Fri., 4th Mar., 2010

No. 8 Fifth Session Eighth ParliamentFriday 4th March, 2010Prayers Election of Deputy Speaker Affirmation of Allegiance Oath/Affirmation of Allegiance Obituaries Congratulatory Remarks Confirmation of Minutes Announcements by the Speaker Statements by Ministers Paper Questions for Oral Answers Motion Bills AdjournmentSAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES THE PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES (HANSARD) ADVANCE COPY OFFICIAL REPORT CONTENTS Thursday 4th March 20101THE PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES OFFICIAL REPORTPROCEEDINGS AND DEBATES OF THE THIRD 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.EIGHT SITTING4th March 2010HOUSE 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 CABINETPrime Minister, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning, National Security, Grenadines and Legal Affairs Dr. the Honourable Ralph GonsalvesAttorney General Honourable Judith Jones-MorganDeputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Commerce and Trade Honourable Louis StrakerMinister of National Mobilisation, Social Development, Gender Affairs, Non-Governmental Organisations, Local Government, Persons with Disabilities, Youths and SportsHonourable Michael BrowneMember for Central WindwardMember for Central LeewardMember for West St. George2Minister of Education Honourable Girlyn MiguelMinister of Rural Transformation, Information, Postal Service and Ecclesiastical Affairs Honourable Selmon WaltersMinister of Health and the Environment Dr. Douglas SlaterMinister of Urban Development, Culture, Labour and Electoral Matters Rene BaptisteMinister of Transport and Works Honourable Clayton BurginMinister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Honourable Montgomery DanielMinister of Telecommunications, Science Technology and Industry Honourable Dr. Jerrol ThompsonHonourable Conrad SayersMinister of State in the Ministry of National Mobilisation, Social Development, Gender Affairs, Non-Governmental Organisations, Local Government, Persons with Disabilities, Youths and Sports Honourable Cecil McKie Minister of Housing, InformalHuman Settlements, Physical Planning Lands and Surveys Honourable Saboto CaesarHonourable Julian FrancisMember for MarriaquaMember for South Central WindwardMember for South LeewardMember for West Kingstown Member for East St. GeorgeMember for North WindwardMember for North LeewardMember for Central Kingstown Deputy SpeakerGovernment Senator Government Senator3Parliamentary Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office Honourable Michelle FifeHonourable Arnhim EustaceDr. the Honourable Godwin Friday Terrance Ollivierre Honourable Major St. Claire Leacock Honourable Daniel CummingsMinister of Tourism, Honourable Glen BeacheGovernment SenatorOTHER MEMBERS OF THE HOUSELeader of the Opposition Member for East KingstownMember for Northern Grenadines Member for Southern Grenadines Opposition Senator Opposition SenatorMember for South WindwardABSENT4ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY THURSDAY 4TH MARCH 2010PRAYERSHonourable Mr. Speaker, Mr. Hendrick Alexander, read the prayers of the House of Assembly.ELECTION OF DEPUTY SPEAKER DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, I beg to nominate HonourableConrad Sayers, Member for Central Kingstown as Deputy Speaker.HONOURABLE SIR LOUIS STRAKER: Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion. Question put and agreed to.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I therefore declare Honourable Conrad Sayers as being elected Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly.AFFIRMATION OF ALLEGIANCEHONOURABLE CONRAD SAYERS: I CONRAD SAYERS do solemnly, sincerely AFFIRM, AND DECLARE that I will well and truly serve Her Majesty QUEEN ELIZABETH THE SECOND, in the office of Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly. So help Me, God!HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I therefore declare Honourable Conrad Sayers as being elected Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly.OATH/ AFFIRMATION OF ALLEGIANCE OF OFFICEHONOURABLE CECIL MCKIE: I CECIL MCKIE do solemnly and sincerely AFFIRM AND DECLARE that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty QUEEN ELIZABETH THE SECOND, Her Heirs and Successors according to the Law. So help Me, God!5page5image12560 page5image12720 page5image12880OBITUARIES HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Leader of the Opposition.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Mr. Speaker, I rise to offer condolences to the family of the late ‘Scobie’ Taylor who passed away recently. Mr. Speaker, Mr. Taylor was well-known in St. Vincent and the Grenadines for his contribution to sports particularly football. All of us in this House are aware of his contribution in that regard and there have been many congratulations to him both on radio and in the print media since his passing.Mr. Speaker, at his funeral a few days ago, I was struck by one thing, and that is the love displayed by his family. It was a feature of his life that I was unaware of, but it was clear from the tribute paid by his children that he really was a wonderful family man. A person who held family meetings at least once a year in St. Vincent or outside of St. Vincent where everyone was required to attend and as his children described it, it was a time when he discussed with them, matters pertaining to the family and things about life generally, in one instance his children and encouragement to his wife and children. It really to my mind, Mr. Speaker, gave me a more complete picture of the man they call ‘Scobie’ Taylor. I wish simply to say to his family that we offer our sincerest condolences and we know that the God who guides us all will take care of him. Much obliged.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Senator Leacock.HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Thank you, very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I too rise to extend condolences to Sylvester ‘Scobie’ Taylor, and to a young footballer Matika Ferdinand. Mr. Speaker, I have known of Sylvester ‘Scobie’ Taylor very many years but my closest contact with him came in the year 1979. Mr. Speaker, for the benefit of the Girl Guides in the audience, 1979 may sound like stone age, history, but in 1979, Mr. Speaker, if I may take the opportunity to bring it to their attention, is turning out to be one of the most historic years for this blessed land of ours. It is the year in which the Soufriere erupted, it is the year in which we gained independence, it is also the year in which the sporting circles we broke through in football, and became second, as the second most powerful nation of football in the Caribbean and believe it was also the same year of the Union Island uprising. Very, very momentous incidents indeed, but, Mr. Speaker, back to the ‘Scobie’ Taylor story, in 1979 he was president of the Football Association as it was called then, and I was a young member then of that association, which gave yeomen service to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. And through his dedication, managerial know-how and personal commitment which was said at the funeral, went beyond himself but included his own household. Even the children having to prepare sandwiches, juice and to get them to the venues; and the way he commanded the respect of the players and other administration and marshalled the forces; I have no doubt in my mind that it contributed in large measure to the success St. Vincent obtained in Suriname, which then was a powerhouse in football in those days under the presidency of one Mr. Camper Veen who was later assassinated in unfortunate circumstances.6page6image27968Mr. Speaker, I eventually replaced ‘Scobie’ Taylor in 1981 as president of football. And others subsequently replaced me. The passion for football for ‘Scobie’ Taylor was as such, that he could never take himself away from the sport and while it may be controversial, it is true, that successive presidents always had ‘Scobie’ looking over their shoulders to make sure that the sports he loved so much was well served. In fact, at his own expense he would travel abroad to football missions and stay in nearby hotels to make sure that whoever had succeeded him was delivering administration in the way he would have liked. Sometimes it created a little uneasiness but that is only evidence of his passion.Mr. Speaker, as we have learnt in the tributes that were paid to him he also was involved in other sports, cricket, we were told at one time he travelled from St. Vincent to Barbados, and drove from airport to the grounds with his pads on, to St. Lucia, yes, with his pads on; and that he faced one ball and came out and advised the incoming batsman that the ball was swinging both ways.Mr. Speaker, in better times, I think an Honourable Member of this House shared a story with me of ‘Scobie’ Taylor who had fallen in love with a beautiful young lady [from] Park Hill and was determined that he had to sleep there under all circumstances, I believe on one occasion when he was making it back to Kingstown on foot he claimed that he saw some lights, I do not know if it was ‘Jack- o-Lantern or what, it was Colonaire, that person is giving away himself, Mr. Speaker, so I will end it there. And he doubled back to Park Hill, hoping he could spend the night with the love of his life, I gathered they accommodated him but not in the same room. And our good friend ‘Scobie’ never tried that stunt again. That is on the lighter side.Mr. Speaker, ‘Scobie’ had sons that became very good footballers. His son Carlson Taylor I know played for Grammar School, outstanding centre forward as we called them in those days. And Gilbert, the other son was also an avid footballer; he played for the Dreads Team in Calliaqua. I also had the benefit of working along with his wife Anita who I understand is not so well. A wonderful lady, a wonderful, wonderful person Mr. Speaker, they say once a man, twice a child, in the latter years of his life things were not so pleasant for ‘Scobie’ but he soldiered on. I am sure now he has gone to a better place, and it is only left for us to pay proper respect for him. It is a little embarrassing last week he did not have the kind of attendance at the funeral that you would have expected. It is a reminder for us, how quickly, you can be forgotten.Mr. Speaker, in contrast to that, last Monday there was a funeral service for one Matika Ferdinand, a young footballer of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football team, I knew this young lady first, because I was president of the Football Association for a second time around, and I had accompanied that team to Puerto Rico, where they were playing in a football tournament. And then I subsequently followed her progress in development of football through the ensuing years. Now, her passing, Mr. Speaker, as I said on radio touched me and touched me very deeply, especially when I listened to the tributes that were given to her, which made me raise an eyebrow and I would not go into details, Mr. Speaker, sufficient for me to say, Mr. Speaker, that six to eight weeks ago, the young lady visited me for some assistance at my political office. It was a particularly bad day for me as a politician, as7indeed all of us, have in this House at times, people do not know sometimes what this thing of politics involves. I had about five, six, seven women, they are the ones who come to you most for assistance of one kind or the other and sometimes it could be heart wrenching, painful to deal with the kind of privacy and issues that come before you for assistance and could not move her up in the priority of list of assistance that day, but I did give her some assistance but I knew the young lady was in some kind of difficulty.Mr. Speaker, to fast forward, the last parliamentary session I was heading towards the Parliament around 9:30 and I saw that young lady on the street with her child going to the day care centre, and it was obvious to me, that I actually stopped, reversed and asked her what was wrong with her. And I looked at her and I knew that she was not well. And she gave me certain explanations and I said to her, see me on Monday so that I can arrange for you to go and get some proper medical checks to be on top of your situation. That was the Friday. The Saturday morning, Mr. Speaker, she died. I am told that she was at the Avenue’s event that same Friday night, which I also attended but I did not see her. Had I seen her, Mr. Speaker, I would have asked her to go home. I am saying that now. I would have asked her what she is doing there and she should go home. I probably should end the story there, Mr. Speaker. I just want to say that this is a young lady of tremendous talent and in her short period of life gave so much obviously, she needed help and a number of people missed the opportunity to reach out to her, in the way which may have saved lives. The story is like that, Mr. Speaker, when you are in politics sometimes you have to live with it and it pains you. I know, Mr. Speaker, she too has gone to a better place and I just want to salute her service to country and offer condolence to her family and the wider football community. Much obliged, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Obits. Any further obituaries? Honourable Member for North Leeward.HONOURABLE DR. JERROL THOMPSON: Mr. Speaker, I rise just to bring some brief condolences on the passing of Rosita Lewis. Rosita died at the age of 77. She was from Rose Hall, and she was well noted probably to be one of the last families that would have left an area we called Jack Hill to move to the new location of Rose Hall. Jack Hill is the former location of the people of Rose Hall when it was destroyed by an earlier hurricane. But Rosita Lewis was one of the notable seamstresses in that area, and I think she would be remembered for that particular talent; but she is also noted for having nine children and two of them in particular, Garry Lewis is the husband of a former senator in this House, Andrea Young, and also Glassly Lewis who was a principal of the Thomas Saunders and in the past the Barrouallie Secondary School. She would be missed and she is a very close friend and I bring these brief condolences on her behalf. Thank you.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I ask of Honourable Members as you address this House that you speak into the mike so that the stenographer and those who are doing the recording can get your voice. Sometimes they do have difficulties when they have to transcribe what is being said Honourable Member for Central Kingstown.8HONOURABLE CONRAD SAYERS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise to give sincere condolences on behalf of Mrs. Rita Lyttle better known as Sister Lyttle. She was the pastor of the Miracle Tabernacle Church. She was from the area of Lodge Village, and has been in the Ministry for about 40 years. During that period you can, hear, Mr. Speaker, you can hear persons of all walks of life and various locations in the country, telling you that they are heading to Sister Lyttle’s prayer room. Indeed that was a prayer room that was frequented by many; of various needs and who have further testified that they have had those needs met. She lost her husband in 2008; I understand that he had been a tower of strength to her, in those days of ministry. He, himself not being a follower of such but was there to take her as far as North Windward to do ministry work. Her seven children indeed would miss her dearly, as well as the other relatives and friends and I would like to express the desire that those who were part of the assembly would continue in her name that great work that they would work together in harmony. They would let the Lord lead and guide in terms of who should be the real leader of that assembly and that the families will feel consoled that she has gone to a better place because the scripture says, precious in the sight of the Lord, is the death of a saint. And she has gone, but Mr. Speaker, she would not be forgotten because she has left a legacy of the spiritual work and blessing. One thing, about her, Mr. Speaker, is that she had committed herself to praying for every government who served this country during her time of ministry. She understands the scriptural principle of obeying those who have the rule over you, and praying for those in authority. And Mr. Speaker, I know she would rest in peace. I thank you.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Any further obits? Honourable Senator Mc Kie; hold the mike close to you.HONOURABLE CECIL MCKIE: Mr. Speaker, it would be remiss of me not to rise to identify with the two stalwarts in the sporting field who would have also passed on recently. And I speak of no other persons than Sylvester ‘Scobie’ Taylor and Matika Ferdinand. I think there are a lot of lessons that we could have learnt from the lives of these two individuals and that we can move forward and use as an inspiration in the field of sports, in particular our young persons.First of all Sylvester ‘Scobie’ Taylor was a little man but a giant of a man. And just to add some details to what would have already been mentioned ‘Scobie’ actually served as president of the Football Association for seven consecutive years from 1963. And then later as president in 1979 – 1980 in that period, a period when St. Vincent and the Grenadines a little nation would have shot to major fame in the Caribbean as super power in football. And at that time I think all Vincentians and the Caribbean stood up and took note that St. Vincent and the Grenadines would have been a major force to be reckoned with in soccer in the years to come. But even before he went into administration ‘Scobie’ arguably was the youngest person to have represented St. Vincent and the Grenadines at the national level because at the age of 14 he actually played for the national soccer team. And although he retired at a pretty early age before he got to the age of 30, he would have made a significant mark as a very nippy front striker. And in fact, there is claim that he would have scored six goals on two occasions representing St. Vincent and the Grenadines. So even before he got into administration he was an outstanding footballer. What we can learn from this is that although ‘Scobie’ who came from9Bottom Town in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, captained the Notre Dame team, although you may come from humble beginnings that you can achieve at the highest level both as a player and as an administrator. So what I would want us to do as a nation is to take ‘Scobie’ and use him as an example of what we ourselves as a nation can achieve going forward.Matika Ferdinand. I also attended the funeral of Matika as I did for ‘Scobie’ during the course of this week and the sentiments that were expressed indicated that here was a young lady who started to play football some four years before she died at 22, started not being able to kick a line as we would say, but in a very short time, because of her dedication, determination and discipline was able to shine as one of the bright lights in football, in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. So much so, that she was looked up to by even the senior players on the national female football team. She started on the under 19 team, and represented against Puerto Rico and later the under 23 competition against teams as Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada and Suriname. And I think we will all note that she was supposed to have left St. Vincent and the Grenadines and should be in Guyana right now representing the senior female national football team. So once again I would want to identify with the families of both persons and indicate that as a junior minister with responsibility for sports, that I will ensure that both persons are not forgotten but we can use them as an inspiration for the development of sports in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Indeed I think with sports we can. Thank you.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Any further debate. CONGRATULATORY REMARKSHONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Prime Minister.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I would first of all like to congratulate the Honourable Member for Central Kingstown on his appointment to the high office of Deputy Speaker. Mr. Speaker, Conrad Sayers has had a very distinguished career as a public servant and as a representative. He retired from the public service. He took early retirement at 50. There are people who still remember his agricultural information service actively.He was trained in the field of agriculture and in public administration and did excellent service in the Extension Division and Communications Division in the Ministry of Agriculture. He was, before his involvement in active politics, the leader of the Public Service Union, and was very active in that capacity. Indeed, he was in the leadership corps also of the Caribbean Public Service Union. He came into politics and immediately he was underestimated in Central Kingstown by persons who thought that he was not flamboyant, who thought he was not well grounded, and they were all the negative comments. Yet in 2001, he defeated two very flamboyant and persons who have served this country extremely well. Ken Boyea of the PPM and Joseph ‘Burns’ Bonadie of the NDP; it is very interesting that those two gentlemen are now very strong supporters of the Unity Labour Party. It appears as though the hand of Conrad is a blessed hand. And in 2005 again he was similarly underestimated and10page10image27336he defeated the NDP’s candidate. Of course, those who had been defeated in 2001 had taken the defeat graciously, and they were able to move forward in some dignity. Conrad Sayers served as a Minister of State and he did very good work in several portfolios which I held; and he represented this government at many important meetings of CARICOM, COTED, the heads of government, similar for the OECS, when for one reason or the other I could not attend meetings of the monitory council, he was appointed temporarily as a governor of the monitory council and again did excellent work. His judgment was splendid. He is a fine parliamentarian and I have absolutely no doubt, Mr. Speaker that he would serve magnificently as your deputy. So I congratulate the Honourable Member for Central Kingstown most sincerely and heartily.Mr. Speaker, I am also moved to offer profoundest congratulations to a new member of the ULP team. Mr. Speaker, the NDP would have liked to have had him. I understand that already in West St. George he has created a veritable political tsunami. He is washing all ahead of him, but rather than being a destructive tsunami, he is uplifting and elevating. Cecil ‘Ces’ McKie, Mr. Speaker, brings to this Parliament a range of experience, talents and characteristics, which I am absolutely sure that he would use to enhance the debate in this Honourable House and in his work as a Minister of State with special responsibility for youth and sports.Ces McKie was born, Mr. Speaker, to a very devoted Christian couple Clive and Doris McKie of Arnos Vale. And what is very interesting, and people are seeing it more and more, that Labour values spring quite naturally from Christian values. Labour values are not mean spirited. Labour values are good-natured. We look for the best in our people. Labour values are about uplifting and not pulling down. We are the kingdom values of peace and unity and love and these are values which come naturally to people of Labour, because they spring from what we have been taught; basic Christian values. And we see them in Ces McKie. So we see the reflection of humility and honesty, and integrity and discipline, fairness and a generosity of spirit.Now, he comes from a rich family tradition with service and he is always ready to be optimistic and positive. He has had a successful career as a banker and as an insurance executive. He has not come to politics, Mr. Speaker, because he lost his job somewhere and he is seeking revenge. No. He has come to politics from a cushy job as the Chief Executive of a very successful insurance company. If he was an individual concerned about feathering his nest or in search of revenge, he would not have been here. In fact, revenge is not in his vocabulary.His journey from a young man led him to the Arnos Vale Educational Sports and Cultural Organisation AVESCO, one of the finest and oldest community organistions in our country. It came into existence in 1958, and Ces McKie, Mr. Speaker, served on the executive of AVESCO for many years and his leadership was recognized in that he was president for several years. Indeed on no occasion did he actively seek the office of president but it was thrust upon him and on no occasion did he seek the presidency and lost. It reflects the support and goodwill he has had among his peers. He also served as president of the Rotary Club on various occasions on mainland St. Vincent and also on Bequia. And did yeomen service as a Rotarian.11Mr. Speaker, recently over the last three or four weeks we have had eight medical specialist, six surgeons and two other health workers, who came on the team from the United States of America; the international hospital for children. They have been coming for many years and one of the drivers of the international hospital for children, coming to St. Vincent and the Grenadines is Ces McKie. So the 300 operations which have been done since 2002 to the present time by these doctors free in excess of $14 million worth of surgery, in the areas of Ophthalmology, cardiac issues, Kidney, Orthopaedic Surgery.Mr. Speaker, if I may say parenthetically, these American doctors are working at the hospital when they come and not too far away Cuban doctors are also working at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital. Indeed in the surgery you have Cuban doctors working alongside the American doctors indicating that this nonsense about ideology have anything to do with the caring of the people, again a fundamental Labour value. And Ces McKie has been there in the forefront of all of this. We know his work with Ole George and Butcher, the walks here and also in Central Park in New York City. He has given service as vice president to the National Athletic and Football bodies. President of the SVG Masters Cricket Committee, member of the National Stadium Committee; Chairman of the National Sports Council; and he has also been involved in several other cultural organizations.Mr. Speaker, any political party, in any part of the world would be happy to have a man like Ces McKie in their midst. You see the fresh blood this is all part and parcel of the strategic vision of the Unity Labour Party. We see three of them here, Minister Saboto Caesar, Parliamentary Secretary Michelle Fife and now Minister of State Ces Mc Kie, and of course, Mr. Speaker, there are others. I believe for example, Mr. Luke Browne is creating quite a commotion in East Kingstown. But that is for another time and another day. Sincerely congratulate Ces McKie and wish him all the best.Mr. Speaker may I at the same time thank another young Labourite steeped in Labour values, who gracefully and graciously demitted the Office of Senator and Deputy Speaker to make way for Ces McKie and also Conrad Sayers. I speak of Rochelle Forde. Who has served in this Parliament with distinction and I do not believe that we have heard the last of her in public life, indeed she wrote me a warm letter recommitting herself evermore to a victory for the Unity Labour Party in the forthcoming general elections in which she hopes to play a prominent part. We thank her for her service.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Congrats, Honourable Leader of the Opposition.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: I wish to extend a warm welcome to Senator McKie to this Chamber; I do not know him very well, but I have heard quite a bit about him and also I heard some information from the Prime Minister a while ago. I do not know if he knows this but his mother was my teacher at the Richmond Hill School. A lady for whom I had the greatest respect and a person who demonstrated the values that we believe should govern our affairs. I knew her then as Doris, I believe she was Adams. Also know his father very well; because her father was a close friend of my own father, in other words they were family as a matter of fact. They were close friends. I therefore, welcome him warmly and I look forward to his contributions to this Honourable House.12Mr. Speaker, I also wish in this formal session of congratulations in our Parliament today to congratulate Kamla Persad Bissessar who recently won an overwhelming victory to become the Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago. She is the fifth woman in this region to come to such top leadership position following in the footsteps of Dame Eugenia Charles, Janet Jagan, Portia Simpson, Mia Motley and I believe that she too would make a very significant contribution to the development of her country and the region. We in St. Vincent and the Grenadines recognize the role that Trinidad and Tobago has played in the social and economic development of our country and our region. So we appreciate the importance of her victory. And as President of the New Democratic Party, I wish to offer her every success in her office, in consolidating the opposition in Trinidad and Tobago and securing victory in the next general elections in that country. Much obliged, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member for North Leeward. HONOURABLE DR. JERROL THOMPSON: The noble tradition of this House and I bringcongratulatory remarks to a centenarian Lyn Farrell Porter of Spring Village.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: The name?HONOURABLE DR. JERROL THOMPSON: Lyn Farrell Porter of Spring Village. Mr. Speaker, North Leeward is not one of the celebrated areas where we have had centenarians but we have had quite a few. And I always wonder if it is because of the natural environment that North Leeward tends to portray. I am not just talking about the waterfalls and the nature trail but certainly, Spring Village and the Cumberland Valley, you know it is one of those tranquil areas that I think can certainly add to longevity. But, she has been a long time resident of Spring Village. She was essentially a livestock farmer, farming cattle for most of her life. It is unfortunate though that she only had one child, and that child died when she was very young. So she had no grand no great grand, but she had many nieces and cousins and friends and the love of her community. Her vision is still fine, Mr. Speaker, she fell about a year or so ago and broke several bones. But she has regained her strength. She is now walking. She is sharp and witty and she has all her faculties. I certainly want to wish her continued long life and Mr. Speaker, the people of North Leeward in particular Spring Village and these representatives certainly express congratulations to Lyn Farrell Porter. Thank you.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Further congrats Honourable Member for West St. George.HONOURABLE MICHAEL BROWNE: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I would like with the words of congratulations to our new Senator Honourable Cecil McKie. I had few biographical details to what was said by the Honourable Prime Minister, Leader of the House, that Ces McKie was born on October 22nd 1961 those numbers have some significant. 1961 was the year when the prior constituency of St. George was split into East St. George and West St. George. So, 1961 saw the birth of Cecil McKie and the birth of the constituency of West St. George. October 22nd is significant because in 1935 in October the 1st we had the people’s uprising, and the riots were still in place and resonating in areas of Arnos Vale on 22nd.13Ces is the last of four boys that Doris Mc Kie his mother and Clive his father had and as you can see from his appearance he is obviously still a very, very young man. His mother taught me as been the case with the Leader of the Opposition, Doris Mc ie and we considered her one of the eminent educators in the history of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. I understand that she taught people like Dr. Kenneth John and Bassy Alexander and other persons like that. She has touched quite a number of people. But what is significant is that after she formally left teaching, she literally converted her home with the support of her four sons into a school for the community working particularly with the children of the poorer citizens of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. So as we heard from the Leader of the House, the Prime Minister, certain values which were transmitted via the family to persons like Ces McKie.His professional career spanned 19 years as a banker at the National Commercial Bank; when he left school, he went straight into banking. We will hear of some details in that regard at a certain time but trust me; those of us who are close to him, and know certain things would know he subjected to a lot of pressure at the time, even though he had won the top bankers award just before he demitted office at the bank, but more on that subsequently. He then had ten years in the insurance business, and I am proud to say he was my insurer and so we had a very good working relationship, and he displayed the highest level of professionalism in his dealings with the public. He left as the CEO, Chief Executive Officer of that company, in other words he did not have to leave that as was said before a chussy job to come into the wider service of the Vincentian community.And talking about service, Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, we know of his prominence as a sportsman, as a athlete, a sprinter, he was a sports and still is a sports enthusiast that is to say he enthusiastically spreads the message of sports as a centre piece in national development and indeed as personal development. He is a strong advocate of sports and we heard of his record of accomplishment not only on the field but in terms of administrative bodies. Strong as that was I believe his contribution in terms of community development takes a very preeminent role in his life and that of his family because his family is very embedded in the Arnos Vale, West St. George community, and we have had contributions in different areas from all members. His work through AVESCO, the Arnos Vale Educational Sports and Cultural Organisation is legendary, and what is particularly important is that he used sports as a means of community mobilization and development and formed a certain nexus between sports and community development, using it to bring youngsters off the block, into a positive contribution in this country. We also heard of his work as a Rotarian, and in that capacity he has done tremendous service not only to the West St. George area but nationally.Mr. Speaker, we are happy to have Senator Ces McKie in our ministry as Minister of State with Special Responsibility for sports and youth. He is entering a ministry which from a certain standpoint could be considered a super ministry. In that we have to deal with 13 portfolios, varied portfolios but what is interesting Ces connects with many of these 13 portfolios from community development, social development, work with the poor, family matters, he works with the elderly, nongovernmental organizations, such as the Rotarians, disabilities, et cetera, et cetera, youth and sports obviously. He14will be tested because our ministry, we have to literally juggle, 150 programmes but I believe given his track record and his experience, he can contribute to our work with the 150 programmes that we have to deal with.Mr. Speaker, when this administration took office in 2001, one of the first things we did in West St. George was to establish area councils, that is to say, for each of the nine polling divisions, we set up these area of councils made up of the people of the community from those nine polling division. In a sense it was sort of an informal local government, because we did not have formal local government structures in place. But what is important about that is that it represented the words, the thinking of the community members coming from themselves and shaping the agenda which informed the parliamentary representative myself. The area council in polling station E which is Arnos Vale, Cane Hall area, which includes upper Cane Hall or Bom Bom, when we held that meeting there was an outpouring of support for Ces McKie as Chairman of that area council. And in the nine years since we set those up he has never been challenged and indeed, because each year we have elections, indeed he was supported each year for nine years. So he is currently the chairman of the area council in his area. And that area council under his leadership has done tremendous work. They had organized garbage bins, long before the green ones that came more popular. They are responsible for the famous lightening up of the Roundabout, they have a Christmas party for children, they do food parcels for the old and the elderly and the poor.Last June we held a meeting in the Doris McKie Learning Resource Centre, the centre named after his mother because of her contribution to the society in the area, we named it after her, we had a massive turnout of people. Some hundreds of persons at that meeting and again, they strongly called on Ces McKie... yes I am winding up, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: May I refer you please, Honourable Member, that Senators shall be referred to as ‘Honourable Senator’ followed by his or her name.HONOURABLE MICHAEL BROWNE: Oh, I see, I am sorry. I think, I said Ces, my apologies, Mr. Speaker, Honourable Senator Cecil McKie, I have to get accustomed to it, you understand, Mr. Speaker, given our familiarity and given the way he is seen on the ground but I am winding up. Yes, Mr. Speaker, at that session he was roundly applauded for his work and the continued support of the community was offered and I expect he will make a tremendous impact, not only in our ministry but in the constituency and in the life of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. And under that score Mr. Speaker, I too want to offer firmest congratulations to the Honourable Senator Cecil McKie. Thank you.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Any further congratulatory remarks? Honourable Member for West Kingstown.HONOURABLE RENE BAPTISTE: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I rise to congratulate the Girl Guide Movement on the celebration of their centenary. The Girl Guide Movement is 100 years old. In this Honourable House I think the mother of the Honourable Leader of the Opposition was a15high ranking Girl Guide, when I opened my eyes and was in the Brownies; she was with the Brownies from the Prep School, and she never missed going to church on the Sunday that the Guides had to be in the uniform; and she was in her uniform until she was unable to come to worship at St. George’s Cathedral.I also knew Ms. Jenny Jacobs of blessed memory, she was an Island Commissioner; these are the persons who served with distinction in the last century. Perhaps one of the well-known guiders in this country was seated, Mr. Speaker, for the benefit of the nation because we miss these things in the high level of chatter on the radio. There is in the audience a lady known as Mrs. June Russell, I think she strong-armed her husband, he was a business man and he served in this Honourable House as an elected Member for East Kingstown at the time, and he served in this House as a Member of Parliament and as Minister of Government and she was running the business more or less full time, but we wondered how she found time to work in Girl Guide Movement and movement spread tremendously throughout St. Vincent and the Grenadines when she was Island Commissioner and I will ask the cameraman for the API to please stand with your permission, Mr. Speaker, to point out that lady sitting in the Stranger’s Gallery, Mrs. June Russell, she is in uniform. Very few young people when you meet them, you know, at 18 and 35 not too many know her unless you came through the Girl Guides Movement.Next to her is the former Island Commissioner herself, in St. Vincent and the Grenadines her adopted home, is Mrs. Laura Browne, who has recently retired as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, put the camera there, there is the lady in the glasses, you can see her. And in the gallery, I think the occupied half of the Stranger’s Gallery are members of the Girl Guide Movement including rangers again for the benefit of the cameras with your permission let me ask them to stand, it is not every year you celebrate 100 years. Please the Girl Guides who are here witnessing these remarks here today in the Honourable House. A statement would be made by the Honourable Member. These are the important little things that build the nation. Thank you. The Girl Guides Movement is one that encourages capacity building in young people courteousness, politeness, kindness. Also it helps to build that spirit. You have to do your badging, housekeeping, in hiking, they go on international tours, building friendship and goodwill and understanding. Many schools now have their Guide Companies, I am most familiar with Girls’ High School having been in that company, and my mother who was a Brownie in 1932 Kingstown Anglican Brownies and St. Georges’ Cathedral Company Guides, she ensured that her daughters came through and the second generation also came through the Brownies, attached to a number of schools. They have their Brownie sports. The guides also have done tremendous work, working among underprivileged and in hospitals in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in clinics, doing these good works that we take for granted in the hurried nature of our life today. Also, they do have a harvest, there is so much work that they do in the country. The Girl Guide Headquarters has just seen a tremendous increase in its size because the numbers now in the movement here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and I would encourage young mothers to get their children into the Brownies, it is a wonderful time. You have the Elves, the Sprites, the Little People; I was an Elf, my sister was a Sprite, my mother was an Elf, do not forget the little things. When you get older you16will realize how wonderful it is. And it helps to build this spirit of community among the young people of our country.Too often I hear at times, 15 year olds and 16 year olds in my journey in this political vineyard, ‘I ain’t have anything to do.’ Do you belong to the Guides, no? Do you belong to YWCA, no, and I think that they miss so much of those valuable years when you would have had your moral values and ethical values inculcated in building your character. One of the things it is like a finishing school for young women. My mother told me that when a gentleman came courting in the years before the father had to ask, the father of the groom, would say is she a Girl Guides, so you girls when you become brides or you are engaged, you make sure that they know the value of this organization that you have grown to love so much and to be working with. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the founding members who have long gone, Mrs. Sandy, there is Mrs. Jeannette France, there is Althea Commissiong, these are people whose names are synonymous with the growth and development of the Girl Guides Movement in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, congratulations to them; they are nation builders in their own right, they have put in the pillars and have kept the foundation of this world organization strong in this new nation of ours, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Congratulations ladies, never be weary in doing well.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: No further congratulations. MINUTESThe Minutes of the Sittings held on the Friday 19th February, 2010 copies of which had been circulated previously, were taken as read and were confirmed.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I beg to move that the Minutes of the seventh sitting of the fifth session of the eight Parliament of the House of Assembly held at the Court House on Friday 19th February 2010 be confirmed.HONOURABLE RENE BAPTISTE: There is one correction on page 12, at the top, welcome remarks. “Honourable Mr. Speaker welcomed 10 students from St. Martins. It is actually “Victoria Centre Student Support Services...” Not St. Martins Secondary School, thank you.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member, are you finished or you continuing?HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Members, the question is the Minutes of the seventh sitting of the fifth session of the eight Parliament of the House of Assembly held at the Court House on Friday 19th February 2010 be confirmed as amended.17page17image22576Question put and agreed to Minutes confirmed with amendmentANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE SPEAKERHONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Members, I just simply wish to welcome the members of the Girl Guides Movement here with us this morning on this very special occasion of theirs, they are celebrating their 100th anniversary. We want to wish them well and hope that they would enjoy this session being here with us this morning.I also wish to of course, to welcome our new Senator, Honourable Senator McKie, we trust also that you would find this Honourable House of Assembly that you can make your contribution to the development of this nation. And for whatever further endeavours you may wish to engage in.I wish to thank the Honourable Rochelle Forde, who also served here as Deputy Speaker, very much an invaluable member she was and I trust that in her new career as she moves on she also would find great success in whatever she does. In the meanwhile I welcome the new elected Deputy Speaker, the Honourable Conrad Sayers, someone said in a calypso a deputy is essential, and I wish for you to know that your essentiality would be very well tested as Deputy Speaker, here in this House. Thank you, very much.STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member for Marriaqua.HONOURABLE GIRLYN MIGUEL: Thank you, very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, it is indeed a great moment in time for the Girl Guide and Girl Scouts the world over. WAGGGS, World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts is 100 years old. With 10 million Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from 145 countries across the world, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts is the largest voluntary movement dedicated to girls and young women in the world. The association supports girls and young women to develop their full potential as responsible citizens of the world. We focus on leadership development and active citizenship. These are delivered through our innovative, global education and community advocacy programmes. We deliver a well- established, unique, value based approach to non-formal learning that is international and inter- generational.Girls and young women develop life skills though self-development, challenge and adventure. The movement’s strength lies in the millions of girls and young women it serves, and the impact they have amongst their friends, their families and the wider communities in which they live. The World Association aims to engage and empower girls and young women so that they can make a difference in their communities. We want to reach out to more girls and young women from diverse backgrounds so18page18image22720 page18image22880that all girls and young women have the opportunity to experience the great benefits inherent in Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting. WAGGGS has been empowering girls and young women as leaders in their local communities, on the international stage and their professional and volunteer lives for 100 years. Leadership is at the core of the Girl Guide and Girl Scouting movement. It runs through everything we do, from succession planning for our member organizations, national boards to empowering girls and young women to stand up, and speak out on issues affecting them to being a leader within oneself, to make positive choices.Through Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting girls, young women and leaders are given the opportunity to realize their full potential and they contribute to the development of their communities nationally and globally.For 100 years, the International Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting movement have been developing the leaders of the future through its innovative education needs. In May 2009, we launched our global action team, Girls Worldwide Say, Together We Can Change Our World. This awareness-changing progamme encourages girls, young women and members of all ages to make a personal commitment to change the world around them and is directly linked to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.Recently, the association celebrated the joint birthdays of our founder and his wife and Robert and Olive Baden Powell, their birthdays were on the 22nd of February next month on April 10th, the Girl Guide Association of St. Vincent and the Grenadines along with other countries around the world will officially launch celebrations for the hundredth anniversary; there will be a float parade through the streets of Kingstown and the rally at Victoria Park.Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, it would really be remiss of me if I did not mention names of the people who kept Guiding alive in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Guiding started for us here in 1914 by Reverend Arthur Cox, the Methodist Minister and it was started in Georgetown. Today, we have Guides sitting with us in the Strangers’ Gallery Mr. Speaker, and I feel very honoured to address them and to address our country and to highlight again the importance of Guiding.There is a lady in the Stranger’s Gallery Mrs. Gwendolyn Russell that is the lady who held my hand in the early ‘70’s and I was with the movement leading Rangers, Guides time, her talent and treasure. Sometimes it was not easy for us coming out to Marriaqua especially when it rained, and I want to say thank you, Mrs. Russell. Our vice president today is Mrs. Jeannette France, our Chief Commissioner is Mrs. Althea Commissiong, our international commissioner is Mrs. Laura Browne, she was my Chief Education Officer, she was my PS, and I remember when I left the school system to come this way, I sat in a chair before her and I cried, and she encouraged me. She is an educator per excellence. She still holds Guiding high on her list of activities. Other members who are now serving I would name, Monica Davis, Rochelle Forde, Andrea Bowman, Judy Veira, Susan Commissiong, Lynette Glasgow, Jillian O’Garro and our Division Commissioners, Jean Charles, Rachanne Matthias and Lenore Anderson. Our district commissioners La Toya De Roche, Shanda Sandy, Nina Maloney, Heather Stewart, Arifa Charles, Flavia Howard, Marilyn France. And life members because there are some of19our Guiders who have done so much work that they have been made life members and hasten to name, Erma Norris, Grace Morris, Mrs. Dawn Smith.Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, it would be really remiss of me, if I did not say that the impact on guiding in my own life has done a lot. Guiding has taught me to be a servant leader. Mr. Speaker, truthfully speaking I could not sit in this Honourable House and win an election in the first instance in 21 days if I had not learnt to meet people at their level and work with them. I held high with me, that a Guide is loyal and can be trusted. That a Guide is helpful, that she is polite and considerate, that she is friendly, she is a sister to all Guides, she is kind, and she is obedient and she has courage and she is cheerful in all difficulties. A guide makes good use of her time. She takes care of her possessions and those of other people and she is self-controlled in all she thinks and does. Mr. Speaker, I am obliged.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member for South Leeward.HONOURABLE DR. DOUGLAS SLATER: Mr. Speaker, I rise to make ministerial statements on a few issues that I consider of national importance. They are on the dry weather, or the drought situation and its impact on our water supply. I will make a statement on the medical supplies. I would also make a statement on the project that is being carried out here which we have code named Lives to Live that is a detailed study of disabled or otherwise challenged person. Mr. Speaker, I will try to be as concise as possible.The first, Mr. Speaker, is about the dry weather situation. Mr. Speaker, I think all of us are aware that there is an intense dry weather situation regionally and locally in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, we have been also significantly affected. Mr. Speaker, just as a background, we are experiencing since November only about 30% of the rainfall that we usually have and in fact in February that percentage on average, in the month of February just passed it was even less than that. It therefore means because of our source of water where rainfall soaks into the ground, the catchment areas have been severely affected. For example, our main supply the Dallaway System up in the Vermont Valley which now supplies about 40% of the water nationally is down to 70% of its capacity. The Jennings supply which is a major supply and fortunately came on-stream, it supplies about 25% of national; demand is down to about 80%. The two most severely affected are the Montreal and the Majorca supplies; they are now under 50% of their capacity. Mr. Speaker, those figures would show that yes we are significantly affected. The department of Meteorology has predicted that this drought may well go into as far as June, and we hope that that is not so. We hope that this is one time that the weatherman is wrong. We hope that some rain comes before that.Mr. Speaker, some of the contributing factors to the drought are bush fires. And again we use this opportunity to appeal to the public to restrict the use of fires or lighting bush fire or any fire that may get out of control. Why? Well, very often when there are these fires the Fire Department is called in because there is risk to people’s properties and lives and so they have to use up well needed water. I am told that up to 20,000 gallons or more in any one response to a fire, so please let us not be forced to utilized very important valuable commodity, water.20Then another contributing factor is the abuse of public supplies such as public stand pipes, public baths, et cetera. We are asking persons, and especially motorists, some of us have seen motorists washing vehicles at standpipes with hoses. The CWSA has been warning against that practice not just for those persons but for private owners of vehicles and I hope that heed will be taken.Mr. Speaker, the CWSA which is under my ministry has come up with some responses, and I must thank them for the work that they have been doing. They have activated their emergency team. They have been vigilant; well first of all I think all of us listen to radio and we all should at this time especially, to the radio and the TV when we are making public announcements, because they are giving very important information there as to measures that can be taken to prevent the further deterioration of the situation. Mr. Speaker the team is actively searching for leaks. We have been asking persons if at your homes you see water dripping, the pipe is not shutting properly to please send a little 75 cents it cost to buy a washer or whatever it needs to prevent the wastage of this valuable commodity. They have been searching for leaks and they have been finding plenty. Let us all join with them to search for leaks, so that we can stop the loss of this precious commodity. In the public buildings they have been sending around teams, such as schools, and teachers, and children are listening and I want to appeal to the Guides to take this as a special project, to wherever you are going to school, or wherever you are participating in activities to help to turn off the faucets, to help to listen. Another thing that people do not get clear is the WC, the Water Closet, or the Flush Toilets, if you hearing a sound from it, it means that water is wasting. If you are hearing a sound after it has refilled it means water is wasting. I say this because a lot of people do not realize when water is leaking from the WC. So please try your best; this is in the interest of all of us. It is not partisan politics here this is national politics.Mr. Speaker, in the special areas where there are water shortages for more than six hours, we have invested in a mobile capacity to truck water. That has been successful. In the Grenadines area we have been transporting water in bulk, on the boat Geronimo, which has a significant capacity; and we have done so in Bequia, I think it is on the 20th of February. It is currently now in the Southern Grenadines responding to the need there.Mr. Speaker, at this point I really wish to say that the drought was not brought about by the government. If we really care about the impact of drought on the people we represent, I would suggest the thing to do, is to call the authorities who are responsible for responding to that. Do not go on radio station and say that you hope that the government officials are listening because they may well not be listening. And instead of trying to gain political mileage by saying no water here or no water there. And I wish to acknowledge, the General Manager of the CWSA is here, you can call him. If it is a ministry, call the ministry officials, you can call me, the Minister of Water, anybody can call me and plenty people do. It does not make you go on a radio station where limited amount of people listening and you say that you hope that such and such listening. No, man we do not have to go down that road. Yes, Mr. Speaker, some of the measures we have taken too is that we have interlinked some of the water supplies. As I have said before we are very happy to have Jennings that has taken some of the need off of the Dallaway and other supplies and also for example the supply of water to ships which normally is done at Port Kingstown we are now in the process of transferring that service to another21supply, Hermitage, which is not as badly affected and that will be, so the ships will now go to Wallilabou to get water. So whilst it is a serious situation, I do not think it is quite a crisis; some people may assess it as a crisis but because the response is organised we are now asking the public to throw their bit in, and if the public does what it should do working together with the authorities a crisis will be averted.So Mr. Speaker, I think that all of us pay attention to that announcement. Because you know I notice that some people are saying that nobody is saying anything about it; well this is the Parliament; and I hope that all who should be listening are listening now, because multiple radio stations, and we do not do simultaneous cast, that is having the same message on all the stations at the same time, so sometimes some people may miss the message.Mr. Speaker, the next item as I have promised, I will give a little update on the medical supplies, in the health system. Mr. Speaker, I think it was in the last Parliament or some time before an issue came up about the supply of medications and other supplies to the health system. Mr. Speaker, as a background, the PPS, the Pharmaceutical Pool Procurement Service of the OECS is about the major supplier of medical medications and supplies to the OECS countries; but it is not the only supplier. Mr. Speaker, I just pause a while to...HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: All right, okay as the Guides leave we again want to congratulate them and just pause to allow them to leave. [Pause] All right.HONOURABLE DR. DOUGLAS SLATER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. So yes, Mr. Speaker, the PPS is a major supplier of supplies but not the only one and this is important. And I would later explain why that is important to know. Mr. Speaker, when we took office in 2001, we met a backlog of debt of $1.8 million to the PPS, it was and probably still holds the record of a single largest special warrant written by this government. I do not know if it still is but I know it was one the largest up to the time it was written, it was.Mr. Speaker, one needs to understand, I am not a businessman but people who operate business know that you have a credit system, you will take and you will pay a rolling system, and sometimes reconciliation of those payments are a problem. Mr. Speaker, basically that is what happens towards the end of last year. There were some discrepancies between the figures produced by PPS and those produced by the Ministry of Health and the Environment. Another is that because of the global financial situation, regionally the PPS was really concerned about their ability to maintain their suppliers. There were some other countries that were heavily indebted and St. Vincent got caught up in a situation where we are the highest user of the system, or the second highest user and therefore our account a significant proportion of the global account and a decision was made at the last Ministers of Health meeting that in order to encourage countries to pay up early, up to certain dates of bills or orders they would be temporarily suspended. Unfortunately, due to as I said misunderstanding in reconciliation of the accounts St. Vincent got caught up in that.22Suffice to say, Mr. Speaker, it is not the only source of medication to St. Vincent, because what we did from the last Parliament certainly when I was made aware of it, but even before that we had alternative sources of orders, so there was no time when we reach any crisis situation in supply of medication. There were a few stocks out, not much different from the normal stocks that are out from time to time, so never at any time was any citizen really seriously challenged with lack of supplies or medication. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to say that since then we have in fact, that back-up system, we have received most of those orders and I saw myself, the truck off-loading last week and we are receiving some more; and also we have paid in a substantial amount of money recently to the PPS. And Mr. Speaker, just to show how there is an issue sometimes where you pay money, and it is not recorded, because we had to act.The payment system, is that the Ministry of Health authorizes the payment to the Ministry of Finance, recently there was a change, I think to some extent, that affect, before the Ministry of Health would follow up that payment, but now, it is sent straight to the ECCB, the East Caribbean Central Bank, and the Ministry of Health personnel do not normally, with the new system, did not have that responsibly, they can but they did not have to follow up. But, now we realize that it takes some time for it to be recorded at the ECCB to the PPS in St. Lucia. We had to physically get a fax of the evidence of payment and send it to St. Lucia. So some of the administrative issues caused some of the problems but I am happy to say that it has all been resolved earlier this week. The PPS personnel had a team here, we sat down, we resolved some of the issues of reconciliation of accounts that I spoke to you about, and now we have a better idea, they have accepted that some things were not quite as they thought it was and similar with us. So all is well now, and I wish to apologize to anyone who may have been inconvenienced but I know that would not have been very many persons.So Mr. Speaker, just to give you some figures, do you know there is a system of assessing how much medication is available at any one time in the system. It is a system designed by the PPS. In 2001 in St. Vincent, that is when you go to with a prescription, 64% of the prescriptions were filled, that is the figures we had. In 2008, 2009 that figure in St. Vincent was 93%. That is not figures by the Ministry of Health. These are spot checks. So we must know when we are talking, everything is relative. People need to understand. It is unfortunate that sometimes we make big noise about things that are not so big but things that are very much important, and are on record we stay quiet. But this is information I think that the public should know.Mr. Speaker, the next issue is, I wish to make a public announcement on the implementation of a very important project. The project is a detailed study of disability. Some people do not like that terminology; some may call it otherwise challenged persons, in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Mr. Speaker, as a quick background. The social investment fund, SIF, and I want people to listen. I listened to a broadcast by a radio station, which advertised as they represent the NDP, one Mr. Edwardo Lynch, and he stated that I, Dr. Douglas Slater, stated that there was a 6th study. Well I believed possibly, I have a little disability, I have what you call a lisp, that is tight tongue; but I did not make myself, and some people like it and find it cute. But Mr. Speaker, I am not that... I think people credit me with enough intellect and intelligence, to understand the acronym SIF, it is Social Investment Fund. I do23not know of any first, second, third, fourth, fifth or sixth study. And it is ridiculous that a big song and dance is made about how they interpret what I said. Mr. Speaker, this study, the SIF study which indicated that in St. Vincent and the Grenadines there are just over 2,500.00 such persons; disabled challenged or in whatever way, very good study and I want to congratulate the Projects Promotions who conducted that study. However, it was a fairly simple study just to identify where they are.Now, Mr. Speaker, this government has indicated, that among our philosophies that we want to pay very special attention to the disadvantaged of our society. The disadvantaged citizens and we have been doing so, in many ways. It is for this reason that we have improved on the public assistance, we have taken off $10.00 payment on the water bill, of indigent elderly persons, and many other measures. The social safety net has been widened. Our Education Revolution especially touching poor people who cannot or could not afford it to send their children to University, have been given many more opportunities now; all these are responses to our disadvantaged persons. But there is a special category of disadvantaged persons in our society that we globally called disabled. And a nation that does not respond to these special needs is one that really is not worth regarding as a nation that cares for its people. This government’s philosophy is doing so.This study, Mr. Speaker, is intended to find more information about these disabilities; with the end point of if we can find causes where they may exist. Maybe if you can find causes you can find further disability. We want to address some of the social issues surrounding disabled persons, and yes, in order to find the causes there are some that even medically we may know and as a physician we may know that there might be medical reasons, but we do not have an advance developed culture of studies and investigations and I am very pleased and I want to tell you, that the medical fraternity is very happy about this study.In fact, to do such a study there are some things we need to do that may involve ethical issues. If you are going to take what we call biological samples, blood, or sputum or urine, you have to deal with the ethics of it. And what we have done we have raised this with our partners from Cuba and they said yes, that is the normal thing, they are established scientists and the ethics committee here headed by the Chief Medical Officer Dr. St. Clair Thomas, who was a former Minister of Health for the NDP government has studied the protocols of this study, that is all the details of what they are going to do, he has engaged them in debate, clarified issues that he was not clear on, and he has participated in a public press conference. I am saying all this because I heard Mr. Lynch on the radio station that put forward NDP and public says they represent the NDP, stating that the Public was never informed and NICE Radio was invited to that press conference and that I know over the past week the amount of people who called and told me they saw me on TV and they heard about it, do not blame us if you do not want to listen. People are so accustomed of listening to the garbage of themselves that they are now blaming others for not giving information, well I am giving this information, Mr. Speaker, at the highest level of this country, in the Parliament, and we will continue to promote the study.24The study, Mr. Speaker, aims at identifying where we can actually help the disabled persons and at the end it is an ALBA project, it is intended that persons who have lost limbs we would hope and we expect to get prosthesis, that is false legs, false hands, hearing aids, spectacles or any other implements that may help to improve the standard of living of our unfortunate disadvantaged citizens.Mr. Speaker, what could ever be wrong with that? How could any responsible political organization allow this to be publicly criticized, calling highly trained scientists such as Geneticists, Neurophysiologists calling them ‘crack heads’? No, this is what we call free speech? This is irresponsible behaviour by the leadership of the NDP. And I am calling it what it is. Mr. Speaker, I am perturbed. Do you know why? I have heard a lot [of] talk about free speech in this country in the past few weeks I do not often speak. I have the freedom of speech and I am using it now. But it is responsible free speech. As a leader, as a physician, as a health care personnel and certainly as a representative of the people I think they need to understand that there are people out there who are ignorant of the facts, who are not willing to listen or to learn or to get it right; who are intent on mischief and this must not be allowed in the name of freedom of speech. It is malicious and irresponsible.Mr. Speaker, this study I wish that citizens will understand that it holds immense benefit for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, we are a poor country, this is the first time such a study is being done in any English speaking Caribbean territory, and we are proud to be the first one to have it. The University of the West Indies has reviewed this study and it is interested in [the] outcome of this study. Mr. Speaker, I want the NDP to make some clear statements because when you are calling highly trained professionals, and they are not all doctors by the way, when you are calling them ‘crack heads’; when you are disrespecting established diplomatic relations with a friendly country and insulting them, this is not how Vincentians are, we are not like that we are courteous people. You must clearly state whether you intend it, because it is suggesting to me that if this is what you are saying about the Cubans they will not be welcomed in St. Vincent if God forbid you get into office, and this is serious, because it will be a very backward move as if a Caribbean country in this day and age were to make a step like that. But all signals from the NDP radio is saying that. And I am very perturbed about it. Because a country like Cuba who has helped us in so many ways, many citizens who are NDP supporters have benefited from VISION NOW, from the surgeons, from the Orthopedic specialists, from the eye specialists that have worked here. And Mr. Speaker, as part of our philosophy we used our foreign policy very usefully, we are not concerned about who said this or that, Mr. Speaker, that was said earlier on.The Honourable Senator Ces McKie, has been at the leadership of an institution with which we have developed a tremendous relationship, the International Hospital for Children based in Virginia, that is an American company but we have great relationship with them. They too, and I want to thank them for the contribution to the development of this country. We are not only highlighting one side or the other. In fact, over $40 million dollars worth of medical treatment has been done by IHC, and we are grateful to the IHC and the leadership for Senator McKie and the others from the Rotary Club.25Mr. Speaker, the same health care system, you hear they are running down, St. Vincent was selected as a centre of excellence for paediatric care in the Caribbean by this organization. Mr. Speaker, over in the whole region over 300 children have been sent to Virginia and know I feel personally attached to it, because I have a cousin who grew up as my sister, who is a nurse there, and many of the Vincentian patients were sent there have specially treated by her go for weekends et cetera. And feel that helped to actually build this, and Senator Leacock knows that.Mr. Speaker, right now there is a container estimated over $1 million worth of supplies from the IHC, and I am using this opportunity to show you the doctors, I could remember, there was one time, they work together. There was the eye specialists that came here, I could remember them telling me that there was special techniques that the Cuban eye specialists used that they did not know that they were thought by the Cuban specialists in our theatre, and they were techniques that the Americans were using that the Cubans were not familiar with that they were thought. These are examples of how our government practices our foreign policy for the benefit of our nation. You think we care if the help comes from America from Canada, England, Cuba or Venezuela? Once the benefit is to our people and that is how we see it.Mr. Speaker, similarly the Taiwanese have helped us tremendously. The Taiwanese have sent personnel here; I have never heard anybody criticize the personnel. They have sent pharmacists, lab technicians, radiographers and we welcome and we are grateful people and we thank them for it. So why can’t we thank the Cubans when they try to help us? Why a major political party have to be belittling the people, insulting them, calling them ‘crack heads’. This is ridiculous and I think citizens of this country must call in and condemn that. And unless the NDP can rebuke that and say something and object to it, they too must be condemned.Mr. Speaker, I heard Edwardo Lynch telling people, the public on a public radio station to run them out their yard, to set dogs on them. I have the recording. I have it. People have been calling in and told me you know, I said I am not saying anything I hear it for myself. Because people were saying that they could not believe, they said he really went overboard. I could not believe what people told me until I heard it for myself. And I did not even hear all, it was only this morning I was able to listen. Mr. Speaker, no this cannot be in the name of freedom of speech Mr. Speaker, do you remember the light bulbs? Imagine, we are trying to keep up with science, trying to save energy. The Cubans offered us to replace the incandescent, old time blubs, which now is a thing in the whole world and they criticized it, they said we were spying on them. It is the same thing they are saying now. Are we for real? Can anybody trust people like this, to say they are going to lead you forward? Mr. Speaker, I just want the public to listen, to cooperate, they will be going around in teams with Vincentians, because we wish to learn from them how to do it too, and that is the intent. They are not there to spy on you. They are not interested in spying anything on you, they are not there to thief anything, it is a transfer of skill and they are going to help us.Mr. Speaker, I am walking the road and what is one good thing about it I know the majority of Vincentians are more sensible. I walk in the road and people are coming to me and calling us as to26when their disabled or challenged persons when they could see this team, because they recognize the importance of it. Let us all do so.Mr. Speaker, finally again I want to touch a little on freedom of speech. There is a practice here again, where persons who are not well learned, well educated in certain areas, because they have access to radio stations they go and make statements with certain levels of authority and some people because it comes over the radio they believe it. Mr. Speaker, before I go on say, that in this country. Whenever anybody asserts themselves especially politicians, when you speak firmly and forcefully, the Kenneth Johns’ and others say you are arrogant. They have said so several times about me. I do not think people who really know me would ever label me as arrogant. One of the things is that I do not speak often but when I see people making statements and doing things that are really ridiculous I come forceful like now, if they want to call me arrogant, guilty as charged and haughty. Mr. Speaker, I am a physician by training and with all humility I think I have had a lot of experience. I was trained in Cuba but before so I have an honours degree in Chemistry and Bio Chemistry, and biological sciences from the University of West Indies. Say this to say, that I do have fairly strong scientific background, after my medical studies, I further went and did a masters degree in public health administration. Not very often I do this, but I think it is important to lay this foundation for people to make a judgment as to who they think is more authoritative or credible.Mr. Speaker, in my previous life as a public health administrator for the government of this country by the NDP government administration and I did not work with the ULP government in that capacity. I have attended numerous international conferences on the environment and on health. I have been fortunate to have been selected by CARICOM countries just one year after been elected minister to represent CARICOM to negotiate for the global fund for HIV/AIDS I was the chairman minister for that organization and for the OECS for many years. Mr. Speaker, I am now currently the member of the CARICOM Ministers representing the region on the executive board of the PAN AMERICAN Health Organisation which is a world health organization branch. And I will tell you why I am giving you all this information. Mr. Speaker, I heard another radio broadcast with a group of persons representing what we call the THUSIANS and I am tying this in because one of their members is very much linked to the NDP and speaks on their platforms, they have been making statements criticizing the use of immunization and vaccines. Mr. Speaker, I have it recorded, it is frightening because I know from my experience from my readings that this has caused a lot of trouble worldwide. Mr. Speaker, why I... as I started there are people who hear a little information or read something, do not go into the depth, they do not have this experience and they make conclusive statements. Mr. Speaker, they are riding on the issue that some time ago there was a discrepancy about the use of a particular vaccine that we call MMR that we use here. In fact, in 1998 a very prestigious magazine ‘The Lancet’ released a study suggesting that MMR was linked to Autism that is a disease mainly in children, a developmental disease, and it gained a lot of traction Mr. Speaker, so much so that billions of dollars were paid out in compensation to some people in the United States. Mr. Speaker, if you are going to talk authoritatively you must get all your information good and study it, do your research.27Mr. Speaker, this same person was found later to be linked with the anti-vaccine movement, lobbyist. This study has since been disregarded totally by other scientific studies and now it is official that the same Lancet that published it has retracted it, that happened in 2007, 2008, so much so that the American Supreme Court has now made an order that they cannot use this linkage for compensation. So Mr. Speaker, these people who just hear a little bit and do not know enough do not search enough they are dangerous, because Mr. Speaker, millions of lives are being lost right now in some African countries.In fact, they are making statements which I do not know the legality of them; they are accusing the WHO, an organization to which this country is a member and a signatory of killing people. They say freedom of speech. This is irresponsibility to the highest, and senior members of that organization are very closely linked with the NDP. They speak on their platform. These are the people who are putting forward themselves to lead us. Public be aware, because just imagine if that anti-vaccine movement were to grab hold in St. Vincent, we hold one of the best records in the Caribbean statistically a hundred percent coverage, thanks to the public health workers of this country. Just imagine, in fact there are studies that show that every 10% drop you increase the chance of outbreaks tremendously. It is serious business. We cannot allow this, Mr. Speaker. This cannot be allowed in the name of freedom of speech.Mr. Speaker, I wish to conclude that what I have said today I hope all as responsible leaders on both sides, we must listen and try to [use] political expedience, do not use ignorance, bad propaganda, irresponsibility to try get a few votes, we all can and will suffer. Mr. Speaker, I do not think hopefully that Vincentians will follow that bad advice. I believe that there are sufficient sensible Vincentians. The majority of Vincentians I hope will do two things, will one, listen to the voice of authority and responsibility and certainly the other one is to ensure that when they are making very important decisions like electing people to lead their country, they elect people who are responsible, who are forthright, who are assertive, who know what they are doing and certainly not those who have demonstrated their irresponsibility by allowing all this nonsense to be promoted in this country. Much obliged, Mr. Speaker.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, over the last year and a bit I have been providing updates from time to time on the matter of the British American Insurance Company. On Tuesday the 2nd of March, I chaired a meeting in my capacity as Chairman of the Ministerial subcommittee of Insurance, subcommittee of the Monetary Council, which consists of other members of the Monetary Council, some other members, and the Governor of the Central Bank, Mr. Dwight Venner and what we set up called the core committee, a technical committee to help on insurance matters. That core committee is headed by Mr. Timothy Antoine out of Grenada. As a consequence of that meeting I consider it necessary and desirable to make a statement on this matter to provide an update and I am urging that a statement of a similar nature be made in the Parliaments of each of the countries of the currency union regarding this matter.28Mr. Speaker, as Honourable Members are aware the branches of the British American Insurance company BICO in the 8 Eastern Caribbean Currency Union countries remain under judicial management. The judicial managers were appointed by the courts and they are accountable to the courts in their respective jurisdictions and have the powers and obligations as provided under the respective insurance acts. Last October that is to say October 2009, the judicial managers in each of the eight Eastern Caribbean Currency Union countries presented their findings and recommendations to their respective courts. The major recommendations of these Reports is the establishment of a new company to take over the liabilities of the Eastern Caribbean policyholders.Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members may recall that in November last year I delivered a major address on the subject in Grenada and I reiterated the strategy of the ECCU governments to work together on this issue based on the following four guiding principles: 1. To ensure that British American Insurance Company does not become a systemic risk to the financial system. 2. To protect as far as is practicable the interests of depositors and policyholders. 3. To keep British American Insurance Company as a going concern in a form to be determined and 4. To craft a solution that is regional in nature given the fact that the problem is of a regional kind. The citizens of our sub-region were informed that the proposals by governments of the sub-region would be subjected to the court approval of the recommendations of the judicial managers. Consequently, it has been necessary to apply to the court in each country for the approval of these recommendations. As of today, the High Courts in six of the ECCU jurisdictions have approved proposals for the establishment of a new company to assume the liabilities of British American Insurance Company. The countries in which approval have been given are Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts/Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The court hearing for Anguilla is scheduled for the 8th of March, and no hearing date has been set for Montserrat and efforts are being made to have the matter heard within the next few weeks. In this regard I have asked the Honourable Attorney General to secure from the Chief Justice a commitment that we would have this matter dealt with in Montserrat expeditiously, because there is not a resident judge in Montserrat. You would note, Mr. Speaker that it has taken us five months to address the issue of the approval of the judicial managers’ recommendation; and we are not yet completed with this. As I said Anguilla is next week and hopefully in another two weeks we will conclude Montserrat. And I had indicated, Mr. Speaker, as the lead prime minister in this matter, that as soon as all the approvals are given within six months of that I would like to see the new company up and running. I was hoping that the court 29 system would have been speedier, that we would have had everything in place. We move very expeditiously here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and one or two jurisdictions but sometimes we have had a lag.Mr. Speaker, as I have announced hitherto and explained over and over that this new company for want of a better word we call it ‘NewCo’ that would not be the name, but it is a generic name, is to be capitalized by contributions from the ECCU governments. The liquidity support fund to which the Government of Trinidad and Tobago has already contributed US $50 million; additional monies from Trinidad and Tobago and contributions from certain CARICOM countries, in particular Barbados, the residual assets of BICO and by a capital injection from at least one significant strategic investor. We are hoping, Mr. Speaker, to approach the sum close to US $400 million for the capitalization.Mr. Speaker, there is in addition to this significant strategic investor another strategic investor. I should point out that these strategic investors are highly respected international and regional financial institutions. It is also expected that the strategic investors will place a significant role in the ownership and management of the new company. Since frankly, the governments, our preferred role is to stabilize, get things on the road, rather than become directly involved in the long term management and ownership of an insurance company. Discussions with the prospective, strategic investors are progressing well, and pre due diligence is already on the way. We are bound however, Mr. Speaker, by non-disclosure agreements so that I am not able to disclose the identities at this particular stage. This is the normal process of negotiations in these matters.It is our hope that the new company would become operational within six months, as soon as we have completed all the court approvals for the judicial manager. Every effort is made to ensure that policyholders annuitants and other creditors will recover as much of their investments as possible. I have already indicated, Mr. Speaker, in my speech in Grenada which was broadcast live throughout the OECS, including St. Vincent and the Grenadines, that we would not be able to pay arrears of interest; we will pay interest going forward, but the interest rates would be at the level of comparable banking interest rates because these products which were sold were really banking products; and where people had been getting 8% and 9% interest. Clearly, you cannot do that. And then in relation to the principal sums we would expect from the investments from year five to be able to pay the principal sums. So we will pay interest in the meantime, the principal later but no arrears of interest.Mr. Speaker, if we do not do it this way, it means that if we raise $400 million, we just take the $400 million and pay it out to people and then other people will then ask us, other investors will then say, what about us, who had an investment and it failed, is government going to pay that? So we have to manage this properly in going forward in a hardnosed way. Let me say, Mr. Speaker, this is the only show in town, if it is not this show, the investors and policyholders and annuitants will get a number approximating zero. So this is really a matter of serious importance for us to go forward. And I have been making this point over and over again.30I want to speak towards the United States assets Mr. Speaker, in addition to all the work which the core committee and the judicial manager for the respective BAICO entities in the respective jurisdictions. Additionally to all that work they have been doing work has been done in the United States, the judicial managers have filed petitions in the United States. The judicial managers have filed a petition in the United States, seeking what is called Chapter 15 Recognition by the US courts by the judicial management proceedings, currently taking place in the Bahamas and the Eastern Caribbean. These petitions were heard in the US on February 1st and judgment is expected at any moment. Our lawyers and judicial managers went up to the United States. I want to make the point and I want the press to hear me on this, under the US bankruptcy code, you make different kinds of applications.You hear on the television all the time Chapter 11 proceedings where people file for bankruptcy. This is not what has happened. What we are seeking to do, is to get the recognition under the bankruptcy lawyers in the United States, for the judicial manager proceedings, in our jurisdictions. And the reason for that really is to be able to trace assets and to seek to retrieve them. In other words the judicial managers are seeking to find ways and means to trace and retrieve assets which, properly speaking, belong to British American Insurance Company, the Eastern Caribbean entities. Because as you know, many of the annuitants, the monies from the annuities which were sold was used to invest in US, so we have to insert ourselves in that. So that these petitions by the judicial managers have been submitted to the US Federal Bankruptcy court and they are necessary to protect these assets; the BAICO assets in the US; and to stay litigation comments against British American in the United States. These investment funds in the United States for British American, they were managed by US based fund managers as well as, really estates which was owned through various subsidiaries. It is a complicated business, this matter. And I want to say to this Honourable House, it has been taken up a great deal of time and the report is going to be made on this for the Monetary Council meeting which is taking place tomorrow. A report has already been prepared and will be delivered under my hand to the Monetary Council.I want to speak to the medical fund. The governments of the currency union are now finalizing the establishment of medical claim support fund, to offer relief to persons who are awaiting funds from British American to settle their medical insurance claims. The fund is being established to assist within certain parameters, those ECCU policy holders who would have otherwise have been entitled to receive payments of claims under the British American Insurance Company Medical policies. It is being... we have to set up this fund within certain parameters and we are addressing the issue of those within the ECCU member countries who are policyholders who would have been expected to have their claims met, for their medical insurance under British American Insurance Company policies. It is being set up as an independent governmental fund rather than part of the existing BAICO operations. However, the establishment of this fund is being achieved by collaboration with the Judicial Managers and will be incorporated into the new company. I want to explain this, because this is an important point for clarification. Notice we are talking about medical policy. I am not talking about an annuity which has become due, but which somebody may need to deal with a medical problem. That is not a medical insurance issue. That is an issue of annuity which has matured. We are talking about medical insurance. And the reason why we have to do it as an independent fund, clear if you were not to do it that way, persons can reasonably say to the court, well why are you talking money from British31American to satisfy one set of people and not another. So the money for this is not coming from British American. It is set up independently. But it would eventually be brought into the new company when it is established.I want to emphasize that the annuitants can reasonably expect to recover the money, only after the new company is established within the framework of what I have described about the interest and the investments in relation to the principal after a period of about five years. A team of legal persons is presently reviewing the terms of the fund the property portfolio. Now this is an important portfolio and it has ramifications to banking, mortgages, so we have to address that as an important issue in itself. The Judicial Managers are in the final stages of arrangements with a regional insurance company to take over British American Insurance Companies, property insurance portfolio within the Currency Union. The governments of the Currency Union are satisfied that the property insurance policy holders would best be served by the proposed transfer to ensure that all property claims can properly be met. So Honourable Members we hive off the property side of the insurance and we sell that to a separate entity and the arrangements are being finalized in that regard.Mr. Speaker, I have been giving lots of updates in this Parliament and throughout the country, throughout the region. There are some people who do not hear the updates and they will call me, they will meet me and I hear on the radio that says no information is coming, that is not so, I mean, never have we had a situation where so much information have been put out like I have been doing with the British American Insurance Company issue. I will continue so to do, because I know there is a great anxiety. I should point out Mr. Speaker, in the case of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, we have already put $ 41 million in our budget, we have identified the source of financing that $41 million. The bulk of it will come from the SDRs, the Special drawing rights, and yes on the meeting on Tuesday I want all governments to make sure that they have their provisions for their proportion for the US $75 million to which we are all committed to put in; I am talking about the ECCU governments. Ours is about 19.5% close to 20% of the liabilities. And that is why of the $75 million, ours close to US $15 million, fourteen point something and that is why it is EC $41 million. I am providing the assurance again that in spending many hours on this. I know that this is not a sexy subject and for the ordinary man in the street who has nothing to do with British American they will feel well why the Prime Minister is taking $41 million to put to this, let the chips fall where they may. Well, I cannot do that, because there are lots of people including ordinary working people and retirees who have put money into British American, ordinary citizens and then it has an implication, a profound implication, if it is not fixed for our financial system as a whole, and we need to maintain the stability of our financial system. The world is becoming more and more complex. This matter of governance is not what it used to be. I want make that point. We have to come to the table with multiple skills, to make the necessary judgments of policy in going forward. I give the assurance that I will as always continue to do my best in this respect, and I urge my colleagues in the rest of the OECS so to do. I am obliged.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs.32HONOURABLE SIR LOUIS STRAKER: Mr. Speaker, I will be very brief because I realize that we are running close to the end of time.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Just a minute, please. Just take your seat a minute. Honourable Prime Minister the Honourable Leader of the Opposition wants something clarified.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: To ensure Mr. Speaker, that there can be no payment of any principal sum due until after the NEWCO has operated for at least five years. Is that a correct statement?DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, the simple reason why this has to be done, when you get the $400 million or thereabouts, if you take it and pay it out, you satisfy all the liabilities and you do not have a company. And on what basis somebody is going to... an investor is not going to come inside and put some money just for you to pay it out. It is because if that happens, it means that every single... and the monies which we are putting in too, we are hoping that we will recover our money. That is to say the state, we expect to, in the investment, but we do not want to be part of any long term owning of any company, when the matters are sort out issues will be dealt with as to what we do with our shares and so on, I will gladly sell them to the public, but those are questions way down the road. My first objective is to have this business stabilize and to save people their money in the medium term. Take care of the interest meanwhile. Because what really hurts me, and what is very painful is that there are retirees, they put all their money in it, and they were living on their interest, because for them the 8% and 9% interest is very attractive, a public servant, who gets $100,000.00 as gratuity, they have a small pension, they say okay, I put it inside there, I am getting $9,000.00 that is seven hundred and something a month interest and on top of my pension of $2,000.00 I can live. But they do not have that money now, and they are out of pocket every single month because they have their normal payments and so on, and it is really difficult, and I want to see that they get their interest, they would not be able to get their interest at the level as it was before because clearly that would burst the new company. That is why British American got burst in any case; high interest rates generating a lot [of] short term money and then going and leverage it irresponsibly in some assets which are outside of the jurisdictions, some inside of the jurisdiction in the region that is and then when the bubble burst everybody is left scrambling. I may say this, the public has not heard me on who is to pay for all this headache and all this loss, which we are experiencing. That has not escaped me, but I have to address first things first. If I go on a hunt for culprits, it may be a catharsis, a cleansing for some people but it does not help you in your pocket to go to the supermarket. And that is what I have to do. So I cannot be looking for a catharsis or any revenge or any “justice” now. But it will come. That is why I want this matter to be dealt with swiftly as possible. And I give the timelines. Of course, timelines are target dates, something to be done by the court; the court holds us up a little more and so on and so forth. It is an enormous challenge. Not an easy business and I repeat it, and on many of these things you have to spend lots and lots of hours on them to get them done. I am obliged.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs.33HONOURABLE SIR LOUIS STRAKER: Mr. Speaker as I was saying I would be very brief in the statement that I want to make and it concerns expression of concern and sympathy for our brother and sister in Chile.The recent loss of life due to the earthquake that they have experienced in Concepción and the area around there in Chile recently we have had our own experience within the sub-region here of Haiti, that experience of a devastating earthquake of 7.0 on the Richter scale and with great devastation and tremendous loss of lives up to probably 300,000 people which would include probably the population of St. Vincent and Grenada put together plus others. And whatever we do here whatever we say here it is very important that we show some kindred feeling of solidarity and sympathy with people of Chile as we did with the people in Haiti. Let them know and my Ministry has written letters of concern, letters of sympathy to them that we are in solidarity with them in their great sorrow about 800 people, over 800 people probably have died, I think that is the last count I have heard.And we want them to know that we are in deep sympathy with the tremendous loss of lives and sympathy in that part of the world. I do not know how many Vincentians we might have in Chile as residents, but it was brought to my attention by a mother who called me on Saturday night, Ms. Dabriel, I believe she is a relative of the Prime Minister and Senator Julian Francis, she is from the Park Hill, South Rivers area and she has a son, she had not heard from him up to Sunday and she has been calling me to try and get some information on her son, his wife and children in Concepción, fortunately he called Sunday night and all is well. I am not aware of any other Vincentian who is affected there but certainly we have to be touched by these natural disasters that are taking place all over the world. We have had not only Haiti, we have had not only Chile but we have had landslides in Uganda where about 300 people have lost their lives. We have Madeira, the ancestral home of our Prime Minister where lives were lost due to flooding. And it seems as if what has been said in the Scripture that “the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain” the planet seems to be reeling and tossing to and fro by these natural disasters.The United States has seen snow in every single state except Hawaii. They have never seen that before. But there are some things that we do not have any control over. The acts of God, and natural disasters, whether it be earthquakes and we know very well that we are in the line of these plates that are moving under the earth and today for them and tomorrow it could be for us. And all we can do is to express... we do not have the resources to help every country in need of the assistance that we can probably mete out to Haiti and all we can do is to express our common humanity feeling of sorrow, feeling of solidarity with them and trust that the good Lord will see them through these disasters. And they would get back on their feet again. I think I speak for the whole Parliament when I sent letters of expressions of sympathy to, particularly, our people within the region here, within the hemisphere, Chile and all those who have suffered great loss, our prayers; our hearts go out to them in this period of great loss and devastation.34Taiwan? Oh, I did not look at the news but certainly we would want to Taiwan and Japan, I think there was a tsunami but I did not hear of any loss of lives in Japan, but certain it would touch us even more, because our brothers and sisters, as we always say, those who live in Taiwan are like family members to us; we have benefited greatly by their generosity and we have a number of Vincentians over in Taiwan as students and we have people who are living there, and certainly whatever befalls them would affect us. We trust that, I did not pick that up on the news because I did not get to listen to the news this morning, but I trust that all will be well with our brothers and sisters in Taiwan also and certainly our solidarity and our sympathy go out to them and we will hope that those who were affected, I do not know whether there was any loss of life; but those who have [been] affected in the loss of property, or through injury, they might be fully recovered and they should know that we here are concerned about their situation and would continue to pray for their safety, their recovery and their well being. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.PAPERSHouse of Assembly Paper No. 1 of 2010 DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, the House of Assembly Paper No. 1 of 2010; the Report of the Director of Audit, on the Public Accounts of St. Vincent and the Grenadines for the year ended 31st of December, 2007 it has been circulated to each Honourable Member and so accordingly being laid in this Honourable House.Mr. Speaker, may I just take this opportunity to indicate that Mr. Leon Snagg after a very distinguished career as a public servant has retired and there Ms. Sealey is in administrative control at the moment and within a few days an appointment would have been made to the Office of the Director Audit. I want to thank Mr. Snagg on behalf of the Government and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines for the tremendous service that he has given to this country. He has been an exemplary public servant. We thank him. And wish him a very productive retirement because he is a very fit young man. I am obliged.QUESTIONS FOR ORAL ANSWERS1. The Honourable Arnhim Eustace (Leader of the Opposition), to ask the Honourable Minister of Transport and Works:The Rockies road particularly in the area leading to the Community Centre and beyond is in a total state of disrepair. This has created great difficulty for pedestrians and vehicles alike.Can the Honourable Minister please indicate when this road will be repaired.35HONOURABLE CLAYTON BURGIN: Mr. Speaker, I am happy for this question from the Honourable Leader of the Opposition, as it allows me to expand on some road issues.Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Member like the other worthy gentlemen on the other side of this Honourable House must be aware that my Honourable Colleagues and I are required to identify roads in need of urgent and necessary rehabilitation. And my ministry, Mr. Speaker, in collaboration with the roads and Buildings and General Services Authority, (BRAGSA) holds the responsibility for such infrastructural work. Mr. Speaker, may I remind this Honourable House and people of this blessed nation that this ULP administration has been spending enormous sums of money since assuming office on road maintenance, repair and development and this we consider basic and hugely important, Mr. Speaker, in the development of infrastructure of our country. Last year.Mr. Speaker, the Ministry of Transport and Works embarked on the implementation of a capital programme amounting to approximately $67.8 million centered on road rehabilitation and of course other infrastructural works. Our primary focus, Mr. Speaker, was on the rehabilitation of road network to improve the economic infrastructure of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. However, Mr. Speaker, our road repair programme suffered immensely owing to protracted problems with the supply of asphalt and shortage of cement. This situation was brought to the attention of the nation via the print and the electronic media as well as in this Honourable House. It was a situation, Mr. Speaker, of which we had not much control, and although the cement shortage was eventually alleviated, the officials in my ministry were able to complete approximately 90% of the concrete road programmes and this we must say is a good job from the officials.However, Mr. Speaker, the Asphalt Road Repair Programme proved to be more challenging, and we were indeed able to address some of the difficulties experienced by motorists in this regard by effecting a three month rapid cut and patch and overlay programme throughout the nation. Mr. Speaker, I need not elaborate on the extensive Windward rehabilitation project which is now completed. And we know that was as far as from Fancy in the North all the way down to Sally Spring in Kingstown. Motorists are now getting into Kingstown in record time as a result of this road, and some of them are tempted to almost do maximum speed on the road and I want to caution the guilty ones, Mr. Speaker, and ask them to exercise much caution on the road.Mr. Speaker, it is evident with the enormous attention, which this ULP administration has placed and continues to place on the road network of this country, however it is necessary and important for me to state here today that our focus on the road infrastructure will continue during this year and beyond, because such works must be placed high on the national agenda. As my worthy colleague on the opposite side of this Honourable House asked the question it gives me enormous pleasure to state that this portion of road has been reviewed and assessed by the officials at BRAGSA and work is scheduled to begin very soon, now we have started the implementation of our road maintenance programme for 2010. It is indeed expected, Mr. Speaker, that this work could be completed by the end of June as it is on the front burner of our list of priorities. The work is scheduled to begin very soon; we have the programme, the programme now... the completed date, that is the important aspect of... Mr. Speaker.36Mr. Speaker, may I state here again for the benefit of everyone that it is not every road that can be rehabilitated all at once, and if even we decided to dedicate all or most of the national budget to address the issue of road repair we would only be able to do the most critical ones up front, and Mr. Speaker, one will always hear the complaints about the conditions of our roads, but whenever they are repaired we hardly hear any talk about what a good job we have done. Mr. Speaker, we try our best to do much of the roads especially those that are in the worst conditions, and as I just stated there, we have the programme now being given to us by BRAGSA for the parliamentary representative to see if these are the roads that are in the worst conditions within the constituency and the programme should be starting very soon. I am not going to say next week, as I just told you I just got the list, but within this month, we can start the programme. Thank you, very much, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Question No. 2, Honourable Member for the Northern Grenadines.2. Dr. the Honourable Godwin Friday (Northern Grenadines), to ask the Honourable Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Economic Planning, National Security, Legal and Grenadines Affairs:Have the corrections and other changes, if any, to the Poverty Assessment Report prepared for the government in 2009 been completed and, if so, when will the entire report be made available to the public.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Prime Minister and Minister of Planning.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, last year before the prorogation of Parliament, the question was asked; I said that they were undergoing some editorial changes and as in 1997 or thereabouts, volume 1 of the report would be published. And as I had indicated, this is in the hands of the public servants and my friend, the member for the Northern Grenadines, would have simply made one telephone call to Laura Anthony-Browne who is the Director of Planning and she would have told him, look you can access the Volume 1 of the report electronically and that they are preparing hard copies for members of House and for senior members of the public service and some for the public at large. That was done in 1997. Some of these things we do not have to... these are non-controversial issues, as to whether you publish the report or not; a simple telephone call. I mean you do not have to, the earlier report, the KARI Consultant report, the Poverty Report, 1996 – 1997, that one, and I am saying Volume 1 was published then for the earlier poverty study. And I had indicated last time when you had asked me the question, that the Volume 1 again will be published, I also pointed that they were doing editorial changes, as you would expect to any report, and all the point I was making that having given that answer and said it was in the hands of the public servants, all that you needed to do was to simple call them and ask Mrs. Laura Anthony- Browne and she would have told you. I run an open house in the Ministry of Finance and Planning you know, it is not a closed shop, I said give anybody the information. It is not a big problem. This is how this government is run, openly and transparently.37SUPPLEMENTARY QUESTIONDR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: For clarification, Mr. Speaker, so the report, the 2009 one is not ready, is that the point? Because I checked on the website for the others, I saw an executive summary, from the 2001, I think, there was an executive summary from an earlier report, but I did not see the detailed report and certainly nothing for 2009.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: No, well, an executive summary will be inside of volume 1, and there is a volume 1, and I can tell you what the answer I was given by the public servants. That it is accessible electronically, if you say you tried to access it electronically and you did not, it means that you informed me wrongly this morning in hand written form and I will find out from them, but please, feel free and call Mrs. Anthony-Browne, it is not a big thing. We know what the results are but you can get the detailed analysis in the volume 1.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Question No. 3 the Honourable Member for Southern Grenadines.3. Honourable Terrance Ollivierre (Southern Grenadines), to ask the Honourable Minister of National Mobilisation, Social Development, Gender Affairs, Non-Governmental Organisations Relations, Youth and SportsIn light of the fact that the development of Sports is dependent on the availability of playing fields with related amenities, can the Minister please state: a. Whether the playing field at Clifton, Union Island would be upgraded in 2010 to facilitate development of sports in that community; or b. If not, whether an alternative site has been located for a playing field, where it has been located and how soon it will be developed. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Minister of Sports. HONOURABLE MICHAEL BROWNE: Thank you, very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I crave your indulgence just to associate myself with remarks made earlier in relation... since we are dealing with sports with regard to Sylvester Taylor, and Matika Ferdinand under obituaries. I did not want to speak then. Just briefly to say in relation and I crave your indulgence of the Honourable Member for the Southern Grenadines, just to say in the case of Matika Ferdinand, she did in fact come to our ministry after she had the baby and she, we had put on the YES Programme and attached her to our Ministry and we are currently working with the family. She was on sick leave at the time of death. Just to make that point. 38 With reference to the question Mr. Speaker, the National Sports Council is by law, mandated to develop, to maintain and to manage sporting facilities in the state, and the National Sports Council has a holistic approach to such development. Now, that development includes putting playing facilities on prioritized basis and taking into consideration a number of factors, the urgency of the need, hosting of events that might be coming up, national, regional and international. The demand and a constituency rotation to ensure that no community, no constituency is left behind; naturally, the development of our sporting facilities, depends on the quantum of resources that are available as is well documented, the current global economic down turn has served to place a damper on a number of the infrastructural development plans. Nonetheless, we are expecting in this year 2010, to have an extra insertion of financial resources so that we could move ahead with continued development of the facilities.With direct reference to the Clifton Playing Field the National Sports Council is very cognizant of the need for the implementation of repairs of the Clifton Playing Field, and accordingly in 2009; late 2009, the manager of the National Sports Council, Mr. O.B. Osbourne Browne, accompanied by Mr. Edwin Snagg, the Director of Grenadines Affairs, paid a visit to the Clifton Playing Field precisely to assess what needs to be done. They held discussions with stakeholders from the communities and they emerged with a plan, for upgrading that facility. The action plan which was formulated has a first phase and a second phase. The first phase includes the grading of the surface to increase the playing area, to extend the playing area, and to reconstruct the cricket pitch. The Council’s operations supervisor would be made available to provide technical expertise when the time comes and in the second phase what they are considering is some sea defense among other things.Now, the project should have been implemented by the National Sports Council or would be implemented by the National Sports Council with the assistance from a Union Island, Developer, I have his name but I would not say his name at this time; who undertook to provide earthmoving equipment which was not available due to earlier commitments on the mainland by the earthmoving equipment. Now the National Sports Council has been requested to delay the implementation of the project by a few months, in order to facilitate a number of sporting events, scheduled for that venue between this month and July and those include Primary School track and field events, Champion of Champion’s tournament and which tournament involves the entire Grenadines. So they have a number of things scheduled so the intention is to begin the upgrading subsequently to that, and of course, you know, Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, you have the question of the Eastern Season and those cultural activities, Easterval and so on taking place. And we understand that there is going to be a tour which will involve that facility by a cricket team from England. Now, at the conclusion of those events the upgrading works at Clifton Playing Field will commence.Now having said that the (b) part of the question whether an alternative site has been located for a playing field, where has it been located and how soon it will be developed, that question obviously would not have any relevance given what I have said in response to the (a) part of the question. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Question No. 4.394. Major the Honourable St. Clair Leacock (Opposition Senator), to ask the Honourable Minister of Urban Development, Culture, Labour and Electoral MattersIn the context of Electoral Affairs, is it true that: a. There is a reduction in the population size; b. There is a decrease in the population density; c. The population density in Kingstown in 2001 was lower than 1991; and d. Is the decrease in the birth rate in St. Vincent and the Grenadines using most current and authoritative statistics. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Minister of Culture and Urban Development, Labour and Electoral Matters. HONOURABLE RENE BAPTISTE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that the Electoral Department does not maintain statistics of this nature. These statistics would have to give through the Census Office who will deal with the authoritative statistics. We do not deal with birth rate, we do not deal with population density neither do we deal with population size, so we do not maintain, neither is our system geared towards handing out, this sort of information, so I refer you to the Census Office, it is my understanding from the budget that this year is census year and perhaps that can represent some of the terms of reference so that we will have that ongoing for the future. HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Thank you, kindly Madam Minister. HONOURABLE RENE BAPTISTE: Mr. Speaker, I have researched 1998, 2001, and the Supervisor of Elections who is there she has not seen that anywhere in extrapolating the duties of the Office of the Supervisor of Elections. This does not form part of that portfolio. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: All right, thank you. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, I did not want to get up earlier on, on a Point of Order, because it is in your preserve, Mr. Speaker, the questions whether they are correctly posed or not but this question I will humbly suggest ought not to have been on the Order Paper, given the contents of question Standing Order 20 (1) (g) (iv), “...a question shall not be asked the answer to which can be found by reference to available official publications.” 40 And there are official publications. You see, the House is not a research centre. And the census figures and all the other official data they are available publicly, in official documents. I just draw that to your attention, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: All right, thank you, very much, I guess I overlooked this.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, I beg to move under Standing Order 12 (5), that the proceedings of today’s sitting be exempted from the provisions of the Standing Order Hours of sitting.HONOURABLE SIR LOUIS STRAKER: Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion. Question put and agreed to.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, it is almost 1:30 p.m. we take a two hour lunch as usual. Accordingly, I beg to move that this Honourable House do stand suspended for the luncheon period until 3:30 p.m.HONOURABLE SIR LOUIS STRAKER: Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion. Question put and agreed to.MOTION POVERTY REDUCTION IN ST VINCENT AND THE GRENADINESHONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Pray be seated. Honourable Member, you have 1 hr to make your presentation, and I wish to inform that Private Members take precedent on this day and that comes to an end at 5:00 o’clock. [Interjection] If it means that I get home early this evening you mean? [Interjection] Oh! Oh! [Laughs] Honourable Senator...HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: Mr. Speaker, I rise to move the Motion on the Order Paper which stands in my name, Motion on Poverty Reduction in St Vincent and the Grenadines: -“WHEREAS the Unity Labour Party government has placed poverty reduction at the centre of its public policy formulation and implementation since 2001;AND WHEREAS at the time of the ULP‘s election to office on March 28th, 2001, the general poverty level in St Vincent and the Grenadines was at least 37.5 percent of the population and indigence or “dirt poor” poverty was 25.7 percent of the population;41page41image17864AND WHEREAS the Unity Labour Party administration has over the past years made a most serious dent in both the general level of poverty and the level of indigence through policies, generally favourable to the poor including targeted strategic interventions;BE IT RESOLVED that this Honourable House endorses the general and specific policies of the Unity Labour Party government in the priority area of poverty reduction”.Motion moved and seconded HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: The Motion has been moved and seconded, now for the debate;Honourable Member Senator Francis.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: Mr. Speaker, I am indeed pleased to be moving a motion in this Honourable House on this ...HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member.HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: I am just enquiring with respect to the Rules, the seconder; I interpret it to mean that former Minister Sayers Member for Kingstown is in fact the private member, is that the basis on which the Motion is seconded by him, I am just enquiring.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Yes indeed he is a Private Member. HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: He is a Private Member? HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Yes. HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Thank you very much. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: He is no longer a Minister; he is not a Member of the Cabinet.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: That is the part you wanted to hear right? [Interjection] [Laughter] in some countries they call us backbenchers but [interjections] you and I and Minister Sayers carried the same status.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: May I crave your indulgence, Mr. Speaker? Mr. Speaker, just in case the impression is given that these Rules are made up as we go along; the Standing Orders of the House of Assembly 1989 No. 16, in the Interpretation: -“Private Members Motion means a Motion not moved by a Member of the Cabinet with the authority of the Cabinet”.42It is in the Standing Orders.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and Honourable Leader of the House, Prime Minister. As I was saying I am pleased to be here this afternoon to present this Motion to this Honourable House and it is indeed pleasing that I stand as a member of the Unity Labour Party administration with Labour as the centre word to present to us here and to those listening on radio and who are viewing us on television the many-sided programmes that this government has put in place since we took office in March 2001. Poverty, Mr. Speaker, is a fundamental aspect of our lives here in these developing countries. Since I have been involved in politics over the years, Mr. Speaker, I have been involved or attuned to politics and listening to speakers doing their presentations in this country, the wider Caribbean and indeed the world, for people and the dispossessed is always a centerpiece of the picture that is being painted and the presentation that is being made. Some people within recent times have articulated a different formulation; like my people and so on; some do not say poor people and you would hear this from the Presidential race in the United States of America to anywhere that you have the competitive type of politics that we practice down here. Mr. Speaker, naturally some politicians play on this aspect of it especially so where there is a high level of poverty but, Mr. Speaker, I can stand proudly here this evening and say that because of the political organisation to which I belong and the commitment and dedication that we have given to this particular subject, we can speak without water in our mouths as the people say as to the work that we have done in this regard and the considerable dent that we have made in the levels of poverty and indigence in this country.Mr. Speaker, we had a twin policy or have a twin policy in this administration and we have labeled them (1) War against Poverty and the sister the twin to this; (2) is our Education Revolution and together these have been the main tools that we have used over the years that we have been in office. I recall the days leading up to the 2001 election, Mr. Speaker; the ninth preparation for the 1998 election, and preparing a work programme for the Unity Labour Party; many, many, many man hours and woman hours were spent crafting a work plan for us because we were confident that we were on our march to taking government in this country. Some political parties today have a false sense of that march and I am sure that as the days progress between now and the end of this year that that will dissipate. And Mr. Speaker, because of the preparatory work that we did while we were in opposition we were able to hit the ground running in 2001 when we struck government and embarked on implementing our programme and Mr. Speaker, one of the proud moments I think in the majority of Vincentians lives was that within a very short space of time something that even the international institutions said could not have happened, happened in four years under this administration where we successfully implemented Universal Secondary Education in October 2005 [applause and knocking on desk] September 2005.Mr. Speaker, that meant that when we took office in 2001, 39% of the students who took the Common Entrance were allowed to go to secondary schools; it meant that 61% of those students did not get a chance to go to secondary schools but in four years, short years, and hot years we were able to provide43100% placement of children in secondary schools. Mr. Speaker, we know the old cliché “Education is one sure way out of Poverty” we all know that and it is not surprising to those who think why the Unity Labour Party has as its centerpiece this thing that we call the ‘Education Revolution’. While they in their years had all primary schools on shift system, we are now at the stage where we have built many schools in this country and we are now targeting that by the year 2025 I believe that we will have in St Vincent at least one university graduate in each household in St Vincent [knocking on desk]. Mr. Speaker, this matter of poverty is quite an extensive subject area and there will be areas that I will focus on; there are many others and those other contributors: other persons who will be contributing to this debate on this Motion, I would not be able to cover all aspects of it and I am sure that others will touch on those areas that I have not. Mr. Speaker, there is no question it is clear what we met and the Motion speaks to it.In 2001 we inherited a poverty situation in St Vincent and the Grenadines where 37.5% percent of the population was in poverty with 25.7% or if you want to close out the decimal point 26% of the population being the indigent poor that is dirt poor people, Mr. Speaker, and in the Prime Minister’s recent Budget address just last month he spent considerable time on this subject matter of poverty and I will refer back to which is a document of the House, Mr. Speaker, the pages 48-60; twelve pages of information on what this administration has done for the alleviation and eventual eradication ... we have our sights set high, you know, Mr. Speaker, we believe that when the people give us a third term and the fourth term that we will reduce these statistics substantially over the next two terms having made [knocking of desk] such a massive dent in the poverty levels in this country. Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Prime Minister had this to say and I want to read the first paragraph:-“Central to the public policies of my government since March 29th, 2001 has been the war against Poverty and its policy twin the Education Revolution. In 1995 the NDP administration contracted CARIRI Consultants a firm of Researchers and Analyst from Trinidad to study the extent of poverty in St Vincent and the Grenadines. In 1996, CARIRI reported that this country had a general poverty level of 37.5% of the population and indigence or what we may colloquially term dirt poor poverty of 25% of the population. These numbers in addition to an unfavourable gini-coefficient the subject I will speak of in brief shortly, which measures the extent of inequalities in common wealth represented the worst incidence of poverty and indigence in the entire Caribbean community outside of Haiti”.That was 1996, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, in fact I have the figures then: - “St Vincent was 25.7% that was the level of indigent poverty; St Lucia was 7.1%; Grenada was18%; Dominica was 13%; Belize 13.4%; Jamaica 3.2% and Guyana 19%.The 37.5% poverty Mr. Speaker, at that time the figure related to that percentage was 43,875 persons that were in poverty. Mr. Speaker, if we go further in the presentation of the Honourable Prime Minister in the Budget Speech, he speaks to preliminary information out of the 2007, 2008 Poverty Study and if I can speak from, I will just find the page for you, Mr. Speaker, no I do not have it in this44one but basically that poverty levels from that study has reduced from 37.5% then to 30.2% with indigent poverty moving from 25.7% in 1996 to 2.9% in 2007, 2008. Of course, [knocking of desk] of course, a remarkable achievement by a government just out of his first term, no question about that. So, we have significantly reduced those persons out of the dirt poor category and made a big dent in poverty overall; in fact a reduction of some 7.3% in the general poverty level. Mr. Speaker, I mentioned the term gini-coefficient just now that the Prime Minister referred to, it is a formula that was created by an Italian gentleman called Corrado Gini and I pulled a little extract on the subject just to show you what that means in terms of St Vincent and the Grenadines.The coefficient: the gini-coefficient in 1996 for St Vincent was 0.56; the gini-coefficient is the measurement of equality [and] in equality with (0) being the area of equality and (1) being the levels of inequalities in a system in income and wealth”.And I will just give you some comparative figures that had been presented in this short matter. It would appear that the gini-coefficient out of the recent study that told us that poverty has fallen to 2.9% indigence that we have moved from 0.56 to 0.4. In other words, we are getting closer to (0) and closer to equality in income and wealth. [Coughs] sorry; this document that I am reading from, Mr. Speaker, it is not a document that I can lay before the House but anybody who Googles gini-coefficient can extract the same document that I have extracted and there is the gini-coefficient, Wikipedia Encyclopedia and lots of information can be extracted from that. So (1) being inequality and (0) being equality.“In practice coefficient values ranged from 0.2 for historically equalitarian countries like Bulgaria, Hungary the Slovakia and Czech Republics and Poland to over .6: 0.6 for Central and South American countries where powerful elites dominate the economy. The evolution of the gini-coefficient is particularly useful as it reveals trends; it shows the evolution towards greater equality in Cuba from 1953 to 1986 where theirs move from 0.55 to 0.22 and the growth of inequality in the USA in the last three decades during which the gini went from 0.35 in the ‘70s to now 0.40 or 0.4 and it is still rising. Most European countries and Canada rate around 0.3 Japan and some Asian countries get around 0.35 some reach 0.4 while most African countries exceed 0.45”.Mr. Speaker, I read that for you for what it is worth in comparisons to where we are now, we are now, we are 0.41, we were then 0.56 it means in actual words and terms that this administration has been able to equalize in common wealth in this country making it more equal since we have been in office for the short seven years that we have been. [Clapping] So that the rich ones all the monies, I hear every day some of those persons who are the critics of the government telling you, “Yes money spending but money spending in certain pockets”. What I have just read here for you, Mr. Speaker, and the statistics that are being presented is showing you that we are equalizing what was in equal, unequal under the NDP that is the point I am trying to establish. So that all the activities that we have been carrying over the last seven or eight years, Mr. Speaker, by 2007 when the studies was done we have45seen remarkable progress in reducing poverty, indigent level and equalizing for the people of this country income and wealth.Mr. Speaker, there is no surprise to those of us who live on the ground; those of us who have been involved in poverty I cannot say that I came from poverty; my father and mother prepared well for us, but I lived in communities where I lived among poverty, I can speak and say that I have heard one member of this House early days that I have been here that when ... he never believes that there was so much poverty in this country that is in 1998 when he entered East Kingstown and started visiting the homes in Roseau and Walvaroo. He has never seen this type of poverty; he has never been exposed to it before but those of us who have been exposed to it are therefore in a better position to judge how we have reduced it from what it was to where it is today. Mr. Speaker, I can speak of many programmes that we have done over the years but Mr. Speaker, there is no question and the NIS statistics can prove it that over the seven years that we have been in office Mr. Speaker, it would have appeared that we have created some 10,000 jobs in this country. Mr. Speaker, it is not difficult to see on the streets.In 2001, Mr. Speaker, we had in this country 7,000 motor vehicles registered, today we have 24,000 of them registered, Mr. Speaker. When we took office in 2001 there were about 6,000 cell phones in this country; Minister of Telecoms how many we have today; 100,000 almost 1 per member of the population of St Vincent and the Grenadines; more than that? [Interjections] But Mr. Speaker, this aspect of it, the number of phones is not the only measurement; I want to measure it also from the amount of jobs that have been created because of the increase in the Cell phone Industry in this country. You can see it in the City of Kingstown every single day; walk around as some of us do and you will see the number of young men who are under the sidewalks with a chair and a table selling phone cards that is a job. Many shops have been built up in this country and what do you think help them to pay their utility bills; the sale of phone cards. This administration is the administration that revolutionized and brought equality I would say in the Telecom Industry where we brought the competition here and this has revolutionized what is happening in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Similarly, with vehicles, Mr. Speaker, if you have a substantial increase over such a short period of time in vehicles there are many mechanic jobs that would have been created; car wash, there are a lot of people doing buffing and so on with motor cars; tyres: I have never seen more tyres and mechanic shops that have been opened. When I debated here, I did my presentation on the Budget, Mr. Speaker, I listed every single new business that has been established between Arnos Vale Gas Station below Crow’s Nest to Kingstown ending at Kentucky and I listed from Layou up to Coop Gas Station. And Mr. Speaker in there, there were at least 10 vehicle spare parts and tyres operations that were not there in 2001.So when you sit and assess this thing and look at it closely one can easily understand that the figures that are presented by NIS of the registered persons, which I believe in the ballpark of about 8,400 additional registered names between 2001 and last year there are many of these persons who are working today who are not and not registered with the National Insurance Scheme Service. So that 10,000 I think is an easy figure to speak of but I am convinced in my mind that the activities that have46generated out of what we have done in our programme to try and alleviate poverty we have been successful in creating much more than 10,000 jobs in this country.Mr. Speaker, as simple as we see it there is a thing called the Youth Empowerment Service, the NDP, the Opposition and their Talk Show host has a different way that they describe it. Mr. Speaker, I believe that over the 9 years that we have been in office that there would have been at least 400 persons per year, 3600 persons Minister Browne? Over that period roughly 4500 and it is being belittled on the airwaves of the NDP daily programme; the Opposition official programme, because it is stated at the beginning of each day that this is a programme of the New Democratic Party. Let us not mix it up what the Talk Show host on that programme says is the voice of the New Democratic Party: let us not have any quarrels about that. So when Mr. Lynch gets up on the Radio and cusses somebody in the Government it is the NDP that is cussing them. When Mr. Lynch gets up and say that if Ken Boyea passes by here he would kick him in the face; it is the NDP that is saying that, it is the official programme of the New Democratic Party and I want to pick out this YES Programme, Mr. Speaker, because in September of last year our political leader circulated some correspondence from Carlos Williams and I want to read it. It says:-“To: The Cabinet SecretaryFrom: The Youth Officer”.Plenty of them come inside here and read all kind of things, I am going to read this one today into the records of the House:“From:To:And theThe Youth Officer The Cabinet Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office”‘Yes’ SVG accepted as a best practice. programme”Youth Officer, Mr. Carlos Williams not the Carlos Williams from Bequia the other Carlos Williams, okay let us not confuse the Carlos Williams.“The programme was entered in a competition among 30 countries of the region under ‘Job Creation Opportunities’ and was selected as a best practice. It was selected as a best practice from among 600 entries.”47“Subject:Yes, I wish to bring to your attention the following regional achievement of YES SVGAnd there is an email attached that I will read because I want to know ... because they will say ‘Ah allyuh manufacture that’; but I will show you all who comprise this.“The Youth Department is proud of this achievement and thinks that the government should be also;”That is what the Youth Officer is saying;“I am informing the Cabinet officially through you, as at the time of writing P.S. Snagg is out of state along with Minister Browne. The Department will on Monday September 28th,”that is last year.hold a Press Conference to launch the Youth month 2009 activities and this achievement will be noted to the Press”.This was done last year but again belittled. P.S. Snagg is knowledgeable of this achievement but not the Minister as he was already out of state. Speaker, to give you the background to this: the following was written to Carlos Williams:-“Carlos Williams Youth Affairs Ministry of Sports St Vincent and the Grenadines.On behalf of the Organising Committee”And I will read out who that organising committee is you know.“of the best practices in youth policies and programmes in Latin America and the Caribbean Projects. It is our pleasure to inform you that after a rigorous examination of over 600 registered practices from over 30 countries of the region your initiative: Job Creation Opportunities has been preselected as a best practice in the work with and for the young people of the region.”Of the region you know [knocking of desk].“The final list of the selected practices will be published on September 5th. A representative of each of these selected practices will assist the regional forum on best practices, which will take place in Mexico in November of 2009. The representatives will present the main elements of their programmes; their methodologies; evaluation systems and results”.48And they go on to say that if you want us to publish this please send your authorisation; if there is no negative response it will be published. But there was another Memo that was sent to Carlos.“On behalf of the organising committee of the best practices in Youth Policies and programmes in Latin America and the Caribbean Project it is our pleasure to inform you that your initiative has been selected as a best practice and will be presented to the high level forum, which will take place in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico from the 4th-6th November.Attached to this email you will find an official letter of recognition from the committee and a basic information sheet and registration form”.And they give you some administrative matters to deal with. Now, who is the organising committee or they would say we put this together and I am reading it as usual as propaganda of the Unity Labour Party. Organising Committee:-SEP: IMJ: CONALMEX: SEJUV:UCOL:Centre. IDB YOUTH:I mentioned UNESCO earlier on.Mexican Ministry of Public Education. Mexican Institute of Youth. Mexican National Commission for UNESCO. Government of the State of Colima Mexico through its Ministry of Youth.University of Colima Mexico. Commonwealth Youth Programme CaribbeanInter-American Development BankOAS: Organisation of American States. Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development. Ibero-American Youth Organisation. Espacio VinculaciónPLASCO: Is another oneFALCULTAD Latin AmericanaSo, Mr. Speaker having read that out, all I am saying is that this administration has used this as a poverty reduction measure by employing over 4500 persons [knocking of desk and clapping] and it has been accepted internationally as a best practice. I want the Talk Show host to deal with it. I want to congratulate the Ministry with responsibility for this. Mr. Speaker, as simple as the National Lottery is49if you do not have a ticket you do not have a chance; when we took office in 2001 the sales for Lotto and 3 D was about $11 million, Minister of Finance could correct me if I am wrong but I believe I am pretty correct. Last year Mr. Speaker, it was $46 million; this year it is projected to be over $50 million in takings, they may say it is gambling, but Mr. Speaker, when such activities increase jobs are created that is the point I am trying to draw with all of this you know. Job creation, war against poverty, we have a very activist Board of Directors at the National Lotteries. Look at the number of Lotto booths that have gone up see how many persons are employed in there; see how many persons: young people, young women; young men on the streets selling lotto tickets. See how many businesses have a booth, a window to sell phone cards and lottery tickets, persons are employed in these activities and what does it do, where is the money spent that you make out to this lottery: many Vincentians win it back and help them to create a better life for themselves; and the profit that the National Lotteries will make out of it powered it back into Sports and Culture. And the youths again developing sports, education and culture, carnival is our largest money earner, you know, so that Mr. Speaker, we ride around all day long on these things and we do not observe and sometimes it takes a moment like this a gathering like this of the highest body of the land and I want to thank the Speaker, of the House as there was no court today to allow an extension speaker out into the yard of this Honourable House because it is important.I remember the days when in this parliament Glen Jackson was almost brought before the court for coming in here and taping a delayed recording playback on 99; on WE FM and he was almost dragged before the Court; the police came to him. In the days of Milton Cato and Joshua when they were running here in the Parliament there were extensions speakers outside you know, there were horns outside and people in the court house yard could have heard; the NDP cut that out. They cut it out and they did not want Glen Jackson to [inaudible] today we have it live on every single radio station that wants to carry it: every single radio station [applause knocking of desk] much more you can sit in the comfort of your drawing room and look or bedroom . Plenty people look at TV in their bedroom; I try not to because the TV does watch me instead I watching the TV; and listen to what is going on in this parliament. Mr. Speaker, so I want to thank you Mr. Speaker, for that initiative and I trust that whenever the court is not in session downstairs that such courtesy could be provided for the peoples of St Vincent and the Grenadines; my people; my people, how he pronounced it again? I need Sehon Marshall to say it for me [interjections and laughter].Mr. Speaker, another fundamental programme of this administration is the construction in the industry. Mr. Speaker, never before in the history of this country has there been so much commercial and residential construction, never before. We are talking a country where banana as our main export which gave us $99.28 million in 1992 down to $18 million in 2006, five of those years we were in office; from 2001 to 2006 and we have ... long ago when banana was green gold you would have seen the farmers putting up they are buying their vehicles and putting up their houses. Despite the fact that banana has declined we are seeing much more residential construction in the rural areas no question about it. The Hardware Stores, cement, galvanize and lumber, well do not talk about bathroom and tiles. Mr. Speaker, the jobs that have been created ... I remember when we were doing the low income housing at one point Housing and Land Development Corporation: a corporation that the NDP had closed they told people; “If you want to build your house go out and borrow the money and build it”;50that was their policy. People come to them for land to build; they say, “Go Diamond and squat” “So Minister, if I go Diamond and squat how ah gon build me house”? “Well, pick up two pieces plywood somewhere and knock up something out dey”. Today the Honourable Minister of Housing and Land Physical Planning Saboto Caesar with me being his forerunner, we have created a dent within that mismanagement of the resources and when I say the resources: both the land and the people of this country, the harum sacrum scheme of housing.At one point, Mr. Speaker, we had 890 workmen employed building low income houses in this country, so the NDP says, “well when you done build those houses where are you going to employ them”? Well we are still building houses and there is Buccament which has come and Buccament is now employing 1000 persons down there, with them opening one hundred and fifty something units at the end of July and will be employing another 750 persons. Mr. Speaker, no-income housing: the quality of life for the average Vincentian as I had shown you from the gini-coefficient that tells you that we are equalizing, we are making it more equal. The rich is still making you know, those who were getting before and who had before are still making. In fact, the supermarkets and a lot of the stores in this country have said to the Prime Minister and he has repeated this many a time that they have never made more money than since the Labour Party has been in Government; they have said so. And Mr. Speaker, I haven’t even come to the GDP measurement yet; I hear my colleague mentioned GDP because I am leaving that as the culmination to show Minister that after all that I have said here I will then show you how the actual numbers came out with the GDP. [Interjection] No that will come later on, not right now.Mr. Speaker, we have looked after the elderly; we have looked after those preschools; we have created jobs for those persons to take care of old people; we are now financing preschools and paying the teachers nine of them. Mr. Speaker, I can only speak in a capsule because I have only an hour but many other persons will debate this Motion in time to come; because this is a Motion that has to be dealt with, I would love to hear the Members of the Opposition speak on this matter of poverty reduction; unfortunately we may not have time to hear them this afternoon but I am sure that later on, time will be allocated for this discussion. When we started the Housing Scheme in this country the Housing Programme, I said to the nation the greatest challenge I have in building houses for people in St Vincent is for those persons below the income level of $500.00 at that time and Mr. Speaker, the Lord looks after those who work hard. I got a message one day from the Honourable Prime Minister and he said to me, “Minister, you need to prepare a project to go to ALBA because I am going to get you some Grant money to fulfill that challenge that you have had over the years”. I said, “You mean you are going to get money for us on Grant terms to build houses for the people below $500.00 per month”? He said, “Exactly what I am talking to you about”. Within three weeks Brian George had put the project together and it went to Venezuela and so far out of EC$9 million we have received EC$4.5 million, there are about 35 houses under construction now Minister, under the no-income programme. We are hoping to put together about 300 houses out of this programme and we are doing it constituency by constituency; all of the materials have been bulk purchased for the construction of the first 150 and then we will during that period give the report back to the ALBA money; the same ALBA51they are going to unsign when they say they win government; when they say they win government [interjection] they are going to unsign it, they are going to unsign Petro Caribe.HONOURABLE SABOTO CAESAR: And take back the houses.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: Well, [laughter] it is the people them who live in the houses that they will have to deal with not me, not you Minister and not the Prime Minister, but we are building 300 such houses looking after reducing the inequalities. You think it is easy to drive by Diamond sometimes, Mr. Speaker, as Minister of Housing and see some houses that people live, if it is one of the things that gives me greatest pleasure in this government performing as a Minister is when I received that first $4.5 million out of the ALBA money to build poor people houses in this country. [Knocking of desks] Mr. Speaker, this government has been in the forefront of looking after the elderly in this country and one of the things I would highlight, Mr. Speaker, is that sometimes these things sound small. Firstly, I am told that we have about 5800 persons on the Public Assistance List. I believed that when we took office in 2001 the figure for public assistance was what $50.00 a month? Wasn’t it Minister Browne? $50.00 a month we increased it gradually every single year some of them even get bonus; where you ever hear on public assistance you get bonus? This is the administration that did it. A special fund was established at the NIS, the people’s money and created assistance there for those persons who need that is why we can have all these figures that I am presenting to you that is why indigence in this country has moved from 25.7% to 2.9% because the Unity Labour Party has been at work since 29th March, 2001 and we are not turning back: we are not turning back, forward we are going. The people of this country became so disenchanted with the previous administration and that is why you remember when I was talking about the gini-coefficient we talked about those elites in South America: elite countries in South America where the gini-coefficient was higher closer to one that is why when we took over in 2001 it was 0.56% because that is where it was the NDP was looking after their elites. This Unity Labour Party is looking after the poor people and the dispossessed that is why it moved down to 0.41 [knocking on desk]. Give us another term we are going to beat Japan 0.35 that is what we are going to target.I am fortunate to be close to the Honourable Prime Minister and I sit down and listen to him talk and he speaks with a passion on these matters and I am telling you something: they say, when the goat in the kiddy, you ever heard that story? What is in the Leader is in the Party and when you compare leaders in this country there is only one leader that can take us into the betterment of this country and it is Ralph Gonsalves. We speaking poverty which is a political subject so therefore, Mr. Speaker, I trust I am not going beyond my bounds of parliamentary speeches.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: You have 15 minutes remaining. HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: Only that Mr. Speaker? HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Only that.52HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: Ok. Mr. Speaker, land for the landless [clapping] no! No! Do not clap yet that was the NDP programme [laughs]. Land for the Landless but it would appear that it were the elites that were landless [laughter]. Those who get land in Bequia for a $1.00 sq ft and they are selling poor people for $3.00; those who get land in Canouan for $0.40 a sq ft and they are selling poor people down there for $3.00 that is land for the landless, Mr. Speaker, that was the programme of the NDP; [interjections] that is why the gini-coefficient was 0.56 because the elites were being looked after and keeping the wealth to themselves. We are spreading the wealth in this Party; in this government we are spreading the wealth. What is our programme on land, Mr. Speaker, turning dead capital into live capital? [Knocking on desk] Recipients of this programme, Mr. Speaker, [interjection] thank you I know that. That is why I did not want you to clap too early because you were not sure what I was going to say, I told you hold your hand do not clap yet: land for the Landless. [Interjection] boy, Mr. Speaker, sorry, the ‘boy’ I retract. But you recall I made a statement here a while ago, Mr. Speaker,that a Member of Parliament in this parliament said that in 1998 he was surprised at the levels of poverty in Roseau area when he visited the housing, if you see the kitchen the people cooking in and the kind of pots they are using this administration, Mr. Speaker, turn that around, equalize it in Roseau. [Knocking on desk] You know what we did; you know what we did? We sold those lands in Roseau at $0.75 a sq ft and today they are proud homeowners, [knocking on desk] landowners and freehold titles for the lands and them down in Roseau; that is the programme of this administration and that is why poverty has been reduced and indigence has been reduced by 23%. The people of Fitz Hughes, Mr. Speaker ... [interjection] sorry, 23% Mr. Speaker, the people of Fitz Hughes got lands at $0.10 a sq ft, where you ever hear that in this country? It means we are not looking after the elites, Mr. Speaker, this is not a land for the landless; this is turning dead capital and land for the poor people in to live capital [knocking on desk] that is what we are doing to reduce poverty in this country. When I go to Diamond and I use Diamond because I was successful as the first Minister to turn around in Diamond and take to the Cabinet 239 applications to get people title for land that I know. The NDP put them there to squat and I had to clean it up. The Honourable Minister of Housing now takes over from me and he still has a 192 to do; you hear the number of people they had out there. Mr. Speaker, [interjection] $0.10 I just mentioned $0.10. You are jumping ahead of me there, Prime Minister.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Laughs.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: But when I go to Diamond, Mr. Speaker, that is where I was; and I see some houses that people have built at Diamond but it is no use for them than to sleep in it, there is no value to it; you go in the bathroom well tiled but they do not have that important piece of paper called a Title Deed to turn that capital that they have there, which is stone dead. [Interjection] Well, I am taking the note from the Leader of the Opposition he said the Airport Project dead that done dead; Cuba and Venezuela pull out: it done, dead.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Where are they going to get the money? [Laughs].53HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: Where are they going to get the money? I have a piece to put together to put on TV; to show him how he responded to the Airport, he would not believe how he responded to the Airport you know, until he sees it again on TV [interjections] you never see the real thing until you cut it up in pieces. You never know how sweet the meat is until you cut it up in pieces. When you cut up what he said in the Jerry George interview and the press conference, and you link the two of them, Mr. Speaker when you go on TV he will wonder if that is him speaking, trust me. [Laughter]But the point I am making is this, Mr. Speaker, this is why you are seeing what you are seeing on the street because the people have been the recipients of real property and anybody who has real property is a rich person. They can go to the Bank and borrow to send their child to get a university degree: who will come back and work for only $35..., $4,000 a month and help them to pay back for the house that sends them to university. We have students loan I have not even touched that; that is why I say I can speak for 3hrs on this thing. This administration has introduced the Economic and Disadvantaged Student Loan where the government is underwriting the debt; $120,000 to go and do a degree, if your parents do not have any money and they do not have any property and their assets do not value more than $10,000, they can go by NCB or any bank in town and borrow $120,000 and the Honourable Prime Minister, Minister of Finance guarantees the loan. [Interjection] It couldn’t be done. I am extremely concerned about this programme that was the response of the Leader of the Opposition, it cannot be done; anything you try to introduce as an innovation it cannot be done; that is why he could never get money for the Airport because he does not know where to start to look. I want to congratulate ... and you see this Airport Mr. Speaker ... [interjection] I said I can speak whole day you know but the ... Speaker you said 20 minutes?HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Nine minutes.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: Mr. Speaker, my father was a public servant he is an Agriculture Officer for years we live at every stud center in St Vincent, plenty of us born at stud centers. My father had 10 children: 7 boys and 3 girls at home, my mother had to supplement his income by running a shop, dry goods store because she said she is not selling grocery. So, she would cook for the 10 children and the husband give us a snack to carry to school, we go in the gardens 10 of us sit down there; at one time almost 10 all of us going to school at the same time; they came so quick after one another. She would pack a sandwich when we go home at night we eat a nice hot meal that she cooked for us. My father invested in real estate with a small meager income and the income he was getting, each one of us had our task to do mine was cattle, Trevor was pigs, Lennox was chickens and we had goats and then we do carrots and cucumbers and so on and what not kitchen garden. Everybody in the household had a chore that time school fee was $14.88 at Grammar School. We had so many of us at Grammar School I think our school fees the last one went down to $9.50 because 5 of us were at Grammar School the same time remember that Senator Leacock.HONOURABLE LOUIS STRAKER: He is not here.54HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: But the point I am trying to make, Mr. Speaker, if he did not do that he could not have built a house for us to live in or send us to school. Today, this administration has given public servants 100% mortgage to build their house [knocking on desk]. My father had to sell cattle for the down payment to build the first house. “Cannot get it, it cannot work you mash up the NCB; NCB cannot lend that kind of money”, the other banks are lending the same 100% mortgage too because when NCB introduced it and I challenged them on it some of them were lending at 11 and 10% for mortgages they came down to the same 8% and 83⁄4% and the same 25-30 years [knocking on desk] and the same 100%. Those are things that we have done to alleviate and ease and equalize the gini-coefficient move it from 0.56 to 0.41. Mr. Speaker, it is a subject that one can get very passionate on but I am proud to stand here and speak; I am sorry that other Members ... because I know, but Mr. Speaker, your time is?HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: My time is ... HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: My time must have stopped working. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Twenty minutes to five. HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: Okay, but we ... I would not question your judgement. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: You have 5 more minutes so continue.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: I have 5 more minutes. So, Mr. Speaker, I want to say that we will proceed on this path that we have been on, and given the next term in office, I am very confident that we are going to bring it home, people are going to need better representation hence this evening, tonight we are going to be debating here a Bill to move it from 15 to 17 seats. Why? You need the better representation, there are some constituencies that are over populated and remember you know this thing is not judged on the number of persons who are registered to vote you know, it is number of population and many people got it wrong last night in their prelaunch, I never heard a political leader in a prelaunch for a campaign could not even call the names of his candidates, “if you have 14 of them here with me, all you get up let the people see what you look like”. [Laughter] Imagine you are introducing your candidates in that manner [interjection] that is what you said last night. Vynnette Frederick, the PRO started to call out names and forgot but the Leader of the Party who was the first speaker said, “My 14 colleagues over there all you get up let the people see what all you look like”. [Laughter] could not remember some of them names I believe; that is why the Press did not ask any question last night, Mr. Speaker. Believe me the Press did not ask, the Press walked out to go and write their story for today’s papers because the PRO said, “And now we have a special moment where we had invited the Media and we now give the Media a chance to ask all their questions”. She humbly comes back and says, “Well, they said they have to go and write their papers for tomorrow so we wouldn’t have any questions” [Laughter] I would have resigned as leader of that Party [Interjections]55If I had a prelaunch for a campaign, an election campaign the night before I put up some Billboards to build up the thing in this country for big thing in NDP Headquarters ... Mr. Speaker, I am almost finished [laughter]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I want to bring you back [inaudible]HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: According to the Minister of Housing they depressed the Press. Nice formulation; I love it I will use it. Mr. Speaker, the final thing I have to say on poverty, Mr. Speaker, I have spoken a lot of things that we have done but you know sometimes you paint the picture of the street like I did in the Budget debate where I identified all those businesses from Arnos Vale to Town and from Layou to Town that has developed since we formed government in this country and you wait for the scientific evidence to support that and what is it the GDP per capita in this country. Minister, Thompson this is for you, I have confirmed all these things that I have said this evening where it has moved from 2001 at $8,000 per head to 2009, $16,000 per head; 100% increase in GDP per capita. Mr. Speaker, I cannot be lying so well. I cannot be lying so well, and in parliament ‘liar’ and ‘lying’ are an unparliamentarily words but I only use it on myself, I cannot be lying to fit all these figures gini-coefficient moving from 0.56 to 0.41 where one is total inequality and (0) is equality per capita, per head, gini coefficient per capita moving from $8,000 to $16,000 . In 7 years you move from $8,000 vehicles to 24,000 vehicles; you created 10,000 jobs in that short period of time; cell phones moved from 6,000 to an hundred plus thousands. Mr. Speaker, I present to you that this Motion must have its easy passage [knocking on desk] through this Honourable House. Thank you. [Knocking on desk continues].HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Further debate on the Motion; any further debate on the Motion? Honourable Prime Minister we have 15 minutes to the conclusion of this Motion.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, it is the ... HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: It is not the conclusion of the Motion, sorry; to conclude the private member’s ...DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Yes. Mr. Speaker, it is usual when a Motion is moved by someone from this side that someone gets up on the other side that is the usual practice but no one from the Opposition wants to speak on the issue of poverty reduction; they are afraid of this subject like how ‘jumbie’ afraid holy water. [Laughter] Mr. Speaker, the Opposition spoke in the last Budget; the Opposition Leader spoke for 4hrs; he did not address the issue of poverty reduction at all for 4hrs and the words poverty reduction did not appear in the speeches of any of his four colleagues. On the question of reducing poverty, if one did not know better, one would suggest they are mute either as a consequence of malice or by visitation of God. I have never seen a thing like this in my entire political life, a Party and its leadership they are afraid to speak of Poverty reduction, well that is one of the central planks of this Party and this Government; the Unity Labour Party administration.56Mr. Speaker, when we came to office certain correspondence was drawn to my attention by the officials regarding the matter of debt relief and poverty reduction. The Honourable Leader of the Opposition when he was Minister of Finance wrote shortly after he became Minister of Finance in June 1998, wrote to the British government seeking debt relief on $12 million owed by this country to Britain and the debt relief was sought under the Commonwealth Debt Initiative (CDI) I was astounded by the reply by the British government, a reply not by a Minister but by a High Commissioner in Barbados. The High Commissioner replied on behalf of his government writing to the Minister of Finance and Prime Minister presumptive because they knew that Sir James had him earmarked, and the letter made me cringe to hear how someone from the Diplomatic Corps: the British Diplomatic Corps writing the Minister of Finance. High Commissioner Baker of Britain got to the point very quickly. He said:-“My government cannot accede to your request for debt relief under the Commonwealth Debt Relief Initiative for the following reasons:-1. Your government has no focussed approach to poverty reduction.Imagine a British Diplomat telling a former British colony that is what you call word you know; that is word. The first item on the agenda:We are not giving you debt relief under the Commonwealth Debt Initiative because:- 1. Your government does not have a focussed approach to poverty reduction. In other words you have a scatter shot approach, you are swiping; you are all over the place, you do not know what you are doing. 2. We cannot give you debt relief because you are not addressing the issue of official corruption comprehensively; and that you are not regulating the Offshore Sector, particularly the Offshore Banks properly; and that generally speaking you are lacking in good governance”. Well, you a person to whom such a letter is written should really not be surfacing again. Mr. Speaker and what happened with us we got into office at the end of March by the month of May I was writing for debt relief on the basis of policies which we had initiated in 2 months. The British government responded and said we will give you debt relief for 1yr in the first instance on the basis of the policies which you have already introduced and the programmes which you have on-stream. In 2 months you know what they did not do for the NDP administration in 17 years. I collected the letter myself not from a High Commissioner from Claire Shortt the Minister of Development and then in the letter she said to me, “if you continue like this ... (in one year) we will give you complete debt relief” Within 1 yr we got it and when I thought that they will give us the debt relief and tie it to specific projects, say do this do that they say, “we are so satisfied with your administration you can spend the $12 million on whatever you want to spend it”. Well, it is not Ralph Gonsalves who said that you know, it is the 57 British government, and the statistics quoted by Senator Francis are statistics by regional and international agencies. Then Mr. Speaker, we had in relation to housing a particular programme of activities; we made it plain in addition to granting additional tax relief on mortgages for developers in the area of housing; the 100% mortgages, the law in relation to possessory titles all of these things, turning dead capital to live capital.The NDP what did they do they sold working people land up at Gibson Corner, land which was slipping. The Geologist, Mr. Robertson gave the information, the document was known to the Housing and Land Development Corporation, known to the Cabinet because the document was submitted to the Cabinet of which the Honourable Leader of the Opposition was a leading member. The houses started to slip; the houses started to slip now when the Honourable Leader of the Opposition was summoned before the Justice Monica Joseph Enquiry and the facts were laid out in front of him what was the position of the Leader of the Opposition, he said, “Well, in his view while the Housing and Land Authority has some responsibility it should be a shared responsibility between them and the individuals, the individuals who bought the land hard working Vincentians not knowing the contents of the geological study and Justice Monica Joseph wrote very pointedly in that report said, “I cannot agree with the Honourable Arnhim Eustace, the Government is wholly responsible for this debacle: wholly responsible”. Even at that stage no contrition for the poor, for the working people that they must share it, they must share the burden even though they were not responsible.“Ah! Ah! But what a tangled web we weave when we are wont to deceive. It was a horse of a different colour, Mr. Speaker, in relation to Diamond Estate yes, Mr. Mongul Singh of Colonial Homes his company had 49% of the shares, the Government the rest but they made Mongul Singh the Chairman and gave him the authority to sign anything on behalf of the Government, on behalf of that company they transferred the valuable land at Diamond into that company. We in the Opposition we protested, they persisted; they persisted and Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Leader of the Opposition when he was Minister of Finance what did he do when the pressures brought sufficiently and the project collapse; he paid out Mongul Singh but did not check to see whether the land over which Mongul Singh had control whether that land was mortgaged or not. So, when he went now to the Caribbean Banking Corporation, which the successor is RBTT and said he wanted the land now from that company to be transferred back to the Government; the Bank said to him, “We will transfer it but Mr. Mongul Singh had borrowed money on this”. They had to turn round, he had to turn round and pay the money to the Bank to release the title, so Mongul Singh get three sets of money: the first set to use it when they build the house, the second set when the Leader of the Opposition negotiated with him and he get a third set of money. All he had to do the Honourable Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Speaker, was to call May from up Sharpes and say, ‘May do a title search give me’ and within half hour May would have said no you cannot pay the money. He could have sought the advice of May.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Leader, Honourable Prime Minister, I am afraid I have to refer you to ...DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: We are now at 5:00 o’clock.58HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Twenty to five...DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: We now at 5:00 o’clock.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: We now at 5:00 o’clock and ...DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker ...HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: this discussion must come to an end.DR THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: under the Rules am I permitted to continue at another day?HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: At another day, yes.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: To finish my 45 minutes,HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Yes you have 15 minutes on so far.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: I am obliged, Mr. Speaker, we will find time to finish this discussion on poverty reduction [interjection] I am obliged, Mr. Speaker.CONSTITUTION OF ST VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES, AMENDMENT BILL 2010HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: [Inaudible]DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, on 19th February, we had the first reading of this Bill. I beg to move that a Bill for an Act to amend the Constitution of St Vincent and the Grenadines, set out in the first Schedule to St Vincent and the Grenadines Constitution Order 1979, United Kingdom Statutory Instrument 1979; No. (916), I beg to move that this Bill be read a second time.Question put and agreed to HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Debate on the Bill, Honourable Prime Minister.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, this Bill is very straightforward it involves the increasing of the seats from 15 to 17 by amending Section 33 (1) of the Constitution of St Vincent and the Grenadines. Mr. Speaker, under the provisions regarding the alterations of the Constitution in Section 38 (2) this Bill can alter that provision of the Constitution if there is passage on the final reading by a two thirds majority of the elected members of this Honourable House that is the legal position.59page59image17792Mr. Speaker, this is not the first time that we are having an increase in the number of seats. In 1951 there were 8 seats, in 1961 that was increased to 9 seats, in 1972 there was an increase to 13 seats and then in 1986 for the 1989 elections the number was increased from 13 to 15.Mr. Speaker, the debate in 1986 is very instructive which provided for the increase, the Bill was first presented to the House on the 8th May, 1986 and had its first reading and then in the next month on June 5th: Thursday 5th June, 1986 the Bill was passed by the requisite two thirds majority. The mover of the Bill was the Honourable Attorney General but the principal speaker for the Government was the then Prime Minister, the Honourable J.F. Mitchell, Mr. Speaker and he began his debate as follows:-“Mr. Speaker, this Act seeks to amend the number of constituencies in St Vincent and the Grenadines as provided for in the Constitution. The Bill seeks to change the number of constituencies from 13 to 15 and the only thing that is therefore being done in the Constitution is to change the word 13 to 15”.All we are doing now is to change the word 15 to 17 [knocking on desk] that is all. In the second paragraph of his speech, Mr. Speaker, He said:-“Mr. Speaker, there has been a history of increasing the number of boundaries and the number of constituencies, I should say over the years...”And he gave the summary which I just gave as to the changes since 1951, then he says:-“We are now seeking a modest increase as provided for in the Constitution, with which the Attorney General will deal in due course, that provide for the change of the numbers in the procedures which we are doing today”.We are also seeking here an even more modest one, proportionately, because two fifteenths is proportionately less than two ... two seventeenth sorry is proportionately less than two fifteenth. Then he went on to say:-“Mr. Speaker, I would like for the record to lay before you the information on the status of parliamentary representation in the Caribbean and I will give references to the population numbers and the numbers of the constituencies and the numbers of people per representative: Dominica with an estimated population of 79,000 has 21 constituencies with an average number of citizens per constituency of 3,716; St Kitts Nevis with a population of 40,400 has 9 constituencies with an average per constituency of 4,444;”Mr. Speaker, in the current case, in St Kitts: St Kitts Nevis is now not 9, St Kitts is 11 and the population there is not 40,400 but now 39,190; so approximately, 3,562. I am going through what Sir James said and make whatever the corrections there are.60“Antigua with an estimated population of 76,000 has 17 constituencies with an average of 4,470 citizens per constituency;”Mr. Speaker, the Antiguan population today is 75,000 and they have 17 members and their numbers are 4,441. I should point out that additionally in Antigua and Barbuda there are 17 Senators in an upper chamber, so there are 34 of them but 17 elected representatives.“Grenada ...”I am quoting Sir James; it is not Sir James at the time; Honourable J. F Mitchell Prime Minister.“Grenada with a population of 107,000 has a number of constituencies being 15 and the average citizen for constituency is 7,133;”The actual situation today in Grenada is that they have a population of 104,000 with 15 members, with 6,933 per constituency but they have an upper chamber with 13 also so that is 28 of them, then:-“St Lucia with an estimated population of 124,000 persons has 17 constituencies with an average working out of 7,294;”Well, St Lucia’s population has gone up to 169,000 they have 17 elected members so that give them 9,941 but they have 11 Senators in addition to their 17, I want to point out that St Lucia has indicated that they are going to increase the number of constituencies. He says:-“Our population”Means St Vincent and the Grenadines“...is estimated at 116,000 or one may in fact reduce that figure to 110,000 so if we use the figure of 110,000 it gives us an average of 8,461 citizens per constituency and if we increase the number to 15 it will give us 7,333 per constituency.”Mr. Speaker, I want to pause here at the time there was one constituency in the Grenadines after that change there were two, no one can reasonably have a quarrel with that, it is there so let us take that away and let us look at the mainland St Vincent and if this is where you are increasing 13 from to 15 you will have if you put 100,000 people in St Vincent, not dealing with the Grenadines you have 7,333 for the 15 on the mainland. Mr. Speaker, even therefore with the 17 constituencies St Vincent and the Grenadines will be behind in terms of representatives to population; would be ahead, sorry, in terms of more persons per constituencies than Antigua and Barbuda; St Kitts Nevis, Anguilla, Grenada, Dominica, Montserrat and you can add Cayman and the British Virgin Islands. And if you divide but it61would be [inaudible] in the new dispensation, so Mr. Speaker, I am using Sir James’ numbers again and update them as I go along to show the case. Mr. Speaker, he went on to talk more, he said:-“...moreover Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw your attention that in addition to these figures quoted, there are a number of territories which also have a second House, they have a senate, for example, St Lucia, Grenada and on the other side of us Antigua and several others have a senate we are indeed in a minority in having a single Chamber. Mr. Speaker, these figures demonstrate in no uncertain terms that the average number of people to be represented in each constituency on an average, and based on the statistics that are published and are available that by increasing from 13 to 15 we will still have a larger number of people to be represented by each representative in any new parliament.”And if you increase the number from 15 to 17 that would also be the case save and except in the case of St Lucia but St Lucia as we have seen, they intend to increase theirs and they have an upper chamber. He then addressed the issue of cost, he said,“Mr. Speaker, I do not think there will be any substantial increases in the cost of the Parliament, as a result of this measure and I therefore commend this measure for easy passage in this House”.I used the same argument as Sir James, the salaries of the Parliamentarians is not the issue, is if a person is made a Minister then you have to have Permanent Secretary and Assistant Secretary and so on and so forth but a simple parliamentarian does not involve any great ... any significant cost. And then, Mr. Speaker, the other members for the Government made some interesting points which I want to raise; members of the Government then. The contribution of a gentleman who the NDP will seek to avoid I understand these days, the Honourable Jerry C Scott. He said:-“Mr. Speaker, I have no quarrels whatsoever with the issue at stake, I believe that it makes for better representation if the number of seats were increased.”So, Sir James made the argument on the grounds, first of all, of the numbers comparatively and on the issue of cost and on both of those issues I agree with him. Jerry Scott went on to say:-“I do believe that it makes for better representation if the number of seats were increased.”And I agree with Jerry Scott that is another argument then he said:-“It was pointed out to me also that the cost of two more Parliamentarians is probably less than the cost of one technical officer in certain Ministries.”So, he addressed the cost factor again, and then he goes ... he says,62“Mr. Speaker, when we increase it to 15 members we will still be in the lead in terms of numbers of people per constituency;”And when we put it at 17 that is the same case save and except for St Lucia and he goes on to say:-“...and bearing in mind that the administrative services of this country are obviously necessary, to reduce the quota of people to the persons representing them.”In other words he is making the case again for better representation. Then he starts to give you his experience having attended the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in September last year and drawing on many references. Now, you may say well that was Jerry Scott, in fact Mr. Speaker, when he went on he said:-“Mr. Speaker, I have no quarrel whatsoever with the people who want to come in here and talk nonsense as far as I am concerned this could have gone to 17 or 21 because where there is a will there will be a way, I am sure, Mr. Speaker, that despite all the filibustering you have this morning, at the end of the first term of office all that we said we are going to do would have been done despite the hardships of the country and the economy.”And I believe Jerry Scott is listening, he said, go to 17 man even 21, he said, what are you talking about it? He said it makes for better government and better representation. He said:-“And I am assured that there will be significant advantages to be gained from this measure.”Mr. Speaker, okay they may say that Jerry Scott is not a witness whom we must quote as an influential witness, they may say that but I like Jerry Scott; I like Jerry Scott we have had our differences over the past but I want to quote the current General Secretary of the NDP, Alan C Cruickshank. “Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a very brief contribution to the debate on this question that is before the House. I began by supporting the point made by many speakers on this side of the House that more seats, more representatives give us an opportunity to represent our people in a more efficient manner. Mr. Speaker, I am of the opinion that if you have less people to deal with you are going to know your people much better on a man to man basis. Your interpersonal relationship with them is going to be better and as a result you are going to be much more closely related and closely associated with the many problems that each individual would have.” I mean that is a fantastic endorsement. I mean [sighs] then. Mr. Speaker, he said, Alan C Cruickshank, apparently the Member for North Leeward at the time, the Honourable John Thompson did not quite share this view and was taunting them and he was taken on by Alan Cruickshank, he said:-“There was a lot of chanting by the Honourable Member of North Leeward, I think the Honourable Member is a bit worried that some of his very strongholds would be removed but I do not think that one is in any position yet to judge that.”63And he is quite correct because the Boundaries Commission will deal with that. He said:-“When you are strong in a constituency you are strong throughout and it does not matter where some may be cut or added to you but I think it would be to your advantage.”He tells John Thompson. Mr. Speaker, he goes on to say:-“We can well do with a few more constituencies.”Mr. Speaker, not only that Alan Cruickshank who is a man who used to traverse his constituency, in addition to getting to know people better, he said look the topography is a problem; St Vincent is a rugged country, hear him:-“Mr. Speaker, we all know that St Vincent and the Grenadines in terms of geography, you might say the topography, you look at the sea and you look at the communication problems and all the various problems. One finds it very difficult sometimes to even get around the country, more so your constituency and I feel that is another factor that we are taking into consideration that would certainly support the fact that we can do well with a few more constituencies”.In other words all the tracks that we all have to climb and hither and thither, and Mr. Speaker, the Opposition should not be worried according to them, for the Referendum they won the whole country save and except for one and two pockets here and there so they should not have any problem with any cut. They will increase their numbers, I will quote Alan Cruickshank: “It is in your favour support it”. Mr. Speaker, they do not believe what I am saying. Mr. Speaker, what is the constitutional position in relation to Constituency Boundaries Commission? The Constitution of this country specifies three circumstances under which a boundaries commission is to be appointed, the first is if Parliament passes the amendment here to increase or decrease, this one is to increase the number of seats, secondly, after the holding of a census; a census was held in 2001 and in 2003 the Report came by 2004 the Commission was set up in accordance with the Constitution that is to say the Boundaries Commission and it reported in time for us to have boundary changes in 2005. And the third manner in which you could have a Boundaries Commission appointed is if there is an expiration of 8 years from the last Boundaries Commission. Clearly 8 years have not passed, we do not have another census, so the only way you can have a Boundaries Commission is either increasing or decreasing the number of seats right at the moment and the case is made by the NDP in 1986, the same case for 15 is precisely the same case for 17.Mr. Speaker, the considerations which the Boundaries Commission would have to take note of: 33 (2) of the Constitution:-“All constituencies shall contain as nearly equal numbers of inhabitants as appears to the Commission to be reasonable, practicable, but the Commission may depart from this principle to such extent as it considers expedient in order to take account of the following factors that is to say:-64 a. The density of population and in particular the need to ensure adequate representation of sparsely populated rural areas. b. The means of communication. c. Geographical features. d. The boundaries of existing administrative areas.” Mr. Speaker, when you look at how the census is taken, the census is not taken on the basis of constituencies, the census is taken on the basis of census districts which do not overlap with constituencies, but it is clear from the last census report that broadly speaking the areas of increases in the population are between say the Buccament Bay and going out to Diamond. I do not know how the Boundaries Commission is going to cut these two seats; we will put in a memo: a Memorandum, our Party and I can say that the Memorandum which we will put in will not call for the reductions of seats in the Grenadines, I can tell you that emphatically, and I am sure that the Opposition will not put in a Memorandum to reduce the Grenadines seats from two to one. So, if that is the case you are unlikely to see any increase any decrease of seats in the Grenadines. Now, unless of course the Leader of the Opposition named somebody to the Commission which completely is at variance with his views and I name one who is completely at variance, because under the Boundaries Commission the current law, there are three members of the Boundaries Commission; the Chairman who is selected by the Governor General in his own deliberate judgement, he does not have to consult with the Leader of the Opposition, he does not have to consult with the Prime Minister, he does not have to consult with anybody: in his own deliberate judgement, that is what Section 32 1 (a) says. One (b) says:- “One member who shall be appointed by the Government General; acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister; So, whomever I advise him under matters of constitutional law he has to appoint that one. And the third person:- “One Member who shall be appointed by the Governor General; acting in accordance with the advice of the Leader of the Opposition.” Whoever the Opposition Leader tells him to appoint as his nominee has to do it. Now Mr. Speaker, I want to say in advance that none of us will know where the boundaries are going to be cut, where the additional two seats are coming, we will have our own recommendations and so too no doubt the Leader of the Opposition and his team. I heard it been said that the Opposition is not going to appoint 65 anybody they are going to fight this. Now, Mr. Speaker, I just want to draw a matter to the attention of the Parliament: Section 33 3 (b); sorry Section 33 (9); just bear with me Mr. Speaker, 32 (9):-“The Commission may subject to its rules of procedure, act notwithstanding any vacancy in its membership or the absence of any member; and its proceedings shall not be invalidated by the presence or participation of any person not entitled to be present at or to participate in those proceedings; provided that any decision of the Commission shall require the concurrence of a majority of its members”.So, if one person decided that they are not going the two persons who are there, they will have to hold one head in order for anything to pass. I want to say further, Mr. Speaker, there is another provision for those who like to talk a lot of things about Constitution and they may not know what the Constitution says. Section 55 (2):-“During any period in which there is a vacancy in the office of Leader of the Opposition by reason of the fact that no person is both qualified for appointment to that office; in accordance with this Constitution and willing to accept appointment or if the Governor General acting in his own deliberate judgement considers that it is not practicable for him to obtain the advice of the Leader of the Opposition within the time, which it may be necessary for him to act; he may act without that advice and in his own deliberate judgement in the exercise of any power conferred upon him by this Constitution in respect of which it is provided that he shall act on the advice of or after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition”.In other words, I say that for some people who believe that because they are Leader of the Opposition they can hold up the Constitutional processes: no! It cannot happen. The law 55 (2) says that. This is the Constitution which remains; this is the Constitution which remains [applause] this is the one which they insisted shall remain, Sir James says, “Don’t touch me constitution”. And everybody lined up in the NDP behind him. Now, it is said Mr. Speaker that by rejecting the Constitution, the people rejected the 17 seats which were put into the Constitution and therefore you should not come with it. What the people rejected is the new Constitution as a document; none of us knows we can surmise which specific provision they agree to or not and the fact of the matter is this: that issue was not a major issue; the argument was about how much the final number should be. They had even difficulties about that among themselves because Sir James himself was saying you should have 27 persons, 29 sorry; because to assume that because 17 was there not only 17; but also 10 proportional representation which one did they accept? Which one did they reject? So, you cannot go on a guessing game. Similarly, because the Ombudsman was in the existing Constitution, sorry, in the new Constitution, the proposed new Constitution and people said no to that new Constitution does it mean that the people do not want an Ombudsman? The same thing with a Human Rights Commission or the Integrity Commission, does it mean that? I cannot go on a guessing expedition, all I know is this that the people said “no” to that constitution and they said “yes” to the existing Constitution and under the existing Constitution we have the power to do what we are doing here in this Parliament under this existing Constitution [applause].66I am making this point, the Opposition, I hear all sorts of things by them, they say if it pass what they will do from what they wouldn’t do. They must be thinking that Ralph Gonsalves is a Sunday School Teacher, eh! Eh! I hear them say, “Lame duck government”. It is neither a duck nor is it lame and I want to say this, inside of the NDP they have confusion with this. Linton Lewis is making a case, he says, he wants to have the 17 seats because he wants a chance to come in parliament because he thinks there should be a Central St George and since he got beaten in West and Clayton beat him in East that somewhere he might be able to squeeze in there somewhere and get something there. He wants that and then I hear some say well, they might want to get a new constituency down in Lowmans and Campden Park going up to Questelles and that is a sure seat for the NDP and that will go to some new person. I hear they talking about some theologian and they say that Nature gone be solid in the Valley; so what they are saying they are going to fight the ULP on this but they really want the 17 because they feel the extra 2 will suit them.This is not being brought to the country for any advantage for us, this is brought because we genuinely feel that it will aid with better representation in the House, it will serve the people better: that is the case. Just in the manner in which Jerry Scott and Alan Cruickshank made it, and if you make it on the number basis like Sir James, the case is also made and in terms of the cost it is minimal. Mr. Speaker, I want to urge the people of this country to support this, I am not sure where the boundaries are going to be cut, all I can say, I can talk I suspect with reasonable certainty because to the extent I do not think the Leader of the Opposition would want to have the two seats in the Grenadines reduced to one and has 16 on the mainland and I have given my word as to what our own submission would be but this matter is a matter of course in the hands of the Boundaries Commission on which there will be an independent person as Chairman selected by the Governor General in his deliberate judgement; there would be one whom he appoints on my advice and one whom he appoints on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition.Mr. Speaker, I have asked every one of the 11 representatives here; elected representatives; the 12; the Honourable Glen Beache, he has a medical problem overseas with his family and I apologise, Mr. Speaker, for his own absence and what we need is 10 out of 15 to have two thirds, we will have tonight 11 out of 15 that was the verdict of the people in an election in 2005, it brought representatives to this parliament to do their work. Mr. Speaker, I know that the colonialist out of Britain, who were advising ... the SCL who were advising the NDP, yes the new colonizers that they want ... they are advising them to fight it, yes, fight it even though you agree with it in the end because you have to create skirmishes and keep the Government busy. They think that they fighting skirmishes they keeping me busy, I want them to keep me busy because that is when they will bring out the red ants; that is when they will bring out the ULP supporters.I love when they attack the Leader of the ULP in a personal way because I know what they bring out and Mr. Speaker, those who want to have a truck with colonialism and backwardness can have it not me. Those who want to undermine the prospect of improved governance can go ahead, but not me. As always, this thing for me is not a game, it is serious business on behalf of the people, I expect an easy67passage by the requisite majority of this Bill this evening; the case has been made not just by me but by Sir James, Jerry Scott and Alan Cruickshank on the 5th June, 1986 when they sought to increase and did increase the number of seats from 13 to 15 the arguments are precisely the same for 15 to 17 and we have put the addition in the years since then. I am obliged, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Further debate on the Bill Honourable Leader of the Opposition.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Mr. Speaker, I rise to make my contribution in relation to this Bill which seeks to increase the number of constituencies from 15 to 17. I have listened to the presentation and the arguments presented by the mover, Honourable Prime Minister. I note that a lot of time was spent in reviewing past statements by former members of the New Democratic Party in this Parliament back in 1986, as if it was intended that those statements automatically mean that this Opposition would just follow. I want to make it very clear, Mr. Speaker, that in all these things one has to review what has happened in the past and look also to the future. Mr. Speaker, the circumstances in 1986 are not the circumstances of 2010 and while I can appreciate the sentiments expressed by our members some of whom are fairly active still, the circumstances today are not the same. I really do not intend to spend a very long time debating this measure what I want to say is that the Census Report indicates the following; that the population of St Vincent and the Grenadines, and if I go back as far as 1960, the population had been growing. We had a population in 1960 of 79,000; in 1970: 86,000; in 1980: 97,000; in 1991: 106,499; and in 2001: 106,253.To the relatives, Mr. Speaker, there was a time when Sir James and others in our Party were making the case we had a growing population; today we do not have that. Between 1960 and 1970 the population had an average annual increase of 1830 persons; between ‘70 and ‘80 an average increase of 700; the next decade an average increase of 1090 and by the time we got to 1991 Mr. Speaker, it gone back to an average increase of 787 and by the time it got to 2001 it is -25. So, to quote statements made by NDP Ministers at that time is largely irrelevant to the circumstances we are discussing today. Well, if the population is the basis on which we move forward and make a determination as to the number of persons in a constituency, then a decline in population is not an argument for an increase in the number of seats [knocking on desk].I have no problems with the comments made by our representatives then, they did it in a particular context; a context of a rapidly growing population as compared with the context that we have today, and I noticed, Mr. Speaker, that the US Census Bureau in its projects for countries over the world which they do all the time; they are projecting a further decline in the population of St Vincent and the Grenadines and that is the only country which is facing such a projection in the Caribbean. So, when I take that into consideration, Mr. Speaker, I understand the Prime Minister political attempts but to my mind they failed. Mr. Speaker, we have looked at this matter in quite a bit of detail. We had two sessions discussing our approach to this matter and you know there are the legal issues and the Prime Minister outlined some of them and one recognizes that under the existing Constitution the parliament has the authority to increase the number of constituencies, but as he himself indicated increasing the constituencies requires an appreciation of the voting population, the density of that population,68geographical, administrative and communication issues that support the increase. When one looks, Mr. Speaker, at the present situation in a number of our constituencies I find that there is a nice fit with what we have in 33 (2) and like the Prime Minister I want to refer, Mr. Speaker, to 33 (2), I will read it also. Mr. Speakers it says:-“All constituencies shall contain as nearly equal numbers of inhabitants as appears to the Commission to be reasonably practicable, but the Commission may depart from this principle to such an extent as it considers expedient in order to take account of the following factors that is to say:-1. The density of population and in particular the need to ensure adequate representation of sparsely populated rural area.”Mr. Speaker, it goes on to say we have to take account also of the means of communication, the geographical features and the boundaries of existing administrative areas. Mr. Speaker, the constituencies in the more distant rural areas like North Windward and North Leeward have 6,252 in the former case and 5,866 registered voters respectively and that is expected within the context of 33 (2). There are fairly scattered communities and therefore the geography is important. They are very much involved in agriculture which tends to limit residential construction and the terrain and the topography and so on, so we expect that country like that will have less persons and that has been accepted all along but constituencies, Mr. Speaker, such as North Central Windward, South Central Windward, South Windward and Central Leeward have basically similar geographical features. And all of them, all those constituencies range from 6,189 registered voters, 6,527, 6,396 and 6,427; they all about the same size, all of them are about the same size and remember we looking at this in the context, Mr. Speaker, of a declining population not a growing population which justifies additional seats, it is a declining population and already we have a situation where all of those seats are roughly the same in number, so the equity considerations, Mr. Speaker, are clear.Mr. Speaker, the other seven constituencies on the mainland, you have Marriaqua, 7,024; East St George, 8,344; West St George, 7,579; East Kingstown, 7,543; Central Kingstown, 7,522; West Kingstown, 7,360; and South Leeward, 7,737 all of them are over 7,000 Mr. Speaker, except for East St George which has 8,344. The average number, Mr. Speaker, of registered voters for the constituencies from East St George to South Leeward is 7,680 and only two of those constituencies, Mr. Speaker, are above the average viz. East St George by 664 voters and South Leeward by 57 voters, all the others fall below the average; all the others in that seven fall below the average and the variance, Mr. Speaker, is less than 5% in all cases except East St George, which is 8%. So, Mr. Speaker, when I look at these statistics and look at the fact that you are speaking in the context of a declining population and a very padded voters list, I ask the question why the increase: I ask the question why the increase? Mr. Speaker, the population figure ... come here like you do not know 33 (2), Mr. Speaker, when you look at the voters list that we have in this country, at the last census our population was a 106,253 persons projected to decline and you have our Prime Minister indicating that69there are 30,000 students who he has to give this $200.00 for or two, how in God’s name can we have a voters list of 97,000 out of a population of 106,253 we have a voters list of 97,000 but we have 30,000 students. It would seem ...DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, if my Honourable friend would give way. Mr. Speaker, my Honourable friend is not addressing one fundamental question which relates to the voters list; that is to say, it is the law that persons who have migrated who are on the list, and who have migrated and who are away up to four five years their names must remain on the list so that the voters list would always be more than the number of persons who are available to vote on any election day because of that provision in the law, which exists from 1982. I mean that ... so to represent it as a purely arithmetical issue does not work. You have to look at the question of the law that entitles those persons to remain on the list and the Honourable Member knows that.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Mr. Speaker, I understand all that you know, I understand all that, Mr. Speaker, I have made a presentation ready in writing in which I have taken into account the fact that a lot of people are on the list who are dead and other people who are alive and are abroad and are eligible to vote and have concluded that our voters list is more of the order of seventy, I have 75,000 I presented that already in public, so I am aware of that. I am saying we are in the context of a declining population and a list which is padded and I maintain, Mr. Speaker that it is padded. That is why I ask, you know, that is why I ask and wrote to the Prime Minister in relation to seeking technical assistance to complete a proper voters list. He has given me a response: “We are trying to do what we can in relation to looking at persons on the list”. So, Mr. Speaker, when I looked at that; and look at that and look at the figures outlined in relation to the size in each constituency: the registered voters for each constituency I do not understand where the two seats, where you need the two constituencies and why you need them. You are meeting most of the considerations [inaudible] in the rural constituencies there are a little less than you have in the more mainstream constituencies, you are meeting the requirements of 33 (2) already, the little anomaly is East St George which is varied by 8% from what is the norm or what is the average and Mr. Speaker, if one looks at the last report of the Boundaries Commission of St Vincent and the Grenadines, one would note, than making the determination of the average, they also did something else, they allowed for a margin of 6.5% on each side of the average; it is there in the Report, Boundaries Commission Report and was saying in effect that there can be 13% difference between one constituency and another on that basis. That is the methodology adopted by the last existing Boundaries Commission, so within the context of that methodology what we have existing now is accordance with 33 (2) and there is no need for additional seats.Mr. Speaker, I heard an amazing argument presented by the Prime Minister recently on this matter awhile ago, and that relates Mr. Speaker, to the question of Constitutional Reform and the decision taken by the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines to reject by a wide margin, the Constitution that was put before them on the 25th of November. We have a situation, Mr. Speaker, in which there are several sections in the Constitution which deals with electoral reforms of course clauses 67, 96, 99 and a lot of those, had to do with increase to 17 constituencies. You had others to do with the 10 seats for Senators and restrictions of the size of the Cabinet all of those were critical aspects of Constitutional70Reform proposed in the Constitution. It is not a half-baked exercise in that sense in which these things where not considered, all of these issues here were considered in the Constitution and they were rejected by the population of St Vincent and the Grenadines [knocking on desk]. Do not tell me you do not know what people reject; this was fundamental area of the Constitution as put forward, fundamental area Electoral Reform, you made a big thing out of that. Mr. Speaker, we said we should stick 15-6, [interjection] well that is where you are at now, but do not talk about people. I mean, I have listened in this parliament over and over again to arguments made on the basis of the Referendum, the Manifesto sorry of the ULP in a number of areas; you put your Manifesto before the public, you win an election and you say you have a mandate to implement what you have in your Manifesto. Well, the people have spoken on November 25th and your mandate as far as the Constitution is concerned is to stick with the old Constitution [knocking on desk] what you are doing is ignoring the wishes of the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines that is what you are doing; they voted to change that, they voted to reject it; they voted 56– 43% to reject it [interjection] and that does not matter, the people do not matter in this case because of your own objectives. You cannot have your own objective; is the people who decided that not NDP: not NDP.Mr. Speaker, we have a situation here in this country, let us talk the politics now, we have a situation in this country, Mr. Speaker, [interjection] we have a situation in this country you know where some years ago our Party, the New Democratic Party was hauled over the coals in this parliament although some of what we said then has since been implemented by this government about increases with pensions for Parliamentarians, the roads were blocked, people could not get to work, people could not get to the hospital, productivity in the country declined but you had an objective, you had your objective of removing the New Democratic Party, well it was a political objective, I have no problem with that and in fact you succeeded in that objective. Well, in this case the people have spoken on this issue; they have spoken on it and in addition to that you have a situation in which the financial state of this country is in a total mess, everybody being owed whether it be contractors, individuals, teachers everybody being owed, but you say cost, do not matter, the cost is minimal, pay off the people first, pay them off and deal with the cost. Cost matter, all cost matter and you must make a determination of what are our priorities that is what we must do, make that determination what is our priority. And Mr. Speaker, when they cannot find $4 million for the “no” vote, and you cannot pay for the drugs for the hospital something is wrong. But in addition to those you are coming here to this parliament to increase the cost of doing business, the cost of the Parliament and indeed perhaps the ministerial cost in this country. So, costs do matter; so do not dismiss it and say it is not much when you have a lot of money, then it not much, when you are owing it is plenty and I am saying all of these are factors that have to be taken into account when we discuss this Bill. Mr. Speaker, I will not support this piece of legislation, much obliged [knocking on desk].HONOURABLE MR SPEAKER: Further debate: any further debate on this Bill? Honourable Minister for Health and the Environment: Honourable Member, please stop taunting the Honourable ...HONOURABLE DR. DOUGLAS SLATER: Mr. Speaker, I stand to contribute to this debate and I think I am going to be relatively brief. Mr. Speaker, I happen to be the current representative for71constituency of South Leeward which as the figure shows is the second largest in St Vincent and the Grenadines has a current listing of just under 8,000 votes. Speaker, I listened to the two previous debaters, the Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition and I think the case is fairly clear. Mr. Speaker, we are speaking here, I understand the Constitution to suggest that wherever possible and at all times the intent of the Boundaries Division is to provide equity in the numbers of electors in each constituency. We are also informed or reminded that there are some special conditions that should be taken into account such as: topography, geographic distribution etcetera, so as was said, there is a reasonable case to understand the Grenadines seats being significantly less than the mainland seats but I heard the Opposition, the Leader of the Opposition; Honourable Leader of the Opposition, suggesting as a support for maintaining the status quo that there have been improvements in communication which should make ease of representation and; therefore, if that goes for the mainland, I think certainly, it also goes for the Grenadines.HONOURABLE RENE BAPTISTE: Yes.HONOURABLE DR. DOUGLAS SLATER: Because in fact there is improvement in communication there too. Mr. Speaker. I want to throw a little different line which I believe some people may not like it, some people may not support it but this is how I see it. Mr. Speaker, if we look at the figures there are seven constituencies on the mainland that where the constituents, the electors, the number of voters in those seven constituencies: the number of voters on the list registered voters in Marriaqua, East St George, West St George, East Kingstown, Central Kingstown, West Kingstown and South Leeward where these numbers are more than both Grenadines seats combined. I want to repeat that. In any one of these constituencies the number is more than both of the Grenadines seats combined. How do I understand that, and let me speak, Mr. Speaker, as I said some people may not like this argument but I am going to provide it. This is really saying that every vote in the Grenadines is worth two in these constituencies, let me repeat that. Each vote in my constituency is only worth half a vote in the Grenadines, I do not think that any elector in my constituency is less or more than and certainly not half of an elector in the Grenadines. So, I want the constituents of at least these seven constituencies to understand this argument.Mr. Speaker, let me read the numbers again: the Southern Grenadines if I were to take that by itself there are less than 3,000 electors in the Southern Grenadines but in East St George there are more than 8,000 so if you were to compare those two it is saying that one voter in Southern Grenadines is worth almost three in East St George. Mr. Speaker, this cannot be equity [laughs] and what we are saying here is in all fairness we are trying while we accept the arguments in the Constitution about topography and geographic location we are trying to bring some equity here. Mr. Speaker, the trend also if one were to carefully examine the movement of people is that people are moving and concentrating into these constituencies. Mr. Speaker, so, despite the argument that the population ... and many of us here have studied statistics here you know, many of us. Despite the argument that the population growth rate is steady that is an absolute figure but relatively speaking the population is moving from the rural to these urban areas and suburban areas and if the argument is that we need to equitably represent our people, then there is enough strong argument here in my opinion to, I would imagine the Boundaries72Commission and I cannot direct them what they do, but I would imagine that the figures I am giving them here will be quite a good guide for them to use. And using the Honourable Leader of the Opposition’s argument there are another six which have around just over 6,000, I would imagine that the Boundaries Commission if I were a member would want to say, well, okay you do not have to bother with them too much, they are fairly okay, but when you look in that cluster and these are terms they use in statistics: in this cluster, those seven constituencies ranging from 8,354 in East St George to just over 7,000 in Marriaqua certainly a case can be made to balance, to even bring them ... if even you were to leave out the Grenadines, to bring them to something closer to 6,000 the other constituencies.So, Mr. Speaker, you do not have to have a degree in Mathematics, simple arithmetic will do, primary school arithmetic in averages, we are just trying to bring down the average number to as equal as possible, and I believe in equity. And Mr. Speaker, therefore with my little knowledge of mathematics: arithmetic, you do not have to use mathematics because no algebra in this or no trigonometry in this, simple arithmetic; I believe there is a clear case to increase on the mainland the constituencies to make it as equitable as possible. Mr. Speaker, I think my argument is simple, short and clear. I think this is a case that anybody, everybody who is objective could understand and therefore, I rest my case and wish that this Bill goes safely through. Much obliged.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Further debate, Honourable Senator Leacock.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise to make a contribution to this important debate, Mr. Speaker, which thus far has rightfully identified a number of salient issues, which ought to be placed under consideration in justifying a decision for increasing the number of representation in this Honourable House for us. And the same amount of attention, Mr. Speaker, has rightfully been placed on the statistical evidence which I agreed does have a major consideration in this debate. But Mr. Speaker, let us ask a fundamental question while we are in fact arguing for or against increased levels of representation in the Parliament and I would submit, Mr. Speaker, that a good summary argument would be to suggest that we are essentially looking at the issue of governance, how well or how better can we as parliamentarians and in particular the elected members provide a better level of service to the people who have brought them to the Parliament.If we examine that governance issue in relation to the statistical argument it really becomes, Mr. Speaker, a representative to constituent ratio as a justifiable figure. And what seems to be emerging so far is that while we cannot identify an ideal number per se we are at least agreeing that it ought not to be too large and or too small and I believe even in that regard the Rep. to constituent ratio also has at all times to be taken into consideration the means test: that is do we have the resources to take care of the additional representation. Let me say in that regard, Mr. Speaker, that I listened to the presentation earlier from the Honourable Prime Minister when he made a comparative study of what obtained in other Caribbean countries particularly the Eastern Caribbean which is clearly the more relevant example and our own situation. And he drew attention to the fact that in some countries quite apart from the number of people who are there as representatives, there also existed, upper houses of73Senators, which in fact increase the number of people in the Parliament as a totality. Now, we have to be careful, Mr. Speaker, in that argument because there is a clear distinction in those situations between Representatives and Senators where in certain instances the Representatives have a constituency mandate, they have been put there by the people in a direct way and the formulation of the Senate is essentially to assist legislative agenda; for the greater part the Senate do not have a responsibility to constituents, so you cannot throw them all in one bag and make a division to say that that is the ratio. We have to keep the elected members separate from the Senatorial appointments because Senators are there to enhance and improve legislative work.And as we know in the Caribbean, Mr. Speaker, there is an argument behind which the Senate came into being that in some cases the democratic process does not necessarily always throw up the best representatives. That is one of the arguments whether we want to accept it or not but it is what is thrown up or that we can get a better result by allowing a senate where you may have special interests represented or you may be able to buy in talent into the machinery that is not thrown up through the electoral process, and we can go on and on with that argument, Mr. Speaker. But we need to take a time out, Mr. Speaker, and come back to our own objective reality here in St Vincent and the Grenadines and I submit that it is quite reasonable to ask a critical question namely what is the state of play in our own parliamentary situation? And I would advance the argument, Mr. Speaker, on the basis of the perception and now an increasing reality that the government by its own admission and argument for creating a new team, a dream team is already signaling to the people of this country after two terms in office that seven, eight, nine and ten of the members may not be able to face the electorate once again. We had those kinds of indications and I am choosing my words carefully in the case of South Leeward, certainly pronouncements for West Kingstown, definitely for Central Kingstown without argument for East Kingstown, most definite for West St George and evidentially here for South Central Windward and speculatively for South Windward [interjection].So, that is the scenario, in fact the Government in a sense has had its own internal election and has decided by some measure and I would believe that it is failed representation why they themselves are replacing seven to ten members. So, it has not been a representative to constituent ratio, it has been a measure of performance; it has been a measure of performance. So, I ask the question, Mr. Speaker, why do we want to reward poor representation by increased taxation? I want to repeat that; why do we want to replace or reward poor representation by increased taxation? Why do I conceptualize it that way, Mr. Speaker, [clapping] I do, Mr. Speaker, [interjection] because however, we want to look at it, any addition to salaries and wages be it for parliamentarians or otherwise from an estimate point of view requires more revenue and resources and revenue and resources could only come by way of taxation [interjection] that is the revenue measure, that is the argument, that is the bottom line. An increased parliament is a tax, an additional burden on the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines be it small or be it large that is what it amounts to [interjection] and I say that we ought not to [knocking of desk] we ought not to reward poor representation by means of increased taxation.So, Mr. Speaker, [interjection] what is emerging here? What is emerging here is that within a month or two of an estimate and a debate in which we are running a deficit some of it brought on by ourselves74through increased ministerial representation, we had it three Ministries in the last term of office, there is now a move towards bigger government; that is what it is, more representatives means bigger government. Mr. Speaker I find that this argument for bigger government is contradictory and a confused state of affairs vis-a-vie the ongoing argument that one way that we can improve efficacy and administration is by way of local government. If the contention is and few of us disagree with that argument that local government will be a useful addition, then why the increase measure, our argument for parliamentary representation. Mr. Speaker, let us go back to the statistical argument and Mr. Speaker, I go to the 2001 Census Report and quote, Mr. Speaker, what the evidence is. It says:-“The distribution of population between St Vincent and the Grenadines has remained virtually unchanged over the last 20 years. In 1980, 92.6% of the population resides on mainland St Vincent;”As it goes on, in 1991 they say it was virtually unchanged 92.1%.“...however, in 2001 the mainland accounted for 91.9% of the population registering a slight decrease.”So, overall the population has been unchanged, this is the statistics which is a useful ... not that it is the only guide but a very useful guide to determine where we go. It goes on further, Mr. Speaker, with respect to the population density to say:-“That the population density is the average number per persons per a square mile and St Vincent and the Grenadines has a total landmass of 150.3 sq. ml. taking into account the 0.2% reduction in the size of the population; the population density decreased to 707 in 2001 from 709 in 1991”.[Interjection] it decreased, whether it is big or small it decreased, so we do not have the argument of a increase in density or of an increase in populationHONOURABLE DR. DOUGLAS SLATER: Lies. HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: I am going to read the last paragraph, Mr. Speaker, if youwant to say the National Census is a lie then it is your business. It says:-“Although the population density declined, the density levels across census divisions varied significantly from a high of 6, 954 in Kingstown to a low of 197 in Chateaubelair. While the population density in Kingstown was lower than the 8,140 recorded in 1991, the present density is almost ten times the national average; this high population density in Kingstown although showing decline in trends over the last twenty years continues to put severe pressure on social and other services within the country’s capita”.75So, Mr. Speaker, we know we have decline in population and we have decline in density in the city of Kingstown where the population growth is by and large in what is referred to as the suburbs of Kingstown. But Mr. Speaker, if we are uncomfortable with the 2001 Census, this is the year 2010; there is a census due next year in another year’s time 2011, it is a year off, it is a possibility that we can if we want to be objectively justified and correct and we can wait for the census and decide how has it changed over the last ten years and make that kind of determination. It is an argument, Mr. Speaker that can be given some consideration. Mr. Speaker, the truth of the matter is that while times have changed between ’86 and 2010 and certain sets of arguments prevailed then as one member, I do not know if it was the Honourable Member for South Leeward made the point and if not I do not ascribe to him what was not his words, certainly representation today of constituencies is far different than it was ten, fifteen and twenty years ago. It is a technological age, Mr. Speaker, we boast of the existence of the Cell phones; there is improved transportation systems network; improved utility infrastructure; educational facilities wider and better spread, Mr. Speaker, and I know Mr. Speaker, faster boats and better boats, yes [interjection] it applies yes in the Grenadines, I am not running away from the argument; the same argument is persuasive I accept that [knocking on desk].Thank you, Mr. Speaker, it says that today’s representative has at his or her disposal much better tools and assistance in the conducting of his duties than those of yesteryear; that is my essential argument and so we have a weaker argument for increasing the representatives. Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker, you know what is my pet peeve in the Parliament, and my pet peeve, Mr. Speaker, is that we are continuing with a tinkering here and the tinkering there, a little mascara, a little make up and we are stubbornly, stubbornly refusing; stubbornly refusing to address the issue that is critical, that is fundamental, that is basic to improve parliamentary representation and that is the means test. Whether you bring 17,, 19, 20 whether the ratio moves from 100-1, 6000-1 or 1-1 until such time that people who are elected to a parliament are provided with a better means to deliver the service of the people who have put them into office, it will continue to be a case of sending the fool a little further [knocking on desk] [interjections]DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: Ye! Ye! Ye! HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: That is the point.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: And Mr. Speaker, [interjections] and Mr. Speaker [interjections]HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: That is the point.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: And Mr. Speaker, [interjection] even this year after we were so agreed in the debates of Constitutional Reform that we can, and it is within our powers to make provision by way of estimates or administrative arrangements through the Ministry of Finance for parliamentarians to have funds and resources for constituency development and activity,DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: They voted against it.76HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Our Budget and Estimates reflect no such commitment. [Knocking on desk]DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: They voted against it.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: And I make the case again, Mr. Speaker, I make the case again, Mr. Speaker, that it is an urgency which must be addressed. Mr. Speaker, it is painful, painful, painful to me, with a temporary privilege to be in the Parliament of St Vincent and the Grenadines to see the pitiful state and no offence is meant, Mr. Speaker, of the situation of the Honourable Member for Central Kingstown, and if you want me to remove the word pitiful, I will withdraw it, Mr. Speaker, because I said it without malice but I find it, Mr. Speaker, difficult to understandHONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Yes remove it; as a matter of fact he is not even here to challenge it.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Thanks and I have removed the word pitiful, Mr. Speaker. I find it extremely difficult to understand that a constituency could in their own deliberate wisdom elect a person to come to a parliament to represent their interest and today that person could find themselves in the parliament without any executive function; without any executive function, replaced in executive authority like Minister Saboto Caesar, Senator and I hope I am addressing him correctly; replaced by Junior Minister Ces McKie, Honourable Minister, Senator, previously by Honourable Senator Julian Francis and we even have now the Honourable Member, Senator Fife, in the House all with great Executive responsibility. This is not an indictment, Mr. Speaker, it is not an indictment of Mr. Sayers, Honourable Conrad Sayers, it is an indictment of the people of Central Kingstown who elected one to represent them here and he finds that he cannot have executive functions. Mr. Speaker, the people will make a judgement on that when the time comes; they will make a judgement on that. The constituency has been insulted and ignored and that too, Mr. Speaker, is systemic failure in our parliamentary system. [Clapping].Mr. Speaker, I am tempted but because I am also being invasive, I do not know whether the 17 is any reflection of phobias in this parliament for the number 7 [interruption] I said, I do not know. I do not know but it is not outside the realms, Mr. Speaker of possibility, it is not outside the realms of possibility, Mr. Speaker, [interjection] and so, Mr. Speaker, it might be on the seventh of the seventh month: the seventh of the seventh month. [Interjection] and so Mr. Speaker, I am led to believe: I am led to believe that in the absence of statistical support; in the absence of a good governance argument; in the absence of reasons and rationale to show a fit between budgetary commitments and representation, that the only reason that can be driving this increased burden on the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines at this time might well be, might well be an interest in gerrymandering; I said it might well be. If that be the case, Mr. Speaker, because I do not know that it is: it will be quite sad for us.77DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: If my Honourable friend would give way. Mr. SpeakerHONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: I prefer you to stand on a point of order.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: I ask if my Honourable friend would give way.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: No! I prefer you cite your point of order.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: You need to cite your point of order.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: But you need to sit down in any event. Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Member is casting very serious aspersions on the Prime Minister, the Government and by implication also His Excellency the Governor General. Mr. Speaker, the Constitution has established a framework for the appointment of the Boundaries Commission. I cannot gerrymander, the Governor General select someone in his own deliberate judgment. The same charge was made on the last occasion, Mr. Speaker and it turned out that everybody agreed with the boundaries report. You see there is this tendency of wanting just to throw slurs at people. There are true slurs which can be thrown you know.Mr. Speaker, it is a very terrible assertion and with respect, it ought to be withdrawn. It is a slur on the Prime Minister and it is a slur on the Governor General, because the question of gerrymandering is indeed an offence under the law. It is not called gerrymandering, but the essence of the meaning is gerrymandering and I do not see how it is possible that I can do it. I will not be a member of the Boundaries Commission. Use other arguments but not that one please.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Thank you very much, Prime Minister. I am particularly concerned about His Excellency the Governor General’s own act particularly in relation to the Boundaries Commission and I would agree with you on that subject that we have to be careful. As a matter of fact we would in the House speak to that issue about how we involve His Excellency the Governor General and Her Majesty the Queen and so on in our arguments and I feel Senator that I would agree that it is an issue that you need to withdraw. I know you said perhaps it might be or whatever the case is, but you have to be very careful with your language and I suggest that you..., at least I rule that you withdraw that question, not just the portion of gerrymandering, because I think it is a serious matter and you have to be careful.HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Mr. Speaker, can I be assisted by having my statement rerun so that I could make correction appropriately, if the Honourable...,HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I do not think that this..., DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker...,78HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: You said it might possibly be gerrymandering. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: I will never say that, I never said that.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Senator was rehearsing a series of arguments. He says, he does not see who it can be “a” he does not see how it can be “b” might be something to do with obeah and the obsession with 7, but then he goes on, he said, well you know it could be those things so...,HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: I never use the word obeah either.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Phobia.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Phobia, sorry, that it could only be an interest in gerrymandering, can only be an interest in gerrymandering. If I work obeah, I work obeah for the Lord. That is the only obeah I do, for the Lord.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Let us get to the issue. I am ruling that you withdraw the word, even though it is a question, let us..., and please remove the word gerrymandering. I do not care how it is shaped.HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Mr. Speaker, let me explain in category of the language that I have no intention to cast any aspersion on the Governor General. In fact, it is a man whom I have the greatest of the respect for.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: And at no time will I say or use language in this House that would be so directed. I would not put the Governor General into that situation and nothing..., why you so gipsy, eh?DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Senator Leacock should really know his place. Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker,HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: I am avoiding you like a leash you know; I am avoiding you like a leash. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, I was rising because I thought that he was finished making the point about gerrymandering and I was getting up to say that is an aspersion not only against the Governor General, but against the Prime Minister, against me79HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I am asking him and I have ruled that he withdraw totally the word that is what I said, gerrymandering or the suggestion of gerrymandering that he withdraws it totally. I do not want any qualification of it, but that it is withdrawn totally. That was my request. I mean I was willing to hear him out in other things, but to his own credit, he did not complete the statement, I was hoping that he would complete the statement.HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Please, complete. HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: May I Mr. Speaker? HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Yes, you may.HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Mr. Speaker, as I was saying you know..., Mr. Speaker, I really want to repeat and I want to say so with all degree of seriousness where the relationship in respect for the Governor General is of an extremely high standard and at no time will I come into this House by using the word gerrymandering or any other expression cast aspersions on the Governor General. I do not think that it functions that way or I will ever attempt to do that, therefore wholeheartedly remove the expression of gerrymandering and to associate the Governor General in such activity.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: As well as the Prime Minister. HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: I never ever direct public statement to the PrimeMinister, I never direct. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Well you did not direct it to the..., HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Mr. Speaker..., HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Listen to me, listen Senator, we are playing games. HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: We are not playing games. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Yes, we are HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: I have been very careful...,HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Could you please say, I withdraw conclusively the statement gerrymandering, categorically rather, gerrymandering unconditionally...,80HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Mr. Speaker, in my presentation.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: We are playing games, we are playing games.HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: We are not playing games, I am not playing any games, Mr. Speaker, I am saying where I have used the word gerrymandering and in so far it may be interpreted to cast aspersions on the Governor General or the Honourable House I withdraw that expression.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, I am the person who has the carriage of this Bill. I am responsible for advising the Governor General on the appointment of one person and Mr. Speaker, there cannot be any suggestion at all that any Member of this Honourable House will be engage in any action of gerrymandering for the simple reason, I am not a member of the Boundaries Commission and in order for me to be engaged in gerrymandering, it has to be..., I will have to go outside of the law, because I am not..., I was very explicit Mr. Speaker, we did submit a memorandum.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. Senator, could you continue the debate and let us avoid this kind of thing. Why does it have to happen this way that whenever you get up to make..., it takes an hour [laughter].HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Mr. Speaker, you know how I been longing for you to ask the Honourable Prime Minister that question? I have been longing to have that kind of question answered, it moves beautiful and peaceful until he enters the room. I do not know, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Could you continue the debate for me please?HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Mr. Speaker, I am much obliged. I cannot support this bill in this House because, as I insisted, it imposes an unnecessary burden on the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and I know, Mr. Speaker, on the basis of the Referendum evidence that it is completely against their wishes. Thank you, much obliged, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Any further debate on the Bill, Honourable Member for Northern Grenadines. Just a minute, I think it is now really 7 o’clock almost and we really should have a break at this time.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: I beg to move that this Honourable House do stand suspended for Members convenience for 25 minutes.Question put and agreed to. House suspended at 7:00 p.m. (Break) House resumed at 7:35 p.m.81HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Prayer, be seated. When we took the break, we recognised the Honourable Member for Northern Grenadines and we now invite him to make his presentation. Honourable Member for Northern Grenadines.DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise to make my contribution to this debate. Although it is a very brief Bill and as the Prime Minister pointed out, changes the word fifteen to seventeen or at least proposes to do so in the Constitution, it nevertheless carries with it a lot of weight, a lot of implications for the practice of democracy in the country and Mr. Speaker, for the way in which our people regard us here in this Honourable House the people who sent us here to represent them. Mr. Speaker, it is true that over a time the number of constituencies have been amended, increased to having seen all of the debate about the rational reasons that were given for those increases, but we can generally agree that those increases were taking place in a time of rapid political development as we moved into universal adult suffrage, into statehood, then into independence and at the same time there was also a period of growth in the population of the country and if we believe that proper representation or good representation that the number of constituents represented by each representative have some bearing on the quality of representation that is given to them in this Honourable House and outside, then we could understand why the increases were made over time for the number of constituencies and therefore the number of representatives who come to this Honourable House.But Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Leader of the Opposition in his presentation made reference to a fact that over time while there has been increase in the population that in the last 20 years or so, the population of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has not grown, in fact it has shrunk and the forecast is for it to decline even further. Even if it does not, Mr. Speaker, it is unlikely to increase. Now the provisions in the constitution that deal with the increase in the population and the boundaries is section 33 and section 33(1) basically provides for two things, it provides for the increase in the number of constituencies, well it states the number of constituencies and also it gives jurisdiction to the Boundaries Commission to determine where those boundaries are. Section 33(2) or subsection 33(2) is basically instructions or guides given to the Boundaries Commission as to how to do its work when it is reviewing the Constituency Boundaries. It does not confer any jurisdiction or any powers on the Boundaries Commission to increase the number of constituencies or even to recommend an increase in the number of constituencies, it talks about the review of the boundaries to see that the constituencies are in line with the conditions generally speaking that are set out in subsection 33(2).In fact, Mr. Speaker, the powers itself for Parliament to alter the number of seats is not even really stated that directly in the Constitution, rather it is implied from the operation of subsection 33(3)(b) and section 33(7) where it says that Parliament..., when Parliament makes a law for example that a Commission is set up and the Commission has the duty to review the Constituency Boundaries and to make changes as it sees fit. Subsection 33(3) outlines the conditions under which the Constituency Boundaries Commission is to be appointed and in some areas what it says is that one is to be appointed82after a census or when Parliament changes the number of constituencies or after the expiration of eight years from the last review of the Boundaries Commission.We have had a review of the boundaries since the last census that was done prior to the 2005 General Elections. So we would have to assume then that the Boundaries Commission has done its work in reviewing the boundaries of the constituencies following the last census and you will recall that in subsection 33(8) that the Boundaries Commission they only can refer to the last census in its work in reviewing the Boundaries Commission. So we cannot talk about what happened in the last referendum and so on, the law says, it has to refer back to the last census.Mr. Speaker, we had the last census in 2001, the next census of the population is due next year because since 1991 we have been doing them and 1991, 2001 and the next one is due in May 2011. So the question is asked then, what is the haste in proceeding with this amendment to the Constitution to add two more seats or two more constituencies to elect Members to this Honourable Parliament? Why not..., I mean it is a reasonable question for the people to ask, why not wait until next year when the next census of the population is done and if [interjection] yes, well [laughter] Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Members must be laughing after their colleagues, because I do not see the joke, I do not see what is funny at all [laughter].Mr. Speaker, why this unseemly haste in changing a number of seats or constituencies from 15 to 17? Which constituency meaning, who in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is asking for this, who in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is asking for this? Mr. Speaker, nobody that I have spoken to about this Bill, the proposal to add two more seats, to add two more politicians to this Honourable House agrees with it. In fact, people are mystified by the fact that this matter is being raised as a matter of urgency when we have so many serious issues to be dealt with in this country. What is more, Mr. Speaker, before I raise it with them, people say, but was not this an issue in the last Referendum, what happen, they do not listen to the people. One of the proposals in the last constitutional review that was voted on in the Referendum on November 25th was the issue to increase the number of constituencies to exact the same number that is being proposed today, from 15 to 17. There was the additional proposal to add ten more Senators, all of which we disagreed with because we thought that there was no rationale for it. It cannot be justified on the basis of simply numbers, because the numbers have not increased. You say okay that some constituencies in the southern part of the mainland are becoming more populated that is a question of density of population in a particular geographic location, that is also a predictable function, Mr. Speaker, of the urban drift that is taking place as agriculture declines. So what you do, is you adjust, Honourable Member, the boundaries, not the number of seats, you adjust the boundaries to bring it in line with subsection 33(2) which says that you should have as far as possible equal numbers of persons in each constituency.The situation of the Grenadines is a special case and anybody who want to take me up on that separately, we can argue that, but we have a situation now, Mr. Speaker, where the population of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has not increased over the past 20 years, the very reputable institution called the United States since its bureau says it is likely to decrease to one hundred and one thousand by the year 2021 and we are saying that we want to increase the number of seats and equating it to the83decision by the new democratic party back in the mid 1980’s to increase the number of the seats at a time when the population was growing and you had all reason to expect that it would continue to grow and grow well into the future. So any adjustment for growth of population that was to be made was done in 1986 by the NDP. So why are we going through this exercise again, when it does not address any real problem that we faced. This is finding a solution where there is no problem.What is more, Mr. Speaker, not only is the population not increasing; we have so many ways now to stay in touch with our constituents. You can do so by cell phones, you can do so by text messaging, you can do it by face book, you can do by all means, and you can do it instantly with everybody in your constituency. So this is not an argument, Mr. Speaker, for lack of proper representation. If there is improper representations blame the representatives and let the electorates make that decision when we go to the polls. So what you have is bad representatives wanting to lead to bad law you know, the lawyers have saying, tough cases make bad law, well here, if you are saying that there is bad representation, I have not heard that complaint from my constituents, so maybe there is a problem on the other side, so let us go to the polls and then let the people deal with the question of representation. Do not change the number of representatives in this Honourable House at a time when the people have already spoken on this question, loudly and clearly and listen, the Prime Minister said in his presentation, the Honourable Prime Minister said in his presentation that the proposed constitution was a big document, they had a lot of things in it, [interjection] mind you it does not this argument about his party manifesto after you win an election that is all you have a mandate to impose that. You do not distinguish between clause 1 and 2 and 3 and whether it is education or whatever and what people are voting for, but in this case however, he is saying that he does not know what people specifically voted on. Well I say this, let us clarify it, let us make it an issue in the next General Elections, then after that if you win, you have a mandate to do it. Let us make this issue of increasing the number of seats in the Parliament, let us make it an issue in the next General Elections, then you will know for sure what the people think about it and that is democratic. If you want to increase democracy in the country, let the people have a say on it.We have an opportunity here that does not always come along, because usually, you have a review after the census which takes place 1991, usually you appoint the Commission and you have the report somewhere in the mid-term as happened in 2004, or is it 2005. But here we are talking about we are getting close to the census year, we are also getting close to General Elections, it is an issue with which we disagree and we believe that we have the ear of the people on this question because they voted the way we argued in the November 25th Referendum in which this was a major issue and that nobody can say otherwise, because you may not have made it an issue, but we certainly did, we wrote articles in the newspaper about it, that is meaning, the persons on the New Democratic Party who argued against the proposed constitution, so we made it a major issue and when we spoke about it, people responded in that way. And you ask anybody, you go out there, if you think I am joking, go and ask anybody out there if they think it is a good idea to go and add two more seats. One thing people do not want any more of in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in the United States of America or mostly anywhere in the world is more politicians [interjection] they want me because they vote for me, that is one thing people would tell you, they do not want any more politicians.84So let us make it an issue, clarify it. If you think that the verdict of the last Referendum is unclear, frame it as an issue for the next General Elections, the census data will be available next year, there is a convergence of all the necessary ingredients [interjection] you see, Mr. Speaker, the Honourable [interjection] argue with..., make a cogent argument, do not just bring your fist down, it is not going to happen you know, do not argue with a clenched fist as President Obama says, open your hand man and listen and then come back with a cogent argument to try and persuade people. This is a democracy, not a dictatorship, and dictatorship of the majority is no less repugnant than dictatorship of one person when there are illegitimate issues that the minority raises.Mr. Speaker, we know that the people will have their say on this. We know that the people will have their say on this and what we ask is that if you are truly interested in the democratic expression of the will of the people, let them have their say before you make the change, all right, you will [interjection] well your colleague is..., the Honourable Senator Francis has given me the assurance that they will leave the matter for the next General Elections.Mr. speaker, the situation in this country is one where everybody is watching their pennies and people, they do not want to give an increase in the salaries for Parliamentarians, given the history we have had with this issue over the past ten years or so, so which means to say, Mr. Speaker, is they do not want to increase the wage bill for what they are paying the Parliamentarians I guess suppose they think that that is what we are worth, we could argue with it, but our choice is not just to say, listen we are going to do it anyway or we are going to increase the wage bill by simply adding two more people rather than giving everybody else in here an increase. People are not going to stand for it Mr. Speaker, the people have spoken on this question, they are not going to stand for it and this Government, we will make it an issue in the next General Elections whether the Bill is passed or not. So whether we have any assurances from the Honourable Senator Francis or not, the matter will be an issue in the next General Elections and we have, Mr. Speaker..., we are in tune with the people you know, we know, Mr. Speaker, that they are listening to what we are saying and they are looking to leadership from the New Democratic Party and on this issue, Mr. Speaker, I am absolutely certain that we are at one with the people on it.What I want to know, Mr. Speaker, is this, who ask this Government to increase the number of seats, where is the demand coming from? Eh, where is it coming from and why is it so urgent [laughter]? Mr. Speaker, the Members on the other side, they could have their fun you know, but I know, every one of them, they are sitting there and they are thinking, the Honourable Member from the Northern Grenadines have a point you know [laughter], when I go back out there and I go tell people I voted to bring two more members of Parliament in this House when you have Members of Parliament here on the other side do not nothing to do, and they have to explain that, they say, boy, I should have listened when the Member for the Northern Grenadines cautioned it. So on the other hand you know maybe the members, I hear most of them on the other side, and they are not running again, so in a sense they take no responsibility for what they are doing. You do what you have to do and then somebody else pay the consequence, they face the music and they will face the music whenever the bell is rung and85we hope that the bell is rung very soon, Mr. Speaker, because that is what the people want and the sooner it is done Mr. Speaker, then the less likely it is that this piece of legislation, I was thinking of some choice words, Mr. Speaker, but [laughter] the point to be made, Mr. Speaker, is this piece of legislation which has no support within the population will determine their faiths come the next General Elections.I have the greatest respect, Mr. Speaker, for the people who put us here and I mean in the Parliament there is their party, they are going back and forth and so on and we can laugh from time to time, but what we are talking about here is a serious matter, it is not just an ordinary bill, it is an amendment of the constitution. We have a General Election coming up, let the people have their say on it again if you think that they did not speak clearly in the last November Referendum.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member, just a minute, Honourable Member, you have been really repeating yourself on a particular point, I have been tolerating it for the whole night, and I caution you, try and let us move on. You have been saying this one thing for several times.DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: All right, Mr. Speaker, I know the other Members on the other side, they do not want to hear me say it, but I am making a plea...,HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: That is why you are repeating it?DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: For the people of this country and simply because you have a majority, it does not give you the right to exercise that in a way that you know the people have spoken against and that is done. And if you do not want to hear it no more here you will hear it on the hustings, thank you very much Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE SIR LOUIS STRAKER: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much for your recognition. Mr. Speaker, my father always reminds me that there was an old saying in college when he was in college that he who has nothing to say must refrain from giving all worldly evidence of it [laughter] and I wish that the Honourable Member for the Northern Grenadines would take that advice because he had one theme and he had several..., just going around the one theme with very little to say. What I have detected, Mr. Speaker, in the arguments I have heard is a lack of conviction and sincerity in what they are putting forth. I do not have to build an argument in support of this measure, Mr. Speaker, for we have the strange situation where the greatest argument we have is what the NDP said in 1986, that is our biggest argument and Mr. Speaker, I look at the hansard and notice that you, Mr. Speaker, were a Senator, so this is like déjà vu all over again.Mr. Speaker, this is a simple piece of legislation, for the first time in almost quarter of a century, almost 25 years for the first time we are seeking to increase the seat by two by having a simple change in the constitution. It is not complicated. One would think that the argument would, after 24 years; there must be a need to increase the number of seats in the Parliament. We had the first..., we began with 8 seats in 1951, ten years later in 1961 there was an increase of the seats by one, eleven years later86there was an increase by 2 seats, twelve years later, or that was fourteen, 1972 to 1986 fourteen years it was increased by two and for the past 24 years there was no increase and it seems that reason and logic would dictate that there is nothing to object to that, but we hear objection on the other side with the either, let us wait until next year after the census, the same argument that was used for the referendum, let us wait. People love procrastination, what they are saying is that we hope that we can get into Government at the next election so that we can change the seats and have the seats that we desire.Mr. Speaker, that is a lot of arrogance that the NDP could change seats in 1986 and we are in power now, the constitution has vested in the Government the right and the Attorney General, I will read it later, the Attorney General in the NDP administration was right in saying, it is a..., the constitution has vested that power in the Government and the Government was only exercising the power invested in them to increase the seats. Then we hear that all kind of spurious arguments that oh, it is going to cost, why do we need more politicians to cost us more. And I do not need to answer that, because when the seat was to increase by two in 1986 Sir James Mitchell said, who was then Prime Minister, I do not think there will be any substantial increase in the cost of the Parliament as a result of this measure to increase the seats by two. So it was increased from 13 to 15 in 1986 and Sir James the Prime Minister said, there is no significant increase. As a matter of fact that was reinforced by I believe it was Jerry Scott who said that the increase for the two Parliamentarians that is the increase in salary is less than the cost of one technician in Government [interjection] yes, but it has not gone, is like it went on water on duck’s back [interjection] no I am not repeating it, because it is the first time I am saying it [interjection] not myself.So I mean it is a silly argument to come up and say, oh, it is going to cost us and the people do not want to see a greater expense in Government. Of course it is silly, because you are answered already by Sir James and by Jerry Scott; your own party has answered the question. So if your party has answered the question, why are you going to argue with your party and raise the same issue and creating a division in your own party. If it is the will of God, the will of Allah, you would see me again [laughter] do not frighten for me, I might be running again, my place is secure [interjection] Seven Days that is what you call us, that is what you call us. Go Richland Park and say Seven Days, when you go up there you will hear you say Seventh Day Adventist, well you go up there and call the people Seven Days, you wait until I get up there I will tell them that is how you disdainfully refer to them as Seven Days. You wait until I get up there. [Interjection] well you go up there and call them Seven Days. When you go up to campaign there, call them Seven Days.So the matter of cost is not a matter that we are taking into..., that you should take into consideration because that already is answered. Mr. Speaker, when you talk about increasing the seats and density, Sir James has made a pungent argument here, when he said, let us look at the whole Caribbean picture and you have not answer that. He said in the Caribbean, we have British Virgin Islands with 11,000 population and 9 constituencies, 11,000 and 9 constituencies. He says, let us look at Bermuda with a population of 64,000 and they have 40 elected Members, he said, let us look at the Turks and Caicos Islands with a population of 7,158 and they have nine constituencies. Then he said, let us look at the other countries, Grenada, St. Lucia and he said you..., and Jerry Scott in coming in with his87contribution said, Mr. Speaker, I think that the question before the House is a simple one, a simple request to increase the number of seats from 13 to 15. The Honourable Prime Minister in his presentation outlined a number of examples of existing situations throughout the Caribbean and Members on the other side referring to the labour party opposition would have us believe that despite these figures and facts that the situation is not relevant to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as if St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a country quite apart and quite unlike all the other Caribbean territories. So as Jerry Scott has said, let us look at what is taking place in the other countries in the Caribbean and let us bring St. Vincent up to par with them in terms of representation and what is it that we see in the other territories? In Antigua and Barbuda, they have for every number of voters per representative is 4,441 an average of 4,441 that is Antigua and Barbuda, they have 17 members out of a population of 75,000; 75,000 population, but they have 17 members. We have 110,000 in our population, we have 15 and we are seeking to increase it by 2, but we hear this spurious argument that there is no need for that and we have an average of 7,333 per constituency. Antigua has 4,400, why is it anybody with any sense of logic cannot comprehend and see according to Jerry Scott that we have to fall in line with the rest of the Caribbean.Let us look at St. Kitts with a population of 39,000 and they have an average of 3,562 per constituency, 3500 people per constituency, we have twice that over 7000 and Jerry Scott is saying let us look at the Caribbean situation and decide whether we should not have additional seats. Let us look at Anguilla with a population of 14,000 people where they have 7 elected members. Let us look at Grenada with a population of 104,000 they have 15 elected members, but in the Parliament as a whole they have 38 with 13 Senators, we have 4 Senators. Now if they can afford 28 members, you are saying that we are in such a stage of penury that we cannot add two more seats and bring us closer, we can never be equal to them, but bring us closer to that number and it is such a wicked thing that we are doing? Such an outrageous thing we are doing if we were to add two more seats when indeed, Grenada with a less population, fewer people than we have, has 15 and then another 11 as in their senate.Let us look at the Cayman Islands with a population of 54,000 it has 15 elected members and 3 Senators. Population half the size of ours with 15 members and Dominica, let us look at Dominica, a population of 72,000 it has 21 elected members. Dominica with a population of 72,000 has 21 elected members and 9 Senators making it a Parliament of 30. So if Dominica with 72,000 has 21 members, Dominica economy has been regulated with the IMF, you are saying that we are in such a bad state that we cannot add two more seats. Even with the two more seats, we have still fewer seats than Dominica has by 4. So that is why I say, there is a lack of sincerity and conviction in the way that the Opposition..., Mr. Speaker, those who speak that we should not have it, the additional two seats, are saying look, we would rather have it when we are in power. So if we wait, let us see if we would get in power and they say let us wait and then we would have the census and they would try to use the census as an excuse to say, well we were against it before the census, but now the census..., now we are in power, we think it is justified in having the additional seats, that is hypocrisy [interjection] well not much of that around your side there.88Mr. Speaker, this is what the Attorney General who was at that time the NDP Attorney General has said because he is the man who piloted the Bill, let me say, my good old friend yesteryear, Emery Robertson said, Mr. Speaker, since there is no further debate I would move to wind up the debate in respect of all this particular constitutional motion. Mr. Speaker, Parliament has enacted and has been given the power under the constitution of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the people of this country. Good government would be such laws as the government of the day deemed necessary for the proper running of the affairs of this country, I will skip out some of that, he said, Mr. Speaker, the authority vested in us (that is the NDP administration) under the constitution of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the government is exercising that authority to increase the number of constituencies and so we have brought a Bill into this House to alter the provisions to section 33 subsection 3(b) of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. He says, a constitutional committee would be set up and they are mandated to redistribute and reallocate the constituencies having regard to these guidelines so there is no question of gerrymandering to suit a political party. It is guidelines which are set out in the constitution that must be adhered to and he added his voice with those of Jerry Scott in asking for more seats.This is what he said, Mr. Speaker, the latest statistical figures which I have in my possession as of the 18th April 1986 was that there was a total register of 50,365 voters on the electoral list and it is very easy to see if the same ratio were to be applied that we should have been moving here in the House not for an amendment from 13 to 15, but an amendment from 13 to 17, watch a situation that we have now with 50,000 on the electoral list and he said we should move it to 17. Now we are doing what the NDP Attorney General Emery Robertson said that they should have done and it is such a outrageous thing, it is such a wicked thing that they would oppose it, what nonsense is that? The people have spoken. Well my good friend and he knows that he has my sympathy with that, made what we call a Leacock amendment in the new constitution, whereby we should make sure that we have some oxygen, I think he might like that for the constituency. What you are saying now is that the people have spoken, so if even we get in the new government, we should put Senator Leacock’s argument aside, because the people have spoken against what he proposed and since they have spoken, there would be no oxygen for you Senator Leacock [laughter] you would suffocate.You see the logical argument that your colleague from the Northern Grenadines is making? No, it is relevant because you said that the people have rejected the Leacock amendment, you say that they have rejected this, so therefore it should not be considered, how could it be relevant, there are six of one and half of dozen of the other, how could that be relevant? You want the oxygen now and you want it later, new constitution or no now constitution.Mr. Speaker, I think when we look at the figures, my colleague has brought up the point, the constitution section 33 speaks about making the constituencies as nearly even as possible with some derogation to that general rule and we have two seats in St. Vincent and the Grenadines with a voting population combined of 7,018 votes, two seats and on mainland St. Vincent we have Marriaqua with more votes than those two constituencies, East St. George with far many more votes, West St. George with far many more votes, East Kingstown with far many more votes than those two constituencies89combined. Central Kingstown with far more votes, West Kingstown with far more votes, South Leeward with far more votes, but there is no argument for the sake of equity. We seek to justify it by saying we must have a 6% on either side of the average deviation, but here we have a situation that cries out for greater equity among the constituencies. When the two seats in the Grenadines were created and I am not arguing against the two seats, [interjection] no I am not, do not come with that now, try something else, we did not have an airport in almost every island in the Grenadines. As a matter of fact, even now you can get to Bequia sooner than you can leave Kingstown and get to Fancy or Chateaubelair, because you can get there in one hour by boat, you can take nine minutes and fly across the channel to Bequia, so in terms of communication, in terms of geography, those things do not obtain anymore, because as you said, we have face book, we have all kind of electronic equipment that we can use, what you call them? And you have these, so you yourself, you have condemned your own argument by saying that now we have all these things there is no need for us to have this disparity in terms of number of voters per constituency and there is a need for greater equity. But Mr. Speaker, I do not believe he understood what he was saying that is the truth, he did not understand, because all he was saying is going around the mulberry bush saying the same thing over and over again, but Mr. Speaker, it is quite obvious that the argument to someone even of a very low IQ in terms of equity, we have it here, in terms of the Caribbean what pertains in the other islands, even in terms of that we have the argument on our side and we carry the full weight of the NDP Government whether it is Allan Cruickshank, whether it is Jerry Scott, whether it is Sir James Mitchell, they stand four square with us there [interjection] well I just read it, you do not understand?Well when you say they should have carried it to 17 seats in 1986, what must you say then in 2010, carry it down or leave it the same? The number of voters on the list in 1986 was 51,000 now we have 97,000 on the list, if even granted that there might be a few people on it probably who are dead or have been abroad for more than 5 years, let us knock off 10,000 so we are still left with 87,000 on the list compare to 51,000 in 1986. Let us knock off 20,000 we are left with 77,000 on the list, still compared to 1986 when you said the 15 seats were justified. So 51,000 to 77,000 you are saying that there is no need for two additional seats, what kind of thinking is that?Mr. Speaker, I think the argument is fully made in terms of..., I know they must have regretted they did not support the Referendum which would have given them greater advantage. Well, people voted, do not get too cocky about that you know, do not get too cocky about that you might be misleading yourself. Mr. Speaker, all I can say is that the arguments a stance strong. In addition, we have said to the numerical superiority of some of our sister countries in the Caribbean, they have Senates and if they can afford in some cases, eight, nine, ten seats beyond what we have and you are going to tell us we who have moved our GDP from 8,000 to 16,000 per capita, you are going to tell us that we cannot afford to add two seats because it would bring us to poverty [laughter] if we do that I think you are straining the question, you are straining the question to say that we cannot afford or is that necessary. If you were on this side of the House, you would have marshalled the strongest arguments and you would have had the very arguments we are using here to justify, but I believe it is politics, so you find it convenient because you are in the Opposition to argue that way and I sympathize with you, so that is the Opposition argument, because I look at you, the members of the Opposition and I see how you90were just limping around, limping around that nobody can say really that person is speaking from his heart and sounds convincing. But you just marshal the argument because somebody probably advice that you should oppose it and therefore you oppose it just for opposition sake. But in all logic in all reason we can see that there is a need for the additional two seats. All the arguments we have heard, nothing but a bunch of logical and immoral inconsistencies and nobody is going to buy this. You might try to pretend that oh we have the people with us, the people have given us a mandate for 5 years that is what you fail to realise, the people have given us a mandate for 5 years...,HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member..., DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: Yes the Honourable Member, did the HonourableMember say that there were immoral arguments? HONOURABLE SIR LOUIS STRAKER: Yes, DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: Immoral in what sense?HONOURABLE SIR LOUIS STRAKER: Immoral in the sense that when you seek to have one vote representing that many people and it takes half the number of votes, it is morally repugnant, yes, morally repugnant to have two people representing one person and one person representing one person. That is morally repugnant. You understand why? [Interjection] thank you.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member, please, somebody..., DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: Mr. Speaker, I will deal with the HonourableMember another time [laughter].HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: All right, okay.HONOURABLE SIR LOUIS STRAKER: Mr. Speaker, [laughter] I asked that the Members would quip themselves as men, and show that they have intellectual ability to act on their own and not for the convenience of the opposition being opposition. Think clearly, reason with the people of this country, marshal the same arguments that I have marshalled here and let them see the facts and tell me if there is anybody that is crazy out there that would not say yes, on the basis of the facts, the objective facts. We do deserve additional seats in order as Allan Cruickshank and Jerry Scott have said, to give better representation to our people. Thank you, Mr. Speaker [applause].HONOURABLE RENE BAPTISTE: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I rise to make a very brief Contribution to the debate on this Bill before the House which seeks to amend the Constitution of St. Vincent and the Grenadines particularly in clause 2 of the Bill section 33 of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Constitution Order of 1979 by deleting in subsection 1(15) and in 13(17) that is changing from 15 constituencies to 17 constituencies. I believe that the contributions in this Honourable House91from the Honourable Member for South Leeward and the Honourable Member from Central Leeward ably led by the Honourable Prime Minister in respect to the arguments in relation to the amendment of the Constitution before this Honourable House.Mr. Speaker, I may be totally wrong and I ask you to correct me if that is so, but I recall quite vividly that during the debate inside and outside of this Honourable House on the Constitution Bill of 2009, it was forcibly argued that several of the provisions of the new Constitution of 2009 Bill that they could be dealt with by ordinary legislation. I think I heard that argument over and over and so we do not need to go amending the Constitution in this global fashion [applause] we could take it a step at a time. Mr. Speaker, it is not because we on this side of the House say that what we seek to do is to fulfill the mandate given to us and refer to the manifesto that you will see every single step that we take in the manifesto has to be footstep for footstep. For example when we came to office in 2001 no jet plane had yet flown into the twin towers, we are not required to pass all this legislation dealing with anti money laundering measures, terrorism measures, biochemical warfare, when we took the oath in this Honourable House in April of 2001, those were not issues that were in our manifesto. So I want to set it quite clearly that governance is not dictated 100% by your manifesto. The manifesto provides a guide and it is through that manifesto that we get the mandate, but the mandate can obviously not be limited by what is placed in the manifesto.As has been said when we look back on the record in this Honourable House in the hansard you would see the argument that the Constitution gives this power, so the Constitution is fully intact today and by virtue of that Constitution we will exercise that power under the Constitution. We cannot pick and choose and say that..., well that one there yes they did vote against that, but yes they did not..., you know sometimes the old people say you have to be careful what you wish for, you just might get it and you got it. So we are working with the 1979 Constitution that provides the Government with the authority to govern and the authority to govern means that you have to take into account when you sit and deliberate in the caucuses of the Government and exercising that authority on the Constitution that it has been deemed necessary in our discretion that we would increase the number of constituencies from 15 to 17 and the arguments and the statistical analyses have already been ably dealt with by my Honourable friend here from South Leeward, so I will not repeat myself and waste Parliamentary time.However, I just wanted us to look at something in the Representation of the People Act, because this is an Honourable House and we have to act with honour. In the Representation of the People Act Cap 6 of the Revised Edition of the Laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the issue of the qualification for registration of a voter, because the voters lists is a lists of the persons who are eligible for registration as voters. It does not represent a census of the constituencies that is, the census from what I recall and I am subject to correction, the census is done by districts which are smaller than the constituencies and in a census, you are counting people in the constituencies for the purposes of voting. It is regulated by the provisions of the Representation of the People Act. So that persons between the age of 1 and 17 are not reflected on the persons registered as eligible voters, however, the law says and I quote, section 5 Representation of the People Act, “subject to the provisions of this Act or of any written law imposing any disqualification for registration as a voter, every person who has attained the age of 1892years or upward shall be entitled to be registered as a voter in a constituency for the purpose of electing a representative for that constituency if on a qualifying date he is a citizen of St. Vincent and the Grenadines or,” and very importantly because we miss this when we are counting eligible registered voters, “is a commonwealth citizen who has been residing in St. Vincent and the Grenadines for a period of not less than 12 months immediately preceding the qualifying date and in either case has resided in that constituency for a period of not less than six months.Originally, this was three months when this Bill was passed in 1982, but it was amended in 1998 increasing the qualifying period to six months immediately preceding the qualifying date. Then the right to remain registered section 7, “every person registered as a voter pursuant to this part shall remain registered unless and until his name is deleted from the register because (a) he has died (b) an objection to his registration has been allowed (c) he has been absent from St. Vincent and the Grenadines for a period exceeding 5 years, except in cases of absence for approved studies abroad or (d) he has become disqualified under any law for registration or for exercising his rights as a voter.”This Act is a very short Act you know, Mr. Speaker and I think it is very important for us to know how the mechanism works and do not let..., I mean I know everybody wants to get vote and everybody will like to think we are doing the right thing. It sounds nice to jump up and down and say the list is bloated, my challenge is prove it. Easy matter, if you say it, prove it, do not give me, I want nice specifics as how these are here, do not tell me it is bloated, no let me go ahead here and speak. We hear, he has died in the registration of the voters list when persons dead, the Supervisor of Elections Office would liaise with the Registrar’s Office downstairs and would you believe, Mr. Speaker, that do you know that the Registrar’s Office on a monthly basis would give us less persons with the dead certificate than the information that we would get from the radio station or relatives coming in with the death certificate or persons who have died overseas, but you did not get it on the radio, you get the other information, these are the practical issues we are dealing with. I am not dealing with any classroom nonsense because you want to get a vote; I am not dealing with that, I am dealing with these matters that are here and it makes no sense for anybody to come here and pretend. This law was passed 1982; it was not passed in 2001. It is the voters list from 2001 you continue with the process of cleaning, we move to a new system with Canadian Bank Note people have sat down and studied what is the legislation here. These are people with an excellent reputation, unless you want to take care of parliamentary privilege and curse them too, impugn their reputation and we are working in concert with them that have the expertise and experience practically in dealing with matters of assisting for the registration of voters.Next an objection to the registration, who is to do the objection, whose responsibility it is to do the..., you see, we have to work in concert with the law, not in concert with some talk show or some dog show, with the law. (b) An objection to his registration has been allowed. (c) He has been absent from St. Vincent and the Grenadines for a period exceeding 5 years. There are persons who are on that list who are classified as non-voters. There are Commonwealth citizens who come here to do contracts and they are here for 2, 3 years and they go and they get a card, because they want to have a means of identification to work with other than their passport and because it gives them the right under the law93to get an identification card have that card issued. But that citizen may very well leave here after 2 years or 3 years. Similarly there are people in the BVI, in Saba and all St. Eustatius, Vincentians. They may come home for six months, twelve months and then they go back to the BVI, and they have their ID Cards. Then they are there for two years, then they come home in the third year, similarly in Anguilla, we have a goodly number there, there are over 3,000 of them sailing on Royal Caribbean. Some of them come back in six months some come back in four years, he has been absent from St. Vincent and the Grenadines for a period exceeding five years, the name can be deleted. There is a procedure in this law for dealing with the objections and making the claims, section 14; (1) All claims for registration made by a person whose name does not appear in the register or the appropriate quarterly lists and all objections to registration of persons whose names appear in the registers of voters and in the quarterly list as the case may be, shall be determined in accordance with the regulations by the appropriate registering officer acting with respect to the constituency to which the register or lists in question relates. (2) Notwithstanding in subsection 1 when a claim there under has been disallowed, the registering officer may in accordance with the regulations refer the matter to the Supervisor of Elections whose decision thereon shall be final.Most of the objections are made by political activists and political parties, because someone will tell them this person is in jail or this person has left the state and nobody in the neighbourhood has seen him in five years. As Minister for electoral matters in this administration, I exhort political parties to make use of the provisions under the regulations as they subsist for the time being in force. If you feel that there is a system or more regulations that you will like to see in place then bring the regulation. We have been investigating that in Electoral Department in relation to further claims and objections. We are not just going to sit down and say, well because we are there we are not going to do anything; that is not the attitude we adopt. A lot of us went to university you know, we understand how you do analysis and things like that and how we will go through this and make sure that we do not disenfranchise anyone, because the next thing you will hear, Constitutional Motion, they want to disenfranchise me and I do not have my freedom to exercise my right to vote.Right at this moment, the Electoral Office is dealing with a number of these matters..., HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: [Inaudible.] HONOURABLE RENE BAPTISTE: You are making an objection? HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Minister let us...,HONOURABLE RENE BAPTISTE: Oh, oh, oh, thank you, thank you sir, I have excellent recall of my spoken words.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Give me the linkage please.94HONOURABLE RENE BAPTISTE: Yes, my linkage is in relation to the constituencies and the numbers, because the numbers that is reflected in the constituencies as voters is compiled by the Electoral Office which derive this authority under the Representation of the Peoples Act, which derive this authority from the Constitution under the Constitution of St. Vincent and the Grenadines; that is the linkage, Mr. Speaker. Because constituencies have voters and voters only get on a list if you register them in accordance with the law. That is not tenuous, we are dealing with facts here, you could always deal with something else on the radio station.Now, Mr. Speaker, what we are also working on in the Electoral Office is in respect of speeding up these numbers when they come in for removal from the lists in order to make sure that we get the numbers as clear and as clean as possible, but Mr. Speaker, let us go to the increase. Now, Mr. Speaker, [interjection] you cannot direct me, I done win two times, now Mr. Speaker, in relation to these constituencies, Mr. Speaker, when we sit here and we say that as you have heard the arguments laid out by the Honourable Prime Minister and the Honourable Member for Central Leeward that we look at the numbers as I laid out the foundation how the numbers appear in black and white, when you look at the number, Mr. Speaker, it is apparent that there is a good case for the increase and as has been rightly said, you do not need to amend the Constitution by Referendum for that and therefore, to put some equity in the system I quite agree and fully support the Bill that is before this Honourable House.Mr. Speaker, when these two..., because I have no doubt that we feel quite comfortable and confident that this Bill will pass tonight that when these two additional constituencies which you do not agree with are created, take it to its logical conclusion, because you do not agree with it, it should not change anything. It is evident when one constituency will have eight thousand voters that you have to do something in relation to the boundaries and do it in accordance with the provisions as set out in the Constitution. The Constitution creates a good balance in the composition of the Constituencies Boundaries Commission, one from each side of this Honourable House and a Member appointed by the Governor General, failure of one Member not being appointed, the Governor General may appoint somebody in his own discretion or he can leave that vacancy, but the Commission will be quite legitimate and its conclusions would be valid, which conclusions would be brought into force and it is more than likely, Mr. Speaker, when you look at the numbers in that corridor between East St. George and South Leeward with the seven thousand plus, history occurring and in East St. George where it is eight thousand plus that the Commission may find that it has good space to create two constituencies and evening up the numbers within that corridor [interjection] East St. George and South Leeward.So it is my hope and desire that this evening in this Honourable House we would be able to vote on this in accordance with the provisions in the Constitution, Mr. Speaker, and bring it to a conclusion and have the Bill passed so that we can have the Commission on its way to do its work. The timing as to whether or not we should wait on the 2011 census, I do not recall that there was a census in 1986, it was two years after and the last census was what, 2001; 2001 was the last census and we have to deal with what we have in front of us. It is a good case, it is sound Mr. Speaker, and I fully endorse the debate on this side of the House so far and wish this Bill a speedy passage through this Honourable House [applause].95HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. Any further debate Honourable Prime Minister?DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I would like to thank all Honourable Members who have made contributions to this debate, I am sorry that the Honourable Leader of the Opposition is not here, because I would have..., he would have been able to hear me rebut specifically some of the illogical positions which he advanced. I observed that when Luke Browne came in Mr. Speaker, in the gallery that there was a certain uneasiness about him and he migrated a very short while thereafter. I do not know if it is cause an effect, but at least, there is a coincidence at the very least and I made that observation.Mr. Speaker, there is a lot of confusion in the Opposition between the circumstances which give rise to the appointment of a Boundaries Commission and the question of the work that the Boundaries Commission has to do and in relation to what principles and the authority of Parliament constitutionally. There is a great deal of loose thinking and I think it is important for us to clarify the elemental principles which are in the Constitution. First of all, this Parliament has the constitutional authority to increase seats that is the first point. Secondly, a Boundaries Commission is appointed only in three sets of circumstances. Two circumstances are not possible that is to say, because there is no census and because eight years have not elapse since the last Boundaries Commission reported, which means that there is only one condition possible in the extant circumstances for a Boundaries Commission to be appointed that is for Parliament to exercise its authority. And when Parliament exercises its authority and the Boundaries Commission is appointed by His Excellency, the Governor General in accordance with the procedure laid down in the Constitution, the Boundaries Commission is duty bound to assess the clear principles in the Constitution in determining the boundaries, but in accordance with the alteration in the Constitution that we should have two more seats.What is the fundamental principle, Mr. Speaker, it is laid out in the opening lines of section 33(2) of the Constitution. All constituencies shall contain as nearly equal numbers of inhabitants as appears to the Commission to be reasonably practicable, but the Commission may depart from this principle to such extent as it considers expedient in order to take account of the foreign factors and four sets of factors are named, but the foundation principle of our Parliamentary Democracy, our Electoral Democracy, the fundamental principle is that all constituencies shall contain as nearly equal numbers of inhabitants as appears to the Commission to be reasonably practicable and that is why Parliament is given the authority to increase or decrease the number of constituencies without reference at all to any census or without reference to any earlier report. This is a decision of the Parliament and the decision is grounded on this principle of the requisite, the fundamental requisite of equality between the constituencies.Mr. Speaker, we have accepted that you have had a Boundaries Commission earlier, that is to say the one of 1987 which reported in ‘88 that you must have two seats in the Grenadines. From the moment that decision was taken, it meant that having taken account of means of communication, geographical features, that you undermine the principle of equality of constituencies which is permissible, but this96does not mean that you must not strive for an equality and that is the fundamental point that the Honourable Minister of Health was making and that is why his answer was a complete one to the Honourable Leader of the Opposition. He made the answer in Mathematical terms, in Arithmetical terms, but the foundation for the answer is in fact constitutional. Because, you have seven constituencies on St. Vincent which are between twice and almost three times the size of the constituency in the Southern Grenadines and one and a half times the size of the Northern Grenadines. Clearly, while you can have some departure from the equality principle, it cannot be one which is unreasonable and the truth is this that since the 1989 General Elections, we have had a departure from the equality principle which is unreasonable and that is what the Parliament intends to address. We cannot have a situation where a voter in South Leeward or in East St. George is half the value of one in the Southern Grenadines or a third in the case or almost a third in the case of East St. George.You may say, to depart from the principle of equality it may be three quarter or two thirds maturely, surely, it cannot be reasonable to ask that we have numbers which are so skewed, so out of any reasonable balance. Mr. Speaker and the matter is even made more glaring in practical terms. The voters in North Central Windward in the villages of Park Hill and South Rivers, the votes that they give me personally over the last three elections are in excess, I am talking about in those two villages, are in excess of the votes given to the winner and the loser in the Southern Grenadines. So we do not begin to take into consideration any other set of persons in any other part of North Central Windward and let it be added that North Central Windward is not one of the top seven constituencies and the case is clear that if indeed that the other on the mainland, on St. Vincent itself, the other six constituencies, the modal figure is 6,000 little bit. Surely it make sense for those where the figure, modal figure, or where the range of the figures is between 7,500 and 8,300 that they be brought as close to the 6,000 figure which would still be significantly more than the Northern Grenadines or the Southern Grenadines but at least you can say an attempt has been made for some recognition of the fundamental principle of the equality of numbers. But what the Opposition has done, they skipped over that and go to the second limb after the ‘but’, but the Commission may depart from this principle and take account of the density of population and in particular the need to ensure adequate representation as sparse the populated rural areas the means of communication geographic features and the boundaries of existing administrative areas.Well Mr. Speaker, the latter one for administrative areas, we do not have divisions as we have in say, you go to Barbados, they have their divisions in accordance with their Parishes, in Grenada is the same way. Though we have Parishes, they are not really boundaries which are administrative. So basically, you are looking at the population density, the geographical issues and the matter of communication, but those are a second order set of principles having established the issue of equality. Otherwise, what we are going to have is a system which makes a mockery of each individual citizen having in a unitary state not a federal arrangement, in a unitary state making a mockery of the fundamental of one man, one vote. Because in the manifestation in practical terms, in some constituencies is one person, one vote, but the value of that vote is far less in the representational system. We accept that in our circumstances and that is why I made the point, Mr. Speaker, that the memorandum which we will submit will not call for any alterations in the Grenadines let them have the two seats still. Our brothers97and sisters there that is fine, but you cannot then tell me that particularly in the seven largest constituencies that they must remain completely out of sync in relation to those. It is an absurd argument to hold that you do not take account of the principle of equality.Mr. Speaker, when this first arose, this discussion, the propaganda on the NDP radio station, oh they want to have one seat in the Grenadines that is where they started their discussion, because their instinct is to be divisive and confusion creating. Now of course, the Boundaries Commission as I have said when you look at its work may move and push whatever argument it wants, but it is unlikely that there would be a majority there for addressing to altering the boundaries in the Grenadines since the representative from the Opposition on the Boundaries Commission, he or she is unlikely to want any alteration there from the sense of 2:1 and we have already stated our principle that we accept that, because we are a unitary state and we accept that there would be some variations, but surely the fundamental principle must be put in place. You cannot put the rest of the country at a disadvantage. You do not have to put the Grenadines at a disadvantage, but why do you want to put the rest of the country at a disadvantage and to me is captured in the principle.Mr. Speaker, I then want to address this issue by the Leader of the Opposition. He made a lot about the population has been growing from 1960 except in 2001. Well it is basically stagnant, statistically no growth, but the point is this that arithmetical statistical analysis does not address the fundamental constitutional principle of equality. It dodges the question, it seeks to obfuscate it, with skirts around it and seeks to misuse and abuse statistics for a political end which they consider to be desirable. Well that is not how the constitution is written. That is not the intention for statistics to be so abused.Then the issue of the costs, well heavens will speak to this. The salary of a Parliamentarian is what $4,000 a month, an elected Parliamentarian without being in Ministerial Office? So, that is what you are calling expense, more expense when you take into account the fundamental legal principle, the value of additional representation in the House and as Allan Cruickshank quite eloquently made the point, to have better face to face connection with people and also given the terrain of the country what we have to traverse. It is true to say that, Mr. Speaker, that while you may go and twitter on the internet, I wonder how many persons in Central Kingstown for instance can be communicated to by the Honourable Senator Leacock by way of the internet. The old ladies in Green Hill or in Sharpes or down in Paul’s Avenue or wherever, I mean, the numbers would be very few. They still want you to come and visit them and drink a glass of mauby with them talk to them, hold their hands, interface with them, because there is a certain intimacy in our political representation and that is our tradition [interjection] no but, you see, you say you are doing all of that but you cannot represent them by staying at your computer, you cannot seek to connect with them. Anybody who does that would be disconnecting will be placing an emphasis on one form of hard drive, (I welcome back the Honourable Leader of the Opposition, it has been [interjection] ah, you came back to assert your manhood that you can be here present while Luke Browne is in the audience, thank you very much for so masculine on this issue)HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: I do not necessarily agree with you.98DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Yes, I know, but I am very..., and this is the most important hard drive, this one of all of them, the brain, the human brain. Now, Mr. Speaker, I really cannot think that someone like the Honourable Leader of the Opposition who gave away hundreds of thousands of dollars to Mongal Singh and gave away $19 million in interest to the West German’s Banks on the Ottley Hall debt in 21⁄2 years, can talk about a meager sum of $4,000 for each Parliamentarian, each of the two new Parliamentarians or indeed for that matter, when he talks about $4 million in a Referendum an exercise in democracy which we all agreed would be an expensive business and which in fact, which in fact was spent to a huge extent on people who are going around to educate others and on persons to provide equipment and media work and so on that is what happened with $4 million. There is no mystery about it and it is properly accounted for in the Government and the accounting officer who is the Cabinet Secretary will so make all the necessary accounting to the Director of Audit when all the proper enquiries and all the auditing is complete. So this approach by someone who took $19 million and $19 million between 1999 and 2001 in two days value put that at $25 million put that at $25 million and he has the gall to stand up in this House to talk about expenditure among the people in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to educate them in relation to a referendum. Do not think I am being defensive about that. The history of profligacy why you throw away money on West LB, it is something which forever will shame your years as Minister of Finance. Absolutely no doubt about that and then, Mr. Speaker, I hear this bemoaning, that the population is smaller and the voters list is padded. The Honourable Minister of Electoral Affairs has answered that, but at the same time you are saying that, you would wish to bloat the list if you were to get in with people from the Ukraine from by low Russia, form China, from all the caucuses, you would want them from Russia, you would want them from Latvia, Estonia, you would want them from Kazakhstan, eh, you would want them from Pakistan, you would want them from Turkmenistan, you would want them from all of those places who are prepared to buy the peoples citizenship, this country’s citizenship and their passports. That is what you would want to do, because unless you sell it wholesale, you cannot raise the money from it, so you want to bring them too as voting cattle in addition, to they paying for their passport.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Senator Leacock.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: I will give way.HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Mr. Speaker, point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Honourable Prime Minister is definitely imputing you know dishonesty on the behalf of members on this side of the House. Earlier this evening, Mr. Speaker, you addressed the question of gerrymandering and manipulating electoral processes, the statement to be suggesting that as an Opposition Party one will consider the attempt to bring in people from all over the world, and he listed the names of those places, and involved themselves in a way to manipulate the electoral process. He is making the same statement that we earlier this evening addressed, Mr. Speaker. It is the same argument, Mr. Speaker, which we addressed earlier this evening.99DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, if I may say this, I am imputing no dishonesty. There is the statement of a policy and I am speaking about the consequences of a policy as the night follows day. I would never [interjection] no, but you rose not on a point of order you know, you asked me to give way, [interjection] no, you did not raise a point of order...,HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: And I even went on to say that you..., DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: No, no, I say, I am giving way, I give way andthat is why you did not state your point of order, you made a statement.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Just a minute, I did not hear him asking on a point of order, he raised the question and I heard the Prime Minister saying, I give way...,DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Yes, HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: He said, I will give way, I did not hear, I honestly did not hear.All right okay.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: He stated his point of order.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: He stated a point of order. All right, let us go on. Okay, I did not hear it; I did not hear it, all right. All right he stated a point of order, Honourable Prime Minister I am asking you now to clarify his point of order.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Yes, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker, I will gladly do so Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I impute no dishonesty.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Okay.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, in St. Kitts, in Dominica, in Grenada where we have the economic citizenship programme there are people from Russia, there are people from the Ukraine, from the caucuses, from Estonia, from Latvia, from Kazakhstan, from Turkmenistan...,HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: You are continuing the debate or you...,DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: No Mr. Speaker, I am clarifying. From China, from Pakistan, from all of those countries in those areas where we have economic citizenship, therefore, once you bring in economic citizenship, selling the passport, those are the people whom you are going to have coming to buy it and once they get their citizenship, they are also going to be able to vote that is the point.100HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: All right, okay. You have seven minutes to conclude your debate.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: I am obliged, Mr. Speaker. So, Mr. Speaker, I have taken care of the arithmetic, I have taken care of the issue of costs, I have taken care of the additional persons who are to come on the list. Now, Mr. Speaker, the question of the Referendum. It is disingenuous for the Opposition to maintain that every single proposition in the Referendum is voted down and incapable of being revived by this Parliament. Indeed, it is the Honourable Leader of the Opposition himself who said, we can revive the Integrity Commission, the Ombudsman, the Human Rights Commission [interjection] wait, no I am saying to you, so you want now from the Opposition benches..., I mean you are not even writing your own speeches, you want to right the law for the Opposition for the Government? SCL is writing your speeches, they wrote your speech, that is why you were so unfamiliar with the text last night. You know, that is the kind of colonialism that is where we have reached.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Prime Minister, you are making a statement, could you verify the statement for me please?DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, I must say, I cannot go to a court of law and verify it, but I have authoritative sources who have so indicated to me.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Please, please..., DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: And the lack of familiarity with theHonourable Member with the text would have suggested it to me.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Okay, all right the gentleman indicates he writes his speech, could you just move on with that matter, if you cannot verify it. Since you cannot verify it, please move on.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, the case has been fully made for the increase in the number of seats and the case has been made with assistance from Sir James, from Jerry Scott, Allan Cruickshank you current General Secretary and by the force of the arguments themselves on their merits.Accordingly, I beg to move that this Honourable House resolves itself into a Committee of the Whole House to consider this Bill clause by clause.HONOURABLE SIR LOUIS STRAKER: Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion.Question put and agreed to. House went into Committee.101House Resumed. Bill read and reported without amendment.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I beg to move that a Bill for an Act to amend the Constitution of St. Vincent and the Grenadines set out in the first schedule to the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Constitutional 1979 be read a third time by title and passed.HONOURABLE SIR LOUIS STRAKER: Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion. Question put and agreed to.Bill read a third time by title and passed.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, the requirement of section 38(2) I had asked for a division so that we make sure that we have the two-thirds vote of the elected representatives.CLERK, HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY: Honourable Members, howHonourable Member for North Central Windward Honourable Member for Central Leeward Honourable Member for West St. George Honourable Member for MarriaquaHonourable Member for South Central Windward Honourable Member for South Leeward Honourable Member for West Kingstown Honourable Member for East St. George Honourable Member for North Windward Honourable Member for North Leeward Honourable Member for Central Kingstown Honourable Member for East Kingstown Honourable Member for Northern Grenadines Honourable Member for the Southern Grenadinesdo you vote?- Aye - Aye - Aye - Aye - Aye - Aye - Aye - Aye - Aye - Aye - Aye - No - No - NoAnd that brings us to the end of the vote and the tally shows that we have eleven Members for and three Members against and one Member absent [applause].DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, I believe there is a requirement for a formal declaration by you that section 38(2) of the Constitution has been complied with if I may get the actual number.102HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Members, I hereby declare that section 38(2) of the Constitution has been complied with and the vote is eleven for and three against, so therefore, the Constitution amendment is passed in this House [applause].2. FINANCE BILL, 2010 DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I beg to move that a Bill for an Act to amend the laws containing the provisional collection of taxes order 2010. The objects and reasons for the Bill are as stated in the long title to this Bill. I so moved.HONOURABLE SIR LOUIS STRAKER: Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion. Question put and agreed to.Bill read a first time.DR. 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 SIR LOUIS STRAKER: 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 that Bill for an Act to amend the Laws contained in the Provisional Collection of Taxes Order, 2010 be read a second time.HONOURABLE SIR LOUIS STRAKER: Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion. Question put and agreed to.Bill read a second time.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, this is the usual Finance Bill, which comes consequent upon the issuance of the Provisional Collection of Taxes Order made pursuant to section 3(2) of the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act subsequent to the announcements made in the budget in relation to certain revenue measures.Mr. Speaker, the Provisional Collection of Taxes Order has already been Gazetted, but this is a matter where we have to provide for the Parliamentary approval for what we have been doing by way of executive action. Parliament has the responsibility on all financial matters and you will see in the schedule to this particular Bill, Mr. Speaker, the amendments to the Value Added Tax, to the Residents Fees Regulations Booklets where the fees has been changed, similarly, those under the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Citizenship Act, also the employment of Foreign Nationals and Commonwealth Citizens Act, Chapter 147 and an important one at the end which many people forget about, the103amendment to the Income Tax Act in the 5th scheduled at item 2 paragraph (b) of the proviso by deleting the figure 30% and inserting 20% for the period 1st of January 2009 to 31st December 2010 and 30% thereafter.Mr. Speaker, this Government has reduced the taxes on the tourism businesses, the hoteliers to 30% from 40% and we give the concession last year for 20% to bring it from 30% to 20% for last year. We are continuing that concession again for this year in light of the difficulties in the international economic situation. So that is where we are Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Any further debate on this Bill? Honourable Leader of the Opposition.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Mr. Speaker, this is really a formality. It is not a matter that requires any significant debate at this time. I am much obliged.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Any further debate?DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Honourable Leader of the Opposition in this exercise. I beg to move that this Honourable House resolves itself into a Committee of the Whole House to consider this Bill clause by clause.HONOURABLE SIR LOUIS STRAKER: Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion.Question put and agreed to. House went into Committee. House Resumed. Bill reported and read without amendments.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I beg to move that a Bill for an Act to amend the Laws containing the Provisional Collection of Taxes Order 2010, be read a third time by title and passed.Question put and agreed to. Bill read a third time by title and passed.3. COMMUNITY BAPTIST CHURCH INCORPORATION BILL, 2010HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable members, the question is, that the Bill for an Act to make provisions for the incorporation for a Church call Community Baptist Church of Campden Park in the state of St. Vincent and the Grenadines be read a second time.Question put and agreed to. Bill read a second time.1044. FULL IN THE SPIRIT PENTECOSTAL CHURCH INCORPORATION BILL, 2010HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable members, the question is, that a Bill to provide for incorporation of the Full in the Spirit Pentecostal Church Incorporated and for matters incidentally thereto and connected therewith be read a second time.Question put and agreed to. Bill read a second time.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, we need to give the Honourable Attorney General and her staff couple of weeks to finalise a few matters which we are bringing before this Honourable House. I want to suggest the 8th April. So we will meet next month.I beg to move accordingly that this Honourable House do stand adjourned until Thursday April 8, at 10:00 a.m.Question put and agreed to. House adjourned at 9:40 p.m. Until Thursday April 8, 2010 at 10:00 a.m.105