Tue. 28th May, 2010

No. 5 Fifth Session Eighth ParliamentFriday 6th May, 2010Prayers Welcome Remarks Obituaries Congratulatory Remarks Confirmation of Minutes Statements by Ministers Questions for Oral Answers Motion Bills Resolutions SuspensionSAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES THE PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES (HANSARD) ADVANCE COPY OFFICIAL REPORT CONTENTS Thursday 6th May 20101TENTH SITTING28th May 2010Prime Minister, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning, National Security, Grenadines and Legal Affairs Dr. the Honourable Ralph GonsalvesAttorney General Honourable Judith Jones-MorganMinister 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 WindwardTHE PARLIAMENTARY DEBATESOFFICIAL REPORTPROCEEDINGS AND DEBATES OF THE FIFTH 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.HOUSE OF ASSEMBLYThe Honourable House of Assembly met at 10:15 a.m. in the Assembly Chamber, Court House, Kingstown.PRAYERS MR. SPEAKER IN THE CHAIR Honourable Hendrick Alexander PresentMEMBERS OF CABINET2Member for West St. George Member for MarriaquaMinister of Rural Transformation, Information, Postal Service and Ecclesiastical Affairs Honourable Selmon WaltersMinister 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 ThompsonHonourable 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 MckieHonourable Julian FrancisParliamentary Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office Honourable Michelle FifeMember for South Central WindwardMember for West Kingstown Member for East St. GeorgeMember for North WindwardMember for North LeewardMember for Central Kingstown/ Deputy SpeakerGovernment Senator3Government SenatorGovernment SenatorHonourable Arnhim EustaceDr. the Honourable Godwin Friday Terrance Ollivierre Honourable Major St. Claire Leacock Honourable Daniel CummingsDeputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Commerce and Trade Honourable Louis StrakerMinister of Health and the Environment Dr. Douglas SlaterABSENTLeader of the Opposition Member for East KingstownMember for Northern Grenadines Member for Southern Grenadines Opposition Senator Opposition SenatorMember for Central Leeward Member for South LeewardOTHER MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE4ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY FRIDAY 28TH MAY, 2010PRAYERHonourable Hendrick Alexander read the prayer of the House of Assembly.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Pray be seated. Let me welcome the students from the Victoria Centre, seven students from Form 1 of the Victoria Centre and they are being headed here by their teacher Mrs. Wilda Davis-Pierre as well as 25 students of Form 4 G2 of the Bethel High School and they are being led by Mr. Elvis Charles, I think. We want to welcome you here to Parliament this morning and we trust on behalf of all the members of Parliament that you would enjoy your stay here with us. Thank you.OBITUARIES HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member for East Kingstown:HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Thank you, very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise to extend condolences to the bereaved relatives of Sister Agatha Alexander who worked at the formerly the Kingstown General Hospital for several years, over 30 years and was a retired Sister of that hospital, that institution. Sister Agatha Alexander was born on the 29th of April, 1921, and passed away on the 6th of May this year, she was buried on the 17th of that month.I came to know Sister Alexander over 40 years ago and she has impressed me and has left an indelible stamp in my mind of a woman of high morals and virtue and love; a very special type of person that this country would be the poorer because of her departure. She has never failed to show love and concern to those around her; her poor neighbours, those in need of advice and prayer. And you cannot enter her home without her giving you some sort goodies, some sort of snack, some sort of cake that she baked. She always liked to try her hands at different things. She was indeed a splendid lady, very special type of person, Godly, prayerful, helpful. And Mr. Speaker, I was very shocked when I heard the news of her death. Because for some reason I had not heard if before that time, it was many days after her death that I found out, a very close friend of mine who knew her very well. These days, Mr. Speaker, there are some things once you do not hear it for yourself everybody else presume that you know. And because of that presumption you just do not get around to getting certain information, especially good information.However, Mr. Speaker, I would like to extend sincerest condolences to her children, Stanley, Brian, and to their wives and children and Lesley Alexander-Hull, the one I knew best of all, and her husband Foster Hull who resides in Barbados, their grandchildren, Janielle and Carolan and their children. I am glad in the sense that the last time I saw her she was alive and I will continue to remember her that way. There are some people who you cannot bear to see them lying there in a casket, and she is one of them, and except for the hope of eternal life, I5page5image25960 page5image26120would be very distraught over her passing. Mr. Speaker, I know that she has gone to a better place and with that I feel comforted and I trust that God will comfort greatly all surviving relatives of Sister Agatha Alexander. I know she would rest in peace. I thank you.DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I join the Honourable Member for East Kingstown in the condolences expressed. I also wish, specifically, to acknowledge the passing of Mr. Henry Beulah Adams and to extend condolences of all the members of this Honourable House, Mr. Speaker, to his family, his sons and his wife.Mr. Speaker, Henry Adams was one of the owners of the Friendship Rose, which has become an institution in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The Friendship Rose was the main vessel. Passenger boat between Bequia and St. Vincent for many, many years and down the cays as well. Henry Adams, his brother Eric and Calvin Lewis they served Mr. Speaker, our community for many, many years. So many houses were built with materials brought by the Friendship Rose. So many people travelled up and down to school, myself as a schoolboy.Mr. Speaker, the Friendship Rose and the owners and operators of the vessel have a very special place in the hearts of the people of Bequia and I think the people in St. Vincent and the Grenadines as a whole. Henry Adams has been retired for many years now. He has lived quietly in his home in La Pompe, and occasionally he would have gone for walks with his wife. You would have seen him around, but he really was retired and living out the rest of his life quietly and comfortably with his family and knowing, Mr. Speaker, that he had the love and support of his community. He was a gentleman but more so Mr. Speaker, he was a gentle person. Very soft spoken though very firm in what he had to say and very well respected in his community in Bequia and I think throughout St. Vincent and the Grenadines for the service that he did and the way in which he and his brothers provided that service to our community.He died earlier this month on May 10th and was buried in Bequia where there was a very excellent turnout at the Holy Cross Church in Paget Farm to see him of. He had a long life, a productive life, Mr. Speaker, and one which I think was well lived and will be appreciated by his community and St. Vincent and the Grenadines for many years to come. The Friendship Rose continues. It is one of the most beautiful vessels ever built in Bequia and I daresay in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It continues now as a pleasure boat that does trips to the Southern Grenadines to the Tobago Cays and to Mustique and so on. Many people continue to enjoy where the passengers with the regular ferry service from Bequia to St. Vincent and back left off. And I think it must be some great satisfaction to the remaining owner Calvin Lewis to see that the work that they started so many years ago back in the 1960’s continues today. So to his family our condolences, and our appreciation for the service of Henry Beulah Adams.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Prime Minister.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I would like to join my colleagues in their expressions of condolences to the families of the bereaved persons mentioned. I would say how saddened I was to hear of the passing of Agatha Alexander whom I knew and also Henry Adams who was an icon, in the boating business. And I want to say to their families, their friends and at this very difficult time, remember that they have been with us for quite a while and they have done well for themselves and their families and their communities and their God.6I would also like to acknowledge the passing of a young man in my constituency, in fact, my relative who was been living in the United Kingdom Andrew Boyea, 45 years next month, son of Julian ‘Buckey’ Boyea. He died of a heart attack, in the United Kingdom. His funeral is tomorrow afternoon at Colonaire/Byrea. He had three children, one of them is writing CXC’s now and the other two are at North Union. He was a very engaging young man with an entrepreneurial spirit. I spoke to his mom this morning, the former principal of the primary school at Georgetown, Elisabeth Boyea, to express our sadness at the passing of Andrew. May he rest in peace.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Senator Leacock.HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Thank you, very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise to identify with the expressions of condolence and support for the surviving families of the aforementioned individuals and simply wish to add to that list the name of Mr. Martin Adams whom I knew very well. Martin Adams was a member of the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Auxiliary Police Force. Those who may have had occasion to be at the courts for one or the other reason perhaps would have seen him there assisting the regular Police Force in transporting prisoners in particular from one point to the other, placing and un- placing the handcuffs. A quiet person but was a very efficient at what he did. I had the privilege to attend his funeral. I was very happy with the respect that was shown to him by the Commissioner, senior ranks of the Police Force, members of the various branches in the very large attendance that he had at what in fact turned out to be a military funeral; in that the last post was played and the Special Service Unit fired the shots in respect and so on and so forth. So I thought that was very fitting.Mr. Speaker, in my younger days my friend and colleague I think I can speak about him, Honourable Conrad Sayers. I am saying very nice things about you. I am describing you as my friend and colleague of long standing. We go back the same 40 plus years knowing Mrs. Alexander, a dear lady of Dascent Cottage, Largo Height, and just as he said it was very difficult for anyone to go to that home and not be serviced one way or the other, whether it was by some drink or some snack. Just as her programme identified her a woman of flowers beauty, one of her sons now deceased Ernie Alexander. I do not know if you remember him. He died very young about our age group, tragic circumstances, very many years ago. I just wish, Mr. Speaker, to express once more condolences.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I too would like to add my voice to the obituaries in expressing condolences on the passing of Sister Agatha Alexander. Sister Alexander as I know her, I remembered her as a nurse in Calliaqua, many, many years ago when I was I would say a little boy, hanging around the clinic there and often would have run errands for her. And from that time we kept a good relation. But we even got closer when I met her at the Kingstown Evangelical Church where I worship. She was a very prominent member there and she virtually adopted me as her son. As a matter of fact, the Sunday she did not see me in church, she always enquired what happened to me, why I was not in church on that day. I we developed that very wonderful relationship. I myself was indeed very saddened when I heard of her death, and of course I attended the funeral like many of us and it was such a wonderful send off as we would say for a wonderful and excellent lady. And I trust, and I know, I do not have to wonder about it, I know that she is indeed resting in peace. Thank you.7CONGRATULATORY REMARKSDR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, I rise to congratulate the People’s Partnership of Trinidad and Tobago comprising principally of the United National Congress and the Congress of the People the People’s Partnership led by Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar on the remarkable electoral victory on Monday. As we know that the result were 29 – 12, the reversal 26 to 15, which the PNM held prior to the last general elections. I have already personally expressed to both Mrs. Persad-Bissessar and Winston Dookeran the leader of the COP; I have expressed to them our congratulations and discussed in fact with them briefly the issue of regional integration and the question of the continuation of a joint policy between the OECS countries and Trinidad and Tobago in respect of British American Insurance Company and CLICO.Mr. Dookeran I was advised would be the Minister of Finance. I believe he has since been appointed as such, would be the person with whom I would have to have the detailed discussions. Of course, I know Mr. Dookeran many, many, years back. I also know Mrs. Persad-Bissessar. On Wednesday, I heard a news report that Mrs. Bissessar was expressing her new government’s commitment to the deepening of the regional integration process and I was very pleased about it.The new government is replacing one which was steeped in regionalism. As we know the Manning Administration did a great deal of work throughout CARICOM and the OECS. St. Vincent and the Grenadines has been a beneficiary of the Solidarity of the People of Trinidad and Tobago in matters relating to law and order, public safety and defence, the international airport, the war against poverty and of course, housing. There is a village in Byrea which is known as Manning Village as a consequence of the contribution made by the Manning Administration to the development of low income housing in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.I am confident that our relations with the new government would be strong. I have many friends in the new administration and I believe that the people of Trinidad and Tobago overwhelmingly would wish to see a continuation of strong relations between Trinidad and Tobago, the rest of the Caribbean and the OECS in particular. There is clearly a coincidence of interest, in addition to all the historical connections. After all, practically every family in St. Vincent and the Grenadines has family in Trinidad and Tobago. My mother is Trinidadian. My wife is a Trinidadian. This happens in many, many homes across St. Vincent and the Grenadines.I want to record our thanks to the PNM administration and though Prime Minister Manning has been defeated in these general elections, it has to be acknowledged that he is good human being and electoral defeat does not make a good human being a bad one. And I want to say that already that we are active in building on the links with the new administration.I want, Mr. Speaker, also to express our congratulations, which I have done already to the new Prime Minister in the United Kingdom. Prime Minister David Cameron. As you know there is a coalition government there. And when I went to Spain recently for the European Union Latin American and Caribbean Summit when I returned to London, I had made arrangements to meet a number of influential persons close to the leadership of the Conservative Party and also Members of Parliament both from House of Commons and House of Lords belonging to the Conservative Party. In fact, there were two dinners held last week Thursday night and Friday night in my honour, at which these individuals whom I mentioned were present and we had very important 8page8image30248discussions. At one of those dinners incidentally, Mr. Speaker, was the mother-in-law of the new prime minister who sat next to me and across from me was her husband. So that would give an indication of the way in which we have commenced to build the links though we had party to party links, the Labour administration. This government is both principled and pragmatic and we take the world as we find it and seek to locate political and economic space in the interest of our people’s humanization.Mr. Speaker, if I may just say I understand that some persons in this country who are hoping to get into office; forlorn as that hope may be that we are seeking to find some solace from the fact that my friend Patrick Manning was defeated. And that the Labour Party administration was defeated in the United Kingdom; but as I have stated before when there was once a talk about ‘a wind of change’ and I knock down that concept because it was being spoken of as though it was derived from meteorology. Political change is very contextual and as soon as they were finished talking about their wind of change, you had a massive victory in Dominica by a fraternal party, a massive one in St. Kitts with a fraternal party and of course before that, the allies of the opposition in Grenada bit the dust. I did not crow to seek solace from the victories of our party allies; I know and understand the dynamics of politics. So I want to put that on record while I am offering congratulations. For those who may wish to gloat on this, it is the equivalent to spitting in the wind. I am obliged.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Leader of the Opposition.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Mr. Speaker, I rise at this time to offer congratulations to the new Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Kamla Persad-Bissessar who just but a few weeks ago in this Honourable House that I had occasion to congratulate her on becoming Leader of the Opposition in Trinidad and Tobago. Now today we congratulate her on assuming the office of Prime Minister after a very resounding victory at the polls in Trinidad and Tobago.Mr. Speaker, with all the discussions about fraternal relations and links and so forth; we do have a fraternal link with the UNC in Trinidad and Tobago, that is not my object this morning, the object is simply to offer congratulations and I know that Trinidad and Tobago is committed to regional integration. Like the Prime Minister, I too, I am very familiar and a long association with the new Minister of Finance of Trinidad and Tobago, Mr. Dookeran. I simply wish to say that we expect that there would be close cooperation between our respective countries for our mutual interest and the same time the interest of our region. So once again, I just want to offer warm congratulations at this time. Much obliged, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Senator Leacock.HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Thank you, very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise to offer congratulations to the new government of Trinidad and Tobago, the new Prime Minister there, but specifically, Mr. Speaker, I want to recognize among the participants, the names Trude Rambajon, Kandal Dargar, and of course my longstanding friend Austin Jack Warner and to congratulate them heartily on the exercise.Mr. Speaker, speaking about personal relationship, Mr. Rambajon was a lecturer of mine in 1975 at the St. Augustine Campus and I recall that a former member of this House, Honourable Ken Browne and myself in one of our research works dedicated that work to him and our now departed friend Gordon Draper, who had impressed us as lecturers. Although a few years ahead of us at that time. Mr. Speaker, speaking about that9period of history when I was at St. Augustine I will never forget an address on the steps of the university by Kandal Dargar, the most emotive address that I have ever heard. Of course, the 1970’s was a period with a lot of political activities, social movement, Black Power Movement was on the rise, and Trinidad itself had been in much political transformation.This common knowledge, Mr. Speaker, that during this election campaign in Trinidad and Tobago Kandal Dargar was not looked at very kindly by the former Prime Minister Manning. In fact he had been called upon to apologize for some of his disparaging remarks; neither was he very kind, Mr. Speaker, to Austin Jack Warner, who I knew since 1978, 1979, my first stint as President of Football. And I want to spend just a few minutes, with your permission, on Jack Warner’s contribution because I believe it was a major input into where this government finds itself today. He has been vilified for years including this election and much of the statements against him were racist in content and used here in the Caribbean and in Trinidad by one Jennings out of England, I have heard those statements almost on every football congress I have attended and it has surfaced again.Mr. Speaker, I cannot help out of this Trinidad experience draw in on something that I think all of us in this House must take note of, and Sir James puts it very well, that this is an ‘in and out’ club. And sometimes I wonder the extent to which we choose when we are in the building, the physical edifice to be gentlemen but outside of it our mouths full of sorcery and butchery and vilification. As a matter of fact, my mother at 88 years will go to her grave with the comments of some members of this House. In fact, she once came here to ask him what he knew about her son you know. I have gone off on a little tangent but I simply home to remind them, Mr. Speaker, because I am receiving that now you know, I am receiving that now. I am glad you are staring at me, Mr. Speaker, because I am addressing it through you. I listened to the radio this morning, you heard the chairperson of the Trinidadian Opposition Party now, the PNM where the then Prime Minister is asked to stay on until they can find new leadership, and the response from the chairman is that his autocratic rule was the cause of the downfall of the administration and he should go now. It is not only that he lost as Prime Minister, they do not even want him around as Leader of the Opposition. These are lessons for us, Mr. Speaker. Power is for a time only and those who choose to use these halls for those vilifications must draw lessons on it and it is time to bring some of the effrontery to an end, Mr. Speaker; especially when their own political history be characterized in a way that a lot of people would be unforgiving. Much obliged, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Member for the Southern Grenadines.HONOURABLE TERRANCE OLLIVIERRE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I simply wish to congratulate the Canouan Sailing Club on another successful regatta 2010. Indeed the Commodore, Mr. Matthew Mc Lauren, and his team did a fine job. I know we had a number of excursions from mainland St. Vincent to Canouan over the weekend to partake and participate in the effect and also a number of boats from the Grenadines and also the mainland. There is one in particular I think, the name is One Love. We in the Grenadines are still trying to decide how we are going to beat that boat but as the regatta goes on we will find a way, Mr. Speaker.I want to congratulate, Mr. Speaker, Maples Netball Club for having won the OECS Club Championship 2010. They dethrone the elite sports club of St. Lucia who had won that tournament I believed in four consecutive years, it was indeed sweet revenge for the Maple team, and I was told they came from behind in the last quarter10having been down by four goals, so to win by some seven clear goals. So we wish to congratulate the Maples club for having done themselves and St. Vincent and the Grenadines proud. Thank you, very much.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member for East St. George.HONOURABLE CLAYTON BURGIN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise to congratulate Mrs. Beatrice Cain a constituent of mine who is celebrating her 106th birthday today. I passed at her home earlier on this morning. I visited her to see how she is doing; and despite she is in bed, Mr. Speaker, her voice is very strong and the memory is still there. And she would tell you that the day the first plane landed at Diamond was the day her father was buried and she would attribute her longevity to the will of the good Lord, resting well, eating well, working hard and do all the other things that are necessary in life. And I want on this day to wish her all the best and hope she enjoys the day and the rest of her life that she has with us. So congratulations once again, Mrs. Beatrice Cain on celebrating your 106th birthday today.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Senator Mc Kie.HONOURABLE CECIL MC KIE: Thank you, very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise to offer congratulations this morning to a number of groupings and an individual who would have made this nation proud over the last week. First of all under the heading of sports I want to express our congratulations to the Vital Malt Maple Netball Club for winning the OECS tournament in St. Kitts beating all other four teams in that competition especially the team that would have held on to that title for many years, that is the Elite Strikers of St. Lucia. Not only did the Vital Malt Maple Netball Club return to St. Vincent with the title but the evergreen ‘Skiddy’ Francis-Crick also came out on top as the most accurate shooter in that competition. In addition to that Vasha Adams was vote as the most valuable player for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the top defender of the tournament and the most valuable player of the tournament. So indeed the oldest netball club in St. Vincent and Grenadines they are continuing to shine. They have made us proud.Additionally, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Squash Association senior team returned to St. Vincent victorious in the recently held OECS Squash Championship in St. Lucia. In 2009 the BVI dethrone them as champions but this year the local team was able to come out on top in the female division and second in both the male and as well as the veterans division thereby capturing the overall OECS Squash tournament. To them we say congratulations. They are also preparing to host the Caribbean Squash Championship right here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in August this year and we wish them all the best in that endeavour.In terms of youth, I also want to extend congratulations to the St. Vincent Grammar School for once again coming out on top in the RBTT Young Leaders Programme for 2010. That is my Alma Marta and I identified and congratulate them for that achievement.I also want to identify with young Lisa Hussein from the West St. George Secondary School, she was identified as the young leader for 2010; another very significant achievement for that school. It is a clear indication, Mr. Speaker, that we are willing to recognize our young females when they achieve and from a very early age. We are not prepared to wait until, let us say, they are 40 or over to recognize them, I think we recognize now for their leadership, potential and ability. And in terms of sports it is a clear indication that the vision of the Ministry of Sports and the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in terms of ‘With Sports We Can’.11We encourage our sports men and our sports women to continue to aspire and if they aspire they no doubt will achieve. Thank you, very much, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member for the Northern Grenadines.DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I too share in the congratulations of the new government of Trinidad and Tobago and the new Prime Minister Mrs. Persad- Bissessar.Mr. Speaker, I also wish to again extend congratulations to one of my neighbours growing up Methalena Glen who on the 18th of this month celebrated her 100th birthday. And Mr. Speaker, she was someone who I knew from the time I was a little boy growing up and at that time she was a senior member of the community. And she is still with us. Her mind is still very sharp, she jokes with her friends and family who visit, and she came out last Tuesday 18th to a church service conducted by Dean Patrick Mc Intosh in Bequia, in celebration of her life and thanksgiving for her longevity and her relative good health at this stage in her life. And also to thank those who support and care for her at this time when she needs to rely on her loved ones.Mr. Speaker, it is the second time in this Parliament that I have had the pleasure of congratulating centenarians from my own constituency. They are an encouragement and a source of encouragement to all of us to try and emulate them to live a good life, to eat well, exercise and to have good thoughts about your friends, your neighbours and even for those persons whom may not be so kind and gentle towards you as well.Mr. Speaker, Methalena Glen continues to enjoy relatively good health. And when the Honourable Member mentioned Mrs. Beatrice Cain, I think, who celebrated 106 years. I thought well she Mrs. Cain was already in primary school when Methalena was born. So she has a little ways to go and I trust and pray that she will be able to continue in good health and God will see her through another year as she takes it one year at a time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member for West Kingstown.HONOURABLE RENE BAPTISTE: Thank you, very much. Mr. Speaker, just to round off the congratulations it is an honour for me to congratulate the National Gospel Festival Committee for a wonderful conclusion of yet another gospel festival in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It is remarkable to see particularly on the national showcases at Victoria Park that despite the inclemency of the weather the park was beautifully full of many, many persons there. Congratulations to the organizers, Mr. Fidel Taylor and his committee, members of staff at the Ministry of Culture, the Coordinator Mr. Peters and to all the awardees who took part in the month long festival. At the same time, I offer my congratulations to SVG Broadcasting Corporation for coming up with an idea of having a station under its umbrella dedicated to gospel music, Total Inspiration.And finally, Mr. Speaker, for all the members who looked askance as to whether or not Madam Clerk of the House and myself would be able to make our torch run at the historic torch relay to launch the GHS Centenary Celebrations; I believed Madam Clerk did great honour to her alma mater and fortunately I am still standing and actually you could see that I actually lost weight. Congratulations to my Alma Mater GHS on that beautiful historic launch of its centenary celebrations.12CONFIRMATION OF THE MINUTES DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I beg to move thatthe minutes of the sitting of this Honourable House held on the 6th of May, 2010 be confirmed. HONOURABLE MICHAEL BROWNE: Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion.page13image3120 page13image3280There is no announcement.Question put and agreed to. Minutes confirmed.ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE SPEAKERSTATEMENTS BY MINISTERSpage13image5416DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, may I just take this opportunity to give a very brief report, Honourable Members and the general public probably wondering what is happening with the three persons who gone missing. This morning I got another report from the Commissioner of Police, they have not yet been found. The coastguard is working, we are getting assistance from Trinidad and Tobago and from Martinique, the search continues. I hope that we somehow we get to them and that they are alive.Mr. Speaker, I have been reminded to simply give an update on our students in Jamaica. As I had indicated on radio on Wednesday afternoon, I contacted Professor Gordon Shirley, the Principal of the Mona Campus of UWI Jamaica, and he assured me that the students were safe; that the university was taking additional precautions. You know the main centres of violence and mayhem, the main centres are somewhat removed from the campus area, but of course the university is always a soft target so naturally I wanted to find out what was happening. I was advised that students on the campus were checked out and they were in order and there are some who are off campus and they were seeking to get contact with them and they had set up counselling services just in case there was any trauma.In relation to the clinical medical students and nurses; we have graduate nurses there who are at the Kingston Public Hospital, that is downtown. The KPH, that they had taken all the students out, the clinical medical students and those nurses who are doing clinical work from that area and assigning them to other hospitals including the University of the West Indies Hospital at Mona. The information was carried on the news in Jamaica. In fact I was interviewed a little earlier the day by Jamaican radio and I had raised these issues; and Juanita Francois who is doing graduate work, a Vincentian student, she called me yesterday morning to tell me that all the remaining students are in order and they are safe and I want to thank Juanita for calling me early to report that.13I should for those persons who had some anxiety that was I still going to Jamaica next week to deliver the feature address at the opening of a symposium entitled: Freedom and Power the Ideas of Gordon K. Lewis, that I was absolved of the responsibility of having to make a decision whether to go or not given the circumstances by the decision of the university to postpone the symposium until a later date. I am obliged.QUESTIONS FOR ORAL ANSWERS HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Question No. 1, Honourable Leader of the Opposition.1. The Honourable Arnhim Eustace (Leader of the Opposition), to ask the Honourable Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, economic Planning, Information, Grenadines and Legal Affairs:The Domestic Debt Schedule in the 2010 Estimates presented to Parliament shows that the level of accounts payable stood at $24.5 million dollars as at 31st September 2009.Could the Honourable Prime Minister state the level of accounts payable as at 30th April 2010.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, may I just for the benefit of those who think that there are some mystery about the words accounts payable. This is really monies which are owing by the government to institutions and individuals and companies for goods and services delivered to the government. And there are always accounts payable whether it is a business or a government, and the Honourable Leader of the Opposition is correct about the figure at the end of September last year and I have been advised that the figure for the 30th of April 2010, is $16.381 million.I just want to add, to put the matter in context that on March the 30th when I went to office after the 2001 elections, the accounts payable were way in excess of this figure. Indeed, there were two numbers which had almost amounted to this figure of $16.381 million; $8 million dollars owed to the University of the West Indies for about four years of arrears and $7 million to the Kuwaiti Company for repairs on the cruise ship pier. I just make those points to put this whole matter in context. I am obliged.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Question No. 2, Honourable Leader of the Opposition. 2. The Honourable Arnhim Eustace (Leader of the Opposition), to ask the Honourable Prime Minister andMinister of Finance, economic Planning, Information, Grenadines and Legal Affairs:Could the Honourable Prime Minister please give the amount of revenue collected as of April 30th under the caption “other receipts” on the capital side of the budget.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, the number is nil, and it is not unusual for many, many a year; way back when at this time of the year.14HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Question No. 3, Honourable Leader of the Opposition. 3. The Honourable Arnhim Eustace (Leader of the Opposition), to ask the Honourable Minister of Transportand Works: a. Could the Honourable Minister please indicate whether the Pan Yard Project at Sion Hill and the Mass Band Centre at Walvaroo have been abandoned; and b. If in the negative what is their present status. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Minister of Transport and Works.HONOURABLE CLAYTON BURGIN: Mr. Speaker, I am happy that the Leader of the Opposition has asked this question because it gives me an opportunity at this time to remind this House of the enormous emphasis that this ULP administration has placed on culture in this country. And this emphasis, Mr. Speaker, is evident in our communities and in our schools, where the nation’s children are vigorously encouraged and guided along the path of playing a musical instrument, singing, dancing, choral speaking, drama and so on.And this focus on culture, Mr. Speaker, we know is ably lead by the Honourable Minister responsible for culture and she spares no effort in ensuring that the culture of this country is marketed and this aspect of our daily lives acts as a tool for our personal and national development. Mass and pan, Mr. Speaker, are integral to the lives of many Vincentians and this administration therefore was cognizant of this fact when the project to which the Honourable Leader of the Opposition refers. But sometimes in life Mr. Speaker, when the length implementation phase of any project begins certain inevitable changes arise, causing a sudden halt or even a complete change of direction. But this does not suggest that the action taken is permanent. It simple means that it is at a juncture where planners must return to the discussion table on account of the intervention variables which requires urgent and necessary attention. Variables which suggest the need to establish and pursue other priorities, in the interest of further national development.Mr. Speaker, I wish to state here this morning that this administration has not abandoned the pan yard project or the mass band centre. Construction work on the mass band centre was suspended following a rock slippage which caused damage to two of the buildings under construction. We were therefore forced to proceed with caution and Mr. Speaker, three remedial measures were therefore investigated to provide protection to these buildings and also the roadway. 1. A gabion mesh net was first proposed to cover the entire embankment. This Mr. Speaker had an estimated cost of $1.8 million. The alternative system, Mr. Speaker, was a gabion basket wall and this wall was to be erected at the base of the embankment at an estimated cost of $1 million. And the third activity considered, Mr. Speaker, was moving the steel frame for the two affected buildings to the site next to the Courts Warehouse. Mr. Speaker, each option has a significant cost for which financing must be evidently provided, however, no funds have been allocated in this year’s estimates to facilitate these projects. Nevertheless, Mr. Speaker, every consideration will be given to ensure that these projects are completed in the interest of the community in which they are located. Much obliged, Mr. Speaker.15HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Question No. 4, Honourable Member for the Northern Grenadines. 4. Dr. the Honourable Godwin Friday (Northern Grenadines), to ask the Honourable Minister of Tourism:a. b. c.What is the situation with respect to the Friendship Bay Hotel in Bequia, which recently closed; What effect will this have on our tourism industry; and How many workers have been laid off and can they reasonably expect to return to work anytime soon.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Minister for Tourism.HONOURABLE GLEN BEACHE: Much obliged, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, we have been trying to get in touch with the owners of the Friendship Bay Hotel in Bequia for some time now. The only answer that I can offer for this question is that it is in receivership. That is the only information we have been able to get.Obviously, Mr. Speaker, any time you lose room stock in anyone of the islands, or any tourism destination, it is going to affect your tourism product. So in that sense it is definitely going to affect us, and as I said before regarding part (c) of the question, we have been trying to get into contact with them, we have not been able to do so. I obviously cannot give an answer to that, Mr. Speaker, but also to say that St. Vincent and the Grenadines, let us say, since the beginning of 2009, I must say that we have withstood this international financial storm quite well, especially compared to many of our neighbours. We have not had any layoffs really, even with the tourism numbers being a bit down, compared to many of our neighbours. At the present time we are still getting investments coming into St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We have just approved the normal duty-free concessions for the Mayreau project that would be taking place. We have the Buccama Project which is still on stream which has not stopped. And so Mr. Speaker, we have done pretty well. But you know, we are always sorry to see a hotel close and we will continue to try and get into contact with the owners and see exactly what the situation is. But we have been attempting to contact them with no such luck.DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: Mr. Speaker, I am glad the Honourable Minister said that he will continue his efforts to find out what is happening with that institution because it is not just only important for the people working there, they do a lot of marketing independently overseas and so on. It is very important for the local community. It has been there for many, many years. That is one of the long-standing institutions and it sends a bad message when something of that nature closes. So I hope that the minister will take an active role in finding out what is happening there and to see what sort of assistance he can provide.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Minister of Transport and Works, question No. 5.5. Dr. the Honourable Godwin Friday (Northern Grenadines), to ask the Honourable Minister of Transport and Works:16Are there any plans to fix the following damaged or dilapidated major roads in Bequia: a. The Friendship main road near Sugar Apply Inn; b. The road to the Fort Hamilton (Point Hill) tourism site; and c. The main road to Mt. Pleasant where it is badly broken in several places and dangerous to the travelling public. HONOURABLE CLAYTON BURGIN: Mr. Speaker, at the Friendship main road, near to the Sugar Apple Inn, reconstruction of the retaining wall is due to commence in a few weeks; there will also be simultaneous remedial repair and improvements to the drainage on the opposite side of the road in the same vicinity. The contractor has already been identified and the necessary details and contract are currently being finalized between the contractor and BRAGSA which is responsible for repair and maintenance of roads and other facilities.Mr. Speaker, the road to the Fort Hamilton - Point Hill Tourism site has been placed high on the list of priorities in the 2010 road maintenance programme. My officials are in the process of finalizing the details for actual execution, Mr. Speaker and repairs should be completed during the third quarter of this financial year. Moreover, Mr. Speaker, we are aware of the situation regarding the road to Mt. Pleasant and so estimates have already been prepared, although the works have not been identified for implementation during this year. Nevertheless, Mr. Speaker, I wish to state here that persons continued to enjoy relatively safe access. I am advised by my officials that this situation will be closely monitored for any further deterioration and the necessary works will be implemented accordingly. I simply urge patience and a profound sense of understanding. Much obliged, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Question No. 6. 6. Dr. the Honourable Godwin Friday (Northern Grenadines), to ask the Honourable Minister of ForeignAffairs and Trade:Now that the Government has indicated that St. Vincent and the Grenadines will no longer seek a seat on the UN Security Council in 2010 but instead has expressed an interest in seeking a seat in 2020, will the Minister please state; a. Whether CARICOM as a body has decided that its members will support Colombia’s bid for a Security Council seat in 2010 and in particular, will St. Vincent and the Grenadines now support Colombia’s bid so as to garner support for our own bid for a seat in 2020; and b. Whether the countries participating in ALBA have adopted a common position in respect of Colombia’s bid and if so, what is that position. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: The Honourable Prime Minister will answer the question. The Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs is absent. He is out of state on business.17DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, CARICOM has not taken any decision in relation to Colombia’s bid. We are non-permanent members of the Security Council for the years 2011 - 2012, which election would be in October of this year, neither has ALBA.The way it works, Mr. Speaker, is simply this, and I think an explanation of the process is important to understand, what happens. There are 10 non-permanent members of the Security Council, and there are five permanent members. Five permanent members have arisen consequent upon the Second World War the victorious countries and then changes thereafter in geographic configuration and political configuration in those countries. There are five permanent members. They are the United States, Britain, France, Russia, and the People’s Republic of China. It used to be the Soviet Union; Russia has succeeded there. It used to be Taiwan the Republic of China but when that country was voted out of the United Nations system, the PRC became the successor. And there are 10 non-permanent members each having two years. It is the norm in several of the areas for there to be competitive elections. Two countries they come from each of five areas for the non- permanent seats Western Europe and others, which includes Canada and Turkey. Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia and the group known as GRULAC, the Group of Latin America and Caribbean countries. GRULAC has had competition in the past but from time to time and quite often GRULAC would have names put forward in advance, and that if they are not challenged those names will be put to the General Assembly and naturally, [if] there is no challenge that you will get two-thirds of the General Assembly vote. And Colombia’s name has gone forward from GRULAC, so there has not been a formal position taken by CARICOM or by ALBA.Mr. Speaker, if I may say this that St. Vincent and the Grenadines even in our preparation for a possible bid; the quest for a possible bid, the profile of our country has increased enormously. In fact, we did something which no CARICOM country has done before when it is seeking positions in international bodies. We did not decide definitely that we are going and then present CARICOM with a fait acompli that you either support or not support. No. We said we want to represent the whole of CARICOM and therefore in our quest before we actually make the bid we will seek CARICOM’s unanimous endorsement, this was the position paper which we had put to CARICOM. We got 12 of the 14 countries in CARICOM saying yes. Two countries in CARICOM completely having nothing at all to do with St. Vincent and the Grenadines but their own peculiar circumstances said that they would decline on this occasion to support St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We are quite confident that we could have won the two-thirds with 12 CARICOM countries but we have taken the decision to go forward as a CARICOM representative and therefore we wanted all the CARICOM countries.Mr. Speaker, if I may just add this, when our Ambassador went back to New York recently, there are four G-20 countries which came to him and said that they had already received instructions from their home governments to support St. Vincent and the Grenadines and they were disappointed that we did not go forward. In fact, in one case they said that ‘we were so strong on St. Vincent and the Grenadines, we are going to give a letter to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, (this is a G-20 country) that for 2020 we will support you. We have every confidence that St. Vincent and the Grenadines in 2019 would be elected to be a member of the Security Council. It would be the smallest country ever in the history of the United Nation which would have gone on the Security Council. This is an amazing feat, ambition, and quest.You know, Mr. Speaker, we have to be bold. Our leadership has to be bold. You must not have any timidity and when you are bold like this, it encourages the young people. When you have ambition for your country, the18young people have the ambition for their academics, the businessmen, the young business people for their businesses, the sportsmen and women and so on and so forth.I want to congratulate all those who have been involved in doing preparatory work for the quest, that quest being led by the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs. The lie has been put to one matter. It was said, Mr. Speaker, that I want to go for a 2010 bid because of myself... they said that, you see this place is not big enough for Ralph and for his son, that is what this is all about personal aggrandizement. It was always about St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Hopefully I would not be here in 2010, as Prime Minister, sorry, 2020 as Prime Minister.Hopefully I would not be here in 2020 as Prime Minister but I am hoping to be alive to watch on the screens whoever is the then Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, the Ambassador to the United Nations; sitting down with the United States of America, and Britain and France, and China and Russia discussing matters of war and peace and the high issues of international diplomacy. It would be a wonderful day when that happens. And it will happen. Mr. Speaker, and I said I would not be here as Prime Minister in 2020, I hope I would not be here, because we are preparing the way for younger persons to assume this mantle, but I pray to Almighty God that I would be around to see the fruits of our labour. Thank you, very much.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Question No. 7 the Honourable Member for the Southern Grenadines.7. The Honourable Terrance Ollivierre (Southern Grenadines), to ask the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries:a. b.c.What is the present status of the Fisheries Complex at Clifton, Union Island; When will improvements be made to this complex to ensure adequate storage of seafood by fishermen; and Can the honourable Minister verify that the improvements to be made will take into account the standards required to enable our fishermen to resume direct export of seafood to European markets such as Martinique and Guadeloupe.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Question No. 7, Honourable Minister of Agriculture.HONOURABLE MONTGOMERY DANIEL: Thank you, very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, in relation to the question that is before this Honourable House, part (a), let me say that the Union Island Fisheries Centre is operational. The centre is being used for storage of fish and the production of ice for sale to the vessels as well as to the general public. It also provides for storage, lockers facilities for fishing gear as well as bathrooms for officials and stakeholders. In relation to part (b) of the question, Mr. Speaker, improvements would be made to the Fisheries Centre when funds from the ALBA programme are made available. Mr. Speaker, this Union Island project is one of the many projects that we have submitted for financing under the ALBA programme and so when this financing is made available, of course, the centre will see its improvements.19However, Mr. Speaker, in relation to part (c) of the question, Mr. Speaker, I just want to remind the Honourable Member that since this administration came to office in 2001, the strategy of the Ministry of Agriculture through the Fisheries Department is to enhance and upgrade fishing as an economic activity here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. And so we would have refurbished the Kingstown Fish Market at a cost of some $16 million. We would have refurbished the Bequia Fisheries Centre at a cost of some $1.8 million. We would have also built a brand new fishing complex, the Owia Fisheries Complex. Mr. Speaker, all these were done to ensure that the required standards for exports is being made available. Equally the improvements to be made to the Union Island facility will also be taken into account the standards required to enable fishermen to resume direct export of sea food to the European Markets, such as Martinique and Guadeloupe. A project which has already had its complete designs, and has already been developed, and so as I said Mr. Speaker, we just awaiting the funds to have the facilities upgraded.I also want to remind the Honourable Member, Mr. Speaker, that the fleet expansion programme of this administration continues very well. I want to commend Mr. Peter Regis one of the fishermen here who is very entrepreneurial. I want to commend him for the action he would have taken to enter into the fleet expansion programme and much more so that he has gone ahead to establish his own market in the United States of America. He I think, Mr. Speaker, is on the right track and other businessmen they too are applying for licenses through the Ministry of Agriculture for the export of fish even to the United States of America.And while I am at it, Mr. Speaker, I just want to say that the Fisheries Division through the Ministry of Agriculture, we have just concluded an outstanding fisherman’s month of activities 2010. Mr. Speaker, all of the functions were very well attended, there was great participation.As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, there were fish nights in Barrouallie, there was a fish night in Calliaqua, there was a fish night in Owia and all of the fishes were consumed at those activities. Mr. Speaker, there was an exhibition held at the Fisheries Complex here in Kingstown and that too was a success. There were many exhibits that were displayed so that fishermen can see what these exhibits are and to help them to make decisions in the fishing industry.Mr. Speaker, Fisherman’s Day was indeed a success. And we had a number of fishermen and fisher women taking part, many prizes were won, and one can see, Mr. Speaker, that there continues to be a very high interest in fishing as an economic activity here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. I am much obliged, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Question No. 8 for the Honourable Member for Southern Grenadines. 8. The Honourable Terrance Ollivierre (Southern Grenadines), to ask the Honourable Prime Minister andMinister of Finance, economic Planning, Information, Grenadines and Legal Affairs:In light of the fact that several workers at the Canouan Resort Development have been sent home and this has affected a number of persons in the country including the residents and business community of Canouan: can the Honourable Minister please state;a. What is the status of the Canouan Development Project; and20b. Have the developers indicated when the project will become fully operational again, so that it will provide more employment to our people.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Prime Minister and Minister for Grenadines Affairs.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, one of the things about questions, that sometimes they are made to elicit answers where persons do not know the facts. But other times persons I suspect know the facts and they are prompted to ask them, so as to, not necessarily to create mischief or alarm or fear but somehow just to put something in the air, for some unease. You have a hotel, since it has been in operation and particularly since it resumed after a year closure consequent upon the 9/11 events in 2001 and they had to reassess and refurbish the place every single year, persons do get laid off temporarily, every single year, because the hotel is closed for a period for refurbishment. It is like a playing field you cannot be using it all the time, you have to close it during the year in the low season and sometimes other events intervene which necessitate certain kinds of action.I want to put on record, Mr. Speaker, our appreciation for the owners of the Canouan Resorts Development for keeping their word to the Prime Minister of this country not to lay off persons during the period which we have just passed through and we are not out of the woods yet the worst economic recession for 80 years; 80 years, since 1929.Mr. Speaker, in October 2008 after I saw the meltdown with Lehman Brothers, I got the people from Canouan and Mustique, in separate discussions, and I said please give me the undertaking that in this rough period which is ahead of us, you will lay off foreigners if you have to lay off people but please keep your local staff for me. And the Canouan Developers at the end of 2008 and through 2009 the lost a lot of money, into 2010. They lost millions of dollars. It is not for me to talk about their business in the precise sums they lost and that is why I have to give appreciation to them.Now, everybody knows, it is an open secret... Mr. Speaker, if I may just add parenthetically it is the same thing with Mustique, although Mustique is of a different type of operation. Mustique Company would make heavy commissions from sales of properties, last year the Mustique Company did not sell one house, you have 100 of them, so far by the month of April they have sold two, the last one was US $11.8 million. You could imagine the commission that they are getting on that, and of course, we are smiling when the deed is registered because we will be getting 15%, we are talking about the country, we get almost $5 million. And they anticipate that they are going to have another three or four this year. Do not know the extent of the value which indicates that the top end of market is bouncing back, but they are other ends of the market, other niches where you have difficulty. This is a world economic depression; caused by unbridled, runaway capitalism, which many people who are vying for leadership positions in this country embraced and want to throw smoke in people’s eyes about socialism. Unregulated, casino capitalism, that is what brought us to this point and eight people suffered in Canouan. I am interested in the debate because I know it well.And Mr. Speaker, the Canouan Developers and I know that the Honourable Member for the Southern Grenadines knows that the Canouan Developers have been seeking other equity partners for two ventures inside of the existing developed area. And the joint venture between the government and the developers to build the marina and the real estate development on southern side below the jet airport that we have built. He knows that. 21And he will know also that part of the arrangements which are being looked at is how you manage and everything.The Raffles had a management contract for the last five years, that contract has been brought to an end by the developers. And it is easy for him to call Diane or call Pastoris and find out, that is 10%, the layoffs represents approximately 10% of the total CRD group of companies employment; they employ over 1000 people down there, you know. And the April layoffs had to do with the alternation in the management relations and more especially the staff reductions for the summer season which you have from time to time. Hotels all throughout the Caribbean have staff reductions during the summer season. It is in the winter months, you have the full complement of staff.Mr. Speaker, I have been advised that the hotel has also reduced their room inventory to 30 suites and have modified their food and beverages operations accordingly. However, we have seen a shift because you have private residences now, more private residences with 100 bedrooms and they continue to require services for their owners and renters. And in the months of September and October, the hotel would be closed as usual for their annual maintenance. And the status is that, as far as the developers advised me and cannot speak here in Parliament in detail about what I have been advised, because it is their business to announce their equity partners. The work which is going to be done additionally in the developed area and down South in relation to the joint venture between the government and the developers you are going to require more labour, far more labour and all that is related among other things to the government’s decision to build a jet airport in Canouan. Without that you would not be having other equity partners coming and the existing hotel would have had difficulties. These are the facts.I hear, I will tell you this, a particular businessman called me one day frantic, he said Prime Minister I hear on the radio that Canouan closing down. I said, what are you talking about. You know how they get the information and of course, this question did not say they are closing down. It asked what the status is. I heard on SVG TV one night, a few weeks ago; - I had to call the manager and asked what is happening here? Whoever prepared the news item prepared it this way, first with words to the effect, the fragile tourism industry in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is now facing an enormous setback at Canouan, a circular has been sent around that there would be new management. That Raffles leaving. But managers leave from time to time. Management contracts come to an end. But they editorialize on one fact. They did not call anybody. They did not call the developers. They did not call the Prime Minister’s Office. But that goes out, no correction is made subsequently and then this kind of a question, where I am sure the Honourable Member of the Southern Grenadines knows the answer but to create the unease. I am obliged.HONOURABLE TERRANCE OLLIVIERRE: Mr. Speaker, the question was not asked to create any uneasiness but it is just that the people in Canouan have been asking a lot of questions and it has been asked for transparency so that they can find out that is happening there. Question No. 9.9. The Honourable Terrance Ollivierre (Southern Grenadines), to ask the Honourable Minister of Education:22A number of primary school teachers were offered the opportunity to obtain their degrees in various disciplines in conjunction with the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus, during the 1st quarter of 2010; successful teachers of the various programmes were asked to apply to fill a number of graduate positions within the education system. a. Have any new areas of study been introduced to the programme; b. How many applications have been received from teachers who have graduated; and c. How many new appointments were given to these graduates HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Minister for Education.HONOURABLE GIRLYN MIGUEL: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I am happy for the opportunity to provide for the Honourable Member and this Honourable House information with respect to the Bachelor degree programmes pursued by teachers within the system. The Honourable member referred to the Bachelors of Education programme organized by the Ministry of Education and the faculty of education at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus in 2004. Under that programme subsidized by the Government of St. Vincent and Grenadines 33 primary school principals and senior teachers as well as 10 early childhood teachers were registered. That programme which was designated specifically for training in educational administration and early childhood education closed in 2007.Mr. Speaker, apart from the aforementioned programme, teachers pursued training in the Bachelor of Education degree in Educational Administration by distance on an ongoing basis. The University of the West Indies offers several such programmes. In addition, 45 teachers have pursued Training with the University of the West England in leadership and management. Every teacher completed the entire course. Every teacher did well. And there were six who did exceptionally well, they received distinctions. Mr. Speaker, 21 of the persons who completed the programme referred to by the Honourable Member have already been appointed as the principals of primary schools, they are designated as head teacher, primary graduate. Of the remaining graduates in this programme 17 have now applied for graduate positions.I am pleased to announce that the Ministry of Education is currently doing the preparatory work with the Ministry of Finance and the Services Commissions Department and we are striving to have these appointments made for the commencement of the new academic year. I am obliged.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Question No. 10, Honourable Senator. 10. Honourable St. Clair Leacock (Opposition Senator), to ask the Honourable Minister of Housing:In 1980, the number of houses in St. Vincent and the Grenadines that were constructed out of concrete amounted to 7,330 or 36% of the households. By 1991 at the next census, this figure had almost doubled to 14,883 or 55.1%. In the year 2001 the last concluded census the statistics for concrete houses had reached the impressive total of 21,707 or 71.6% of households.23From the available government records or reasonable estimates what number and percentage of the just over 33,000 households in St. Vincent and the Grenadines today are as we say “wall houses”.HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Mr. Speaker, may you permit me to just add that this question was raised before the poverty report had been made available to us., Some statistics that have been asked here are now available by public document and in the normal course of events, if those information were available we would not have had to seek them out, but I am letting the question stand. But I just want to bring that to your attention, that subsequent information became available.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Minister. HONOURABLE SABATO CAESAR: Does the question still stand? HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I suppose there are things that he probably needs clarifying.HONOURABLE SABATO CAESAR: Because the Honourable Senator said the information is available. However, Mr. Speaker, undoubtedly a virtual revolution in housing is taking place in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, under the ULP. Mr. Speaker, this has not been a matter of chance. But it is the result of a properly planned, structured and conceived housing programme. I have been advised by the technicians at Physical Planning that the claim that they have just over 33,000 households is mere guess work. However, using the 2001 census statistics for the number of concrete houses which stood at 21,707 houses, or 71.6% of the households, between 2001 and the present I can provide with authority the results of the government’s intervention.Mr. Speaker, the policy was articulated in the manifesto of the Unity Labour Party in 2001 but more recently in the manifesto of 2005. Mr. Speaker the policy clearly spelt out on page 56 of the 2005, ULP manifesto as follows, under the rubric‘Housing, Roofs over people’s heads.’ The Unity Labour Party Government has done a magnificent job in the area of housing. Its policy has been to provide or ensure the provision of affordable housing to all Vincentians. In its first term, the ULP Government accomplished in this regard, the following among other things. 1. Increased significantly the distribution of materials to the poor. 2. Turn dead capital to live property through legal transfer by way of deeds to persons in occupation of state-owned lands at very low prices. 3. Pass the possessory title’s bill to simplify certain land transfers in the private sector for those in adverse possession. 4. Enhance the tax benefits available for companies engaged in the construction of homes. 5. (And Mr. Speaker, this is very significant) This government, this administration we have provided 100% mortgages through the state-owned National Commercial Bank for Public Servants, teachers, nurses, policemen and women. 24 We have supported the secondary mortgage market. We have elaborated the building code and we have strengthened the planning laws on housing. And significantly, we have sorted out the NDP’s mess at the Colonial Homes Project by way of a Commission of Enquiry and follow up action at the cost of over $7 million.Mr. Speaker, I have laid the framework of the background to the policies and programmes of the Unity Labour Party, this administration as it relates to housing. I listened to the question of the Honourable Senator and a comparison was made between the board houses and the concrete houses. This administration has established a no-income housing programme, a middle-income housing programme and a low-income housing programme. Under the low-income housing programme we have built 355 houses thus far. And I have all the plans here. And Mr. Speaker, under the no-come housing programme we have already constructed 81 houses; of these houses already constructed four of these houses are board houses and the reason given for the construction of four board houses because [of] the terrain in certain areas, it is more feasible and practical to construction board in those areas instead of wall. Mr. Speaker, I am obliged.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Senator, question No. 11. HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Mr. Speaker, thank you, very much. I rise to ask question No. 11standing in my name of the Honourable Minister of Health and Environment.11. Major the Honourable St. Clair Leacock (Opposition Senator), to ask the Honourable Minister of Health and the Environment:The number of households with pipe borne water in their houses or their yard in 1980 was 4,337 or 35% of the population. This figure grew to 8,984 in homes or 48% by 1991 and climbed to over 78% in 2001 with an in-house supply of 15,936 and with an over 90% reliability factor.What is the current estimates of households with pipe borne water; and a. How many households are now linked to sewerage systems.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Well, as you would notice the Honourable Minister of Health is not here but the Honourable Prime Minister will answer. Is that all right?HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Quite in order, Mr. Speaker.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: When you are a Catholic and you pray long enough about something, somehow the angels speak to you, and correct the errors of one’s ways. I am very appreciative.Mr. Speaker, the (yes, between the Catholics). Mr. Speaker, there are today 32,600 domestic water connections, which according to active domestic, 32,600 domestic connections. That I have been advised by the CWSA is 25around, 97, 98, and 99%. That is [the] figure in terms of the households and you will see it if you approximate your 33,000 households, more or less. Well, you said it is a guess; it is guess which is not an unreasonable guess given all the data which we have available. And there is a reliability factor in excess of the 90% which you have addressed and you could have seen that recently in the drought. And there is a tremendous difference which was made to the water supply in this country by the Jennings, the Windward Water Project.In relation to the sewerage system, there are two things which we have to clarify here, I do not know if you are talking about central sewerage system or you use sewerage system in a very general sense to mean the septic tanks and soaker-ways, because 95% of the houses in this country have septic tanks or soaker-ways. I have been advised that part of the problem here has to do with the terrain of the country; the topography. You have 116 connections to sewerage system basically two sewerage system; one for Stoney Ground, Paul’s Avenue and what you may call main Kingstown and a smaller one out at the Arnos Vale Plan Area. That is operated with CWSA, that is 116 connections, but generally in the country you have 95% water closet, soaker-ways, septic tanks. You see I did better for you than the Minister of Health.HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: You, know better than the Minister of Health, Mister Prime Minister.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Half as good. That is all right. HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: You wanted me to repeat what I said? DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: No, no. I did not get it. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: No, no. That is all right.HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: The Speaker is coming to your assistance. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Question No. 12.12. The most recent poverty report of St. Vincent and the Grenadines conducted in the year 2007/2008 indicated that almost half of the country 44.3% to be exact “felt that conditions has worsened compared to the previous year 2006. Unemployment of the poor, at 25.3% is higher than the country’s average and almost half i.e. 50% of our women have their first child before they are twenty (20) years of age. In addition to the above almost half of the country’s workforce i.e. those who work for less than $600.00 per month can become poor at any time now. They are defined as vulnerable. a. Why are so few of the recommendations to reduce poverty been implemented thus far; and b. Since local government is proposed as one of the poverty reduction measures why is the Grenadines with the lowest level of unemployment in the state targeted as against say Georgetown and Sandy bay with 16.5% of the country’s poor and Bottle and Glass in Barrouallie where according to the report “...there are significant levels of poverty...” in excess of the national average. 26 HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Question 12 in my name, Honourable Prime Minister question 12 in my name. The most recent poverty report... and again, Mr. Speaker, may you allow me to say that that at the time this question was written we did not have Poverty Assessment report. The most recent poverty report of St. Vincent and the Grenadines conducted in the year 2007/2008 indicated that almost half of the country 44.3% to be exact...DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: If my honourable friend has given way. If he now knows the answer to the question from... if the answer can be found from reference from available official publications then he cannot ask it. That is what Standing Order 20 (g) (iv) says. But if you ask it you would give me a chance to palaver about our fantastic poverty reduction efforts. But really, properly speaking, Mr. Speaker, as my honourable friend has said, he knows the answer to the question because he has the report now, so there is no need to ask it.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member,... HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Mr. Speaker, I find myself in an unusual situation in that thisquestion was asked and the public servant did have a conversation with me.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: He did?HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: To locate the source of the information. And I was at the Prime Minister’s Office yesterday and at the office of that distinguished public servant in an attempt to help him answer the question, so I accept that the question has been answered and will give to further discussion. Thank you, very much, having answered my own question. Thank you.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I am going to. I am glad to some extent that you did that, because I did not want to make a ruling on it, because the... I am going to disrupt the questions here for a little bit, because I just want to make a statement here. And I chose at this particular point to do the disruption, because I want to correct a falsehood that was perpetuated against me on the 7th of May, on Friday by the Honourable Senator Daniel Cummings. I heard him stating on radio in relation to question No. 9, when he posed a supplementary question at the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister gave an answer which I thought that he had answered the question. And I asked that we moved on to the next question which was question No. 10; and he stated among other things that I ignored, as it were him, something in that regard, that I ignored him. I just want to say that that was not true and I want to state publicly here as it was said publicly that every member after a question is asked and answered he may according to rule ask a supplementary question and that supplementary question according to Rule 21 (2);After the answer to a question has been given a supplementary question may at the direction of the Speaker, be put by the Member asking the question for the purpose of elucidating the answer given orally, and so on and so on...I was satisfied that the Prime Minister answered the supplementary question and I got the transcript, I have it before me, I do not have to read it, it is a bit long, and therefore as Speaker, I am the one who will determine27whether a supplementary question go forth or it does not go forth. I did not ignore in any way the Honourable Member and to state that in public on a radio station on Friday May 17th is perpetrating a falsehood against me.I listened a while ago, to Honourable Senator Leacock while he was making his presentation under Congratulatory Remarks, and it is a very passionate presentation I thought that was. And he himself recalled that I was looking at him because I wanted to pay close attention to what he was saying. I think in all things, we need to be very gracious to each other in this Parliament. Whatever we do; whether we are in here, out there we need to deal with things in a gracious manner. And for whatever reason we do not need to be doing this kind as I refer to it, this kind of nonsense, perpetuating things. As a matter of fact, I do not really know what is the purpose of bringing such an issue before the public when the whole matter was ventilated in public, what the question was, what the answers were and so on. And we have to be very careful.I remember, and this brings me to the point, where I remember someone referred to a great statesman, a former Prime Minister of this country, when he was asked a question by the then Honourable John Thompson said, while I am obliged to answer questions, I am not obliged to answer them truthfully. That was said, I was a Member of Parliament then in the Opposition. And I remember that was said. I do not think that kind of thing is perpetuated here today in this Parliament but we have to be very careful and we just have to kind and gracious to each other when we making our public comments. That is all I want to say. Question No. 13.HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: With your permission there are two things I just want to ask, 1. at the previous session of the Parliament I had asked some written questions for written answers, and I have not yet received the written answers. The Prime Minister wants to clarify that.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: And the second question, yeah.HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: And the second question, Mr. Speaker, I just want us to be manifestly clear that when these three questions presented were asked, as I said we were genuinely searching for information.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I believe so.HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: And it is our view of course, that the reason why we received this 2007/2008 report this week, some two years late is a consequence of the questions that were posed. I just want that to be on record. I know it may be denied but that is the purpose for the questions.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I cannot really say if that is so. HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Of course, I know. I just want to go on record with that, Mr.Speaker.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, in the latter issue. Please do not look for a conspiracy theory. I mean, the person who was responsible for this process, in which I did not interfere at all, is a very distinguished public servant whom I think the Honourable Senator Leacock knows Laura Anthony Browne. In fact, when I sent out the questions as I would normally do to the public servants to provide information, they do not provide me answers, they provide me information, because I am responsible for the28answer, I ask the simple question I said have they received this report. They said they must have received it already. I said oh, all right. I had nothing to do with any of this. I know they were held up for quite a while at the Printery. I had absolutely nothing to do with this.And Mr. Speaker I will tell you the sequence, I saw these questions for the first time on Tuesday, because I was away, I did not know the contents of the questions until Tuesday, and I am sure that you receive... and Laura Anthony Browne would not have seen these questions also before Tuesday because they were in my package. And I am sure that you got the poverty report prior to Tuesday. Oh. When I spoke to her she said you must have gotten a report and I tell you with all honesty there were no connection whatsoever. None. So let us just remove the conspiracy theory.In relation to the first matter, I am awaiting the public servants to give me the information for the answers because they are written and I am hoping that you can get them very soon. They are not very difficult to get but it is perhaps one of these things.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Mr. Speaker, may I respond?HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: No, Sir. Let us move on with the questions please.13. The Honourable Daniel Cummings (Opposition Senator), to ask the Honourable Minister of Transport and Works:For many years, the bridge at Fort Charlotte has been in the capital estimates for rehabilitation. The bridge is now in such a state that it may soon have to be closed to vehicular traffic for safety. (And I wish to invite the Ministry to pay close attention especially to the base of that arch bridge) Would the Honourable Minister please answer the following? a. Has design work for the rehabilitation work been done as yet; b. When would work begin on this important project that has implications for the tourism product; and c. Is there a contingency plan in place in the event of the imminent collapse of the bridge. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Minister of Transport and Works will you please answer question No. 13.HONOURABLE CLAYTON BURGIN: Mr. Speaker, infrastructural work must be prioritized but what is important, Mr. Speaker, is the fact that this administration keeps on the front burner the safety of all citizens because we are an administration that cares for every single Vincentian. We leave nothing to chance, Mr. Speaker. May I state here, Mr. Speaker, that there is provision in this year’s estimates for the rehabilitation of not only Fort Charlotte Bridge but also the Verbeek Bridge at Victoria Park and the Swamp Gut Bridge at Layou. This, Mr. Speaker, is a clear indication of the foresight of the professionals in the Ministry of Works, who work assiduously and diligently although it may seem in a quiet manner but with utmost efficiency to ensure that they make the necessary visits to every corner of this blessed land to monitor and evaluate the infrastructural needs. Following which they have embarked on intensive and focused planning sessions in order29to bring to the table their findings and recommendations. It is at that point, Mr. Speaker, that the prioritizing begins.And so Mr. Speaker, my ministry, the Ministry of Transport and Works has already engaged the services of a ministerial restoration consultant, a Trinidadian professional who is scheduled to arrive here shortly. That person, Mr. Speaker, will conduct a detailed assessment of the Fort Charlotte bridge and this is expected to be done June of this year. It is anticipated, Mr. Speaker, that a thorough scope of restoration works will be obtained after which work should begin by August of this year.In addition, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to state here today that the Ministry of Transport and Works is in possession of two Bailey bridges, one of which could be installed at the site in the event that the bridge should collapse. And by way of information, Mr. Speaker, persons may be wondering what a Bailey bridge is. A Bailey bridge is a portable pre-fabricated thrust bridge designed for use by military engineering units to bridge up to 60 metre gaps; roughly about 200 feet. It requires no special tools or heavy equipment for construction. The bridge elements are small enough to be carried in trucks and the bridge is strong enough to carry tanks. A Bailey bridge is considered a great example of military engineering, Mr. Speaker, Bailey bridges are also extensively used in civil engineering construction projects to provide temporary access across canals, rivers and railway lines, and so on.Mr. Speaker, example of one can be seen where persons enter North Leeward, down in Spring Village, that is a Bailey bridge, and at present in the Colonaire area next to the Roman Catholic Church, we are putting a Bailey bridge there for people to cross so that we can do the necessary work on the original bridge at Colonaire. So persons who are going on the windward side and who do not traverse beyond Spring Village would have an idea as to what a Bailey bridge is looking like. So that would be something that would be used in the event of any eventuality. I am obliged. Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Question No. 14. Honourable Senator Cummings. 14. The Honourable Daniel Cummings (Opposition Senator), to ask the Honourable Minister of Transportand Works:Residents of Edinboro, Ottley Hall and Cox Heath continue to be exposed to the possibility of being isolated in the event of a mishap on the only road available for access and egress. The bypass road from Edinboro via New Montrose has been promised for many years now. Would the Honourable Minister please say; a. What is the status of this project; b. Has funding been identified; and c. When would work begin on the much needed road. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Minister of Transport and Works question No. 14. 30HONOURABLE CLAYTON BURGIN: Mr. Speaker, I consider it enormously ironic that the Honourable Member should say that for many years this administration has been promising to do rehabilitative work on the main by-pass road. For 17 consecutive years in the governance of our blessed land the NDP administration promised over and over again in the usual sea of promising to do this very road and did nothing about it. On the other hand, Mr. Speaker, this administration is the one which puts into practice everything that it preaches. There is no doubt that ,Mr. Speaker, our record speaks for itself. And it is the unvarnished truth. We deliver on our promises, all of them. It may take time, but we deliver, but Mr. Speaker, if the Honourable Member collected information somewhere along the way, in his usual manner that this administration promise to address the named road I am personally ignorant of such a promise in my capacity as Minister with responsibility for public infrastructure. I am therefore compelled to ask the Honourable Member two simple questions. Was there specific start date given? Was there a specific completion date put forward?HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member answer the question. HONOURABLE CLAYTON BURGIN: Yes. Whatever the case, Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to advise himas I stand here today that the work about which he is wondering has already commenced.Mr. Speaker, during the NDP years many of these secondary roads should have been done and I want to go on record at this juncture, Mr. Speaker, the resources were available. Mr. Speaker, up to the period of 1997 – 1998 grant funds from US AID and also from the British Government was also available for this type of community infrastructure and you noticed when he came into office those funds were no longer there, but very little was done in this regard, Mr. Speaker, because of poor management, management of the funds. And so Mr. Speaker, when members of the other side come to this Honourable House in search of answers to their questions I urge them to think twice, to do the necessary research, to put on their memory caps because they must always seek to remember their past. They must make a concerted attempt to keep their past uppermost in their thoughts, and also on the front burner. They must never forget and we will never forget, we will always remember, and the nation will always remember.And let me hasten to say at this juncture, Mr. Speaker, using the wise words of William Shakespeare, “to thy own self be true and it must follow as night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” Wise words indeed, Mr. Speaker. And I am delighted to state here today because the record speaks for itself, that this ULP administration has been constantly upgrading bypass and other roads since assuming office.Mr. Speaker, construction work for 400 feet of road at New Montrose was done in 2009 via the routine maintenance programme in the Ministry of Transport and Works. Mr. Speaker, approximately 600 feet of road at the Edinboro end remain completed at an estimated cost of $130,000, and a balance of 170 feet of road scheduled to be implemented by BRAGSA during this quarter. Mr. Speaker, much obliged.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: That brings us to the end of question time; Honourable Prime Minister.SUSPENSION FOR LUNCH31page31image28096DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, I will be guided by you; I do not know whether you like to this,... we should start the motion or we should go for lunch.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I think we should go for lunch; I will always be on the side of lunch.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: And I believe that the West Indies may be batting at this time. Accordingly, Mr. Speaker, I beg to move that this Honourable House do stand suspended for the luncheon period until 3 p.m.HONOURABLE MICHAEL BROWNE: Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion.Question put and agreed to. Lunch 12:38 p.m. House resumed at 3:29 p.m.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Pray be seated. Do we need to waiver of Clause 12 (5)?DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Yes. Mr. Speaker, I must apologize to those who thought we had to be back at 3 p.m. there was a discussion between Members of the Opposition and myself and the Honourable Attorney General about a matter, that is coming before the House. See if we could sort it out. So I want to apologize for our late start.Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members I beg to move under Standing Order 12 (5) that the proceedings of today’s sitting be exempted from the provisions of Standing Order Hours of sitting.HONOURABLE MICHAEL BROWNE: Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion. Question put and agreed to.ORDERS OF THE DAYPOLICE (AMENDMENT) BILL 2010DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I beg to move a bill for an Act to amend the Police Act. The object and reason is to amend the Police Act to make provision in respect of the age of retirement of a constable or a non-commissioned officer of the Police Force I so move.HONOURABLE MICHAEL BROWNE: Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion.Question put and agreed to.32page32image17936DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I beg to move under Standing Order 48 (2) that this bill be taken through all its stages at today’s sitting and passed.HONOURABLE MICHAEL BROWNE: Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion. Question put and agreed to.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I beg to move a bill for an Act to amend the Police Act be read a second time.HONOURABLE MICHAEL BROWNE: Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion. Question put and agreed to.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Debate on the bill?DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, this is an amendment which the members of the Police Force would be very happy about. Currently, under section 34 of the police Act, Chapter 280, it states:That no pension shall be granted (a) (and this is the relevant one) to any constable or non- commissioned officer of the force below the rank of sergeant who has not either attained the age of 50 or served in the force for 20 years.Now, Mr. Speaker, the provision goes on, there is a section 40 (1)Every constable or non-commissioned officer below the rank of sergeant shall retire from the force on attaining the age of 50.Now this Police Act is an old Colonial Act. And we have a lot of strong intelligent good police men and women, constables and corporals and they have to leave at 50. There are some people who would say that if you are in the Police Force and you are 50 and you ain’t gone pass constable or corporal you should be out of the force, but that is not necessarily the case; because as the Police Force gets larger, even though you have more positions opening at sergeant and above a lot of very good policemen at age 50 are constables. And if they want to go on to 55, they have to write the Cabinet on recommendation of the Commissioner of Police.Well I have been Prime Minister for 9 years and I have served with Commissioner Quow for a few months. I have served with Commissioner Harry for a few years, I served with Acting Commissioner Pompey for nearly a year and with Commissioner Miller since 2005, save and except the year when Deputy Commissioner Pompey acted as Commissioner. And when I get these letters as chairman of Cabinet to say that Tom Jones, or Eric Browne is recommended to go from 50 to 55 but they are not recommending Alphonso or Ephraim Thomas. I do not know the basis. And I am quite sure that the Commissioners do not play favourites. But inside of the force there is a feeling that they play favourites, and it is not good for the morale of the force; that a person that 33reaches 50 last week, the Commissioner recommends that he goes to 55, and another one retiring this week, does not get the recommendation go to Cabinet. And everybody in force will tell you that the one that does not get recommended is really a better policeman, only the Commissioner alone feels that the one which he recommends is the better fellow. You see, the problem what that creates for the Cabinet and for the Prime Minister. I do not want to play God. For what. So what we do we change that law. That is what we are doing here today.We are saying that you will go to 55 if you are a constable or a corporal but if you do not want to go to 55, you want to leave at 50 you can write the Governor General that is to say the Cabinet to say that you want to go at 50 and you do so within a year. The draft has six months, Mr. Speaker, in square brackets which was suggested by the Honourable Attorney General’s Office but I thought that we should do a year. And the Honourable Leader of the Opposition agrees with that as a time which is fair. So that 95, 98%, maybe 99% of the police wouldwanttogoat55. Soyoudonotdoanythingyougoat55. Butifyouwanttogoat50,youhavetowrite and say within a year of this law being, after the commencement of this law that you want to go at 50.I do not think that many people are going to write to say that they want to go at 50. Most people would want to go at 55. This is part and parcel of the reform process in the Police Force. You know, Mr. Speaker, we had set up the Durant Commission, headed by the esteemed commissioner Orville Durant of Barbados. And he met the police all of them, he met the people in the community, he met the political directorate and did this report. I remember after the report came out and a former commissioner Mr. Randolph Toussaint saw it, he said on television; he said Ralph waste money, man, he should not have done that, he should have asked me, I would have told him how to reform the Police Force in one hour. Of course, he had been there for many, many years and if he could have told me to reform the Police Force in one hour, I must have assumed that he had told Sir James that and Sir James did not reform the Police Force. Or Mr. Toussaint was just mouthing off as we say in the Caribbean.So we set up this Durant report and there are many things which we have done. For instance, we have civilianized the Immigration Department. We have had some teething problems, but those problems, we are basically over, because we can have civilians go there and those policemen who wanted to stay with Immigration stayed and we have opened up more posts for the police.I know, the Chairman of the NDP is not here, Dr. Linton Lewis, but he made a speech at Mt. Grenan a few weeks ago. I heard the speech. He said that Ralph over policing the country. There are too many police. Well if you have too many now, clearly he intends to have less. And there are one or two ways you can have less, either you try and fire some or you have a process of attrition that you do not hire any new ones. Or you slow the growth of the new ones. Of course, he was making the point that you do not have an increase in the population and therefore why you should have such an increase in the police force. But that does not make sensible policy making; because in 2001, you did not have enough police. And in any event the police over the last nine years, they have had to deal with more sophisticated criminals. Information technology alone is an issue which we have had to address. Then of course, you have more cruise ship passengers coming in and you have more people you have to police. So I do not understand this thing, the Chairman of the NDP is saying we must have less policemen.34But I tell you if we had less policemen, in Jamaica, it would have been far more difficult to get into Tivoli. We do not want St. Vincent to come like that. They had to take 2000 soldiers and police to serve an arrest warrant. In St. Vincent and the Grenadines a bailiff without a baton would serve an arrest warrant. A policeman with a little cane walking through the village and he only have the cane to ward off dogs, he does not have anything else to serve the arrest warrant. But in Jamaica you needed 2000 soldiers and police and up to now they have not served the warrant. And you have nearly 100 people dead and about 50 injured. What a time. No. We have to make sure that we have enough police. We do not have an army here; we have to have enough police. So that is one area. The increase in the numbers, the civilianization with the Immigration.We have created an important special unit, the Rapid Response Unit, the RRU. Now that unit is headed by one of the best policemen in this country ASP Browne, former Chief of Security, of the Honourable Leader of the Opposition when he was Prime Minister. But despite the fact, we put that unit under such a gentleman of quality, independence and distinction; they call the RRU, Ralph Mongoose Gang, Men in Black. The only people who have to be afraid of the men in black are the criminals. Those are the only people. I am not saying that they would not make errors, you know. They are human beings and when they make errors there is a legal process, either internally in the Police Force or though the law courts to address any excess of police conduct.We are training the police them now, more than ever. It is not just the basic training, the policemen; there are more courses for the policemen than ever before. You go inside of the force; almost every policeman is engaged in some form of training. And in fact, Mr. Speaker, they are encouraged now to do their O’ Levels, and their A’ Levels. There is a policeman today, he has done his O’ Levels, he has applied to go to the Faculty of Law, he is going to get admission as a Mature Student, one of the officers around me, when he joined my security team, he did not have an O’ Level, he has nine now. And he is contemplating what he should go to university to do. And everyone who is around me they have to get involved in training. And this is very important. The Commissioner has a degree; the Deputy Commissioner has a degree from the university. We have a young man from Gorse, Officer Joseph, has his Bachelors in Criminal Psychology. We have three, four others who have graduated from university. We have about eight or nine at university currently.In fact, Mr. Speaker, so attractive is now the Police Force and I will come to some of the reasons for the attractiveness. A young woman, who got a First Class Honours Degree from the University of West Indies, went to England and did a Master’s Degree, Mr. Speaker, in Criminal Psychology, Ms. Camisha Blake, 24 years old; brilliant, you do not get a First Class Honours in Psychology if you are not bright. Good temperament. She wants to be in the Police Force. She is attached to the Police Force now, she is involved in training, but she herself wants to be in the Police Force. That is what I have been advised. And one of the recommendations which was made by the Durant Commission, was that for persons with university degrees to enter the Police Force at a particular level whether it is entering as Inspector or Assistant Superintendent and a special officer core programme of training would be designed for them. So you lift throughout the whole system the quality of the Police Force; and the leadership which is very important and to battle the criminals who are becoming more sophisticated. You need strength as a policeman or woman but you need brains. You need cunning. You need smarts. Not just book smart, but street smart, intelligence gathering and analysis, driving the issue of the apprehension of criminals.35Mr. Speaker, the policemen and women in this country have done well under this administration in terms of salary increases. In 2007 alone there was one jump of 41%, for the constables. The reclassification, help them, to such an extent some people attacked me, you heard it on the radio. They said you know, anytime you see a prime minister or a president taking care of the police, you know he is communist. That is what they said you know. I am taking care of all these police officers, men and women because I am taking care of them; I am a communist. They began to say. There are some people who were Junior Clerk, who had A’ Levels, some confronted me, they say Prime Minister I am a Junior Clerk with A’ Levels, why is it that the policeman salary at entry point is more than mine and he only has three O’ Levels, or two O’ Levels. And my answer to the Junior Clerk is simply this, if you want more money join the Police Force, if that is what you wanted. Of course, people with A’ Levels are joining the Police Force now, with five, six, seven, eight, nine O’ Levels. And this government has done something which is not tangible, but every single policeman and woman knows it exists; we have made the police profession a respectable profession. People used to look at police before as though something which you do, especially for young men, when you cannot do anything better. Do you know that kind of a way? Not any more now. No. The police has a prestige, the Police Force has a prestige, they are respected throughout the country. Occasionally of course they will fall short of the high standards but when that happens as I say there is a legal process. Sometimes the legal process brings them guilty, sometimes the legal process says no they are not guilty. But of course there are some people as soon as anything is involved with a policeman or for that matter with a politician, or anybody with a high profile, he guilty. They do not have any rights. Now fortunately there is a legal process.So the prestige, the way in which a policeman tells you now, ‘I am a policeman’, ‘I am a policewoman’, it is a source of real pride. Oh yes, you will have one or two in the Police Force who do not have that pride. But that is natural. You meet a bunch of lawyers, you meet engineers, you meet doctors, you meet whoever, any profession, university lecturers, you have some of them who do not have any pride in their profession.Physical facilities for the police; when we came to office, the police stations were run down. This bill is about the police terms and conditions, Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, about their terms and conditions of their employment and all the circumstances connected thereto and this is not in isolation in all that we have been doing for the police, this is part and parcel of it. I remember, the first, second week I came to office. I went down to Canouan. I told this story before and it is worth retelling. The Honourable Member for the Southern Grenadines knows what I am talking about.There was on the Main Street in Canouan an old, broken down police station. When you went inside of it, it smelled they took me in it, if you see where married men were sleeping. A little cubby hole. They had a nail to hang up their clothes. They do not have mattresses, they have sponge not covered. When you flush the toilet what you are flushing came up in the shower and in the sink in the kitchen, do you hear me; that is after 17 years of NDP government. In the heartland of the NDP, Canouan I went there I told them, and I told them, if you go on strike, I will support you publicly. They said Prime Minister no, we will not go on strike, fix us up. This government rented a small hotel on the beach, the Honourable Member remembers that, nice, red roof hotel, do you remember it, five six rooms, they converted one into a cell. In fact when I went and saw them the wife of the officer who headed, Mr. Speaker, headed the station down there was an inspector, I saw the wife, I saw them inside of a one bedroom flat. So I said what are you doing here, and she said, I am on a second honeymoon with my husband. That is how the comfort had come. The police know what I am talking about is 36true. And any policeman who does not support this administration, is a policeman or woman who does not have his or her interest at heart.Mr. Speaker, what this government has done for the police; some may not like it, what I am saying, but I cannot help it but to speak the truth.Mr. Speaker, we have built state of the art police stations in Canouan, Biabou, Questelles, one is now in Georgetown, they call all of them the hotels. Hotel Questelles they call the one down there Hotel Canouan, Hotel Biabou, Hotel Georgetown. Yes, we have repaired or renovated every single police station in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.Mr. Speaker, when I came to office, something was drawn to my attention, the imagery, and I went and I saw it, I could not have believed it. The Honourable Member for South Windward could remember the old little congested police station they had at Biabou, which we knocked down and put down this beautiful “Hotel Biabou”. And they had one vehicle there, the Biabou District takes in Lowmans Windward. They went to apprehend somebody who was reasonably suspected of having committed a criminal offence; so you had the police driver and two police officers, one in front and one behind. They brought the suspected criminal in the vehicle. Rain stated to come, the police vehicle had to go and shelter under Marjorie tree because it was leaking, after 17 years of NDP. The floorboard, Mr. Speaker, and I have said this before and I will repeat it, is like Fred and Barnie in the Flimstones, it is like you had to put your foot on the ground to run off, because the floor board had holes, Fred and Barnie, Fred Flimstone. Yes. That is what existed. Now, there are quality vehicles all around for the police. Not enough yet. But many, many of them.The upgrading of the coastguard; the purchase of the Hudson Tannis for $2.3 million, which was attacked other smaller vessels, and now a programme of four coastguard vessels for $7 million the delivery which we are hoping to have this year. And then resources for next year from the American government in relation to retrofitting the Hudson Tannis and providing one other vessel in the first instance and possibly two. There other things, security, which have been done, with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago like for instance the radar systems, we have built the radar sites and the radar systems will be in place shortly. We are taking the vessels when they are coming in or leaving St. Vincent and the Grenadines.Mr. Speaker, I am giving a synopsis that there is more to be done in the Police Force, of course. In all of the area that I am talking about because I always say, when you lift the bar, you cannot leave the bar the height where you lift it. You have to carry it higher still. I know the police are very happy with this provision. Imagine it has taken us 30 years after independence to change this; this Colonial law. I do not know how this came into being in the first place. What got into the heads of the Colonial authorities to have to pass a law for the police to leave at 50; and what we have done now and bearing in mind the existing constitutional provision, concerning pension, Mr. Speaker, clause 4 of this bill makes the point where there is a 47 (a) which says Sections 34 (a) and 40 sub (1)As they read immediately before the commencement of the Police Amendment Act 2010, shall not withstanding the amendment by that act, apply to any constable or non-commissioned officer below the rank of Sergeant in service of the force immediately before the commencement of that Act who notified the Governor General in writing within one year after such commencement of 37his desire, (that is to say commencement of the law,) of his desire that those sections shall apply to him, in which case they shall continue to apply accordingly.So that if there is a policeman who wants to go at 50, despite the law changing to 55, within a year of this law, you can write the Governor General and say no, I do not want to go at 55, I want to go at 50. But the numbers who would want to go at 50, you could probably count them on your hands. I do not think you can reach your toes, because I think 99% of them would want to go at 55. And the reason, and you see when we are training the police officers now, Mr. Speaker. We are training them to do all sorts of different things. In the not too distant past when a police officer retired the job he looked for mainly was to be a security guard, either here or in the United States to help to operate an elevator going up and coming down in an office or a hotel. But we are training them now for the modern world of work even after they leave the Police Force.Mr. Speaker, as Minister of National Security, I am aware of some difficulties and challenges inside of the force. And I want to say this, some people may be upset with me about this. But you see the politics between the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister, or between the ULP and the NDP, that politics is child’s play, to the internal politics inside of the police force. The internal politics inside of the Police Force it is not easy nasty. I am not talking party politics here you know, and a lot of that internal politics, has to do with vanity, grudges, some people holding other bad mind, some people do not forget things. All kinds of little foolishness. It is like what I used to see at the University of the West Indies between lecturers. The politics among lecturers was nasty, bitter. I tell you, I prefer this politics between ULP and NDP, bad as it is, in terms of relationships, it is nowhere as vicious as what you get inside of some of these institutions with the extent of the backbiting. And that is an issue which the police have to deal with themselves internally. That is a matter, I can help with that, but that is a matter for the leadership and the membership of the police force. That is a quasi military organization.Mr. Speaker, I believe that the police are going to be very happy with this law that we are passing here. I have asked the Honourable Attorney General that after we passed it today that she works quickly with the Clerk of the House and get it to the Governor General for the assent to be made and for us to get it implemented very quickly. I am happy to see the Police Welfare Association has some vibrancy in them and I noticed that they have gotten, they have bought a vehicle and we have given them 100% duty on that vehicle, made it very easy for them to travel about the country.This administration wants to work very closely as always with the police force. Now, by saying that I want to work closely with the Police Force, there are some people who will say that that alone means that they should not vote for Ralph. Because as far as we are concerned the police is bad, from the time they hear police, no, we have to change that view. Law abiding people, we have to see the police as an important and critical defender of our liberties and helping to promote law and order. If they step out of line, well, then there is the legal process to deal with them and they know that. And I am hoping, Mr. Speaker, we get the full support of the entire House on this matter, regardless of any reservation here or reservation there, that we get the full support of all Honourable Members. I am obliged. Thank you.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member for the Northern Grenadines. 38DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I rise to make my contribution to the debate on this important bill. Mr. Speaker, the members on this side of the House have great respect for the police and the tremendous work that they do on a daily basis. We recognize the hardships, sometimes, they have to endure and the sacrifices that they make to keep our communities safe and to ensure that the laws of our country are obeyed and that civilized society can prosper in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It is a big task they have, Mr. Speaker. And sometimes they are criticized very heavily in the public and some of that criticism no doubt is justified. But I think that the members of the Police Force that the mass majority of them want to earn the respect of the people in our country, the communities that they serve and that in fact they do enjoy that respect. And that they too would wish that the causes for concern and criticism within the force are reduced and that the persons who are cause of it are dealt with effectively.Mr. Speaker when this bill was brought to this Honourable House, during the last sitting we reviewed it and in principle, we are in support of the move towards the extension of the retirement age from 50 to 55 and the attendant change with respect to the age at which a pension can be paid. But, Mr. Speaker, the earlier draft concerned us because it had a provision which said that the law essentially did not apply to the current police officers in the force. It only applied to persons who joined the force afterwards; and the way it was written; we had raised those concerns because we felt that the expectations of the members of the Police Force now was that they would benefit from the change in the legislation and that right would be in the law itself. And so we raised those concerns, Mr. Speaker, with the Honourable Prime Minister and we discussed it with the legal team to find a better draft that would ensure that the police would enjoy those rights now and the legislation would function harmoniously with the constitutional provisions relating to pension, principally section 88 (2) of the constitution. And the reason why we do that, Mr. Speaker, was that we felt that there must be some way which the legislation could be drafted so that the rights that are given to the Police Officers would have their expression in the letter of the law itself. And not be dependent on the good graces of either the current or succeeding administration to give a benefit that was promised to them. So we were happy to hear that the Prime Minister and his legal team also shared that concern and that we would go back to the drawing board and try to find a more effective way of drafting the legislation to give the rights and to also ensure that the constitutional provisions are respected.The draft that we have now, Mr. Speaker, is superior to what we had before, because it recognizes in the law and option for an officer to choose to have the current law applied to him or her and if not then the new legislation would apply. I expressed, and we on this side of the House, [had] some concern regarding even the current formulation, because what it says essentially is that if you do nothing the new law will apply to you. So essentially whatever rights you have now under the current legislation would be changed if you do not do something positively that is notify the Governor General that is within a certain period which we have agreed now, which is one year that you wish to stay with the current legislation.From a purely legal point of view, my preference was, my suggestion was, to have the option to move to the new formulation, or the new legislation as a matter of exercising an option where as the old legislation would apply if you did not exercise the option. I was persuaded, Mr. Speaker, the argument that was put forward in favour of it, of the current formulation which is to say that the new law will apply if the police officer does nothing and the right to retire at 50 would essentially be lost, that is if you do nothing. That as a matter of practicality as the vast majority of police officers will prefer the new legislation that it made practical sense to 39apply it to everyone and for those who do not wish to have it apply to them, which I am told will be in the vast minority would then exercise the option to stay under the old legislation.The argument has merit, Mr. Speaker, and taking it on its face, that this is the condition within the Police Force that most officers, the vast majority of them will prefer the new legislation. We, are prepared Mr. Speaker, to accept that. And we will hope as well that the government that the police hierarchy and the Police Association would take the obligation to inform members as to the effect of this draft legislation. That essentially, if you do nothing your rights change. That if you want to stay with the current situation you must do something; that means you have to notify the Governor General that you wish the current law to apply to you. That is to leave at 50 and have your pension. This is the situation. That is if you do nothing, that situation changes. So the onus is on you to do something, if you wish to retain the current right and if you do nothing, the present legislation will apply to you. This is something, here, Mr. Speaker, that the relevant bodies, authorities that I mentioned, the hierarchy of the Police Force, the leadership, the government, that is the Minister of National Security and the Police Association must do for the members of the Police Force to ensure that they do understand what the legislation actually does.Mr. Speaker, 55 is still a very young age to retire and in many other countries the retirement age stands at 65 but it is better for those officers who wish to continue to serve than what we have currently. Mr. Speaker, I hate to think that if I am a member of the Police Force and I had not risen, I would have had to retire by now, and I do not myself by any ways washed up. I feel like I am just getting started, Mr. Speaker. So, I am sure that there are many members of the Police Force who feel the same way, and are in better shape than I am and who wish to continue to do service for their country. And this, in some measure allows them to do that to continue to serve for an additional five years and then to take their pension at 55.Mr. Speaker, there are other things that are obviously are needed, to ensure that we get the best people joining the Police Force and that when they become a part of the Force that they continue to do their best. Because one of the criticisms that you hear of the police, and it is not just in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but elsewhere as well, that you know ordinary citizens become transformed once they put on the uniform, and somehow become a different person once they join the Police Force. Well to me the difference really ought to be only in terms of your professional duty that you do as a police officer but it does not mean that you have to be an unkind person, that you have to be impolite, that you have to be arrogant, that you have to feel that you are the law, rather than the enforcers of the law. None of that goes with good policing. And I know that most police officers, Mr. Speaker, the mass majority of them feels that way. And we as a society have to encourage them to ensure that we get the best out of them because it is not an easy job.You know, in many other countries, police officers they do not live at the police station, they go home to their families and then they come back to work like everybody else. But here we have people who are posted to various parts of the country. Some separation from their families, from their communities and they serve and they do it with distinction in most cases.So we Mr. Speaker we recognize in this legislation that it is a small measure of appreciation for the service that they do, and a recognition and an answer to the call that they themselves have been making for the extension of their retirement age. It is a recognition too of a benefit for the police service, for the government in general,40because you have people with experience who can continue to serve for an additional length of time. And Mr. Speaker, this can only redound to the benefit of the Police Force as a professional unit, to the government and to the country as a whole.We on this side of the House we support the legislation and I have noted the concerns that are raised and I am prepared to support the bill because I believe the intention is one that we on this side of the House support fully and that the draft as presented will achieve that. And hopefully the fears that are raised initially will never materialize and that all the police officers will opt to go with the new scheme, which is that you retire at age 55 and that you get your pension at age 55 and that it will improve their lives and that it will improve the police service. Mr. Speaker, with those comments we on this side of this Honourable House do support the legislation. Thank you.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Further debate. Honourable Senator Cummings.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I crave this opportunity to make a few brief remarks on the amendment to the bill. I will like to start, Mr. Speaker, by observing that in the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force one enters as a constable at least after six months of training I believe. And one can move to a Corporal, a Sergeant, a Station Sergeant, an Inspector, Assistant Superintendent of Police, Superintendent of Police, Assistant Superintendent of Police, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Commissioner of Police. Theoretically, you ought to be able to move through these ranks. And therefore boggles the mind that anyone who enters and goes through this training and I know in formative years, one went to Barbados and did similar training until it was brought home here. But it was really intensive training. And that if one serves 25, 30 years and cannot move two times, then there is an inherent problem; a very serious problem.Mr. Speaker, we are often told of a report done by a retired commissioner in Barbados, Mr. Orville Durant. And on this side of the House we have made numerous requests to be privy to that report. I want to say Mr. Speaker, if there is one thing that I have learnt in the field of management over the years is that sometimes the best advice to get is not necessarily from those who have been directly involved. It is best sometimes to get persons who are not directly involved in police service but who have some parallel experience. Although we on this side, Mr. Speaker, in principle, support the amendment because we believe that persons at this age have a contribution to make, we believe that it is more like a window dressing and there is a more fundamental issue that needs to be resolved and to be resolved carefully and deliberately.I listened with interest to the presentation made by the Honourable Prime Minister with respect to training and in particular to the idea of bringing in people at another level with requisite training and to give them the experience on the job. And I totally appreciate the importance of this. However, Mr. Speaker, the Police Force as it is presently comprised is reflective of years of problems and I need to make the point that this is not a problem that is entirely the making of this administration; the police have been plagued with difficulties stemming back a long time. I believe that one of the pillars of the problem has to do with the recruitment mechanism that people need to go through a more rigorous screening and I am not just talking about academics eh. A more rigorous screening for character it is an institution I believe that discipline must be at the forefront.41And if you have a history of deviant behaviour, every effort must be made to ensure that you do not get the opportunity of entering an institution of this kind.Mr. Speaker, I remember an institution that I worked with several years ago, it had a very dynamic problem of a similar nature. We were plagued with the idea of whether we should bring in people with O’ Levels and A’ Levels, to take over supervisory positions in the field and we had to throw that out of the window and we embarked on a programme carefully planned and executed for the purpose of raising the consciousness. Not just the education, but the consciousness of the field staff. And I am pleased to say that that has borne tremendous fruit to the point where people who were meter readers, in one case it is now a very qualified civil engineer. Where people who could not read and write properly within three years were able to read and write to the point of passing O’ Levels in English Language and mathematics. And so we were able to blend the technical skills with the requisite level of reporting and administrative capabilities through the results of improving substantially customer service to the country and more importantly in my mind, creating a culture of people who look forward not just to coming to work but being a very useful citizen in society.I say all of that to say Mr. Speaker, that I believe that the Police Force, needs some serious, serious reworking and I do not agree with the Prime Minister’s statement that it is a matter for the police, including the hierarchy of the Police Force. I believe that oftentimes people get placed into positions, they have a cadre of skills and expertise, but they often fall short in the critical human skills. And I can just imagine, Mr. Speaker, that in an institution like the police it must be an extraordinarily herculean task to manage the variety of people, of various backgrounds, who work in such at times very horrible conditions, the stress that these people go through. It is no wonder there would be strife and fears and so it requires additional assistance to work with hierarchy of the Police Force, for they themselves to attain a level of training and understanding in human skills. And to work with all the rank and file to help them to adjust to what must be a very challenging situation.So, Mr. Speaker, in short, the police it has often been said reflects our society, we clearly have the good, the bad and the ugly. That so many of our policemen and women can serve this number of years and cannot reach to the level of sergeant, in my mind is indicative of a very serious problem and while this adjustment would help, I see it as merely band aid on a festering problem. I thank you.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Further debate? Honourable Senator Fife.HONOURABLE MICHELLE FIFE: Mr. Speaker, I rise to give my unwavering support of the Police (Amendment) Bill. I wish to begin today by reminding all Vincentians that the ULP administration has their interests at heart and continues to work tirelessly on their behalf to ensure that their interests are recognized and addressed. Mr. Speaker, as I expound upon the Police (Amendment) Bill, I trust that the police officers who are listening will address their minds to the changes and the progress that is being made in relation to them.The intent behind the Police (Amendment) Bill 2010 is to amend the Act, Mr. Speaker, the Police Act, Chapter 280 in the Revised laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. And the purpose of the amendment is to increase the retirement age of constables and non- commissioned officers below the rank of sergeant of the Police Force. Currently, pensions are granted to those officers, Mr. Speaker, but the amendment seeks to increase the age from 50 to 55 as set out in clause 3. And there is a very good case for amending the Act. And we remind you,42Mr. Speaker, that those who wish to retire at the age of 50 may do so by putting their request in writing to the Governor General within one year of the passing of the amendment, Mr. Speaker.Mr. Speaker, this administration is devoted to safeguarding Vincentians from external pressures, especially against the backdrop of a global economic recession. We are devoted as we always have been to good government and the improvement to the quality of life of Vincentians generally. And we openly embrace any amendment to any act that will assist us in achieving that on-going objective.We are cognizant of the fact, Mr. Speaker, that there are events that occur from time to time which may discourage our police officers. But we are encouraging them to hold on in there and to do their best even as we continue to do our best on their behalf.Mr. Speaker, this administration has sought to alleviate and continues to alleviate the hardships that come with financial difficulty by devising a socio-economic strategy, which can be applied in a practical way to propel this nation forward to a higher plane of greatness while touching the day-to-day lives of Vincentians. This administration has a part to play now and a part to play for the future and this amendment seeks to extend a hand to those policemen and women who serve us faithfully below the rank of sergeant but who have attained the age 50 years old.Mr. Speaker, I do not wish to stand here and consider this amendment bill in isolation of the other benefits that have been afforded to the members of the Police Force. We are cognizant of the fact, Mr. Speaker, that the conditions precedent for higher salaries and opportunities to improve oneself in the force is hard work. And we recognize the contribution of our policemen and women in civil society and we are rewarding them accordingly.For the past nine years, Mr. Speaker, we have carried the torch for continued improvement for policemen and women for salary increases and if I may, Mr. Speaker, I wish to reflect upon such salary increases. In 1998, Mr. Speaker, a constable at the highest scale began by earning $14,880.00 per year. There was a 3.5% increase in 2001 which allowed him to earn $16,752.00. There was an additional increase, Mr. Speaker, of 4.25% in 2002 which allowed him to earn $17,464.00; an additional increase in 2004 of 4% which allowed for a constable to earn $17,964.00 per year, Mr. Speaker. And there was another additional increase of 3% in 2005 which allowed a constable to earn $18,163.00 and the increases continued to date where a constable in 2010 Mr. Speaker, can now earn $25,212.00. And the same principle applies to the corporals who began in 1998 at the top of the scale earning $20,244.00 a year and whom to date in 2010 Mr. Speaker, earn $30,972.00 per year.Now, I do not wish to drown the House with numbers and percentages, Mr. Speaker. However in analyzing the comparison of salary scale of the Police Force over the past 9 years. That is the nine years the ULP administration has governed, from the year 2001 to date we see an average annual increase of 65% for constables earning at the lowest level and a 45% increase for those at the top of the scale, Mr. Speaker. Likewise, for corporals a 48% increase at the lowest level of the scale and a 41% increase for those at the highest. And just elaborate on this point, Mr. Speaker, the trend continues for sergeants, earning a 36% increase at the lowest and highest scales, Mr. Speaker. And we have Station Sergeant who obtained a 35% increase at the lowest scale and 37% at the highest with sub-lieutenants and lieutenants earning a 38% increase at lowest scale and a 40% increase at the highest and so on and so forth. And of course we cannot forget the Lieutenant43Commander or Superintendent of Police or Prisons earning a 43% increase at the lowest level of the scale and 47% increase at the highest level of the scale.Mr. Speaker, those were the increases over the past nine years. Those were the benefits and increases over the nine years, Mr. Speaker. And these are the public servants, who have been branded stupid, Mr. Speaker, for demanding a 30% increase about 10 years ago. These are the public servants who were allegedly to have “trap themselves” Mr. Speaker. Every police officer who was employed before 2001 and indeed those who are currently employed have received steady increases to their salaries over the past nine years which has amounted to well over a 30% increase, Mr. Speaker. And seasoned politicians well past the age of 28 and indeed well past the age of 40, cannot look in the estimates, Mr. Speaker, and draw a proper and informed conclusion, instead of leading the public up the metaphorical path of ignorance, Mr. Speaker.Mr. Speaker we have to consider as well, the new and improved working conditions generally. We cannot forget the construction and the rehabilitation and reconstruction of all the police stations throughout the length and breadth of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. In addition to the increased opportunity for self-improvement through fiscal incentives and policies which allow for 100% mortgages, and the pursuit of studies. In addition to that, Mr. Speaker, there is now this amendment to the act; the amendment to the Police Act, Mr. Speaker, which allows the retirement age of constables and non-commissioned officers below the rank of sergeant to now retire at the age of 55. Moments in our history, Mr. Speaker, require us to make important decisions and this is one such moment. The decision that we are taking, Mr. Speaker, will directly impact upon the lives of our policemen and women in their career for years to come. This administration, Mr. Speaker, is ensuring that the policemen and women of tomorrow will have cause to rejoice that we did not forsake them at the age of 50. The message we are sending Mr. Speaker, is loud and clear. There is room for the individual. There is room for the police officer, the constable or the non-commissioned officer, there is room for his talents, his requirements, his wishes, even after the age of 50 and we are seeking to protect his interests, Mr. Speaker.Naturally, Mr. Speaker, this increase in retirement age will bear a cost to the government, in relation to the Consolidated Fund, and it is a cost that we must bear, Mr. Speaker. But it is a sacrifice that we are willing to make, and it is our way of giving back to our police officers who have contributed to civil society, our police officers who are mandated to protect and serve. And while there are a few officers who overstep their boundaries in executing their duties, Mr. Speaker and while there are others who seemingly take a lackadaisical approach in exercising their day to day duties; this is an occurrence in almost every profession, no one can doubt that the majority of our policemen and women work hard to protect and serve and to ensure that order is maintained in the rest of civil society. Whenever there is an emergency, Mr. Speaker, in relation to crime, the police officers are the first to respond in often hazardous situations and it is quite unfortunate that they seem to be on the receiving end of some of the most worst criticisms in the newspapers and on the radio; especially, in situations which tend not to readily occur daily.Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to the continued improvement of the Police Force. And will continue to invest in our police officers and in all of our endeavours Mr. Speaker, with every policy that was formulated, with every bill that was debated, we seek to move this nation forward to greatness, unafraid. And greatness, Mr. Speaker, is not in the territorial size of a country, or in the number of people residing therein, greatness lies in the vision of our leaders and this ULP administration has a vision; a vision of peace, of health,44wealth and prosperity and with that vision the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines will not perish. I give my wholehearted support to the Police (Amendment) Bill 2010 and bid it safe passage through this Honourable House. Obliged, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Further debate? Honourable Senator Leacock.HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Mr. Speaker, thank you, very much, as I rise to make an unplanned contribution to this debate, Mr. Speaker. We are quite unaccustomed, Mr. Speaker, to be in this House on Fridays and there are a number of us who might quite prefer to be in other places late Friday evening, relaxing and unwinding.Mr. Speaker, sometimes when you come to this Honourable House, there is a sense in which you feel that the particular legislation that is before us for discussion or the bill that is before us for discussion, is one on which both sides of this Honourable House can easily find common ground. And that the better approach to that debate is one in which we seize the opportunity to emphasize as I like to say, that the things that unite us as a people are far greater than those which divide us.Interestingly enough Mr. Speaker, as we debate this bill at this time, Jamaica which is perhaps in the minds of some people, the den of violence in the Caribbean, you are seeing for the first time a level of cooperation between government and opposition over what is perceived to be a common enemy. And in this particular case, Mr. Speaker, the last time we appeared here in this Parliament one got the impression that the Honourable Prime Minister and the Honourable Leader of the House, along with the leading spokesperson for us on this bill, the Honourable Dr. Friday, Member for the Northern Grenadines were trying to resolve the nuances in the legislation so that we can go forward with this sort of unity of spirit. But I listened today to this presentation even as our Honourable Prime Minister conceded that it took some half an hour of preliminary debate to resolve some unresolved issues so that we could be at one, on this important subject matter, but I ended up being taken aback somewhat, Mr. Speaker, in the extent of which the presentation seemed to be one of an appeal, a reaching out, a lobbying, a virtual campaigning for support from the policemen and women. And then I listened to the last contribution with the usual approach to lambaste and denigrate and pull down the New Democratic Party in some instances and to highlight and emphasize the glorious years of the ULP administration, the one ‘man upship’ that kind of thing, and I wonder why we really had to go that way.Mr. Speaker, you know I am going to break with a promise of my own family to tell you how I fell on this matter. Yesterday evening I had a call, and I almost did not take that phone call because I am trying to slow myself down a little bit and get some rest, but fortunate it was my son. He is calling me from the US Marines. He went to school in 1996 at the Virginia Military College. He left the United States went to England and served in the Royal Marines, returned to the United States rejoined the United States Marines. In 14 years of career having gone to Iraq twice, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland; he is now an officer in the US Marines. He has just applied for a position for logistics, and he said because he has been at the top of his class consistently, they have decided that he should be in the gunnery section and he gone now for a one year course to a six months course, now off to another six months course. He is an officer in the principal force in the First World. If he was here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the Police Force, he may well have still been a constable. Because I know of many of his colleagues who are in this Police Force here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines45from the Cadets who joined there and are still constables, in the First World, in the first army of the First World he is an Officer – opportunity, because there is something systematically wrong with the way we do things.Senator Cummings made a contribution that I want to revisit and emphasize, the piecemeal bandage approach which we are bringing here today. This all could have passed you know, but we have heard repeatedly budget after budget that there is an Orville Durant Report. We in the Opposition have not had the courtesy of that report up to now. And I am sure, very sure, it has been a report to make constructive and whole scale changes to the Police Force, over the same period of time we have had consultants to the Commissioner of Police, National Security Advisor to the Commissioner of Police, and now we still seem to have problems.Mr. Speaker, I am not here to be lectured on these matters because I have had the privilege at times, Mr. Speaker, when I was the Commander of the Auxiliary Police Force to be a lecturer at the Police Training College here for years. So I have some background in this exercise. And I also spoke up to recently, because I have lost my years, one or two years when I was still at the Grammar School then whom we have been instrumental to have Lieutenant Commander Robin leave the Grammar School as a Cadet to go to England along with others, Cambridge, Theobalds and I think Corea from Sion Hill to form the Coastguard Service. So I speak here as one who has been intimately involved with the police as a Commandant of the Cadet Force, of the Auxiliary Police Force and the formation of the Coastguard Police. Senator Cummings made a point that cannot be lost upon us and this does not take away from our support for the legislation, but look at the situation because it can so happen and perhaps in fact the case because Commissioner Miller is the Commissioner of the Police today.I am pretty certain that there are people in the service who joined before him and perhaps persons who joined at the same time with him, but how do you explain, a person, two people joining the Police Force an organization and one can move in 30 or 35 years over one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten positions from a non-commissioned officer to be the top cop in the Police Force, while another individual perhaps a similar level remains a constable. Now I do not think that is an inherent failure or weakness of an individual himself, I also think it is a systems failure. And that is what Senator Cummings was raising. And perhaps rather than bringing a Band-Aid approach we need to have gone whole scale in what the proposals that were coming here. If I thought that is what we were discussing I would have had a different approach to the whole debate. That is we need whole scale review of the Police Force. I know that they have been trying to bring in Human Resource Development Department in it, I have listened at times where they have at times seem to brought in experts from outside, consultants from outside to train and educate the Police Force because some of us are persona non grata in our own country. But we do in fact have a crisis on our hand, Mr. Speaker and if you listened to this ‘Alice in Wonderland’ kind of story of how salaries have jumped from one level to the other level. Police stations have been built and rebuilt, coastguards to be delivered, then all that is necessary to say and we live happily ever after. We will live happily ever after. Remarkable! Remarkable! As important as they are.Mr. Speaker, in support of my argument I go to the very Poverty Report that we are talking about page 121, under the section 11.3 Crime and Violence and I beg your permission to quote on two, three or four occasions from this document. It says that the PPA, that is the Participatory Poverty Assessment identified crime and violence as a major problem in the society. This is the report, and let me go the cover for 2007, 2008, seven or46eight years into the administration; a milk and honey Police Force, crime and violence is still a major problem within the society.The report goes on to say, Mr. Speaker, using the participatory approach, “only 64%,” well 63.8, but I have round if off, “of those who experience crime, said that they reported it to the police. With those who were poor, more likely to not report the crime to the police. Most persons noted that they had not reported the crime suffered because they had no confidence in the administration of justice.” You see the chest beating that is going on you, this chest beating. “This express of confidence was greater among those who were not poor,” among those who were not poor, Mr. Speaker, the figure was 60%, they did not even bother to carry the problem to the police, they had no confidence, what is that indicating, Mr. Speaker, the problem was on the justice side, or the law and order side. I make no indictment of our policemen. We have some fine police officers, but it is an indication that we have a lot of work to do. When asked about the level of satisfaction with the handling of crimes by the police, this is the report that we are being boasting about in this Parliament, most persons said that they were either dissatisfied that is 23.6% or very dissatisfied, 26.8%, that is a total of what 26 and 23, 50% highly dissatisfaction rate.In many instances we are told, Mr. Speaker, and I am not going to be drawn, because I know you too, Mr. Speaker, we may see later in the evening. In many communities there is a subculture characterized by the drug trade and by violence and crime in the PPA. Many community residents identified crime and violence including gang, gunning violence as common activities, and it appears that it is mainly young men who are involved in these activities and that the violence is linked to the violence in the drug trade, and they quote some recent reference, “there was a shootout if you had come earlier, you would have heard the shots.” “Miss, the shootout was right here, look the bullets still on the ground.” “I get shoot in my shoulder, look the bullets still there.” “I do not feel safe anymore. I does lock up from 5 o’clock.” Just quotation, because these are the people, these are not the statistical measures. These are the participatory responses.I go to these tables to show, Mr. Speaker, that we have a lot of work to do. The New Democratic Party has no objection, of enhancing and improving the life of any policeman, but rather than placing the emphasis on the twilight of their careers, Mr. Speaker, put it at the beginning. And since we are in the mood for politicking, Mr. Speaker, this New Democratic Party of which I am a member, we will recruit officers to Police Force in the prime of their life and change the officer culture. You do not have to wait until you are 40, 50 and 60 to compromise yourself to any politician. In your early 20’s if you want to be an officer, we send you to get a university degree. You go to the police colleges and come back here by 25, you are a career officer. That is how we will rebuild and remodel the Police Force. We will attend to the salaries and wages conditions as well, Mr. Speaker, because yes, like everyone else, we understand that a safe society is fundamental to social and economic development and we will not waver in that regard.Most of my contribution, Mr. Speaker, is just simply to say let us go back where we started with the original intention, let us put the emphasis on the greater good, on the thing that unifies us, Mr. Speaker, not on coming here to cheap politicking. Nobody can lecturer us over here, we are in fact the police. Much obliged, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Further debate, Honourable Minister of Tourism. 47HONOURABLE GLEN BEACHE: Much obliged, Mr. Speaker. I really did not mean to debate this afternoon. But there are times when you hear certain things and you really have to speak your mind. I listened to the Opposition debate, I listened to the Honourable representative for the Northern Grenadines say certain things, I listened to Senator Cummings say certain things which went exactly against what some of the member for the Northern Grenadines said, then I listen to Senator Leacock speak certain things. Mr. Speaker, since this ULP administration has been in office, since this ULP.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Just a minute, he is moving on a point of order.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: The Honourable Member is misrepresenting what I said.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: What did he say that is misrepresenting.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: I never said anything in contravention of what the Honourable Member of the Northern Grenadines said. I supported everything he said and I did not differ with him.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Well, I do not see the point of order, to be honest with you. He did not quote any particular thing you said. He was just expressing an opinion. He said in his opinion, what you said might have gone contrary. If he had made a point in relation to something you said, then it would have been a different story. I do not see any point of order, here Sir. Could the Honourable Member move on?HONOURABLE GLEN BEACHE: Thank you, very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, since this ULP party has been in government, the Royal Police Force of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has not seen as many advancements in its history. And that is a fact. And when I listened to the opposition about what has taken place in this country, and if we go back to history, let us say since 1984 when they took office, it is a crying shame that the opposition can come into this House and speak about the Police Force as if they had it as a priority when they were in office.Mr. Speaker, let me speak about my own constituency. Stubbs Police Station full of woodlice before we came into office. Biabou Police Station full of woodlice before we came into office and bats. This is not an opinion, Mr. Speaker, this is a fact. They did nothing. You have heard the Honourable Prime Minister speak about the condition of police vehicles. In 2001 when we took office, the Police Department or the Police Force however you want to word it, Mr. Speaker, were in desperate need of vehicles. You get a call in the middle of the night and our Police Department here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines had no vehicles to go and see what is happening or to attend to a call, Mr. Speaker.That is a fact. Mr. Speaker, I listened to Senator Leacock carefully, you know. And I listened to him speak about us blowing our horn over here, and politicking. Mr. Speaker, I have a right to do that, because we stand by our record but if we are talking about blowing a horn. There is nobody in this Honourable House, Mr. Speaker, that blows their own horn more than Senator Leacock. Nearly in every debate, it is something about him personally that I have given myself up, or something about a lecture or about his son. Mr. Speaker every member in this Honourable House has a right to feel proud of their children. But, Mr. Speaker, this is not about them in here, Mr. Speaker, every country does things in a different way, I am not going speak about the American Armed forces because I am not that well versed on how they do things, and what it takes to become48an officer or anything like that, Mr. Speaker. But I do know, under the ULP administration it is the most police officers that have attended university in the history of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and it is because of this administration. And we continue to encourage them.Mr. Speaker, whenever an officer comes to us, you know, and he is interested in furthering his education, it is not only about police officers, Mr. Speaker, it is every single Vincentian. I mean, this is part of what the Education Revolution is about. I listen to some of the things that are said on the streets, and sometimes the police get a rough time from some of our own citizens. And I am one of them, Mr. Speaker, I am always in the corner of the police. They are not perfect, but none of us are in here, but Mr. Speaker, I honestly believe the job of the police officers here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines arguably the most difficult job to carry out in this country and that is why we have enhanced the Police Force so much since we have been in office. And we have enhanced it greatly.Mr. Speaker, we can go on and on about certain things but what it comes down to is this that everything we have put forward is in the best interest of our officers and of our Vincentians as a whole. It is not about self- proclamation. It is not about me offering myself as a lecturer and I have lectured up at the Police Training School on two occasions now, Mr. Speaker. All of have some education and some expertise in one way or the other, Mr. Speaker. It is not about my children, but to a certain extent it is, because as we enhance this Police Force, it is about their safety, and every Vincentian safety. I listened to the part that was read from the poverty report by Senator Leacock and about crime and poverty being a major issue. Mr. Speaker, if you read that that report of any Third Word or developing country, it will say something very close to that exactly the same thing; it is not any rocket science here. Of course, in a poor country, Mr. Speaker, it is going to be an issue, but I guarantee you that if you look at the history, if you look from 2001, and you look at what has been done in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, that you would have seen a gradual improvement over the years, to address these issues.Mr. Speaker, make no mistake about this you know one of the reasons why St. Vincent and the Grenadines is as respected as it is now, is because of the things we have done, not only with the police but internationally through the Prime Minister, through our Minister of Foreign Affairs. For once, Mr. Speaker, St. Vincent and the Grenadines is looked upon as a positive example in the international world. When we had Operation Vincy Pac Mr. Speaker, we had some people out there who were complaining about the police and what they were doing and even before that, Mr. Speaker, when we were having at the end of the year, when we used to have the police checking for license and that sort of a thing, you used to have some people complaining. But, Mr. Speaker, the people who are complaining you know, were very much in the minority. I had a lady from my constituency, who lost both legs. She was hit by a vehicle and she lost both legs, and it was an unlicensed vehicle. And that is why we take such care and we make sure that we can provide everything possible to make sure that the police do a great job.Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Prime Minister spoke about the ‘hotel’ police stations, about all the repairs that we have done, the vehicles; the mobile police stations. The fact that we now have more qualified people coming into the Police Force What the Honourable Senator Leacock is speaking about is nothing new. All a sudden the NDP is considering the police as very important. Mr. Speaker, before the NDP never used to take any advice when it came to the police. They appointed whom they wanted. We leave you if we know you are supporting49the ULP, you are not getting promoted. That was how things were done. Mr. Speaker, under this administration people have been promoted on their performance. That is how things were done. We made certain moves with police, coastguard, and immigration. Mr. Speaker, there are not many countries in the Caribbean where you can get your passport within seven days, you know. There are [not] many countries in the Caribbean where you can get your passport within seven days, in the world actually.As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, I can speak from my own experience. In Canada it takes you 15 to 30 days to get a passport. We get it to you here in seven days; and Mr. Speaker, these things have not come cheap. All these things are part of the security issues that we have to deal with. So, Mr. Speaker, you know, before some of us speak we need to know exactly what is going on. We need to speak to the same people that we are speaking to. We need to speak to the police officers, hear what their opinions are. Because if you speak to police officers right now, Mr. Speaker, they would tell you that what has been done for that Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force in the past nine years, nothing was accomplished anywhere close to it in the 17 years before that. Much obliged, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Further debate? Honourable Prime Minister.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank all Honourable Members for their contribution to this debate. And in winding up the debate I would like to say, quite generously to the Honourable Senator Leacock that his contribution was indeed unplanned, and really took us on an excursion which basic analysis would show, comparative analysis would show that he does not understand what he is reading. First of all this report has to be read in the extent in the reduction of poverty. And it has to be read in terms of the relationship between poverty and crime; poverty and criminal activity. In 1996 the same people, Kairi Consultants who did this report in 2007/2008 and if I may just add parenthetically, the study was done during this period. The report was not prepared in this period. I just want to make that correction that was said earlier that is was there for two years. Not so at all. Anyway, I make that as an aside.Indigence in 1996 under the New Democratic Party was 25.7% of the population, that is to say about 26,000 persons in this country, lived in indigent, dirt-poor poverty. In 2007/2008 it was 2.9% call it 3,000 persons. And Mr. Speaker, I want us to note the year 2008, that is the year when oil prices went through the roof, when food prices skyrocketed but even during that period when they were doing the research it was still 2.9% of indigent. And when the figure that only 64% of those who experienced crime said that they reported it to the police, this is a number that is not out of sync of what happens throughout the world. When you read something by a consultant, you have to take data which is also comparative outside of the confines of this document.Now I would wish that you had more that 64% of the people who would report a crime but 64% of the people who report crimes that is not an insignificant number. In any event the report does not state and it is quoted by Senator Leacock as to which crimes are not reported, are the serious crimes unreported, is just what you may consider crimes of a lesser order. Clearly, if you have a society in which the serious crimes are not being reported you have a problem. But if you are addressing a series of petite crimes the issue is of a different type. So let us please, when we are going to be academic, on this issue, when we are going to be analytical and you come to the House, come to the House and talk in a manner reflecting of a trained mind.50And do not cast aspersions about persons who are defending the record of a government, that this means that we are being pejorative towards the New Democratic Party, as we are making a simple set of comparisons in relation to a series of data and so too was the Honourable Senator Fife, who was addressing primarily the issue of a movement in Wages and Salaries. That to me is a legitimate exercise. What she is saying showing that there are milk and honey; of course no. One would wish that instead of 65% salary increase on an average that it was 100%, or 120%, but 65% by any measure particularly in a decade which began with 9/11 and ended with the worst economic crisis for 80 years that that is a performance of which any government can be justly proud.Mr. Speaker, I have addressed during the budget period and the Honourable Minister of Social Development had done so on another occasion. Criminal activity generally in St. Vincent and the Grenadines has declined under the Unity Labour Party administration. Indeed, except for two occasions when there were spikes in relation to homicides the numbers have come down to the levels as in the 1990’s. Indeed, in some years below those numbers and today in the English Speaking Caribbean, the Eastern Caribbean, in the OECS the homicide rate is far less in St. Vincent and the Grenadines than in any other country inside of the OECS.In St. Lucia the Kenny Anthony administration was traduced on the question of the homicide rate and the incoming government promised that they were going to reduce that. You know in St. Lucia for the year thus far, there are 20 homicides almost every single one of them drug-related, gang-related, a magistrate being shot in broad daylight; a prosecutor being shot in broad daylight. That is what is happening in St. Lucia. In St. Kitts with one-third of our population, there are already 13 or 14 murders for the year including most of them being drug and gang-related. That has not happened in St. Vincent and the Grenadines this year.And when this government took a strong stance to ensure that there is no territorial space, in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, controlled by those who want to be like ‘Dudus’ on the NDP radio station, the Prime Minister and the police and the government were attacked. Those are the facts. I made it plain that what we are dealing with were organized criminal gangs with guns and cocaine and marijuana. And I made out the case, and that we must not confuse what we are dealing with, with the noble ganja farmer of 20, 30 years ago. So if the Honourable Senator Leacock wants to open those things. I am prepared for that debate. I am prepared for all of those debates. And put them before the people and let them make the judgment as to who is most serious in dealing with the issue of crime; because that is an issue that is going to before the people, which government is more attentive to the Police Force; which party has the best policies in that regard. That is an issue which will before the people. And to tell me how many years that you are a Cadet and how many years you teach at the Training School, all of those things are just pure ego thumping, with absolutely no connection to public policy. So let understand this with clarity.Mr. Speaker, when we were addressing the issue of money laundering, in relation to a couple of persons and certain searches were being done; including a search at the premises where a member of the executive of the New Democratic Party was working they said it was a political thing. I had nothing to do with it. The police were following their intelligence which they gathered; that is what they were doing. An NDP activist at a hearing to address an extradition in relation to someone allegedly involved to be involved in serious drug trafficking was seen from his SUV distributing drinks, soft drinks and beers outside of the Magistrate’s Court to a group who had assembled “Dudus” style to defend the person who was before the inquiring magistrate. So do not talk to me about these things. If anybody thinks that I will breaks on addressing these questions. I can say51that because I have been in the law courts over 20 years throughout this Caribbean and dealing with criminals, representing them too, that I understand the criminal mind, more than anybody over there on the other side in this Parliament. But I am not going to talk about my exploits as a lawyer and in that regard. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, what we are doing.Mr. Speaker, I want to thank Senator Cummings about making an important point about recruitment and screening. It is a matter of concern to me. And I have discussed with the Commissioner of Police, I have discussed with Sir Vincent Beache, with the National Security Advisor and Permanent Secretary Pompey that what we must do in respect of the recruitment of persons, not only the academics but we have now trained persons who can make psychological assessments that we must factor that in more profoundly. Some of it is being done but we must factor it in more profoundly so that we can get the best to what is available come into the Police Force. I must say one of the difficulties that we are having now, is recruiting good, quality men, young men, there are far more quality young women who are applying to join the Police Force, but of course one has to make sure that there is a proper gender balance in carrying out of the duties in the Police Force.Now, I do not and I cannot agree that by bringing this bill that we are having a band-aid on a festering problem. Now, there are human resources issues and there are issues relating to promotion and service and this bill cannot by itself solve those challenges. But this bill is part and parcel of a process. No one said that this bill is the only thing that is being done. I mentioned a range of other things.Indeed one of the central points, which were made, by both Senator Leacock and Senator Leacock is to support me in terms of the recruitment of persons at the officer corps level. But I want to suggest that the recommendation of Senator Leacock in the context of the Police Force in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a reckless one in terms of its implementation. If you take a dozen 20 year olds and send them, off to be trained and bring them back with their university degrees in whatever area. And send them to the academies and put them at an officer corps above a solid sergeant who has 20 years inside of the force and you make that person an ASP and put that person to be in charge of a district or a police station, you are going to have so many consequential difficulties. This is not an issue for a bull in a China shop approach. This is not an issue for a hatchet or a cutlass, this is one metaphorically for a scalpel. It has to be done in a very sophisticated manner taking into account the environment in which the management tool or the management initiative or that component to assist with the management, that is to say an officer corps how it is introduced within the Police Force. Indeed, you need to have a proper mix. What we are doing we are training many persons.HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Honourable Prime Minister, Mr. Speaker, is misrepresenting the proposal I brought before this House which simply addresses the need for us to give attention to introducing an officer corps in the Police Force. There is nothing in my representation could remotely represent of being reckless and irresponsible in terms of advancing the management structure of the police organization. And I think the Prime Minister ought not to be suggesting in this Honourable House that my contribution was directing to being reckless or being in disregard of how we can improve management structure.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: All right, Honourable Prime Minister. 52DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, you note that there is no point of order, it was an occasion for him to try to back track from an unplanned presentation.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I just want to draw your attention to as he said, point of order, with really is not a point of order, but if you are misrepresenting him in anyway, I am asking you please to desist from doing so.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, I will say I have been very generous, and I have been in a state of restraint in commenting how I truly feel about the proposal. I have not used language sufficiently strong in relation to the proposal which he has made. Because let us not forget, Mr. Speaker, he said, he gave us the history of his son whom I am quite sure is an admirable officer and I congratulate him for having such a wonderful young man. He said that if he were in St. Vincent he would have perhaps been a constable or a corporal. And that what you need is to have a lot of those young people, you send them off to academies and let them do their degrees and come back and put them in and he said that we in the NDP will do that. The record is there, the transcript is there. There is no question about it. I wrote it down. I heard it. I was amazed by the recklessness of this proposition.Now, what we need to do, is that we have persons in the Police Force, in their 20’s, in their 30’s and in their 40’s who are in the process of acquiring or have acquired matriculation entry qualifications to go to universities or university level colleges with specialized training in police work broadly defined. We have to advance those persons so that they mix their experience with training which they are getting and I do not think the NDP understands, they do not know how the Police Force is functioning now you know. They do not know. I cannot here, Mr. Speaker, pose a question to persons who are not in the House, but I will say this. Inside of the security team of the Prime Minister, there is no less than half a dozen of the young men who have achieved their O’Levels for matriculation purposes or are in the process of doing so and every time I interact with them. This morning I was going up in the elevator with two of them, I said how your exams coming, he said, “well you know I have not gotten my results yet.” I asked the other one how they are coming. And that is happening across the Police Force. What I am speaking here, Honourable Senator Cummings, I heard your cross talk is really...HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Would the Honourable Prime Minister give way.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: I will give way to you.HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Thank you. Mr. Speaker, I just want the Honourable Prime Minister be prepared to clarify whether today he is suggesting to us that the level of backbiting politics in the Police Force is in fact worse than what exist now between the New Democratic Party and the ULP.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Oh, well, you really want to reduce this debate to trivia. I mean, really, really, this is what, ‘happy hour’; you want the drinks at half price. I mean really, really, you are not being serious. The point about it, Mr. Speaker, during the period of the New Democratic Party administration the extent of the backbiting inside of the force had reached to such extent that rank and file policemen were not obeying commands going higher up. You had a crisis then. You do not have one now, you have challenges, you have problems. The point I was making there is in this organization of 800 persons too53much in-fighting on matters which are trivial. And I made the comparison to what happened at the University of the West Indies for example, and I used to be amazed. It is the nature that when people are gathered like that for there to be a lot of vanity issues to come into play, who is carrying news on this one, who has a grudge, that that is a matter largely which has to be dealt with the police top and the bottom. Senator Cummings misquoted me by saying that I said the problems in the police force had to be dealt with the police.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Prime Minister you have ten more minutes to conclude your debate.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: I am obliged, Mr. Speaker. Because, you know, I have to correct these things. Because when they go on radio when there is nobody else to answer them they speak with such authority, and some people get carried away with this authoritative sounding of brass, as old Joshua used to say, signifying nothing.Mr. Speaker, we have improved the quality of the lives of the police officers, the Honourable Senator Fife did not address an important question. Those who are earning $25,000 in 2001 when we came to office they would have been required to pay personal income taxes on $13,000, those who are now earning $25,000, they are paying on $7,000 which is almost nil. I am talking about the constables. Now, we put additional monies in their hand and Senator Leacock as a good Catholic should be a witness to truth, as I am. He should acknowledge with honesty the tremendous contributions we have made in lifting the quality of the lives of the police officers, their training, their accommodation, the material circumstances, the opportunities for further advance. All of those things, and can make the point which I have made that great as we have done, not ‘Alice in Wonderland’ stuff there is still more to be done. Of course, there is more to be done. And we can talk about that, but please, you yourself, you were an advocate against the regime of Randolph Toussaint in the Police Force, you did not see that... in fact, partisans inside of your party was saying they wanted Leacock to be the Commissioner of Police. How many times you heard that, move him from VINLEC to there, he is a soldier man. But, of course you could not get past the ex-Prime Minister. You still cannot get pass him now because, but that is your problem and his, not mine. I am not going to create further difficulties for you in that regard. Because he has publicly stated that he will deal with you.Mr. Speaker, I beg to move that this Honourable House resolve itself into a committee of the whole House to consider the bill clause by clause.HONOURABLE MICHAEL BROWNE: Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion.Question put and agreed to.House went into committee. Bill passed committee stage with one amendment.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I beg to move that a bill for an act to amend the Police Act be read a third time by title and passed.HONOURABLE MICHAEL BROWNE: Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion. 54Question put and agreed to. Bill read a third time and passed.FIREARM (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2010DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I beg to move that a bill for an Act to amend the Firearm’s Act of 1995 and to provide for the establishment of a Fire Arm Licenses Board and to provide for other purposes, the aims and objects of the bill are in the long title and I so move.HONOURABLE MICHAEL BROWNE: Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion. Question put and agreed to.RESOLUTIONSSt. Vincent and the Grenadines Port Authority (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2010DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I beg to move the resolution standing in my name on the Order Paper. Entitled the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Port Authority (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2010.WHEREAS, by sections 51 and 72 of the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Port Authority Act (Chapter 373 of the Revised Laws of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, 1990 Edition) the Port Authority may make regulations for the control of traffic and the navigation of ships within the limits and approaches to the Port; and for prescribing the dues conditions and charges for any service or facility performed or provided by the Port;AND WHEREAS, regulations were made and published in the Gazette on the 18 day of May 2010; AND WHEREAS, section 72 (6) provides that all regulations made under the said Act shall be subject tonegative resolution of the House of Assembly;NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that this Honourable House pass the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Port Authority (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2010 by resolution.I so move. Mr. Speaker, this is where we just lay it.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Members seeing the motion needs no debate, having been move by a negative resolution.SUSPENSION55page55image17720DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, I know, it is now minutes to six I like some guidance, I am not a Seventh Day Adventist and I have no problem going on further. I do not know what is the sense of Honourable Members whether they wish to come back here on Monday for us to do this debate. I would like to get the one on the OECS Economic Union.You see, Mr. Speaker, St. Vincent and the Grenadines has been in the leadership of this issue and a tentative date has been put for the 18th of June for signature, it has been initialled already, but we have been asked. We have decided at the OECS authority, Mr. Speaker, quite properly to get an approval in principle at our Parliaments, the conundrum with which we [are] faced. I must be honest about it, even though when we pass it here we may not have signature on the 18th of June, because I spoke to one Prime Minister who went to his Parliament yesterday and did not take it. He said he is not going back to Parliament until the 18th of June. There is another one who has indicated to me that he has not done it either. I want to stick in terms of the decision which we took. So I would like really to do it, because I do not like us taking these decisions regionally and do not go ahead with them. And who to resist the OECS Economic Union is the principal show on the regional road at the moment, and I would not like us to not have it done.On the Tuesday we are having a video conference of OECS heads, to see whether we are moving ahead or not for the 18th. I want to get it done so we can say we have done our work here and whatever remains is just some tidying up. So Mr. Speaker, your guidance will help us, I do not know. I do not know, if we are going to debate this we are going to be here until 10:30, 11:00 tonight.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I am aware Prime Minister that we have at least two persons here who I know are Seventh-Day Adventist, the Sergeant-at-Arms and the stenographer, they are Adventist as well, I certainly respect their religious beliefs.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: I apologize, Mr. Speaker, I did not realize that they were Seventh Day Adventists. I do apologize.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: What did you say Senator Cummings? Oh, God will forgive them. But yes we cannot deliberately infringe on their beliefs. We got to respect their beliefs.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Monday at 10 o’clock. Accordingly, I move that this Honourable House do stand suspended until Monday at 10:00 a.m. Monday 31st.HONOURABLE MICHAEL BROWNE: Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion. Question put and agreed to.House suspended at 6:15 p.m. until Monday 31st May, 2010 at 10 o’clock.56