Tue. 26th Jan., 2010

No. 1 Fifth Session Eighth ParliamentTuesday 26th January, 2010Prayers Motion Congratulations Announcements by the Speaker Honourable Arnhim Eustace SuspensionSAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES THE PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES (HANSARD) ADVANCE COPYOFFICIAL REPORT CONTENTSTuesday 26th January 20101THE PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES OFFICIAL REPORTPROCEEDINGS AND DEBATES OF THE FIRST 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.THIRD SITTING 26th JANUARY 2010 HOUSE OF ASSEMBLYThe Honourable House of Assembly met at 9:13 a.m. in the Assembly Chamber, Court House, Kingstown.PRAYERS MR. SPEAKER IN THE CHAIR Honourable Hendrick Alexander PresentPrime 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 BrowneMEMBERS OF CABINETMember 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 FisheriesHonourable Montgomery Daniel Minister of Telecommunications, Science Technology and Industry Honourable Dr. Jerrol ThompsonMinister of Tourism, Honourable Glen BeacheHonourable Conrad SayersMinister of Housing, Informal Human Settlements, Physical Planning Lands and Surveys Honourable Saboto CaesarHonourable Julian Francis Honourable Rochelle FordeParliamentary Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office Honourable Michelle FifeMember for MarriaquaMember for South Central Windward Member for South LeewardMember for West Kingstown Member for East St. GeorgeMember for North WindwardMember for North Leeward Member for South Windward Member for Central KingstownGovernment SenatorGovernment Senator Government Senator/ Deputy SpeakerGovernment Senator3Honourable Arnhim EustaceDr. the Honourable Godwin Friday Honourable Terrance Ollivierre Honourable Major St. Claire Leacock Honourable Daniel CummingsLeader of the Opposition Member for East KingstownMember for Northern Grenadines Member for Southern Grenadines Opposition Senator Opposition SenatorOTHER MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE4ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY TUESDAY 26TH JANUARY, 2010 BUDGET DEBATE – SECOND DAYHonourable Hendrick Alexander, Speaker of the House, read the prayers of the House of Assembly.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Pray be seated Honourable Prime Minister.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I beg to move under Standing Order 12 (5) that the proceeding of today’s sitting be exempted from the Standing Order Hours’ of sitting.Question put and agreed to.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, may I crave your indulgence to indicate that the students and staff from the Victoria Centre are here with us, that is the centre where we have the students support services and we do some additional work with our students. I just want to indicate, Mr. Speaker, that the Victoria Centre is in the constituency of West Kingstown and there are certain traditions at lunch time, I am sure the Honourable Minister of Culture is aware of those traditions. So I just indicate that.CONGRATULATIONS BY PRIME MINISTERAnd Mr. Speaker, for those who have not heard the St. Kitts Nevis Labour Party has been returned to office for a fourth term. We congratulate them Seven to one, on St. Kitts. Evidently, following on Dominica the people do not want to change during the time of difficulty they prefer the safe hands who are in office. I make that point, Mr. Speaker. We congratulate them. I am obliged.STATEMENT BY MR. SPEAKERHONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, very much, Honourable Prime Minister. We want to welcome as well the students to our Parliament here this morning, and all those of you who are visiting with us and I want to speak particularly on a couple of issues in relation to the way forward, in relation to how we go about with our debate. Sometimes we know during the process of our debate there tends to be some very heated moments and sometimes the feedback is not always in a positive way. However, one understands, sometimes we need to understand the nature of politics. Sometimes it could be likened unto a cricket match, where the one out is trying to get in, and the one in of course, is doing everything to stay in. And sometimes contrary windspage5image19936 page5image200965may blow. I believe as mature people we need to understand this kind of thing. We understand the matters and issues in which we are involved and that from time to time these things will happen. But I will caution members that we must try to avoid in every possible way the question of hurling insult at each other; personal insults at each other during our period of debate and let us leave the personal issues for some other place, some other time.Obviously, I am also saying to members those of you who will be debating that it is important that whatever you say you can attest to the accuracy of whatever statement you are making. It is obvious if you make statements that are false that they are going to be challenged. And I think that in my ruling I would want those who are making statements to be responsible for the accuracy of those statements and if those cannot be proven then obviously I would ask for an apology. Let us try, I would not want to say walk the straight and narrow, it is difficult for us to say walk the straight and narrow in politics because obviously there might be something that we need to defend or retort to. But obviously we can respect each other and the views of each other.I would also like to caution the... and I want to put it as it is in the Rules of Orders, “the Strangers in the Gallery”, you have been referred to as strangers and the place where you are sitting is called the Gallery, and I want to caution you about participating in the debate. You are not supposed to be doing that, you are here at the invitation of course of the Parliament and you are here to observe what is taking place, and I could understand that you may want to support your particular side as it is, but I caution you very much about you participating in the debate.Again, there is another issue which arose and that is of people moving about in the Parliament. And whereas, the Rules do not in itself restrict anyone from moving around in the Parliament, the Rules do speak to the question of moving about with decorum, entering and leaving the Parliament with decorum. And I expect that we would have this from persons, whether you are a Stranger in the Gallery or whether you are Members of Parliament that you would observe the rules, in this regard. Again, thank you, and all the best.This morning as is known that the Leader of the Opposition would respond to the Budget address of the Prime Minister and he has four hours in which to make that response. And I would now invite the Leader of the Opposition to make his response.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I would like to recognize also the presence of the students of Victoria Centre who are here with us this morning. And I would also like to join the Prime Minister in congratulating Prime Minister Douglas of St. Kitts Nevis on his win at the polls yesterday. However, I do not share the Prime Minister’s optimism if he feels that this also applies to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, because (it is very unscientific) because Mr. Speaker, we recently had an opportunity to express our views, the people of this country and they expressed it in no uncertain terms and I expect that to continue.Mr. Speaker, I feel a deep sense of shame about the Budget and particularly the Estimates presented to this Parliament over the last few days. Shame because I regard them as a fraud of monumental proportions. As I spend my time analysing these documents, both Budget and the Estimates simply for me it is time for the Prime Minister to go. This document is fraught with so many inconsistencies, half-truths and fake analysis that I wonder where the Prime Minister got the temerity to present such a document to the people of this country.6Mr. Speaker, I am well aware that the circumstances prevailing in the international economy have made their contribution to eroding economic conditions in this country. But I also at that same time believe that that is not the only factor. The mismanagement of this economy, the profligate spending that is taking place have now put us in a position where we are presenting to this parliament, or where government is presenting to this Parliament a Budget which is just like a house of cards. No internal consistency, heavy deficits, without any clear indication of how those deficits will be financed and I will go into that in quite a bit of detail, Mr. Speaker, during this presentation.I am also aware, Mr. Speaker, that when the Prime Minister began to speak about counter-cyclical stances being taken by his administration dating back to 2002 and those counter-cyclical stances involved an increasingly large increase in expenditure without the requisite revenue backup, it tells me that since that time the economy was in trouble. You cannot take a counter-cyclical stance for eight years, in the sense of increasing your expenditures unless the economy was bad and needed to be floated.Mr. Speaker, the reality is that when one looks at the decision to go against a cycle which is understandable in economic terms. One has to ask the question, if all this has been done, why do we find it necessary to present a Budget to this country, after all these years, which has more deficit than any other Budget presented in the history of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. If the stance was so good, at least we should have been showing some improvement and not find ourselves in a position, Mr. Speaker, where today, we present a Budget with a cash deficit of $108 million on the current account. And I will come to that in great detail, Mr. Speaker, I have to do it because I regard this Budget as a fraud perpetrated on the people of this country here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and when I say, Mr. Speaker, I am ashamed, I am ashamed. People of St. Vincent and the Grenadines do not deserve what they are now getting. And those who complain, those who complain daily about the difficulties that they face they have a right to do so.I am telling, Mr. Speaker, this nation and indeed nowadays when you speak, you speak not only to St. Vincent and the Grenadines but the rest of the world with the improved technologies that we have, great incompetence and mismanagement by this administration, it is our worst nightmare. It is easy to blame all sorts of things, 9/11 and others for this stance. Of course, we have to take them into account. We are told by the Prime Minister that other countries have adopted our stabilization plan. What plan? I have been sitting here, since 2001, I do not know of any stabilization plan.Mr. Speaker, this Budget is being presented at a time when the level of deception and financial and economic pillage is at an unprecedented level never before witnessed in this country. We have concern about officials and their families and acolytes being found wanting. And that too, I will speak of in some detail, Mr. Speaker. The Budget is being presented when the state of governance in this country is at its worst. The financial sector is very fragile; agriculture especially, banana agriculture seems to be virtually abandoned. Tourism is in a tailspin, manufacturing, as you look at the Central Bank report for 2008, manufacturing is weak. The offshore sector has difficulties and the one sector that is being pushing growth in this country, construction, that too has declined, while it is still at a fairly good level. So virtually, Mr. Speaker, every single major sector of our economy is in decline. You know, we are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.Yesterday, I listened to all the talk about the help proposed and given to the private sector by a government who really is not that interested in the private sector, by some of their actions, including getting involved in activities7in the private sector which the private sector themselves can handle. The job is to create the conditions for the private sector to function effectively.Mr. Speaker, every year, ULP presents us with a new vice, to place Vincentians under further distress. In the beginning, it was and still is, much victimization, then fear, nepotism, lies, betrayal, deception and now, we hear the word money laundering begins to raised its ugly head in this country in relation to the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It seems as if the government has taken to running this country as a practical joke.I never thought, Mr. Speaker, any Minister of Finance will have the testicular fortitude to bring such a worthless document to this Honourable House calling it a Budget. They should be ashamed. But I can well appreciate this recklessness, let somebody else clean up the mess. After all, whether you want to accept it or not, the days of the ULP are numbered. The people of this country have spoken and they are willing to speak again, when the Prime Minister strikes the bell. They are waiting, the people are waiting for the Comrade to give them the date.Mr. Speaker, for years on both sides of this House, we have constantly discussed between ourselves and debated the whole question of our finances in relation to having as best as we can a current surplus. In the first few years of this administration, that is what happened. Much more care was taken, in relation to matters pertaining to expenditure. But, now, Mr. Speaker, we have gone the other way. You know, I, Mr. Speaker, will spend a lot of time today dealing with that matter; because this Budget cannot stand up on its own. It cannot stand up on its own. And it is very important for the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to understand and I will try my best to put in a language which they understand.I thought that after all the years of experimentation and learning on the job, that the Prime Minister would present something better than this to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. He has brought this country practically to the brink of collapse. But the Prime Minister does not listen. He listens to himself, and that is often demonstrated right here in this Parliament, Mr. Speaker, by the silence that comes from those on the other side who have portfolios of their own and should be speaking actively on those portfolios. Mr. Speaker, I believe that it is very, very important to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, our people, all of us are put here by them. It is very important that our people understand the issues that arise because of the nature and the structure of this Budget.This document, Mr. Speaker, now confirms to me that the ULP administration has no credibility, making promises in this Budget that it cannot even fulfil. The Budget process has now been reduced to an exercise in arithmetic, where you tinker here and tinker there and you try to seek a balance. I think the Prime Minister has abandoned the job. I think so. And many of the issues, Mr. Speaker, including those of non- implementation, or poor implementation will lead to an unsustainable Budget and this happens all the time.Mr. Speaker, you know, this Budget really you know, is as vulgar as any I have ever seen or heard presented. And I have heard a lot presented. Not only here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines but elsewhere.Mr. Speaker, in 2007 this is what I said of the Budget which was presented then and I quote:This Budget has once again failed to meet the expectations of the Vincentian populace. It was as boring as it was empty. It was consistent with others which went before it and that8it contained a mass of confused ideas, with no linkages whatsoever to the addresses which went before nor to our present circumstances. Mr. Speaker, this Budget, (and I am quoting) is clueless in respect of our current realities and fails to offer appropriate solutions, yet none of this is surprising; I have long concluded that the Prime Minister is a victim of a problem which has troubled many philosophers, that is the distinction between appearance and reality. In other words, the PM does not have the ability to discern the difference of what things seem to be and what they are. Far too often he takes appearance for reality and the problem is, he does not even know it.People with this handicap, Mr. Speaker, are likely to take hell for heaven, small wonder that the citizens of this country are facing such hardship, it is like a living hell.Mr. Speaker, I went on to say, it is a troubling matter when you entrust someone with such traits to lead your nation’s affairs. Unfortunately, this difficulty he has, is evident in this Budget presentation, and has served to amplify the confusion and the scattershot approach to policy making. In my analysis the context for this Budget is completely lost. So lost, that we appear to be on a road to anywhere just like Alice in Wonderland.Mr. Speaker, it is almost an injustice to hoist such an empty programme as we see in this Budget, with so little promise for alleviating the hardships that our people may have experienced since 2001. The act committed yesterday, (that mean the Budget of 2007), was nothing but economic indecency, fiscal irresponsibility, and management incompetence.Mr. Speaker, those comments, which I made, were applicable and still applicable today. The deficit in this Budget is much greater than it seems, and we have examples in our region where people followed the same policies and ended up in the hands of the International Monetary Fund, for Structural Adjustment Programme. I said in the Estimatess debate, I do not wish St. Vincent and the Grenadines, I do not believe anyone in this House wishes St. Vincent and the Grenadines to fall into the hands of IMF via a Structural Adjustment Programme. This Prime Minister, said St. Vincent and the Grenadines is not a colony of the IMF, I agree, but it seems like we want to be, based on what is happening and what I see in this Budget.Mr. Speaker, you know the government of Antigua is probably the best example for us to look at, us here in this Parliament and in the Caribbean. Year after year, month after month, that government had difficulties meeting public servants’ salaries, private sector bodies have had to be constantly bailing out the government, I hear rumours about that here, I hope it isn’t true.In addition to that many donor agencies refused to provide assistance to Antigua. Antigua was left out of many regional projects and technical assistance programmes, sponsored by Canada, the British and others. They had problems raising concessionary funds from the CDB, I know about that; all because the same kinds of process and Budgeting that we are now following here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and this is becoming the norm, you know.Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is really demonstrating that this situation is getting beyond him. It is too big for him. And he is not addressing the issues in an appropriate manner. He should do the proper thing and resign.9Mr. Speaker, Vincentians are ready to usher in a new era of truthfulness, transparency and accountability. Mr. Speaker, you know, our financial system has become so fragile, and this fragility is threatened further by the actions of this government. And this Budget will contribute further to its fragility.Regulators must now get on top of their game, you know. Those who have these responsibilities for regulating, for a long time now we have talked about regulations of the non-bank financial sector, and I believe, if my memory serves me correctly, I heard some reference to some legislation that could come in 2010 in this regard. And the capacity, to supervise the non-bank financial institutions I am assuming, Mr. Speaker, that when this legislation comes that is what it will be doing. I am making that assumption, because we now have the tragedy of CLICO and British American as something to look at. You know, things like the statutory reserve which one is supposed to put aside, when one puts aside certain monies, that when these institutions get into difficulty, the government is in a position to try and ease at least some of the pain. Many Vincentians have put money into British American and CLICO, some have put their retirement money and now do not have access to it. Some have put their policies as securities against loans, and now the banks are looking at those policies and will ask you to present additional or different security. And that is beginning to happen in St. Vincent and the Grenadines already. That is happening already. The banks are there to make money, you know. That is what they are there for. And they have their concerns about the security given to them via insurance policies. They are going to make the change. They are going to come at you. And they say listen this security is no longer adequate as backing to the loan.Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister announced yesterday, and I think he raised it during the discussion on the Estimates that they are looking at a regional company and it has already been announced in the Estimates, I support that. The thing is, Mr. Speaker, we do not have any timeframe now for these things. A man or woman who is affected has his or her deposits in either CLICO or British American or his or her policies, he or she cannot wait forever. They cannot wait forever. And the flow of information to the public while some have happened it is not enough. Especially from the companies, so that people are at a loss, their monies are tied up, some who wish to invest in other things, cannot do so, and some who need their money just to live, to meet their day to day expenses they do not have access to it. So it is very important, Mr. Speaker, that information be provided to such persons.We cannot have a situation where the company remains mum; we cannot have that at all. And I would like, whether I support the amount of money that St. Vincent and the Grenadines has to put in this company, I think it is worth the while doing it, if it is going to mean that people at least would get the return, some reasonable return on their investments. As I see it now, Mr. Speaker, I do not expect people to get dollar for dollar, even with the new company. If you have $100.00 or $1000.00 or $100,000.00, I do not believe that the new company can put you in a position where you get back all of your money. But rather than say you get 10 cents on the dollar, you might get 70 cents on the dollar, which is far better.Mr. Speaker, I want the government to move with speed to deal with this institution that is being established and to get it off the ground. And I believe, Mr. Prime Minister, for a timeframe that people can look towards. Well, I did not hear any timeframe. But I believe that there is timeframe that is needed and not one that is drawn out. A good bit of time has already passed. But the Prime Minister says he expects it to be operational in six months. Mr. Speaker, that is one of the activities that has caused great difficulty and great hardship to our10people. And anything we can do to address it, including the improved flow of information to those who are affected and to the country as a whole, this is also very important.Mr. Speaker, a few days ago, I asked the Prime Minister in this Parliament, here we are talking about the financial sector. I asked the Prime Minister in this Parliament about the US $1 million that was deposited in the Accountant General’s account. Mr. Speaker, I raised the question, because this is a matter of great concern, not just to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but has implications for our financial relations, and for corresponding banks for which the NCB has to deal. Countries today in the new system, given what has happened are very much concerned about, you know, customer principles, very much concerned about suspicious activities report and matters of this sort. That is the nature of the world in which we live today. And when the Prime Minister of a country cannot say where a million US dollars in cash has come from, using a Ministry of Finance official to carry it to the NCB and the NCB started to count and had to stop counting that cash, because they realize that there is a problem. When the Prime Minister of a country cannot say to Vincentians, the source of such funding is ‘x’ or ‘y’, that is frightening very frightening.The National Commercial Bank is a state-owned bank. The NCB has all these banking relations all over the world, the NCB is not accustomed to remit so much US dollars in anyone touch to the Central Bank, for appearance and for them to deal with the disposal of that cash and get US dollars. So people are looking on. People in the financial international community are looking on. And given the concern about money laundering, we must answer. Let it be clear to the public and to those outside of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, that we have nothing to hide. What is the difficulty with that. We expect the ordinary citizen to declare if he brings money inside of the country, $10,000.00 but you have a million dollars, not a million dollars, a million dollars in cash which is very unusual and you carry it to the bank. I do not know whether the NCB has done a SARSE report, I do not know, that a suspicious report, I hope they have. But the fact remains that they started to count the money, and the management of bank recognizing the implication, he said wait, put a hold to that. And the Ministry of Finance was called to take back the money because the bank was worried. And I want to congratulate the bank, you know, for taking that action. I want to congratulate the bank for taking that action.Mr. Speaker, I was informed that that money went back out of this country in cash. And now I understand we have an amount in the Accountant General’s account. I want somebody one of these days to ask me who carried it. And Mr. Speaker, in this matter you know, we have to be very, very careful. I am calling on Prime Minister Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to clear the air on this matter. One cannot hide behind, what the man name? Adarmis one cannot hide behind him. Yes, that is the word, Bensacome Adarmis; one cannot hide behind him against that in this matter here. But people are looking. And I am saying that the image of this country in the financial area outside of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is hurting. It is hurting, Mr. Speaker not only that, you have Minister of Government changing US dollars too. Or I should say a minister, changing US dollars. They can, you can make as much jokes as you want you know, this story will come out. It is going to come out. I am convinced that this thing is damaging our country. Who the cap fit, draw the string, you know.Mr. Speaker, I know despite all the bluff you know, the Prime Minister is concerned about the matter. I have no doubt about that. I know he is concerned about it. What I want him to do is clear the air. So that the image of this country, as if an image could breathe, could breathe clean air.11Mr. Speaker, the Prime should clear the air. I have said before Mr. Speaker, that I said before that the truth will come out. Instead of talking about criminal investigation, just simply say what the source of the money is. Mr. Speaker, this thing is generating a lot of heat and action has to be taken to cool it down. You have many comments of boxes coming into the country and boxes carried to certain residences and so on, and from there to the Ministry of Finance. It does not sound good.There is also I know of one instance, there is also discussion, that there are a lot of bills are suddenly being paid to those who are owed in St. Vincent in US dollars. I know of at least one of those transactions. Mr. Speaker, [interjection] you could say what you want, I done tell you already who the cap fit draw the string. Mr. Speaker, we cannot afford, we really cannot afford to have questions over the major state-owned bank of this country. We already have difficulties from other sort which have to be dealt with. And I will talk about that later too. But it is not in the interest of the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, it is not in the interest of our financial image to have this question unanswered. I only asked, you know.Mr. Speaker, you know, the attempt to deposit money in the NCB is nothing but contemptuous and a total disregard for the laws of this country. Someone needs to answer this. Some people asked, is this the behaviour of a government? If that is so what you expect from ordinary citizens. What kind of example is the government setting? You know we have the laws, we have the acts that are concerned here, but we do not seem to be worried about that. You know, it is very difficult, I know of no instance where if a government is contributing to a country, for whatever reason, development project, for whatever reason, technical assistance; when they make such contribution it is normally made through wire transfers or by a cheque nobody does not send cheque. We see it all the time. You see the transparency is needed all the time when the Taiwanese for instance have assisted this country for many, many years. You always see them, they go to the Prime Minister’s Office, Cabinet Room, in front of the television and others and they hand over a cheque and say how much the cheque is for. The Prime Minister receives the cheque on behalf of the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. But how do we have this one here for, a million dollars in cash that the bank does not want to count and it gone into the government’s account. What is that?HONOURABLE SIR LOUIS STRAKER: We are debating the Appropriation Bill and I would like to know what is the point of contact and how the issue of a million dollars being deposited, and how boxes coming into this country to the Ministry of Finance is related to the Appropriation Bill that we are discussing.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: State your relevance and point of contact.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Mr. Speaker, we are talking about an action that is related to financial sector. And the Deputy Prime Minister, the Budget is cast within the context of the financial sector of this country, and how the institution and the financial sector functions. But the Budget, when you put it in the Budget, what are you dealing with, the financial sector of the country.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: State the point of relevance and contact.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: We are dealing with the financial sector. Everything we do here in this Budget and the institutions, if we look at the public debt, it is NCB. Everything is linked with the financial sector with the Budget. The borrowings, the grants, the loans so what you are worried about that for.12HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Let us move on. Okay tedious repetition as well.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Mr. Speaker, I believe that you probably have some intention in mind, but if the repetition is tedious, it will continue to be so. I am making some points here in relation to the image of this country; the image of our finances. If you find it repetitious, it is a matter for you, Mr. Speaker. To tell me that, is sending me a message.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I am not sending you a message. I am just telling you to continue with the debate. I asked you to prove something to me, I am not satisfied that you did. So I just said to you just move on with the debate. That is all I am asking you to do. Continue with the debate.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Mr. Speaker, I want to... I am going to ask some of the same detailed questions that I have asked before, in summing this area, because I believe that it is germane you know. Mr. Speaker, I want the government to tell me, how many other times since this administration has been in office that they have received funds in cash from either donor agencies and or governments and in what amount. Whether the NCB, Mr. Speaker, has ever received any such large sums in cash to be deposited? Well, that is part of the repetition for emphasis. Mr. Speaker, I am sure that these things make a lot of us uncomfortable, but it has happened. They have happened.Mr. Speaker, I want to look at the economic overview, because I have heard a lot said in relation to St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ performance and I have the Central Bank report here, Annual Economic and Financial Review for 2008. I note that the Central Bank did not have any review past March for 2009 that was published. Under the arrangements that are in place, the Central Bank normally would in the third week after each quarter present an economic and financial review a document like this. And have it published. And have it on their website. So on a quarterly basis, sometime in October; one would have gotten a financial review up to September 30th 2009. But for this year for some reason the bank is far behind and in fact, only published some of the date up to March. I called the bank because I like to examine the bank’s documents as a source of information because I do not like to do things on my own. I usually examine those documents very, very carefully. The bank told me, when I spoke to them that they were just editing June, and therefore you would not be able to get anything until after. So a lot of what I have to say, Mr. Speaker, is based on the document they have sent to me.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, ...HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Prime Minister.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: If my Honourable friend would give way. Just by way of information, I am sure that he is quite correct that the bank told him that they were late with the quarterly reviews. But, there is published the National Accounts Statistics 2009 for the year ended December 31st 2008, and there is an analysis in it, and there are projections, well the number for 2009 also. And this is also from the Central Bank. So I believe the person to whom you spoke must have been someone not associated with National Accounts Statistics; this as up to date as we have them. In fact, they are available on the website; because I had my staff also source them on the website. I got a copy, and they were asking to share it around. I said check the website, it ought to be on, and it is in fact on the website. And I just indicate that to my Honourable Members.13HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Leader of the Opposition.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Noted, Mr. Speaker. You know, our Prime Minister, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, has made several statements over the years about the economic performance in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. At various stages we are at the cusp of an economic take off, at another stage we are ready to reap the harvest, I do not know what harvest, whether it is bananas, and I tend to in my look at the overview, Financial Economic Review, I pay a lot of attention. And I have heard all sorts of statements; for instance I saw a statement by the Prime Minister in the newspapers last weekend.And I hear about growth rates of 9.35% and 8.6% in 2006 and 2007, published in that document, and at the same time yesterday, which is what I have in the Central Bank document here. I see 7.6% and 6% and there is a series there of years in the document published in the newspaper, where they are averaging out the growth rates over a period, and one is done for eight years the other is done for nine years. So the conclusion that is drawn could not really be realistic. In that context I will stick with the document that I have before me which is from the Central Bank and it covers the period up to December 2008. The only other date I saw concerning 2009 which I take with any seriousness is that put out by the Ministry of Tourism in the result indicators for 2009, the first half year; in which that Ministry did give an indication of how they saw our arrivals and so forth. I will come to that when I deal with tourism anyway.Mr. Speaker, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Anguilla in 2008 were the only two countries in the OECS that had negative growth; and indeed even the tables in the newspapers article confirmed that. So for the year 2008, St. Vincent had negative economic growth, point five (0.5) of 1%, negative, Anguilla also had negative growth. So those two countries everybody else grew, that is in 2008, I do not have the document that the Prime Minister has but based on his articles in the papers, last weekend, I note they have St. Vincent’s growth rate at - 2.76% for 2009; but I only saw that in that article. If I am to go by that then we have had two consecutive years of negative growth. It is true that it may not be the worst, but certainly, one cannot deny that St. Vincent had two consecutive years of negative growth in 2008 and 2009. I have the figures here again from the Central Bank report that Antigua had a growth rate of 2.5%, Anguilla -0.5%; Dominica a growth rate of 3.2%; Grenada just 0.3 of a percent, unlike the article the Prime Minister wrote he did not include Montserrat and so on for all reasons which he gave, I understand. Montserrat 6.2%; St. Kitts Nevis 2.5%; St. Lucia 2%; and St. Vincent and the Grenadines -0.5%. Those are the figures for 2008 as per the Central Bank of the OECS.In addition to that Mr. Speaker, there are the figures given by the Central Bank on the rate of inflation, and Antigua 5.9%; Anguilla 2.3%; Dominica 1.9%; Grenada 5.2%; Montserrat 4.5%; St. Kitts Nevis 7.6%; St. Lucia 3.8%; and St. Vincent and the Grenadines 8.7%. So we had the highest inflation rate in the OECS, and we had negative growth. I do not think that is something we can crow about. We have to work to improve it.Mr. Speaker, I, and I have often said that, I have mentioned it earlier this morning that international recession is the reason for the poor performance. But everybody did not perform poorly. And they faced the same international recession. So what is different in our case? Did we take domestic actions that affected our performance negatively because I cannot understand why Dominica should have an inflation rate of 1.9% and St. Vincent has 8.7%. Dominica also faced international recession. Maybe it is somewhere they handle their business that did not cause it to happen. But we have to be able to explain these things. I believe that since that time we had falls in oil prices, that is why I expect the inflation rate overall to fall in the OECS sub-region14despite the way the developed countries are proceeding in terms of their own growth. But the fact remains, Mr. Speaker, that international recession affects all countries. And there has to be an explanation.And I am convinced that part of the problem lies in the way the VAT was implemented. The basket of goods which we used to measure inflation is heavy with food items 55% of the basket of goods is food and if you have VAT on food, it is going to affect our inflation rate; whether we like it or not. And I am saying that is a government decision that impacted negatively on the country and therefore caused increased prices to the average person in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which we need not have had. So we kept saying from the beginning that you should exclude basic food and other basics from VAT. Over time, I guess it will work its way through the system but I believe we have an obligation still, Mr. Speaker, to look at that again.I saw some tinkering, Mr. Speaker, in the Budget presentation yesterday where, you put all chicken now at zero. Many other things need to go at zero. Many other things that need to go at zero. Let me make this plain, when we talk, I listened to the Prime Minister yesterday very well, you know, when he talked about stimulus, as he was doing yesterday, I believe that removal of VAT from several more items is a greater stimulus than to give people $200.00 a month; or a one off payment of $200.00. Do you know why? While this is essentially political, removing the VAT, you are not going to get the benefit for one month. You are going to get it for some time. So therefore in the hands of the poor as we like to say, they will be able to buy some more goods with their existing incomes, because they are finding a lot of things which would be cheaper than they are today, if you had remove them from the VAT. So its impact if they buy more because they now have 15% more on food and other basics, it means that the businesses have to import more, or the local producers have to produce more and that is what you call stimulus. Because it will improve government’s revenue position not lose, over time it will improve it, not make it worst. And that is what stimulus is all about.And let me talk something. You know there is a concept in economics called the marginal propensity to consume. And when it is applied to people who are poor and the concept the marginal propensity is greater than one, people buy more, because they are poor they do not put much into savings, because they do not have the basics yet, and for the poor it is greater than one.Mr. Speaker, I want to move on. So, Mr. Speaker, we are still of the view that despite the move of putting wheat at zero yesterday, which is not a problem, wheat at zero could assist us with the price of bread. I understand the logic of that. But I am saying the net should have been cast much wider. And include many other commodities which have given such benefits to the poor.Mr. Speaker, all major subsectors in the economy in 2008 declined; all. Agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, offshore finance, and while construction is still positive, it declined also during 2008. Mr. Speaker on that note therefore I turn to an examination of some of the sectors. Just some of the sectors, Mr. Speaker and I start as usual with tourism.Mr. Speaker, you know, I have heard comments that I was going through tourism and so on that is not the point, tourism is our main foreign exchange earner and like all Vincentians I want to see that industry prosper. I want to see it prosper. I believe that the Minister of Tourism wants to see it prosper, but it is not prospering. And while there are many factors that mitigate against it, I want to know what we are doing about it. Mr. Speaker, let me again go at the performance.15In the OECS region, Mr. Speaker, the region as a whole, the OECS tourists’ arrivals declined by .9 of 1% to 3.6 million; 3.6 million people visited the OECS as tourists in 2008 and the value-added declined by 2.2%. I want to go now to the performance by country. And when you look at that you will see to some extent how it mirrors, what happened in the economy overall because of the importance of tourism. [Interjection] I do not want to answer you today, you know, because you are arguing with the brightest man in the Cabinet. I do not want to answer you today. Coming after whom?Anyhow, Mr. Speaker, stay over arrivals, Mr. Speaker, in Anguilla declined by 12.7%. They got 39,000 less visitors in 2008. In Antigua tourists arrivals declined by 1.5%; bigger market but total visitor arrivals declined by 71,000. So Anguilla declined by 39,000; Antigua declined by 71,000. Dominica, Mr. Speaker, they went up 1%, 27,000. Grenada declined by 4.2%, 12,000. Montserrat had a minimal decrease of 300; St. Kitts Nevis was up tourists arrivals by 145,000; St. Lucia was up by 2.4%, that is by 16,000.And St. Vincent and the Grenadines was down 8.9%, down by 124,000 persons. In absolute terms St. Vincent and the Grenadines had 124,000 less visitors in 2008 than they had in 2007. Visitors fell from 327,000 in 2007 to 203,000 in 2008. A drop of 38%; all of us are impacted by the same international recession. And there has to be a reason why performance is different in various countries. And it is for the government of the country, and those persons involved in the sector to examine the information and make a determination about what action should be taken. That is the actual performance. And every time you say decline is like if you are speaking a bad word but that is the reality. That is the reality of the condition. The airport is going to improve it? This Budget will mean you cannot bring a Budget sometime soon.Mr. Speaker, stay over arrivals, one of the main areas of making money, stay over arrivals fell from 89,000 to 81,000, a fall of 9%. We declined on all major markets, in the USA, Canada, UK and other countries. Despite a decline in the region, most other countries had increased business from Canada, why did not St. Vincent and the Grenadines.HONOURABLE GLEN BEACHE: I am making a Point of Order. HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Point of Order, oh, I thought you were asking me to give way. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Point of Order or...HONOURABLE GLEN BEACHE: Clarification, sorry, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I am not sure where the Honourable Leader of the Opposition is getting his figures from. But I can stand here and tell you that the Canadian figures were up for 2008. It had been up for 2009 up to the month of October. And this has been a regular thing whenever the Leader of the Opposition speaks, every year I make this correction; but every year the Leader of the Opposition always tend to stay home when it is my turn to speak on tourism and I always have to do this correction. And I am not sure where you are getting your figures from but they always tend to be wrong.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Mr. Speaker, the bank is wrong? HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Leader... continue your debate for me please.16HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Mr. Speaker, Annual Economic Review, Central Bank. Mr. Speaker, table 49, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, selected tourism statistics. Stay Over arrivals, 89,532 in 2007, down to 81,549 in 2008; USA, visitors 27,637 in 2007, 23,535 in 2008; Canada 6,724 in 2007, 6,006 in 2008; UK, 16,714, in 2008, 14,781; Caribbean 29,927, in 2007, 27,799 in 2008; other countries 9,533, 2008, 8,223. That is the source.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: What is the document you said you were quoting from? HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Economic and Financial Review of the Central Bank, 2008. So if Iam quoting wrong, I am quoting from the bank.Mr. Speaker, excursionists fell about 7%, the yacht passengers suffered a major decline and those along with stay-over visitors, really contribute to GDP. Those are the sectors or subsectors where the value added is best. And all I am saying, Mr. Speaker, based on the data that has been provided it requires looking at. It requires looking after, you do not have to shoot the messenger.Mr. Speaker, the fall in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, you know you had about 58% decline in yacht passengers. You see, Mr. Speaker, if our concern is criticism then you will get that in Parliament anywhere, my concern is making that information public. I have some ideas of my own, but I believe that as a Minister of Government, you yourself will be concerned, and therefore have some proposals to deal with it.Cruise ship passengers fell, 46%, do you know how much cruise ship calls decline from 279 calls to 127. That is we had 152 less cruise ship calls, that is a big drop. Mr. Speaker, I asked some questions.HONOURABLE GLEN BEACHE: I mean that when we are looking at these things we have to be fair at how we look at them. Even though we have less calls, it does not mean you have less people. And the reason for that drop, [interjection] hold on, the reason for that drop, Mr. Speaker, the cruise ships that used to come in during the off season went out of business. It is not through any fault of the Government or St. Vincent and the Grenadines tourism product. They went out of business because of poor management and let us be realistic and fair also. In the same Estimates, Mr. Speaker, it shows cruise ship arrivals up by 50%.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: All right, Honourable Member maybe I can ask you to hold on these clarifications until you are making your own presentation. I am aware that you made a statement in relation to the Leader of the Opposition when you are debating, but I am sure he would be interested in hearing these clarifications from you. Honourable Member.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Mr. Speaker, let me just say something here, whenever in government or in opposition, things would be pointed out that you do not like. The reality is that these are the figures. It is for you to explain what action you are going to take about them.Mr. Speaker, in 2008, let us come down to the bottom line, in 2008 visitors spent $56 million less in St. Vincent and the Grenadines than they spent the year before. That is what the bottom line is you know, with all the old talk, that is what the bottom line is. Visitors to this country spent $56 million less than the year before, 2008.Mr. Speaker, I raised some questions that I have here, I asked what are the reasons, that is what I have next. I expect there will be reasons. I raised the questions how our promotions going. I do not know; it is for you to17say. How is the Tourism Authority functioning, has it made any impact yet. I do not know. I understand that you have had significant resignations from Tourism Authority of people are technically involved, who should be technically involved in promotion. I want to know. That is part of my job. [Interjection] It is not you alone who are representing people. We do the same thing, so if you are the minister responsible, so I am going to ask you. Who do you want me to ask?Mr. Speaker it is clear that 2008 was a disastrous year for tourism. I do not know what is the situation in 2009 I hear that there is improvement. I heard the Minister mention that there is improvement in cruise ship arrival. So that is good, but I know, that in result indicators they already said for the actual to June 2009 this is what in your result indicators, that stay over visitors as of June 30th 2009 dropped by 17.4% for the half year that same day visitors dropped by 17.5% and yacht passengers dropped by 8.1%. That is for 2009, I am speaking about. And I got that from your result indictors in the Estimatess. And I do not know what the figure in the cruise ship, you said it is up by 50%? [Interjection] No, I said up to June, according to your result indicators. Say 50% increase.Mr. Speaker, if this trend continues, in terms of Stay-Over visitors and Yacht arrivals in particular and even same day visitors, we will not earn the same amount of money, we will earn less again in 2010 if that trend were again to continue. So I still have to ask the same questions. What are the reasons?Mr. Speaker, I ask this for another reason, you know, I look carefully, and I want you to understand that it is my job to do that. I look carefully, Mr. Speaker, at the Ministry of Tourism Indicators; I recognized this industry as important to our economy, the most important at the present time. And they project for 2010, listen to the projections of the Ministry of Tourism for 2010, they are projecting an increase in stay-over visitors of 1%, projecting increase of Stay-Over visitors of 1%. They are projecting an increase of Same Day visitors of 1% increase for 2010 and for yachts 5%, and for cruise ships 5%. I thought you just said that there seems to be some improvements in cruise tourism in 2009, so why a projection of only 5%. So you do not expect any real significant increases in growth in tourism for 2010? The figures speak for themselves because when you talk about Stay-Over of 1% and same day at 1%. Not very ambitious and it does little for economic growth.Mr. Speaker, even when you look at the proposals and forecast for stay-over visitors per country, it reflects the same situation. This ministry seems to have become gun- shy, because it had two bad years. These figures here do not make any difference that you are projecting. Mr. Speaker, the new Tourism Authority has to play a major role in tourism promotion, thus increase the number of visitors to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Result Indicators say that the Tourism Authority is said to have completed 80% of its planned recruitment of staff. But I hearing about resignation. What is the true story? Can you achieve the target if you do not have a fully and well-staffed Tourism Authority that you said for 2010. There are forecasts for room occupancy, forecast for sports tourism, et cetera, I respect that, but with the loss of relevant staff, will you achieve those things, that is what I am asking.Mr. Speaker, there is a minor matter that I want to raise under tourism too you know. You know, there is a sign; this is a minor matter that has something to do with spirit of what we are doing in tourism. I wish... there is a sign in the Departure Lounge at the airport, which I find very appropriate, it states,... I look at it all the time. I think it sets the right tone in terms of encouragement for visitors to return to St. Vincent. It says:18“St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Caribbean you are looking for. Thank you for visiting St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We hope you have enjoyed your visit and we invite you to come again.”I think it sets the right tone, I find it very appropriate. And I believe that visitors to our country will find it very appropriate. But just before you get to the Departure Lounge there is a sign in the Immigration Area, which states:“Any visitor who remains in the state beyond the period allowed by the entry permit, is liable to a charge of $25.00.”That is not so welcoming. I am not saying that you must not charge the $25.00, but I do not think that sets the tone for somebody who is leaving St. Vincent and the Grenadines and it in fact nullifies the very appropriate sign that you have in the Departure Lounge. So I just raised this, it is a minor matter, because I am hearing discussions on it.And I will say this, recently at the airport I heard discussion on this matter by some tourists who were departing. I was in the Departure Lounge at the same time. And I also recently met with a German Tourist who was paying his 30th annual visit to Bequia, and he too commented on the sign. He also made the point that he normally comes for four weeks a year, sometimes six. He complained that on this his 30th visit he went to the immigration to seek an extension beyond his one month period but he went three days before his time expired, they told him that they could only deal with that on the day that it expires. They cannot be serious. If somebody comes three days they are due to depart what is the difficulty, unless you have some problems of giving them an extension especially somebody who has been here 30 consecutive years. I would not think it is government’s policy. You know that is just an annoyance. And we do not need to do that. I want to suggest that we remove the offending sign. I am not suggesting that you do not charge the $25.00. And Mr. Speaker, there are issues like yacht security, promotion, and the access roads to the new tourism sites, or the improved tourism sites because I am going to come to that later on, when I look at the capital projects and that project for access roads for the new tourism sites. So, Mr. Speaker, I am asking the question.Mr. Speaker, I now turn to the Agriculture Sector. OECS wide, and I am quoting the Central Bank again, agricultural activities strengthened, this is for the OECS as a whole. Agricultural activities strengthened in 2008 with value added in that sector increasing by 4.3% well above the rate of growth of 2.7% in 2007. Activity showed increases in crop and livestock production. The increase in crop production stemmed in part from growth of 10.8% to 58,000 tonnes from bananas and was particularly strong in St. Lucia and Dominica, as the industry continued to recover from hurricane damage. What is happening in St. Vincent and the Grenadines; why was it particularly strong in Dominica and St. Lucia.I am assuming and I believe that is part of the reason that in the case of St. Vincent and the Grenadines where agriculture declined despite the OECS average of increasing agriculture as a whole in St. Vincent and the Grenadines declined by 7.7%. I believe, I put that down to Moko. I believe Moko would have had a role in that matter. So our banana industry declined, and fishing declined by a big 20% in 2008 after a good increase in 2007. So everything is down. But we were supposed to be reaping the harvest, according to our Prime Minister. But, Mr. Speaker, when I read the section of the Estimatess that deal with the Ministry of Agriculture, I was deeply disappointed by two factors. But now I recognize that banana is still our largest single crop export,19and the Prime Minister himself in this Parliament has spent a long time, a lot of time dealing with the banana issues. There is very little said about bananas in the Estimatess. Very little, the Estimatess as it relates to the Ministry of Agriculture. It is almost as if bananas does not exist anymore. It is still our major export. That is one issue that I have. And I will talk about it more in a minute. And the other one is what I call, and I make no apologies for it, the almost mindless repetition of the diversification projects, like the coconut water plant which I hearing since 2004. So those are the two issues that concern me.The Ministry of Agriculture has a fairly detailed result indicator and it is obvious that bananas are not a priority. There are 14 pages of result indicators and from what I know fair trade and others are now involved in production and so forth. I see here, friends for the cattle production, the pig production, the poultry production, small ruminants’ production, I even see details and the number of projects you certified, to come in the country at ports of entry. I see a marked detail, it is on page 13 out of 14, I see a reference to bananas. And that reference, Mr. Speaker, is to tissue culture banana plants, and they are going to do 120,000.But all of us know, Mr. Speaker, in this House, every one of us knows that Black Sigatoko has been affecting this industry since October of last year. All of us know that. But when you look at the work, and remember that banana... the Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for banana extension, the focus is going to be on Moko, Black Sigatoko is not even mentioned in the document once, I do not understand that. That is the thing that could destroy the industry, apart from all the other problems with tariffs and so on, but Black Sigatoko is not even mentioned. Am I supposed to take that seriously? You are just writing down things because you could write them down? That Ministry has some of the most qualified people in the Public Service, well qualified people and there is no reference even to that, and the work of the Ministry of Agriculture for the year 2010. Banana dead though. That is the only conclusion I could come to.Mr. Speaker, in the Plant Section and Quarantine Division Result Indicators, you see chemical pest control services with special emphasis on Moko. Does the ministry have a role on this or is it somebody else’s job? One has to get to the second to last page to even find the word. Mr. Speaker, here is the work plan for the Ministry of Agriculture and you really have to dig deep to even find the word banana. And I recognized that Fair Trade has their role and so on, but I would expect to see certainly in the Ministry of Agriculture some important reference to bananas.Mr. Speaker, we exported 11,783 tonnes of bananas by the BGA Wind Farm at a value of $16.5 million. And in 2009 a short decline to about 11,490 tonnes at a value of $16 million. But it is after that, we still have to deal with the question of Black Sigatoko and its impact on production. And of course you do not have regional export, to invite private persons, which I understand run to about 1,500 tonnes.Mr. Speaker, apart from the tariff falling and the Prime Minister has spoken about that in the Parliament, I want to go to the second part, what I called the mindless repetition of projects for agricultural diversification. This is supposed to be such a big thing and just a year ago the European Union took away from us a grant of $3 million which was supposed to be used for agricultural diversification. Just imagine that! We have projects there from 2004 which cannot be finished yet and we lose diversification money by way of a grant. Are we serious? Not only that, you violated the rules in one of the projects they have financed and you had to pay back $270,000.00. And somebody had the temerity to charge VAT on donor funds. Whoever would do that? I shame like a dog when I heard that. That we in this country in the year 2009 could be charging VAT on donor funds. Where are20we going? Mr. Speaker, I have my own thoughts and my own recommendations on agricultural diversification. I hope the ministry this year really gets its act together.Mr. Speaker, I turn now to manufacturing, and I will listen to what the agriculturists have to say. Value added in manufacturing, Mr. Speaker, in the OECS as a whole contracted by 6.6% in 2008. Dominica had the worst fall, Dominica’s manufacturing fell by 31%, followed by St. Vincent and the Grenadines at 9.9%. Low levels of decline by 8.8%, in Grenada; St. Kitts Nevis 5%; and St. Lucia 3.4%. In St. Vincent and the Grenadines feed went down by 20%. And flour by 7.4%. A report of rice; however went up by 16.8%, but overall decline in manufacturing was 9.9%.Mr. Speaker, the construction sector which is the sector that has been performing for the last number of years in terms of growth. Construction sector for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Mr. Speaker, grew by 9.8%; better than the average growth rate for the OECS region as a whole, and it is the best performing sector for St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The 9.8% increase is lower than the 14.4% which is achieved in 2007. You know this sector has declined in terms of growth rate largely, and its contribution to GDP is quite good. In St. Vincent we contributed 9.8% to GDP, in St. Lucia, 3.3%, Montserrat 16.2%, Grenada 14.2%, Dominica 15% Antigua 19% and Anguilla 5.8%. So we have a situation, Mr. Speaker, in which the construction sector continues to make an important contribution to the economic growth of St. Vincent and the GrenadinesMr. Speaker, I am going to say, a brief word about the National Commercial Bank, and its own performance. Mr. Speaker, the bank had a profit of $15.8 million year before the last. And that was the cause for celebration. And on the face of it, everything looks well, and I remember the Prime Minister speaking of that profit of $15.8 million, but in the following year the year ending June 2009, the profit suddenly dropped from $15.8 million to $1.1 million. The figure startled me when I saw the accounts in the newspapers and I wondered about it. But as I examined the figures in the newspaper, I noticed the provisions made for losses on loans was over $10 million, and the year before, Mr. Speaker, and this is some deception, which we must not have, the year before, Mr. Speaker, the loan losses were $198,000.00. So you jump from a situation where you did not provide for those loans, which are non-performing the year before and then you just bring to account a lot of loan loss provisions which reduce the profit largely from $15.8 million to $1.1 million.And as I look further into the accounts because of some of the impairments in the portfolio, there is going to be further loan losses to be provided for. And with all the talk of the good financial management of the state, the main reason for the loan loss provision is the statutory bodies, it comes under the government. That is the main reason; I have some more figures here with more detailed account. I do not want to put those out in public, but I want the bank to be serious about its business, and I am pleased that they took the decision to change the loan loss provision from $198,000.00 to ten point something million dollars. That was an act of courage. And I wondered what the auditors were doing all the time in relation to that. Because it is not now the state enterprises are having difficulties in their loan payments. And I would have preferred that.Mr. Speaker, we have to be careful, because, you know, when you do those things, you know for political reasons to make it appear that you are doing so well. When you have plenty profit you also pay plenty tax. You pay plenty income tax. You would be paying the cooperation rate of tax on the $15 million but your income is not really $15 million, because you have not provided for the loan losses. So you would pay more income tax, pay income tax on income you do not have. Because a lot of those loans are in non- accrual status, that is after21three months in arrears you do not count the interest income, so they are not contributing anything to the bank, so you bloating it up and paying taxes on something you do not have. That is growth financial management. Eh? We cannot, Mr. Speaker, we cannot have a situation where despite impairment in the portfolio you do not have provision for loan losses. That is the point I am making and it must be a meaningful provision.Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of other figures there I could talk about but I really do not want to do that, in this presentation. The bank is in a difficult position. [Interjection] I refuse to allow provision? Who I refuse to allow provision? I refuse to allow provision? I? Talk for yourself you hear man. That is not true. I do not know anything about that you are talking about. You know the fact.Mr. Speaker, I want to... Mr. Speaker, how much time... HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: You have spoken now for one hour and 47 minutesHONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: One hour 47 minutes. Okay. I have plenty time. [Interjection] Burn? I will burn you just now.Mr. Speaker, I want to go to the Estimates now, there is where I want to go to the Estimates. Mr. Speaker, the financial summary on page roman II of the Estimates. Mr. Speaker, shows that the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines intends in 2010 to spend $913 million comprised of $610 million for recurrent expenditure and $303 for capital expenditure. This compares with approved expenditure in 2009 of $55 million on the recurrent Budget and $237 million on the capital Budget making it a total of $792 million for a Budget 2009. This 2010 Budget represents a large increase for $121 million or 15.2% over 2000. Fifty-five million of this increase is in the Recurrent Expenditure and represents a 9.9% increase and $66 million on the Capital Side which represents, a 27.8% increase. These are large increases.Mr. Speaker, the plain and simple fact is this; on the Recurrent Revenue Side for 2010 you have $502 million for Revenue. But on the expenditure side you have $610 million. So you have a gap on the Recurrent Side of $108 million, you are behind by $108 million on the Recurrent Budget, Mr. Speaker, this has never, nothing of this magnitude has ever happened here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. And I want to make the distinction, Mr. Speaker, between the international classification making a surplus and what is happening here in this Budget in terms of cash. I think all members will know that we had this debate repeatedly. When I was concerned about current surplus as Minister of Finance, they used to say that I am balancing the books, and I do not concern about people. I want to know what are you doing here now. And I will deal with that at length.Mr. Speaker, 108 million. Now, when you calculate the current surplus, one does not count, you do not take into account the expenditure for amortization and sinking fund. So by identification it is much easier therefore to show recurrent surplus, because in this Budget for instance, amortization is $75 million and sinking fund is $12 million; a total of $87 million, which you have to spend but you do not count it becoming in the surplus; that is the international classification which facilitates comparison with other countries. But the reality is, Mr. Speaker, today you still have out of the $502 million that you have, you still have to pay your sinking fund and you still have to pay your amortization. So the cash that you were looking for is $108 million, that is what you are looking for $108 million in cash that you are able to spend if you were to carry out your programme for Wages and Salaries, Pension and NIS, Other Transfers, Interest Payments, Goods and Services. So in meeting these payments here under Current Expenditure, you are already short by $108 million. How are we going to22fill the gap? Where are we going to find this $108 million from? But that is where we are. And I said to Prime Minister Gonsalves in the debate, history will not forgive you for what you have done to these Estimates.First, of all, Mr. Speaker, before I expand on the implications of what I just said, let us look at the details of expenditure on the Recurrent Side. That can be seen on Roman II for those who have the Estimates. Wages and Salaries are moving from $229.6 million to Wages and Salaries to $237 million for 2010. That is an increase of about $8 million and about 3.5%. Pensions and NIS, $35 million, moving up in 2010 to $39.2 million, which is a $10.4% increase. Other Transfers moving from $80.6 million to $106.2 million, and Other Transfers have been increased to 31.1%. Interest Payments, that is the interest you are paying on the debt, the interest you are paying on national debt $50 million in 2009, $61.8 million in 2010, an increase of 21% in interest. Goods and services that is buying things for the ministries and so on, goods and services have fallen from $88 million to $77 million a fall of roughly $10 million. But I want to look at every category.Mr. Speaker, expenditure for Wages and Salaries at $237 million, I am asking this question, the government has committed itself to a 3% increase in Wages and Salaries for the civil servants and so forth which is to be met out of this increase that is seen here for Wages and Salaries. I must point out that under Other Transfers that there are some Wages and Salaries that will apply to BRAGSA and to the Tourism Authority. So those are not included, as I understand it, in the $237 million. Mr. Speaker, I pointed out that the increase is 3.5%.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: If my Honourable friend would give way, the comparison with the year before with the Tourism Authority would not be necessary in terms of the wages, because the Tourism Authority operated last year for a full year. Where the issue will come is with BRAGSA and you are bringing in the Nursing Division into the Community College. I just want to make it so that... to keep the... I am following your debate, I have an answer but I just want the facts. So I am helping in that regard. In other words, for your point of view, I am strengthening your case, though I have an answer to your case. I was just adding an additional fact for you.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Thank you, for the addition. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: No, I am just, I have an answer. HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: It means that, the $237 then includes the Tourism Authority. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: It was a subvention of $14 million. HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: I understand your point. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Okay.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Mr. Speaker, in the Public Service as you know, people get salary increases and also get annual increment. And those normally work out to increments, normally work out to between 2% and 3% annually; so if you include those then the growth in wages and salaries with the 3% included it will be more than 5%. But the increase here is 3.5%. So I am asking the question, is there sufficient funds, under this item to meet the 3% that Public Servants supposed to get. Because the percentage increase is below what you normally get for increments plus salary increases.23In addition to that, it is that said you are going to fill 170 new posts, in the public service. So that too means an increase in wages and salaries, and if you only have a 3% increase how are you going to meet those expenditure. That is my concern on this particular issue, because the percentage increases that are required that you have committed to pay to my mind are not reflected in this Estimates bearing in mind, that you already have a deficit of $108 million. And I would expect that the Prime Minister in his rounding up will explain how the Public Servant will get 3%, plus 2.5% plus 170 new posts. I recognize that some of those posts will not be filled for the whole year but there will be expenditure, wages, and salaries in that regard. I do not know how much that is and how much it is quantified by but I am saying that the increase that is provided for does not give me any confidence that it can cover both normal increments and the civil service increases.Mr. Speaker, pensions and NIS reflect a $4 million payment increase by the government, which is over already 10% increase. I expect a lower increase here, and I am not sure, it seems high to me. I am not sure why that is. I do not know if you have many people retiring in 2010, or who has retiring in 2009, but it does seem a bit high to me. And this category, Mr. Speaker, the one that has shown the biggest increase, is ‘Other Transfers’, 31% an increase of $25.6 million under ‘Other Transfers’. I understand now from what the Prime Minister says that is going to have something to do with the College and BRAGSA and I do not know what else is included there.Mr. Speaker, interest payments is the next category. And Mr. Speaker, I indicated that has a 23% increase in the interest that we are going to pay on our national debt. That is a fairly significant, not fairly; it is a significant increase in interest payments, every single year on the national debt. Then Mr. Speaker, you come to goods and services, and goods and services include those items which ministries have to purchase, things like drugs for the hospital, I assume it includes paper and all these kinds of things and other materials, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I did not hear Mr. Francis and I still do not hear him, for the simple reason that reduction in goods and services are a matter for concern until you know precisely what is being reduced. I hope it does not mean any reduction in the amount allocated to drugs for the hospital. I hope it does not include any decrease...DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, if my Honourable friend would give way, we have been, we normally do this to each other for clarification, Mr. Speaker. If my Honourable friend looks at page 44-56 of the Estimates under medical stores, account 661 sub account 350, he would see supplies and materials, for the approved Estimates and the revised Estimates last year is $5.99 million, and for 2010 it is $6.919 million an increase actually of about 15.4% for medicines, pharmaceuticals and the like. It is there at page 456. I just want to assist with the correction, so we can have the correct factual matrix.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: You know, there is a line called payables too, things that we owe for, in the Estimates. I just want to say that. Having it here does not mean that you are going to spend that. And there are a lot of items here, and I will go into it later, there are a lot of items here where the money will not be spent because money would not be there to pay for it. But I will come to that.Mr. Speaker, [Interjection] Are you telling me what to repeat, it is not you who is speaking, it is me. Mr. Speaker, I am still expressing my concern in this regard. I have heard explanations that they were trying to reduce the light bill, and they are trying to reduce the telephone bill, well I wish you well by bringing them down by $11 million in one year, who are you trying to fool. Mr. Speaker, I do not know. Mr. Speaker, I will await all the explanations when they come. I am raising them anyway.24Mr. Speaker, then it comes to... we now have for expenditure before amortization and sinking fund, we now have expenditure of $522.9 million. You have revenue so far of $502 million, so when you have that you are saying and the Prime Minister said it yesterday he has a current account surplus of $20 million. He said surplus deficit of $20 million? Let me ask you a question now, let me come to it, I will do it as I go down. The total is $522 million before amortization and sinking fund and the total revenue is $502 million.Mr. Speaker, Amortization is $75 million; Sinking Fund is $12 million, where are these going to be paid from? Where are these going to be paid from, they are going to be paid from the same revenue. So out of the $502 million you have to take out $87 million before you deal with the other items up here, wages and everything. How are you going to finance that and that is what I will be coming to later. And that is the fundamental question. Is that because you say you look at Amortization, Sinking Fund, you also have to pay it and that payment of $87 million comes out of the $502 million. So it gives you less revenue to deal with all the other items of expenditure, $87 million less revenue. So you have to find the money somewhere to deal with it; and the sinking fund that is up quite substantially, it is doubled, and the Amortization is increased by roughly $10 million. So between them you have $20 million - $21 million. So between them you have $20 million, $21 million increase on our payments and our debt.Mr. Speaker, the interest payments on our debt has jumped by $11.6 million and just under $62 million for the year or $5.1 million per month and the increase of $11.6 million it is just under $1 million per month or $250,000.00 a week. Proposing to borrow too, Mr. Speaker, in the year 2010, through Grants, Internal Loans, Local Loans and Other Receipts, we are proposing to raise $411 million. I am moving now as you noticed, Mr. Speaker, to the Capital Side. On the capital side we have a number of projects and if you look at the Financial Summary, you will see that the Capital Budget amounts to $303 million.Mr. Speaker, that represents quite a substantial sum to be spent on capital projects. General public services are up by about $15 - $16 million, public order and safety, also there is a change...general public services is down, sorry, by 31%. Public order and safety is up by 54%, economic affairs, Mr. Speaker, has the most substantial change it moves from $101 million in 2009 to $173 million, that is a 71% increase, environmental protection, Mr. Speaker, moves from $1.3 million to $2.9 million, 12%; Housing and Community Amenities, 17.1% to $22 million; Health $12.8 million to $19 million; Recreation, Culture and Religion down from $11.9 to 3.7; Education $43 million in 2009, to $26 million in 2010 down again; and Social Protection $3.7 million to $5.5 million, which is an increase. So you have $303 million for Capital Expenditure. So this is the big Budget, Mr. Speaker; this is the election Budget. This is the $913 million Budget the record Budget; the biggest Budget in the history of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the biggest, eh? [interjection] But you done see I support that already, what you are worrying about that for? I said that a long time, do you want me to repeat it? I support that, I have no problem with that. I have listened carefully to the presentations on that you know. And I know a lot of people in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are suffering because of that. You know, so do not worry about that. Do not bother with that, do not worry about me and that. You could talk what you want. Leave me to talk now.Mr. Speaker, $303 million, you know I like these big Budgets you know, they hide a lot of things, you have to try what you can you know, but you have some financial constraints facing you in this Budget here, it is not going to be implemented.25Mr. Speaker, the Revenue, Mr. Speaker, that you expect to raise in 2010 to cover both your capital and a flow over, to cover some of the recurrent deficit is $411 million. And here we are coming to the crux of the matter, you have $303 million for Capital, you have a gap of $108 million on the recurrent, you are trying to raise $411 which is the combination of those two figures to get the Budget to balance. And how is that $411 million broken down. You have Grants; you assume you are going to get $64.7 million in Grants, that is the Estimates. You estimating to borrow $154 million in 2010 from external sources, you are estimating to raise locally another $80.2 million in Loans, making a total of $230 million in Loans for 2010. Because when we talk about loans in this context it means money disbursed outstanding, that is how our debt is defined. You do not have an option in the expedition of the debt, the debt covers loans disbursed and outstanding; therefore if these loans are to mean anything you will have to have some contract before and some in this year but you have to spend all, you have to spend all to cover the deficit that you have. And I am challenging, this government, this Prime Minister, this Minister of Finance to raise $230 in loans and disburse all of it in 2010.The next item is capital receipts. He wants to raise $111 million in Capital Receipts, Other Receipts, it is under Capital, Other Receipts, no, the Budget the Romans thing was revised from $115 million to $111 million, that is why I am using $111 million. Mr. Speaker, I find this a very interesting concoction, that the Prime Minister will successfully get grants, loans and other receipts of $411 all to be done in 2010. It has to be frightening, because it is not real. Mr. Speaker, I want to go into this in more detail. Under these various headings, the last category I want to deal with first that is Other Receipts, of which the Prime Minister expects to raise under that category $111.7 million. Mr. Speaker, as a former Minister of Finance, I am very familiar you know, with Other Receipts, very familiar with it. It is an item depending on the amount you put in that you expect to raise it is an item that is very hard to raise money under. And I will show you the record, Mr. Speaker, of this administration of raising money under that heading between 2001 and now. They put these figures in the Estimates and you are expected to raise money to that amount.In 2001, I went through this already you know, before that time where you will get very little under Other Receipts. In 2001 the Estimates provided for $16. 9 million to be raised under this heading, $16.9 million they put in the Estimates. What was the actual revenue in that year? The actual revenue was zero; and you estimated to get $16.9 million. Well, I agree with the Prime Minister because in 2002 he reduced the $16.9 million and only put $9.3 million under Other Receipts and how much did he raise under Other Receipts; $398,000.00. So out of $9.3 million he only raised $398,000.00.In 2003 egged on by the $398,000.00, he bounced it back up again to $14.62 million, that is what he estimated it to get, he got $640,000.00. In 2004, he put it back down again to $9.8 million, and how much did he raise; $1,000,340.00. In 2005 he bumped it up high, boy, that is the year when they started the plenty spending, which have us in this problem now, profligate spending, he put in $48.099 million. That was the election year, wasn’t it? $48.099 million, do you know how much he raised, $3 million. In 2006 he put in $55 million he going up, $55.3 million, do you know how much he raised? $55 million, you know. He raised $3 million under $48 million, he gone up to $55 million; he raised $2.4 million.And in 2007, put in $59 million, he going up again, he put in $59 million and as I see in the 2009, I see zero. But in this 2010 Budget, you see the actual revenue two years in arrears. So in 2010 you will get the actual figure for 2008. As the things get revised you get the actual figure. So in 2008, he gone from $59 million to26$75 million, but I do not know how much he got; then in 2009 he gone from $75 million back down to $71 million, I do not know how much he got.And in 2010, he just jump to $111.7 million. Now, for the years for which we have the actual figures the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance collected less than $6 million and Budgeted for $211 million. And budgeted $211 and collected just under $6 million. That is the same Other Receipts we have here now as $111 million, it is about 2.8% he collected 2.8%, now in heaven’s name you tell me the Prime Minister could be serious. You think you could be serious; you put in $111 million...Mr. Speaker, [Interjection] He knows I do not tell lies about this here, you know, I know you do not get money under it. Well, look at how the figures bumping up and bumping up.Mr. Speaker, the point is this, that if you Budget for $111 million, and on average you have been collecting 2.8%, then you are not going to get little more than $3 million. That has been the history from all the time. That is the not the point, the point is this, that you want... you could only get $3 million so you have another gap of $108 million in your revenue. [Interjection] Me? I do not have any Budget for $913 million, you know. So, Mr. Speaker, if you have $111 million and you only expect and you could only get $3 million base on the historical average, how are you going to pay for the capital projects. There are 41 capital projects which have been financed in this Budget here from capital revenue, under which Other Receipts fall. Are you really going to do those projects? How many of them are you going to do? You have a capital Budget of $303 million and you are uncertain about how you are going to collect over $108 million of that money. Do you know what that means if you do not get it you know, your capital Budget gone down to $195 million from $303 million so when you talking about big Budget, you are not talking anything that makes sense.Well let me go to the capital. Let me give you... a lot of these projects in the capital revenue are small projects, though some of them are important projects. On page 138 you have what is called whatever that means, Diaspora Mobilization Programme for $200,000.00 having improved security quarters at the Prime Minister’s Residence that is part of the what you are going to finance out of the $111 million, part of what you are going to finance. You have Upgrading of Statistical Office, and you have UNDP Technical Assistance Programme, I guess it is a counterpart to that. Then under Capital Expenditure Revenue again, you had Community Poverty Alleviation Programme, that is going to be financed out of that; then you have Community Playing Fields, and Hard Courts, that is for renovation I presume. You have $500,000.00 out of that for that, you have Community Poverty Alleviation, I hear talk all the time, for poverty alleviation and the money you are providing for some of it here now, you do not know whether you are going to get it. And then children and families legislative reform; another community development phase II, social infrastructure development programme; these are things you expect to finance from $111 million, and I guess some of it to go over to help with the recurrent Budget.Then, Mr. Speaker, you have Purchase of Outboard Motors that must be for Fisheries I do not know. Pan Against Crime $150,000.00; expansion and instruction of the Cadet Force that we brag about all the time; upgrade of basic safety training, and so on. All these are projects, that supposed to come out and be financed out of that, $111 million, which you are not going to get. Then you have a distribution of fish and fish products, construction development and management, more with fish, irrigation management and consolidated, dairy technology transfer project; animal project. All these have to come out of the $111 million. [Interjection] But27you do not know the Estimates states what is Capital Revenue. It is right there. I am just reading on the Capital Revenue. That is all I have to do because I am talking about the $111, because these are the ones that are under the capital revenue.How many years you been here now? You do not know what capital revenue is? You do not understand emotions of people. These are the policies that have to be financed from on capital revenue and they are supposed to come out of that and it is stated here that is capital revenue it is coming from. What you want me to do assumed that it is coming from elsewhere the development of the rural community market. All of these things are supposed to be financed out of that and more. I cannot go through all, there are 41 projects there that are supposed to be financed from that. If you are only raising with $3 million, how many of those will you be able to finance from that?So Mr. Speaker, when we speak about a pack of cards you know, this is just padding. A lot of this stuff is not going to be financed so all the big Budget talk is a lot of nonsense. With all due respect is a lot of nonsense. Why are we foisting on the people this kind of financing, this kind of Budget, this kind of Estimates. Because they do not have the information to sit down and analyse it and it sounds good saying that you have $913 million and you are not going to spend anywhere that. [Interjection] You do not have to find it because you cannot spend it.Mr. Speaker, when you look at this whole scenario, when you take away... since you are only getting about $3 million dollars from this, when you take away the $108 million, that $108 million was to go and finance the gap on the recurrent Budget where there is a deficit of $108 million. But $108 million is not $20 million, Mr. Speaker, it is $108 million and if you cannot put it over into the recurrent Budget to finance the recurrent Budget then you cannot pay all the monies that are supposed to be paid for wages for civil servants and so on. You cannot pay all the money that you need to pay for Other Transfers and Pensions and NIS because you have a gap over there already for $108 million and to the extent that you depend on this $108 million to go over there, it cannot go because it is not there. It is not there.Mr. Speaker, if it is not there what do you do? Do you borrow some more? The fact remains that you either have to cut your capital programme in accordance to the money you have and put some over to reduce some of the deficit on the recurrent expenditure. And you see where the thing is, you see where the size of the Budget will be, for instance. This is not a loan you know, this is money expressly collected from taxpayers and history has shown that you do not collect it. Therefore, if you take it in the most basic way, Mr. Speaker, $303 million for your capital, for all your projects, take away $108 million. You have a capital Budget of $195 million. That is what you have. And if you had collected that, you would be able to balance. But you are not going to collect anything near that. Not going to collect anything near that. So the Capital Budget has gone now from $303 million now to $195 million because you have no replacement for that money except you decide to go and borrow more.So the $303 is now reduced to $195 million and if you even had all of that to pay over on the other side, the Budget will go down to $805 million. Your total Budget will decline to $805 million. But you do not have it to carry across. And in any event, our history has shown that if you get 60% implementation and that was the highest under the ULP and I accept that it is better than what NDP did. I accept that. Yeah, but if you are only doing, if you are only doing that, tell me how are you going to finance the recurrent deficit. Tell me now, you28are down to $805 million, tell me how now that you are going to refinance the recurrent deficit of $108 million, tell me. Do not worry about it. Only a health sector man can make that kind of statement. You still have $108 million deficit of finance on the other side and if you say.... I will say this, Mr. Speaker, too the possibility of raising the $150 million, the $80 million and the $64 million in grants if you do 80% of that in a year, you are doing well. If you do 80% raising that money, any government will be proud to talk about it. But you do not have it. You are not going to raise all of that either. You are not going to raise all of that. And if you raise it, what are you going to spend it on? When are you going to raise it? In this year, on top of what you are trying to borrow already?We have a situation now where you still have to try to finance your deficit because you cannot cut back civil servants’ salary. You cannot cut goods and services no more, you cannot cut your debt payment, you cannot cut any of those things. So where are you going to find the $108 million? If you take it off capital, what is going to happen? If you say you are financing 22%, 80% of your capital you will be doing $222 million and you will still have a gap of $47 million on the current Budget thus making the Budget... And that is the point I am trying to make here when I call it a pack of cards, that is what I mean. It will crumble because it has no internal consistency backed by the necessary revenue. [Applause] It has none. You know. It is all good and well to say, all sorts of things. This is what we are foisting on the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, making people believe that you have a whole set of money to spend when it is not there to spend.So you have options. And all the options you require a reduced Budget with the highest option in $805 million for the Budget. And depending on how you make the spread between the recurrent and the capital is the $744 million the Budget will be less than the Budget for 2009. And you are telling me... That is what you are doing to people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. That is what is being done. How can we justify that? What are we doing, fooling people? People under a lot of pressure already, people looking for work, people have been laid off. People in trouble with British American and CLICO who are looking for money and we are giving them a Budget which cannot hold up on any circumstances whatsoever. You can tell me NDP did not have any under capital receipts; it does not matter. The fact remains we have a Budget here now that needs to be implemented. And I am saying that you cannot implement a $913 million Budget. You cannot do it under these circumstances here. I mean, the whole thing is so ludicrous. We come to the public, we present them with a document that has no internal consistency. It must collapse. And I am very annoyed about it and I am ashamed about it Mr. Speaker.I do not know what they are inflating the Budget for. In any case, you do not spend any of the Budget that you have anyway. How much you spend on capital last year, $115 million and what was the capital Budget $237 million. But I do not mind, I am taking account of the 60%. I am assuming when I say $237 million that you are doing 60%. All I am saying, once that is the way it is being done your Budget will be either $805 million or $744 million. You know, it really is ridiculous. It is a sleight of hand designed to deceive the uninformed. That is what it is. And we as Parliamentarians we should not agree to this. We should not agree to it. It is bad for our people. Mr. Speaker, I really cannot believe the Honourable Minister of Finance will do this kind of thing to his own people, you know. Mr. Speaker, could you tell me how much time there is, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: You have one hour, 18 minutes. HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: One hour and 18. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.29Mr. Speaker, I am going to make it my business over the next few weeks to continually saying to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines the stupidness that is inside of this Budget. People are depending.... A businessman for instance who say they can import cement, he will say well, “boy, that capital project Budget there, big man, $303 million, I must get a piece of that”, but he doesn’t know you do not have the money to finance it. He may go ahead, go, and buy goods expecting to sell them and he cannot sell them. And on top of that, you are not paying them what you owe them. You have $25.4 million in payables in the public debt right now, that has not been paid and that is for contractors and other business people. And not only are they going to import what they cannot sell, but even if you buy from them you are not going to pay them. There are people like Kerwin Williams disgracing us in this country by writing letters about why they cannot pay their workers because government has not paid them. What kind of country is this? I was ashamed at that, that a Barbados businessman can come here and do work and cannot get pay and he has to write to his staff, publish it in the newspapers, “I cannot get my money” and therefore... [Interjection] I am not even bothering with you.Mr. Speaker, I am almost speechless with the stupidness that is here and what is worse, I believe that the Prime Minister knows it. Budgeting is not always easy but there are limits. There are limits to fraudulence. If you had even put back the figure of $50 million or so that you had in previous years, that would not have looked so bad but you jump it to $111 million and you know that you are not going to get it. I do not expect you to put zero. [Interjection] Well you may get some but the record has shown that you get an average of 2.8%.Mr. Speaker, I want to turn my attention to the public debt and I am going to make sure that I tell the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines that it does not have any Budget called $913 million.Mr. Speaker, as of September 30th I am gone now to the public debt. September 30th 2009 the Estimates indicate that the public debt of St. Vincent and the Grenadines stood at about $1.9 billion; that is September. These Estimates show that you are going to borrow $230 million this year and between September and December of last year which is not covered yet. Let us say, you add another... you reach the $1.2 billion, $1.19 billion, let us say it reach to $1.19 billion, let us say it reach to $1.2... just $10 million for the last three months of the year. So the sum is roughly $1.2 billion at the end of December 2009.Mr. Speaker, if you are going to borrow another $230 million this year it means that by the end of the year, the public debt will be $1.43 billion not a small amount of money and the economy that has reflected two consecutive years of negative growth. Anyhow, Mr. Speaker, the public debt of $1.9 billion, [Interjection] $1.19 sorry You sharp today man. This debt, when you add on the $230, I said it was $1.4. [Interjection] Mr. Speaker, this debt ..... You get a chance to open your mouth now eh?Mr. Speaker, the debt of $1.19 is made up of over $597 million in domestic debt and $588 million in external debt. Let us examine the composition of the debt; and the first thing I note, Mr. Speaker that for the first time in our debt figures, excuse me, one moment. The first thing I noticed, Mr. Speaker, that for the first time the publication of the public debt as per the Estimates that our domestic debt higher, it has not happened before, our domestic debt is higher than our external debt.Mr. Speaker, I raised that matter you know for one simple reason that throughout our debt history the rate of interest and the length of repayment times are better, the external debt. The rate of interest sought and the length of the time you have to repay is longer on the external debt. And when I raise the question of domestic debt exceeding the internal debt and the domestic exceeding the external debt I raised it in that context. You30could argue domestic debt, there are no foreign exchange implications and all that but the fact remains that the external debt in our debt profile is far cheaper than the domestic debt.Mr. Speaker, I turn to page 697 of the Estimates under internal debt; apart from one loan at 4%, the interest rates on the internal debt run from 5.8% to 12.5%, no there is one 14... with the interest rate on the internal debt except for one loan at 4% range from 5.8% to 14%, one loan. The majority of the loans fall between, I will say, 8.5% and 11%. On the External Debt, Mr. Speaker, the rate of interest on the loans run from 1% up to 9% in most cases but with a significant proportion of the loan having a debt of 1% and some even have... So I raise the point about the division between domestic and external debt to say that that trend implies to me that the cost of our debt servicing will get higher. We have already seen significant increases in debt servicing in these Estimates and it is in that context I raise that particular issue.Mr. Speaker, you know, I have said in this Parliament repeatedly, I have spoken about this issue. I find that in recent years the government wants to do as it pleases regardless and has been going more and more to commercial debt to finance their activities and keeping away as far as possible from the international financial institutions. Why? Because international financial institution wants to know how you are spending the money. So they pay a lot of attention to supervision below. They pay a lot of attention to how you evaluate contractors; whether the people get the contracts on a fair basis than say with a private bank but because of that supervision, there are supervisions that they do, the interest rate is lower and the length of repayment is longer. You have loans like Cumberland Hydro that is not paid yet because you have such a long time to make the repayment and the 1% interest. So Mr. Speaker, I wonder about this shift. I do not think that it is a good thing. I think we should examine this issue because our payments are already too high in debt. In this year alone, we are paying $149 million dollars in interest and principal and sinking fund on our debt. And I coming down to the minute for Senator Francis just now too.Mr. Speaker, I am concerned about the situation. Why are we moving in that direction? Tell me what is the benefit? Mr. Speaker, we cannot run away from supervision. We cannot say, “well I am too independent to be supervised”, because at the bottom line, you would still have to work with all those international financial institutions wherever you go you can always say that the EU procedures are tough, you can say that. And it may be tough but you have to find a way to dealing with it. The answer is not to go and borrow on hard terms and foist higher payments on your people. It is taxpayers paying that. [Interjection] ... In your wind up, thought you were winding down.Mr. Speaker, when you look at that debt you know... I am missing a page here. I have to get back the document. Mr. Speaker, I want to look at some of this debt that we have.[Interjection] I am coming to that man. I hear the Prime Minister; they have a new reference point for debt now for GDP ratios and so on for GDP, yeah. I am coming to that. Mr. Speaker, [Interjection] yeah I know it moved from 1990 to 2006, I understand what you are saying. Anyhow, I do not know what the GDP is now. They have different GDP’s. Mr. Speaker, on the loans and the bulk of these loans, Mr. Speaker, in our debt on the internal debt that is lie with the National Commercial Bank, (NCB), it is very integral for our financial system. The bulk of our loans lie with the NCB. So when you talk about point of contact and reference, I am back now to the NCB. Mr. Speaker before I indicate some of these loans that the NCB has given; I just want to give a record of how domestic and external debt is compared in recent years.31HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Let me give you a time check, you are on your final hour.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Okay. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.The year 2006, Mr. Speaker, the domestic debt was $297.1 million, domestic. In 2006 the external debt was $468.1 million. In 2007 the domestic debt was $400 million, the external debt was $661 million. In 2008, the domestic debt was $464 million, the same year external debt was $698 million. In 2009 the domestic debt is $536 million and the external $575 million; and now 2010 domestic is $597 million and the external is lower at $580 million. Mr. Speaker, when you look at that situation I decided we must look at what is happening with different components of our debt because after all it is the tax payers of this country which I assume include all of us in here. Taxpayers of this country, Mr. Speaker, you do not pay any income tax. Well I will ask about it just now.Mr. Speaker, I am looking at that grand institution called National Properties and looking at its exposure in terms of debt here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and I see that they have accumulated a debt of about $77 million. I did not expect, Mr. Speaker, to have National Properties having that kind of level of debt but maybe I do not know something about that. But it strikes me as a very large figure, Mr. Speaker given the life span of National Properties.Mr. Speaker, these are made up of National Properties, under overdraft: they have $58 million and under National Properties for Food City you have a $2.8 million overdraft. And under loans for National Properties, you have a $17 million loan, then you [have] another one for Food City a $6.8 million, then you have another one for National Properties at $5 million; $26.9 million and then $2.6 million and then there is one for $47 million. Well I am not aware. I am not sure how that $47 million arrived... I cannot remember that loan but the fact remains, Mr. Speaker, that we are talking about $77 million being owed by National Properties for the National Commercial Bank of St. Vincent. The bank in its lending to government institutions the exception for loan here which I see for NPI; they are looking at some $230 million lending in that area plus the overdraft. And I think that it is important that people know that these institutions which are supposed to serve us get an idea of what in fact they are doing because I was quite surprised at the size of the loan portfolio as it relates to NCB of National Properties Inc. $77 million.Mr. Speaker, the accounts payable, the money owed for contractors and businessmen and other such people as at the particular date 31st September 2009. Mr. Speaker, I ... when you look at the portfolio, it is very clear that the National Commercial Bank really ... the bulk of its portfolio deals with government and government entities. I do not know how much money really is there for the private sector, the private sector borrowings. Well I guess if we look far enough, we will find them ... I have not found it yet. But this institution is one of our premier institutions and the level of loan impairment. A lot of it is coming from government entities. That is the point I want to make. So when they have to make provisions, a lot of provision arises from the non- performance of government entities. So it is interesting to look at this data and there are a lot of figures there. So we need, Mr. Speaker, those of you who would get an opportunity to look at the Estimates to look them down and see what in fact the bank is lending for and how it is divided between public and private sector and relate that to what we say in our Estimates about.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, my honourable friend would give way. I just want to draw your attention to my Honourable friend to the National Property loan of $47 million which he32attributes to the NCB, he would notice that it is an NIS loan. I just ... [Interjection] no, no, no it is ... Well I will explain that but you were saying NCB, I was just correcting you in that regard [Interjection] No. No. No. I just want to correct you in that regard.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: That is not necessary... HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I accept the figure, yeah. But I will assume thatwe will know where that... what it is for. I thought it might have had to do something with the security.Mr. Speaker, when it comes to this whole public debt issue, you know we have argued about that up and down in this Parliament. Repeatedly we have discussed this issue and we never really come to the agreement on whether it is bad or good. What I know, is that the rate at which we are borrowing is increasing and although we got $165 million of debt forgiveness not too long ago. I commented the government for that. But you know we done borrow back much more than that already. Yeah. Yeah we got back a lot of that... We borrow back a lot of that already, more than we got forgiven. We have borrowed back more than we got forgiven... [Interjection] But you do not even understand what I am telling you? We borrowed back more than that already. You do not understand the significance to that. Mr. Speaker, we have to, despite whatever, continue to monitor our national debt. [Interjection] I thought that is what you are doing. I thought that was what you are doing.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: ..... [Inaudible] Honourable Member ....HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: He must be want to privatize me. Mr. Speaker, the fact remains you hear that you have an obligation, a very serious one indeed to continue to look at our national debt. I give you some figures in the Estimates you know. [Interjection] Yeah you must add of blessed memory, you must add that. Mr. Speaker, I do not want the Prime Minister to try to write my political history. Anyhow forget about that. You want to take me off my business here now.Mr. Speaker, I want to go back to something I said in the Estimates about our payments on the debt and I very serious about it you know. When you boil these down to dollars and cents and when you look at the state of the Estimates; while I understand the concept of debt to GDP ratios and what that means internationally, the payments that we are making on the public debt are high. The fact that the reference here is now changed after 20 years to move it from 1990 to 2006 and because of that GDP figures are going up and therefore because of that rise the debt to GDP ratio will fall. That isn’t a license. That does not give us any license to not to continue to monitor very closely the public debt of this country.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, my Honourable friend knows better than to say that it is because of the reference year that the GDP has been changed. It is because the methodology which was been used hitherto had under estimated the extent of the GDP. And of course the issue of the changing of the reference year from 1990 to 2006 makes it more realistic in regards to the application of the methodology which has been altered to make sure that the figures represent the true state of wealth in the country. A mere change of the reference year does not increase the extent of the GDP if you did not change the methodology to reflect the real wealth. My friend knows this.33HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Mr. Speaker, I do not know what the Prime Minister is telling me. The reference year has changed and it has changed the GDP. That is all I am saying. By changing it from 1990 to 2006 it allows you to go back and look at various, using whatever methodology. Look at various things and determine that some of them that were not included should be included now. I have no problem with that but the fact remains, it makes the GDP higher. And I am saying that because the GDP is higher the debt to GDP ratio is lower. So what is the big thing? I do not understand what you talking about. Mr. Speaker, I am going to go back down these figures because many people ask me for them since I said them.That $149 million of debt payments that we have to make this year means that we have to pay $12.416 million per month as compared with the previous year where we were paying $9.6 million. This is per month you know. So we have gone from $9 million a month in one year to $12.4 million per month in this year. Mr. Speaker, on a weekly basis we have gone from $2.4 million of debt payments to $3.1 million of debt payments. These are not small figures. These are not at all small payments. I even went so far as to carry it down to per working day and it has gone from $480,000 per working day to $620,000 per working day. And if you want it for working hour it has gone from $60,000 per working hour to $77,600 per working hour. And as I said per minute is $1,293; these are not small figures, Mr. Speaker.Mr. Speaker, [Interjection] so what is wrong with these absolute figures? What is wrong ... What is wrong with that? That is what it is. That is what you have to pay and I am saying that it is big figures you have to pay and that we should monitor so we do not jump ahead with our thinking now because you have a different debt to GDP ratio. That is what I am saying. What is wrong with that? [Interjection] Earn what... earn what. But the Estimates show that you are not earning. Because the Estimates to what you are going to get for revenue, you are not going to get it. We had negative growth over the last two years. What happen to your GDP?HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Please, could we stop the dialoguing, Honourable Members, please. Continue your debate, Sir.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Mr. Speaker, I just say, adding another $230 million to the debt this year is going to mean that sometime next year instead of paying like $149 million we will be paying close... More like $165 million on our debt. That is over another million dollars or just about a million dollars a month more than what we are paying now and I am saying that we must watch that. I am not saying, “do not borrow”, I say watch the rate of borrowing and our ability to pay and who you are borrowing from. What are the terms? I am saying, look at all of these things. Mr. Speaker, we like to, in this country like to minimize these things. They are not important because average people do not understand them. I am looking forward... What the Prime Minister, the GDP figures were yesterday, after the adjustment?DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: The figure for the end of 2008 is $1.977 billion.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Mr. Speaker, I now want to turn my attention to Crime. Crime in this country Mr. Speaker is a very serious matter. We know, Mr. Speaker, that we have a good bit of crime and violence plaguing this country and sometimes I wonder whether we have sometimes surrendered to the criminal element. Mr. Speaker, we spend, to my mind, an inordinate amount of resources dealing with the crimes after they have been committed. And we have said consistently in this Parliament that while we understand that we have to deal with crime, we also have to spend a lot of time on prevention. And when we did in fact put our social and Spiritual Redemption Charter to this Parliament it was that we were seeking to have some change of34emphasis to go more on the preventive side by trying to instil certain values, particularly Christian values in our people. Yes especially our younger people in our country with a view to preventing crime while at the same time recognising the need, to deal with crime after it has taken place. We did not have any support for that, Mr. Speaker, in this Parliament and although I have noticed that pan, Pan Against Crime is a kind of attempt in that direction ... successful ... It was a successful attempt.Mr. Speaker, whereas an efficient criminal justice system is very important mitigating or eradicating, although we probably cannot totally eradicate the causes of criminal conduct, it is of utmost importance. Some persons are often left with indelible scars which they live all their lives. So therefore, emphasis must not only be tough on crime but also on its causes. Well I do not know right now, Mr. Speaker, whether we are tough on anything.Mr. Speaker, I have some crime statistics which imply at least for the first half of 2009 which indicate there is a growing trend of crime being perpetrated against police officers when they are in the process of discharging their duties. I just want to say while there may be difficulties the police should be respected and allowed to carry out their duties to protect Vincentians. For the entire year, 2008 there were 54 reported offences of resisting arrest and obstructing a police officer in the due execution of their duties. During the first half of 2009 there were 62 such offences. For the entire year 2008 there were 54 and for the first half of the year 2009; 62. There were more reports of offences of resisting arrest and so forth in the first half of 2009 and the whole of 2008.Mr. Speaker, this is not a good scene and we cannot divorce the incidence of crime from the rest of our economy, our economic performance. There is co-relation. There is a co-relation between crime and economic growth and development in instances of high unemployment, persons... You are likely to have more of this kind of activity taking place. And we need to take steps, Mr. Speaker, to deal with these matters and the question, Mr. Speaker, of property crimes. Forty-seven robberies were reported for the year 2008 but the first half of the year, 2009 we already had 30. [Interjection]Mr. Speaker, it is anticipated that the number of robberies for the year could probably go up to 60 and this will be a significant increase. For the year 2008 the number of burglaries reported 1,107 for the first part of 2008, the first half, 530 were reported. You cannot get away from this politics inside of here you know. Mr. Speaker, hence, it is anticipated that the number of reported burglaries for the year could increase given what is happening in the first half of the year if the trend continues. Further increases in the reported crimes for theft also anticipated notwithstanding the half-year figure, which was 1440, is more than that for the same period. For the year 2008; 2,615 criminal reports were categorised as theft but it is anticipated that there may be an increase this year. Increase in property crimes, Mr. Speaker as I am advised which include, and I restrict it to robberies and burglaries, theft is high, and we seem to be spending a lot of money of security and boasting of improvements in the criminal justice system of this country.I was a bit heartened yesterday to hear the Prime Minister raise the issue of the Praedial Larceny Act and the fact that it is coming into being because I know exactly what that means being involved in agriculture myself. I can say that the banana shed, my farm alone which my wife runs that farm, we had eleven break-ins last year; so I am quite familiar with some of the issues that arise in this regard.So Mr. Speaker, sometimes we are left in a conundrum not knowing where to turn and what to do when farmers livestock and their produce are being stolen with impunity. I saw a report in the newspaper on a farm; I think it35is belonging to the chairman or former Chairman of the CDC in which a significant number of animals were stolen. It is very hard for people, Mr. Speaker, having made these investments to face that kind... for development ... and you cannot find them... You cannot find... Nobody wants to talk and I hoping that the constables that are selected will in fact take these jobs seriously. I am really hoping so. It is a serious matter and it is causing this dis-investment in farming. Not everybody can take that kind of blows in the farming community, Mr. Speaker and I really hope that there is going to be some difference arising out of the legislation that was passed.There were 237 reports of theft of livestock produce during the first half of the year in 2009 and that represented a 4% increase over the 220 reports that were made during the same period in 2008. Mr. Speaker, I could only say that I will be admonishing myself how this legislation is being implemented and whether we in fact making any impact on the problem. I know people, Mr. Speaker, who have gone out of agriculture because of praedial larceny and something really has to be done about it. Mr. Speaker, and we have these scourges of drugs. We have not had any reduction where this is concerned and I really do not have an answer for that. I still believe that in some instances is a lack of opportunity and people’s perception that involvement in drugs is a faster way to make a dollar.Mr. Speaker, that means too that you have to expand economic opportunities in our country and there is a lot of information, Mr. Speaker, on matters related to offences against the person, some of these are high, the loss of self-control is evident in the increased reports of offences against the person. For example during the first half of the year 2009 there were 968 such reports of assault and wounding. But during the same period in 2008 it was 907 and for the year 2008, 1,735 and it looks as if it may be going a little higher this year.Mr. Speaker, 75% of the crimes are committed by persons 35 years and younger. So we have a problem on our hands with our young person’s especially men and Mr. Speaker, this issue has to be addressed. We will have to, Mr. Speaker, look at this matter very, very closely indeed. The figures when you look at them, Mr. Speaker, you wonder, you wonder in fact what you can do. I know it is an intractable problem, there is no easy solution for dealing with this problem but I believe that all of us have an obligation to do what we can in this regard, the various segments of our society. We cannot have continued the rate in which crimes are being committed in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We need to remove fear and replace it with confidence. It is indeed a very serious problem.Mr. Speaker, international financial services. Mr. Speaker, this sector of our economy I have said in this Parliament repeatedly. I do not regard it as a sector that can become a main pillar in our economy as I used to think before. The situation is such, Mr. Speaker, that we have a situation in which there has been a decline in the offshore sector. For instance, there are 9... There are now just over 9,000 international business companies, 4 international banks, 8 international insurance companies, 15 mutual funds and 125 international trusts. Together the total number of entities on the register is over 9,000, just over, whereas in 2008 there were approximately 9,930 registered with the authority.In 2008, there were 6 international banks now there are 4; there were 12 international insurance companies, now there are 8. There were 9,718 international business companies, now these have been reduced to 9,096. There were 162 international trusts, now these have been declined to 125 and it seems that we are on a race to the bottom. The only increase was in relation to mutual funds which have now gone from 32 to 50. Apart from36that increase there has been a steady reduction in the registration of other entities, most notably being the reduction of over 600 IBC’s between 2008 and 2009.Mr. Speaker, I know that the offshore sector is under a lot pressure, under a lot of pressure internationally from various agencies. People are given the perception that we in this Caribbean here, St. Vincent included, we are involved in all sorts of nefarious acts in relation to this industry. We hear the talk of money laundering and legislation has been provided and passed to deal with that but the international community over the years has tried to hold this sector down. When we had certain types of legislations like our Confidentiality Act, these were not acceptable and people going on blacklist and grey list and green list.Now we see even the mighty Switzerland having to disclose to the United States the information on various American holders in their banks and their accounts. President Obama has cosponsored legislation aimed at having full disclosure so we could bring in more and more of these people into the tax net of the United States and therefore less of them being able to work outside, or register outside of the United States. It does not make any difference. It does not benefit them in any way you know with all this security code. And it seems to me, the more that you address your legislation to deal with this issue, the fundamental problem is that the developed world does not want us involved in that and they will continue Mr. Speaker, to press for more and more restrictive legislation and they have a lot of clout which you do not have. And the number of amendments and acts that have been passed in this Parliament over the years with respect to the offshore sector makes it absolutely clear that the long term future, even the medium term future I dare even say the short term future is not very bright in this regard.I have come to the conclusion that do not care how good our legislations is in these parts we are going to be squeezed by the international community. Their objective to bring tax revenue back home and some of the stringencies that is applied to us is not applied to some of these developed countries. We do not have any control over that.We can talk that we have 30 years of independence but this is an interdependent world. And do not care how much we talk about that the reality is that unless they change their stance, which I do not think they will, we are going to face increasing pressure and difficulty for our people and those who have an interest in investing this country, in our jurisdiction and other Caribbean jurisdictions. That is the reality. And I do not know quite frankly how much more effort we have to put in to gain some acceptance of the plethora [of] legislation that we have and which is drafting in consultation with these very bodies who now want to control. What do we do? That is why I do not believe that we are going to have that offshore sector as a main pillar, one of the main pillars of our economy. And I do not want to be dependent on that anyway because say what we want to say about tourism, now agriculture, I think we have a little better control over our destiny in that regard than we have in the offshore sector.It pains me for the length of time that we have all spent in this Parliament at least since I have been here, I have been here since 1998 to see that we have tried to respond all the time to the concerns raised. We have put in the legislation, we have done everything yet never enough and the economic impact is not growing, it is declining. How much more time do I have?HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: You have 17 minutes. 37HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Mr. Speaker, I want to say that same subject, the experience of Switzerland must not be lost on us. That country was literally forced to permit the disclosure of account holders that are doing business with its banks. For example the UBS bank was fined $780 million having been charged by the US tax authorities for assisting United States taxpayers with respect to their evading taxes. The UBS Bank in the process also disclosed the names of over 250 Americans who were account holders. The development has suddenly opened a Pandora’s Box in international financial services sector which would have the effect of encouraging investors to invest their hard earned monies either in the country in which they live or in the domestic financial services sector of another country. Well that other country in decline. With the offshore financial sector not really growing, I do not know how the government is going to attract investors.Mr. Speaker, I turn my attention to a couple of items raised by the Prime Minister in the Budget and one of these is the following: Mr. Speaker yesterday afternoon the Prime Minister spent a lot of time dealing with poverty alleviation and he produced various statistics from poverty report done by KARI Consultants which showed that poverty reduced, especially indigence, reduced significantly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines since the ULP administration came into office. I have seen, Mr. Speaker, the report so I know that he is quoting correctly from the report. But Mr. Speaker, I have also looked at the human development index and St. Vincent and the Grenadines in 2009 in the human development index is ranked 91 in the world, 91. In 2000, they were ranked 71. We have fallen 20 places in that period of time that we have a glowing report about of poverty alleviation and the human development index covers a wider range of development issues which are taken into account in making the determination as to where they are. [Interjection] You only know one word, “absolute”.Mr. Speaker, [Interjection] when you have a chance to reply, you reply. Mr. Speaker, the other OECS countries including Dominica have moved up on the index. We have moved in the other direction. Mr. Speaker, [Interjection] when you are finished, I will continue.Mr. Speaker, I noticed yesterday that the Prime Minister gave us a little story about an old lady; an old lady who came to visit him over the Christmas holidays. I wonder how she made it up to the Taj Mahal. [Interjection] Oh I did not even know it had a Taj Mahal with elevator [Interjection] Mr. Speaker... and the Prime Minister explained to us, given her entreaties, he had to reconsider this vexed question of the $1 tax to the Grenadines. Just imagine that. The same person, the same Prime Minister is the one who went in the dead of night on a weekend to change the legislation to impose that tax on Vincentians. You want me now to come and congratulate you because you are forced to remove it. Is that what it is? That is what it is. That old lady, Mr. Speaker, is the same fiction like the Budget the same fiction. The Prime Minister recognises the dissatisfaction of the people of the Grenadines in this matter and he was forced to remove it. That is the political reality of what happened, Mr. Speaker. You do not have any choice. You did not have any choice. You do not want to go near an election with that again. You do not have a choice.Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of people... They have a lot of people who used to support ULP who right now in the NDP column and you look, you could twist and turn all you want, you look at the referendum... [Interjection] Yeah, now is not 2005, now is 2010 and the circumstances in our country are not the same and the same year... [Interjection] You called out this morning about Douglas let me remind you that St. Vincent and the Grenadines is not St. Kitts and Nevis. Circumstances of our country have deteriorated, our people are suffering and because, Mr. Speaker, because of that pressure people voted “no”. Who you think voted in referendum? You think people voted referendum, you ‘Mr. Absolute’. People voted referendum.38Mr. Speaker, that is what people voted on. The conditions they were facing in this country which is now being exacerbated by the kind of Budget that is being presented in this Honourable House.Mr. Speaker, I just want the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to recognise, Mr. Speaker, that the tax is gone; especially to the people of the Grenadines. I have always thought that it was wrong and do not bother with the way that it was implemented and I believe that they will be happy for that. But the Prime Minister can take no pleasure in that decision and no credit for that decision. We will now have to withdraw... [Interjection] You do not know anything about my relationship with who you are calling ‘Saga Quarte” call them Mr. Dennie, that is who he is. [Interjection] All right find him where. Dennie was in VINLEC when you came into office. I know you tell that lie already, you know, you tell that since yesterday.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Watch your language ...HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Yeah, I am watching my language, Sir. Mr. Dennie was fired by your administration. Do not bother to give me that story there and when it comes to Mr. Dennie I see that you have given them some pension payment, $1200 a month. I do not know how many years’ service he had. I know he had 20 years of teaching and he had to give it up after he went into politics. He has thirty something odd years and he has been given something. I would have preferred to see it approximate to what was given to Mrs. Cato when she too was given some pension for being the wife of the Prime Minister. And do not forget, you know that I raised that in this Parliament about Mrs. Cato pension; get that.Mr. Speaker, I just want to say [Interjection] and I supported Branch own too. But you do not know anything about my relationship with Mr. Dennie so do not talk about it. If you knew, you would not open your mouth on this matter. You would not. I know more about his relation right now and I think the recently appointed Senator probably know a little about that. [Interjection] Congratulate what?... I am happy about it you know but it is not due to him. He did not have a choice on the matter; did not have a choice on the matter.Mr. Speaker, I noticed in accordance with the usual tinkering that this Prime Minister does in relation to Budget, I noticed that he decided to peep a little bit at the VAT, to tinker a little bit in the corner for the VAT. I was listening for that you know.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Five minutes to conclude.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: That is enough time. I only regret, Mr. Speaker, that my section that deals with the ministry arguably the brightest member of the Cabinet I did not have time to deal with it today you know. [Interjection] Anyhow, you could always talk. You could always talk. I am accustomed to listening to you. I am accustomed to listening to you but I am not edified. Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister I said was tinkering with the VAT, so he put on... he made all chicken now zero rated. There are plenty more items that he could find. There are plenty more items that need zero-rated and which could provide some of the stimuli that you talk about so frequently in your presentation. Tinkered with the zero for wheat and I know that would affect flour, bread. And chicken should have been done from the beginning and a lot more basic items should have been here.Mr. Speaker, these Estimates in these Budget debates has taken place at an unusual time that is January and none of us as is usual in this house had the opportunity to say anything to our constituents as we used to do at39Christmas because we are only now dealing with the Budget. But I want to say to the constituents of East Kingstown that they have stood by me since 1998 and I stand with them. And what they have said to me in relation to November 25th I will ensure that I live up to their expectations. These are difficult times indeed and a large number of them are poor people who today would have liked to know that all basic food, such other basic items were removed from the VAT thus giving them some ease in their difficult times. I say to them, “be not afraid, the hour is near. Much obliged.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Further debate on the Bill, Honourable Member for North Leeward, I recognise you Honourable Prime Minister.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, it is 1:30 p.m. I think perhaps this is a convenient time for us to suspend for the luncheon period. Accordingly, I beg to move that this Honourable House do stand suspended until 3:30 p.m.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Members, this Honourable House stands suspended until 3:30 this afternoon. House stands suspended.Question put and agreed to. House suspended at 1:30 p.m. [Lunch] House resumed at 3:40 p.m.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Pray be seated. When we suspended for the luncheon break, I recognized the Minister for Telecommunications, and Member for North Leeward. Just give me a few minutes; I am not quite ready for you. All right, we know you have 90 minutes. No, sorry, 75 minutes, sorry. One and a quarter hours; 75 minutesHONOURABLE DR. JERROL THOMPSON: I rise to support this remarkably well constructed 2010 Appropriation Bill. One which is superbly designed, sensitive, caring, focused and appropriate for our times, circumstances and the current national and regional challenges, and of course our global environment.Mr. Speaker, financing for this Budget has been assured with conservative Estimates of revenue collection based on the fact that last year we had a small decline, with tax revenue of $502.4 million and non-tax revenue of $52.3 million; complimented by cost concessionary loans if little impact on the national debt, rather than what had been pictured in the past commercial loans.Mr. Speaker, there is no denial or hiding from it, there is a global financial crisis. Mr. Speaker, there is a global financial crisis. At the same time, Mr. Speaker, we also belong to an era of total propaganda, where the propagandists now insist on the purity of their own intentions, while at the same time hurling accusations at their foes. Propaganda does not actually deceive people it merely helps them to deceive themselves. It is that branch of the art of lying which really consists of deceiving your friends and supporters without quite deceiving your enemy. Because it is so important to understand, as a true target is really NDP unsuspecting supporters in addition sympathizers, those who were here this morning filling the Gallery and those who might not be listening carefully enough. And those who cannot be really trusted to see things for themselves and make up their own minds less they might be impressed with some of the activities like the Argyle International Airport and so stray.40Mr. Speaker, the real danger of total propaganda is not that propaganda will be believed; as each barrage is eventually proven untrue, the danger is that over time nothing will be believed. The end result of total propaganda are not good supporters and fanatics and enlightened citizens, but rather cynics; cynics, Mr. Speaker.The 2010 Budget is one of the most critical Budgets of our time one which is crafted ideally for 2010; the ongoing new and unpredictable array of challenges facing this nation and the region.Mr. Speaker, there is the story of the driver who is driving along the highway in his car, and he was driving in his lane; he was staying on his hand, when he sees a bus called the financial crisis speeding towards him, Mr. Speaker, totally out of control. And the driver says, ‘I am staying in my lane.’ I am not moving; I am not reacting, I am not adjusting, I am not trying to avoid anything, I am staying on my lane. Mr. Speaker, he stayed in his lane with severe consequences.Mr. Speaker, I had quite expected that the Leader of the Opposition would have presented something of an alternative Budget. I would have expected that he would have used this opportunity which would have been the second to last Budget or maybe the last before the third term, for him to present what an NDP government would have done in the face of the global financial crisis. To outline what the government was doing wrong, and what NDP on the other hand would put right. To show off and show what he is made of, however, he has failed. He cannot leave it up to Senator Cummings to do that for him. That would undermine him. You might have expected that he might have thought in the past that he could not share ideas and solutions because the ULP government might have taken up some of solutions. But this was the time.Mr. Speaker, the reason for this is that, he has always been long on criticism and ‘be careful’, and extremely short on ideas and solutions Mr. Speaker, it goes deeper than this, in the Estimates he saw 25 pages on agriculture, in the corporate plan; he picks out a line and says it is only one line on the Black Sigatoko but ignores the richesness of the other 25 pages of what is in it and the rejuvenation of agriculture here in this Budget because he is playing to the audience Mr. Speaker. He says that he did not have time to deal with me, well, I have graduated it seems. But there was nothing in the Budget on education, there was nothing in his comments on education, youth and housing, he had a little short chapter, a little short piece on poverty alleviation.Mr. Speaker, I believe the Leader of the Opposition has again failed in this budgetary exercise. And it is clear as to what he really is. And I want to ask, who is the real Arnhim Eustace? Who is the real Honourable Leader of the Opposition? And can the real Leader of the Opposition stand up? Can the real Arnhim Eustace stand up? It is time for people to learn a little more.Mr. Speaker, at the time of the last Budget and continuing from 2004 into 2010, the worldwide recession has been protracted and prolonged. Now there are some significant signs of global recovery; however here in the Caribbean that recovery has been delayed. I think we all realize that. Yesterday the last of the G-20 countries, the UK officially came out of recession showing that there are clear signs of a recovery. Nevertheless, as we say in the case of the Caribbean and all other countries in the world, we will eventually emerge from the recession. Whether it is another three months, or six months, or nine months we will recover. However, the nations which are in the best shape, better prepared, motivated the lowest debt. Greatest level of on-going41projects and ready, are the ones which will spring board out of the crisis and seize the opportunity of a post- recovery period.Mr. Speaker, in this debate the Opposition and the NDP will try to convince you that this nation, our St. Vincent and the Grenadines is the worst place on earth. That this nation which is blessed, they will say it is doomed. That we are at the bottom of the ladder; that we do not count. We are too small; have no voice, value or virtue; that we are simply a pimple on the butt, and the backside of the world. And we should know our place and our children...HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member,... HONOURABLE DR. JERROL THOMPSON: Mr. Speaker, language, language, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member, you see when you twin them you give a different connotation,HONOURABLE DR. JERROL THOMPSON: Yes, Mr. Speaker,HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: So you have to be very careful with your language.HONOURABLE DR. JERROL THOMPSON: Mr. Speaker, and that we and our children, should have no higher expectations and goals. Mr. Speaker, I reject this. I reject this notion. And I ask the people to wise up and reject it too. We are not the bottom of the ladder. How have other countries done? In this hemisphere alone, there are over 250 million people who are new unemployed. This increase in seasonal and temporary workers is growth of underground economy.In Russia, Nigeria, oil revenues have been down placing crippling effects on those economies, and huge deficits. Even in mainland China, Mr. Speaker, whereas there is resurgence in growth, there is heightened levels of corruption; 100,000 persons were punished last year for corruption. That compliments the shoddy and inferior products that have been coming out from there in conjunction with the good products. Migrant workers in the UK, have fallen by 66%. From Portland alone there used to be 37,000 persons who used to take trains all the way over to England, each month that is now dropped to 12,000.In Iceland, the Ice Save Bank went from fish in the 1990’s to finance in the 2000. Then the global financial crisis hit and the country went bust. Even Mc Donald’s had to close down, Mr. Speaker, Greece, right-wing government was in, they said let us tighten our belts, let us do this and do that, let us cut all the spending, cut it down to the bone, nothing could take place, they were voted out. The left-wing government came in and said they are going to spend, but the European Union held their hands; handcuff them, and said you cannot spend. In Dubai, we know the story, and of course, in United States, Canada and in the UK, there is nothing to smile about. I feel sorry for my good President, Barrack Obama.But, Mr. Speaker, last year I was in the United States and I went to visit a friend; who I heard had fallen on bad times. He was living in a homeless shelter. And he beg not to tell anyone. I was going to tell the Ambassador, he beg me please do not use his name. He was too proud. I gave him a few hundred dollars. Mr. Speaker, I know that there are people here in St. Vincent who are sending remittances up to the United States for their relatives. Of course, our remittances too have declined. But, Mr. Speaker, I got to say that all the old books, all42the old books on economics that I have read, that Senator Leacock has read from the 1990’s and before they are now all out the window. The opinions of the Greenspans and so forth is now outmoded and that so-called economic plan from the Leader of the Opposition; I see an empty chair over there, Mr. Speaker, that is also out the door, that is out of the window, to be thrown in the garbage, because it has no value anymore. The times have changed.Mr. Speaker, what has really been happening? How has St. Vincent and the Grenadines really done, and what has been the Leader of the Opposition’s response? The Prime Minister has done remarkably well as the Minister of Finance and a regional spokesman on finance. He has been a real leader throughout the region. This is far better than Eustace could ever have dreamt of. The Leader of the Opposition is always descriptive...HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: The Honourable Leader of the Opposition...HONOURABLE DR. JERROL THOMPSON: Mr. Speaker, my apologies. The Honourable Leader of the Opposition is always descriptive rather than trying at times to be a little prescriptive. He has no solutions and offers none. The Honourable Prime Minister stood up to the big, bad West LBs and reduced that crippling, backbreaking weight and burden on our shoulders that was the national debt. The Ottley Hall debt, it was a swindle on the Vincentian people. It was reduced from $154 million to $16 million. This was the largest level of corruption this nation has ever seen; corruption at its worst.Mr. Speaker, without imputing anything, the former Prime Minister was at Ottley Hall in the late 1990’s and held up some papers and said we are not the first guarantor, and there were persons, and the Honourable Leader of the Opposition, at the time financial secretary, who was there nodding next to him in agreement. Mr. Speaker, the problem with Ottley Hall debt was not that the project concept was a good one or a bad on. It was that we spent $154 million that was valued at barely over $15 million. Mr. Speaker, this was corruption at its worst and mismanagement at its worst.Mr. Speaker, I listened to the Leader of the Opposition use those words, but at the same time, this would have prevented valuable revenue and opportunities to develop our infrastructure and other opportunities for the productive sector.Mr. Speaker, Honourable Prime Minister passed legislation and reforms which took us off the OECD and other blacklists. The Honourable Leader of the Opposition was at the helm when these blacklists occurred. Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Prime Minister has continued repeated the introduced counter-cyclical stimuli to this economy at times when the Opposition did not understand the concept of counter-cyclical. I recall Senator Leacock saying, ‘boy, you using big words.’ Mr. Speaker, those were the response to SARS and 9-11 and droughts and hurricanes. They were not all year stimuli; they were targeted stimuli in response to certain events, that were having effect on this nation.Mr. Speaker, our Prime Minister has understood also the relationship between the size of the civil service, targeted areas of employment to improve the efficiency in teaching, in crime fighting in nursing and in health and the response to training and crime. Remember when we had gross shortages of nurses; gross shortages of police. We responded and you do not find those gross shortages now. But, Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Leader of the Opposition has claimed in repeated Budgets that the civil service is too large. And has supported some of what the IMF itself may have written. And the question is, we know what is behind the scenes. That43he may well intend if he were ever to get into office to cut jobs and the size of the civil service. And therefore what does that mean for your job, and your job, and your job.Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has promoted the Education Revolution. The Honourable Leader of the Opposition still says there is none. He still believes that Universal Secondary Education should be reversed. The Prime Minister has been a leader with the CLICO issue, where was the Honourable Leader of the Opposition. The Prime Minister is the leader in the recapitalization of the British American and people believe that if there is one man who can get the job done, that is the Honourable Prime Minster because tremendous amount of number of Vincentians have investments in British American and they need to see this company through. The Prime Minister has led the Monetary Council and Joint Economic Task Force.Mr. Speaker, I want to say that the Leader of the Opposition has not been truthful with the people on the issue of the global financial crisis. With the global economy down turn, the people of any nation, especially that of St. Vincent and the Grenadines have an expectation that this economy will be fixed and would be buoyant that milk and honey, that the good times will roll again; but we certainly have to learn many of the lessons from this era. Recovery in the economy will certainly depend on government’s revenue and expenditure where the revenue collection is efficient and the expenditure is prudent, targeted and promotes growth. That additionally the private sector, investment, stimulating jobs, and attracting foreign exchange and exports are going to be crucial. And consumers stay confident and have a level of appropriate spending with some prudent savings.Mr. Speaker, the Vincentian economy is doing fairly okay. There are significant strains. There are no milk and honey flowing but we have been bearing up to the economic strains much better than many of the other nations in the Caribbean and much better in relation to other countries of the world. Our debt is being managed very well; and there are various positive stimuli to the economy. And Mr. Speaker, here is the two part ways. There is the old Eustace ways, the old Honourable Leader of the Opposition’s way to tighten up and to stay in the same lane, 1990’s, 2000, 2009, 1010; the same lane, or you could have the approach where you need to adjust and stimulate the economy, keep things going until the recovery sets it. You have already seen it, some countries around the world are saying that they are beginning to see growth again. We have to essentially keep things ticking and going until that particular time comes around and we hope that that time is relatively short.Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition has been talking a lot about our regional ranking and has been fugal with the facts. Alternatively, Mr. Speaker, let me say that properly. The Leader of the Opposition has tried to hoodwink the people. What is our regional ranking? This week’s article in the newspaper certainly revealed figures clearly show that St. Vincent and the Grenadines has the highest average growth in the OECS over the last nine years, and had the largest increase in GDP earnings, over the decade. St. Vincent and the Grenadines has caught up with many of the other islands and surpassed many others. The Leader of the Opposition knows this. In the OECS 2009 National Accounts statistics for the year ending December 31st 2008, the figures also show here that we had a 0.2% negative growth.Mr. Speaker, I first heard this at the Chamber of Industry and Commerce dinner when guest speaker, Mr. Patrick Antoine announced and congratulated St. Vincent and the Grenadines for being the best performer. There must have been over 200 persons there who heard that same thing. The very next day I had to go over to an ECTEL meeting in St. Lucia, the Leader of the Opposition was travelling up to St. Lucia at the time to supposedly collect some funds for the No Campaign. And Mr. Speaker, on my return I was listening to the44radio and heard this that he had picked up a document, this document and he said he could not believe his eyes, he was in shock, because St. Vincent and the Grenadines had a 0.2%. Well, a 0.2% growth and some other figures may shift here and there, but in this document what it showed that St. Vincent and the Grenadines 0.2%, St. Lucia was -4%; Grenada was -6%; and St. Kitts and Antigua was -8%. But that piece of information fell on his blind spot. He might have been shocked about that, but that fell on his blind spot. He did not talk about that. And almost on every single platform during the referendum he talked about the 0.2%; people heard him, he is on tape, but you know what, he did not tell the people what is St. Vincent’s actual position in the OECS that everyone’s level of growth would have dropped, St. Vincent was still the best performer of all the OECS.Mr. Speaker, let us talk of debt. What is debt? Debt cannot be a good thing. We have already seen they are pushing in the paper and so forth, and saying that Jerrol Thompson is saying that debt is good. I can’t say, how can I say that. But, Mr. Speaker, it is what you are borrowing the debt for, what you are using it for and the interest rate that you have to repay. In almost every country in this world, many countries they are running Budget deficit. The recent copy of the Economist, they are talking about this all the time. This is the current prescription to deal with the financial crisis.However, they recommend the standard is that you must be less than 3% of GDP. In the European Union, they have just slapped warning on six countries, France, Spain, Latvia, Ireland, Malta and Greece; because they have exceeded the 3%. In St. Vincent this year is just 1.3% far less than 3%. The increase in debt in 2008 it was $1.04 billion in 2008. Now, it is 1.19% it is a 4 or 7% increase.So Mr. Speaker, how has St. Vincent really face in relation to debt, I know this is going to be small. But believe it or not, we also have one of the lowest national debts in the OECS. Would you believe, that and you heard the Leader of the Opposition keep saying $1.9, $1.9; that was actually St. Lucia. St. Lucia has $1.9 billion in debt. We are $1.1 billion, and they are $1.9 billion. Grenada is $1.85 billion and St. Kitts is $2.48 billion; and guess what Antigua is $3 billion. They were once $3.4 billion; they came down a little bit.Mr. Speaker, how can you stand up and say oh St. Vincent has such high debt and so forth, when we actually have the lowest debt in the OECS. I am not saying, debt is good but we have to manage it, we are managing it. And we are managing it. Mr. Speaker, four years ago, almost every sentence in the Budget debate the Leader of the Opposition was talking about debt to GDP ratio, debt to GDP ratio, today he passing it off; why? Because St. Vincent and the Grenadines is one the lowest debt to GDP ratio, now 60%; let us have a clap for that, Mr. Speaker. I am sorry that I am taking the credit; give the Honourable Prime Minister a clap for that, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, of course the rebasing of GDP, current market prices will also impact on increasing our GDP significantly, so further reducing the debt to GDP ratio.Mr. Speaker, these debates are not a joke, they are serious business. It is the people’s business. Last year the Honourable Leader of the Opposition came and said look at Anguilla; Anguilla has 26% growth, we should be more like Anguilla, now, I tell you I do not want to mention countries names here because all these things, sometimes are being broadcast.But, Mr. Speaker, this year Anguilla has -10% did worst in the OECS, but at the time Honourable Senator Cummings was saying yes, and he was shaking his head too, because he had been working in Anguilla. I had gone to Anguilla last year, and Vincentians would tell me ‘boy, I have two jobs, I got three jobs. Mr. Speaker, you know, as sister nations, we have to all have to band together to make sure these countries do well. In 2009,45I said, Anguilla had -10% and maybe that is one of the reasons why Honourable Senator Cummings’ contract probably could not even be renewed. Mr. Speaker,HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Point of Order.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: State your Point of Order, Honourable Senator.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: The Honourable Minister is misrepresenting what I said and what the Honourable Leader of the Opposition said last time around. The point in the discussion in the Estimates and Budget last time, I distinctly remembered the Honourable Leader of the Opposition talking about different types of tourism products, the fact that Anguilla does not encourage cruise ships and so forth, it has nothing to do with anything else than that. And so the Honourable Member must stop using extremist matters and must stick to the facts.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: All right.HONOURABLE DR. JERROL THOMPSON: Mr. Speaker, I want to move on. Let me withdraw that just only to say that when I was in Anguilla the cruise ship came to St. Martin and they take a ferry over to Anguilla, take tour buses, and go around Anguilla, because they do not have the ability to have a cruise ship come in. So they come to St. Martin, lots of cruise passengers come there, they come there as day tours, and because they are listed as day tours, they do not then get listed as cruise passengers. But, Mr. Speaker, I do not want to get distracted by these types of arguments. There are more important things.Mr. Speaker, what I want to say is that, the size of the debt is certainly an issue, and we pointed out that St. Vincent has the lowest debt, but it is the interest rate that you pay. And we heard today along this course that the average interest rate for the new borrowings during this 2010 Budget are around 2% highly concessionary loans, soft loans and not the 9, 10, 11, and 12, and 15% commercial loans. There are loans from Venezuela, Taiwan, the SDR, IMF loans, from the CDB, and these are manageable and this compliments $64.8 million in grants. And Mr. Speaker, from what I have seen, we are highly geared towards spending this particular money.Mr. Speaker, currently as I said, and this is what the nation has to understand; because you have been hearing on CNN, what Obama has been doing, we have to try and keep the economy stimulated. We cannot do it like the Honourable Arnhim Eustace’s way. That is the old way, it cannot work. Remember if we cut jobs, cut social programmes, that we alleviate poverty, cut investment in infrastructure and construction and the productivity sector, the economy will grind to a halt; and it would be difficult to spring board off of that.Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister talked about the various sources of funding. I think this will be further elucidated. But in the capital Budget, it is made up of $303.3 million. And in previous years some of this, a portion of this was not spent; we had an average about 60% spending.Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition would admit and he has admitted that during his time in office they had 25%, 26% spending. We have been averaging 60%; but he is asking why we are not spending 100%. Because we know that the weather conditions, the availability of cement, the administration of the issues, the availability of engineers and architects; and other issues, external factors, sometimes prevents this. The issue is not whether you should try and complete the project in this given year, but if there was $20 million available46and you spend $15 million of it with a few little delays until December, $5 million is then unspent. He is saying why did not you spend that $5 million. That is why he is talking and there are all sorts of issues.Mr. Speaker, he also talked that we have lost our financial independence. I cannot understand it. In the ‘60’s we were under colonialism, in the ‘70’s we were under Statehood. In the ‘80’s and ‘90’s former Prime Minister tried to link us with Germany and then with Italy, we were ripped off, of course by Rolla. Now, we lost that preferential market with England. And we know in 2009 people chose not to have a new president, a signal of our independence but to stay with the Queen as Head of State. That is fine. But, Mr. Speaker, when you hear nonsense like how much we are paying back each minute and each hour and so, that is all a show.Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition also talks about financial prudency, always talks about financial prudency. As has been stated you will see this year, Mr. Speaker, the Honourable representative for the Northern Grenadines and representative for the Southern Grenadines will come with a long list, of spending, millions of dollars spending, additional spending, that they should spend there. Mr. Speaker, they have to get that house in order over there. They have to clear up that attitude first. They cannot have on one hand, the Leader of the Opposition saying not do this or that and other persons coming through.Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition has not been clear also about VAT. With growing surges and deficits, Mr. Speaker, with surges level of debt. We are seeing that you need restructuring of your tax structure. In Grenada and St. Lucia, this year they will move into VAT. Why? And the plan to introduce 15%.’Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition have talked about VAT on basic foods. I believe that 95% most of basic foods are zero-rated. He speaks of VAT on vegetables in the supermarket, although he did not mention it today. But the farmers of this country they should note because we have been having meetings with the farmers. If VAT is zero-rated on vegetables in supermarkets, we then mean that those vegetables are going to far cheaper than what is sold in the Vegetable Market. Right now the fact that you do not pay VAT in the vegetable market is supposed to encourage people to go to the Vegetable Market. Mr. Speaker, I may not visit the Vegetable Market so much because I get my vegetables and so down the Leeward side. I buy my jay bay and all those kind of things, get those things, those are the kinds of things I am eating now. Mr. Speaker, they are putting the little thing on me, but I gonna get rid of that too.But, Mr. Speaker, what bothers me though about the VAT is that there are some irresponsible supporters of the Honourable Leader of the Opposition who have been stating that VAT should be cut in half, to 7.5% or to 5%, and there are people in this population who believe that. There are people who have not yet understood. That consumption tax that was taken off which was 20%, 25%, 30%, 40%, and replaced by a VAT of 15% really and truly makes the goods far cheaper than what they were before. Mr. Speaker, I believe that the Leader of the Opposition should speak to these individuals and tell them that this is not true, that he is not going to reduce VAT. And that this nation can be a lot whole clearer about the VAT issue.Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased with the adjustment to zero-rate VAT on chicken parts at a cost of $3 million. And the removal of VAT on animal feed, I think this is a significant initiative. It is going to spur the whole growth of chicken farming. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, it is premature to announce it, but I know in 2010, the East Caribbean Group of Companies (ECGC), it is hoped, with other stakeholders, Ministry of Agriculture, looking to unveil a major boost to the chicken industry, whereby they would provide farmers with chicks and47feeds for persons to be able to rear those chickens and sell it back to stakeholder company. Mr. Speaker, there are tremendous amount of issues that we talk about today.I want touch briefly on the airport, the Argyle International Airport. Mr. Speaker, I supposed when Noah was building the Ark, many scorned and said it could not be done. Even when the rains started to come some were still scornful and laughed the proof too often, Mr. Speaker, in the eating and the experience.Mr. Speaker, I did some research, and do you realize that to take a flight from New York down to Jamaica is just US $199, to take a flight to Barbados is US $350.00 and to St. Lucia it is US $350.00 but to St. Vincent, the average price is US $690.00; so clearly, components of that maybe that of LIAT, yeah. One third of LIAT prices are also taxes. But what I am trying to emphasize is to get to St. Vincent you have to pay a lot more. That means we are then unfortunately a high priced destination. The question, how can the Honourable Glen Beache and the Ministry of Tourism truly get a bang for their buck and get visitors to come here and stay overnight. Mr. Speaker, they are doing a good job. But, clearly, the building of the Argyle International Airport is going help to solve that problem. And I would love to be able to fly, one day from New York, right into Argyle with my two bags of 40 pounds and look back and say those bags are with me, Mr. Speaker and they have my name on them. That is going to happen soon in 2012, Mr. Speaker, look out for that.But, Mr. Speaker, what is so hard to understand with the fact that the Argyle International Airport cost $589 million to $600 million to build and the earthwork cost $279 million. What is so difficult to understand that $22.5 million has been spent on the earthworks so far but it value was $81 million. What is so difficult about that? All it means... how many persons have built a house before, and you have your relatives and your friends, a contractor who is your brother and he is helping you and everything like that, you just paying him his lunch. You are just giving him a little thing to keep on, but he, a little something white and so forth, or clear. Mr. Speaker, we all have done this; this is Vincentian culture. Why is it so difficult to understand, that with the help and the assistance from our partners and our friends from out of Cuba assistance from Venezuela that we, if you had given it to a contractor he would have charged you $81 million so far, but because you are not paying profit, nor the contingency and all these other things like that, it is $22.5 million. What is so difficult to understand about that? What is so difficult to accept that we have received $130 million so far from Trinidad, $26 million Austria; $1.5 million Taiwan; $81 million Venezuela; $81 million and counting;Over $200 million pledged for earthworks from Venezuela and Cuba. And a host of other countries; and we are expecting $44.6 million from CARICOM Development Fund, and from Mexico and Portugal and so forth.Mr. Speaker, we talked about this loan of $54 million, at 2%; 2% is like nothing. Mr. Speaker, we had expected to sell certain amount of land, maybe about $100 million in land. We have to wait until next year to actually make a big boost in selling the lands, but you do not close down shop, you take that $54 million, keep things going and when you start to sell lands, you then pay off that $54 million. That does make sense to me. Mr. Speaker, but what bothers me most is the kind of thinking, the same thing with propaganda. You know, things could, remember when... maybe I should not say this.But, Mr. Speaker, I want to speak in simple language. The various lies, propaganda, and the referendum will go down in history; does everybody believe that we really needed visas to go to England and Canada. Does anybody really believe that the face of the dollar would change, and have somebody else’s face on the dollar? Everybody believe that we were going to go into communism, Mr. Speaker? Absolutely no, President Obama,48he basically wants to push health care and he went and took a book from President Chavez. Persons are calling him communist.Mr. Speaker, a few years ago Grenada shifted from Taiwan to communist China, is Grenada communist? Almost every leader in the Caribbean has been going down to Venezuela as part of PetroCaribe, are they communists?Mr. Speaker, this nation would not be duped and fooled a second time. You are duped, but you are not stupid. You are only foolish and stupid if you are fooled twice. The people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines would not be fooled again by this type of propaganda. But, Mr. Speaker, do you know what disturbs me sometimes; is when on one radio station you hear somebody saying tourism is good, everybody push tourism and things like that, we have great sites, wonderful sites, Ministry of Tourism doing this, and the same voice on other radio station and they are saying St. Vincent is the worst place on earth. St. Vincent is communist. Prime Minister is this. Prime Minister is that. People would be calling me. It is unbelievable how you could have persons promoting St. Vincent on one hand and pulling down St. Vincent on the other hand. I just find that incredible and other persons find that incredible too totally unacceptable, Mr. Speaker.Mr. Speaker, in summary, there has been a global financial crisis. St. Vincent and the Grenadines is the best performer in the OECS, 2009 over the last nine years. The Honourable Leader of the Opposition has not been open with the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines on debt and on understanding debt. And he is not been truthful on capital spending. Mr. Speaker, he has not been truthful on VAT. He has been wrong on WEST LB. He has been weak in terms of regional leadership weak on blacklist. I believe he will cut civil service jobs and he will kill the Education Revolution, stop the Argyle International Airport and he cut spending in critical targeted areas.Mr. Speaker, I am pleased and privileged to be the Minister of Telecommunications, Science, Technology and Industry. I have an exceptional team, of keen professionals and I push them hard. I have been very satisfied with the accomplishments, and would easily move on to my constituency and just settle with that. But, Mr. Speaker, I do not believe that the officials at the Ministry would forgive me if I did not say more on the Ministry of Telecommunications.The Leader of the Opposition said he had something to say to me today, but I would say it for him, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, this ministry and government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, is a great friend of the private sector and forging stronger relationship with the Chamber of Commerce and the other private sector service organizations. The private sector knows that they can call on us, myself, the Prime Minister and Minister of Trade and air their problems. We have visited industries in the productive sector and understand the challenges they face at this time. And we have been making adjustments. We have developed a private sector development policy with a strategy and action plan that has been approved by Cabinet. There is a lot of innovation and quick wins done by the Commonwealth Secretariat, and excellent document.Mr. Speaker, we also have a small business development policy. We are in the final stages of a new ICT strategy and action plan; 2009, 2010. We have assisted in the energy policy. There are various regulations and other legislations that we have worked on, this week I know there would be the presentation of the trade policy along with the minister responsible for trade, Honourable Sir Louis Straker, and a finalization of the export strategy is due in 2010.49The private sector development project that we conducted last year conducted diagnostics, and persons may find that strange. We did diagnostics on 30 companies and more. Find out what really makes them tick, what they really need. We were able to select out about 20 of which were highly geared for our exports to see how we have customized interventions for these particular companies.Mr. Speaker, through the Centre for Enterprise Development we have been forging a strategy of developing incubators through a gateway project, reaching out and also touching companies’ right across the nation. In addition to the ICT business skills the CED and the ICT business skill project, It was founded by the European Union, have set up satellite offices in a number of the rural areas. This year two additional satellite offices will be set up in Georgetown and in Union Island, this is to really get that whole sense of entrepreneurship along the lines of small enterprise.Mr. Speaker, the ministry plans looking to do things like the ECCB of setting up various funds by which we could help and assist and I am really hoping that in 2010 we [will] be able to provide a number of these companies, especially those geared to export, with some critical support, financially and otherwise, so that they could take things to the next level.The Ministry has had some major ICT initiatives, we have been partnering with the Ministry of Education, in relation to their 50 million ICT in education project, that is a major project that would revolutionize the way we teach.Mr. Speaker, I want to pledge support through the Ministry of Education on this. There is a major E-grip project which is partnering with other OECS countries to forge and build on the integration movement. Making sure that administratively, we are all doing the same thing.Mr. Speaker, this particular project is in high gear about to really kick off, but in addition, we had a number of series of projects through the SFA 05, being managed by Ms Charmaine Tacklin-John. We would have the computerization of CIPO, has almost complete the installation of the agricultural marketing project. These projects, I would just read them out, but to get a real true essence of them more time is really needed and we will take the time to really explain to the people what these projects really all about. But farmers at various marketing depots and otherwise will be able to find out what the agricultural market is all about. There is the Land Registry project really under the Ministry of Planning. It is run by Mr. Nedd, this is a significant project, Mr. Speaker. And it is really going to change the way we have lands titling. So that all this long search to find out whose land and this and so forth, and what the size is, would be greatly shortened. The speed of which you get it, and land sales and so forth would be quickly and easily registered. I am really pleased of this project.Shortly, we will have the launch of the Hotel Association Website and assistance being given to the Ministry of Tourism and the Hotel Association. But we also would see consolidation of on-going projects; government intranet, websites, and enhanced services through information technology services under our guru, Mr. Audrey Bailey, and we are really looking to see how we could step up the level of servicing of the government ICT infrastructure.Mr. Speaker, to complement this project we are now going to set up a Taiwanese ICT centre. We know out at Orange Hill there is an agricultural centre, it is a much larger thing. The ICT Centre does not need to have dozens of people. It needs to have some critical expertise that could really help provide that additional50consultancy to make sure that things are done right and properly, and I am really pleased, and I want to thank the government and people of Taiwan for this particular project because I think it really would go a long way. And the Budget and so reflects it.Mr. Speaker, we have built the first phase of the Centre for Excellence at Diamond. And Mr. Speaker, even though some aspects of this needs to be elaborated, I want to tell you that this is what I would have hoped that the Leader of the Opposition would talk about. This is where we are going. We really want to harness the real potential of our people; and turn them into the new type of entrepreneurs. I know the people heard of Bloggers, and social media strategists and virtual business service providers, these are some of the new type of jobs that are coming onto the market. I can list a whole set of them. And we certainly want to see our young people that much more engaged.Mr. Speaker, the Bureau of Standards this year is going to move fully into a corporation. And this is certainly going to complement what is taking place in our industry and trade sector. At this time where we are seeing products coming from other parts of the world, that are defective, that could kill and so, the Bureau of Standards has to step up. But in addition, the export of produce, the Bureau of Standards is critically needed, and we certainly are going to see Mr. Ledger and his team come forward and in their new sort of role, in the new corporate structure, we are going to see some significant improvements.Mr. Speaker, in terms of communication in government we are looking to see how we can cut past cost. This year, we have seen it, in previous Budgets, and I want to tell you that it has been, to get the right solution, technology changes and you do not just buy something because it is there, in the Budget, you basically have to wait until the right solutions are there, so the government’s PBX which is so critical for government’s communication, is going to be one of the projects we implement this year. Mr. Speaker, I actually hope that with the staff and the PBX we could do some very innovative things; not only would cost be cut and it would be more efficient but we are going to find out what is taking place in government. What is happening in culture? What is happening in agriculture? What is happening in social development and you would be able to find out what is going on just by calling in. Also if there is a pothole somewhere or a wall is breaking down.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: You have 15 minutes to conclude. HONOURABLE DR. JERROL THOMPSON: Mr. Speaker, in the area of ICT training, this is an area that Ihold dear to my heart, and this is also one of the areas that you would be hearing a lot more about.In general, Mr. Speaker, we have been forging ahead in the Ministry of Telecommunications. Two areas that I have been particularly interested in, I heard the Prime Minister’s call, is that of science, technology and that of energy. Mr. Speaker, in science and technology we have had our director who has gone off to study but you know, we have competent persons in Inga Creese and we have a whole programme. What we have been doing is really trying to bring science and technology to the people. It is a subject which sometimes some persons pass on, but I think it is bringing some level of excitement to our youth. And we are seeing this reflected in some of the results at the Common Entrance Exams and at the A’ Level exams that there is a new resurgence of adoption and taking to science and technology.In the area of energy I going to heed, the Prime Minister’s call and to see whatever assistance that I could lend in terms of helping to get those energy projects; Ribishi Wind Farm, the geothermal project happens to be right51there in my constituency; I have a vested interest. And certainly the whole process of making government building that much more energy efficient, I know the Energy Unit has signed a contract to do energy audits in a number of government buildings and those persons would be on the ground very shortly and we hope that we can now see exactly what are the things we need to do to improve the energy efficiency of buildings and I think this is going to be very important.Mr. Speaker, I am very, very proud of my ministry and I see my secretary Donna and other persons there, all my members of staff and certainly, if this was Christmastime I would have been wishing them well. But it is all right, I would wish them the best, happy New Year.Mr. Speaker, I am proud of the fact, that North Leeward’s time has truly come. You know, my father, the other representative for North Leeward has always spoken to me of a kind of prejudice that had existed in the past, in relation to places like North Leeward and North Windward. North Windward to some extent would have overcome some of this. This prejudice exists in different parts of our society.Mr. Speaker, I have had tremendous support from the Prime Minister and my colleagues and I want to thank all of you on behalf of all the people of North Leeward and also the rest of the nation for steering the ship and for your support.Mr. Speaker, I recall some of these instances where they were supposed to close the garbage dump in Fitz Hughes and start the land fill at Diamond, a number of years ago; 2001. But Senator Cummings had left out Fitz Hughes for some reason, you know the usual neglect, and they had not visited the site, they just heard the sea had come in and washed away the garbage, but the garbage was still there.Mr. Speaker, I went and closed the landfill. And I got some assistance from persons like O’Riley Lewis. I remembered the day after all the trucking being done; and I called them up to get the money to pay for the trucks, he said, ‘boy, you know you have to speak to my manager’. I remembered when I spoke to him, he said, he did not say Dr. Thompson, he said ‘Thompson, do you think CWSA could give money to every Tom, Dick and Harry?’ And Mr. Speaker that taught me a lot how some people think. When we were supposed to have garbage collection they said no garbage collection in North Leeward and North Windward, they are too far. And those are the challenges that we in the rural districts faced. I thank God that we have a Prime Minister who is also from the rural area; because when I look over there I see persons from the Grenadines; I see persons from the Kingstown area, nobody representing the rural areas.Mr. Speaker, I certainly want to join with my other colleagues. We have to stand up and represent the rural areas. Mr. Speaker, I remember my mother was one of the founders of the School for Special Needs. And earlier on we were looking at places like North Leeward to see how we could help the people who were disabled, but there was no transport and nothing could be done. I am so happy that the Ministries of Social Development and Education they are all doing a study to address these particular needs and look all over the country for persons who are underprivileged, persons who are disabled in the rural areas so that they could have a fair share too, Mr. Speaker.Mr. Speaker, I have been very pleased with the Ministry of Community Development and Rural Development with Minister Selmon Walters and a number of projects. But, Mr. Speaker, in Spring Village there is going to be a new police station is going to be constructed. Mr. Speaker, we are also going to continuing widening the52corner at Mongoreau going up to Spring Village. There has been refurbishment of the Spring Village Primary School, thank you very much, Minister of Education, because that school the woodwork and so were falling apart. There would be the uprising of the Cumberland Yachting Centre, very good project down at Cumberland. And Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased of substantial monies in the Budget to go a significant way in the construction of the Cumberland Playing Field. I am really pleased about it. This year we are doing a substantial amount of work.Mr. Speaker, in Coulls Hill a new ICT Technical Centre is going to be opened at the West Wood Government School. It is going to help to train persons to be part of this whole technological revolution. In Troumaca we are looking for the construction of the Learning Resource Centre after land was donated by Dr. Providence, I want to thank him. But, this learning resource centre is going to have an innovation; it is also going to have a gym. Mr. Speaker, we are going to get the Troumaca Playing Field done also; and I am really thankful to my two colleagues, the Honourable Saboto Caesar and Montgomery Daniel for the plants who operationalize the Belmont Depot. Now this is a significant project to the farmers and the two meetings we had recently in North Leeward the farmers have been enthusiastic; they have been in high gear, really enlightened by the fact that here is an entity that is now being able to buy some of their products.Mr. Speaker, everyone knows that I have a special affinity for Rose Hall. And Mr. Speaker, this year is their 50th anniversary of their government school; but they are farmers. And in Copland, Antoine and Jack Hill we are doing major feeder road development. Mr. Speaker, we are looking forward to the annual cultural festival and I want to invite this country, because the group is planning a new type of culture pot. I am not going to call it a culture pot, but we are going to have something in every single village. And so everyone is invited to come to the mecca of culture and tourism in North Leeward.Mr. Speaker, however, when it comes to culture Rose Bank really takes the glory. Rose Bank is truly a cultural icon; 150 years of Indian culture and 110 years of Carib culture. It is the place where you find the bom drum, or the house of the last Carib Chief; the Leeward Carib Chief Jim Roberts the origin of Roses Crew, other people like DJ-20; Rawlow and Chain Saw and of course Rudy Louis and Hot Vibes Promotion. And Mr. Speaker, this year, Rose Bank came second to New Grounds in the Christmas lighting competition; I felt they should have come first, but they came second. But, Mr. Speaker, this year I am so proud of Rose Bank that they placed first as Best Village in the National Home Coming celebrations, and I want to personally congratulate Rose Bank for that, Mr. Speaker. It is a little village with a big heart.Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate Errol Layne’s, Jazzy and all the others, they have won $75,000.00 I understand, and that is going to be matched by some private sector and Diaspora input for product in the area. The hard court would be lighted. I am winding down, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Five minutes.HONOURABLE DR. JERROL THOMPSON: Mr. Speaker, in Petite Bordel we already started the development; we have opened up the road to the Petite Bordel falls and the Mark Stone. Yes, I am not telling anybody where the secret falls is right now. But we will be opening up Petite Bordel Falls which is absolutely wonderful; it is what we call a garden falls. Mr. Speaker, the community centre room which was once assigned in Petite Bordel for the post office, the post office is no longer going there, we decided to hand it over to North Leeward Sports Association. We furnished them also with a person from the YES programme, they have a53permanent presence, and sports can really take off. I am a great fan of the concept of sport against crime; sports for health; sports for this. I am really hoping that we could actually develop this in addition to the pan against crime.Mr. Speaker, we are building a new vegetable market and craft market in Chateaubelair through the Ministry of Rural Transformation. The heritage village at Chateaubelair is going to be operational we are going to doing sales screen-printing, with some funds that we were able to obtain and persons are coming from India shortly to conduct training here.Mr. Speaker, on Christmas Day Cindy Richards moved into a low-income house. Mr. Speaker, I was supposed to have gone there and eat some black cake; but Mr. Speaker, when I saw her she had a smile on her face from ear to ear. This one satisfied individual. And in Richmond Mr. Speaker, I know Gail, and Debbie and Marcella and Monique and all others they have certainly benefited from the low income houses. I really want to thank Minister Francis and so forth for getting that particular job done during that particular time, Senator Francis.Mr. Speaker, we be looking to keep North Leeward clean and over the next three four weeks we would be putting out 40 garbage bins and 25 signs, keep North Leeward clean. And everyone knows that North Leeward. And everyone knows North Leeward, you know, even though it is an agriculture area and we are going to boost agriculture really rebuild agriculture sector, eco-tourism has now started to become the new future.Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased with the Cumberland Yachting Centre and the Hermitage Nature Trail. I am very pleased [with] the Troumaca Dam Site is also going to be opened up. VINLEC and so is about to do some final touches there, to provide some electricity. I am really pleased with the Falls of Baleine and the fact that they are now going to redo the access road going to Trinity Falls and also to a number of other sites. I really want to thank you very much, Honourable Minister of Tourism and my god brother; do you know that? But Mr. Speaker, if I could say the product is good. I do not know if I could say it, I am good. But Mr. Speaker, who says there is no investment in tourism? Mr. Speaker, the Dark View Falls, you could now still take the bamboo bridge or you could go along the new bridge.Mr. Speaker, the North Leeward Tourism Association told me that they are developing a little trail. They have discovered that here in St. Vincent there are 16 varieties of fern and one of these trails they are calling it Fern Alley. And Mr. Speaker, they have 10 varieties of fern; from the smallest ferns to the tree fern, called the Jomanjo. Mr. Speaker, I am really pleased with the attendance at that particular site.Mr. Speaker, last Friday if I could say it, as I end I met with the Port Authority and a team of consultants who are here to look at three ports in Canouan, Bequia, and Chateaubelair. Chateaubelair to look at it as a development of a cruise ship terminal, Mr. Speaker and Mr. Speaker, when that meeting ended this representative was very pleased; and Mr. Speaker, for further development. Further the Centre for Enterprise Development is due to start through Mr. Kyron Barker with his assistance, a project to look at the type of businesses that are being developed in and around that site. Similarly, they are looking at what are the businesses that need to be developed around Buccament and the Argyle International Airport but in relation to Chateaubelair, I am really pleased.Mr. Speaker, this is a caring Budget. It is a focussed Budget. This is one in which the Ministry of Telecommunications could play a part; this is one where constituencies like North Leeward really come of age,54and will also play a part. This is certainly one that I am particularly proud of and as Minister and representative for North Leeward, and as Minister of Telecommunications, I endorse this 2010 Budget and may it have a speedy passage, Mr. Speaker. I am obliged.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Further debate? Honourable Senator Forde. All right Senator Forde you can begin.HONOURABLE ROCHELLE FORDE: I am obliged, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I rise to make my contribution to the 2010 Budget debate. And when I look at the document in the context at hand that we have been dealt internationally. I am reminded of the words of Charles Swindal when he said, and with your permission, I quote:“people who soar are those who refuse to sit back, sigh and wish things would change, they neither complain of their lot, nor passively dream of some distant ship coming in, rather they visualize in their mind that they are not quitters, they will not allow life circumstances to push them down and hold them under.”End of quote. Mr. Speaker, our people are not quitters and this Budget will ensure that they soar and continue to soar even in challenging times. This Budget, Mr. Speaker, says clearly that our government will not abandon its people. On the contrary, it will go the extra mile and serve as the catalyst and thrust for ensuring our survival.Mr. Speaker, this government understands that we must be careful with spending at this time, but Mr. Speaker, if you are a good parent and your house roof is leaking, you do not leave the children to get wet and catch a cold, no, you go to the bank and you take a loan, you put yourself in a little debt because you know that the rainy season will pass and after it has passed you will work hard to repay the loan. Mr. Speaker, in this rainy season, this Budget ensures that our nation and our people are neither getting wet nor catching a cold.Mr. Speaker, when we look at the Ministry of National Mobilization and Social Development we see that on the recurrent size that this government will spend $55,000.00 on training and I am speaking specifically on training in the Home Help programme, that represents a $10,000.00 increase over last year’s figure and a $32,000.00 increase over the 2008 figure. Mr. Speaker, this programme has enjoyed tremendous success. And even in circumstances where we must spend carefully, this is an area where the elderly of our nation need our help, and we must help them. I ask are we supposed to abandon our nation builders and our ancestors simply to say that we have a surplus on the current account. Certainly not, our government knows about gratitude and is guided always by the good book which mandates that we honour our fathers and mothers.Mr. Speaker, this Budget must reflect the reality in which we live and we know that there are instances of domestic violence in our society, and we are therefore heeding to the call for a crisis centre which will provide short term accommodation to victims of domestic violence and their children. And when we talk about history, and what history will reflect, and who history will remember, and who history will not forgive, Mr. Speaker, I can tell you certainly, that history will remember this government and the good care that it has given to the people of our nation with creations of institutions such as this crisis centre, despite an awful international climate, that is what history will remember.55Mr. Speaker, our government dares to defy the odds. This Budget is the ULP administration immovable, social stand in the face of the global crisis. To that end there has been allocated just about the sum of $288,000.00 on the recurrent expenditure for the creation and starting off of this crisis centre. Only a monster could suggest that we ignore the cries of the people.Mr. Speaker, this Budget is one that has a particular focus on the needs of those who would be most affected by the economic crisis. There would be therefore an allocation of $2 million, under the social investment fund project to provide assistance to poor communities and vulnerable groups in the development of social services and infrastructure. Another $600,000.00 funded in part with our friend, the Government of Venezuela would be spent under the community poverty alleviation programme and a further $1.2 million again holding the hand of our friend the Government of Venezuela under the community poverty alleviation programme II. Mr. Speaker, that is good governance. We will not allow the economic crash to allow us to take fiscal positions that will cripple our people. Not under this government.Mr. Speaker, that is only under the Ministry of National Mobilisation, under the Ministry of Rural Transformation on the capital side over $5.234 million will be spent to implement small projects in rural areas a further, $1.17 million to finance Community Poverty Alleviation Projects; and $3.4 million to construct a seawall and the Georgetown rural development facility. Mr. Speaker, this government is taking care of those most in need. Holistically when we look at the Ministry of Rural Transformation it will have at its disposal on the capital side just about $14 million and this just about doubles the 2009 figure. How could we do less to protect those most in need?Mr. Speaker, one does not have to carry out a full survey or even inspect in detail the records of the hospitals or the clinics to know that over the years there has been an increase in asthma and respiratory problems. Mr. Speaker, I leave it for the doctors and the medical officials to determine the cause. But where government policy is concerned this ULP administration certainly is not asleep.On the recurrent side, we see that monies are allocated in the sum of just about $66,000.00 for an Oxygen Production Plant, $2.1 million for the purchase of the Oxygen Production Plant and bulk storage. Mr. Speaker, there can be no doubt that this is an appropriate and proper plant and it is much needed in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Most of our citizens who access health care do so through the public health care system. So contrary to the position of others and in particular those of the opposition, it is necessary and desirable to have such an oxygen plant within the ambit of government functions.Mr. Speaker, the existence of such a plant under the control of government does not in any way prevent or preclude a similar private sector venture. But to imply that if this government sets up such a plant it would be in direct competition to a plant which is to be set up, not even one which is already set up, is to put a price on life. And that is a shame. When we talk about being a shame, why don’t we say it is a shame that we want to put a price on human life. That is what is there to be ashamed of.Mr. Speaker, this government values every single life, the haves, who can afford private health care services and the have nots who depend on this government to take care of them if and when they fall ill. That is the job of a good government. And if I might add this ULP administration is doing its job and doing it well.56Mr. Speaker, we see on the recurrent side, under the Ministry of Health and the Environment that there will be an increase in the sum spent on supplies and materials for medical source. And I want to make this point very clearly, this is an increase from $5.9 million last year, to $6.9 million this year; $1 million. Mr. Speaker, people must not die simply because they cannot afford to pay for their medication privately, and this government is stepping in to help, that is good governance. We also see that there are provisions for the modern medical complex. I am advised that the provisions that we see in the sum of $368,000.00 on the recurrent side is for three months of operations.Mr. Speaker, this is the reality, this complex will come on stream this year 2010. In terms of capital expenditure, $9.3 million has been allocated for the continued construction of this modern medical complex.Mr. Speaker, so many of our citizens will be overjoyed when this comes on stream. I personally have a friend who travels to Trinidad every single week for treatment. This facility will bring him and so many others the much-needed comfort that they have right at home that is needed for their survival. What a wonderful government, even in times of a difficult economic set of circumstances.Mr. Speaker, additionally, provisions are made for ten more staff nurses and technologists, what do we do, leave our health system to haemorrhage, certainly not. If I were on the opposition I would probably be trying myself also to see ways that I can criticize this Budget, because politically for a developing country to be creating jobs, and taking good care of its citizens in circumstances where internationally jobs are being lost by the tens of thousands, I would have been frighten too. But the opposition must find proper reasons and good grounds on which to criticize, and not just make up something and hope that somehow it will turn into fact, they must stop it.Mr. Speaker, the sophistication of the philosophy of the education revolution... DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: Mr. Speaker,... HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Yes, Sir, why are you standing? DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: Just a point of clarification. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Point of clarification. Yes, Honourable Member.DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: I hope the Honourable Member is not suggesting that anybody who has spoken on this side is making up something in the presentation this morning, when the Leader of the Opposition spoke. That is why I am asking for clarification. All right, did I say she said it? Exactly. The Honourable Member should clarify.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member?HONOURABLE ROCHELLE FORDE: Mr. Speaker, I am happy for the hope of the Honourable Member. But the point of the matter is that even from as early as this morning’s presentation, we saw several instances where the Honourable Leader of the Opposition had to be stopped and he had to be guided and corrected, sometimes even to my own dismay, when the Prime Minister helped him, Mr. Speaker. So there are instances where they speak on issues and on matters of which they do not have the facts straight and that is our job to put the facts straight. I see that that has satisfied the Honourable Member.57Mr. Speaker, with the sophistication of the philosophy of the Education Revolution comes the need to constantly on the functioning of the programmes. To this end this government will employ an additional 65 graduate teachers at the primary level, at the cost of some $2.6 million. In the nine early childhood centres, that will be opened during this year, each of them will be headed by a graduate teacher. Mr. Speaker, this government is forever educating itself and studies have shown both those of the past and those of more recent vintage that there is a critical learning avenue in the formative years. This government is therefore ensuring that our young people and our children get the best of the best from a very early age.Mr. Speaker, our government has pledged $1.3 million dollars for the staffing and operational expenses of the 18 early childhood centres. Who can dispute that that is not money well spent? Tell me, Mr. Speaker. Are we to neglect our most precious resource by compromising their education because of the uncertainty of the global financial state; absolutely not. On the contrary, in uncertain times we must make certain over things which we have control and that is our children’s education. That is why this government will continue to spend to secure our young people.Mr. Speaker, we see again on the recurrent side that just about $100,000.00 taking the figure from $654,000.00 to $749,000.00 will be spent on special education for staffing and operations for the Schools for Children with Special Needs. Are we to neglect those children; certainly not.Mr. Speaker, the school-feeding programme must continue now more than ever. To that end on the recurrent side, the government has allocated $2.476 million for this programme a figure of $255,000.00 over last year sum. Only an irresponsible set of persons would advocate that we cut back on spending on programmes such as these. Mr. Speaker, in good economic times these children depend on this programme for something to eat. Can you imagine a government cutting a programme when times are challenging? This government says no, we will not cut back on matters that pertain to the growth and development of our children. We will not let our children go hungry, but rather we will spend even more to ensure that they do not starve and make the sacrifices elsewhere accordingly. Mr. Speaker, in these times I would much rather have a deficit on the current account and have my people surviving than to have a surplus and have my people dropping like flies, Mr. Speaker. I rather have debt, than death.Mr. Speaker, on the capital side, we see the student JP Eustace Memorial Secondary School will see the coming on stream of the laboratory and they will receive additional furniture when the sum of $2.8 million is spent for that project and subsumed also under that project, there will be the provisions for training of educational personnel. Further, over $9 million will be spent on constructing the West St. George Secondary School and Mr. Speaker, we all know that when this government builds a school it is a sight to behold. We look forward to seeing the West St. George Secondary School.Mr. Speaker, $1.5 million will be spent to complete expansion works at the West St. George and the Troumaca Secondary School; $1.5 million would be used to provide text books for schools through the book loan scheme. And $350,000.00 to purchase books for the Community College; $6.5 million has been allocated to the improvement of education through ICT, a project that we heard from the Honourable Minister of Technology which is really a $50 million project, and $1 million for the upgrading of programmes and the purchasing of equipment and furniture for technical and vocational institutions. Mr. Speaker, this government continues to show its dedication to its young people through education. We cannot let the global financial crisis retard this58progress. Mr. Speaker, this Education Revolution is admired by many abroad, but this programme was not done simply for praise and allocation, it was done for the love of our people and the survival of our nation. This government has delivered and will continue to deliver for its people.Mr. Speaker, the student support services programme, what a wonderful initiative for persons who are one way or the other affected with behavioural and or learning challenges. Our government will spend just about $1 million on this programme and if this programme helps one young person with anger control, sparing him or her from a life of criminal activity or teaches one young person better learning skills, then the programme would have succeeded and I am sure that many, many, many more will benefit from it. Who can dare dispute that this is not money well spent? More than that I challenge anyone in this Honourable House to say that this programme is ill timed and Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to give way to let the nation hear those submissions ahh silence from the other side. So now we know that this Budget is not really a worthless document as the Honourable Leader of the Opposition, would want to have this nation believe as he stated in his presentation this morning. We also know that it is not a bad document because certainly they clearly support the extra spending in education.Mr. Speaker, they must stop misleading the people of this nation. If you agree with spending in education or otherwise, you must say so. If the Budget or part of the Budget is good, you must say so. And further more than that, Mr. Speaker, it is a very good Budget, in challenging times and so they must say so. But I leave the Honourable Leader of the Opposition and the members of the opposition to the electorate, come 2010, 2011. Mr. Speaker, that date is troubling you. Mr. Speaker, I look at the faces of the members of the opposition and what I see going through their heads are oh great conscience of mine, how I wrestle and fight against thee.Mr. Speaker, at the Community College... [Interjection] I love you too, that is why we do so well, because we love all of our people. Mr. Speaker, at the Community College we see that just about an additional $1 million raising the figure to $12.5 million which will be spent there. Mr. Speaker, must we put a cost on the training of our students in arts, humanities, sciences, technical education, teacher education and nursing simply because there is a global economic crisis? No.As a matter of fact, it is in challenging times that we must even do more, to buttress, these young people and to secure our only natural resource, our people, and Mr. Speaker, this government is not afraid to invest in its people. This government will not cause demise on its people by saying we cannot fund the Budget or in the words of the Honourable Leader of the Opposition, ‘it cannot stand on its own’. No, we will not do that; especially in times when this funding is so desperately needed. Far from it.Mr. Speaker, this Budget declares the favour of the Lord. And we will not fly in the face of the Almighty by taking a cowardice approach to challenging times; certainly not. This government rather is guided by the words that are found in Isaiah 60:1 when it says, “Arise, shine, for your light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.”Mr. Speaker, this government has proven repeatedly that all will be well under its stewardship and leadership. We have nothing absolutely, nothing to worry about. [Interjection] That is the Catholic thing. And Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Leader of the Opposition said this morning some time and somewhere in his very jumbled and confusing presentation that the problem is too big for our Honourable Prime Minister. Well I do not even know what problem he is talking about. But let me talk about a problem that I know about. When we want to talk59about problems and as he put it vices, let us talk about Ottley Hall. Let us talk about that problem. And Mr. Speaker, this government under the leadership of the Honourable Prime Minister fixed that problem and did it for intent and purposes with relative easy. When I say to the nation’s people all will be well, we have nothing to worry about believe me, all will be well.Mr. Speaker, ours is a government with its eyes wide open. And there is no doubt that there is an increase in criminal activities worldwide; and our St. Vincent and the Grenadines has not been spared in that regard, but we must aggressively arrest this problem as a matter of urgency and priority to that end. We see an increase in the number of police officers. We also see an increase in the number of coast guard officials. Common sense therefore informs that if there is an increase in the number of persons you have employed there must therefore be an increase in the expenditure.Mr. Speaker, are we to ask the criminals to hold on little bit with their criminal activities until after the global economic recession? Do we allow matters to get out of control solely for the purpose of saying that we have a surplus on the current account? That is absurd to say the least. Mr. Speaker, it is now more than ever when things are trying that persons may want to lean towards a life of criminal activity, it is now more than ever that we must strengthen our security services. Mr. Speaker, I will give way to anyone in this Honourable House who is opposed to buttressing our security services. Silence again. Oh, great conscience of mine how I wrestle and fight against thee.Mr. Speaker, in terms of capital projects $2 million will be spent on the Georgetown Police Station; $4 million to construct and rehabilitate various police stations and firing range. Five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000.00) for vehicles for the prisons, Immigration, airport and the coast guard department. And $19 million for the purchase of three coast guard vessel. Mr. Speaker, we can ill afford not to make these investments. We cannot let a few criminals take advantage of an economic crisis and turn our paradise into a haven of destruction. The security of our nation cannot, must not and will not be compromised under this administration. We will do our best to fight the criminals at every turn.Mr. Speaker, in terms of tourism, our recreational facilities have never looked better. It is now a joy to visit these sites, not only for an appreciation of their natural beauty but because of the comfortable way that we now access these facilities. Indeed we must say good job to the Minister of Tourism. Mr. Speaker, these are manmade conveniences with a non-intrusive rustic finish; thanks to the initiatives of this ULP administration.Mr. Speaker, to that end this government is continuing with the development of the tourism product and will spend $3.77 million on access roads to various tourism sites. Fifty-six thousand dollars, ($56,000.00) will be spent on a national signage project and just $400,000.00 in the initial phase for designs and commencement of construction of the Rabacca National Park. A place, Mr. Speaker, that has become a national relaxation point for Vincentians especially on a weekend.Mr. Speaker, people still visit the Rabacca Bridge just to look at it. What a magnificent product. What marvels this government has performed. And Mr. Speaker, two more mega projects will come on board in 2010. That of the boardwalk at Villa and the hospitality institute. Mr. Speaker, $4.345 million will be spent on those projects in 2010. The boardwalk will lift the entire face and character of the Villa sea front, and add that flare of elegance to compliment the entertainment strip and this project as we see it is listed in the Estimates, it is the Tourism and Private Sector Development Project, we are involving the stakeholders in our usual manner; that is60government. How can anyone say that this is the worst Budget ever? How could anyone say that this is a worthless document?Mr. Speaker, I look at them and I can hear with even greater clarity as I continue, oh great conscience of mine how wrestle and fight against thee. And Mr. Speaker, I almost feel sorry for the Honourable Senator Leacock my friend. But let me continue. And Mr. Speaker, where tourism is concerned, one cannot only look at allocations under the Ministry of Tourism, for example, under the Ministry of Finance, there is allocated $1.6 million to go to Invest SVG, formerly the National Investment Promotion Incorporated; and that agency is responsible for the marketing of financial services in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Additionally, we see on capital side allocation of $1.8 million under the Ministry of Agriculture, to support primary agriculture production, that too Mr. Speaker, will buttress the tourism industry as we must do all we can to feed ourselves and our visitors and reduce food import.And when we see $22 million under the Ministry of Transport, which is to be spent on roads and bridges and Mr. Speaker, in this figure I am not including feeder roads, but roads that are used every day by Vincentians and which will also be used by the tourists we see that this is a government dedicated to improving its tourism product. And it is unfortunate that this type of work was not done 25 years ago. But we know that 25 years ago the then administration neither had the vision nor the capability to get it done. What is important is that it is being done now, under a government resolute in its commitment to lifting St. Vincent and the Grenadines.Mr. Speaker, I remember that after this government took office in 2001, in 2003 a friend of mind came home from the United States and she had not been home for two years prior. And all that she could say all the time, so much has been done in such a short space of time. Mr. Speaker, when you look around St. Vincent and the Grenadines, if you had not been home in ten years you will be lost. What progress; what development? What a magnificent government. And Mr. Speaker, Vincentians abroad who come home every year have become accustomed and look forward to seeing what new has happened. This has only been true under this ULP administration. And it is the only government that can follow through on that expectation.Mr. Speaker, this is a good Budget. A Budget of promise and life for our people, there is no doubt about it.Mr. Speaker, as the Honourable Prime Minister indicated a few weeks ago, I will demit my position as Senator and Deputy Speaker, in a couple of months and as I do so, I am fully and completely satisfied that this ULP administration is the government of choice for St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Mr. Speaker, undoubtedly it is the only government that can comfortably and successfully take our nation into the future.Mr. Speaker, I am grateful to the Honourable Prime Minister and the Members of the government for having afforded me the opportunity to serve my country in this capacity. Honourable Prime Minister, through you, Mr. Speaker, I thank you. I am grateful to all Members of Parliament for the exposure that I have gained. I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your guidance on parliamentary procedure and to the Clerk and her staff for all their usual and willing help. I thank the members of the Opposition for the lessons that I have learnt. Usually they have been negative lessons like how not to debate and how not to follow the rules, and how not to act under pressure, but a lesson in the negative is still a lesson nonetheless. That is just on the lighter side. I thank you opposition members for your cooperation.61Most importantly, I thank the magnificent people of this great nation, for all the calls and comments of encouragement and congratulations that I receive every time I spoke in this Honourable House. Mr. Speaker, I will not say goodbye, because under this great government, young people are encouraged to serve. I will not say in the words of the Terminator ‘I’ll be back’, but I will say that I wish this Parliament and the people of this nation every success and until we meet again, I will continue to work for this our blessed land.Mr. Speaker, this is a wonderful Budget. A Budget in the usual style of the Unity Labour Party administration, one appropriate to the needs of the people, fashioned in the circumstances of the times. I commend it to this Honourable House. I wish it a speedy and easy passage and I say, I am obliged.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Further debate? I recognize Honourable Minister Walters, and Honourable Clayton Burgin I will take you after, in that vein. You have 1 1⁄4 hours. All right you may start.HONOURABLE SELMON WALTERS: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I rise in support of the Budget presented yesterday by the Honourable Prime Minister. A Budget which is designed to give hope in times of a financial crisis that we are experiencing globally. But before that, Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I must give thanks and praise to Almighty God for his goodness to us as a nation, bringing us where we are today. And if anyone thinks that we not supposed to give thanks and praise God, take a look at what has happened in Haiti and imagine that it had been us in this country. We are told that Port-au-Prince is much bigger than St. Vincent and if the count is correct, that they have over 150,000,000 people dead, it means that the entire population of St. Vincent would have been wiped out just in time. For that we need to thank God and praise him. We came through the year 2009, we came through a hurricane season, we did not see any of the dangerous storms coming our way, and God has been good to us. We live also in the earthquake zone; like Montserrat we have a volcano with us, it has not erupted and for all these things, we thank and praise God.But now, Mr. Speaker, we are debating a Budget of just over $9 million proposed for the fiscal year 2010. Sorry did I just say $9 million, $900 million; $610 million for the recurrent and just over $303 for the capital side, giving us $903 million proposed for the fiscal year.Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister and the team in the Ministry of Finance must be commended for putting this Budget together in a year of great challenges, when it seems as though the productive sector, not only locally, but regionally and internationally has seen some decline.In the light of that Mr. Speaker, one can choose various approaches to take the country forward. One can choose the pessimistic approach and be pessimistic and say like well things are bad, we cannot do anything, we just have to lie down roll over and die. We can choose another approach that I call a wait and see approach. We lie down there and wait for things to change. We do nothing, we just wait, or we can choose and approach that speaks of helplessness, where we are so helpless that somebody has to come and help us, or can give us, we just give up. Times are hard, we cannot find the finance, there is no preferential treatment for bananas any more, everything is declining so we give up. Or Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members or we can choose to be positive and optimistic and do something. And that is what this government has done and is doing. We have chosen to be optimistic and do something.Mr. Speaker, you are a man of the Bible, I am reminded of a story in the Book of Kings where there was famine in Samaria, the enemies had come to deceive Samaria and for a long time there were no food. In fact, people62were dying, in the Book of Kings, in the Bible, so Mr. Speaker, there were two leprous men who lived outside the city, and in those days, if you suffered from leprosy you could not go into the city. You live on your own somewhere else. But these two lepers realize that something had to be done. They said among themselves. If we sit here, we will die of either hunger or leprosy. If we go into the city, we may die, however, if we go to the Syrians, we can die, or we may get food. So they said why sit we here and die, we will do something, we are going into the Syrian’s camp. We will not do well, they said, so they went into the Syrians camp and low and behold, there was no one there, and there was food in abundance. The point I am making, Mr. Speaker, these two people realize that pessimism will not help them. Wait and see would not help them, helplessness would not help them; giving up would not help them, they took the optimistic positive approach and they did something and the found food.This morning, when I listened to my friend the Leader of the Opposition, I struggled in my own mind as to where to put the approach along the lines I have mentioned. Whether he is pessimistic, or he is going to wait and see, or he is going to be helpless or he is going to give up, but one thing for sure he did not take the optimistic positive approach. His whole presentation speaks of being helpless, that there is a deficit on the current account of just over $100 million and he is asking where we are going to get the money. Oh you have pack this Budget, it is a pack of cards, he said, where are you going to get the money from.Well, Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister and those of us on this side have chosen to be positive, to think positive and to go for it. Expect something, we were told by the older teachers, if you aim for nothing, you will hit the mark, we chose instead to go for something, to aim for something, expect a windfall and go for it.Now, he does not know where he is going to find the money, now if he were on this side, he will make no plans for a windfall. And let us suppose a windfall comes along sometime along in June, he will say well I did not plan for it, what I am going to do with all that money. But on this side, Mr. Speaker, if it happens we are ready for it. We are planning for it. That is being positive. And I listen to him this morning, for four hours, Mr. Speaker, and what he said, were the same thing he said in 2007, the same thing he said in 2008 and he came back this morning saying the same things. What were the same things that we mismanage the economy? That the Budget is a fraud perpetuated on the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and all you are hearing about is amortization, and sinking fund, and balancing the thing and you are reckless, and you pack up all these things; learned helplessness. And as I listened to him, Mr. Speaker, I said to myself, it is a good thing that he is not the Prime Minister in these times of global economic meltdown. It is a good thing. Because you cannot afford to be so timid, you cannot afford to be so pessimistic when you are dealing with the lives of people. You cannot afford that.Many people in this country and elsewhere, Mr. Speaker, they earn a living, they work hard and many put their faith in a government that can do it for them. And this morning we had a very good example, and it also came out last week, the way the Prime Minister handled the situation with CLICO and British American, a lot of people were very worried that they would lose their money and some financial pundits were saying, people may lose their interest on their investment, they may lose a part of their principal invested because if it collapses people stand to lose significant amounts of their life savings. What did the Prime Minister do? He said a responsible government would never sit by and see that happen. He did not adopt a pessimistic approach and say well we cannot do anything, it is the times we are living in, there is financial meltdown globally, we cannot do anything. No he did not do that. He did not say why sit we here and die. He said there is something we can63do to help these people and we are going to do it. And I heard in Barbados, when CLICO was rescued by the Barbadian government one gentleman said to me on the telephone, if the insurance business in the Caribbean is to be rescued, it has to be rescued by a man named Ralph Gonsalves. That is the confidence that people have in him in the Caribbean. And I am not saying that because he is the Prime Minister of this country, I am saying it because that is a fact in this Caribbean and it is a good thing that at this time he is the man for the season like we are in at this time.Mr. Speaker, so we have put together this Budget. As I said it is a Budget that gives hope, because in times of global economic meltdown people are looking for hope. People want to know that they would maintain their jobs, that they can pay their mortgages, that they can feed their families. They can live reasonable lifestyles, that they would not lose their investment in the financial sector. People want hope and that is what this Budget is giving to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines; H-O-P-E. There is hope.Mr. Speaker, when we read in the Prime Minister’s presentation we are seeing... [interjection] you behave yourself you did not know Muddy Gutter. Mr. Speaker, when we read in the Prime Minister’s address we are seeing the reality of the day as it is, and Mr. Speaker I want to point you to page 1 of the Prime Minister’s address he said in the second paragraph:This year’s Budget is one of the most challenging I have had to fashion, much more so than the one in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, given the scale of the economic tsunami which has awashed the world’s economy consequent upon the financial meltdown which occurred in September 2008 in the major economies of the United States of America, Europe, and Asia. Swiftly, the worse economic crash since the world economic depression of eighty years ago, engulfed the entire international economy. Hardest hit have been the developing economies including every single economy in the Caribbean.That is the reality, Mr. Speaker, that in these times we are putting together a Budget that gives hope to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. And it is good note, Mr. Speaker, that despite the gloomy international outlook in St. Vincent and the Grenadines we have not laid off anybody, no one lost their job, and that is because of good management. So when the Leader of the Opposition says financial mismanagement he does not know what he is saying. Because if indeed there was mismanagement the first thing that would have happened we would have gone for an IMF package and there would have been an austerity package which would have resulted itself in layoff in the civil service, and that has not happened. So it means that we have done something good, something positive to help the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to maintain their lifestyle they are accustomed to over these years.Mr. Speaker, amidst all that we have seen some areas of growth in the country despite the meltdown. And let me refer you, Mr. Speaker, to page 2 of the address from the 2nd paragraph on page 2, where it says: The global economic recession of the last 16 or so months has caused enormous dislocation in the Caribbean including St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The evidence is before us: sharply declining growth rates resulting in negative growth rates across the region; a rise in unemployment; a drop in government’s revenues; an increase in Debt-to-GDP ratios; a fall in investment, including foreign direct investment; a decline in remittances from abroad; a fall in banana earnings occasioned largely the continued erosion of trade64preferences; a decrease in tourism receipts and exports of goods and services; externally- sourced attacks on the international financial services sector; an increase in government spending particularly on enhanced safety net provisions subsidies and assorted fiscal stimuli; a deferral of expenditure on certain capital projects; and a daily strain on cash- flow positions of governments in the region.Yet, for all that Mr. Speaker, the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has held its own and has done so remarkably well. I remember, Mr. Speaker, two years ago, we had in this Parliament a slogan, when we said you have to clap for that. I remember my friend on the other side saying we not clapping for that. But for this one Mr. Speaker, we deserve a clap for that.Mr. Speaker, we have seen also, I read on the same page in the last paragraph.In addition to all this, there have been economic challenges specific to our region which have caused immense difficulties to the OECS Sub-region, including St. Vincent and the Grenadines. In these respects we highlight the collapse of the CL Financial Empire which includes, the British American Insurance Company and the CLICO group; the collapse of the Stanford Financial Conglomerate based in Antigua, the major economy in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU); and the weak and fragmented condition of the indigenous banking sector which sector has been faced with significant liquidity challenges.All that says to us the troublesome time in which we face, yet for all that we have held our own, we have not gone to the IMF and we have not brought here a Budget which has raised taxes it means, Mr. Speaker, that something, is done well on this side. We have not brought here a Budget that raises taxes. In fact there is only one area in the Budget where there is any slight revenue measure and that is not even targeting our people. It is a fee where people who come to work in St. Vincent would have to pay an increase in the work permit and resident fees, basically administrative and that is only net $300,000.00, Mr. Speaker, so we have brought a tax free Budget despite the economic challenges in which we live. It means Mr. Speaker; we are doing something well but, Mr. Speaker, maybe it bears bringing out the comparisons of the performances of the OECS sub- region and see how it relates to the financial performance of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. I refer you to page 91 of the address where Mr. Speaker, we look at the other OECS countries how they perform in this financial meltdown, and we how we perform alongside of them by comparison page 91.The average annual real economic growth (based on Gross Value-Added in Basic Prices) of the comparable countries for the years 2001 to 2009, inclusive, is as follows: St. Vincent and the Grenadines, 3.4 percent; Antigua and Barbuda, 3.63 percent; Dominica, 0.68 percent; Grenada, 1.19 percent; St. Kitts-Nevis, 1.72 percent; and St. Lucia,1.06 percent. St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Antigua and Barbuda are the only two countries which recorded average annual economic growth rates in excess of the ECCU average of 2.29 percent for the period 2001 to 2009. The GDP growth figures at market Prices in Constant (1990) prices show very little variation from these numbers; the comparative growth trends, in any event, are the same for St. Vincent and the Grenadines.Mr. Speaker, we have to clap for that. That is what is happening, despite all that is happening for the last nine years, St. Vincent and the Grenadines has held its own alongside Antigua and have done well.65Mr. Speaker, I am proud of this government and I think the people of this country have done the right thing when they invested their hopes in the Unity Labour Party to take this country forward. We would have adopted the optimistic positive approach, we would aim for the windfall, we would plan for the future, we will not sit back and say we cannot do anything, there is something we can do, and we will do something. Why sit we here and die. No way. We are going to get up and do something for the people of this country and with the help of Almighty God, I am positive that will succeed.Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I turn my attention to the Ministry of Rural Transformation, Information, Postal Services, Ecclesiastical Affairs of which I am the Minister. I want to commend strongly, Mr. Speaker, the management administratively of the Ministry and all the heads of department for a work well done in the year 2009. I want to thank the PS, Mr. Nathaniel Williams, for guiding us along the right path. The heads of department, the head of the API, Mr. Jimmy Prince who is right over on the other side, we have the head of Rural Transformation Ms. Correl Thompson she is also here with us. The head of the BNTF, Mr. Douglas, he is not here, the manager of the National Broadcasting Corporation, she is not here, and of course we have here with us the head of the Postal Corporation, Ms. Celene Jack, the Director of Postal Services, when we put all those persons together, Mr. Speaker, we have a good team, a formidable team and we have done well in the ministry. In fact, we have done so well in the Ministry that the Prime Minister has increased our capital Budget by almost 100 percent. It says Mr. Speaker, that we are doing something well.Mr. Speaker, for the year 2010 we have in the Ministry a recurrent expenditure of $3,722,513.00, we have a capital Budget of $13,952,010.00; a total of $17,674,523.00 that is for 2010. But when we compare that with what we were given in 2009, it is this, in 2009, we have a $3.7 million recurrent, $7.6 million capital and a total of $11.3 million. But now we are seeing that the capital has been increased by almost 100 percent, it speaks of the outlook of the Ministry, Mr. Speaker, and what we aim to do in this year 2010 for the rural people of this country because the Ministry targets rural people. Many of the areas where we have seen a decline in bananas where people look for something to do, look for some viability in terms of money earning for the household to maintain their living standards, here is where the Ministry comes in where we create some form of economic activity that can bring monies to the household, empower the women and the children and the men to do something to help themselves in these days when there have been a decline in the agriculture in these rural parts, because naturally for a number of years, Mr. Speaker, rural life revolves around agricultural activity, and when there have been a decline naturally there would be some concern for rural people and here is where the Ministry of Rural Development comes in. To this end, Mr. Speaker, we aim to positively impact rural lives where bananas have declined and that is the main objective of the ministry.Mr. Speaker, in 2005, 2006, we had consultations right through the country, to see how we can better improve the lives of the people. What is it that we would want to see the government do? What kind of activities in an economic sense would they want to see the government do through the ministry and it is amazing, Mr. Speaker, what we came up with. In fact the document was so well put together that in the Prime Minister’s address you heard him saying that the document was used to submit to the EU for funding on which we receive a significant sums of money to be ploughed into Rural Transformation and other areas of the government. And once again I want to commend the unit led by Correl in the ministry for doing that kind of work for us.Mr. Speaker, in those consultations, one of the things that came out forcefully, was that people want to see the construction of markets in the rural areas and some suburban areas too around which there can be the exchange66of goods and services. People can sell they can buy, they can operate small shops, small boutiques in the structure, targeting the women who do some backyard gardening and may have some vegetables that may have too much to use by the household and you want to earn some money, where do you go. Sometime, Mr. Speaker, we have people from the urban areas coming up in the rural districts and asking where we can get some dry coconuts. Where can we get a hand of Gros Michel bananas well that is why these markets are put in, so you can go directly to a particular point and buy these things.Mr. Speaker, so we are constructing rural markets, and this year there are monies put in for a three-year period, to construct rural markets throughout some of the rural districts. As a matter of fact, in the year 2010 we have an allocation there of $410,000.00 up to 2011 it goes up to $758,000.00 and in 2012 the proposal is that we spend another $729,000.00 in constructing rural markets, and you heard the Minister of Telecommunications, representative for North Leeward, saying that we have done something for him in Chateaubelair by putting together a market for him. A structure was there, we have just worked on it to make it accessible, feasible, ready for operation, so the people who plant can go to that particular point and exchange their goods and services. And those who came out from the hills and are part of the programme run by Senator Caesar they plant their produce they can go to a particular point and exchange goods and services. And the women who would do their backyard gardening plant some crops, nowhere to go to exchange these services. That is why we have the market proposed.Mr. Speaker, other areas are targeted for similar development, Barrouallie is targeted for that, so is Marriaqua and one is right now under construction at North Union, these are areas where we have seen decline in bananas and people are looking for something to do. We have had some people gone into poultry, some have gone into small ruminants, what do we do with them? Where do we go to sell these products? There is a tendency to come to Kingstown for everything. And we are so centralized Mr. Speaker, that somebody get some peanuts maybe 10, 15, 20 pounds of peanuts and they want to sell what do they do, they get on the minibus and they come to town. Somebody who lives in Rose Hall for that matter may have 50, 60, pounds of carrots, what do you do with them, if you head into Kingstown the transportation cost, the lunch cost, may take up what you would have made through the sale, the best thing to do is to find a place locally where you can sell these things and that is what we are doing in Rural Transformation. And Mr. Speaker, when you go to these areas you are seeing already people are selling already on the ground, sometimes under a tree, people are selling there already so the market naturally is there, all that we have to do is to facilitate that service putting up the structure. And I am very proud that monies are made available for us to do that so that we can enhance rural lives through these facilities.Mr. Speaker, also throughout the three-year period proposed we have $1.75 million in the Budget for poverty alleviation doing something to totally and finally eradicate poverty, so we would not say that people in St. Vincent live in poverty. As a matter of fact, the Education Revolution is doing so well, that anyone who lives in poverty lives in poverty because that one makes a choice to live in poverty. The surest way we believe Mr. Speaker, out of poverty is through education. That is why you noticed that monies are set aside in a significant way in the Budget to further the Education Revolution to make sure that all the young people go into some institution that they can lift themselves out of poverty and that is what we have done.Mr. Speaker, the days are gone when only 39% of those passing Common Entrance would go to secondary. Mr. Speaker, those days are gone. Every child of primary school age would go into that institution to better himself67or herself and prepare to be a decent citizen for the future in this country. They are given a great opportunity to go forward and if they fail to go forward it is not because they want to blame the government, is because they did not want to go forward. So it is no longer 39%, it is 100% of all the children of primary school going into the secondary school.And Mr. Speaker, we have built a number of schools to accommodate that increase in the numbers going in. You only have to look down North Central Leeward and see at Peter’s Hope a large increase over what we had by the Ontario Secondary School. That is catering for the increase. We talk about the one in West St. George; you are saying we are catering for the increase. But, Mr. Speaker, we have at the A’ Level College a small, or limited accommodation. It meant that those who built that structure when they did it; they had no vision because had they had that vision they would not have built that little accommodation. And there is land there for that. So we have had to go in there and extend the accommodation to take in the influx from the secondary schools who would want to go into A’ Level College and when those things were done, Mr. Speaker, you would have thought that there would have been a hurrah and an applaud that we were doing that. No, what you heard board school, board school they building, plywood school they said, what does that have to do with the quality of the output. The quality of the training is what counts because in the 1950’s and 1960’s there were not much concrete structures in St. Vincent. People went into these board schools and they did well. So Mr. Speaker, what we had to do is to continue that revolution and to bring all Vincentians up to a high level so that poverty can be finally be a thing of the past.We see also, Mr. Speaker, there is a record in terms of the number of young people going into tertiary education in the Caribbean. For non-campus territory St. Vincent and the Grenadines has top registration in the University of the West Indies in Cave Hill, St. Augustine and Mona because there is a drive to get the young people into university. And you heard some months ago the Prime Minister was saying that by the year 2020 we hope to have at least one university graduate in every household in this country. That is 10 years from now, and that individual would help to turn around things within that household. Create a consciousness and create a yearning for other people to want to access such development thrust. And it is only so that this country can go forward. Mr. Speaker, that is what I mean when I say we are taking the positive optimistic approach. There is something we can do and we are going to do it for the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.And Mr. Speaker, I feel proud when I see the number of young people who come every day looking for bursaries, they are enrolling in the universities, they are enrolling in the colleges, they are doing distance courses on line, they are getting laptops, they are preparing for a takeoff, they are doing it. Should we then, Mr. Speaker, accommodate people who are pessimistic, do not know what to do, are afraid to take chances. We hear them asking what would America say, so they cannot do that. Mr. Speaker, no, we have to go forward every and backward never. We have to go forward with the development that this government has started. We cannot afford to turn back now.Mr. Speaker, there is a new operation now out at Villa, where once you had the Kingstown Medical College, I believe the Minister of Health would talk more of that, but I remember when the Kingstown Medical College closed, everybody blamed the government. They rejoiced. They said all those people who went and took mortgages to create wealth through accommodation of the foreign students what would they now do, and everybody blamed the government. But, Mr. Speaker, a new entity is now operating in its facility, the Trinity School of Medicine, and Mr. Speaker, I noticed something happened that went unnoticed and no one said68anything about that, they have the year beginning 2010, the premed class that has started in this January, Mr. Speaker, is comprised, the first premed class is comprised of all Vincentian young people. So what we are doing Mr. Speaker, you would notice that if a Vincentian young man or woman wants to pursue a course in medicine, you do not have to go up to Mona or West St. Georges, you can do it right here, that is what we are calling development and the first premed class of 2010 is comprised of all Vincentians. Mr. Speaker, that is where we have come to and we deserve a clap for that. I want to commend them and all the young people who have taken the chance to go forward.So, Mr. Speaker, we are eradicating poverty, we are building markets, and also there is monies, set aside in the Budget for infrastructure development in the communities and over the three years, Mr. Speaker, we have allocated there over $3 million to do infrastructure development in the rural districts and the some of the suburban districts, perhaps some roads, perhaps some playing fields for the young people, perhaps other facilities on the playing fields, perhaps some small business enterprise facilitated through the Ministry of Telecoms where people could access some monies to do something, to help themselves. So the monies are there for infrastructure, for poverty alleviation and all that.Mr. Speaker, there is also over a three year period $750,000.00 set aside for rural electrification, that is wherever people live there needs to be good access to electricity. If we are going to give support for the drive to full education if young people are going to be studying at nights, reading their books, doing their work, they have to access good services; they would have to be able to access good internet services, if they have to do something through cable channels and all that, they would need to have electricity, to read to write at nights, they need good light. The days are gone when you see people lighting candles and burning kerosene lamps, and spoil their eyes, Mr. Speaker.So the Ministry has some monies put in there to make sure that every household, urban, suburban have access to electricity. We want to ask all those villages, small settlements where there is no current to get in touch with us at the Ministry and see how we can help you to access the service, because the monies are there for that. So if you are hearing us and you live on the hill where there is no current or you live down the gulley where there is no current, come to us in the ministry, talk to the permanent secretary and let us see how we can help you. Let us see how we can get it there for you so we can have everybody accessing the service.Mr. Speaker, we have some monies put in there also for the Georgetown facility, you heard Senator Forde talking about that. Over the three year period there is $6.1 million allocated to do something at Georgetown. Mr. Speaker, we have to decentralize the services, the country is too centralized. If somebody lives in Fancy and wants a birth certificate or to lodge the forms for a passport, I do not see why you have to come to Kingstown. And if the people live in Canouan or Mustique or Union Island, you do not have to come to Kingstown for that, so you have to decentralize the services by creating the services, the facilities in those areas where people live. That is rural development, that is transformation. And Georgetown is one of those areas that is targeted for that. So that the northern, north eastern sector of St. Vincent rather than coming south, south west to Kingstown go to Georgetown, you will have the same services. But I know sometimes there is a tendency in our people from the rural to want to come to town.I remember, Mr. Speaker, I was arguing one day with a gentleman that we will pay him his money, he worked for his money on the road, so we said we will pay the money in Georgetown. And he was arguing why you pay69me in Georgetown, man I like to go to town. So I said to him, if you go to town it will cost you $10.00 for your passage, it will cost you another $15.00 for something to eat, so you are starting at a minus $25.00. He said ‘me nah kay, we want go ah town’. Well, if you do that you are losing your monies there, we are creating decentralized services so that we can work in these areas, so that he can save every cent he works for. So Georgetown is so targeted, the rural facilities there where the old hospital was located, the area was cleared a year or so ago and that facility is supposed to be a market, banking services, shop services, minimal services and other services from government offices where people can access them easily rather than coming to town for everything. We decentralized more or less, and develop the rural areas.Other areas, Mr. Speaker, are so targeted for that kind of service, Georgetown, Chateaubelair, Barrouallie, Marriaqua and Mr. Speaker, in the postal services we have done some of that. We have restructured the post, but I will come to that a little later. But we have now offering in many of the postal districts a money gram service so those people who will get remittances from abroad and you live in Chateaubelair, it is small monies you do not want to come into Kingstown, it is small monies, you do not want to come to Kingstown you can stay off in Layou and get the service the service. Or if you are from Orange Hill you do not have to come to Kingstown you can get that service in Georgetown. And we will also move into Marriaqua with that service and also Biabou and some other areas. So people can go to these areas to access the services rather than coming to Kingstown.Mr. Speaker that is Rural Transformation and what we aim to do is to bring a service to rural districts that people can use to enhance their livelihood. Now that bananas have declined and we are seeing, Mr. Speaker, a number of persons primarily women who once formed the bulk of labour in bananas; they are now looking for jobs. Many of them are going into security services, lot of them have gone into the selling industry, but a significant number of them remain, Mr. Speaker, and they are farming and we have to see how we can help them to maintain their living. And I want to commend the traffickers for offering a service in terms of a marketing outlet for many of these people.Mr. Speaker, I move now to the work we are doing at the BNTF and may I say to you, Mr. Speaker, that the work of the BNTF is also designed to assist in the rural transformation exercise in the decentralization of services, and also to assist in the Education Revolution. And I want to commend the management of the BNTF for the work they are doing over the last year or two. They are really doing well. Mr. Speaker, we have completed BNTF 5, we are now into BNFT6 and this year 2010, Mr. Speaker, we are hoping to spend $8.8 million across the country towards various development projects. In education we have proposed to spend $1.1 million; in access we have proposed to spend $1.09 million; in health we are proposed to spend $2.1 million; in skills training, $875,00.00; in community markets, $1.6 million; in day care services, $1.6 million; small maintenance projects, $60,000.00; and in retained payments for all the different projects we will have to retain some money so we can correct some deficiencies we have just about $189,000.00 for that.So Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a full package for this year 2010, as we go for a holistic approach to development across the nation. May I say, Mr. Speaker, that some of the work in the BNTF is designed to assist the Education Revolution and I will tell you some of the projects that we did in year 2009 as we go across the country with the work. So, Mr. Speaker, BNTF 2009 and before concluded some projects; these are just a few of them, some of them, the Lady of Guadeloupe Skills Training exercise, $39,000.00 was spent on that. We did also leadership skills for women $172,000.00 was spent on that; there was a Langley Park vegetable production70project, $84,000.00 was spent on that; the narcotic training in the North Union area, monies were spent on that. The Clifton Library project in Union Island, $94,000.00 was spent on that. The Gomea School project $135,000.00 was spent on that, the Lauders School Compound and the building itself, $60,000.00; Kingstown Day Nursery $226,000.00; we did work also Mr. Speaker, on the Georgetown Methodist Preschool, and we commence in Evesham this year, the Evesham Medical Clinic and that would cost the BNTF over $1.2 million.We commenced also in 2009 the North Union Community Market that is going to take over $1 million as well Mr. Speaker. We did some work on the mental health facilities. We did some work on the St. Clair Dacon Secondary School. We did some work on the St. Martin Secondary School and the St. Joseph’s Convent in Marriaqua, Mr. Speaker. All these were done to enhance the services and the accommodation and to support the Education Revolution.And Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Foreign Affairs is sometimes smiling when we talk about the Lower Dickey Drainage facility, he will always smile, he would know, Honourable Member that the Lower Dickey Drainage facility is well on the way. And over $198,000.00 was spent to do that, and we will complete it. So you will not hear this thing called Lower Dickey anymore. That would be a thing of the past, it will be done.Mr. Speaker, BNTF6 for the year 2010 is similarly outlined, and as I said before over $8 million is proposed to be expended in many of these areas in these projects and I would just, Mr. Speaker, outline to you some of these proposed projects. Monies are set aside for the Bequia Hospital; the Port Elizabeth Clinic; HIV/AIDS Health and Sports campaign; the Biabou Access Road; Cotton Ground Road; Richland Park; Layou Access Road; Chateaubelair Integrated Project A; completing the Community Market; Chateaubelair Integrated Project B skills training; to do some work on the Spring Village Primary School. The Questelles Day Care and Preschool Rehabilitation; the 24-hour child care facility in Kingstown; to do some work on agricultural training for marginalized youth in Barrouallie; Stubbs art and craft; Sandy Bay skills training; Union Island skills training; skill training for construction workers, Fancy small skill income generating project; the St. Benedict Children Home in Georgetown; more work CALCOR; the Glenside drains in Mesopotamia; and a whole heap, Mr. Speaker, of small projects throughout the country under the BNTF project.Mr. Speaker, this one is of great importance to us, training for the construction workers. We know, Mr. Speaker, that many of the young people go into construction, because that is a major industry. We heard this morning that at one time the economy of Anguilla was propelled by construction and when construction declined they saw a declining growth. So, we know that construction is a very important industry and we have to make sure that people who work and make a living by it are well trained, because our lives are in their hands. We are hearing that the destruction of Haiti, the way the buildings crumbled, that they were not well designed. Maybe they were not well built. Maybe the engineering was poor. We cannot allow that to happen to us, so we have to make sure, Mr. Speaker, that our workers are well trained. And in BNTF6 we have a location there of $185,651.00 for training for the construction workers. So those who may not have gone to Technical College, those who may not have been privileged to be tutored by a skillful engineer, those who came through the apprentice system and are yet to become skilled can be taught through this project so that they can build good houses, strong houses and that they can withstand the hurricanes to which we are prone, they can withstand earthquakes to which we are prone and they can do something good as we take this country forward. So Mr. Speaker, the BNTF is with us. And once again want to thank those who work there for the job they are doing as they complement the work of other agencies within the government as we take this country forward.71Mr. Speaker, I turn my attention now to the Postal Services. Mr. Speaker, we have done some restructuring on the postal industry. Restructuring that we are sure would complement the service, deliver a better service so that the archaic way in which people were attracted to the post offices every day to look for some promised registered mail, would be a thing of the past, so that the letter can now be taken directly to the people’s home.Mr. Speaker, the postal service universally has seen some decline. In Europe, we read Mr. Speaker, that some postal corporations have lost millions of dollars over the last decade and this is because of the rise in new technologies that people use to communicate. People no longer use the snail mail to communicate. People no longer write these letters, if I want to send somebody, a message to somebody who lives in New York, all I do is I send them a text message, or people go on the internet and they email. So the post made much revenue in the past from the selling of stamps, Mr. Speaker, that is no longer so, it means therefore that we have to restructure and upgrade. Because annually the post, Mr. Speaker, lost over $800,000.00 maintaining some district outlets where in some of them there were just 1 or 2 pieces of letters per month. We had to pay the worker, in some instances we paid rent, and the utilities so there were massive losses in the sector and that really could not be allowed to continue, so we had to restructure with the aim of upgrading. So the upgrading Mr. Speaker, has seen the creation of some hubs and the delivery of the packages to the people’s homes. That is working well, Mr. Speaker, and I want to commend the director and the members of staff there for taking this all the way. I must also commend the chairman, they work well to bringing it to fruition.But, Mr. Speaker, the revenue lost through the sale of stamps would have to be recuperated because we have to maintain the service. We have an agreement with the UPU, that the services have to be maintained at the lowest cost possible. So most of the services are still subsidized so we need to earn revenue, and the post has gone into some financial activities aimed at creating revenue. I mentioned earlier on that we are doing the money gram services at the head office in Kingstown and some of the rural districts, there are the sort of services that we are offering at the post, for example, people can pay their utility bills at the post. If you cannot take the long trip up to Montrose to pay the water bill or the line at VINLEC is too long; go to the post office in Kingstown, stand up in the air-conditioned space and pay the bill. Alternatively, you can do it at the district offices where the services is offered, and the post gets a very minuscule amount from this service, but it adds up, and we are putting things together.Mr. Speaker, there are also other services, that are offered, for example, people who import small parcels on line can do it through the post office, then we are also installing post boxes in the rural areas to provide less reliance on the over the counter delivery of mail. So people can put their own boxes on their homes at their gates and have the mail delivered directly there and then we are also extending the services, the hours of operation so that everyone can feel free to work closely with Postal Corporation.You will find also, Mr. Speaker, that we are developing postal codes so that people can be found easily. Sometimes you have a parcel for somebody who lives remotely rural and you do not know where to find them, so these codes will be designed to find these people.Mr. Speaker, the legislation that governs the postal service would this year see some amendments, because what happened then when that legislation was passed some years ago no longer pertains. We have to bring into the loop too, Mr. Speaker, the private couriers who operate around the post. Many of them really do not have a responsibility to deliver the things sometimes the bit of parcel comes to somebody who lives say in Rose Hall,72and they feel it is too far to drive to carry it to Rose Hall, so they dump it off on the post and they collect the money already but the post must do the delivery. So the legislation must include these people, Mr. Speaker, too make sure that they have a responsibility to the customer as well as the postal service, and that they pay their fair dues for the service which they are doing, Mr. Speaker. So it is a whole package, as we enhance the service for the post throughout the country.Mr. Speaker, let us quote here from document outlining the financial services diversification within the post. It says electronic money transfer service through the money gram based on the overwhelming response by the public through the introduction of the electronic money transfer service, at the St. Vincent and the Grenadines postal corporation head office. The decision was taken to decentralize the activity and provide additional outlets at Layou, Georgetown post offices, where future plans for Mesopotamia were also put on. The monthly reports generated from these offices have confirmed that the transactions conducted there are even more than were initially anticipated, resulted in a significant spin off in the socio-economic activities in the associated communities, and that would be possible, and that is what we want, Mr. Speaker, that monies can be retained in those areas, so when somebody get remittances rather than spending the money in Kingstown they can spend the monies in the local community and the shops in those local communities can do some business. That is what we mean by transferring and decentralizing to these areas, because if we come to Kingstown for anything, it means the shops in the rural districts would not remain open because no one spends, so we are bringing back business to these areas. That is why, Mr. Speaker, we are targeting these areas especially for that, Georgetown, Barrouallie and all these areas. Mr. Speaker, other services.There is also an express mail service called the VIN Post, if you want to send something out or bring something in and you cannot wait on the snail mail service and you want it fast, ask about VIN Post and how you can get it fast.There is also a service at the post office where they help people to process application for US visa. We realize that not many people would have that service at home because you have to be on line. You may not have access to a computer at home. You may not know how to do it, but you may want to apply for your US visa online. You do not have somebody who you will ask to help you, so go to the post office at a minimal cost, you can get it done for you, and you are off if you are successful to the United States. Those are the decentralized services, Mr. Speaker, that they are offering.There is also a ... shop at the head office. You want to buy some souvenir or something that depicts postal service, you can also go there to ask. Mr. Speaker, we intend on looking after the customers. We are looking after the staff also because we are offering one annual scholarship for a child of an employee based on the Common Entrance results. So the employees of the post who have children doing Common Entrance and they are doing well, they stand a chance of getting a scholarship compliments the Postal Corporation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.Mr. Speaker, it is a lot of work and I want to commend once again Celene and all those who work at the post for taking us forward, seeing what we can do as we develop this country and take it forward, because as I said earlier on, it is forward ever, backward never.73Mr. Speaker, the NBC, the National Broadcasting Corporation. NBC, Mr. Speaker, is the oldest of the radio stations in this country, there was a time when it was the lone facility run by the government, and everybody heard, followed what happened on 705...HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Time check, 15 minutes.HONOURABLE SELMON WALTERS: Mr. Speaker and I believe the older people particularly love 705 and they listen to 705. And Mr. Speaker, I remember one morning, there was something there and 705 would not come on. A Sunday morning and a number of people listened to their beloved hymns. And I got about four calls from elderly and they said Minister they not coming on. I had to call the manager and said what happen, get it on; they are so many people who are listening. Then I got calls out of Barbados, what happening we are not hearing you, because we brought back the AM facility. Mr. Speaker, and we are now reaching many of the Caribbean islands, so people can hear what is happening in St. Vincent. The Vincies who live in Barbados, Grenada, St. Lucia, they listen to what is happening at home through the AM broadcasting on NBC 705. And I want to commend the management there and the board of directors for doing a very good job and the churches who use the service to broadcast their services on a Sunday morning, they too are very, very appreciative of this service so people can hear what they are offering.Mr. Speaker, we have to complete this year, the facilities for the station. We have not yet been able to complete the accommodation and they have been living on the goodwill of API. They use the API facility while the API stays in rent. We hope that we can correct that this year Jimmy, and bring things forward. And I want to thank all those people of this country who support NBC 705. I know you would not give up, because we are second to none in terms of news, broadcasting and the poll shows when it comes to news and broadcasting, NBC is atop all of them. [Interjection] Second to live broadcast, well you would say that.Mr. Speaker, the Department in the Ministry called Ecclesiastic Affairs is designed to work with the churches. And we have done a number of things thing year, Mr. Speaker. Annually we have put on a day of prayer, the second Monday in June every year and I am looking forward this year for us to do it again, when the nation stops, acknowledges God and pray. And I want to commend the day of prayer committee that works with us over the last two years and do that. The people who work there, the chairman, Mr. Kenyatta Lewis, Pastor Creese, Pastor Campbell, Pastor Augustus and all those who worked, Pastor Daniel, Pastor Ollivierre, Pastor Isaacs and all those who work, I am looking forward to working with it this year again as we put on the day of prayer.Mr. Speaker, we have done a lot of things in that department, a lot people have been able to access the marriage certificate so they can become marriage officers, so that they can go about doing the Lord’s work in a good way. You see, Mr. Speaker, the government is not only aiming at young people and older people, they are also working with the church; because if we say that the nation is founded on the belief and the supremacy of Almighty God, then we have to do things in His interest and for His glory. And here is where this department comes in. We do what we can to further the church. We build that partnership as we work together and I am very, very convinced that a strong church working well will be a tool against crime; because only God can change people with the help of the church, and when the churches are strong and young people are changed crime must decrease. And the government has done a lot to give assistance to churches as we fight and eradicate criminality and bring things around.74Mr. Speaker, it is a good Budget, and I want to thank all the departments of the ministry as I have mentioned them, the post, rural transformation, BNTF, NBC, all the areas I want to commend the workers strongly and I really felt happy working with you and let us work together all the way.Mr. Speaker, we are also doing some work in the area of South Central Windward. The constituency there represented for the last nine years here in Parliament. We have done some good work in the constituency. We have not done everything that everybody wanted but we have been able to go a long way in getting the work done.Mr. Speaker, in terms of education as we look at it in categories, we have done some work. We have refurbished all the schools when we came into office in 2001, because the way we inherited the school buildings, Mr. Speaker, from the New Democratic Party in 2001 we really could not go forward like that, we had to refurbish all of them in 2001. But as time went by we had to do some more work in the constituency. We have done some work to refurbish the Greggs Primary School through the BNTF. I have mentioned before that we have done some work on the Lauders Primary School, through the BNTF. In Diamonds, we have constructed for the Aunty B. Preschool, a nice building through the BNTF. They can boast there of a very good preschool accommodation there for them. We have done some work also on the North Union Secondary School through the IT Lab and other services there. And I want to commend the worker at that school because when I look at the figure in terms of accommodation North Union ranks about number four in terms of accommodation and size, and for a rural facility I want to commend you for doing a good job. Keep the good job up.Mr. Speaker, we have not completed the health centre at Lowmans. I know that this year we will complete the health centre. I tease the Minister of Health earlier on, when I look at his result indicators, he was saying we will complete, the health centre at Lowmans, so I said I want it completed by the end of the first quarter 2010. So that is on the way, Mr. Speaker. We have done, Mr. Speaker, some roads and some more roads are earmarked for work this year 2010. In terms of asphalt repairs, some roads are down to be done by BRAGSA.The Smith Valley Road in Diamonds has to be done. The road in Chapman’s from Little River upwards is to be done, the road in Greggs from the Doreen John Health Centre upwards is down for repairs. The Diamonds road through Diamonds down to Mt. Grenan, the gentleman who had the contract did not complete it for one reason or the other, BRAGSA has to complete it this year through Diamonds right down to Mr. Grenan. The Maroon Hill road from Maroon Hill down to Simon gap, very, very bad piece of road and with the Minister of Education we will see how we can fix this piece, Minister Miguel, so that the people from Lauders and Lowmans and Greggs to go over there can drive on it completely, that is also down for refurbishing. We also doing the piece of road in Higher Lowmans near the Thomas John residence. That is very bad asphalt, that is also down. The other roads down for attention in the constituency, Greggs, Mofford River Crossing, the Tony Road in Hog Hole, the Mackaba Road, the Softon Road, the Biddy Road, and the Hadley Village to Lowmans Road. All these roads are down for work, Mr. Speaker.Mr. Speaker, there are other roads and other work in the constituency that Senator Caesar will handle. For example, he has to do a lot of work from the SIF, he would deal with all those thing. But Mr. Speaker, we were able to do some work for the people in the constituency, I have looked at my figures, Mr. Speaker, and I am seeing that since 2001, over 200 youngsters in the constituency were able to get training through the YES Programme. And I want to commend that programme, Mr. Speaker, it has been commended as a best practice75in the country and in the Caribbean and over 200 of our young people in South Central Windward were able to gain little monies and skills training through that. Many of them have gone on to something else. Some went on to Teacher’s College, other went on to nursing, they use the monies to go to classes, and move on with it. And I really commend them for taking that approach. It is not designed as employment, it is designed as apprentice training, so the young people who did not get all the CXC they wanted they can use the monies to go to classes and go on from there, so it is a stepping stone. And over 200 young people benefit from that. And I am very, very happy, Mr. Speaker, that I was able to facilitate that.I want to commend the work of Lauders Agro Processing (LAP) at Lauders. LAP was designed to see how we can help the farmers we designed it, they have not gotten there as yet, Mr. Speaker, but they are doing a good purchasing an outlet for the farmers and I want to see the development of that. The complaint that we are getting is that we are not doing the dasheen the way we want it to, but Mr. Speaker, we will get around to that. And then of course the North Union Market is coming on nicely. So, Mr. Speaker, we are on the way and the work will go on from one man to the next, the work will go on, we have to see what we can do as we develop the country, village by village, constituency by constituency, individual-by-individual, house by house we take it forward.Mr. Speaker, finally, I want to commend this Budget to this Honourable House. As I said before it is a Budget in trying times, it is a Budget in difficult times, but we have chosen to be optimistic, we will not sit here and die, we have chosen to plan for the windfall and do something about that. Unlike the Leader of the Opposition we will not say where we will get the money from, we plan for the money, we will wait for the money, we will get the money and we will do the work that we have been elected to do by the people of this country. So I must again commend the hard work of the Ministry of Rural Transformation and those who came to support me, I want to thank you, may we work together all the way.I want to commend the Prime Minister and his team and as well as I want to commend the Ministers on this side for the nights and days we put in to bring this document where it is. And I must thank also those on the other side, all though they are being critical and negative, sometimes it helps to chart the way forward, although we would really want them to be positive and join with us to take the country forward.Mr. Speaker, we are in the New Year, we were not able to wish the people Merry Christmas but nonetheless we can wish the people a prosperous new year, a new year full of hope, and best wishes as the ULP government take the country forward. The airport is coming on nicely, Mr. Speaker, much work is done, the young people are flying in the schools in the villages, in the communities, in the colleges, they are doing well, and with the help of God, Mr. Speaker, we will get there.I want to commend this Budget to this Honourable House and wish it a safe passage, Mr. Speaker, and thank all those who work on it, long may we work, long may we strive, Mr. Speaker, the mantra is forward ever backward never.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, very much. Honourable... yes Prime Minister... Member for East St. George.76DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, it is about the time when we usually take a break for Members’ convenience. Accordingly, I beg to move that this Honourable House do stand suspended until 7:30 p.m. for Members’ convenience.HONOURABLE SIR LOUIS STRAKER: Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion.Question put and agreed to. House stand suspended at 7:00 p.m. House resumed at 7:45 p.m.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Just before the break we acknowledged the Honourable Minister of Transport and Works and I am going to invite him in a few minutes to make his presentation.HONOURABLE CLAYTON BURGIN: All Minister as soon as you, if you are ready. Thank you, very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker I rise to make my contribution to this 2010 budgetary debate in this august House. And Mr. Speaker, I am indeed delighted for this opportunity bestowed upon me. Mr. Speaker, from the outset I want to say having gone through the process with my colleagues and the Ministry of Finance that I support this budgetary measure 100%.Mr. Speaker, may I first of all extend the highest Commendation to the staff in the Ministry of Finance under the astute leadership and guidance of the supreme leader the Honourable Prime Minister, our Minister of Finance. When I say supreme here, I mean supreme leadership, sorry, Mr. Speaker, supreme leadership of the Honourable Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, for the tremendous job that has been done and supreme here is not like in the Lord you know, Mr. Speaker, all right.Mr. Speaker, these Budgetary Estimates have been crafted against the backcloth of the stringent economic climate but despite what may seem like dire circumstances, Mr. Speaker, this government continues to craft appropriate strategies to address these challenges. Strategies which are designed to improve the lives of every citizen of this blessed land.However, Mr. Speaker, it sometimes boggles the mind that persons opposed to the government are saying otherwise of this Budget. They are saying it is not a good Budget, it is a fraudulent Budget and so on. They even went further to say from time to time, either on radio programmes or on the street that this ULP administration over the many years have done absolutely nothing. And sometimes I wonder whether they are living in St. Vincent and the Grenadines or elsewhere; on Mars maybe. Because Mr. Speaker, even the blind is aware of the marvellous job that this government has been doing since assuming office in 2001; not much, Mr. Speaker, can be said though about the NDP for their 17 years in office. What they did was to wreak havoc in this country.Mr. Speaker with one project, the Ottley Hall Marina the NDP administration put this country into something akin to throes of debt. But thanks to the Honourable Prime Minister for negotiating debt relief of over $160 million for a project that cost maybe $15 million to $18 million, valued at $15 to $18 million. And so, Mr. Speaker, we must keep reminding Vincentians least they forget. So when the NDP talk they must be reminded of that project.77Mr. Speaker, how can anyone be so devious to chant about the nation that nothing has been done under this administration. Every single one of my colleagues on this side of this Honourable House is in a position to dispel this notion, yet Mr. Speaker, the opposition has been encouraging such a falsehood.Mr. Speaker, how can anyone for the love of power encourage such a thing? I am persuaded, Mr. Speaker, that it is our duty as servants of the people to tell them the truth. Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that there are some whose sole motive is to promote discord as well as to keep our people in ignorance.Nevertheless, we in the Unity Labour Party administration, have been doing and will continue to do our utmost best to rid this country of ignorance, because we see ignorance as stated by Professor Nettleford at the University of the West Indies, he says , that ignorance is the worst kind of terrorism and the most devastating weapon of mass destruction. And Mr. Speaker, as a result we have to succeed of ridding our country of ignorance.Mr. Speaker, the majority of our people are very intelligent. And cannot be taken for granted but the few who are spreading falsehood we have to do something about that. Mr. Speaker, Vincentians ought to be aware of the NDP and to note carefully their policy focus. They have clearly stated, Mr. Speaker, that they will halt the Argyle international airport if they get into office. They talk about un-signing PetroCaribe, they will turn back the Education Revolution, they will stop the Cross Country Road, and the list goes on and on.Mr. Speaker, this morning while the Opposition Leader, the Honourable Arnhim Eustace, made his presentation, he once again as in previous years, mentioned victimization. And we have been asking for all those years since 2001 for him to provide a list with the names of all those persons and we have not yet received that list with those names.Mr. Speaker, under this Unity Labour Party administration a lot of firsts have taken place. It is under this administration that we have universal access to secondary school. The bridge over the Dry River, it was a first. Secondary school at Sandy Bay, the first time above the Dry River, north of the Dry River, the area representative, he will talk more about those.The West St. George Secondary School came on-stream during that time, and now we are going to build that new structure that we promised the people of West St. George where it will accommodate students from West St. George and East St. George and other communities. A secondary school was developed in Buccament and this was in conjunction with the Parliamentary Representative of that constituency.In Colonaire we have the George Stephens Secondary School, a new one too that came in under our administration, and that is in conjunction with the Honourable Prime Minister the Parliamentary Representative the Thomas Saunders Secondary School, which was the Richmond Hill School, in conjunction with the Honourable Senator Julian Francis. There is the National Library, the modern national complex, the realignment of the Argyle road to accommodate the international airport. These are just a few of the things that came into my watch as Minister of Education or Minister of Transport and Works. And these are just a few of the hundreds of initiatives and new ventures that we have done since we came into office.Mr. Speaker, at this point in time permit me to address the work of my Ministry. The Ministry of Transport and Works, which I have had the privilege, almost five years now to lead, is the ministry that holds primary78responsibility for public infrastructure and development of projects. In doing so, Mr. Speaker, my officers are required to execute the relevant projects and programmes as well as provide technical and manpower support to other government ministries and departments in preparing and implementing their capital project.In 2009, Mr. Speaker, the approved Budget for the Ministry of Transport and Works stood at $98.2 million of this amount $30.3 million was earmarked for recurrent spending among 16 programmes while the capital Budget was approximately $68 million, centred on road rehabilitation and other infrastructural works. The primary focus Mr. Speaker, was on the rehabilitation of the road network in order to provide the quality of the economic infrastructure as well as the expansion of school facilities to meet the increasing demands of the Education Revolution.However, Mr. Speaker, like everything else in life there were the usual challenges and some of these challenges where internal to the ministry, some undoubtedly external. These challenges, Mr. Speaker, among which were a shortage of skilled personnel and resource utilization and this resulted in decline in the rate of implementation of our capital project.Mr. Speaker there were at times you had a project to do and you cannot find skilled workmen when you realize what was happening is that the project in Buccama had most of the skilled persons, down the Grenadines and also the Housing Programme. So, we were unable to implement all of our capital project but we did a substantial amount of capital projects based on the resources both in human capital and other resources that were available to us.Mr. Speaker, I am happy to state here today that the Windward Highway rehabilitation project has been completed. Lots 1, Mr. Speaker, which extend from Sandy Bay to Fancy measuring 8.89 kilometres was completed at a cost of $13.4 million. Lots 4 the Diamond to Sally Spring phase was completed at a cost of $23.5 million. And Lot 2 Mr. Speaker, the Rabacca to Sandy Bay phase was constructed at a cost of $12.5 million. And Mr. Speaker, work is also substantially completed on the Argyle realignment of the Windward Highway, $2.8 kilometres of new road way and this was constructed at a cost of $17.7 million, all that remains to be done, Mr. Speaker, is the defect liabilities. You know when we do these projects we have a defect period and when that is completed the whole project is completed. So even though we are using the road and it is very nice to drive on, we will wait and see were certain defects would appear before we say it is completed.Preliminary work on the Cross-Country Road continues, Mr. Speaker, and my officials are currently reviewing the detailed designs which are expected to be completed this year. I am pleased to state, Mr. Speaker, that the environmental impact assessment has also commenced and will continue during the year; construction work on the project however begins in earnest early next year, Mr. Speaker.Mr. Speaker, my ministry completed approximately 90% of our planned concrete and asphalt road and maintenance programme in spite of the challenges. This was achieved, Mr. Speaker, with the coordination of the Cabinet subcommittee on Public Works, which was established, Mr. Speaker, to address the real and perceived bottlenecks and to implement a three month emergency road repair programme. This programme, Mr. Speaker, played a pivotal role of alleviating many of the problems and difficulties experienced by our motorists, owing to the condition and the deteriorated-ness of our road surface in various parts of the country. And we know, Mr. Speaker, that is one of the contentious issues in this country, repair road maintenance and road development.79In addition, Mr. Speaker, 2009 saw the establishment of the Roads Buildings and General Services Authority which is now operating as a statutory authority. Mr. Speaker, this authority is a critical arm of government and it has the ability and responsibility as well to do maintenance and for ensuring proper maintenance of all the public infrastructure that is road repairs, building maintenance, repairs and maintenance of bridges, seawall, jetties and so on. And these functions were formally done by the roads and building division within the Ministry of Transport and Works. I am pleased to say, Mr. Speaker, that the wheels of BRAGSA are turning quite smoothly at this juncture.Mr. Speaker, there are times we have the debate and we say that this should have been in the making two to three years ago. But nevertheless it is on-stream now and it is doing a good job. There are however, Mr. Speaker, still some minor issues which are being ironed out by the Chief Executive Officer of BRAGSA and other staff members and these are issues, Mr. Speaker, which are a normal part of any transition to change. At present there are 205 permanent members of staff at BRAGSA, the number of persons on the temporary establishment will fluctuate significantly throughout the year when there are big projects and types of activities you will have the number fluctuating; when it is down the number will reduce and so on. Staff members at BRAGSA are settling in quite well, Mr. Speaker, and I would wish to thank them all for their patience and understanding as well as for their evident dedication to their duty. And Mr. Speaker, I think you have pointed out to me to attest to the fact of the efficiency of BRAGSA, some work that they did to your office. And all persons are quite pleased with what has been done.Mr. Speaker, the Estimates provide direct subvention of $19 million to BRAGSA, which is to be applied directly to routine maintenance, some road upgrade projects, routine building maintenance, other amenities such as retaining walls and footpaths as well as the establishment of preventative maintenance programmes for all government buildings. Mr. Speaker, there are also certain capital projects in the 2010 Estimates that will be implemented by BRAGSA under the supervision of the Ministry of Works. These are, Mr. Speaker, if I may list them, feeder and village road programmes, maintenance of the South Leeward Highway, construction of learning resource centres in West Kingstown, Central Kingstown as well as at Troumaca, renovation of the Registry Building.Mr. Speaker, permit me at this juncture to state that the formation of BRAGSA has provided a great opportunity for the restructuring of the Public Works Department in the ministry. The construction divisions notably Roads and Buildings have been dissolved. And the Public Works Department now therefore holds responsibility for the provision of project management and services to the government. The Estimates show that the technical disciplines of engineering services, architectural services, quantity-surveying services in the Ministry of Transport and Works have now been collapsed into the Project Management Division. The previous separation of the division significantly Mr. Speaker, impacted the implementation of projects...HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: What you were saying about those engineering and architectural, I will appreciate it if you can rewind that for me please. Thank you.HONOURABLE CLAYTON BURGIN: I was saying, Mr. Speaker, that the Estimates show that the technical disciplines of engineering services, architectural services, quantity surveying services and a few other services, within the Ministry of Transport and Works have now been collapsed into the Project Division. So we have a project division where all those, they used to be separate programmes, and they have, impacted as I80stated on the implementation of projects and this can be seen where we had poorly defined responsibility and accountability of technical staff towards the individual project. Also over-allocation of the time for the quantity surveying services, while other members of staff were not utilized and we had unnecessary delays in the preparation and implementation of projects and poor staff morale and attitude towards work responsibilities. Because we had these separate entities, there was no cohesion there, so now we have them into one division, we could utilize all the services and all the personnel better.Mr. Speaker, the new structure which has seen the merger of these divisions, now comprises three projects; roads and civil infrastructure projects, and two teams to manage building projects. So that is how we have divided those when we collapse those into the project division. Mr. Speaker, this new project will allow for continuity of the project in the absence of critical team members; development of the individual capacity of each member through exposure to work activities outside of their particular discipline; also, better allocation of human resources on project activities. There would be improved time management of technical staff, improved project reporting and also the development of team spirit within the department. It is hoped, Mr. Speaker, that this restructuring of the Ministry will result in an improvement of the delivery in our services.Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to state here today that appropriate severance payments are now being made to persons who were made redundant last year as a result of the establishment of BRAGSA. The process continues, however, as there is still some mopping up, which is currently being done by my Permanent Secretary, Mr. Louis De Shong and his staff members.Mr. Speaker, the Ministry of Transport and Works is continuing its collaboration with other ministries and departments and served last year as consultant to the Ministry of Education, in the management and coordination of secondary school expansion programme to provide additional school places to accommodate the students who are entering secondary school for the first time. Because of the high enrolment we had to make sure that every student, since we have access to secondary school, every student would have a place within the secondary school. And Mr. Speaker, attention was paid to the following schools, Thomas Saunders Secondary School. I mentioned that earlier on, the West St. George Secondary, the George Stephens Secondary which is in Colonaire, and work also commence on the, I think I mentioned the Buccament Secondary also and work was done also on the Troumaca Secondary School. And there was substantial work done, Mr. Speaker, on primary schools.Mr. Speaker, my ministry made varied progress on several capital works, such as the National Library project, learning resource centres, Calliaqua Town Hall, and the Customs and Excise Building. It is fair to say, Mr. Speaker, that the National Library, component of the broader library project was completed last year and Mr. Speaker, I must say it is indeed a magnificent ultra-modern structure. And I am awaiting anxiously the day when all Vincentians young and old could access library for study purposes, research or just simply for our recreational readings. The design, Mr. Speaker, for the auditorium is now completed and is before Cabinet for final approval.Mr. Speaker, construction for the Calliaqua Town Hall is now in progress. Of course, Mr. Speaker, this project is dear to my heart as it is located in my constituency, the constituency of East St. George. And it is the continuation of the infrastructural development which I have promised my constituents, and I am one, Mr.81Speaker, you know to deliver on my promises. Work is expected to recommence on the Customs Building after some unforeseen delays.Mr. Speaker, over the years, more emphasis has been placed on the works portfolio of the Ministry. My officials dedicated themselves during the past few years, primarily to the day-to-day administrative functions which were limited in some way to the scheduling and supervision of the school bus system, the routes, non- school related usage, inter alia as well as managing and processing payments for the transport subsidy which is a social aspect of my ministry. And you know this administration put this into effect to stabilize commuters fees, this was what the subsidy was for. And also it was there because of the high fuel prices on the global and international market and this provided support to private owners and private operators of the public transport system. That is what the subsidy was there for. And there was little strategic focus direction, Mr. Speaker. However, this year, in the restructuring, increased attention will be placed on the transportation portfolio.Mr. Speaker, land transportation is an economic sector, in much the same way tourism and agriculture. My officials and I have determined that there needs to be a clear strategy going forward with the development of the land transport sector in order to extract maximum socio-economic benefit. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, the transportation portfolio is going to be placed in a more prominent position given its economic significance.Mr. Speaker, the Land Transportation Unit has been established and its main purpose is to address matters related to the transportation sector in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The areas which we are seeking to address, Mr. Speaker, include the location of bus stops; bus terminals and their usage. Vehicle routes with specific reference to public transportation; the safety of the travelling public and upgrading of legislation relative to vehicular operation throughout the entire country.And I am pleased, Mr. Speaker, to say here today that the transport board has been reinstituted by Cabinet. It is to be chaired by the Commissioner of Police and includes the Chief Engineer and the transport officer and two other members. And permit me, Mr. Speaker, now to clear the air on an issue that is making the rounds in this country. You know, Mr. Speaker, how some persons take enormous pride in distorting information and disseminating it as factual. I simply want to say that Cabinet gave approval for the reappointment of the transport board early in December of last year so as a developing country, Mr. Speaker, we would proceed with the relevant road transportation issue and not simply in response to the recent road tragedies as is currently been bandied about. I am hopeful, Mr. Speaker, that the Taxi Driver Association will have a voice in this regard; as is customary, and that the Minibus Association can be revived along with the Truckers Association. The Land Transportation Unit, Mr. Speaker, will facilitate and assist both the minibus operators and truckers in their formation or revitalization where necessary but primarily, Mr. Speaker, in an advisory capacity.Mr. Speaker, it must be also realized that with the increase in the number of vehicles using our roads on a daily basis that there must be some regulatory framework in place. And so the unit in association with the Transport Board, the Traffic Branch of the Police Force and the Attorney General’s Chamber will be looking at the present legislation which governs this sector. The input of all stakeholders, Mr. Speaker, which include insurance companies, would be solicited as part of the operational framework to ensure that our Land Transportation sector has as one of its hallmark excellent service to our communities. Because I think that is what the travelling public is looking for, excellence when they are travelling.82Mr. Speaker, Electrical Inspectorate within the ministry. Work in our Electrical Inspectorate continued last year. This unit, Mr. Speaker, is required to exercise its regulatory mandate to ensure that safety standards and all regulatory requirements are met in respect of electrical installations. This is done, Mr. Speaker, through a series of inspections and tests to be performed as soon as the building construction phase begins. And Mr. Speaker, my officials in that unit made a vigorous effort to implement the planned capital project that is the re- inspection of buildings. And I can report today, Mr. Speaker, that more than 95% of all government buildings and commercial buildings were re-inspected during last year, as well as some private homes.There is, Mr. Speaker, an inspection fee of $30.00 which homeowners are required to pay once every ten years. Previously it was every five years. I am advised, Mr. Speaker, that some homeowners have not been applying for re-inspection to be done on their homes, as is required by law. This can be simply because they do not know of the requirements or because we have not had any electrical accidents in this country, but we only have to understand and appreciate, Mr. Speaker, that accidents can happen at any time, and as a consequence there can be loss of lives when we have these fires, or these electrical mishaps. I am here asking homeowners, who had their homes inspected prior to 2010 as well as commercial entities, which were inspected before 2005 to apply for re-inspection. I am also hopeful, Mr. Speaker, that there would be an increase in the number of persons coming on board this year, as we move to protect our properties from electricity hazards and loss of electricity through leakages.Mr. Speaker, while there was relatively good progress made by the staff in the Electrical Inspectorate there are some protracted issues within that unit related to, classification of jobs positions, remuneration for daily paid staff, that has affected overall staff morale in that unit. And I am aware, Mr. Speaker, that these issues have been placed on the front burner of the agenda of my officials and the dialogue on these issues will continue. It is noted however, Mr. Speaker, that the skill levels required and the degree of risk involved in these types of work suggest that more support is indeed necessary for employees in the electrical inspectorate in order to facilitate equity, greater output and productivity. And that is something that we would be working on to ensure happen this year.Mr. Speaker, the financial outlay on government owned facilities is enormous, and each facility must be protected night and day. Watchmen have been hired. Throughout the years a number of them to provide some form of protection for all government owned buildings. We have however, Mr. Speaker, been experiencing some difficulties with the services provided by some, just a few not the majority. And I emphasize some. Watchmen and watch women, because we have both sexes doing the job. The 2010 Budgetary Estimates will show, Mr. Speaker, that with effect from this financial year, the operation of the watchmen, watch women, now fall under the general administration, headed by the Permanent Secretary. Formally, these operations fell under the office of the Chief Engineer, specifically in the Building Division. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, much attention is now going to be paid to the operations of the watchmen and women. In this regard, my officials have taken the decision to establish the government security unit within the ministry in order to deal with this matter and to improve the services of watchmen and watch women, the supervisors and checkers. And we know it is a challenge, Mr. Speaker, but we are ready to face that challenge and with the support of my colleagues, and persons at the various ministries, buildings and departments we will ensure that the work is done, the way [it should be done], very satisfactorily very good, in most respects.83Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Ministry of Labour and the staff mainly at the Electoral Department for so readily responding to our requests to provide photo identification cards for watchmen and women and checkers and supervisors. Sometimes, you pass at a building, you do not know, if the person is watchman or someone undesirable at the building. And you as a concerned citizen would want to do something because you want to ensure that government property is safe, but you do not know because of the way the physical outlook of that person. So they will have a badge that is an ID card that would be done by the Electoral Office with the Ministry of Labour. If you happen to pass when that is established we will let the public know and you see someone without that you will know that person is an undesirable person and you would be able to do what is necessary.Mr. Speaker, I am advised that the photographing session will commence shortly and my officials have also begun to craft official appropriating guidelines for all watchmen, women, checkers and supervisors. Guidelines which are designed to bring greater clarity and understanding of the role, expectation and so on of the watchmen, women, checkers and supervisors.Mr. Speaker, I am aware that meetings have been held with supervisors and checkers and that watchmen and watch women will have their turn in zones soon, because of the desire of my officials to meet those persons to hear from them and to address issues in a non-threatening environment. The aim, Mr. Speaker, is to create the condition for improvement of the services provided.Mr. Speaker, we have developed a range of medium term policies to address the foregoing developments and result in challenges in the construction and land transportation sector.Accordingly, my ministry will over the period 2010 to 2012 undertake an inventory an assessment of the road network throughout the country, inclusive of the drain structure with a view towards developing and implementing a medium term time phase plan for maintenance and rehabilitation and BRAGSA, Mr. Speaker, will be critical to this policy. Also, to explore the feasibility of alternative routes to and from Kingstown with particular attention to be paid to the Lowmans Bay to Kingstown via Ottley Hall as well as the Arnos Vale to Kingstown route. Develop in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Tourism a feeder road development programme. To develop a preventative maintenance protocol, inclusive of the security arrangements for all government buildings; to collaborate, Mr. Speaker, with the Ministry of Education and the existing professional associations to improve the standard and quality of construction services through training and accreditation and skill development,...HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Again, I am not sure who you say this is going to be done by. This is going to be done by BRAGSA or the Ministry.HONOURABLE CLAYTON BURGIN: The Ministry and to collaborate with the Ministry of Finance and other agencies, Mr. Speaker, administrative and financial support for BRAGSA to enable it to effectively undertake its statutory mandate.Mr. Speaker, and following close analysis my officials and I have been able to identify the following critical issues which confront us; the rise in expectation of the public for increased and improved public amenities against the background of limited resources; The current state of the road network and drainage system, inclusive of feeder roads and access roads to tourist sites, with the corresponding need for a comprehensive84programme of rehabilitation; also the absence of preventive maintenance strategy with respect to public infrastructure, example, bridges, buildings and so on; the almost chronic shortage of some specialist skills, in the construction sector which also, impinges on the ability of my ministry to effectively implement selective projects.Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned earlier on, I had some difficulties with skilled persons. We mentioned some were on other projects. There were some critical skills, you know, quantity survey, those sorts of persons, engineering, skills of different types. Some time they are hard to come by, and these are some of the things that I know the Public Service Commissions and the Ministry of Education are trying to pursue so that persons could go off in these fields to really meet the needs of these of the country.Also, the underdevelopment of the transportation portfolio and requisite expertise to design a Land Transportations strategy and to implement the recommendations in the recent traffic study, there are some recommendations in the traffic study but as I said we want some expert help to design what has been recommended; and the absence of standardized rate for contracted works and services including assisted school bus operators which exposes the inequities in the system.You see, Mr. Speaker, sometimes there are different (and I guess the market is what control that) there are different persons and skilled personnel. Sometimes they have the same abilities but you have to pay one a different rate to another and we want to have some equity along that line to say this is the rate that has been earmarked for such a project in a certain locale within the country. Because persons will tell you, Mr. Speaker that the square footage of construction in certain parts of the countries varies. And also, Mr. Speaker, the unplanned work and services resulted from storm damage; sea surges et cetera because these things could happen from time to time and as the Honourable Minister for Rural Transformation stated we have to give God thanks that we did not have any of those major disasters last year. We are hoping that we will have very good year this year as well. But we have to pray and ensure that our prayer is sincere in this regard.Mr. Speaker, in light of the broad policy areas on which we will focus attention on [in] the medium term; we recognize that resource constraints may not permit the full implementation of all policies in this fiscal year. So we know that some of the sector’s plans and priorities therefore that have been identified may go into the following, they may start this year and go into the following year.Mr. Speaker, the main sector plans and priorities have therefore been identified as follows: to design and rehabilitate nine kilometres of the Leeward Highway from Milton Cato Memorial Hospital to Layou. And we are hoping, all things being equal to achieve let us say at least 30% completion by December of this year to complete the rehabilitation of the three–quarter kilometre stretch of the Vigie Highway from the Round-a-bout to the Fountain Gap. To rehabilitate 7,000 feet of asphalt village road; to upgrade 15,000 feet of farm feeder roads and access roads to tourism sites from dirt to concrete to complete the detailed designs and environmental impact assessment for the Cross-Country Road; to upgrade 11,000 feet earthen village roads, to repair 10,000 feet of secondary roads and 6,500 feet of drains; to finalize the master plan for the block of government buildings, formerly the Treasury and the Printery, and commence the first phase on the Treasury Building by July of this year; to achieve a 35% completion on the construction of the auditorium as a component of the National Library project. To construct the Colonaire, Pebbles, Forte Charlotte and Swap Gut bridges by December of this year to complete the electrical re-inspection of all government buildings by June of this year.85To complete the survey of all state of all government buildings by June of this year and develop a preventive maintenance protocol to guide future interventions.And Mr. Speaker, to commence preliminary work on the Lowmans Bay-Ottley Hall-Kingstown bypass route. To develop the transportation portfolio within the Ministry by equipping the Land Transport Unit with the requisite resources to carry out the renewed mandate of the portfolio, to rationalize the security services for all public buildings, and to facilitate, Mr. Speaker, the Customs and Excise Building by September of this year.Mr. Speaker, I want to say something on damage to government properties. Mr. Speaker, over the past couple of years we have been working in conjunction with the Traffic Branch in the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force. Because from time to time persons either damage through vandalism government properties on the road, you will see retaining walls and other structures being knocked over by vehicles, so we are working in conjunction with the police force, the traffic branch, to provide us with the information when these things do happen. And we work along with the insurance company to ensure that these government facilities are restored to their former excellence.The Casson Hill wall, you would have noticed sometime in October we did some work there, we rehabilitated the walls and other barricades that we had along that stretch of wall, no sooner had we done that you had about three accidents knocking over defence walls and so on. And one of the things we have been doing as I stated before we worked with the insurance company with those persons who damage the government properties and when we fix it, you know, they give us the job to fix it and we bill them. And we have had had success in that regard. So we have two more I notice, I guess as the case progresses, but that is something that we have to do early in this year, within the next month or two to restore those damaged aspects of the properties so persons could pay. So I want to alert those persons who damage government property riding on the road, by knocking down retaining walls and so on, you have a duty and the law give us the right to have you repair those damaged properties and bring them back to former excellence.Mr. Speaker, I now turn my attention to the constituency of East St. George the constituency which I have had the opportunity to represent for the past nine years. But before I go on, Mr. Speaker, I want at this juncture to wish one of the staunch supporters of the Labour Party and myself from Calliaqua in East St. George Safer a full and speedy recovery from her ailment. I want to do that early, you know, I do not want to do that at the end. In the end, I will repeat that you know. She was hospitalized, Mr. Speaker, last Friday night, going into Saturday morning.And Mr. Speaker, you know we had an activity for the Youth Arm at Calliaqua, a domino competition, and the Thursday when I passed at the office at Calliaqua she was there. She said ‘Rep, I going to burst yo tail Saturday night’, excuse my language, Mr. Speaker, I just was repeating, Mr. Speaker. I was just quoting what she said. And I said all right, but I do not have a partner, she said you will find one, and Saturday night we were discussing about her with her challenge only to hear the Saturday morning very early at 6:00 that she was hospitalized. So I am wishing her a speedy recovery.Mr. Speaker, we have heard the Prime Minister telling the nation that 2009 would not have been a walk in the park and with all hands on deck, we will make it. In this regard, Mr. Speaker, I make bold to say that things were held nicely in East St. George during 2009 although it was not as easy as Sunday morning in some instances. There were indeed the usual demands and grosses from some persons from time to time. But, Mr.86Speaker, it is fair to say that most of my constituents understood and appreciated the current economic and global conditions and have realized that every demand cannot be met. And Mr. Speaker, it would be folly on my part and also on the part of others to believe that I can do everything all at once, nevertheless I can stand here tonight and say with confidence, Mr. Speaker, that I did a broad range of things in my constituency during 2009. Of course, Mr. Speaker, I did so with the available resources that were available to me and the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.Mr. Speaker, as I stated earlier on nearly as a decade as the Member of Parliament for East St. George I can say with immense certainty that managing a constituency sometimes resembles the management of one’s home. Indeed one has to set priorities based on need, demand and available resources. Clearly, Mr. Speaker, the question is asked, would you buy the sheet of galvanize to address the leaking roof or use a bucket to catch the water, as against buying textbooks for the children. Those are decisions that you have to make. And Mr. Speaker, that is what I had to do in 2009. I made appropriate choices. Perhaps I had made a promise to get a road fix here or there, but somewhere along the line I had to shift because another road maybe in another part of the constituency or may be another part of the country, suddenly deteriorated. And it may have been a road that is more needed and I had to put the resources there. And these are some of the things, Mr. Speaker, I had to say to the constituents.Mr. Speaker, there were times when I was required in my capacity as area representative to provide school uniforms for the children of East St. George, rather than donate material for building,...HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Fifteen minutes remain.HONOURABLE CLAYTON BURGIN: Thank you, very much, Mr. Speaker, but I did it, Mr. Speaker, for the love of constituents. It is because of these goodly people, Mr. Speaker, in East St. George that I could stand here today and represent them. However, I have been making valiant efforts to get some of them to understand and appreciate that certain choices have to be made. The dialogue, the engagement, that is continuing with the people and everything happens in its own time, Mr. Speaker.Nevertheless, Mr. Speaker, despite the challenges of 2009, I can boast of the number of achievements in East St. George. There was the completion and official opening of Fair Hall Government School, this Mr. Speaker, is a project which cost $5.5 million and Mr. Speaker, there were the ‘Doubting Thomas’ when I told them I was going to build the school in the Fair Hall/Glen area. The NDPites told the people in the constituency not to believe me, that it was a political gimmick. Well, Mr. Speaker, it is there for all to see, what a magnificent, ultra-modern edifice. It is nestled on the hill under the forest reserve. And then you can look across at the Calliaqua Bay and the Grenadines and the hill upon the top by the tank there in the Fair Hall by the Housing Scheme area. It is a beautiful environment for learning. There are times when you, wish you had the opportunity to be in such environment, but our time was different to now, these things only happen under the Unity Labour Party administration.Mr. Speaker, at this school, an early childhood facility exists and I am aware that parents are taking advantage of it and sending their young ones to that facility where their children can be properly cared for throughout the day in a safe and clean environment that is designed to provide their little ones with the foundation that they need. And the preparation that is necessary for them to advance to the primary school and then eventually to secondary school and beyond.87Mr. Speaker, the community centre was also refurbished and this will now be used by the Ministry of Education to offer programmes in skill development, part of the Education Revolution, I understand the official opening ceremony will be held this year, Mr. Speaker. I am looking forward to that. Mr. Speaker, repairs have been done to the community centre at Enhams and reconstruction of the Calliaqua Town Hall is going on nicely.The Calliaqua Town Hall is over 50% complete. It is scheduled to be completed this year. Mr. Speaker, this facility has two floors, the ground floor will house the magistrate court, the town board, the post office, and there was a room there for day care but, we were told that you do not want to put a day care in next to the other facilities. And what is happening Mr. Speaker, the Calliaqua School, because the population has been reduced with the opening up of the Fairhall Government School, there would be space there where you can develop a room for the pre-school preschool, so that is something which the Ministry of Education will be doing. While on the upper floor there would be the town hall, a computer laboratory, and a library.Mr. Speaker, there was a retaining wall in Enhams that was completed last year and this had to be done to protect the road from collapsing. There was no way, Mr. Speaker, that I was going to allow that almost dangerous situation to continue. Mr. Speaker, the Choppins/Harmony Hall Road was also completed, 1,600 feet of road as well as drains, retaining walls and footpaths were done throughout the constituency.Mr. Speaker, we are all aware that road construction and development continues to be of extreme importance, throughout our blessed land and my constituency is no exception. Last year there were construction of new roads in Glen and Harmony Hall and this year we will continue to upgrade our roads and so on. The Brighton/Salt Pond road will be resurfaced this year as well as the Moet Malcolm gap next to the St. Clair Dacon Secondary.Mr. Speaker, the Education Revolution continues in this constituency, and no one can deny that it continues to touch every single household in this country. There is no one in our blessed land who can say that he or she has not benefited from the revolution.Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to note that some teachers and students in the constituency of East St. George have received scholarships while others have received considerable assistance towards their academic undertakings thereby advancing their personal growth and development; I wish them all well, Mr. Speaker. In addition, several children at primary, secondary and post-secondary institutions continue to receive school uniforms and school supplies as well as assistance with bus fares and lunch to facilitate their active participation in the school system. I consider that an investment in the youth of this nation, something that any government in the world would do, and we are doing that, Mr. Speaker.Mr. Speaker, the social and living conditions of my constituents have been given attention throughout the year. Every effort was made to enhance living conditions where it was needed. There was the provision of pipe borne water for the less fortunate in various communities, and this was a programme which was conducted since the Unity Labour Party administration assumed office. Footpaths were developed, as well as the construction of steps, retaining walls, the provision of building materials, the installation of electricity and streetlights to enhance the personal security of the constituents.Mr. Speaker, land and housing are of enormous need in East St. George. Many persons Mr. Speaker, are moving to live in this constituency and we know that it is the biggest constituency in terms of population, and88even returning nations, someone said they are from North Windward, I do not know, they are from all over. And the beauty of them from North Windward, -- I will give you a story, Sir Louis, Minister of Foreign Affairs. Some of them have been living in East St. George since 1970’s and I could remember Election Day of 2001, I met them and they said they wanted transportation to go and vote, but I said, the polling station is just there. They said, no, I am going back at North Windward. So some of them never changed their thing, after 30 years, but the thing about it, they come to me for materials and all other things you know, and I am told that they only reside there from time to time. All right. And I think we have them all over the country like that, Mr. Speaker. So I am not blaming him alone, you know all over the country.Mr. Speaker, the IADC and private individuals will in 2010 continue constructing houses at Harmony Hall and I do not have to remind you, Mr. Speaker, of the magnificent homes and the landscaping in that area. You must take a drive out there. I fixed the road now from Harmony Hall go up. You do not have to drive on any dirt road, anyone you can take, drive through Choppins, you know, and because we are like on a plateau, you see all around Cane Garden, Dorsetshire Hill, come right down to Diamond. So you see a few constituency well; 360 degrees, the best view. Mr. Speaker and these homes are magnificent because you know people want to relax in comfort when they get home from work.And Mr. Speaker, there is no government owned land remaining in East St. George. We know land is an issue, I have been able to assist several persons over the years with what was available and you could remember in 2005, we gave back persons monies for lands for which they had paid too much under the NDP administration. Mr. Speaker, this caused a little bit of jealousy on the part of those who purchased lands on the other side from HLDC. And right now, I want to assure them that the Surveyor’s Department is currently doing the necessary work to put things in place so that we can see how we can address that situation for them by giving them the right price for the land. And those who have paid already to see how we can give them back where they overpaid. You see, Mr. Speaker, we keep our promises and if there is likely to be a difficulty, we let the people know.Mr. Speaker, I have an enormous amount of respect for the elderly and this includes the lovely people in my constituency and I am persuaded that the elderly in my society and parts of the world must be given due respect and recognition. They have played their part, they have made their contribution to the development of this blessed land, and we must take care of them in their twilight years. We must not cast them aside, Mr. Speaker, never and as long as I am in this Honourable House, Mr. Speaker, and a member for East St. George, I will ensure that in the winter of their life, all these senior citizens will receive due care and attention. And in this regard that is why the care giver programme which was introduced by the Unity Labour Party administration is impacting on the lives of the elderly within my constituency. Mr. Speaker, the allowances have been increased from time to time, last year as a stimuli, you know, they have received things from time to time.In 2009, Mr. Speaker, there was the usual emphasis placed on sports in my constituency, trophies and footballs were provided for all football competitions within the constituency, a range of sports equipment was given to teams, clubs and individuals, every single sporting discipline. And due attention was paid to the Calliaqua Playing Field where we put down some seating there for the patrons. And Mr. Speaker, construction for the Brighton Playing Field Pavilion commenced this year, as we said last year was a difficult year. The two previous years we were spending over $50 million developing facilities for the World Cup.89HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Two minutes. HONOURABLE CLAYTON BURGIN: Yeah, that would be good enough, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, outof the 10,000 jobs mentioned through the NIS, from 2001 to 2009, East St. George had its fair share.Mr. Speaker, as I bring my presentation to an end, permit me to express my gratitude and appreciation to the entire staff in the Ministry of Transport and Works. As well as the newly established Roads, Buildings and General Services Authority, BRAGSA for their work during 2009; without their efforts, their dedication to duty, their deep and abiding commitment, our achievement could not have been realized. I thank them all; and I look forward to their increased efforts in 2010, as we seek to further our ministry as a team, I wish them all well as we go forward.Permit me also, Mr. Speaker, to express enormous thanks and appreciation to every single household in my constituency, as well as those who sit on my constituency council, much of my work as their area representative, Mr. Speaker, would be left undone if it was not for those persons. I want to thank them all from the bottom of my heart for their unwavering support and commitment, and pledge my service to them as we move forward in 2010.Finally, Mr. Speaker, may I express my thanks to you, the Clerk and staff of this Honourable House for your work in 2009, as well as for the support which I received from you, I also have every good wish Mr. Speaker, for my parliamentary colleagues on this side and also on the other side. I offer nothing, Mr. Speaker, but the very best to you all, as well as to every single Vincentian here and in the Diaspora as we move along in 2010. Mr. Speaker, I thank you very much, for this opportunity bestowed on me today, and I give you every assurance of my continued presence and participation in this House in 2010. Much obliged, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: That is? Further debate? Honourable Prime Minister, winding up? SUSPENSIONDR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: I can wind up now Mr. Speaker? It is now... Mr. Speaker, we have had a long day. I want to indicate in advance Mr. Speaker, that I would seek your indulgence for us to break at about quarter to eight on Thursday evening. As has been advertised, Sir Dwight Venner, Governor of the Central Bank is doing his annual round up and that would be broadcast live and people would be interacting with him. So we ought to give him the courtesy of listening to him, and of course to ensure that the news media would carry him. Had he known that we were having Parliament I am sure he would not have put his event on Thursday night.Mr. Speaker, I am also very sorry in respect of one Honourable Member that we have stayed so late. I was only informed just about 10 minutes ago that the Honourable Attorney General that today is her 18th anniversary. And it shows dedication to duty, she is here on her anniversary. So I am sure her husband is awaiting her with great anticipation. We wish her all the best. She is a wonderful lady. And we thank Almighty God for letting us have her be working with us and serving our nation.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: So endorsed. 90page90image28200DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, I beg to move that this House do stand suspended until 9 o’clock in the morning; 9:00 a.m.Question put and agreed to. House suspended at 9:00 p.m. Until Wednesday 27th January, 2010 at 9:00 a.m.91