and, once the reconnection fee is paid, the service will be restored. This relief programme is only for households; will take effect from February 14, 2018 and will run until May 18, 2018.

Concerning plans to fight crime, Browne said the government will increase the number of trained and armed law enforcement officers who will pursue those who are “committed to a life of crime.”

“In terms of promoting justice, both for the accused and the victim, we will improve the equity and effectiveness of our judicial and custodial systems.To this end, we will accelerate plans to establish a new forensics laboratory in Antigua and Barbuda, so that critical forensic examinations can be conducted locally.”

The Prime Minister said that in the aftermath of the devastation from hurricanes, the government is not daunted and where Barbuda is concerned, the reconstruction of the island will be advanced this year.

“We are determined to rebuild Barbuda better and for good.

For the good of the residents of Barbuda; for the good of the island’s economic sustainability; for the good of resilience to future hurricanes.With the support of many bilateral and multilateral donors and creditors…”

Concerning the budget projections for 2018, the Prime Minister said Recurrent expenditure including principal payments is estimated at EC$1.22 billion, which is about 5 percent above the EC$1.16 billion estimated in Budget 2017.

With regard to revenue projections, Recurrent Revenue for Fiscal Year 2018 is budgeted at EC$877 million – this is 8 percent above the EC$809 million collected in 2017.

The Prime Minister said Revenue in 2018 is expected to be higher than the amount collected in 2017 because of a considerable increase in economic activity.

“This will be supported by improvements in tax administration and implementation of initiatives to enhance compliance.Tax revenue, comprising of direct and indirect taxes, will account for about 81 percent or $708 million, while non-tax revenue of EC$169 million will make up the remaining 19 percent.  Direct taxes are expected to yield EC $102.8 million in 2018.

As it relates to budgetary allocations, Browne said the Ministry of Health and the Environment received the highest sum, followed by the Ministry of Justice.

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Browne at news conference

Opposition legislator files defamation lawsuit against PM

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Jan 26, CMC – An opposition has filed a defamation lawsuit against Prime Minister Gaston Browne for allegedly making “outrageous’ statements against him in Parliament recently.

The lawsuit was filed on Thursday and Browne received the documents on Friday media reports here said.

Browne at news conference
Prime Minister Gaston Browne

Daniel, a member of the opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) through his lawyer, Charlesworth Taber, had claimed that Browne had made the statement during a crosstalk in the Parliament Building on January 2, after the Speaker of the House, Sir Gerald Watt, had suspended the sitting due to a disruption in electricity.

They said that the allegations reportedly made by Prime Minister Browne were therefore not under the protection of parliamentary immunity, since the Speaker had already suspended the session.

Daniel had given Prime Minister Browne a two week deadline to apologise indicating that failure to do so would result in the lawsuit for defamation.

The January 10 letter to Prime Minister Browne also made reference to the comments he allegedly made on January 6, while speaking on a radio station, which he owns.

Daniel said he had been further injured by statements made by callers and is asking the court for aggravated damages.

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

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