Tues. 9th Nov., 2010

No. 9 Fifth Session Eighth ParliamentTuesday 9th November, 2010SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES THE PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES (HANSARD) ADVANCE COPY OFFICIAL REPORT CONTENTS Tuesday 9th November, 2010Prayers Order of Business One minute of Silence Statements by Ministers Motion Orders of the Day Adjournment1Prime Minister, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning, National Security, Grenadines and Legal Affairs Dr. the Honourable Ralph GonsalvesAttorney General Honourable Judith Jones-MorganDeputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Commerce and Trade Honourable Louis StrakerMinister of National Mobilisation, Social Development, Gender Affairs, Non-Governmental Organisations, Local Government, Persons with Disabilities, Youths and SportsHonourable Michael BrowneMinister of Education Honourable Girlyn MiguelMember for Central WindwardMember for Central LeewardMember for West St. George Member for MarriaquaTHE PARLIAMENTARY DEBATESOFFICIAL REPORTPROCEEDINGS AND DEBATES OF THE NINTH MEETING, FIFTH SESSION OF THE EIGHTH PARLIAMENT OF SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES CONSTITUTED AS SET OUT IN SCHEDULE 2 TO THE SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES ORDER, 1979.FIFTEENTH SITTING9TH NOVEMBER 2010HOUSE OF ASSEMBLYThe Honourable House of Assembly met at 10:20 a.m. in the Assembly Chamber, Court House, Kingstown.PRAYERS MR. SPEAKER IN THE CHAIR Honourable Hendrick Alexander Present MEMBERS OF CABINET2Minister of Rural Transformation, Information, Postal Service and Ecclesiastical Affairs Honourable Selmon WaltersMinister of Health and the Environment Dr. Douglas SlaterMinister of Urban Development, Culture, Labour and Electoral Matters Rene BaptisteMinister of Transport and Works Honourable Clayton BurginMinister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Honourable Montgomery DanielMinister of Telecommunications, Science Technology and Industry Honourable Dr. Jerrol ThompsonMinister of Tourism Honourable Glen BeacheHonourable Conrad SayersMinister of Housing, Informal Human Settlements, Physical Planning Lands and Surveys Honourable Saboto CaesarMinister of State in the Ministry of National Mobilisation, Social Development, Gender Affairs, Non-Governmental Organisations Relations, Persons with Disabilities, Youth and Sports Honourable Cecil MckieMember for South Central WindwardMember for South LeewardMember for West Kingstown Member for East St. GeorgeMember for North WindwardMember for North Leeward Member for South WindwardMember for Central Kingstown/ Deputy SpeakerGovernment SenatorParliamentary Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office Honourable Michelle FifeHonourable Arnhim EustaceGovernment SenatorOTHER MEMBERS OF THE HOUSELeader of the Opposition Member for East Kingstown3Dr. the Honourable Godwin Friday Terrance Ollivierre Honourable Major St. Claire Leacock Honourable Daniel CummingsHonourable Julian FrancisABSENTMember for Northern Grenadines Member for Southern Grenadines Opposition Senator Opposition SenatorGovernment Senator4ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY TUESDAY NOVEMBER 9th, 2010PRAYERS HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Let us pray.Honourable Mr. Speaker Hendrick Alexander read the prayers of the House of Assembly.DR THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, may I crave your indulgence to make an application under your inherent authority and that of the House of Commons which rules apply here, to make a statement on the matter of the National Disaster relating to Hurricane Tomas, so as to obviate any necessity for an oral motion to be put and the majority sought and passed.So, I know it is within your authority and given the importance of the matter to keep the public informed, and being this Parliament the highest legislative body for me to so inform the nation. I can easily do it, Mr. Speaker, through a radio or television broadcast, but it would be disrespecting the Honourable House if I were to have an opportunity to do so and do not do it.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Yes Honourable Prime Minister, under the particular circumstance, I believe and the authority as invested in me as Speaker of the House, I think I can authorise such a statement and you are so authorised.Honourable Senator ...HONOURABLE ST. CLAIRE LEACOCK: Mr. Speaker, through you and maybe to the Honourable Prime Minister, I know on the last occasion we met here in the condolence messages we did address the question of the passing of the Prime Minister of Barbados. I am asking through you to the Prime Minister, whether it may be in order for us to as a Parliament to stand maybe in a half a minute of silence or a minute of silence or if you think it is just totally inappropriate then I give way, but I thought it would be a good gesture for the Parliament to so do, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Okay, I think in that sense we can probably have a moment of silence on the passing of those persons and I think there might have been one other very important person in the region, who might have passed; I think and maybe we might want to do that just as well in his behalf. Honourable Prime Minister I think you are aware of that person; without saying anything I just...,5DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, I would not myself wish to open the matter of obituaries where it is not on the agenda, but I think the question which the Honourable Senator Leacock raised, I think it was an oversight on the part of all of us on the last occasion though we made tributes. The Honourable Leader of the Opposition myself and other members, paid tribute, but we did not observe a minute silence and we ought properly to do so, to transmit that to the Government and people of Barbados and to his widow and immediate family. So, I would share that sentiment with him.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Okay, alright, one minute silence. [Knocking of gavel] starting now. [Knocking of gavel to announce the minute of silence] Thank you.DR THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, before I begin to make the statement, if I may just indicate what I had spoken to the Leader of the Opposition about this morning regarding the two Bills before us. The Status of Children and the Bill related to the Sector Skills Development Agency Bill.Mr. Speaker, despite the fact that the Status of Children Bill had been in the public domain for quite some time, it appears to have escaped the attention of the Bar Association. And on the last occasion we adjourned specifically so that we would have the input of the Bar Association because it is a Bill which would affect rights and obligations of persons involved in relationships, which have not been formalised in marriage. Of course, that principle was established in 1980 in the Status of Children Act, but over the years through the practice of the law and the development of human relations, it was felt necessary and desirable to amend it.Unfortunately, the Bar Association has responded through its President that they would require about four months to be able to make proper comments it seems. Of course, this Bill has been published, it was in the newspapers several months ago, but Mr. Speaker, we would wish in this Honourable House to bend over backwards as far as possible. So what we intend to do is to have the second reading of the Bill today and to establish a Select Committee to which we would invite the Bar Association, and other members of the public who have an interest. So, that would take care of the Status of Children Bill, so that should be a short matter today. Then of course, there would be the debate led by the distinguished Honourable Minister of Education on the Sector Skills Development Agency Bill.Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask this Honourable House and you in particular Mr. Speaker to excuse me at some time during the course of today’s sitting, because two Prime Ministers are visiting today in relation to the aftermath of Hurricane Tomas. The Prime Ministers of Grenada and the Commonwealth of Dominica and they have teams with them. So, Mr. Speaker, I would have to be with them and I think Honourable Members would understand that and in any event I was not on the roster of speakers for the Government side on the Sectors Skills Development Agency, so it is not that my own contribution would be missed in any sense. So, I would wish to indicate that very early, so that when Honourable Members see me leave at some time, it would not be an issue of disrespect to this Honourable House, but the exigencies of the circumstances compel me so to do.Mr. Speaker, on Saturday October 30th, 2010 a category 1 Hurricane, Tomas, lashed St. Vincent for eight consecutive hours from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. with winds in excess of 75 miles per hour and amidst6torrential rains. Hurricane Tomas left in its wake a trail of damage and destruction particularly, though not exclusively, in the northern half of the island, but fortunately there was no loss of life. The damage, loss, suffering and dislocation caused by Hurricane Tomas included:-1. The almost total destruction of the Agricultural Sector. The estimated cost of this damage is $67.2 million. The cost of rehabilitation of the agriculture and income support for the farmers for a period of seven months amounts to $61.7 million. That cost of rehabilitation and the income support, Mr. Speaker, would include naturally the labour costs also and input costs and a measure of income support.2. The damage in excess of 1,200 houses: dozens of which were destroyed and a few other private buildings including churches. For instance, Mount Carmel Spiritual Baptist Church at Chester Cottage and the roof of Arch Bishop Johnny Jones, the roof was blown off completely and there have been others which have been damaged.3. Considerable damage to roads: especially secondary roads, village roads and feeder roads. The assessment in this regard is on-going.4. Extensive damage to the coastline and river defences. No focused assessment has yet been done on these. The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is seeking external technical assistance in this regard.5. Electricity and water supplies were severely disrupted in the first four to five days after the hurricane.6. All schools and other state educational institutions were closed for one week. Seven Government buildings including three schools, well three educational institutions, two schools and a multipurpose centre were severely damaged.7. The Campden Park Container Port suffered modest damage; the cost of these repairs is being estimated.8. Landslides including major road blockages on the Highway from Fancy in the North to Fitz Hughes in the North West and on several other road arteries.Although the computation of the loss and damage is yet to be fully determined it is evident that it amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars. Indeed, it is likely to turn out that the most significant damage long term has been to our coastline from the sea surges and to our river defences from the swelling rivers. Coastal and river damages obviously are matters for a sustained comprehensive medium term rectification.My Government is embarked upon a thoroughgoing operation recovery and reconstruction. Nine days after the Hurricane Tomas I can report the following:-71. In less than 24 hours after Tomas the state owned Buildings Roads and General Services Authority (BRAGSA) and our community of volunteers had cleared all the blocked roadways of landslides and other blockages. All persons here involved must be commended.2. Within five days of the hurricane all electricity and water services were fully restored from a condition of almost total loss of these services islandwide. Indeed, within 24 hours of the hurricane electricity and water were restored to the city of Kingstown. The CWSA is now assisting St. Lucia with water [applause].3. By Monday November 8th, yesterday, one week after the hurricane over 90% of the schools and state run educational institutions were back to normal and as of today, November 9th all except three educational institutions will be open for full time teaching and learning. The three institutions namely the Georgetown Primary School, the Georgetown Multipurpose Centre and the Troumaca Secondary School had their roofs substantially damaged. They are undergoing restoration as I speak. They would be reopened by Monday November 15th.The return to normalcy within one week more or less of a hurricane of Tomas’s intensity and impact is absolutely remarkable [applause]. It is undoubtedly attributed to all the splendid public servants and volunteers involved, but especially those in the National Emergency Management Office (NEMO). The Ministries of Education, Health, Works, National Security and Finance; state agencies such as BRAGSA, CWSA, VINLEC, the Police Force and the Cadet Force; NGO’s including the Red Cross and the various churches; private sector entities such as the construction companies with heavy duty equipment and the telecommunications providers and scores of individual volunteers. Throughout the passage of the hurricane and its immediate aftermath, the electronic mass media of communications, especially the state owned National Broadcasting Corporation rendered exceptional service.I report now on specific governmental actions in the various areas of work:-1. Emergency Humanitarian Relief – on the day into the night of Hurricane Tomas 12 hundred persons were in emergency shelters throughout St. Vincent. All these persons had to be fed and cared for in several other material ways. Indeed, even after these numbers in the shelters were sharply reduced within one week of the hurricane, the necessity and desirability of feeding and caring for these persons and others who suffered dislocation, but did not go into the shelters continued. My government intends to provide humanitarian aid to these persons until they are back on their feet again, this may take at least three months.In addition to our own resources that is to say, the resources of the government and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, my government has already received humanitarian aid such as food, water, clothing and mattresses, blankets, and emergency kits. These donors are Venezuela, USA, Trinidad and Tobago, the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and private citizens or residents. Emergency Humanitarian Aid has been pledged by the Caribbean Development Bank, the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (CADEMA), the World Bank, the CARICOM Development Fund, the European Union, the United Nationspage8image254008Development Programme, Taiwan, Cuba, Australia, Japan and Brazil. The Grants in cash and or kind from these sources are expected to begin to flow in during this week.2. Housing – the Cabinet has designated the Housing and Land Development Corporation (HLDC) as the agency to effect the repairs, reconstruction and rebuilding of the houses which have been damaged and or destroyed. As early as Monday November 1st, within two days of the hurricane the HLDC commenced the distribution of building materials which has continued unabated. These materials were sourced from the HLDC stores and from building suppliers in St. Vincent and the Grenadines who generously granted 90-day credit facilities to the government. On Wednesday November 17th it is expected that a vessel laden with building materials valued at $5.5 million will arrive in St. Vincent and the Grenadines for further distribution. The government of Venezuela has decided to send US$1.7 or EC$4.5 million as a Grant for housing for the poor. It has also pledged a further US$2 million; EC$5.4 million, from the ALBA fund for housing or on any other rehabilitation or reconstruction effort.The Government of Trinidad and Tobago has sent us some building materials, more specifically three hundred sheets of galvanise and 120 sheets of plywood and one or two other small items and the Government of Dominica will be sending a boat with building materials this week. Currently, the Mustique Charitable Trust, an agency of the Mustique Company is providing EC$1 million to assist in the rebuilding of 30 homes in Sandy Bay. I am advised that the beneficiaries have already been identified and reconstruction is about to begin. Currently too, the HLDC is driving an exercise of registering carpenters and other artisans in housing construction who would shortly be engaged in the repair and rebuilding of houses. It is to be emphasized that many distressed homeowners have already been repairing their houses with or without Government’s assistance. The energetic and focused Minister of Housing, the Honourable Senator Saboto Caesar is providing excellent leadership to his hardworking team in the Ministry of Housing and the HLDC [applause].3. Agriculture – the preliminary assessment of the damage to the agricultural sector has earlier been addressed. The relevant numbers were delivered to me by the Chief Agricultural Officer last week, I emphasize that so that no one ought to be under any mistaken impression or illusion that I conjure up these figures or any politician has been doing so. These come from the officials and of course, officials may or may not speak to the public about their findings, Prime Ministers certainly have to do so, because we are the ones who are elected.Last night I received a detailed list from the Chief Agricultural Officer of 874 banana farmers with $1.6 million mats and a loss of $16.3 million and 1,771 planting farmers with $662,933 mats and a loss of $7.5 million. I should point out that assessments in about 30 farms particularly in Fenton, Antoine and a few areas in North Leeward were not done because the roads to these were impassable, but the Ministry of Agriculture knows the farms and as has made an allowance for them, thus for example the figure of $16.3 million in damage for bananas has been increased to an estimated $16.5 million to include these un-assessed farms.page9image27208 page9image273689The Ministry of Agriculture last evening submitted to me a proposal for input support and cash assistance for farmers. For example, in respect of banana farmers, the Ministry has proposed for my consideration a cash allocation for labour cost of $400 per acre: that is for cleaning, digging holes, planting, rehabilitating fields and an input allocation of 2 sacks of NPF fertilizer and 1 sack of Urea per acre. I shall be discussing this proposal and others and their conditionality’s with the Ministry’s officials later today for urgent reporting to my Cabinet colleagues.I anticipate that by tomorrow, we shall commence the distribution of fertilizer, and other inputs and the cash payments for labour costs. I will be including too, a component for some income support which is designed to cover on-going support for a seven-month period. Obviously, it wouldn’t give the income support all in advance, that would have to be done on a period basis, what we want to do is to provide for the labour right now and for the inputs to get along with the rehabilitation but with some income support for the time being.I have been advised that the WINCROP adjuster is on the ground. He met with the Cabinet Appointed Committee on Agricultural Rehabilitation yesterday afternoon, and he should be holding a press conference this morning. I have been further advised that the WINCROP adjuster intends to announce that the area from Colonarie to Orange Hill has 100% damage so that farmers in this area can start their rehabilitation. I should advise, Mr. Speaker, that this important assessment by the WINCROP adjuster when it is completed, it is of tremendous practical importance not only to get some monies, but the farmers can then go in and start to do their work.I am a little disappointed that the WINCROP Adjuster did not get here a couple of days earlier, because I do not see any reason why he ought not to have been here a couple days earlier, because someone would not have wanted, Mr. Speaker, because he comes from another country, someone would not have wanted, and we had no control over the timing of his arrival, no one, Mr. Speaker, would want to trouble their banana field before the assessment is done by the adjuster, because that obviously would affect the question of the compensation.The WINCROP assessment will be completed I had been advised by Friday November 10th. I assure farmers that we have a sufficiency of fertilizer in stock at the state owned input warehouse company to commence distribution. Additionally, we have ordered 16,000 sacks of fertilizer from the Dominican Republic. Honourable Members would appreciate that many cargo vessels in the Northern Caribbean took refuse elsewhere as Hurricane Tomas headed in that direction, but I have been advised that a vessel with 9000 sacks of fertilizer would be in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on November 16th and the remainder would arrive a little later. So, certainly by the 16th November we should have which is just another week, we should have sufficient fertilizer, both what we have in stock and what would be coming on the vessel to satisfy the immediate rehabilitation needs.Last night too Mr. Speaker, I was given a detailed list of 188 livestock farmers who suffered damage to the tune of $374,240.00 at the hands of Hurricane Tomas. I shall provide compensation for these persons also in accordance with the Ministry’s proposals. The detailed individual damage assessment farmer by farmer in respect of vegetables and fruit trees and other crops is on-going. The same is the case for fisher folk. I shall10report on these when this detailed work is finalised. I want to thank the herculean efforts of the Honourable Minister of Agriculture, the Chief Agricultural Officer, and the Ministry’s staff in laying the basis for the rehabilitation of agriculture [applause]. The Fisheries Division is at work on the Fisheries Sector.4. Roads, buildings and other physical infrastructure: BRAGSA is busy at work assessing the damage to the roads and Government buildings while repairing two badly damaged schools and a multipurpose centre and doing some corrective work on the worst affected roads. Last week the Ministry of Finance accorded BRAGSA the requisite resources for the time being and will deliver more monies to it next week. BRAGSA will shortly begin its annual Christmas Cleaning Programme. The rehabilitation of the affected roads is a work in progress and will obviously have to be done over a time, but expeditiously. The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Port Authority is seeking immediate technical assistance to assess the precise extent of the damage to the Container Port at Campden Park. The repair work will start shortly.Indeed, one of the persons coming with Tilton Thomas, Prime Minister Thomas, I am going to have him go down to Campden Park to have a look at the Port, because there are some of the slabs which came up with the force of the water and fell back down and they have been some as I have said, modest damage it appears. Technical assistance through the World Bank has been requested for the detailed assessment of the damage done to our coastline and the river defence. This was one matter which I discussed with the World Bank officials in a meeting with them last Friday.5. Availability of Resources – in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Tomas, I set about seeking emergency humanitarian relief and short to medium term rehabilitation assistance for operation recovery and reconstruction, and Mr. Speaker, I did so with dispatch. In addition to the monies and Grants already identified above for emergency relief and housing, I shall list monies which have already come to hand and those which are on low hanging branches, so to speak, for recovery and reconstruction.The immediate additional monies available to the Government in this exercise are:- 1. Domestic State Resources of Central Government and Public Enterprises. 2. EC $33.5 million from the Caribbean Development Bank part of a policy based soft loan. 3. A grant of $1 million by the National Insurance Services. 4. The sum of $1.4 million from the Caribbean Catastrophic Risk Insurance Facility; this is one half of what is due to us.5. The sum of $2 million from the European Union. Other short to medium term reconstruction monies include:-page11image23176 page11image23336111. An application which we have made which is fairly swiftly done in terms of drawing down for 30% of St. Vincent and the Grenadines special drawing rights at the IMF amounting to US$4 million or EC$10 million. I just want to make this point that Honourable Members would recall that I had drawn down already 45% and if you do the calculation, you will find that $4 million would seem a lot comparatively for the 30%, the reason being is that there has been an increase in the allocation of the SDRs.2. An application for Euros $7.7 million for the third and fourth tranches of the Rural Transformation Grant from the European Union. This Grant is the equivalent of EC $29.5 million.3. An application for a reallocation from the CDB’s, BNTF programme of $5.5 million and discussions have been carried out on those, and I spoke to the President of the CDB and they sent their team in here and our respective staff are working on these matters.4. An emergency soft loan of US$750,000 that is almost $2 million from the CDB.5. An application to the World Bank for a sum yet to be finalised between the bank and the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines regarding an emergency loan and a pilot disaster loan. This pilot disaster loan, Mr. Speaker, relates to issues connected to climate change and St. Vincent and the Grenadines is one of 15 or 17 countries which have been selected for this particular project. We are busy at work on this which promises to be fairly substantial.6. I am seeking too, Mr. Speaker, to secure the drawdown of the second tranche of the soft loan from the ALBA Bank amounted to US$20 million or EC$54 million.Mr. Speaker, I want to say this, there are some persons when I set about seeking these monies from overseas refer to it all derisively as begging. There is a question of a committee between nations, there is a matter of solidarity and there are institutions which are set up for accessing resources of the kind I am talking about and some Governments have a sense of solidarity which prompts them to assist countries in our own condition. I ask simply the question for those who accuse me of begging, it is a ridiculous accusation when one seeks to do something in solidarity and with dignity, would they please indicate to me what the alternative is, do we have the resources, the surplus here? Do we have the surplus here in order, the surplus resources to address the magnitude of this disaster particularly in a context where we have had two years of deleterious impact, adverse impact from the fall out of the financial and economic meltdown globally from September 2008 and continuing?Mr. Speaker, I should report that meanwhile work continues apace on several major projects and initiatives of the Government. For example, the construction of the Argyle International Airport, and the building of the multimillion dollar medical complex at Georgetown continues. The one laptop per student policy is further advanced with the news last week from Portugal that it intends to send the 30,000 laptops to St. Vincent and the Grenadines before the end of this year rather than early next year [applause]. Similarly, all preparatory work is proceeding full steam ahead on the following major projects:-121. A $40 million project for the further development of the Community College. Indeed, three contracts, two constructions and one for Information Communications Technology amounting to $22 million are to be signed this month for commencement shortly thereafter. This project is financed by the European Union.2. The $30 million soft loan from Taiwan for Agricultural Diversification and assorted capital projects.3. The $35 million comprehensive health sector project financed by the European Union under the 10th European Development Fund. This project will start to build out early in 2011.4. The anticipated $37 million from the banana accompanying measures which measures accompany the further fall in the protection, the further erosion of the protection for our bananas. These banana accompanying measures which amount totally for the ACP of Euros $190 million. We anticipate for the whole of the ACP we anticipate about $37 million that is where the discussion is headed and this is financed by the European Union and we are asking for that to be applied to an integrated programme for Agricultural Development.5. The Lives to Live Project under the ALBA for mentally and physically challenged persons in which Cuba, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Venezuela are partnering.Mr. Speaker, I have requested the Chairman of CARICOM, Prime Minister Bruce Golding of Jamaica and the Chairman of the OECS, Dr. Denzel Douglas, Prime Minister of St. Kitts Nevis to assist in acting as interlocutors and advocates with our development partners on behalf of St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We all need to add our voices and those who do not have money, they must talk to our partners in the same way that I did when Grenada was struck by Ivan and in fact I attended the meeting of donors. I was the only other Prime Minister other than Prime Minister Mitchell at the time for Grenada, Keith Mitchell, who attended this donor conference in New York.Mr. Speaker, I have requested too, the US State Department through its Embassy in Barbados to do the same work as interlocutors and advocates for us with the World Bank and IMF. Further, the OECS Secretariat has agreed to assemble a technical team from various regional and international agencies to provide an overall macroeconomic assessment of the damage done by Tomas and to make appropriate recommendations for action.Finally, please let me assure all citizens, residents and visitors that the hurricane and its aftermath have not caused any troubling security issue. Indeed, the Law Enforcement Authorities have been extra vigilant at this time so as to ensure that persons, especially from neighbouring countries who are prone to criminality do not avail themselves of any opportunity for crime in our condition of natural disaster. Meanwhile, all the relevant post hurricane committees are at work, including not only public sector officials but personnel from relevant NGOs and the Private Sector.13Mr. Speaker, I pray that Almighty God will continue to bless us all. Let us continue too to demonstrate good neighbourly love to one another. Remember always that of the three central virtues of faith, hope and love the greatest of all is love. Thank you [applause].ORDERS OF THE DAY STATUS OF CHILDREN BILL, 2010DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: I do not think we will be here until 5 o’clock, but one never knows in this House. We have been long enough to know that one sometimes get surprises. So out of an abundance of caution I beg to move under Standing Order 12 (5) that the proceedings of today’s sitting be exempted from the provision of the Standing Order hours of sitting.HONOURABLE SIR LOUIS STRAKER: Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion. Question put and agreed to.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member for West St George.HONOURABLE MICHAEL BROWNE: Thank you Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Prime Minister, and Leader of the House has already put into context how we will be approaching the Status of Children Bill today. As you know it was read the first time at the last sitting on August 30th and since then we published it on September 3rd, in the three national newspapers to allow for further input prior to today, when we were hoping that it would have been passed.However, I now beg, Mr. Speaker, to move that this Bill for the Status of Children Act, the object of which is to provide for the equal stages of children and for connected purposes be read a second time.HONOURABLE SIR LOUIS STRAKER: Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion. Question put and agreed to.Bill read a second time.HONOURABLE MICHAEL BROWNE: As you know, this Bill had a long gestation period. This is the tenth year because the process started in 2001 [interjection] long gestation period: yes ten years, this is the tenth year of the process of shaping and crafting this particular piece of legislation which as the Leader of the House pointed out will replace the earlier Status of Children Act 1980. We therefore believe that people had a long time, in fact since 2003 there have been numerous consultations on this, but this Government is known for its proclivity for consultation and working in harmony with the people and we will continue that principle of consultation. And therefore, we are suggesting, Mr. Speaker, and Honourable Members, that we go to Select Committee with this Status of Children Bill to allow for further public input including input from the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Bar Association. They have written to the Clerk in a letter datedpage14image2308014November 1st, to the Clerk of the House of Assembly and we would expect that they would take this opportunity to present to the Select Committee. Members, may I name the Committee on our side sir?The Members of the Select Committee on this side of the House, Mr. Speaker, are as follows:-  Michael Browne – (as the Chair)The Minister of Social Development, Representative for West St. George.Rene Baptiste The Honourable Minister of Culture, Representative for West Kingstown. Girlyn Miguel The Honourable Minister of Education, Representative for Marriaqua. Selmon Walters The Honourable Minister of Rural Transformation, Representative for South Central Windward. Dr. Douglas Slater The Honourable Minister of Health and the Environment: Representative for South Leeward. Michelle Fife The Honourable Senator Judith Jones-Morgan The Honourable Attorney GeneralThis Committee of course, Mr. Speaker as you may note carries a blend of persons with a legal background. We have three persons with a legal background and a number of persons who have been in the area of social development including in the Ministry of Social Development. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Leader of the Opposition. HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House:- Dr. Godwin Friday Honourable Representative for the Northern Grenadines Daniel Cummings Honourable SenatorSECTOR SKILLS DEVELOPMENT AGENCY BILL, 201015HONOURABLE GIRLYN MIGUEL: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I beg to move the introduction and first reading of a Bill for an Act to provide for the establishment of a body to be known as the Sector Skills Development Agency.HONOURABLE SIR LOUIS STRAKER: Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion. Question put and agreed to.Bill read a second time. HONOURABLE GIRLYN MIGUEL: Mr. Speaker, in accordance with section 48 (2) I move that the Billbe taken through all its stages at today’s sitting. HONOURABLE SIR LOUIS STRAKER: Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion.Question put and agreed to. Bill taken through all its stages.HONOURABLE GIRLYN MIGUEL: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I beg to move that a Bill for an Act to provide for the establishment of the Sector Skills Development Agency be read a second time.HONOURABLE SIR LOUIS STRAKER: Mr. Speaker, I second the motion. Question put and agreed to.Bill read a second time. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Debate on the Bill.HONOURABLE GIRLYN MIGUEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. The Ministry of Education continues to work hard to provide a sound education for the children of our state. Way back in 1990 the CARICOM Standing Committee of Ministers of Education approved a regional strategy for Technical Vocational Education and Training. I have brought with me this morning a paper entitled “Regional Strategy for Technical and Vocational Education and Training.” And Mr. Speaker, with your indulgence please, I will beg to acknowledge the presence of Mrs. Lucy Steward who would have been working very hard along with the team on putting out papers together.The purpose of the strategy – Mr. Speaker, this strategy is intended to provide a framework to identify processes and to propose systems for developing and improving TVET within each member state and throughout the region. It should facilitate: 1. formulation of programmes for TVET. 2. Expansion of education and training opportunities. 3. Optimization of use of available resources. 16 4. Increase in the impact of resources allocated for education and training. 5. Consolidation and continued development of TVET. I would like to make this paper a document of the House.Mr. Speaker, the policy makers acknowledged the importance of TVET and have incorporated strategy 41 in the OECS Reform Strategy and I have also brought with me the OECS Education Reform Strategy 2010. And this is what the Strategy admonishes. Rethink and reorganized Technical and Vocational Education to produce a standardized system that functions in a partnership with the private sector and is intimately integrated into the world of work and further study. Different aspects of engineering must be taught to technicians and vocational training with hands on emphasis provided.In addition, computers skills training will be essential, not only to allow technical and vocational students to access computer assisted instruction and computerised simulation software, but also because the computer has become such an integral part of all business organisations. I also want, Mr. Speaker, to make this a document of the House.Mr. Speaker, member states were quick to do the work for their country. The strategy gave the guidelines for the establishment of National Training Agencies, and so Jamaica in 1992 through an amendment of their 1982 Act, they established Hard Trust NTA. In 1993, Barbados established the TVET Council; in 1999, Trinidad and Tobago NTA was established as a company. In 2005, St. Kitts Nevis established their NTA; in 2008, Antigua and Barbuda established theirs; in 2009, Grenada passed their TVET Bill; and today 9th November, 2010 St. Vincent and the Grenadines presents our Bill to Parliament and asking that our agency be called the “Sector Skills Development Agency.”Mr. Speaker, part 1:1 of the Bill provides for preliminary matters such as the Short Title of the Act and the commencement of the Act and the Interpretation of Words used throughout the Bill. Clause (1) seeks to provide for the Short Title of the Bill. The title of the Bill is derived from the name of the body to be established by the Bill. The Bill establishes the Sector Skills Development Agency thus the title of the Bill. The date of commencement of the Act will be set by His Excellency the Governor General by a proclamation in the Gazette.Clause (2) of the Bill seeks to define 14 words used in the Bill. In particular, words such as “trainee and training provider” have been defined. Part (3) seeks to provide for the establishment of the agency. Clause (3) seeks to establish the agency as a body corporate. The agency will be established with members therefore it will have perpetual succession and a common seal. The agency will also be able to sue and be sued in its corporate name, enter into contracts and to acquire, hold and dispose of real and personal property. The Constitution and procedure of the agency are set out in the schedule to the Bill. The agency will consist of twelve members, three ex-officio members and nine members to be appointed in writing by the Minister.17Clause (5) sets out the functions of the agency. The agency will be the primary body in St. Vincent and the Grenadines responsible for the promotion and the coordination of Technical and Vocational Education and Training, otherwise known as TVET. Accordingly, the agency will be responsible for among other things, preparing a national policy for Technical and Vocational Education and Training and if we look at sub- clause 1 (a) and advising the Minister on policy relating to Technical and Vocational Education and Training, sub-clause 1 (b) most importantly, the agency will be responsible for establishing and maintaining a system of assessment, and certification to assess and certify persons educated or trained in Technical and Vocational Education and Training. The qualifications would include national, regional or other qualifications and we say, CVQ that is what it means when we speak of CVQ (Caribbean Vocational Qualifications).We look at clause (6) and this seeks to empower the agency to establish committees to assist it with its functions. By virtue of this clause the agency will be able to establish committees comprising of members of agency or committees where all of the members are not members of the agency. We look at clause (7) and this seeks to provide for the appointment of a Chief Executive Officer of the Agency. The Chief Executive Officer will among other things attend meetings of the Board and take part in its discussions but will not be able to vote.Clause (8): it seeks to empower the agency to appoint staff; apart from the Chief Executive Officer for its proper functioning, while clause (9) seeks to facilitate the transfer of public officers to the agency and clause (10) gives the agency the discretion to establish a pension fund for its staff. Clause (11) seeks to empower the agency to delegate its functions to the Chief Executive Officer. Clause (12) seeks to set out the extent to which the Minister will be able to give directions to the agency. Decisions made by the agency would likely affect citizens to a great degree, thus it is necessary to empower the Minister to give general and specific directions to the agency, directions which the agency must take into account and act upon.Let us look at clause (13) of the Bill; we see that it seeks to provide protection for the agency. A member of the agency or an officer or employee of the agency or any person acting under the direction of the agency, from liability, in respect of a matter or thing done or omitted to be done in good faith.Part III deals with the Plans and the Training Schemes. Clause (15) seeks to empower the agency to formulate schemes for regulating the training in any occupation whilst clauses (16) and (17) deal with the procedure for the formulation of such schemes. It is important that we look at Part IV which deals with the Finances of the agency. The finances of the agency will consist of inter alia money provided by Parliament for the agency and fees and other income accruing to the agency and we see that in clause (18).Clause 20: it seeks to establish a special fund from which the agency will be able to give grants and loans to persons for their support and provision of Technical and Vocational Education and Training. So by virtue of clause 21 the agency once it receives the approval in writing of the Minister responsible for finance will be able to borrow money to discharge its functions. Clauses 22 to 26 set out the procedures for financial accountability of the agency which we know that responsibility goes with accountability and it is very, very important that we pay attention here.18By virtue of clause 27, the agency will be exempt from all taxes on its income or assets which it acquires for its own use in carrying out its functions under the Act. However, the agency will not be exempted from Value Added Tax. Clause 28 seeks to empower the agency once it obtains the approval of the Minister to set fees. Accordingly, the agency will be able to fix the fees to be paid for any certificated issues or any other service it provides. The agency will also be able to wave or remit such fees with the approval of the Minister.Clause 29: it seeks to empower the Minister to make regulations to give effect to the Act, so in this regard, regulations will deal with among other things the criteria and eligibility for receiving grants or loans; the procedures for the evaluation of proposals for grants; and the procedures for monitoring the performance and outcome of training required and satisfy the conditions for reward of grants or loans. Any regulation made in relation to the fund will be subject to negative resolution in the House of Assembly.Clause 30: it seeks to facilitate the process of reviewing the activities of the agency. Whenever we establish something, we must always be able to evaluate and to make sure that our workings get better and better. It is proposed that the review of the functions of the agency be undertaken every three years. This will enable an assessment of the agency’s effect on the society and its effectiveness and efficiency. We are very mindful here that in education if you teach it right the same time, it is an advantage and so we must review.Clause 31: seeks to amend the section 104 of the Education Act 2006. Section 104 of the Education Act of 2006 empowers the Minister to establish a council on Technical and Vocational Education and Training by order in the Gazette. Since the agency will be established by Parliament through this Bill, this provision of the Education Act of 2006 is no longer necessary.Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, a very important Bill and we have in the Ministry of Education Mrs. Lucy Steward and I am so glad that she is here today to see our dreams coming through that we can be in line with the other countries and to make sure that we have our National Training Agency set up so that our artisans and other persons can be certified. Mr. Speaker, I am obliged [applause].HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Further debate on the Bill, Honourable Leader of the Opposition.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Mr. Speaker, I will not be very long. We have before us a Bill for the establishment of an agency that will deal with Technical and Vocational Education. Education has played a significant role in the development of our country over the years and it will continue to do so. I having read this Bill, and having looked at the plethora of agencies that already exist and training institutions, I raise the question as to need at this time for yet another separate agency.Indeed, while I appreciate a lot of the issues and even the functions that are proposed, I am of the view that at this time it is possible to do this through a council in the Ministry of Education. I see in this document, we already talking about transfer of officers from under the Officer Undertakings Act, so in fact, we are going to be using people in existing institutions to some extent, already involved in education and I fail to see the link at the present time in what is being proposed and those institutions that are already involved in19education. Things like the Technical College, School of Nursing, CED and the training done by ICT. There are a plethora of them and I do not get, Mr. Speaker, the need for a separate agency at this time. The objectives are admirable; I have no difficulty with them whatsoever; I am speaking of the instruments that is used or is to be used or proposed to be used for implementation.Mr. Speaker, we already have a situation here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines where we are having difficulty financing our public sector institutions and our statutory bodies. It is a matter I know of concern to the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and indeed in the recent past we have had occasion to approach the Caribbean Development Bank to help reduce the loans and the arrears of a number of our public agencies, statutory bodies and here again this morning, we are proposing yet another one. However laudable the goals might be, we are going to find ourselves in a position in the next Budget to have to provide for transfers of funds from the consolidated fund to do the business of this agency. Where is that going to come from? We already borrowing to reduce arrears, where is the money going to come from? Is it not possible to have this managed from within the Ministry of Education itself, supplemented as the need may arise, because I believe we have a lot ... I know we have a lot of competent persons in the Ministry of Education. Can’t we then supplement these by consultants as required for specific areas where we may have gaps? Why do we have to have a separate agency at this time and how is this agency going to relate to all those other agencies that are involved in some aspects of our Technical and Vocational Education? I do not see it at this time.I looked at the section that deals with, I think it is section 5, that deals with the funding of the agency and we see that we need funds, we have to borrow in some instances and we will have to depend on contributions from the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines via the Consolidated Fund. Are we in a position really, to do that at this time? Can we not simply supplement it given the staff that we have in the educational sector in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, can we not simply carry out this process through the Ministry of Education and buying those skills that may be needed from time to time, that is the fundamental question I face at this time.We found ourselves in the position, Mr. Speaker, in the last Budget presented to this House in January where transfers in the Recurrent Budget went beyond $100 million and that is because one had to support the work for BRAGSA and the Tourism Authority, because they are not in a position as yet to even raise funds in significant quantities to carry out their work. And therefore, they are very, very dependent on the Central Government. And in doing so Mr. Speaker, we had a recurrent deficit of $108 million. How are we going to fit this new agency into that environment? Realistically how are we going to fit it into this new environment? It is going to cost ..., it will have cost, you have the Chief Executive Officer, and other positions that have to be filled. Is the Government now being called to finance them by increasing the levels of transfers? We are not in a position at this time, Mr. Speaker, given what has happened internationally and locally and in the present situation we find ourselves as a result of Thomas or Tomas as they say, we are not in a position to finance these.And I am wondering whether a more cost effective way is to deal with it through the very competence that you have in the Ministry of Education. [Knocking on desk] That is what bothers me about the exercise, not20the intent or the content or the objectives or the functions, I support those, I support them wholeheartedly, because I believe as part of our exercise in moving forward in our development we have to be able to do well in Technical and Vocational Education, so that is not a problem for me. I am saying we can set up this agency and then be unable to fund it effectively and therefore its very function and performance will be affected.I am saying we should take another look, Mr. Speaker, at whether we need to have an agency. Not whether we need to do things that are set out, whether we need to have another Board, a Chief Executive Officer, somebody to deal with the finance and so on, do we really need that at this time and can we afford it? Can we afford it? I am sure that the Minister of Finance does not want to impose any taxation on the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines at this time. Indeed, efforts have been made to lower taxes. So where are we going to fund it? That for me is the fundamental question that we face, Mr. Speaker, not the intent, and I am urging, Mr. Speaker, that the Government takes another look at this matter in terms of its implementation. Much obliged.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. Further debate on the Bill: Honourable Member for West Kingstown you indicated.HONOURABLE RENE BAPTISTE: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I rise to give support to this Sector Skills Development Agency Bill before the Honourable House, strictly in the capacity as Minister with responsibility for Labour as we look towards the further enhancement of our Labour Force Sector.Mr. Speaker, the time has long passed when we can continue to say he has a good talent for machines and talent is simply not enough. Secondly, we are in a millennium that is looking more closely at qualification and certification. And apart from that qualification and certification which most times you found could only stand muster within your territorial border in relation to the skills sector that it has become necessary to come up to par with not just what the other countries in the Caribbean region is doing, bearing in mind the labour force that we have or the potential labour force that we have: that you must be able to move across these borders.You know it was a bit disturbing to me, Mr. Speaker, when we looked at the foreign national workers and we did that category where we discriminated and said musicians and sportsmen and media workers. So, you created that little particular class of persons who could move across and their qualifications would not be necessarily questioned as coming out of a cornflakes box.Thirdly, Mr. Speaker, I am aware that there are existing institutions within St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in the Education Sector, that deliver the programmes and the programmes have been improving from year to year. And as we have now gotten the umbrella body with the division of technical education falling under the Community College, and the expansion of the Community College to grant Associate Degrees that it has become even more necessary since we are doing subject areas in Form 3 and Form 4 allowing students to have that five year period where they have a certificate indicating that they have done secondary level education; but also permitting this Sector Skills Development Agency to streamline how those programmes21are delivered. Because most times in these institutions there is the administrative staff of perhaps three, four people, the principal, Office Attendants and two Clerks, and then the teachers are given this burden of having to look into the Curriculum making sure the training priorities are there and switching around the Curriculum.Mr. Speaker, the idea of having this agency is to leave the teachers to deliver the programme and the Curriculum and allow this agency ... we cannot keep sending people to get Degrees you know and they are going for Masters and PhD. What are we going to do, put them outside? So, you have to find a way of absorbing these individuals who go and do these specialised Degrees, particularly in education development, and the agency, the functions of the agency as outlined in clause 5: to prepare national policy for Technical and Vocational Education Training. This is not necessarily the individual who delivers the mechanical training or the training in those specialised areas, but rather the technocrats that understand the development of policy strategies towards helping to meet the needs of the society and the economy as outlined in the Bill. And also to advise the Minister on the policy relating to Technical and Vocational Education Training as well as to prepare plans.Now you are saying that there are people already, I have heard the argument that there are people already in the Ministry of Education, but you know what we have in the Ministry of Education? There is created now a bottleneck, so you have five Senior Education Officers and they hardly have any space for them to work. You need to be able to carve out that sector that will deal with the development agencies and the development policy and allow the administrative part of the Ministry to function more efficiently, be streamlined, leaner and tighter to deal with the administrated work of the agency.You know it marvels me with the size of the educational sector how the Permanent Secretary, this one individual who has to look after these many different aspects. Obviously, there will be strengths and weaknesses, obviously there would be opportunities, but why put everything into the bottleneck? We have to remove ourselves from these colonial structures and create structures that would allow us the mobility to be able to deliver on our new pathway towards the development of a post-colonial economy. It is not just delivering when we say post-colonial, it means what we think it means, but we have to go down to the ground level and ensure that we have these institutions that can do this.Now, I am not saying the argument is not only because Jamaica has Hard Trust, and Barbados has the training agency that we must do it too, but the problem is, if we are all going to be moving towards, you have the Caribbean Examination Council, the Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ) and you are having all of these organizations, where does that leave you? Where do you fit into this whole Caribbean scheme and this regional scheme? Where do you fit in; then promotion and coordination of Technical and Vocational Education and Training? You know why so many people..., when you ask children, they just concluded career guidance, career exhibition last month, the number of young people ages 17, 18 and 19 they have no clue what they are about to do. But having 2, 3 people hustling them and pushing them into this career thing with persons sitting at a desk in the Ministry that is not enough. We have to put the structures in place.22When we created this Education Revolution and having every child 10, 11, 12, 13 years old in an institution of learning, you must have..., this is another level of organisation filter and development, because you would have noticed that incentives had to be given for persons to do science subjects, incentives had to be given for teachers to qualify in delivering a science programme. You want to be able to put this all together and this is the agency that would deal specifically with the technical aspects of the education programme, because we have a large, I should say, almost top level efficiency in the other higher levels of the academic structures, but this structure, we cannot allow this structure to just go along within the Ministry, pass a file to the Permanent Secretary, the Assistance Secretary, the Chief, the Deputy Chief, the Senior Education Officer and then it takes nine weeks. Am I right?Now, Mr. Speaker, there were two issues that I looked at in particular in clause 5 and I want the Honourable Minister to go along with me on this. In the functions of the agency under clause 1(f) it says, and I quote:-“Approve and accredit training providers and keep a register of all such training providers”. And (g)“Approve and certify courses to be pursued by persons desirous of obtaining technical and vocational education and training”.Then in clause (i)“Establish training priorities, qualifications and accreditation for technical and vocational education and training”.I believe that that last part of clause (i) the accreditation part; I am not talking about the qualifications, but we have the Accreditation Board and I think that that Board has the authority within the scheme of the Act that they accredit the courses. So we can look at that accreditation for Technical and Vocational Education. If we leave (f) and (g) because you are dealing with the providers and courses that the last line in (i) you can take a look at that again.And the gravamen in this Bill what I call the heartbeat and centre of the Bill is not just this function, but the plans and training schemes in Part III, as I advocated before, about the development of a strategy and a plan, right now that development and strategy for a plan, right up the top, Permanent Secretary, Chief and two Education Officers. We are not robbing anything when you have how many teachers went and did Masters and Degrees in the last year and people are saying that people are getting the higher qualifications but they have no jobs. This agency provides as the basket to capture those individuals where we now have over four hundred and something teachers at the primary school level that are graduates.Then you have people who are heading out to the Community College, there are just that many people that you can absorb in the Community College as you go through the programmes of study. You have to find somewhere where you can tailor; when I look at the number of people that have done so many different23disciplines within the education itself, education sector, and people have done Management in Education, Technology Management in Education Administration, Management in Education Developmental Policy, Management in Education and Research. Ministry of Education cannot absorb them all, and so when I look at the scheme set out in Part III to prepare a strategy and plan for Technical and Vocational Education, then to formulate the schemes in that whole Part III, the entire part of Part III, we would not have functions for these people to perform and we will not be robbing the classrooms necessarily of persons who would deliver curriculum. So this Bill is intended to capture that sector that we try to remember over the years: we try to remember over the years and not nail it down.Mr. Speaker, too, I will like the Honourable Minister when we go into the Select Committee of the House here is that under clause 15(g) I see reference made to minimum wages and other conditions that may apply to a trainee, I do not know if the Honourable Minister will take a look at minimum wage, since there is a scheme existing under the Minimum Wages Council to expand the minimum wage there, as we have done. Basically, we had domestics, industrial workers, professionals, hotels and so on that for minimum wage in this technical area if that could be under the minimum... fall under the Minimum Wage Council.And finally, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the scheme set out for the membership within the Board of this agency and the general provisions which give the..., with the approval of the Minister the authority to look at a fee structure and to make the requisite regulations. And as was indicated where the Bill we have had to strike out section 104 in the Education Act of 2006 now that you have got this Act dealing and spelling out in detail, because the provision in section 104 was not specific, detailed, nor of any help in the strategic development, of what is proposed by this overall Bill with its activities.I accordingly, from looking at and I will be tabling in Cabinet in the next week or two: the information developed by the Ministry of Labour; now that we are putting together the Labour Information Management System, so that we can truly get a proper picture of the streams for feeding into the labour market. And what the labour market information is now showing us in relation to the building up and building capacity and competencies in the Technical and Vocational Area and Sector of the economy, particularly dealing with our young labour force. And I give my support to the Honourable Minister and the Honourable House in relation to the passage of the Bill [applause].HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Any further debate on this Bill, the Honourable Member for the Southern Grenadines.HONOURABLE TERRENCE OLLIVIERRE: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I rise to make my contribution to this Bill. As you know, Mr. Speaker, moving forward as a developing nation, it is critical that our people have the education and skills to do so. We must look at workforce development in order to ensure that our people, as I have said before, have the right skills in order to take the country forward.Now one of the main goals that we on this side of the House have is to make skills training more accessible throughout the country and ensure that the programmes that are implemented that they are well designed and they are set up in such a way in order to meet those who we are trying to reach. Those who are targeted,24the targeted individuals, the young people, those who are out of work and also those persons who want to improve their standards. Indeed, they may have a certain amount of training, but they need to improve in these areas.Mr. Speaker, when I looked at page 5 dealing with the functions of the agency as the Leader of the Opposition said, we have no qualms against what is set out here in terms of functions. Indeed, it is admirable and it is what we on this side of the House have always discussed and said what is needed in this country, because in particular on a day-to-day basis I am bombarded by young people, especially in my constituency asking for training in specific areas. Indeed, if we are looking at tourism development, we have large scale development which is supposed to come on stream in certain areas. You are talking about marina development; this also requires certain types of skills. How are we going to ensure that we equip our people with the necessary skills so that they can compete for these jobs?We have also seen that through CARICOM where we have the CARICOM Certificate Qualification in which it is required that even for nationals to move from St. Vincent to say Grenada, Dominica or other Caribbean territories that they must have this qualification in order to ensure that they can be employed in other territories. So within the country we see the need for training especially in the Technical and Vocational areas to give our people a fighting chance.Just recently in the month of September quite a number of our students who were successful at CXC were not able to get a place at the Technical College had to go to our neighbour Carriacou right in Carriacou. They did not receive any place at our Technical Institution here, but here you have in Carriacou where the programme is being set in such a way that they gained places there in order to develop their skills in the area of Technical and Vocational Education. So, we see how important it is to give them that opportunity.On the island of Canouan again, quite a number of young people, a number of them on the blocks without the skills, what are we to do? And this is what we are saying here, when you look at what is spelled out in terms of the functions, this is what we need in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but as stated by the Leader of the Opposition, what we have the problem with is whether what we have spelt out here can be done under the ambit of the Ministry of Education. Indeed, Mr. Speaker, we know that Jamaica has Hard Trust; Trinidad has Serve All; and other Caribbean countries have set up agencies in order to train the young people and to give them that fighting opportunity.Some of these I know we have made efforts before with the Hard Trust to adopt and modify some of their programmes in order to suit our needs, in order to suit our developmental needs and we must continue along that vein. If we look at ..., when we look at the Bill, Mr. Speaker, some of the questions I really have to ask in terms of we have embarked on an Education Revolution. We have a number of students within the system who are struggling to make it academically. How does this programme fit into that with the secondary education to ensure that when they graduate from secondary schools that they have skills in order to find a job?25Are we also going to embark on, on the job training? For example, you have quite a number of businesses ... the private sector who can help in this regard. And I know that this has been spelt out in one part of the Bill that deals with, I believe it is section 2 or 3 that spelt out in terms of how long the trainees would be allowed to work, the type of salaries or wages that they would be given and issues like that. So, it is not that we are disagreeing with what is within the Bill, what we are saying because some of the same things inside here are what we have mentioned even at budgetary presentations and other debates dealing with education in and out of this House. But what we are particularly interested in is the cost effectiveness, the operation of this agency. If when implemented if it will bring to us what is needed especially in the rural areas, because when we look at what is happening in the rural areas and in terms of the amount of young persons who are on the block liming, those who do not have the necessary skills to compete for some of these jobs we recognized that technical and vocational education are necessary, that they should not be centralised; but you need some aspect of decentralisation into the whole process in order to reach a wider cross-section of the persons within the country.And it is not only for our young people but for those who wish to upgrade themselves in whatever training they would have had before. So, we are hoping and as was we said before that what is set out here can be done through the Ministry of Education. I know we have heard the debates about you have persons within the Ministry of Education who have a number of functions and things to do already but within the Ministry of Education it can be set out where the same Education Officer who has a number of functions and things to do already but within the Ministry of Education it can be set out where the same Education Officer different skills can be allocated to persons who will be able to look after this programmer who will be able to look after setting up the skills, the schemes and the training throughout St Vincent and the Grenadines. That is my contribution, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Further debate. No further debate? Oh! Honourable Member for ... [laughs]... West St George.HONOURABLE MICHAEL BROWNE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise to give firm and categorical support to this Bill today. We have brought this Bill to this House and in this country because it is the educational structure that is required in the circumstances precisely for the reasons that the Members of the Opposition have outlined. They support the intent, they support the objective, they support the aims and they support the functions; well, if you have functions you should have the requisite structure to carry out the functions. So, first of all, we support it because there is a need in the current circumstances. We support it further because it is part of a Caricom Ministers of Education programme and thrust [applause] as the predecessor to the current Minister of Education with my colleague the Member for East St George in that the Ministry of Education then, we have attended many meetings at the Caricom level where this has been on the agenda and has been there for many years, since my time in the first term of this government. And the Minister of Education has clearly enunciated the background to this and indeed has listed the countries that have fulfilled this Caricom Ministers of Education Programme in the implementation in their particular countries.26I support it thirdly, Mr. Speaker, because it is a manifesto commitment of the Unity Labour Party. We had indicated in the 2005 Manifesto that in our second term the ULP Government will among other things, this is under Education and a long list of things, we will ensure enhanced access to and quality of technical and vocational education including the offer of associate degrees in these subject areas. Mr. Speaker, we went on to indicate that we intend to reform the management structure, that is to say the administration of the Ministry of Education, so as to better deliver Educational Services. We went on to say that we will make the Integrated Community College a quality institution of enhanced education access for each of the schools within it; the four schools within it: School of Nursing, Technical College, Teachers College, Arts and Science. We have said, Mr. Speaker, that we will implement all aspects of the 2000-2007 Education Strategy Plan and elaborate further chances to it in the years beyond 2007. In other words, Mr. Speaker, we are implementing a strategy plan that we had crafted since the first term of office and this is an important, a salient element in that plan.Mr. Speaker, when this administration came to office, technical and vocational education as many other aspects of specialized education were on the back burner. There was something called the Multi-purpose Centers, something with tremendous potential but was languishing in the education system under the previous administration. We developed those into important technical centres and defined them as part of the secondary educational thrust, so that those students to which the member for the Southern Grenadines referred, those who as he described them ‘struggling students’ who could not make it in the normal academic stream of secondary education, we worked them through that but in a manner that they could connect back in the educational system following remedial types of programs within those particular institutes: the Technical Vocational Thrust. So, that you have a number of students who are able to develop their technical vocational skills while at the same time building their academic skills, and we will bring them into the mainstream of the Secondary Education Programme. So, it was a clearly designed and integrated system which paid credence to the technical education sector and recognized that sector as a cardinal feature of the Educational Revolution.Mr. Speaker, we have subsequently evolved the system into technical institutes where there is a wide range of subjects and this is precisely what this agency is focusing on. The technical education teachers in this country at the time, Mr. Speaker, were considered the bastards of the education system, the unwanted children in the education system because technical education was not seen as an important element of the educational thrust and they complained to me. I know of one as I stand here a strong supporter of the New Democratic Party and we got him involved in all aspects of technical work and he said to me: “Ministers we are glad for you”, Minister Burgin and myself, because we were always in the background in the educational landscape but you have brought us up to the front, and he meant us meaning not necessarily as teachers in technical education but the entire sector of technical and vocational education. And this is a man who supported the other side you know and still does.I made that point to say, Mr. Speaker, that the thrust that we have is today reflected in the creation of this agency, it is a TVET thrust, which we noted was our Manifesto commitment but reflected the unfolding economic and other circumstances in St Vincent and the Grenadines, to which the Minister of Education referred and to which also the Minister, the representative for West Kingstown elaborated on, on which we27have elaborated. But it is a St Vincent driven thrust working in tandem with what is required and coordinated at the OECS level and most definitely at the Caricom level. So, on all fronts, Mr. Speaker, we are justified.Mr. Speaker, when we crafted the Education Act in 2005, and the year before we had done the SVG Community College. No! 2006 for the Education Act, 2005 we did the Community College Act, which dealt with some of these anticipated – some of these developments because it dealt with the four component parts of the Community College in 2005. But we rolled it over in a sense in 2006 when we dealt with the Education Act. I remember those debates and those discussions very well, and this is why under clause 31 of the present Bill that we are debating today, we are saying that we will amend section 104 of the Education Act, which section empowers the Minister to establish a Council on Technical and Vocation Education and Training by order in the Gazette. I did not hear the Opposition lament the creation of this other body, they talked about a plethora of education agencies, a plethora mean that we have a whole set of them you know, that mean plenty [interjection] you name about two, is that plenty? [Interjection] But why did not you all oppose this when it came out, you all were sitting on the Committee when we establish the Education Act in 2006, you all were part and parcel of the Committee, why did not you all oppose this then, because in a sense this is a precursor of what we are dealing with today. You should have opposed it then.2006, five years later, we see the unfolding circumstances in the country, we see the unfolding Education Revolution and it is now pointing to something that should supersede what we had planned in 2006 that we establish a fully fledged agency that could give coordination and thrust to the entire sector, which is now expanding under this administration [applause] and which sector was in the background as the NDP technical education teacher had indicated, been on the back burner all the time, we brought it on the front burner.Mr. Speaker, the Opposition in their two presentations: their two interventions today have indeed built the case, why you should have the agency. You cannot speak out of two corners of your mouth; you cannot on the one hand say Oh! Yes! You like the intent, you support the objectives, the aims are noble and the functions are justified and then you are not going to support the relevant structure.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: You do not look at the finances ... The same reason ...HONOURABLE MICHAEL BROWNE: Well, we are coming to that, I am coming to that you know. You all raised several questions – you raised the question of need and you are not saying there is a need; but you are saying that all these things should be done and you are stopping short out of one corner of your mouth you are saying that, out of the next corner you are saying there is no need for this structure. But your very articulations of your arguments support the need for a relevant structure: a modern relevant structure. So, you can dismiss that because they are not making any sense. The question that they are arguing: let the regular Ministry of Education officials and existing structures do the job. Can they do the job they are asking the question? The answer is no because the administrative structure of the Ministry is in a sense restricted to be doing all these specialized things and there will come a time as you evolve where you are going to need new structures and this is the stage we are at. And your very argument over there in terms of28you spelling out that the needs and the support that you give to the functions and so on clearly indicate that there should be a structure.You may argue whether this particular structure as detailed in this in terms of this, whether some elements of it should be changed but we need an agency to drive forward TVET (Technical and Vocational Educational Training). Mr. Speaker, mention was made about Carriacou and our students going. I see the Member for Southern Grenadines has disappeared, he ran he does not like the lyrics, he is gone, I wonder if he gone to Carriacou? Mr. Speaker, in our first term of office the St Vincent and the Grenadines - at the College, the numbers increased at the so called A ‘level College by three times; at the School of Nursing by five times; at the Teachers College by over three times; and at the Technical College by over three times. We had to build the famous plywood structures that they condemn morning noon and night, in order to rapidly give space to all these people moving into these schools or institutions within the Community College, including the Technical College. We had to invest millions of dollars to put new structures at the Technical College and they will still be up for a while because once you paint them with oil paint to resist the weather they will be there for quite a while. [Interjection]Mr. Speaker, mention was made a little earlier about the Accreditation Committee and it is true that the Legislation here talks on page 6:-“Establish training priorities, qualifications accreditations for technical and vocational education training, but this is a reference to at least a certain level. The Accreditation Committee and we have spent years of work on that at the regional level Ministers of Education, and subsequently in other fora focuses to a large degree at higher level education accreditation of Doctors and so on and so forth. But the concept of accreditation is important at a certain level of education and this is where this agency is going to deal with it at a certain level as distinct from the Accreditation Committee the other Accreditation Committee that we are talking about that is at a higher education level.Mr. Speaker, the position of the Opposition is consistent on the question of the Education Revolution. They vacillate a lot – yes we support it, no. The problem with them is that historically while paying lip service to education as a priority, they have never matched that with the finances and this is why anytime it comes up you will always hear the argument of finances. When they could under finance education as they did in their time, such that only four out of ten children could get into secondary school, it is an indication of the elitist approach they were continuing; the Colonial elitist approach they were continuing to education. We have completely shattered that, completely shattered that [interjection] [applause].You all did not support the Education Revolution when we passed the Motion here [interjection], we Mr. Speaker, have asserted from day one and we on this side are continuing to assert now that education is our number one priority. It remains so even in the context of poverty, we had considered poverty elimination; we have said that poverty elimination was number two; and there has been some debate whether we call it number one since we have made so much progress in education and so on and so forth. The truth is we have also made a lot of progress in reducing poverty. When you could move extreme poverty, indigence from about 30% of the population and rising under that administration that is sitting on the other side, in their29time and you remove it from 30% and it is under 2% now in terms of extreme poverty indigence, we have made a lot of progress.When poverty: general poverty, not food poverty, not indigence, not extreme poverty; when general poverty can be reduced from some 40% and climbing under their administration to now under 25% and dropping under ours, we can salute this administration for making significant inroads into poverty. I make this point to make the point that education will continue while we address poverty our number one priority. And Mr. Speaker, we will not hesitate to shift financial resources into the requisite institutions and agencies necessary to strengthen the management and administration to carry forward education in this country. So, do not worry about the finances. The Ministry of Education team, Mr. Speaker, has not yet met with the Ministry of Finance in their negotiations for Budget 2011 you know, this is an important element that they are building into their negotiations for Budget 2011. So, the Minister of Education team wants this to come here and to be passed today, so that when they sit down with the Ministry of Finance in the course of this week or next week to discuss budget this will be integrated into it, so they could come back, I do not know how many of them will be here assuming if the election is before budget, which is likely to be the case, I do not know, the Prime Minister have the agenda; some of them will not be over there you know, I know a number of them will lose their seat: a number of them will lose their seat.So, Mr. Speaker [interjection] I am voluntarily opting out you know, but some of you all are going to be kicked out [laughter] and I will still be in this administration, do not worry about that; do not worry about that; I know West St George safe that is done lock down. Ces McKie, West St George lock down. They want to send and export somebody from some other place and send them to West St George; we do not want any exports. [Interjection] we do not want any exports in West St George [interjection] ah! You do not want to hear that you frighten get back to the Bill. [Laughter] [Interjection] we do not have to campaign you know, at least not in West St George, we safe.Mr. Speaker, we are creating other bodies: the Hospitality and Marine Institute which is going to specialize in these kinds of things; they are going to say Oh! Do not set that up; do not set up the Agriculture Institute that is too much money. Now Tomas pass through, maybe now more than ever Minister of Agriculture we need the institute because we really have to see how we could fast track the recovery. And I noticed when the Prime Minister was making his statement on Tomas and talking about the level of leadership from him and from the other representatives and the finances that he has been able to mobilised, I see them frighten over there, all of them started to hold down their heads, they frighten, they are trembling you know, Mr. Speaker. They are trembling with this agency too.Mr. Speaker, the way forward for this country, the way forward for education [interjection] well you may hold your seat; you may hold your seat but at least one seat over there I expect to go [interjection] [knocking of gavel] Mr. Speaker, I can take the picong you know but they are afraid when they get it, so I am not worrying about them. Mr. Speaker, the way forward, the broad frame of education the way forward is within on the qualitative level and the quantitative level. We have done a lot of work on the quantitative level in terms of spaces, universal access to secondary education, something that some of us as educators; I know Minister Burgin and a lot of teachers on this side used to dream about it and now we have been able to fulfill30it and it is now being taken for granted, taken for granted. They now take for granted going to the Community College when under them they only had a few spaces and we multiply the spaces as you see here three times and the – well do not talk about university, I mean it is like the floodgates have opened to the university.These days you know when a child is in secondary education they are not just thinking about Community College you know, they gone behind that and they are thinking University. It comes like automatic in their thinking. When they are planning their life now, they are planning I will be an engineer and I will be this and I will be this and so on: they are going to university. Mr. Speaker, so on the quantitative level we are making tremendous progress and as you know we worked in the middle, the primary and secondary, remember once upon a time there used to be a thing called all age school where the children them used to go up to age fifteen in the primary school? People do not know about that now; do not even know about that now, that is history.Mr. Speaker, we had focused on the middle section, primary and secondary, and we worked both ways heads down early childhood education, heads up post secondary into tertiary that was it. So we still have some challenges there on the quantitative level but by and large there has been significant headway on the quantitative level in terms of the numbers. At the qualitative level there remain challenges, our teachers have to be trained and we have trained numerous. The Honourable Member for West Kingstown in her intervention a while ago expounded on that aspect in terms of the number of teachers who have been trained, including in technical education, but we have other challenges there, we still have to improve the school planting. In some cases we have done some wonderful jobs. I have a magnificent structure going down in West St George, the new representative will open it, and I do not want anything named after me, I know he wants to put it in my name but I do not want anything named after me but it is a magnificent structure, it is going to be the state of the art secondary school in West St George; the most expensive, the most elaborate one and I invite all Members of the House to go and visit it. [Interjection] No, I do not want anything named after me [interjection] Oh! [Laughs] [Laughter] wishful thinking.So, on the qualitative level that is where a lot of the challenges are and the agency that we are talking about today is part of the element of the qualitative feature, dimension of the Education Revolution. We have to seriously see how it is unfolding and where we can put in specialized bodies and those have to connect and linked with what is happening in the wider economy, the need for these kinds of skills; both Members in the Opposition acknowledged that, with the Member for the Southern Grenadines elaborating a little more than the Leader of the Opposition, and of course, the Minister, the Honourable Member for West Kingstown in her capacity as the Minister of Labour was very expansive on that aspect. So, Mr. Speaker, there are challenges on the qualitative level.The qualitative level also addresses the area of content; we have always been concerned about the continued emphasis in the educational system on the “Business subject areas” and the “Arts”. There has not been enough emphasis for a modern developing country in a post-colonial economy, on technical vocation education training and also on science. The challenge going forward is to elaborate on those two areas with regards to curricula development; the development of the curriculum. Those have to be major areas to be31addressed and the Skills Sector Agency is one of the elements that will carry us forward as we continue to develop education and this country. Against that backdrop, Mr. Speaker, Honourable colleagues, Members, I give this Bill my fullest support and I congratulate the Minister and I recognise my colleague Dr. Lucy Stuart who has supported us so well, and for those persons who do not know, had been an anchor at the Caribbean Examination Council for years and who is an expert in this field par excellence, and I recognize her and her work in this regard.I remember a day I was going to the Airport, I was seeing my brother off a few weeks ago, Mr. Speaker, and there is Lucy on the Laptop working out, she said: “Minister I am helping to organise the background notes for my Minister on this matter you know”. So, she is at the Airport in the Departure Lounge working hard on the laptop helping to prepare notes for precisely this session. And that is the kind of person you have with Dr Lucy Stuart, a professional of the highest order and I want to thank you Lucy not only for the support on this but your support over the years when Minister Burgin and I were there and I want to congratulate the Minister of Education for bringing us to this point and I wish this Bill speedy and smooth passage through this Parliament. [Applause] Thank you, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Further debate Honourable Senator Cummings.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, the subject of technical vocational training is something that is very dear to me. Some of us may know that when I left Grammar School I was within the first batch of students at the Technical College where I qualified as a licensed wireman. Before that I practiced in the field of construction with my father who is a builder and contractor, and learned the art of carpentry, masonry etcetera. I was privileged, Mr. Speaker, to move from the craft level to the technician level where for two years at the University of Guyana, I did a programme called General Technical Diploma. Well, most of us know that I went on to study engineering. The reason for this background, Mr. Speaker, has nothing to do with me, more so it is to explain my severe concerns about this very strange Bill: a Bill in my opinion which will simply generate more solid waste. It will prepare reports, and reports and reports with seemingly no opportunity to translate the reports into something meaningful for our people.When I listened to the Honourable Minister who last spoke in reference to comments of the Honourable Terrence Ollivierre ... Mr. Speaker, technical and vocational education must not be looked at as a mechanism for drop outs from schools, it must not [interjections] Mr. Speaker, [knocking of gavel on desk] first and foremost one has to look at the mechanisms we are putting in place and to determine whether in fact they can deliver what it is we want. I submit with all respect that the exercises to be contained within the purview of this Bill are an essential component of the work of an organisation already established; the umbrella organization that looks at the A ‘level College, the Technical College and the other Institutions: it is a simple facet. That is not the kind of work for which you establish burden perpetuity; it becomes a very waste of talent. Yes, if you require that kind of assistance I agree with my leader the Honourable Arnhim Eustace, if you need short term assistance then get consultants to present you with that but I submit the issue here and Mr. Speaker, I listened with keen interest to what the Honourable Minister of Education said about the 2010 Vision for Education, the very first sentence she made said it all, what you need; what you need.32When we look at regional initiatives, one has to be very careful and pragmatic, for Caricom there are some countries for which this makes sense: Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica perhaps even Barbados. Let us come to the OECS, St Lucia has an excellent Technical Institution under Morne, Trinidad has a myriad of them, Barbados has Samuel Jackson Prescod Polytechnic. These are institutions that train people at the craft and technician level in a myriad of very good areas of training. What do we have in St Vincent and the Grenadines? The Technical College has become a center for training people in clerical and related works. It has watered down substantially the technical component: you really cannot call it a technical institution.I want to go back, Mr. Speaker, to the initiation [interjection] Mr. Speaker, I really do not like when what I am saying is being referred to as nonsense. I sat and listened to the Honourable Minister of Mobilisation etcetera, etcetera, and Mr. Speaker, I asked your indulgence in restraining the Minister from insulting me. [Interjections]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member, continue the debate do not trade anything across. HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Mr. Speaker, I have not been trading anything with anybody[interjections]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: You might not have been. [Interjections]HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: But it is disrespectful, Mr. Speaker, for a Member to say what I am saying is nonsense that is the point I am making. You have said that to me before [knocking of gavel on desk].HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Members, please allow the Honourable Member to make his debate, okay.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, when the Technical College was opened in the ‘70s; early ‘70s, the British Government brought in a team of persons, Mr. F.R. Cartwright was the Principal and a gentleman named Mr. Butt was the Electrical Teacher. These people, Mr. Speaker, were a combination of academicians and practical people who had their own contracting firms, who had served the industry and who brought to bear on their teaching that very critical practical experience. It was a blend of theory and practice. Since their departure ... and you see Mr. Speaker, when I am speaking here, I am not speaking in terms of any particular government, this is not a political thing; this is a national developmental issue. Since their departure, I am afraid we have attempted to recruit teachers the vast majority of them who have never served in industry. And the experience they bring to the students is lacking, and that is a very serious omission. I have made the comment repeatedly, Mr. Speaker, to counter that, a technical institution of that kind needs to change its scope and its method of operation. There is no reason, for example why the classes cannot be spread over a long period of time, so that those persons with the practical experience who are contractors by day and get involved in their real work can assign a couple of hours in the evening in the classes to pass on some of that critical expertise to the budding craftsmen,33women and technicians. That to me had been one of the biggest flaws in technical education in this country and indeed the comment made by the Honourable Minister of Education in the opening gambit of the 2010 Vision speaks to that. The thing is so straightforward it boggles the mind why really very little effort has been made to realise it.Mr. Speaker, when one looks at the stage of our development, anytime there is a major development project in this country whether at construction or operations, the people who are well paid most times have to come from outside. We do not have a sufficiency in skilled operators and technicians because people who pass O’ level sciences do not see them going to a technical institution to be trained at the technician level.As Engineers, and I speak for the construction sector more precisely than the broader field of engineering, the limitations are not so much from time to time the availability of engineers; but it is the lack of persons at the sub-engineering level, the technician level. And again I speak with the experience of having done the two year course at the University of Guyana, where you study a myriad of subjects relating to the construction industry, from being a basic surveyor to understanding the properties of materials including cement etcetera. Because too often people believe that the minute they start to work in this field they are experts and they do not ever take the time to go into the theory to understand why, for example, you have to limit the amount of water you place in the concrete mix to gain maximum strength. The average contractor will tell you just allow the workman to add water to make his life easier, and you have water running out of it not realising that they are wasting their owner’s money.So, Mr. Speaker, technical vocational education is something that is critically required in our society and I just choose to speak on this one component of the construction industry for which there are so many gaps; but in every other sphere of life you see it emerging, you go to an electronic repair shop and you can hardly enter the shop because the materials are just lying there, the proprietor cannot find any young person interested in studying the art, and moreover they are not keeping abreast of the technology. Even in the sphere of solid waste management, I remember when the new equipment was bought with computerized operations; I remember the agency advertising for people with O’ levels and being scorned at; what you want O’ level people to drive solid waste trucks? Nobody realized that the truck cost over EC$500,000 and was computerized and people need to understand what they were doing. This is the world we are living in, our education system must address the needs of our people and it must fit with the developmental plans that we have.So, I look at this Bill Mr. Speaker, and I am asking myself if we can find the money; if we can find the money to set up this body, what will it do for us? What will be the deliverables? Why create an entity in perpetuity to advise you? That is what essentially this institution is going to do serve in an advisory capacity ad infinitum. We have had reports; every Ministry has dozens of these reports all over the place, this thing has been studied to death. What is required is a practical approach to the delivery of technical vocational education starting with our primary school curriculum. Mr. Speaker, I remember when I went to the Grammar School, the thing I remember most in Grammar School is going to that technical center where the library is and learning to do technical drawing, learning to do welding, learning to make cabinet in carpentry. All the secondary school kids were exposed to that, where is that today? Where is that today? It is34the seed you plant that encourage students to take these real possibilities. Our technical vocational education must be real; students must have an opportunity to experience and to learn.I can quote for you and Ernest Dover, one of the first Graduands from the same electrical programme: first class electrical contractor today; Cameron Cadogan, one of the best persons you can get in motor rewinding and related works in the electrical field, all products of the original Technical College at Arnos Vale. Today when I visit and I went some years ago and I vow, I would not go back there again to a graduation to that institution; I held my head I wanted to cry; the vast majority of the programmes are clerical programmes. You do not have to go to a technical college to do those things; the regular education stream can take care of that. We need to take technical vocational education seriously, we need to do like other countries, build the institutions with the capacity to train people in the various fields. What is the point of talking about certification; certify whom or certify what? You have to create the environment that people can be trained before you start talking about certification. Certification is not just doing some theory and writing an exam, you have to be able to go through the practical steps, because you have got to be able to work.Mr. Speaker, throughout the Caribbean you have from time to time the great need for artisans when one country’s tourism product is booming, we have situations for example where workers have been imported from as far as India into the Caribbean. St Vincent and the Grenadines is well known for quality artisans, but we fail to realise that in a changing world, being able to use a trowel and a hammer, and to estimate things with your eye is not enough. These artisans need to be given opportunities and I say again, Mr. Speaker, you have to marry the technical skill with the required academic training, but again academic training in this field is not writing and passing O’ level Math, it is a specialized type of math that helps the artisans to relate it to his or her work. It is a type of math that brings the interest to them and that is where the technical and vocational training is lacking. You not only have to teach people how to lay bricks with mortar they have to be able to read the scale, they have to be able to read the map, they have got to be able to see a change and implement it and they have got to understand and appreciate that math is not something that is frightening, and there is a specialised group of people who can bring that math down to the level where people feel comfortable and make sense out of it.So, Mr. Speaker, troubles me, I mean the intention sounds plausible, the problem is in the implementation, we are not going to derive benefits from this because these people will have no authority to do anything. These people will have no authority to do anything whatsoever; all they will be doing is advising and advising and advising; and preparing reports after reports after reports [interjections]. If you do not have the institutions to carry out the proposed programmes, you need to start by making it possible, create the entity and what is required is not a body that every year advises you on this, you have agencies and government already that do that. You have so many reports that give you what this is asking. Why you don’t have resources; you gone ahead and created BRAGSA another layer?Look at what happened in the Water and Sewage Authority, the bringing of solid waste into that entity was not an accident, in these two by four societies we have to try to achieve economies of scale [knocking on desk] it is not a joke, simply creating an entity for the sake of it is not helping anybody.35HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Good point.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: There are financial implications for this institution so you have to have accounting staff; you have to have management people, human resource management people, operations people for what, to deliver what? Mr. Speaker, I submit that this Bill really is not worth the time of parliament. I thank you.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Senator Leacock.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much. I really had no intention Mr. Speaker, to be on this Bill Mr. Speaker, but let me with your permission say how sad I feel at times in this our Honourable House when we as politicians choose to reduce ourselves to be what I call political gladiators at the expense of the taxpayers of our country, especially when very important matters are before us which really does not require this kind of...HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Let me ask you a question, that is not insulting, right. HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: I do not think so, Mr. Speaker, I said political gladiators. HONOURABLE MR SPEAKER: I am just checking.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: And I do not think I meant it to be insulting. If it is so, I would withdraw that; but political gladiators meant simply Mr. Speaker, that every subject matter that comes before us we have to be in this [inaudible] we have to retrace the political history, we have to show that we are the only ones and the others do not know what they are talking about and all this ... when in fact Mr. Speaker, we all in this House have a contribution to make to the debate and we could demonstrate a little bit more tolerance to get the optimum result.Mr. Speaker, I want to speak to you and through you on two important matters, I listened the news Mr. Speaker, and there was an IMF report on the country of St Kitts which many of us feel has great economic progress. Its International Airport, the leading export of manufacturing products to the United States of America, great Tourism Plant and seat of one of the major institutions in the Eastern Caribbean and so on and so forth; but ultimately Mr. Speaker, what stood out was the statistic that the IMF is referring to that that country’s Gross Domestic Product was now 185%, sorry the Debt to GDP ratio was 185%. Mr. Speaker, you know what they were saying, for every dollar that that country earns it had to spend it towards the debt that it owes. Imagine that you went out as a person in St Vincent and you worked for a dollar and that dollar did not belong to you, you had to carry it to the Bank or to the store or the shop because you owe people money. So, you do not have anything to provide for yourself. That is one dollar but it is 185% Mr. Speaker, you still had to go and look for another $0.85 or dollar or whatever unit of measure you want simply to pay your debt. There is nothing left to run your country that is what they are saying about St Kitts where we perceived much progress has been made and indeed I believe that progress has been made, so the other question is at what cost?36I made that point to establish, Mr. Speaker, that in politics and in this parliament there is always a balancing act, and we have to look the full gamut of our decision and there is therefore absolutely nothing wrong whenever we have to arrive at decisions to look at the ultimate implications of how it impacts our economy. So, let us come closer home, Mr. Speaker, we are in the month of November, a month or two short of our next budgetary exercise. In January of this year, Mr. Speaker, as a people, as a parliament, as responsible policy framers we acknowledged that we were $20 million short on the recurrent side of our budget, not the capital side, the Recurrent. Put another way Mr. Speaker, we did not have enough money of our own from our taxes to pay our public servants and our transfers, we would have to go and borrow money to meet those commitments. Mr. Speaker. It is like a person in their home with a mortgage but yet must feed their family on a daily basis and they have to make a decision: I cannot buy the bread, the butter, the fish, the chicken, the meat, the milk and the juice to go on the table of the household and I am still short to go and pay the Bank for the roof under which we live. Very difficult decisions embarrassing decisions and invariably, Mr. Speaker, they must move around trust from this one, trust from the other one, trust from a third one and try to establish good faith. In essence Mr. Speaker, I am saying as a parliament and a government we have those responsibilities too.We just came out of an exercise that embarrassed all of us Hurricane Tomas, how because we know for a fact, it requires no mathematics, we do not have those monies to respond to even the immediate emergency [interjection] it is only a matter of time, Mr. Speaker, before a special warrant will come before this House to show that as a consequence of the emergency we had to get those funds. We had no contingency funds [interjection] we had no fat. Do not tell me no country has [interjections] tell me ... no country has ... there are countries that operate as such and this country did it too, [interjection] where we had surplus.HONOURABLE SIR LOUIS STRAKER: Which one of the countries? [Knocking of gavel on table] HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: We consciously choose to run a deficit budget [knocking ofgavel on table]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Alright.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: So, I know what I am speaking about Sir Louis.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member, [knocking of gavel on desk]HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Let me speak Sir Louis, I am making the point that we are short of money and for the Tomas we would have to beg and nothing is wrong with that but; we have no fatHONOURABLE LOUIS STRAKER: Greece ...HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: And all the Honourable Leader of the Opposition was making the point that [interjection]37HONOURABLE LOUIS STRAKER: Every country ...HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Members.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: I am on the floor and I do not want to be shouting over you, Sir Louis, let me respect you please. Let me respect you please [knocking of gavel on desk] I have always done that and you are on your way out, let me respect you even on your way out.HONOURABLE LOUIS STRAKER: [Inaudible]HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: So, let me make my presentation, I have listened in silence as I always do. [Knocking of gavel on desk] Mr. Speaker, may I take my seat to allow you to restore order? May I? [Interjection] Oh, continue?HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Will you kindly continue. HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Members let us climax this thing in order.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Of course, Mr. Speaker. So that is the point I am making Mr. Speaker, we have a balancing act. This question about technical and vocational education is not new, it is enhanced, it is advanced; it is desirable; it is commendable and certainly deserving of the support of both sides of the House. It takes our country to another level, so ours is a responsibility to find ways and means of how we do that. The Honourable Member here Senator and my colleague made the point that he went to Grammar School to Tech Ed, I went to Tech Ed School too, as a Grammar School student; we did metalwork. When I left School I continued to do welding, I thought I would one day go to Canada and a skill of that nature would be of greater importance to me than the academics. I worked in a body shop, in fact, I bought my first motorcar because I was doing welding and bodywork right there in Paul’s Lot; P3649, the first vehicle I bought from a guy Johnson who used to sell chicken. You might remember that guy a Grenadian who has passed on now. Some of us had that ambition, but Mr. Speaker, beyond that I had the benefit for eleven years to work in one of this country’s best institution as a Manager of Human Resource Development. VINLEC was an extremely well run institution, recognized regionally and internationally, spends over a million dollars per year on training and development.That institution also has an ongoing relationship with our technical college: supported students there, sponsors students there, recruited students from there and turn there as a point of first resort when it wanted to replace staff. In fact, I recall there Mitra Malcolm receiving an International Award for his performance at the City and Guilds Examination because that is the International benchmark in our part for technical education, which I believe our CVQ is trying to replace and it will take some time, Mr. Speaker, because of the international appeal names such as City and Guild holds, vis-a- vie what we are developing. It took some38time before the CXC replaced GCE. It is transitional; these things are going on, Mr. Speaker, but we do not have to come here at parliament, Mr. Speaker, and be so Dracula; at each other’s throat.DR. THE HONOURABLE DOUGLAS SLATER: It comes from over there too.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: You know sometimes, I regret, Mr. Speaker, that it would seem as though some of my colleagues either have deliberate amnesia or it is in fact a reality [interjection] that they are members [interjection] of a political party that either wants to forget their history or do not have any history. You speak and behave as if the world began in 2001. You believe and speak ... let me read to you from the National Census of 2001, I will quote from it for you; because everybody used to believe that this thing drops out of the sky: technical and vocational education:-“Professional ...Mr. Speaker, I am reading on page 26 of that report, which if you want I will make it a document of the House. I am reading from Population and Housing Census Report, St Vincent and the Grenadines 2001, and I am quoting from Professional, Technical and Vocational Education. The report says:-“The number of persons attending professional, technical and vocational schools doubled over the intercensal period.”In 1991, 451 students enrolled compared with 831 in 2001, of course I sure it was an increase, but it doubled of which 360 were males and 522 were females. The number of males increased by 60%; where the number of females grew in excess of a 100%. The increase in the number of persons pursuing technical and vocational education is the result of initiatives to broaden the scope of technical vocational education and to develop a certified skilled labour force, that will respond to the needs of the development process as shown in Table 2:4 attendance of the level of professional, technical and vocational education varied across [inaudible] division.In short Mr. Speaker, we have been building on what we have this is not the reinvention of the wheel, this whole programme did not start ... In fact, Mr. Speaker; in fact, Mr. Speaker, in the ‘90s when I was at VINLEC [interjection] and I was also ... please exercise the same courtesy that I did for you, and listen to you Minister Browne. The rule said I must listen in silence and I did that to you [interjection] give me back the same courtesy that I ask of you [interjection] just give me back the courtesies that I ask of you. In the ‘90s when I was Manager of HR at VINLEC, I spent many weeks and months with the consultants who were coming here to establish these programmes. I was President of the Employers Federation which worked with the ILO and we also had several meetings and sessions, do not speak to us as if these are things – rocket science and it is just descending upon us we do not know.We have the same passion, the same empathy that you have for advancing our people, our youth and our nation through different educational exposures. So, we need not beat over each other in this exercise. What I understand to be coming from our side of the House is yes, as the Honourable Member said all of which has39been reported and contained in the document is important to us [interjection], the intent, the content and the objectives are desirable and we ought to be committed to their advancement, but all is being said and asked against the background that things tight, things rough and money scarce. [Interjection] If you want to say you throw it in the solid waste you can do that [interjection]; but I am not going there with you. [Knocking of gavel on the desk] I know you are the Minister of Environment if you want to say so you may do that: you say so.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: All right Honourable Members. HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: I am saying the opposite. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: [Knocking of gavel on desk]HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: I am saying we must dedicate time, progress towards its advancement and we must look realistically at our means; and therefore if it is within us to establish institutional modalities, or to look for synergies, we shall so do because this is a dynamic and a complex process. [Interjection] I have raised ...HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Quiet Honourable Members, please.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I do not know for some reason those who are not returning loudest today, I do not know [interjection] Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker, on other occasions these are my family members but today I do not know. The one who maintains balance in the family and his sister left yesterday and so he is at his outrageous worst [laughs]. I will continue, Mr. Speaker. [Interjection] Mr. Speaker, in my own political sojourn Mr. Speaker, I have raised for consideration and I speak I do not have permission I believe, I think there is a member in the Gallery whom I respect there are other ways we can achieve some of these results. Let say for example in St Vincent we have important state monopoly, I have named VINLEC, I have named Water Authority, the Port, the Flour Mills and the Brewery they are monopolies in the sense that there is little or no competition but they are important breeding grounds for technical skills and knowledge base. And you know what Mr. Speaker; they can let their monopoly muscles reach out in a way that certain certifications may not even have the same effectiveness.Imagine a group of young men and women with a two-year or whatever time period determined to be necessary of an apprenticeship attachment at VINLEC, and who can leave at the end of the period with a certification with the seal and stamp of VINLEC certified. They carry with them a brand equity of VINLEC a reputable institution that every employer would want to take on board because they know what VINLEC stands for; or by the Water Authority, or for the Port and they can go away with this as electricians, they can go away as plumbers, as mechanics, as painters and as various artisans so that is another way we can achieve that, Mr. Speaker.40But this is not to take away from the general certification argument that is being presented here today, because we also have other impacting factors here, for example in Barbados we have over 13,000 plus Vincentians living in Barbados, in Trinidad and Tobago over 20,000 and among them a large number of masons and carpenters. Some of the best artisans in those islands come from these parts and as I understand one of the things that Caricom wants to impose to make it easier for artisans to work in the region is for them to have some sort of letter, some sort of paper and some sort of certification. So one is not getting away from the notion of being able to certify our artisans to facilitate job opportunity, in fact, it gives more meaning to the construction sector where we are now able to move foreign exchange by the export of our people. But again, Mr. Speaker, are they not possibilities that the HR Managers of those same monopolies in concert with organizations like the Employers Federation, the Chamber of Commerce, staff from the Ministry of Education and other relevant agencies can have their superintendent role, rather than imposing another institutional burden on the state? That is what has been asked you know: that is what has been asked and that is not an unreasonable ask, it is asked in the context of a country that is catching its nennen to go forward (I know you like that word, Mr. Speaker, you thought I was going down the wrong road)Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker, you have a nennen somebody who stood for you, you know that [interjection] [laughs] or you want me to say [interjection] you have a nanny [interjection] you have a nanny, you have a nanny: you would not have grown without a nanny Sir Louis, you would not have been able to dress like that if you did not have a nanny, I can tell you that.Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker, my fear or my concern as I wind up is too often in this country and in this parliament the noble intentions are misconstrued, twisted and spoken out of context. So the next thing you hear on a political platform, on a rostrum and on a radio: Leacock dem nah want poor people children go learn fuh come mason, carpenter and electrician, he don get fuh he education; and that kind of trivia, far removed from the point. I am not going to allow myself Mr. Speaker to get down into that kind of label, I am not because every educated child in this country academic, technical or vocational is advancement for Vincentians and all of us must do whatever is in our power to do that. But we must never ever forget, Mr. Speaker, that that education also comes at a cost and therefore we must watch diligently how we apply taxpayer’s money in getting the best results for carrying their country forward. Much obliged Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Further debate, Honourable Member for South Central or could we take the lunch adjournment now? [Laughter]HONOURABLE SELMON WALTERS: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I rise to give some support to this Bill before this Honourable House for the establishment of the Sector Skills Development Agency. As I make my contribution Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Opposition for supporting the measure [applause]. The only difference seemed to be, Mr. Speaker, is where are we going to find the money from to implement it? But that is a normal phrase you would hear from the other side: where we get the money from? [Interjections]HONOURABLE MICHAEL BROWNE: A mantra; a mantra. 41HONOURABLE SELMON WALTERS: Mr. Speaker, I want to commend the Minister of Education and the Ministry of Education for putting this proposal together in an effort to take technical vocational education to a higher level. I was somewhat appalled, Mr. Speaker, when I heard from the other side that this agency would only generate solid waste, the Honourable Senator probably did not read all of it because the agency is not just designed, Mr. Speaker, to advise the Minister, and I will come to that in a while. There are other things that the agency is designed to do which is commendable. Mr. Speaker, there are a number of departments, number of bodies and a number of organisations that are involved in technical education in this country. We have many social organisations, we have some religious organisations, we have some voluntary organisations and they all do some skills training for their members and for other people, but to what end?When such people are exposed to months perhaps years of training of what use is the training? What do they do with it? How can they make a living out of it? How can they travel in a proposed CSME environment and make use of it? Somebody goes to Trinidad or to Barbados and says to the employer I am an auto mechanic, how does the employer know for sure that that person possesses the requirements to function at a particular level? There must be some certification, there must be some accreditation that says to the employer that this person has undergone or was at training and is good enough to function at a particular level. Here is where the skills training, the development agency is supposed to play a role. In short, we are taking it Mr. Speaker, to a higher level; it is a sort of retooling, a sort of retraining. While it is true, Mr. Speaker, we may commend the work of the College at Arnos Vale: the Technical College for doing a particular job over these years, we may say that it is limited in the sense that only people who possessed the required CXC requirement may gain entry. But we have a lot of people who are involved and desirous of being trained in some skill who may not be able to enter the college because they lack the requirements, what do we do with such people?We find Mr. Speaker there are some carpenters who are very good at a particular job but they are not certified so in the new environment they have nothing at all to show. They have young people who have gone down to the Grenadines to work very, very good, very, very competent but they have nothing to show in the new environment. So, Mr. Speaker, while it is true that the proposed agency is designed in a way to advise the Minister, there are other things that are spelled out here for us in part 2, section 5 and onwards, and I noticed, Mr. Speaker, part 2, section 5: (i) says here:-“To establish training priorities, qualifications and accreditations for technical and vocational education and training”.Mr. Speaker, we always say where there is a will there is a way and I think that we are in agreement that there is a will, so we must now find the way to establish it for the benefit of all our people. If there is no structure, Mr. Speaker, if there is no shape, if there is no body, if there is no organisation to harmonise the skills and bring them together, everyone does what seems right in his or her own eyes. And already we have many of our young people going into training that in a way does not benefit the development thrust of the nation. People choose a particular field of study because they may like it or because their friends are involved in it, or because it is easy to get into but it does not bring a natural impact on the development thrust of the nation, so they come back Mr. Speaker, and they cannot find a job . And when the young42people say: Oh I am going to do this, I am going to do that and I say well: how will that fit into what we are doing in St Vincent? And they say: well I do not have to work here, I could work somewhere else. So priority Mr. Speaker is important. So, the training is not ad hoc to anyone who feels that he can organise training and maybe tap into some donor agency somewhere and organise training, it has to be prioritized and the agency is charged with forming those priorities that which will impact the nation make you to make a positive contribution.And then there is accreditation, the agency must organise for the accreditation of individuals who have done that Tech Voc training to make sure that there is something they can show. So when CSME is fully operational, somebody goes to Anguilla or some other place and you can show something from a reputable organisation that have done this training and I have got competence and I can function. And the Opposition is agreeing that the aims and objectives are good but if the only barrier is finding the money to operationalize it that is why you are in government to find the money. So, Mr. Speaker we are unto something good, and I think it is time that we lift technical vocational training to a higher level: to the next level [applause] rather than allow it to operate in the present ad hoc form where everybody does what he or she thinks has to be done.Mr. Speaker, there is in the Ministry of Education a skills training department and that skills training department has throughout the length and breadth of this country sub-depots that we operate where young people learn various skills. This sector skills development agency would harmonise all these depots and bring them under a reputable body giving it shape, giving it form and taking it to a higher level bring it to a regional and international standard where people could go from there with good accreditation and they can hold their own anywhere they go in the world. Mr. Speaker, this is something good and if the only obstacle is the finance then we have to find a way to put it into operation. So, Mr. Speaker, I would advise Honourable Senator who thinks it is a solid waste generating proposal to read part 2 sub-section (5) from (a) to (r) and see that the functions are all spelt out there and advising the Minister is just one of those functions, there are a whole set of them there that are designed to take us forward.Mr. Speaker, it is a good proposal and I want to go on record as supporting it and I want to thank the other Senators for supporting it; and if finding the money is the only obstacle where there is a will there is a way. Much obliged.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Minister of Tourism and Member for South Windward. HONOURABLE GLEN BEACHE: Mr. Speaker, I promised not to be long as I realised that certainstomachs might be growling at this point and time.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.HONOURABLE GLEN BEACHE: Mr. Speaker, I really did not mean to speak on this issue but I have heard some things in this Honourable House today that I cannot agree with and I think some of it needs to be corrected in terms of what we say in this Honourable House. I think the most amazing thing that I have43heard Mr. Speaker, from many of the Speakers on the opposing side is how much they contradict each other. At one minute Mr. Speaker, we are hearing that it would be good to hire consultants because consultants do this sort of thing, instead of spending money on this, and then at the same time we are being told that the only thing that would be done here is a lot of written reports but Mr. Speaker, that is what consultants do. That is exactly what consultants do, so you say one thing on one hand and you contradict yourself on the other hand.Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Senator Leacock made the point that we behave as if the world just began in 2001. Mr. Speaker, what we have accomplished since 2001 is amazing especially within the education field [applause]. When we speak about education we speak about Technical College and the Technical Center in Paul’s Avenue Mr. Speaker, Technical Institute and how we have upgraded that and improved on it. Mr. Speaker, I am not one who likes to speak about what I have accomplished and what I have done. I attended the Technical Institute when it was across from Richmond Hill, from Richmond Hill School, I have Woodwork as a CXC subject, St Vincent and the Grenadines have always been known for its carpenters and its masons and these sorts of things, Mr. Speaker, and we are looking to improve on that. At Arnos Vale our Technical Institute we are the ones who put the state of the art mechanic shop out there: we are the ones that did it. [Interjections] [Laughs]HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Nonsense.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Senator.HONOURABLE GLEN BEACHE: It is alright.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Just a minute, just a minute, Honourable Senator: Honourable Senator, I am very surprised [laughter] [interjections] I am very surprised [interjections] [laughter]HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: It is most appropriate because it is [inaudible]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Wait just a minute [Knocking of gavel on desk] you are not going to determine what is appropriate; you objected to that word being used when you were making your contribution and I am indeed surprised that you are using the same word now that somebody else is and you cannot determine what is appropriate and what is not appropriate.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: I take it back. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Thank you very much, Sir, that is the way I think you should go.Thank you. HONOURABLE GLEN BEACHE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, but Mr. Speaker, we ... HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Point of order the Honourable Member is speaking an untruth.44HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Oh well! It is a different story. Well then maybe he needs to ... HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Correct the statement.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Correct the statement, if he is indeed speaking untruth. Maybe you can state what untruth he is speaking.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: To say that it is this government that introduced an arm of the Technical College [unanimous rejection interjection].HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: No! He never said that, he never said that [unanimous rejection interjection] Honourable Member, you are not listening. You definitely not listening, you are not listening. Continue with your debate. [Interjection] No he did not say that, he talking about the establishment of the state of the art thing out there [interjections] [knocking of gavel on desk]HONOURABLE GLEN BEACHE: Anyway Mr. Speaker, as I was saying Mr. Speaker, and I promise you I would not be long in this sort of thing, Mr. Speaker, because the Honourable Minister of Education has to correct, but there is just one other point I have to make before I sit down, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, we must not come to this Honourable House when it suits us to be high and mighty and then at other times we say something completely different. We must not come to this Honourable House and talk about how we will not go on a platform and do certain things and then when we get out there we do the exact opposite to make us seemed higher than everybody else. Because Mr. Speaker, I have been at the end of some of the battering on the platform and that is okay Mr. Speaker, that is on a political platform we know what we signed up for; but you are not going to say you are not going to go down one road and then you are talking about somebody who you give some money two years ago to help them with an assignment and then go down that road, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker we must ...HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Let us avoid that.HONOURABLE GLEN BEACHE: Yes Mr. Speaker, but we must be honest in this Honourable House. Mr. Speaker, this Bill is a very good Bill, I agree with what the Honourable Member for South Central Windward said that we will find the money that is what we have been put here for. It is the same way we could say: St Vincent and the Grenadines could never have afforded to build or construct an International Airport, we have found a way to do it, that is what the people put a government in place for [applause]. If every little thing that you do or every idea that you come up with, you are going to stop because you cannot see any way out of it in terms of getting the proper resources, well Mr. Speaker, the election the upcoming election is over because there is no way that the Opposition can win if that is their view.Governments are put in place to be created and carry their people forward and the development of the country forward and that includes putting innovative thoughts into any idea Mr. Speaker, and with this Bill that is exactly what this administration plans to do. Much obliged Mr. Speaker. [Applause]45HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Minister of Education there seems to be no more debate [laughs]HONOURABLE GIRLYN MIGUEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, it is important for me to say that discussions on this started 20 years ago and here we are. I want to acknowledge the hard work of Dr. Stuart and her team and all the others who would have been working over the years to bring us to this point and also to say to my colleagues in this Honourable House, that I am very happy for the support that you have given.Mr. Speaker, I want to précis because a lot had been said here this morning but I want to come straight to the point. For workforce development and I took these words from the Honourable Terrence Ollivierre, he said, “It is for workforce development”: and so for workforce development, quality assurance is required. The Sector Skills Development Agency is important for the awards to be made legally. Mr. Speaker, trainees must be assessed for awards of the CVQ. What have we been doing in the Ministry of Education? We have engaged Heart Trust NTA out of Jamaica and they have been helping us with our trainees but we need to have our own NTA in St Vincent and the Grenadines and simply this is what we are asking today.We have been also upgrading our facilities and we have been doing training with money from the EU and from the STATVET project. Thanks once again to my colleagues and I want at this time to wish this Bill a safe passage through this Honourable House.I move now that the House resolves itself into a committee of the whole House to consider the Bill clause by clause.HONOURABLE MICHAEL BROWNE: Second it.House resolves into Committee House resumes Bill passed Committee stage without amendmentHONOURABLE GIRLYN MIGUEL: I move that the Bill be read a third time by title and passed. Question put and agreed toHONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: In view of the significance of this Bill I ask for a division of the question.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: All right. Madam Clerk.HONOURABLE NICOLE HERBERT (CLERK OF THE HOUSE): Honourable Members how do you vote?46Honourable Sir Louis Straker Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs ayeHonourable Michael Browne Minister of National Mobilisation ayeHonourable Girlyn Miguel Honourable Minister of Education ayeHonourable Selmon Walters Honourable Minister of Rural Transportation ayeDr. the Honourable Douglas Slater Honourable Minister of Health and the Environment ayeHonourable Rene Baptiste Honourable Minister of Urban DevelopmentHonourable Clayton Burgin Honourable Minister of Transport and WorksHonourable Montgomery Daniel Honourable Minister of AgricultureHonourable Glen Beache Honourable Minister of TourismHonourable Conrad Sayers Honourable Members for Central KingstownHonourable Senator Cecil McKie Minister of State in the Ministry of National MobilisationHonourable Arnhim Eustace Leader of the OppositionHonourable Terrance Ollivierre Member for Southern GrenadinesHonourable Daniel Cummings Opposition Senatoraye aye aye aye ayeaye no no no47Honourable St Clair Leacock Opposition Senator noHONOURABLE NICOLE HERBERT: Honourable Members, the voting results are eleven votes in favour and four votes against.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Members, you have heard the results of the vote. SECTOR SKILLS DEVELOPMENT AGENCY ACT 2010.ADJOURNMENTHONOURABLE SIR LOUIS STRAKER: Mr. Speaker, in due of the fact that we have a number of measures still in the Attorney General’s office we would like to consider between now and March, I beg to move that this House stands adjourned until November, 24th at 10:00 a.m.HONOURABLE MICHAEL BROWNE: Second the Motion, Mr. Speaker.Question put and agreed to House adjourned until November 24th, 2010 at 10:00 a.m.48