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Premiere’s Debate statement gets corrective reaction

By Staff Reporter

David-OsborneBudget debates in Montserrat are seldom without controversy and this year’ was no different.  Premiere Reuben T. Meade came out with all engines blazing to provide what would be the fiscal focus for the upcoming financial (election) year.   While many analyzed the policies and statements of the Premiere, one private organization seems to be still recovering from what they describe as statements that were “with the full and clear intent to damage and bring into disrepute the public perceptions of the Hon. Mr. David Osborne who is a Member of Parliament of Montserrat sitting in opposition to him, by willfully misrepresenting the circumstances surrounding the said charter.”

During his reply to comments made by members of the Legislative Assembly the Premiere stated:

“Imagine sometime a few months ago the Mortuary was full to over flowing.  People were dying to get in there.  The chiller system broke down.  There was an emergency, we needed to get a reefer container from St. Maarten urgently. Madame Speaker despite the fact that the Ministry of Health did something that they should not have done, but they decided here it is we have a local boat lets call the local boat and ask them to please go for the reefer container and come back.  Just go from here to St. Maarten, pick up a reefer container and come back.  Madame Speaker, I’m not going to call the amount that he charged.  But it was more than double what would have been the charges had it been on a foreign vessel. And you’re talking about my people and my contribution, over $30,000 just to go there and come back.  No Madame Speaker clearly you can’t be talking about “my people”.  I’m not going to say how much the money is but it was more than double.”  (our emphasis).

Many were disheartened by the statements stating that they were “in poor taste”.  Officials within the Ministry of Health who dealt with Osborne Shipping told TMR that they were unable to comment as they have not sought the shipping cost from any other company to determine whether the fee charged by Osborne Shipping was in fact above or below market rates.  This leaves one at a quandary as to whether the Premiere’s remarks were arbitrary.

In response to the statements, Osborne Shipping released the following statement:

“It has been brought to our notice that during the debates arising out of the 2014 Budget Speech, the premier of Montserrat, Mr. Reuben Meade, made notice of a charter provided by our firm to the hospital through our ship the M.V. Joyce.

It is our interpretation, and the general impression communicated to us by many persons who heard the debates, that Premier Meade spoke with the full and clear intent to damage and bring into disrepute the public perceptions of the Hon. Mr. David Osborne who is a Member of Parliament of Montserrat sitting in opposition to him, by willfully misrepresenting the circumstances surrounding the said charter.

In so doing, Premier Meade also intentionally, we believe, sought to damage the goodwill of our company, of which the Hon. Osborne is partner as well as, currently, working Captain of the M.V. Joyce.

In the interest of truth and goodwill, we consider it necessary to untwist Mr. Meade’s perversion of the events. The quick facts are these: The refrigeration unit at the hospital at St. John’s had broken down and repairing it was not possible at the time. Bodies of Montserratian loved ones awaiting burial were at great risk of decomposing or were deemed, by hospital personnel, to have already begun to decompose. The situation was dire for both sentimental and health reasons.

M.V. Joyce is not a container transportation vessel, yet because of the urgency of the situation, and the real probability of a catastrophe, we agreed to operate an extraordinary charter to St. Maarten to pick up a container that would be used as a temporary morgue.

On Saturday, August 24th, 2013, hospital personnel chartered the M.V. Joyce to journey to St. Maarten that same day, and bring the container back, with the greatest possible urgency, we were told, because of corpses already in decomposition.

Charters on our ship are charged per hour, for every hour, beginning the moment the ship leaves port and ending when it returns. Osborne Shipping is a commercial entity. We charge for our services, and our revenue must always exceed our costs. That is the nature of a successful business. Sometimes, we provide our services at reduced cost, and this was one of those times. In this particular transaction, we provided other high value services in addition to the charter itself. Costs were discussed with and agreed to by the government’s Financial Secretary before the M.V. Joyce left the Little Bay port.

Once all agreements were concluded, we provisioned the ship with fuel and water and sought Customs and Port clearances, all of which were charged to the M.V. Joyce at overtime rates, it being Saturday afternoon by this time. Other costs were incurred for work and materials used to modify sections of the ship to accommodate the cargo in question, since the M.V. Joyce is not a container transportation vessel.

Overtime and extraordinary costs were also incurred in St. Maarten for docking, port and customs services when the ship arrived there on Sunday morning, and when it was loaded and checked out to head to back to Montserrat that same afternoon, less than 12 hours after arrival and fewer than 24 hours after leaving Montserrat.

In addition to being refueled and re-provisioned for the journey back to Montserrat, the ship was forced to bear the costs of filling every ballast and fuel tank to capacity, to ensure proper balancing of the vessel. The St. Maarten port authorities demanded still other extraordinary modifications before the ship could be cleared to leave that port, because they were concerned about the stability of the container on board and the real risk of capsize of the ship which would, among other things, endanger the lives of captain and crew. These modifications came at a cost, a cost that was higher than usual because it was Sunday and required urgently.

On Monday morning, August 26th, the M.V. Joyce docked in Montserrat at which point the actual charter came to an end, with a crew who had not slept a wink during the previous 48 hours. Their work was not done however. Capt. Osborne himself oversaw and paid for the transportation of the container to the hospital and the repositioning of another container on the port Authority premises, including charges for the crane that lifted the container into place at the hospital. He it was, also, who directed the connecting of the container to the refrigeration unit on the hospital premises.

Shirley Osborne for the avoidance of doubt emphasized “We reiterate, the M.V. Joyce is not a container ship, so we could not ascribe to the same fee schedule as a ship that normally carries 20 or more containers. We are, however, a commercial entity which charges fees for service.

“A charter of this nature, under these extraordinary circumstances, is normally charged at rates in the region of $750.00 per hour. Because of the special relationship that our Captain holds with Montserrat, being a member of the Parliament and out of the commitment of all our partners for the security and well-being of Montserratians, we charged instead $500.00 per hour. The extraordinary expenses were charged to the Government of Montserrat at the same rates that our firm was charged by Port, Customs and other offices.”

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

By Staff Reporter

David-OsborneBudget debates in Montserrat are seldom without controversy and this year’ was no different.  Premiere Reuben T. Meade came out with all engines blazing to provide what would be the fiscal focus for the upcoming financial (election) year.   While many analyzed the policies and statements of the Premiere, one private organization seems to be still recovering from what they describe as statements that were “with the full and clear intent to damage and bring into disrepute the public perceptions of the Hon. Mr. David Osborne who is a Member of Parliament of Montserrat sitting in opposition to him, by willfully misrepresenting the circumstances surrounding the said charter.”

During his reply to comments made by members of the Legislative Assembly the Premiere stated:

“Imagine sometime a few months ago the Mortuary was full to over flowing.  People were dying to get in there.  The chiller system broke down.  There was an emergency, we needed to get a reefer container from St. Maarten urgently. Madame Speaker despite the fact that the Ministry of Health did something that they should not have done, but they decided here it is we have a local boat lets call the local boat and ask them to please go for the reefer container and come back.  Just go from here to St. Maarten, pick up a reefer container and come back.  Madame Speaker, I’m not going to call the amount that he charged.  But it was more than double what would have been the charges had it been on a foreign vessel. And you’re talking about my people and my contribution, over $30,000 just to go there and come back.  No Madame Speaker clearly you can’t be talking about “my people”.  I’m not going to say how much the money is but it was more than double.”  (our emphasis).

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Many were disheartened by the statements stating that they were “in poor taste”.  Officials within the Ministry of Health who dealt with Osborne Shipping told TMR that they were unable to comment as they have not sought the shipping cost from any other company to determine whether the fee charged by Osborne Shipping was in fact above or below market rates.  This leaves one at a quandary as to whether the Premiere’s remarks were arbitrary.

In response to the statements, Osborne Shipping released the following statement:

“It has been brought to our notice that during the debates arising out of the 2014 Budget Speech, the premier of Montserrat, Mr. Reuben Meade, made notice of a charter provided by our firm to the hospital through our ship the M.V. Joyce.

It is our interpretation, and the general impression communicated to us by many persons who heard the debates, that Premier Meade spoke with the full and clear intent to damage and bring into disrepute the public perceptions of the Hon. Mr. David Osborne who is a Member of Parliament of Montserrat sitting in opposition to him, by willfully misrepresenting the circumstances surrounding the said charter.

In so doing, Premier Meade also intentionally, we believe, sought to damage the goodwill of our company, of which the Hon. Osborne is partner as well as, currently, working Captain of the M.V. Joyce.

In the interest of truth and goodwill, we consider it necessary to untwist Mr. Meade’s perversion of the events. The quick facts are these: The refrigeration unit at the hospital at St. John’s had broken down and repairing it was not possible at the time. Bodies of Montserratian loved ones awaiting burial were at great risk of decomposing or were deemed, by hospital personnel, to have already begun to decompose. The situation was dire for both sentimental and health reasons.

M.V. Joyce is not a container transportation vessel, yet because of the urgency of the situation, and the real probability of a catastrophe, we agreed to operate an extraordinary charter to St. Maarten to pick up a container that would be used as a temporary morgue.

On Saturday, August 24th, 2013, hospital personnel chartered the M.V. Joyce to journey to St. Maarten that same day, and bring the container back, with the greatest possible urgency, we were told, because of corpses already in decomposition.

Charters on our ship are charged per hour, for every hour, beginning the moment the ship leaves port and ending when it returns. Osborne Shipping is a commercial entity. We charge for our services, and our revenue must always exceed our costs. That is the nature of a successful business. Sometimes, we provide our services at reduced cost, and this was one of those times. In this particular transaction, we provided other high value services in addition to the charter itself. Costs were discussed with and agreed to by the government’s Financial Secretary before the M.V. Joyce left the Little Bay port.

Once all agreements were concluded, we provisioned the ship with fuel and water and sought Customs and Port clearances, all of which were charged to the M.V. Joyce at overtime rates, it being Saturday afternoon by this time. Other costs were incurred for work and materials used to modify sections of the ship to accommodate the cargo in question, since the M.V. Joyce is not a container transportation vessel.

Overtime and extraordinary costs were also incurred in St. Maarten for docking, port and customs services when the ship arrived there on Sunday morning, and when it was loaded and checked out to head to back to Montserrat that same afternoon, less than 12 hours after arrival and fewer than 24 hours after leaving Montserrat.

In addition to being refueled and re-provisioned for the journey back to Montserrat, the ship was forced to bear the costs of filling every ballast and fuel tank to capacity, to ensure proper balancing of the vessel. The St. Maarten port authorities demanded still other extraordinary modifications before the ship could be cleared to leave that port, because they were concerned about the stability of the container on board and the real risk of capsize of the ship which would, among other things, endanger the lives of captain and crew. These modifications came at a cost, a cost that was higher than usual because it was Sunday and required urgently.

On Monday morning, August 26th, the M.V. Joyce docked in Montserrat at which point the actual charter came to an end, with a crew who had not slept a wink during the previous 48 hours. Their work was not done however. Capt. Osborne himself oversaw and paid for the transportation of the container to the hospital and the repositioning of another container on the port Authority premises, including charges for the crane that lifted the container into place at the hospital. He it was, also, who directed the connecting of the container to the refrigeration unit on the hospital premises.

Shirley Osborne for the avoidance of doubt emphasized “We reiterate, the M.V. Joyce is not a container ship, so we could not ascribe to the same fee schedule as a ship that normally carries 20 or more containers. We are, however, a commercial entity which charges fees for service.

“A charter of this nature, under these extraordinary circumstances, is normally charged at rates in the region of $750.00 per hour. Because of the special relationship that our Captain holds with Montserrat, being a member of the Parliament and out of the commitment of all our partners for the security and well-being of Montserratians, we charged instead $500.00 per hour. The extraordinary expenses were charged to the Government of Montserrat at the same rates that our firm was charged by Port, Customs and other offices.”