Thur. 11th Oct., 2012

No. 12 Third Session Ninth ParliamentThursday 11th October, 2012Prayers Obituaries Congratulatory Remarks Confirmation of Minutes Statements by Ministers Announcement by the Speaker Reports from Select Committee Questions for Oral Answers Orders of the Day AdjournmentSAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINESTHEPARLIAMENTARY DEBATES(HANSARD)ADVANCE COPYOFFICIAL REPORTCONTENTS Thursday 11th October, 20121THE PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES OFFICIAL REPORTPROCEEDINGS AND DEBATES OF THE SIXTH MEETING, THIRD SESSION OF THE NINTH PARLIAMENT OF SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES CONSTITUTED AS SET OUT IN SCHEDULE 2 TO THE SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES ORDER, 1979.TWELEFTH SITTING11th OCTOBER, 2012HOUSE OF ASSEMBLYThe Honourable House of Assembly met at 10:25 a.m. in the Assembly Chamber, Court House, Kingstown.PRAYERSMR. SPEAKER IN THE CHAIRPrime Minister, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning, National Security, Grenadines and Legal Affairs Dr. the Honourable Ralph GonsalvesAttorney General Honourable Judith Jones-MorganMinister of Education/ Deputy Prime Minister Honourable Girlyn MiguelMinister of Housing, Informal Human Settlements, Physical Planning, Lands and Surveys Honourable Clayton Burgin Minister of Agriculture, ForestryMember for North Central WindwardMember for MarriaquaMember for East St. GeorgeHonourable Hendrick AlexanderPresent MEMBERS OF CABINET2and Fisheries and Rural Transformation Honourable Montgomery DanielMinister of Tourism and Industry Honourable Saboto CaesarMinister of Health, Wellness and The Environment Honourable Cecil McKieMinister of National Reconciliation Labour, Information and Ecclesiastical Affairs Honourable Maxwell CharlesMinister of National Mobilisation, Social Development, the Family, Persons with Disabilities, Youths, Sports and CultureHonourable Frederick StephensonMinister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade And Consumer Affairs Honourable Dr. Douglas SlaterMinister of Transport and Works, Urban Development and Local Government Honourable Julian FrancisParliamentary Secretary in the Office Of the Prime Minister Honourable Elvis CharlesHonourable David BrowneDr. the Honourable Godwin Friday Honourable Terrence OllivierreMember for Northern Grenadines Member for Southern GrenadinesMember for North Windward Member for South Central Windward Member for West St. GeorgeMember for Central LeewardMember for South WindwardGovernment SenatorGovernment Senator Government SenatorGovernment Senator/ Deputy SpeakerOTHER MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE3Honourable St. Claire Leacock Honourable Daniel Cummings Honourable Roland Matthews Honourable Nigel Stephenson Honourable Vynnette Frederick Honourable Anesia BaptisteHonourable Arnhim Eustace Leader of the OppositionABSENTMember for Central Kingstown Member for West Kingstown Member for North Leeward Member for South Leeward Opposition SenatorOpposition SenatorMember for East Kingstown4SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY BUDGET DEBATE THURSDAY 11TH OCTOBER, 2012PRAYERThe prayer was read by the Honourable Speaker of the House.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Pray be seated. Honourable Members, before we proceed I would like to recognise here in parliament this morning the students from the St Vincent Grammar School, and from the Unique Rainbow Pre-school. I believe that we would I do not know if they are here as yet, I have not probably seen them from the Imani’s Pre-school, and I do not think they are here and we want to recognise them here to parliament this morning along with their teachers and other persons with whom they are associated. [Applause] Welcome to parliament.OBITUARIES HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Prime Minister.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, first of all, Mr. Speaker, as Leader of the House I would like to welcome also our young friends, our little friends from the Unique Rainbow Pre-school. I greeted each of them and their teachers they are so beautiful and we love them very much. I do not know what time you are taking them out but I will volunteer for them to go and have snacks or lunch whichever with their teachers, so they can enjoy themselves. I do not know whether they want to go to Kentucky or one of the other places I do not know; so that we can have our little babies enjoying themselves today. It would be a nice outing.In relation to the Grammar School boys and their teacher, the Grammar School is in Central Kingstown I believe and it is the normal practice in this Honourable House that when a group of students come from a constituency that the MP for the area will treat them to lunch. And I believe that the MP is the Honourable St Clair Leacock if I may call him by name, so whom I think would ... I do not think they are too many boys it shouldn’t put you out too much out of pocket. I noticed the Honourable Leader of the Opposition is smiling [laughs] at the application of this usual custom, and I am sure my Honourable Friend would comply with the tradition of this Honourable House.Mr. Speaker, in relation to the obituaries I will just like to recognise a number of persons, their passing, and to say to their families and their friends how much we miss them and their valuable contributions that they have made in their respective fields. We do not have the time today, Mr. Speaker, they are so many to go into all the 5details of each. I acknowledge the following among others: Marjorie Clarke, who was from Central Kingstown, Verrol Goodluck from South Windward, Reuben Bailey from North Windward that is the father of P.S. Francis in the Ministry of Housing and lands, the Patriarch Mr. Dabriel from Byrea and Robert Cork from Chester Cottage.There are others who gone from the great beyond since we last met and I extend condolences to their immediate families and friends, but these are the ones where I can recall my immediate connection with them. I have connection with others but these are the ones which are immediate. I am obliged, Mr. Speaker, without going into any details.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Obits further, Honourable Leader of the Opposition.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Mr. Speaker, I wish to recognise the passing of Leroy Leacock brother of Representative Leacock of Central Kingstown who passed away recently in the United States. A memorial service was held in his memory yesterday at the Anglican Church. I know at this time that he is feeling the pain and the grief of the lost of a brother who is next to him in birth. I just want to say to him and to his family we offer them our deepest condolences.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, further Obits, Honourable Member for Central Kingstown, I think I heard you indicating that you would like to. Could we take someone else in the meanwhile, I think he needs to compose himself. Any further Obits? [Interjection]Go ahead [interjection], okay, all right.I am sure on behalf of the Parliament I would also like to extend our sympathy to the Honourable Member and to his family, I was not aware of this until it is now being mentioned by the Honourable Leader of the Opposition. We are all aware of the fact that death is final and very often it is s very difficult time for us when we experience such occasion within our family. We hope that the Honourable Member and his family will stay strong and realise that there are, I am sure, a number of persons praying for him and for his family on this occasion; and may his brother Leroy rest in peace. Thank you. Honourable Member for West Kingstown.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Mr. Speaker, I rise to attempt to make the acknowledgement on behalf of my colleague for a number of persons in Central Kingstown who have passed and to offer condolences to the families. First of all the young man Dominic Spencer who died in tragic circumstances in Redemption Sharpes not far from where I live; a young man cut short under strange circumstances and we offer our condolences to the family.To the family of the late Lawrence Clarke of Lodge Village also who was almost an hundred years old, and who passed during recent time. Marjorie Clarke somebody whom I have known all my life whose respect I hold dearly. In the early days in Kingstown Park where I grew up, Mr. Speaker, the community was like one family and indeed we knew every single member of every family. When Natalie’s family moved to Lodge Village and the close ties remained, so I joined with my colleagues on this side.And of course, Mr. Speaker, the passing of a brother is never something easy, I have had the opportunity, the occasion to lose my own first brother not too long ago and the coming as Major’s brother is just after him. At the memorial service at the Anglican Church last afternoon we were pleased to see the number of persons6turning out to pay their respects, and we on this side of the Honourable House I join in extending condolences to our colleague, his mother and the family on the loss of his brother. I thank you, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. Honourable Member, for Central Leeward are you rising on Obits? Oh! I thought we had finished with that; okay.HONOURABLE MAXWELL CHARLES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, it is worthy of me to note the passing of one Theresa Duncan of Barrouallie, a former student of mine. I taught her both at the primary and the secondary level. She was involved at a pre-school for the past twenty-five years, and this morning I want to convey again condolences to all of her relatives in Barrouallie. I attended the funeral, quite a moving ceremony and it is always sad to be at the funeral of a student.Of course, there are other persons who passed in the constituency a very good friend of mine from Buccament, very young Eileen Johnson also Maude Braide in her nineties and in Layou Mr. C. Young and Mr. Welcome. To all of these who have gone to the great beyond the grace of Almighty God be with the rest of your family as you go through a period of grief. Thank you.CONGRATULATORY REMARKS HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Prime Minister, Leader of the House.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I would like to congratulate His Excellency Hugo Chavez on his reelection for a fourth term [applause] as President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Mr. Speaker, I have issued a written statement on this to the media already and I have sent President Chavez a personal letter congratulating him on behalf of the Government and people of St Vincent & the Grenadines.His victory, Mr. Speaker, was decisive by 9% points plus. Indeed, it is fair to say in the language of the psephology that is to say those who are engaged in the study of elections I believe that is the field of discipline, Mr. Speaker. Those who want to look up these things I think it is the area of psephology if I recall correctly that this is what you may call a landslide victory, a smaller margin than the last time but nevertheless an overwhelming victory. The predictions were that there was little to choose between both sides, it turned out that that was wishful thinking and that the victory was decisive.Mr. Speaker, the people of Venezuela must be congratulated, over 80% of the registered voters turned out to vote, which shows an alive democracy. The electoral process was deemed by international observers to be among the most transparent, fairest and freest that they have seen anywhere in the world [applause]; clearly burnishing the democratic credentials of President Chavez who many had traduced in the United States of America and in some other places among the world including St Vincent & the Grenadines that he was a dictator.7Mr. Speaker, they said that he is in control of the whole media when in fact the state owned media reaches just 6.5% of the population. Those are the figures I have seen someone can correct me if I am wrong, but it is a very healthy and competitive environment and Mr. Capriles the opponent who stood at the head of a coalition of about thirty political parties that he conceded the very night, and did so very gracefully and graciously.This country has very close ties with the Venezuelan Government; diplomatic relations had been established between our countries since independence, and we have had excellent relations from the time of the founding father, the late Robert Milton Cato through all the Prime Ministership up to the current one and under the ULP administration we are strengthening those relations.We benefit from the PetroCaribe Fund. I know some persons in this country said that we are using the PetroCaribe Fund as a “cash cow”. Well, the point is this: the Petro Caribe Fund is an instrument of solidarity and when we went into it we knew that we will pay 60% of the price of fuel in ninety days, and the other 40% we will get as a loan over twenty five years at 1% interest, and we have been servicing the loan and they are very generous terms [knocking the desk]So, the fact that the cash from that arrangement comes to the government, it comes to the government for specific programs: poverty reduction, in housing, the international airport and several other areas. I understand even down in West Kingstown that there is a piece of road down in the Lowman’s area which PetroCaribe has undertaken to do the financing, a small piece of road I think under the aegis of the Ministry of Works, the supervision of the Ministry of Works.Mr. Speaker, Venezuela has been very generous to us in many other respects, the Laptop programme [knocking the desk]; they were the ones who were responsible for making the payments for the “Vision Now Programme” which was executed by Cuba where over 2000 persons went to Cuba to have their eyes checked out and continuing that programme here in St Vincent & the Grenadines, some 2500 in all. [Applause]After Hurricane Tomas, Mr. Speaker, Venezuela provided $9 million [applause] which assisted in the rebuilding of homes and provision of materials. They were the first to send an aircraft here with over 10 tons of food, water, clothing [applause] and other supplies. They have made contributions in fertilizer and other financial contributions to the farmers of this country and dozens of scholarships. So, when I say we welcome the reelection of President Chavez with joy, the people of St Vincent & the Grenadines, I believe I speak for the vast majority of Vincentians in this regard. [Applause]There are some who would wish to not be part of PetroCaribe they would unsign it, well people can have their own opinions that is not the opinion of this government. We are a member of ALBA, we have borrowed US$40 million from the ALBA Bank on terms which are very favorable and we came here and got approval to borrow those monies. Mr. Speaker, I must say in fairness to the Opposition on one occasion they openly gave support to a particular borrowing from the ALBA Bank.Venezuela and St Vincent & the Grenadines are members of the Organisation of the American States (OAS); they are members of the ALBA, the Non Aligned Movement, the Community of States of Latin America and the Caribbean (SELAC), the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) and of course the United Nations.Venezuela is just down the road from us and the people whom the European met here when they came in the8early sixteenth century and which they bypass in the late fifteenth century, the people who were here we were told came up from the Orinoco Basin in the area of Venezuela.I congratulate President Chavez; I wish him long life; I wish him good health and the people of Venezuela for an excellent process. I also congratulate Mr. Capriles for a well fought race in the spirit of democracy; may the relations continue to be strengthened between our respective countries. [Applause]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member for West St George.HONOURABLE CECIL MCKIE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I rise to offer congratulations to the Ministry of Tourism Sports and Culture, the Kingstown Employees Cooperative Credit Union, the various schools and communities for yet another successful National Dance Festival last weekend. [Applause]This is the tenth year of partnership between the Ministry and the KCCU and what we saw last Saturday at the Peace Memorial Hall really gave us great encouragement for the talent that is available here in St Vincent & the Grenadines in the schools and in the communities where dance is concerned. In fact that sentiment was echoed by all of the patrons who had attended that competition on Saturday as well as the two judges that came in from Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada to judge the competition.Two things came to the fore last Saturday: 1. That we had outgrown the size of the Peace Memorial Hall where the competition was held.The hall was filled to capacity with standing room only.2. And I am happy to say that we already have the concept designs for a performance ... a theatre centre here in St Vincent & the Grenadines: Centre for the Performing Arts, which will house close to one thousand patrons.And it is my hope that that will become a reality in the not too distant future, so we can continue to develop the various festivals that we have here in St Vincent & the Grenadines. In fact, it is part of our initiative to strengthen all of the National Festivals from Easter to Gospel Fest, Carnival, Drama, Independence and Christmas, as we go forward as a nation and as we prepare ourselves for 2014 when a whole new world will open for us here in St Vincent & the Grenadines when the first plane touches down at Argyle [knocking the desk/applause].The talent we saw there on display would allow us to use this as one of the initiatives to continue to seek to develop our people through the use of culture and this is going to be very important as we go forward as a nation. It will also give us an opportunity to even further diversify our tourism product here in St Vincent & the Grenadines because again when the new world is opened for us in 2014 already we can boast of being the destination in the Caribbean with the most diverse product. But these festivals and events would allow us to have much more than just the sand, the sea and the sun to offer to the visitors to St Vincent & the Grenadines; once again, congratulations to all of the winners, the KECCU and the Ministry of Culture, for organising yet another successful event.9Buccament Bay Resort AwardMr. Speaker, I would also like to offer congratulations to the Buccament Bay Resort. That Resort has been identified as SVG’s leading SPA Resort for 2012 but more importantly as the Caribbean’s Leading New Hotel Award’s Winner for 2012. [Applause] [Interjections] Mr. Speaker, when the announcement was made and when the documentation was released I searched left right and centre to see a little note that said, “Sorry that was just a phantom project”. Mr. Speaker, I did not see that anywhere and what has been hailed as the Oscar of the Caribbean confirmed that the Buccament Resort is a reality and it is working for St Vincent & the Grenadines [Knocking the desk].This facility has enhanced significantly the tourism product here in St Vincent & the Grenadines, it has added several hundred beds to our capacity and that facility employed hundreds of persons both on staff and in the construction phase and therefore is very important to us here in St Vincent & the Grenadines. When we have good things that benefit St Vincent & the Grenadines at our disposal, Mr. Speaker, I think we should always be prepared to hold them up to be nationalistic in our approach and compliment those when they do good. Once again congratulations to the Buccament Bay Resort for their wonderful achievement. [Applause]Basketball ScholarshipsMr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I want to also offer congratulations to three young Vincentians who recently went off on basketball scholarships to the USA: Akeem Smart, Marie-Ann Frederick and Sheldeen Joseph. And I want to say thanks and congratulations to Mr. Wayne Williams, the St Vincent & the Grenadines Basketball Association, the St Vincent & the Grenadines Net Ball Association, the players who supported the three young Vincentians, the Ministry of Sports and the National Lotteries Authority for supporting the initiative to have these three young Vincentians go off on scholarships. The reports coming back are that they have been doing very well and we wish them every success.StarliftMr. Speaker, I also want to offer congratulations to the Starlift Steel Orchestra who recently went to the USA, did themselves proud and did St Vincent & the Grenadines proud by being wonderful in all of their performances in the USA. [Knocking the desk] congratulations Starlift, you did us proud and did well.Solid Waste Management UnitI also want to offer congratulations to the Solid Waste Management Unit of the Central Water and Sewerage Authority for putting on yet another successful international coastal clean up activity.Special GroupsSpecial thanks also to several groups also in my own community: the Upper Cane Hall group, the group from the Calvary Baptist Church, and from the West St George Secondary School who joined the Arnos Vale Educational Sports and Cultural Organisation to clean up the areas at the falls, and at the beach at Arnos Vale.Thanks CWSA, thanks Solid Waste and thanks to all of the various communities who participated in this clean up project.10page10image25920 page10image26080 page10image26240 page10image26400 page10image26560T20 CricketFinally, Mr. Speaker, rain threatened to eliminate us in the first round; we had to go into a super over in the second round and then it all came together in the final round and lest anyone is wondering I am sure I speak on everyone in this House, and those listening and watching in congratulating the West Indies Cricket team on a wonderful victory last weekend [applause].Mr. Speaker, I am sure that we all sat glued to the television and looked at the West Indies team that we have not seen for a while, team spirit was high, everybody was keyed up and we virtually got the best of every single member of the team. It was a team effort led by our own Darren Sammy from St Lucia who has been leading with distinction over the years [applause].Mr. Speaker, we must also admit that opening batsman Chris Gayle played a significant role in the victories of the West Indies team in that competition [knocking the desk] and lest we forget, we can claim personal victory in the victory of the West Indies also, because when we hosted those three back to back internationals against Australia earlier this year, it was our own Prime Minister, it was our own Luke Browne, it was our own Cabinet who rallied together with all of St Vincent & the Grenadines and made a case to the West Indies Cricket Board to have Chris Gayle included in the West Indies team. [Knocking the desk] We succeeded, Mr. Speaker, and what we saw last weekend was as a result of our efforts, the efforts of the players, the efforts of the management of the West Indies team, our efforts came together and what we are asking the West Indies team please continue doing that to us and for us, we love it.IndependenceFinally, Mr. Speaker, I want to remind all Members of the House that we are into the month of October, which is independence month here in St Vincent & the Grenadines. Last weekend you would have seen a schedule of activities very varied right throughout the length and breadth of St Vincent & the Grenadines, please identify an activity or activities you can attend, support our independence. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, much obliged.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member for East St George.HONOURABLE CLAYTON BURGIN: Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to congratulate Dr. Clarissa Etienne of Dominica for being elected the new Director of the Pan American Health Sanitary Bureau, and this election took place on the 21st September this year. Mr. Speaker, she came up against two other Latin Americans candidates and she got the required twenty votes in the second round that was required to be the Director. They are thirty-nine countries and nations within this organisation, so you just needed a majority of twenty. In the first round it was eighteen-sixteen and the other person got the remainder between the two leading candidates, the other lady form Costa Rico and in the second round she got the two that was required so it end up I think twenty, sixteen and three. So, congratulations to an OECS and a Caricom candidate for being the head of the Pan American Health Organisation. [Applause]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member for West Kingstown. 11page11image27768 page11image27928HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I wish at this point to congratulate a son of the soil, a distinguished son of the soil in the person of Mr. Lennox O’Reilly Lewis the former Manager of the Solid Waste Management Unit here in St Vincent & the Grenadines, and currently working at the Caribbean Development Bank. Last week, Mr. Speaker, at the twenty first Conference of the Caribbean Water and Waste Water Association in the Bahamas, Mr. O’Reilly Lewis assumed the Presidency of that auspicious body [applause] making him the second Vincentian to hold that post; and the only [person] of the Caribbean Islands, apart from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados, St Vincent is the only territory outside of that grouping to have held that auspicious post in the twenty-one year history of this very important regional institution [knocking the desk] Thank you.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Okay, Honourable Member for Central Kingstown, sorry; [laughs] not Central Kingstown Central Leeward.HONOURABLE MAXWELL CHARLES: Central Leeward. Mr. Speaker, Honourable MembersHONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Central Kingstown did indicate as well.HONOURABLE MAXWELL CHARLES: I just thought of standing in this Honourable House as the Representative for Central Leeward to congratulate the Buccament Bay Resort being the leading SPA Resort for 2012, and the Caribbean Leading New Hotel Award for 2012. I just want to reiterate the fact that it is playing a central role in the economy of Central Leeward; persons from Buccament, Layou, Barrouallie are all employed there, of course throughout the entire island. And I stand again to congratulate them. I am always in contact with the Leadership there, we meet from time to time to try to iron out the several problems that they may have and one of the things they always repeat over and over, “We need the International Airport, so that more visitors can come to our shores. So congratulations again Buccament Bay the Resort you are doing fine and as we continue to work together with you we know in a few years time you shall be the leading Resort perhaps in the Caribbean. [Applause] I thank you.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Okay.CONFIRMATION OF THE MINUTESDR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I beg to move that the Minutes of the sittings of this Honourable House held respectively on the 24th and 31st July, 2012 be confirmed.Question put and agreed to HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member. 12HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: I think there might be just a little correction on the Minutes for the 24th, page 13 the fourth paragraph “It is important ...HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Thirteen: 1, 3? HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Yes, the fourth paragraph. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: OkayHONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: I think the figures there is in error: 1,2,3,4, line 4 where it says that in October ‘73 it was $52.48 whereas in March 2012 it is $0.11 cents I think it might have been $0.52 cents and it says it is $52.00 here.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: What paragraph you said it is? DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: The fourth paragraph.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Okay, you get that. All right, Members, I will repeat then. [Interjection] Hello there is another?HONOURABLE SABOTO CAESAR: The second paragraph on page 25, just about the middle of the second paragraph.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Second paragraph, “Speaker” HONOURABLE SABOTO CAESAR: Paragraph the sentence which reads “We are also being assisted, Mr.Speaker, by the FAO, also assistance is coming from.....” it should be CIRAD: C.I.R.A.D instead of S.E.R.O.D. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: C.I?HONOURABLE SABOTO CAESAR: Yes, Mr. Speaker, C.I.R.A.D, and in the next line as well, the correction should be made. Much obliged, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Any further amendment? There seems to be no further amendment.Question put and agreed to Minutes of the 24th July, 2012 Confirmed as amendedHONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Members, any amendment on the second set of Minutes? There be no amendment.Question put and agreed to13STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Hello. [Interjection]DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Oh Announcement!HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member, you ...HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Mr. Speaker, under this section “Announcement by the Speaker” as I discussed with you earlier I thought you may have commented on a matter that is carried on from the last parliament.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Okay. HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: But you have indicated that you need more time to giveconsideration to the matter.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Yes Sir.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: You would have recalled then that Minister Francis had disclaimed that the Prime Minister that the remark that had been made with respect to the airport being free of debt. I have a copy of the CD of that statement and I would present it to you for your listening at your convenience so that the appropriate action could be taken, so I am lodging the CD of that remark.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Okay, that is all right. Honourable Members, the situation is that the Honourable Member did raise that and promise to provide me with the evidence on that and he presented it this morning. So, I told him “well, I would need some time at least to review and to do any cross reference that might be necessary” and we have agreed to that. So now that he has presented me with the copy, then I can look at it and deal with that matter at the next meeting of the House.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member, Sir.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: In the same vein, Mr. Speaker, may I ask of you whether a matter which has come over from the past parliament into this one pertaining to me under the same circumstances, whether you are as yet in a position to rule on it, and whether any information has been presented to you to substantiate the accusation made against me, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I ...DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, may I ...HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: You are finished, Honourable Member, I think at the last meeting we held in the House that matter was dealt with and I think I did make a pronouncement that that matter as far as I am concerned would have died.14HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: I am of a very contrary view, Mr. Speaker, I am totally of a contrary view because I explained again, Mr. Speaker, that the matter on which you suggested did not apply at all to my case. It did not apply and I did not hear any refuting of that.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable...DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, I am not going to address your ruling, you made your ruling. I crave your indulgence to make a comment which the Honourable Member for West Kingstown just made in relation to the submission by the Honourable for Central Kingstown. He said that the issue involving him is identical or similar to the one with the Honourable Member for Central Kingstown. There is no identity or similarity. Mr. Speaker, I made a statement here, I stated and I am assuming that that is the same matter to which he is referring that I heard the Honourable Member from West Kingstown saying that he was opposed to the building of the hospital in Georgetown because it is in the Soufriere belt, I said I heard him. He asked that I produce a tape; I do not go about taping his speeches. He said that he did not say it; well I said that he said it, he said he did not say it that is a political matter for people to believe or not believe. This does not attach to any integrity in relation to any matter in the House, absolutely not. So do not elevate a subject to a different level which it is not.Mr. Speaker, I have made it plain, I have no tape recording, I have a recollection of what he said, he said he did not say so that is the end of the matter because I am not going to say that he never said so. In fact, I will say so publicly and let him sue me because there is no character issue involved there;none whatsoever. All it would have said is that he would have made a statement which did not make any sense. And saying a politician made a statement which does not make any sense is not defamatory, it only means you did not make any sense, simple.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member I have ruled on this issue HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Mr. Speaker. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: and that is the end of the thing, Honourable HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Mr. Speaker, may I respond. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: No, you don’t. No! No!HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Mr. Speaker, you have allowed the Honourable Prime Minister to repeat a statement of untruthHONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member. HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Mr. Speaker, under the Rules of the House [interjection] noMember is allowed to tell untruth on another Member. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: The Honourable Leader of the House ... Mr. Speaker I am not finished.15HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Listen, I am not quarreling. HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: But I am not finished.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I am only telling you that I am no longer addressing this matter any further.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Mr. Speaker, I have a right to be heard.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I said I am not addressing this matter any further would youHONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: That matter is past Mr. Speaker, I am raising another matter.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Yes, okay.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: I am saying againHONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Yes.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: That you, Mr. Speaker,HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable MemberHONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: have permitted the Leader of government business to repeat a statement that is untruthHONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Um um. HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: and in the process he has again committed an act contrary to theRules of this House, Mr. Speaker. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member, listen, Honourable Member, please.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Mr. Speaker, may I ask does the Standing Order permit a Member of this House to tell a lie or to tell untruth on another Member? Does the Standing Order permit [inaudible]?HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Neither does the Standing Order permit you using unparlimentary language.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Mr. Speaker, I used what ...? HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: So, will you please take a seat. HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Mr. Speaker, you have not answered my question. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Would you please take your seat. [Interjections] HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: May I ask of you to answer my question.16HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member, if you are not going to sit I am going to ask you to leave the parliament.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: May I ask Mr. Speaker, that you will answer my question. [Interjection]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I am saying please take your seat. Honourable Member, I am saying to you now that I have dealt with that issue as far as I am concerned, I said at the last meeting that that issue is dead.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: You said that? HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Yes! And that is my ruling!HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Mr. Speaker, you did not say that. [Interjections] You did not say that!HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: [Addressing Honourable Nigel Stephenson who stood up] Honourable Member for ... did you indicate that you want to speak at this meeting and raise an issue here?HONOURABLE NIGEL STEPHENSON: There is an issue that I want to raise.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: No but you cannot! You have to indicate to me that you want to do that [interjections] No! No! I said no, let us move on [interjections] let us move on with “Statements” please. [Interjections]DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, [interjections] HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: [Striking of the gavel] [interjections] DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, I would wish [interjections] HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: [Striking of gavel] [interjections].HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Members just a minute, [interjection] just a minute. Honourable Member, if I hear you casting any aspersion on me I am going to ask you to leave this House again. And I want you to get up and ... I want you to apologise, who just made that statement about “one sided”.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, may I indicate, please Mr. Speaker, it is the Honourable Member for North Leeward who said that not the Member for South Leeward.HONOURABLE NIGEL STEPHENSON: Mr. Speaker, now you need to apologise. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I apologise to you Honourable Member, I have no problem in apologising. HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: He didn’t address you. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Okay [laughs] all right.17HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: He didn’t address you. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I understand; I realised ... I went through it [interjection] Eh! Because[interjection] just to ... you take what you want to take. DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: He is expressing his opinion. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Yes. DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: To many of us here.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: To the Speaker. [Interjections] Are you suggesting that the Speaker is one- sided Honourable Member for the Grenadines, are you suggesting that? [Interjections] No! No! No! I am not inviting you. [Laughter] I am asking you one question; it is a no or ... no! No! No! Please sit, please sit, it is a no or yes question, please do. [Laughter] I know about it, you sit down [laughs].DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I would like to speak very briefly on four subjects, Mr. Speaker, the matters concerning: KARIB Cable, the Moody’s rating, the International Airport at Argyle and LIAT very briefly in each case, Mr. Speaker.KARIB CableMr. Speaker, I joined with the overwhelming majority of subscribers to KARIB Cable to express my Ministry’s dissatisfaction and the government’s dissatisfaction, Ministry of Telecommunications that is with the way in which KARIB Cable has altered its offerings for which people have paid without properly advising or informing them about any alteration. [Applause] Mr. Speaker, I have requested of Mr. Apollo Knights to speak to KARIB Cable and I have also requested the Director of Telecommunications Dr. Jerrold Thompson to do the same thing and I requested a report from Apollo Knights at the NTRC the (National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission).In fairness to Mr. Kelly Glass the Head of KARIB Cable, on Tuesday evening late I got a message that he is trying to get me and he wanted to see me, unfortunately yesterday was Cabinet and today is parliament. If there is any opportunity during the course of the lunch period and he is available I will try to see him.Mr. Speaker, I have a comparison between KARIB Cable in St Vincent & the Grenadines and St Lucia and I put it in the public domain and for KARIB Cable’s management to understand that the government is taking note of it and we are very serious in pursuing this matter within the appropriate regulatory and other frameworks. We consider it gross disrespect apart from anything else that you just change your channels on people and with no explanation whatsoever, if you have a valid explanation tells us and you have to do some recompense.Mr. Speaker, in St Vincent & the Grenadines the basic package is $74.75, in St Lucia it is $80.49 for the basic package both are VAT inclusive. You may say on the face of it, well, St Vincent & the Grenadines getting a cheaper service for the basic: the only difference is what the basic includes. Seventy four channels are offered in St Vincent & the Grenadines in the basic package whereas one hundred are offered in St Lucia and the18page18image25744difference is less that $5.00. I am sure that a lot of people would like to take the hundred channels for less than $5.00 more and with the kind of channels they get in St Lucia.There are twenty four channels offered in the St Vincent & the Grenadines package that are not in St Lucia’s basic or premium packages; but hear this, there are eighty-four channels in the St. Lucia’s package that we do not have in the St Vincent package; the basic package. In fact, twenty-one of the forty-eight which are in St Lucia’s basic is in our premium for which you have to pay ... forty-eight, sorry; twenty-one of the forty eight channels which are in our premium are in St Lucia’s basic and remember this we have to pay additional monies for the premium. The remaining twenty-seven channels out of this forty eight which are on St Lucia’s basic they are neither in our basic nor in our premium. So that St Lucia is being given a far superior service in their basic, and what we are getting in our premium substantially St Lucia is getting in their basic. So it turns out far cheaper for them, this has to stop; it has to stop. I raise it here in parliament and [applause] people are incensed about it.I will say this, if they do not change, I am going to actively ask for some investors to get involved with a competition channel. [Applause] We had given Cable and Wireless (LIME) a license but they wanted to do it on their cell phones but they can go and do it but they apparently are not interested in going further into that. So, I am sure that the regulators would entertain an appropriate license from somebody else in relation to this matter. This is not a question of friendship, I like Kelly Glass he is a very enterprising man we are happy he came from New Zealand here because he does a lot of good work, he is a good investor but surely this is unacceptable and I have to speak out on behalf of the people of St Vincent & the Grenadines. [Applause]Mr. Speaker, I have gotten the reports and I am addressing it through the appropriate channels to see what would be the outcome, in the final analysis of course, we have to have the market to determine something like this and if they get good competition... These are no longer the days when only a few people had television sets; people are getting better off in these matters and more sophisticated. They have a television set in their bedroom; the children have one in their bedroom, one in the living room and so on and so forth; two, three television sets in one house.Downgrade of Moody’sMr. Speaker, in relation to the downgrade of Moody’s in relation to the foreign currency rating; and remember this, this is in relation to a foreign currency rating. “Moody’s Investment Services on Tuesday announced that it had downgraded the foreign currency rating of the Government of St Vincent & the Grenadines to B2 from B1”. At ‘B2’ the outlook they have said is stable. Mr. Speaker, they have cited three main rating drivers for the decision.1. Poor growth prospects following a protracted recession and weak recovery in tourism. Well, I had spoken about that in the last several budgets.2. Significant deterioration of the Government’s balance sheet.19page19image28536I also spoke about that as a consequence of falling revenues and I pointed out that even though ... recently, I wrote something in the newspaper that even though up to the end of August we have seen an improvement in the fiscal situation over last year, we are still not where we had intended to be and where we ought to be.3. The elevated vulnerability to external economic shocks.Well, I have said that this is something which is a constant feature now, no longer can we consider natural shocks episodic; they are part of our landscape and seascape.4. And of course the elevated vulnerability to external shocks.The Chief Economist for the IMF, Mr. Blanchard earlier this week just made the point that: “There is unlikely to be any recovery in the world economy until 2018. You may have a sort of mild and timid kind of a growth”. Of course, they are making that assessment as of now, they may well change that in a few months time. Mr. Speaker, I have my own opinions but I asked the professionals to give me an opinion. Professionals in the Ministry; they said this:“We do not expect this downgrade to affect our securities on the Regional Government Securities Market nor our dealings with regional and international financial institutions”.Well that is clear because this is a downgrade in relation to foreign currency rating; it has nothing to do with our RGSM or our relationship to CDB or any international financial institutions.“We are in contact all the time with our development partners and we will continue those contacts to discuss this and other matters and to explain to them our ongoing fiscal and economic programmes of consolidation with them. We do not fully agree with the analysis and conclusion of the rating agency”.I should point out, Mr. Speaker, Standard and Poor’s had downgraded the US their financial instruments from ‘Triple A’ downwards. “Standard and Poor’s” is the US administration took issue with them and two other rating agencies now relieve them the same. At the margin rating agencies may have differences; Standard and Poor’s and other rating agencies have differences over Spain. Mr. Speaker, I want to say that their analyses reflect in part a certain misunderstanding of the Vincentian economy and our social situation. For example, they have asserted that the banking sector in St Vincent & the Grenadines is weak and susceptible to regional contingent and that is not supported by the facts in our opinion: that is not supported by the facts, not the commercial banks as they are now.Mr. Speaker, in the region we have seen some downgrades, Barbados for instance was downgraded. The downgrade which concerns me is the one which has occurred in Grenada that is a downgrade of a member of our Currency Union which has gone from ‘B- B’ to ‘CCC+/C’, for their local currency sovereign credit ratings and that went from B -/B that went down, the local ones. And in terms of the outlook on Grenada’s long term local currency ratings it is negative, and for their foreign currency sovereign ratings they got an ‘SD’ which is20outside of the ballpark and which is called “selective default”. Of course the Grenada government is contesting that with them saying that they did not default because they were still within their thirty-day grace period and the rating agency in Grenada is saying, “Listen once you go past five days of your grace period we consider that a selective default if you have not made the appropriate arrangements with your creditors”.So that is an area which one is to be concerned about but we do not anticipate that any of this is going to affect us in our regional market, with our financial institutions internationally and regionally. In so far as the international money market is concerned we do not go on the international money market; certainly we have not gone on it and I cannot recall other than when the Honourable Leader of the Opposition could try to tickle his memory too; other than when you went to WestLB and the Consortium of Banks for Ottley Hall, I do not think that the Government went to any international commercial market. Earlier this year we went in the regional market for bonds $40 million and it was over subscribed. We go all the time for our Treasury Bills and the number of treasury bills which we have the amount is only $27 million more than what we were in 2001, an addition of $27 million in Treasury Bills given the increase in our GDP and our Revenue is nothing significant when you compared it with the 2001 position. So, I therefore put this within the context and where we have been.Mr. Speaker, for those persons who are saying, “Well, what are these things with Standard and Poor’s and other rating agencies and Moody”? Well the best I can put it for easy understanding consider examination GCE by Cambridge and CXC and Cape by CXC different examining boards but they are trying to look at the same kind of issues but they will look at them from somewhat different perspectives. I want to make that point, Mr. Speaker, and to say this further, the agency says:“As reflected by our stable outlook we see limited potential for upward rating changes in the immediate future”.But now they are looking at not immediately but future rating upgrades. This is what they say:“The completion of the Argyle International Airport and associated increase in foreign direct investment in the tourism sector will be critical to restoring fast growth in advance of any future rating upgrades”.And that is why we push for the investment in Buccament which some people opposed and still opposed and that is why we push for future investment in Canouan, what is happening now in Bequia, what is happening in Union Island and what we are trying to do with the Qataris and other potential investors. That is why we also set up National Properties to help in that regard, Invest SVG, and that is why we are trying to complete the Argyle International Airport with as little debt overhang as is possible in all the circumstances. But some would not want Argyle International Airport and will bad mouth it till thy kingdom come. But how are you going to get people to come here then? So, these ... I do not do selective reading of these things you know, I do readings in the overall context: I read it in the overall context.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: [Inaudible] why are you not telling the truth?DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: I just did it. 21HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: [Inaudible] Why you don’t tell the truth. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: I am telling the truth very much. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Members, Honourable Members.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: You see, Mr. Speaker, the problem with my friend it has become infectious from certain circles that when you speak the truth and it does not agree with a particular opinion it is denounced as untruth. This is why I am always prepared to talk facts you know, opinions we can deal with. As I have always said, Mr. Speaker, and to use the example for our students, some may have an opinion in their head that if they jump off the top of this building that they are capable of celestial ascend, they could fly but if they jump they will fall. The explanation is not really in Newton’s Law of Gravity though Newton’s Law of Gravity explains it. [Interjection] the point about it, Mr. Speaker, is that before Newton explained it men jumped off buildings and fell; that is a fact, it is what is the explanation? I have explained that already and the Honourable Member for the Northern Grenadines got into a little trouble about it.DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: I did not get into any trouble. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: You asked me, “How did I know that”? [Laughter][Interjection] Mr. Speaker, I am making my statement. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Just a minute.HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Mr. Speaker, you have ruled and reminded us on several occasions that the rules of this House do not allow us to ask questions of ministerial statements.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Yes.HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: And therefore there is no opportunity for debate, but the rules of the House clearly understood ministerial statements to speak to profound matters that impact our societies. I am making two requests of you, Mr. Speaker, because you have been asking over and over for us to meet and to review the Rules of the House such that ministerial statements may have not just the ventilation but the appropriate either answering of questions or debate that allows for proper elucidation of the matters. Because as the professional person I have listened to the Honourable Prime Minister here this morning making a ministerial statement selecting portion of which if left unchallenged would significantly misrepresent the state of affairs as expressed by the Moody’s statement, which I have already read. And we do have in this audience young minds which will leave here with one particular view and the public is listening us to a matter that has profound impact on our society and I am simply appealing once more, Mr. Speaker, for an urgency for us to meet as a subcommittee to have our House Rules reviewed so that meaningful consideration can be given of ministerial statements in the future. That is all I am requesting of you, Mr. Speaker.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, may I please if you permit me, everything that I have said here is honest and it is online and everybody can read it, everything. Persons may wish to interpret what is said here and only read part of it I have read the summary of what it is and incidentally Mr.22Speaker, the document which I read from and expressed the opinion was from the officials in the Ministry of Finance.May I just say, Mr. Speaker, further on the request that the Honourable Member for the Central Kingstown has made, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker, we have tried before to have meetings of the House to address issues of the Rules of the House and we have been unsuccessful in getting this matter go forward. I just want to add I do not know in any parliamentary system where ministerial statements are subjected to any comment then and there or any explanations. There are other ways in which it can be probably dealt with. I do not know of any, so I am interested in having rules amended. For instance, Mr. Speaker, it is like a bone in my throat every time I have to swear allegiance here in the House to Her Majesty the Queen, I am not required to do it by the Constitution of this country it is only because we have it in the Statutory Rules and Order but we can change the Statutory Rules and Order. We cannot change our Majesty as the Head of State because that requires a Referendum and I just went there and lost. [Interjection] But the point is this, we have the majority and we can change that in so far as the Oath of Allegiance is concerned here in this Honourable House to swear allegiance to the people of St Vincent & the Grenadines [knocking the desk] and not to Her Majesty her heirs and successors. So, Mr. Speaker, I am interested very much in having that conversation.HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: [Rising slowly] HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: All right, Honourable Member, please I am not entertaining you, theHonourable Prime Minister is making his statement and I want him to continue and finish his statement.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: I am obliged, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, in relation to the Airport; International Airport at ArgyleHONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Mr. Speaker, in all fairness I addressed you on a matter, and you just ignored me. The Prime Minister spoke after me and I would have thought I would have been ...HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I will address your matter. HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: But you could have least said I would address it in future but I wasignored. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I will address your matter, I am sorry, I am sorry. HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: You should apologise, Mr. Speaker. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I will address your matter. HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: You have apologised. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I will address your matter. [Laughs] Oh Heavenly Father!HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: No, he must have apologised he cannot just ignore me. [Interjections]23DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, I want to read the letter which I received from the Chief Executive Officer of the Caricom Development Fund Ambassador Lorne T McDonnough CD:Dear Prime MinisterSUBJECT: Approval of additional financing for the Argyle International Airport St Vincent & the Grenadines.I am pleased to advise that the Board of Directors of the Caricom Development Fund (CDF) at its sixteenth regular meeting has approved an additional loan for St Vincent & the Grenadines for a value EC$8,807.400. The approval of financing is in support of the national development objectives of the government of St Vincent & the Grenadines, as well as the mandate of the CDF relating to the reduction of disparities among member states of Caricom.The resources are to be applied to the procurement of equipment for paving works and laboratories testing, as set out in the request letter from the International Development Company (IADC) dated July 3rd, 2012. The CDF is finalising the loan agreement, which will be submitted to the Government of St Vincent & the Grenadines for review. In addition, arrangements for signing will have to be confirmed.On behalf of the CDF, I wish to record our gratitude to you, the Chief Executive Officer of the IADC, Dr. Rudolph Mathias, his technical and administrative support staff, and all others in St Vincent & the Grenadines who provided valuable support to our team. Please accept the assurances of my highest consideration.Lorne T McDonnough Chief Executive Officer[Knocking the desk] Mr. Speaker, this is the second tranche of monies; the first one was for just over $11 million: just about EC$11 million. Mr. Speaker, I raised this because when we had made the application originally, the CDF had put on their website a notice, an advertisement for someone to do an assessment of the airport project, CDF was just getting off the ground and did not even have their manuals. I was very impatient with the length of time they were taking to process the Grant and the Loan component in accordance with Article 158 of the Revised Treaty of Chaugaramus. Mr. Speaker, I was amazed that at the time Members of the opposition were saying:“You see, they have no assessment of the airport. What sort of a thing is this? The CDF has to do an assessment and they will find that there is no economic or financial viability to that project”.24They were then in the opposed airport mode. The CDF did the assessment, in the process of time they did all their manuals, a loan and Grant to the sum of $11 million, and now another $8.8 million. Now if their argument was then that the CDF would not put any money in it because there is no economic or financial viability, they have just done this thing just harum-scarum, what is the story now? And that is one of the reasons, Mr. Speaker, that I draw to the attention of the public what is happening in relation to various financial elements for the International Airport at Argyle.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: [Inaudible] taxes.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: I say further, Mr. Speaker, I say further, Mr. Speaker [interjections] I say this, on Tuesday, Mr. Speaker, I received a telephone call from Mr. Kuarlal Rampersad of Lake Asphalt of Trinidad and Tobago (1978) Limited. It is a state owned company in Trinidad, it controls the pitch lake and the whole production apparatus there with asphalt and the hot mix; and he called me to tell me that as Chairman of the Board he is indicating that he is supportive of providing asphalt for us free of cost for the airstrip [knocking the desk] and has asked me to seek the approval of Prime Minister Kamla Persad- Bissessar. The very same day I sent off a letter to my dear friend the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago requesting either it as a Grant or at concessionary rates because I know how things are all around and I think this is an important break through between two Caricom countries with has a very long standing relationship and that is another dimension.Mr. Speaker, there are other forms of financing which are being pursued; I do not want to talk about them right now except to say that I am satisfied that we are on track for the completion of the Argyle International Airport.LIATMr. Speaker, LIAT. Mr. Speaker, I wrote something in the newspaper and I am amazed that some persons think that I did not say anything as to how this is going to be financed; the new aircraft for LIAT. Mr. Speaker, I came here after the meeting on July 20th in Barbados, which I chaired July 20th this year; I outlined that LIAT we are proceeding in three phases with the renewal of the fleet and the expansion. The renewal immediately is six aircraft 50-seater. I said I cannot say which company we are going to use and I outlined that we will have to put some money in, in addition to working out the financial arrangements between LIAT and the manufacturers of those six aircrafts.Secondly that in about four, five months time we are going to make a decision in relation to the further expansion of LIAT hopefully to see if we can acquire 70-seater aircrafts so that we can service better the route from Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and even go to Jamaica, in light of the fact that American Eagle has indicated: American Airlines they have indicated that they are going to truncate or cut out the Eagle service out of Puerto Rico.And thirdly, I said, Mr. Speaker, a further expansion eighteen months, two years time we look for a strategic partner to see if we can work with jets; regional jets and I reported that I myself had gone outside Sᾶo Paulo in Brazil and saw the Embraer the 170 to the 195 series to go into Central America to routes not covered already by any regional carrier and to go to Fort Lauderdale and to New York City. But we are at the first stage here,25page25image30544Mr. Speaker, and I outlined publicly and I will do so here in this House so that there can be no mistake, I wrote it, this is a very important policy initiative. The first phase of the aircraft acquisition for the six planes is costing $EC283 million or US$105.The LIAT’s management is proposing that the shareholder governments inject $78.6 million, the rest naturally would be financed through the arrangements with the manufacturers and those negotiations have already commenced. We would provide $7.8 ... [interjection] EC dollars - $EC$78.6 million; that we would provide, our share would be EC$7.8 million over a three year period; EC$3.8 this year [Interjection] [Laughter] I have to get their cheque to them. [Interjection] Yes, I have to; the $EC3.2 next year and $EC0.8 in 2014. And I have also outlined the financing of the project the EC$3.8 this year, Mr. Speaker, this is coming from the PetroCaribe Fund where the resources are already at hand.That is how I explained it, Mr. Speaker, very simple and straightforward. I cannot see that there is any confusion about this but I am keeping the public informed because LIAT has been a significant investment, and a significant mode of communication for the people of St Vincent & the Grenadines and those trying to get here. I am obliged, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Honourable Prime Minister. In relation to the submission as it were that was mentioned or given by the Honourable Member for Central Kingstown, I wish to explain something because as you would notice in Rule 79: 1, 2 and3 addressed the question of amendments to Standing Order. When I asked that we meet ... as a matter of fact it gives me more or less an option in relation to this matter. When I asked that we meet as Members of the Local Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Branch (CPA) I thought that we would get there together and in a meeting of that branch look at the Rules of the House and go through it at some appropriate time and speak about what we would like to see amended in the Rules. And of course, we have to understand that in order for this to happen a Motion must be presented with the various amendments and which we will have debated in the House. I am saying that I still believe that the option is for us to meet as the local CPA Branch look up the Rules completely, go through it and then we can make our necessary proposals in relation to what rules we feel that we need to look at and so on. I feel that is perhaps the best option we could do.In relation as to when this can happen, I can state that I cannot see us doing this before sometime next year, not this year.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: You are inviting someone in this House to bring this Motion to you to get this going?HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Okay, let me read you the notice. 1. Unless the Speaker shall otherwise direct, not less than seven days notice or a motion to amend the standing Orders shall be given and the notice shall be accompanied by a draft of the proposed amendments. 2. The motion shall be set down for the earliest sitting after the expiration of the notice. 26 3. When the motion is reached, the mover shall move the motion, and after it has it if necessary been seconded the motion shall be referred forthwith, without any question being put thereon, to a Select Committee on Standing Order, and no further proceedings shall be taken on any such motion until the Committee has reported thereon.That is what the Rule says, how you amend the Rules. The point I was making instead of somebody just getting up and make a proposition in relation to what motion we want to amend or what rule you want to amend that if we as Members of the parliamentary group can sit down, look at the Rules, go through it as it were rule by rule, and determine what rule we want to look at and what rule we would want to amend and therefore put that in the motion that is necessary so we can have it going forward to the Select Committee on the question of motions as the Rules outlined. [Interjection] Eh!HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Then we should get going. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Yes, but I said, I said I agree with that; I agree that we should get goingbut the time that we have at hand now ...HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Perhaps during the Christmas Season [inaudible] we could meet with you and start to map out a framework and we will ...HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: That is what the Rule says?DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, the way in which it is being suggested that a meeting be convened of the local branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and that we sit down, we brainstorm and we say listen, these are the rules which we would like to see altered and then we can have a committee of ourselves and some other lawyers from the Attorney’s General Chambers, maybe from elsewhere to help us. Maybe, the Commonwealth maybe able to send a technical person assisting us in ourselves somebody from one of the other countries nearby then when we have something workable, we then we get to the stage of doing the motion and so on and so forth. So, we do a lot of background work on it, this is my own suggestion, if in the enthusiasm the Honourable Speaker meets with you and a Member from our side, no, you see it is better if everybody were to meet in a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Meeting and then out of that we then go to a subcommittee stage.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: [Inaudible] DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Well, the Speaker has said that he is prepared to do itbut on his calendar he does not have the time this year; that is what the Speaker is saying. HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: After the Budget. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Beautifully, after the Budget early in the year.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Fine, I have no problem with that. Honourable Senator Lewis, you rose earlier and I said I was not going to entertain you at that time, could I hear what you were talking about? I just wanted the Honourable Prime Minister to finish his statement.27HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: Yes, I was agreeing with the Prime Minister when he stated that comments are not to be made during ministerial statements. I think that the Member for Central Kingstown St Clair Leacock also referred ...HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable St Clair Leacock.HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: Honourable St Clair Leacock also meant the length of time that these ministerial statements are taking. The practice in England is that they should take ten to fifteen minutes and that they should be policy statements and if I turn to Rule 81 of our rules of the House, 82, sorry it says:“In cases of doubt the Standing Orders of this House shall be interpreted in the light of the relevant practice of the Commons House of parliament of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: [Inaudible] DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: There is because there is no rule in our Standing Order thatindicates the time period that should be taken for ministerial statements.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: No! But Honourable Member, looking for the Rule there is a rule which says that no Member shall address the House on any issue for more than forty five minutes on any particular issue. I was trying to find it here.HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: Yes! Yes! It is there, I am also aware of that, Mr. Speaker, but HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: So at least we have a guide there in relation to that. HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: But that relates to debate, Mr. Speaker. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Address the House.HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: Its all right that relates to debate, Mr. Speaker. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: All right, let us move on. We are going to move on I just did not want theHonourable Member to feel that I was ignoring him when I told him to sit down; I saw his face.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: [Inaudible] this committee meets the local parliamentary association could we operate within the existing Rules that we have and we do not bring arguments and discussions and want to speak out of order when they are not allowed by the Rules of the House. Let us accept the Rules of the House as they are and operate and practice the parliamentary procedure according to the Rules of the House. [Knocking on desk]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: You want to second it?HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: You want to second it? 28DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: Yes, I want to ensure that rules are applied equally on both sides of the House and that when you exercise your discretion under any rules of the House that it is exercised with impartiality. Thank you.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Yes, I see you have the book.DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: I know, Mr. Speaker, I just want them to be applied.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I thought you were going to quote an order or something else [laughs]. Honourable Members, I wouldn’t further comment on these issues, I have a comment I was going to make but I thought that I shouldn’t.So, I think that we have agreed that we will adhere to the rules as they are until such time comes when we will make the necessary amendments. I do hope that we all agree to that. I am quite in favour and the Opposition, I am sure the Honourable Member is speaking on behalf of the Opposition: his Honourable Opposition is quite in favour of that. So, we shall proceed according to the Standing Order as exists. Thank you very much.REPORTS FROM SELECT COMMITTEESDR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I beg to lay on the table the Report of the Select Committee in respect of the Property Tax Bill which hence forth ... and amended at the Committee to the Valuation and Rating Bill 2012.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member for Central Leeward.HONOURABLE MAXWELL CHARLES: Honourable Members, I beg to lay before this Honourable House, Minutes of the Select Committee: committee that was appointed by the House of Assembly to examine Ecclesiastical Bills. These are, Bequia Community Church Inc., Harvest Bible Chapel Inc., the Berean Baptist Church Inc., Prayer and Faith Assembly Inc. and Maranatha Baptist Church Inc. and Mr. Speaker, I want to also note that the Christian Pilgrim Fellowship Incorporation Bill we are not quite ready with that because there are certain issues that are under examination.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: That leaves Christian Pilgrim Fellowship Bill? Okay incorporated. HONOURABLE MAXWELL CHARLES: Yes.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Okay, we more or less a [x] that from the ... okay.29QUESTIONS FOR ORAL ANSWERS HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: All right, I was going to ask if we are ready for lunch [laughs]; HonourableSenator Browne.1. The Honourable David Browne (Senator) asked the Honourable Prime Minister and Minister of Finance:The Parliament of St Vincent & the Grenadines has voted an amount of money to meet the office expenses of the Opposition, included the salary of a Research Officer.In this regard can the Minister please state the following:- a. A breakdown of the sums paid to the Opposition in the year 2011 to meet the expenses of the Opposition; b. Did the Opposition utilize the money provisioned as approved by the Parliament; c. If the answer is no, can the Minister indicate what or where the deficiency lies; d. Can the Minister indicate what action is being taken to correct this situation, including any plans to recover any sums spent by the Opposition but not authorised. HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: That is a very good question boy.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, the question relates to the financial year 2011, so I begin at the starting point. At page 32 of the 2001 Estimates there is an allocation for the office of the Leader of the Opposition of $153,000.00, Mr. Speaker, before I explain the other areas of the answer I want to point out that the mode of the disbursement of this $153,000.00 was altered at my direction in my capacity as Minister of Finance for the financial year 2011, after I had received two Special warrants regarding the office of the Leader of the Opposition in relation to I think communication expenses.Mr. Speaker, I did not want to have to be in a position as the Minister of Finance and who is also in a political party opposed to that of the Leader of the Opposition, to exercise the discretion of a Special Warrant: signing a Special Warrant. In any event I felt that given the importance of the office of the Leader of the Opposition the monies allocated by parliament should be disbursed quarterly with absolutely no reference to the Minister of Finance. The Head of the Accounting Department is the Clerk of the House and the Leader of the Opposition would simply ... his office would make a request, he does not have to do it personally, his secretary can do it, to say for the quarter January to March this is the money I require to be spent in January, February, March, the first quarter; April, May, June, the second quarter; and so on until he goes down to the fourth quarter ending in December of any particular year.30The Clerk of the House will then forward this request to the Director General of Finance and Planning who will authorise the release through the Accountant General. The Accounting Officer will draw to the Director General of Finance and Planning any issue that she thinks necessary to draw to the attention of the Director General of Finance and Planning; in relation to the disbursements requested by the office of the Leader of the Opposition. In other words we treat the Leader of the Opposition in the same arms length manner as you treat any other department or office without any involvement by the Prime Minister: by the Minister of Finance save and except if a Special Warrant is to come. But I do not want Special warrants to be coming, where because of some administrative delay electricity bills, water bills, telephone bills are being sent to the office of the Clerk outside of the financial year, and therefore requiring these Special Warrants to make the payment.And we have approved here in the House two Special Warrants after I had authorised them in the meantime, in respect of the Leader of the Opposition. So, I thought we use a more straightforward mode of financing, of disbursement but that the items be listed in the request for disbursement, which have been there before, for example, Research Officer, Secretary, Office Attendant, Office Cleaner; the four employees which had been authorised from before when the payments were made directly through the office of the Clerk, but that it will come now in a lump sum in a quarterly basis for the Leader of the Opposition to keep in his account and to be paid over.Now, in the first quarter of 2011, $30,608 was paid over upon the request on two separate occasions in that period to the office of the Leader of the Opposition. April to June, the second quarter, $36,000 was made available; July to September $36,000; October to December, the fourth quarter last year $48,000. And I see from the records that a $2.00 balance was left in the Vote Book now for the year.Mr. Speaker, I want to say this I have only requested these documents after a question was asked, I was not in any pursuit of the Leader of the Opposition as to how he spent the $153,000. And what I did I sent because it is a financial matter, I sent it to the Director General of Finance and Planning for him to on send to the House of Assembly for the Clerk to get an answer and the information which is presented to me here information by the Public Servants:In 2011 each of the months from January to December inclusive the request was made for each month in each quarter a sum of $6,939 to pay salaries: that is to say the salaries of the Research Officer, the Secretary, the Office Attendant and the Office Cleaner: $6,939. I have no information here and I have not requested any as to how much the Research Officer is paid or the Secretary, Office Attendant or the Cleaner these are numbers which clearly would be in the possession of the Clerk of the House but they were not put down here. I did not ask for them either, I did not think they were germane to answering the question. Then you have other items listed: Employers, 41⁄2% for the NIS; Utilities: electricity, water; communication expense; rental of assets; supplies; and maintenance. In the case of electricity for the year I see the sum $9,000 for communication expenses I see the sum of $12,000 this is what the sheet I have in front of me ...Mr. Speaker, the records show that after the General Elections for Mr. Patel Mathews now the Member for the North Leeward was the person who was being paid directly by the Clerk of the House through the office of the Clerk of the House through the House of Assembly and then after the elections, Mr. Addison Bash Thomas was appointed by the Leader of the Opposition as the Research Officer but his duties commenced on the 15th31October, 2011. I pointed out, Mr. Speaker, that for all the months from January to September that the sum of $6,939 was expended for salaries which included that of the Research Officer but whose duties commenced on the 15th October. The reason why I said this, Mr. Speaker, there is a letter here from the Secretary for the Honourable Leader of the Opposition Mrs. Nichols who indicated that Mr. Thomas will commence his duties on Monday 15th October, 2011.Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, in relation to whether the money was utilised as provided and approved by parliament, well it is self-evident that there was no person to pay as a Research Officer for the first nine and a half months. Now, where the money was utilised within the ambit of this, I do not know, I can only answer the facts as they are presented to me. [Interjections] I asked for an answer from the Public Servants, I was not intent in getting involved in any crosstalk, I heard what the Leader of the Opposition said on an earlier occasion and I heard what he said on Monday. I am not taking what is said on a radio programme in answer to the question which I am asked in parliament ... on the facts presented to me by the Public Servants.(c) If the answer is no, can the Minister indicate what and where the deficiency lies? I have indicated that I do not know how that portion of what was disbursed was spent.What action can be taken? Mr. Speaker, the matter has now come to the attention of the House and if there is any query I am absolutely sure that the Honourable Leader of the Opposition will have nothing to hide on this that it is a matter which the Clerk of the House or the Director General of Finance and Planning or indeed the Leader of the Opposition himself or the Minister of Finance can request of the Director of Audit for an audit to be done of the accounts of the Office of the Leader of the Opposition for the period 2011. If I am being asked that is the only thing which is possible. If I may just say this, Mr. Speaker, all the communication from the Director General of Finance and Planning to the Clerk of the House is copied to the Accountant General and the Director of Audit. The Accountant General will disperse the money; the Director of Audit would be free on her own initiative to do an audit if she wants. It can be requested by the Clerk, it can be requested by the Director General, it can be requested by the Leader of the Opposition or it can be requested by the Minister of Finance. I have not requested it, the matter has come up and that is where we are.Mr. Speaker, I do not know the ... [interjections] I noticedHONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: [Striking the gavel] Honourable Members, the Honourable Prime Minister said he is not answering any questions, please let him finish in silence.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: The office which I use as my constituency office I do not spend $12,000 a year on communication expenses; I do not spend $9,000 on electricity. The Leader of the Opposition, I do not know these monies which are additional to his monies for his constituency because he has a constituency allowance whether they comingle and one helps pay for the other I do not know, those are matters which the Director of Audit would be able to say. In my building in my constituency office there is one meter, and I pay what is on it; in the office of the Leader of the Opposition there is his office as Leader of the Opposition I do not whether there is a meter separate for that area than there is for the rest of the NDP Headquarters all those are things which an audit may tell us something. I would not want to presume that32there is not anything sinister, I will just say that in the interest of transparency it may be something useful to be done.I want to emphasize I am not making any allegation that the monies which were spent was spent in a manner not approved all I am saying, I have the information here that no one was working as a Research Officer for nine and a half months but there is money for that. That money probably was used other ways and it is for the Public Servants to determine, Director of Audit whether those were legitimate ways and that is it. [Interjection] I for one, I would not cast aspersions on the Leader of the Opposition at all in this regard. But it may well be, Mr. Speaker, when it is asked, the last part of the question what could be done: it is for an audit to be done and it is simple and straightforward, by the office of the Director of Audit. I do not see any big thing about it frankly in that context, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: Supplementary? [Laughter]HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: No! No supplementary.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: He cannot ask for a supplementary. [Laughter]HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: I did not ask the question.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: He did not ask the question. [Laughter]HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: I am asking the Speaker under Rule 81 to allow me to explain to the Prime Minister some of the issues that he raised in relation to this question.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: You see Honourable Member I HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: The Prime Minister made a comment about allegations and I want tohave this matter very carefully [inaudible]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I really do not want to open a floodgate here in relation to these matters. And I believe that there are other ways and means by which these can be addressed and therefore I would not grant such permission. I understand what you are saying and I understand what you are trying to do but I feel there are other ways and means by which this could be addressed and I would not want to grant that permission here. [Interjection] Whatever you want to doHONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Mr. Speaker, I just want to make something very clear because I am concerned about my character in this matter.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker. HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: and I would not be long.33DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker may I? Mr. Speaker, I understand your ruling and I do not want to question your ruling. If however, I were in the position of the Honourable Leader and that on face of it, it appears as though monies which were approved for a particular purpose were not spent for that purpose and he has an explanation and to the extent it may appear that the salary which was to go for the nine and half months to the Research Officer that if you may wish to reconsider, Mr. Speaker, he has given the assurance that he is not engaging in a debate he just wants to ... fair enough because the truth is this whether we like it or not in the publics mind there would be aspersions cast on the integrity of the Leader of the Opposition in respect of the expenditure of that portion which should be paid to the Research Officer. And he says ... if he wants to make a statement in relation to that, Mr. Speaker, I do not consider it unreasonable; I do not know whether you would wish to review it. For my part, I think the best way is to do an audit but he is here and in the interest of fairness I do not see a problem. [Interjection] [Striking gavel]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Just a minute. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: And I urge your reconsideration HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Just a minute. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: if you think that is possible, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Prime Minister, I understand the request which is made and which you so far supported in relation to the Leader of the Opposition. I am concerned, very concerned about precedent, I would further say it is not too long ago we said that let the Rules of the House as they are applied [knocking the desk] and we all agree to that. I wish to say this further that I have the greatest of respect for the Honourable Leader of the Opposition and he knows that. I mean I will allow the Leader of the Opposition at anytime to if it were to make statements or whatever that might be considered unconventional as far as the Rules are concerned, but you see I am very concerned about precedent to be honest with you. Because it seems to me that a number of us in this parliament do not understand the whole question of precedent, sometimes we do not understand that.You see, I want to make this plain and I just want you all to abide with me, I have no bias against the Leader of the Opposition, absolutely none he is a man I totally [interjection] Eh!HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: You have distinguished which one of the Opposition. [Laughter]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: [laughs] I have none for the Honourable Member for West Kingstown either, he is a man who meets me on the road and greets me, in a very nice, personable and pleasurable manner. I have none for him absolutely. [Laughs] [Interjections]Honourable Member, you see the thing about it if the Member would allow me, I do not ... at the end of this I will determine what I would do. But I want to make the position exceptionally clear that I have been traduced in public and by a lot of people for my sort of undemocratic way of operating; but I want John Public and other people to understand that what is taking place in parliament today, in terms of the public knowing what is going on is because of a decision that I agreed to that we will make public broadcast of the various meetings of the34House in relation to this very question period. We know according to the Rules that it says: “The Member would rise and would ask question No. 2 standing in my name”. I agreed that it does not make much sense to the people out there in the public let us here what the question is so that they can follow along in what is really going on in the House. Because question No. 1, what does that mean, you only hear the answer.So, these are things in which we try to make the House of Assembly as democratic as we possibly can but we also have to also balance this and ensure that when we are conducting the business of the House that it is conducted in a proper and orderly manner. And I say that to say I believe that I would let the matter lie as it is. [Applause] Thank you very much. Honourable MemberHONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: [Inaudible] I do not recognise your ruling. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Tell him I will stop talking to him. HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: I understand but section 81 HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Yes, I understand that.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: gives you the authority, for matters not covered by any other rule in the House,HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Yes, it is covered.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: to use your discretionHONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: No, it is covered, it is covered. The Rules says in relation to questionsHONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: No! No!HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: that the Member shall... no I am saying that I do not think that what you are saying here is applied.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Remember I am not part of the question, [interjection] the Rules apply to in this case a question from the Senator to the Prime Minister, which is not the norm in terms of questions [interjection] I am just asking in light of the fact that the question relates to myself, I was asking under 81HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Yes. HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: to be allowed to explain a couple of matters raised by the PrimeMinister to elucidate this issue. [Interjection] [Interjection] It is in that context.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: [Striking the gavel] Honourable Member, I would strengthen your position that I believe Honourable Member that you are a man of very high integrity, and I believe the public - I would wish them to understand that. [Striking the desk with his hands] let us proceed with the rest of the questioning, I do not want to engage in that: that is the ruling let us go.35Question No. 2. Yes Sir, Honourable Member. What supplementary?SUPPLEMENTARYHONOURABLE DAVID BROWNE: We realise here that the Prime Minister had given clearly four ways in which we could proceed on this matter, through the Clerk, through his Ministry and the Director of Audit. My question to him is can we have a confirmed direction and decision on when an audit can be taken please?HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I would not allow that.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: May I say this, Mr. Speaker, the Public Service is steeped in the various, in the traditions of the Public Service which are rational and legal globally. There is a debate on an issue in the House if the Accounting Officer feels that there ought to be an audit the Accounting Officer can also request it. The Director of Audit herself on her own motion can request it. The Director General of Finance and Planning can request it, so too the Leader of the Opposition and the Minister of Finance. Mr. Speaker, I for my part will not be requesting an audit. If the public servants so request an audit to be done I have no ... that is how it is done. I do not want it to appear, Mr. Speaker, that in requesting an audit that there is some political witch hunt on this matter, I am not getting involved in that regard so I am giving ... in so far as I am concern I will not as the Minister of Finance be requesting an audit, but I outlined the various options which are there including that of the Leader of the Opposition who is quite confident from what I am understanding that the audit would simply clear him of any “wrong doing” [interjection]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Thank you very HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: [Inaudible]DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: ah! Will tell us what the truth of the situation is. Let me leave it at that, I think that is a better formula.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Thank you very much, Honourable Prime Minister, I really do not know why we are prolonging this matter because I mean, as far as I am concerned, I did not consider that as a supplementary question. So, let us – could we move to question number ...HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: May I crave your indulgence [interjections] may I crave your indulgence, Mr. Speaker, you mentioned earlier this thing about setting precedents and this is indeed as far as I am aware a precedent in this parliament. But I want to seek some explanation as to why a backbencher on the government side raising a question is given priority No. 1, including over those questions posed of the Leader of the government of Her Majesty’s Opposition.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Well, to be honest with you, being a backbencher as far as I am concerned to the government, I probably thought that might have been the reason why precedent or priority was given. I do not know of any [interjection] All right, thank you very much. The Clerk is saying the reason why it is there, the question came in first. Thank you very much. [Interjections] Right, thank you; thank you very much. I have nothing to do with the setting down of the order of the questions. Question ... [Applause] Oh! Let us allow ...36[Pause] [Interjections] We are just allowing the students of the St Vincent Grammar School to leave. [Interjections] Honourable Members, please, please, he is not a Member of the Cabinet; he is a private Member as it were Senator [Interjections] I mean I could understand the question coming from the Member for West Kingstown but then an answer was provided by the Clerk; I have nothing to do with it. [Striking the gavel] All right Member, but in terms of his right for doing so as a private Member he is not a Member of the Cabinet and he therefore can ask questions to Members of the Cabinet. Thank you very much. [Crosstalk]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Question No. 2 DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: Don’t treat him like that if you have a question ask him[interjection] you make him had to come here.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: [Striking the gavel] Honourable Members, please let us proceed with questions or do we need to have a break at this time. [Interjection] No! No! Question No. 2, Honourable Leader of the Opposition.2. The Honourable Arnhim Eustace, Leader of the Opposition asked the Honourable Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Economic Development, Airports and Seaports, Legal and Grenadines Affairs:Please indicate the fiscal outturn for the period up to 30th September, 2012 as compared with the similar period for 2011.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Prime Minister question No. 2. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, cumulative toSeptember, 2012 total Revenue and Grants $347.75 million.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Repeat this for him I think he might ...DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Sorry. Cumulative to the end of September 2012, total Revenue and Grants $347.75 million; for 2011 the comparable period $365.3 million; so there was a fall there because of the Grant component I would show shortly the fall in the Grant component. Current Revenue $336.62 million 2012, end of September, $336.6; Current Revenue for this year up to the end of September, $331.1, 2011; so there is an improvement of the Revenue position.Mr. Speaker, I should just indicate so there can be some understanding of the wider matters. You take ... taxes, income and profits went up by about 5%: taxes, income and profits that is to say for individuals companies and withholding tax. Taxes on international trade went up by 1% compared to last year. I am just giving now the percentage increase for those subheadings not the actual numbers, and the taxes on domestic transactions went up by 10.1% but we saw declines for instance in interest, rent and dividendsMr. Speaker, Capital Revenue and Grants $11.1 million in the first nine months of this year compared to $34.1 million in the previous year; Capital Grants, Revenue and Grants. In the Capital Grants category itself is $25.6 million last year compared to $5.9 million this year, and the reason for that is last year we got a lot of money for Tomas and after the April floods those were not available this year. In Grants now [interjection]37HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Grants.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Grants, I just isolated the Grant component for 2012 of $5.9 million as against $25.6. The overall category for Capital, Revenue and Grants was $11.1 million compared to $34.1 million last year. Recurrent total Expenditure it is down from $404.5 last year to $376.7 this year; in relation to ... sorry, total Expenditure last year up to the end of September was $404.5 and this year is $376.7. But the Recurrent Expenditure now was $370.9 million last year to the end of September and $354.4 this year. The categories which went up were pensions and personal emoluments because you know of the in- built increments. Mr. Speaker, I should point out that though social welfare payments went down they were not the core social welfare payments, were those which were in the category like when banana farmers had gotten money consequence on the April floods and also the Black Sigatoka monies which came for those, which were dispersed as Grants. But the core welfare payments, public assistance, materials and all that as you would have seen in the Vote it remains buoyant.Capital Expenditure went down from $33.6 million to $22.3 million as a consequence of all what I have said you do the arithmetic one would see that the deficit on the Current Account fell from $39.7 million to $17.7 million; and the overall balance fell from $39 ... the overall Deficit fell from $39.2 million to $28.9 million: the over all Deficit.Now Mr. Speaker, I just want to say this ... [interjection] $39.7 million to $17.7 million. Now, Mr. Speaker, for some colleagues who are not as familiar with the accounting and reportage: you may find the month of August that you may have a better situation in that month than the month of September or you might find the month of October is better. Depending on when you make, for instance, your debt service payments and various sets of things, you may also deal with reportage, take for instance I know as a fact that though we have this to the end of September, there are monies which came in for companies which I have here $27 million for September. They came in towards the end of September but they were not included in September they would be included in October. So, the important thing these with these matters often is not the precise numbers for any particular month but what the trend may be like as to where you are going relative to the year or in relation to your budget.For example, Mr. Speaker, the VAT at the Port I thought we were going to collect about $55 million by this time we collect $48 million [interjection] at the Port. Yes, but the VAT at ... domestic transactions, I thought that I would collect $54.5 in our spread because every month the Honourable Leader of the Opposition will know, he [has] once been Minister of Finance; I have budgeted amounts every month and try to see how my targets go in relation to what I budget for both in collections and expenditure for every category. I got $53 million which is pretty good and I am up over last year by about $4 million which tells me that there is a little more economic activity in goods and services and there is a little better administration in terms of the collections. That is how you know I look for my signals. And these are numbers I must tell you I pour over on an ongoing basis. This is ... I do not think there is anything else I can help in this regard.38DR. THE HONOURABLE DOUGLAS SLATER: Mr. Speaker, regarding the question, Mr. Speaker, this question is repeated fairly often, Mr. Speaker, I believe I would be correct to say that it is a fairly complex matter. I humbly, I am not an economist, I can follow sometimes but Mr. Speaker, there are provisions for the question to be asked written. I believe that maybe all of us might benefit better if these questions ... it is a choice of the Leader of the Opposition but we have heard about the time used and if we were to ask around here now from all Members not even the gallery to give a summary from what was said here, some of us may have been not really up to scratch may have been lost or not remembering the salient points. And if we really want to ensure that all of us learn from this I just wish to humbly suggest that a question of this nature might better serve purpose to ask a written answer, just my humble suggestion.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member, well, I think that perhaps would be, there is nothing to rule on here, perhaps would be a decision of the person or persons answering the particular question or asking the particular question. I do not know, but there was once upon a time when I serve as Senator and we have gone passed that that the answers used to be supplied on a piece of paper [laughs] passed around the place. So, I do not know if that is probably something you might want to look back at again.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Question No. 3, No. 2, No. 3 yes, sorry. HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to make a comment on the suggestion.Questions for written answers take a long time [interjections] HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Answer to questions.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Yes written answers, and secondly as the Prime Minister himself indicated it is vital in this area to look at the trend,HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Okay. HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: I am sure he looks at it plenty more than once a month. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: All right.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: The man running his business.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Question No. 33. The Honourable Arnhim Eustace, Leader of the Opposition asked the Honourable Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Economic Development, Airports and Seaports, Legal and Grenadines Affairs:Several boxes of Vincentian Passports were recently destroyed at the Government Printery:39Could the Honourable Prime Minister indicate how many Vincentian Passports were destroyed and the reason for destroying these Passports.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Question No. 3, Honourable Prime Minister.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, in answering this question for it to be wholly intelligible to Honourable Members here and those who will be listening or people who will be listening I just give a brief backdrop. There is an organisation known as the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) they had established a requirement, and in fact it has subsequently become mandatory that all contracting parties to ICAO procure and issue machine readable passports to facilitate travel. And when I refer to ICAO later in my answer Honourable Members would understand that this international organisation is the one which works in conjunction with the passport authorities in the various countries; and also with the companies which manufacture passports: which produce the passports and they set standards and they give approvals to certain things. This must not be confusedHONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: Another [inaudible]DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: No! It must not be confused with IATA that is the one you are talking about: (International Air Travel Association). IATA is the entity which we addressed earlier in a Bill regarding the collections of monies, when you are paying for the travel: the departure tax. If it is on the ticket the people who issue the tickets they are part of a consortium with IATA (International Air Travel Association) which is a different thing. ICAO is the regulatory body and it regulates also operations in relation to airlines, airports, sorry. The regional counterpart to that would be the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Agency (ECCAA) [interjection] no, ECCAA! ECCAA! ECCAA!Now, through a transparent tendering process as approved on the 29th October, 2004 the Canadian Bank Note Company Limited was selected and a contract entered into for the installation of a modern passport issuing system, and the production of passport books. The Canadian Bank Note Company Limited is one of the more reputable companies in this area, they produce for instance the passports of Canada and I understand now that they have an arrangement in relation to the USA. I think Canadian Bank Note also prints the Canadian currency; there are other agencies but Canadian Bank Note is top of the line.Now, Mr. Speaker, to give an indication of the cost of these passports and the passport system: the initial contractual amount was $2.4 million and to date we have spent $5.4 million between October 2004 and now on the upgrading of the system and the production of the passports. Mr. Speaker, in late September last year, 25,000 passport books were received from the Canadian Bank Note Company Limited, on an examination by the Immigration Department an error in relation to a lack of uniformity was discovered. Mr. Speaker, I will show a correct specimen and I will show the one where they had a ... not that the passport was defective that it was not uniform in accordance with the specifications issued to Canadian Bank Note.40Mr. Speaker, given the importance of this matter I would like if I can come and show you, and I can show the Leader of the Opposition when I continue to answer the question; but I will speak first. In the correct passport where it is uniform or the uniform passport, let me say this, after you have your page with your photographs and all your details there is a plastic bit as you know [Lifted the passport in midair for viewing] the first page here, marks at the bottom “Observations”. Persons who are issued passports from time to time you will see a line mark here “Observations” and with an observation here [pointing to the relevant section in opened passport] and the observation invariably is about “John Browne has changed his name to Tom Atlas by virtue of deed poll, such and such and such a date”. [Pointing to the relevant section again] John Browne’s name would be in front here but Tom Atlas would be on the “Observation” page.In this one, the first page does not have an “observation” it has just “visa” it starts with “visa”. This passport the one without the uniformity declaration of “observation” is a good and sound passport but it is not uniform with the others where it has an “observation”. I want if I may show you, Mr. Speaker, if you permit me.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Very well, I need to understand.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: [Approached the Speaker with passport in hands] This one Mr. Speaker, is the “Observation” this is how it should be, this is the correct one, the uniform one and this is the one with the “visa” which is where it should have here “observation”.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Okay.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: [Walked across to the Leader of the Opposition and proceeded to show the passports] [Honourable St Clair Leacock joined the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister as the looked at the passports] [Inaudible discussions ensued]HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: If they had a deed poll it would have DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Come there. Yes. [Inaudible] yours does not have any.When did Daniel get his? [Inaudible response] Ah! I will explain that. [The Prime Minister returned to his seat]Now, Mr. Speaker, I will provide details and then I would give you the broad explanation first and then I would proved the actual details. So, the Immigration Department immediately spotted this without the uniformity of “Observation” as is in the contractual arrangement and contacted Canadian Bank Note immediately and said, ”We have a lack of uniformity here”. Canadian Bank Note said, “Look we will supply you with a new bundle of passports free of cost, in the meantime we will get permission through ICAO for you to use those without “observation” and if you have to put an “observation” you can put it on the first page”. So that was done.Of the 25,000 nearly 10,000 I will give you the actual number were not issued at all by the time Canadian Bank Note sent on the 15th August the replacement for the 25,000. So in the meantime, the passports are not uniform because of “observation” and “visa” were permitted to be used and they replaced them but they had agreed that upon the replacement you must quarantine those which remained from the not uniform batch and we will 41arrange a date on when we will destroy the remainder; and it is that remainder which was destroyed. I will give the dates, so, there is nothing sinister. Indeed, the alertness of the Immigration Department and our emphatic determination to have quality passport is why this matter was swiftly detected for us to proceed with the correction. [Knocking the desk]Mr. Speaker, the permission was sought from the Chief Immigration Officer of the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security to destroy the remainder of the passports once the other passports had come and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security wrote the Director General of Finance and Planning who then wrote to the Permanent Secretary saying:“Reference is made to your memorandum dated June 15th, 2012 on the above subject. Please be advised that the Honourable Prime Minister and Minister of Finance have granted approval for the destruction of the defective passport books”.And that was sent on the 17th July, 2012. The notation on the file from the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security to Chief Immigration Officer had the permission to destroy, and had here:“To the Chief Immigration Officer: To be destroyed, check the Government Printery on procedure”.Because the facilities are at the government printery for the destructions. There is an email from Mr. Andrew Popp of Canadian Bank Note advising the Deputy Chief Immigration Officer, the Chief was not around on a particular day informing her that the 25,000 replacement passports are coming and he said in her:“After the replacement books are received, loaded into the system, and are being issued CBNThat is Canadian Bank Note.would log the status of the old books as destroyed, so they will not be available for issuance. At this time immigration will need to make arrangements to destroy the old books that are in quarantine. Those which you now issued would be issued and the older ones which lacked the uniformity would be quarantined for destruction”.And then the Memorandum said that the government printer, Mr. Charles I think the gentleman’s name, at the time in question that the time available ... yes, this is from the Chief Immigration Officer to the Prime Minister saying to me that:“The old shipment was placed in quarantine as instructed by CBN and was destroyed after consultation with the Ministry and CBN on the 6th, 7th and 8th of September 2012”.42These were the days given by Mr. Charles the government printer, so they were informing me that those were destroyed. Mr. Speaker, I said the dates because there are some who said I ordered passports to be destroyed after the Canadian government imposed visa requirements. There is no connection between visa requirements and anything to do with the passports as I am seeing here, showing here. In fact, the Canadian government’s decision came on the 12th September; the destruction took place on the 6th, 7th and 8th September.I want to say this, Mr. Speaker, I invite members of the media to go to see the Chief Printer: government printer; I want them to go and see the Chief Immigration Officer; I want them to go and see Mr. Pompey the Permanent Secretary; they can go and see Mr. Maurice Edwards the Director General of Finance and Planning these were the individuals who were involved in this whole process. I just want to say this, you may say to yourself, “How is it that Mr. Pompey is your Permanent Secretary in passports? How is it that he has to write the Director General who has to write you seeking permission why can’t Mr. Pompey seek your permission”? To destroy anything of government property you have to have modes of survey and the like and you have to go through the Director General. So, Mr. Pompey had to go through the Director General, the Director General comes to me, I go back to the Director General with my approval and he then tells the Permanent Secretary in National Security who then informs his subordinate who is the Chief Immigration Officer and all the arrangements made at the same time between Mr. Pompey and the Chief Immigration Officer and CBN (Canadian Bank Note) to be down there at the Printery Mr. Charles haven’t given the 6th, 7th and 8th as the days.And Mr. Speaker, you can go down there and the printers would tell you that they came there in the boxes because they were in quarantine; they bring them the same way, they opened the boxes in front of them and they did the destruction. Now, the actual number destroyed 9,789; the issuance which was done 13,500 issued in St Vincent & the Grenadines, so if the Honourable Member has one recently issued he would have had one just with the “visas” and not the “observation” page, the “visa” page but it is a valid passport because anybody who had an observation would have had an observation put on the “visa” page if they had one which did not have “observation” marked in the print. But in every respect the passport is perfect and secure with all the secure features.Mr. Speaker, there were 13,500 issued here, 9,775, sorry 975 in the US Consulate, 200 in the UK High Commission and 536 in Canada leaving 9,789. And Mr. Speaker, I have all the numbers of all those which have been destroyed because CBN has to have all those and they log them. I am happy for this question for one purpose, one only or one mainly apart from telling the truth on it as distinct from hype falsehood is to show you the seriousness with which we consider the integrity and reliability of the passport [knocking the desk] which we have paid a lot for, for St Vincent & the Grenadines.[Interjection] No! This could have been in another society you are quite right. The Honourable Leader of the Opposition could have called me or called the Permanent Secretary or called the Director General of Finance and Planning whom he would know must have something to say about the destruction of any document or called the Chief Immigration Officer. But when I heard about this thing on the radio and so on and they are tying it up with the thing with Canada I said, “But ah mean this is absolute nonsense”. I said, “Why do we traduce ourselves in this way and try to pull ourselves down on nothing”. That is why, I agree with you this43explanation could have been given to you [laughs] could have been given to the Leader of the Opposition, could have been given to the Honourable Senator Lewis who is interested in citizenship and passports. Anybody, I could have given them this rather that having it broadcast all about making it think, it is four boxes of passports, is a thousand, a mean let us love St Vincent & the Grenadines. And you see like how I trust the integrity of the Leader of the Opposition on this matter the one which we discussed earlier; he must trust my integrity with things like these and so too must you. [Knocking the desk]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Supplementary or next question? HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: I need one clarification.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: One clarification. HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: You said after the discovery of the difference between the twopassports, for a brief period I assumed they continued to use them. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Yes.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: But those that did not have the “Observation page” and there was a deed poll it was put on the frontDR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Visa Page.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Visa page, okay.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: With Observation on it.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Yes, with observation.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Written.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Yes.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Question No. 4 now?HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Yea, I am coming to question No. 4. I also want to say that in the same way you expected me to have raised that question directly with you it makes it more difficult for me to understand why the Representative, the Deputy Speaker, couldn’t raise that with me either.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: I agree with that; I am not disagreeing with you. [Laughter] I am not disagreeing with you at all. [Cross talk]44HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Question No. 4. 4. The Honourable Arnhim Eustace, Leader of the Opposition asked the Honourable Minister ofAgriculture, Fisheries, Forestry and Fisheries:Could the Honourable Minister please indicate the volume and value of the weekly shipments of bananas to the United Kingdom for the period July 1st to September 30th, 2012.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Minister for Agriculture.HONOURABLE SABOTO CAESAR: Mr. Speaker, I have all the ... I have the data here but just before I go into laying out the data I would just like, very briefly, to lay a backdrop to that, especially the farmers who are listening will know how we would have come to this data. Mr. Speaker, we are currently as a nation in the process of rebuilding a banana industry in the aftermath of Hurricane Tomas of October 30th, 2010 and in the immediate aftermath, and we are not totally out of recovery mode, of the black Sigatoka and the Moko diseases, which significantly would have had a negative impact on volumes. So I just want to lay that as the background. And earlier this year a question was asked in this parliament by the Honourable Leader of the Opposition which pertains to the exports in the first quarter of 2012 and there weren’t any exports to the extra-regional market of 2012. And I just want to note, Mr. Speaker, in the interest of love and this is the month of independence, period of sharing and caring and not yet Christmas but I would like to provide at least a quarterly basis this information to the Honourable Leader of the Opposition and also to the media. I do it to the media quite often but I think that in the interest of calculation that it should be provided for all and sundry.Mr. Speaker, the month of July: 1st July, 2012 week 27, 20 tons were shipped to the United Kingdom at a value of $20,700. The 8th July, week 28, 33 tons at a value of $33,300; the 15th July, 2012, week 29, 15 tons at a value of $15,300. The 22nd July, 2012, week 30, 23 tons $23,400; the 29th July, week 31, 6 tons at a value of $6,300; in the month of August, the 5th August, which was week number 32,15 tons at a value of $15,300; the 12th August which was week 33, 23 tons at a value of $23,400. August the 19th week 34, 25 tons at a value of $25,200; week 26, week 35 sorry, Mr. Speaker, August 26th, 2012, 17 tons at a value of $17,100. In the month of September, 2nd September, week No. 36, 18 tons at a value of $19,800; the 9th September, week 37, 15 tons at a value of $16,200; the 16th September, week No. 38, 18 tons at a value of $19, 800. Week 39, the 23rd September, 9 tons at a value of $9,900 and September 30th which was week 40, 15 tons at a value of $16,200, the total value of $261,900.00 – 252 tons. I am obliged, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: [Inaudible] I do not have the total value amount.HONOURABLE SABOTO CAESAR: Yes. Mr. Speaker, if I may just, yes it is a total of 252 tons to the extra- regional market because we are also exporting to the regional market but that does not - asking the question and I am speaking to the media very soon and I would provide it the total. So, I just want to note, I do not want to appear to be a mischief maker at all but in the very first quarter of this year when we did not export any bananas at all to the extra-regional market, what we are seeing here very early periods of recovery. And during the next two months, in fact, in the latter part of next week we are expecting 70,000 plantlets coming in from Israel and a major plant back to continue in January and February and we are estimating that the last quarter, the very lastquarter in 2013 that the figures all being equal, Mr. Speaker, that the figures will be looking much better. But I45just want the farmers to keep hope, to continue to work with the Ministry of Agriculture, WINFRESH is working very closely with WINFA and WINFARM and just to let the farmers know that we have come too far to turn back now. [Knocking the desk]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: There is a supplementary; I am just going to ask the Honourable Minister if he was providing us with further information on this matter or whether you are responding to a perceived supplementary question? For I now understand that there is a supplementary question. [Laughs]HONOURABLE SABOTO CAESAR: Mr. Speaker, I had just risen for clarification on the total tonnage which was 252.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Okay.SUPPLEMENTARY QUESTIONHONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Mr. Speaker, it is difficult to conceive of St Vincent spending despite Black Sigatoka has a very small amount of bananas over that length of time. The question I have is what really is the status of the plant back programme in terms of the numbers of farmers involved?HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Minister, the number of farmers involved in the plant back programme.HONOURABLE SABOTO CAESAR: Mr. Speaker, I have in my hands the Minutes of the last meeting and it is fresh in my mind because I made the correction to CIRAD where we had SEROD. Mr. Speaker, if I may, it is right here page 25, I do not want to hold up the parliament’s time but it was ventilated quite aptly in the last parliament and the question was asked and I am certain that the Honourable Member for North Leeward ... [interjection] Yes, but the answer is there on page 25 of the Minutes.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member of the Northern Grenadines, Question No. 5.5. Dr. the Honourable Godwin Friday, Member for the Northern Grenadines asked the Honourable Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Economic Development, Airports and Seaports, Legal and Grenadines Affairs:a. Will the Honourable Minister please state the number of projects and programs that received funding from the National Lottery in 2011 and to date in 2012: andb. identify each project and program that received funding and say how much money and or material resources each project and programme received.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, just as a preliminary backdrop, when we came to office the National Lottery was not even a department, it was a little unit, people did not pay it any mind, not much attention was paid to it. The kind of activities in which it is now involved not then, I remember as Leader of the Opposition at a public accounts committee meeting it was the first time in 2000 that some little light was put into the National Lottery. Of course, this government piloted a Bill to give it statutory authority46status and we see the lovely headquarters that they have now and all the kinds of activities that they are involved in and own significant assets.Mr. Speaker, I will answer the questions in a rolled up fashion; sporting projects and in one item, Mr. Speaker, the annual contribution which the National Lottery makes to the National Sports Council for the maintenance of sporting facilities I do not have the list of the facilities which the National Sports Council has been engaged in maintaining and doing repairs but I can tell you that in 2011 the National Sports Council received $480,000 to assist them with the maintenance of sporting facilities. But in 2011 the Cane End Playing Field was addressed with washroom renovations $34,000.The Dauphine Playing Field and Community Centre refurbishment $35,000; the lighting of the Layou Playing Field $8,419.00; the North Union Playing Field rehabilitation and construction of pavilion and dressing and public wash $297,225.00. Victoria Park $2,739,918.00, and Victoria Park last year we saw the construction of the new grandstand with two dressing rooms and officials room that is located opposite the Evangelical Church, the reconstruction of the VIP lounge and stand, renovation to the double-decker stand the media centre and press box including furnishings. The enclosure of the mass shed, restoration work on the field such as replanting of grass, fertilization, pest management and so forth and general maintenance.Mr. Speaker, if I may just pause to say this, when we arrived in office Victoria Park was an apology for a facility, the toilets were not working, the place was run down, there was a mountain at the seaward side of Victoria Park, the Honourable member for Central Kingstown would remember that they could not play football there. We came in and we fixed up things including the first set of lighting which we had done through Town Board, which was in charge of the field at the time through the Honourable Member’s brother Garnet. That was the first set of lights which went, then we put Lottery overall in charge of it and we see the magnificent expansion and development and additional lights were put in and all that.I remember, Mr. Speaker, when we put it in the hands of National Lottery after the Ministry of Local Government, Town Board was not doing anything much the Honourable Member for Central Kingstown said: “You give Lottery to do what”? He opposed it, in fact when they started to put down some concrete at the top, they said they shortening the side of the field but it is a multi-purpose facility, and I said just hold on and we push back further down and level off towards the seaward side and we had a full field for football. At the opening of that facility when it was done he had I must say the saving grace to say, “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa”. [Laughs] to say, “Ah really sorry, I misjudged what the fellars were doing, they have done a fantastic job”. And since then we are doing more work, it is a premier facility. Hard court: upgrade of lighting at Campden Park $5,589. So the total funding in 2011 on sporting projects is $3.6 million.Community programmes, $10,000 for the annual contribution “Children Against Poverty”. Carnival, $1,270,286.00; Easterval, $15,000; Gospel Fest, $25,000; Nine Mornings, $150,000; amounting to $1.407 million. Educational programmes to the Student Loan Fund, $1.3 million that is 2011. 2012 to the present time, further work on the North Union Playing Field doing some finishing touches with the dressing room, washroom and the like $8,500. Subvention, sorry, a contribution to the National Sport Council to maintain sporting facilities, $400,000; Park Hill Playing Field rehabilitation and construction of players pavilion dressing room $299,677. I want to say this a few years ago we paid through the government about $8,000 for lands and we had47to mow it down to get a Playing Field in Park Hill, we are now doing it bit by bit and we are coming now towards the terminal stages.South Rivers Playing Field rehabilitation and construction of pavilion and changing room including rehabilitation of the field: $730,714; Victoria Park, $864,550; and for that construction with new stand, with two dressing rooms and officials’ room that is opposite the Evangelical Church, we continue there. Construction of ticket booths, washrooms, sick bay, establishment of a food court and other renovations throughout. Hard court. The Honourable Member for South Leeward would be very pleased with this, he never asked for it but I am the Minister for this, and I am interested in Questelles, I am interested in every part of St Vincent & the Grenadines $529,302 for the Questelles hard court resurfacing, construction of pavilion and washrooms and fencing. A beautiful facility, I hear silence, say thanks nah.HONOURABLE NIGEL STEPHENSON: Cut the grass.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Cut the grass, but I thought that ... I mean, you are down there you cannot get some fellars to cut the grass? [[Interjections] I mean come on, come on, come on [interjections] the Member for Central Kingstown is asking me for a little bit of this [laughs] to do something up there and I will come to that shortly [laughs]. You only interested in cutting grass, you know when I used to play cricket and so on in Colonarie we used to fix up the field, the community I mean come on [interjection] eh! [Interjection] Eh! [Laughs] No! No! [Laughs]Community programmes, Mr. Speaker, “Children Against Poverty” the annual contribution $10,000; Carnival $1.238 million; Easterval $15,000; Gospel Festival $25,000; Nine Mornings, nothing is done there yet and for the Student Loan Programme under the Educational Programme $300,000 making it $4.393 million. I would say well that is a good performance. [Knocking the desk] That is it.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Question No. 6 Honourable Member for Northern Grenadines. 6. Dr the Honourable Godwin Friday, member for the Northern Grenadines asked the Honourable Ministerof Education:What percentage of secondary school students have received textbooks under the government’s book loan scheme; andTo what extent has the scheme been able to meet the needs of the students for textbooks for the 2012 school year.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Minister of Education.HONOURABLE GIRLYN MIGUEL: Mr. Speaker, school was opened in September and even now the Education Planning Unit is conducting its annual data collection exercise, so accurate information will be available when the verification process is completed. It takes a little while for us to get things through. The (b) part, for 2012; 93.2% of the books requested were provided to our students at a cost of $999,931.61. I am obliged, Mr. Speaker.48HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Question No. 7. DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: No, Mr. Speaker. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Supplementary?DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: No. Mr. Speaker, I would like the Honourable Minister therefore to commit to provide the part of the question the answer part in writing for me when the information is available: part (a).HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Part (a). HONOURABLE GIRLYN MIGUEL: I promise, surely I will do that for you. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Question No. 77. Dr. the Honourable Godwin Friday, Member for the Northern Grenadines asked the Honourable minister of Tourism, Sports and Culture: Given the dangerous state of disrepair of the pavilion at the Clive Tannis Playing Field in Port Elizabeth:Will the Honourable Minister assure the Bequia community and the nation as a whole that the facility, particularly the roof and washrooms of the pavilion will receive the urgent attention required to repair it so that the many people who use it might do so safely and with dignity.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Minister of Tourism, Sports and Culture.HONOURABLE CECIL MCKIE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker, the National Sports Council and the Ministry of Sports for sometime have had the repairs to the pavilion at the Clive Tannis Playing Field on their schedule, but on examination I think what we had there would have been a plaster to a major sore, so having visited Bequia several times in the earlier half of this year I worked along with the Sports Council and we had that project evaluated fully and the figures indicated that we would need about $90,000 to repair the roof, well more or less replace the roof as well as to do upgrades to the washrooms facility. And that project has been submitted for the 2013 Estimates so it would be given priority in the first quarter hopefully of 2013.The Representative of the Northern Grenadines would also be pleased to know that we have commenced visits to all of the playing facilities throughout St Vincent & the Grenadines, starting with the Windward end that we did last Saturday: all playing fields and all hard courts and we will continue with the Central area as well as the Leeward area and the Grenadines would not be left out.We have also commenced meetings with all of the National Associations and umbrella bodies. We have done about fifteen of them thus far and this is in preparation to bring all of the associations to the table in what is called the tripartite arrangement where we would have all the associations, the Ministry of Sports, the National 49Sports Council, the National Lotteries Authority, the National Olympic Committee and NASPE. And this is an event in an effort to better coordinate sporting activities and to address things such as government policy, the whole question of administration and strengthening the operation of the various associations to look at training for athletes as well as to provide upgraded facilities for the use of the athletes. And in this regard we are going to do zoning of the country where we will place the playing fields and hard courts into zones and to ensure that in each zone we have at least one facility that is able to facilitate regional competition.As you are also aware we are moving forward with phase (1) of the construction of the National Stadium Project as well as the construction of an indoor facility in St Vincent & the Grenadines. In other words, Mr. Speaker, we are doing it systematically and the facility at Bequia would be given the necessary priority. Much obliged.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Supplementary question? DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: Mr. Speaker, I had a similar answer when Mike Brownewas the Minister of Sports about five years ago HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: [Laughs] DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: No! This is not a joke. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Oh! [Laughter] HONOURABLE CECIL MCKIE: Have some faith. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, I am wondering if I can help my friend. SUPPLEMENTARY QUESTIONS DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: Just let me finish the question Prime Minister. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Oh!DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: Thank you. You said that the facility was assessed in that assessment was a determination made that the facility that is the roof in particular is safe to be used: continue to be used by the public? There are hundreds of people under that place everyday there is football match there.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Question, Supplementary. HONOURABLE CECIL MCKIE: Well, there are challenges and those were identified, I know that there areparticular parts of the roof that are falling apart, but I do not think that the assessment indicated that if there are50no high winds: maybe if there are high winds and a storm it may be unsafe to be under the pavilion but the analysis has not indicated that it is not safe for use. [Interjection]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Prime Minister.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: I want to, in my capacity as the Minister responsible for National Lottery, I want to ask the Honourable Member for the Northern Grenadines, I listened to the Honourable Minister for Sports and it sounds as though he is going to need about $100-$150,000 to fix up the field. The roof is about $90,000 and some other work, in January I will get Lottery to provide $75,000, if you undertake quickly with me to raise from your friends in Bequia $75,000, let us match it. I am sure the fellar for instance ... I am sure that the gentleman who is interested in having $5.00 donated to save democracy, from Texas I am sure he would be willing to put something towards this $75,000 not to save democracy which is alive and well, but to save the Tannis Playing Field. I would say that we put $75,000 and you raise $75,000 and we do it, we organise it, National Lottery will do the project. You say that let us move.DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the Prime Minister does not expect an answer from me that is a rhetorical question because I do not know how I could commit anybody to raise $75,000 or why it should be contingent upon somebody else donating something to the government for the government to fix the government facility. If you fix the facility, Prime Minister, I am sure that other people would be encouraged to contribute. There are people who have been contributing to that facility for the past six or seven years without being actually involved in it and I am sure they will continue to do so.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Okay then, what I will then do, I will have the Lottery put $75,000 and I will undertake personally to talk to various people in Bequia to see if I can raise the $75,000 [knocking the desk].HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: [Inaudible] they are paying taxes why should you do that. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Including the gentleman who wants to save democracy,I will contact him. [Laughs]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Question No. 8. Honourable ... Oh he is not! [Interjection] Oh! Oh! I am sorry, sorry, he is always so quiet I did not realise he was not there.8. On behalf of Honourable Terrance Ollivierre Member for Southern Grenadines who was absent, the, Honourable Daniel Cummings, Member for West Kingstown asked this question of the Honourable Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Economic Development, Grenadines and Legal Affairs:The Big Sand area of Union Island has undergone serious erosion over the years and continues to be directly affected by the sea action, thus hampering tourism development and threatening private homes.51Recently, restorative work has commenced to try to negate further erosion to the area. Will the Prime Minister please state:- a. Has the seabed near the Big Sand hotel been sold to facilitate the restorative work; and b. if in the affirmative, how much of the area has been sold and what cost? HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Prime Minister, I must inform the Honourable Member that he cannot ask a Supplementary, since this is not his question.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I want to state first of all that the government of St Vincent & the Grenadines this government has not sold any seabed near to Big Sand Hotel. We have not sold seabed anywhere in St Vincent & the Grenadines and frankly speaking we do not intend to sell seabed, if there is any occasion on anytime when the seabed has to be put in use it is a lease arrangement in which we would be engaged.Mr. Speaker, as the question says the parcel of land on which the former Big Sand Hotel it is now known as the Amerindi Hotel operated by Ariane Limited. They are along the coast along the Belmont beach in Union Island and as the question states it has been significantly eroded, the shoreline has been seriously affected at a rate of loss of over 40 ft over a ten-year period 1999 to 2009 serious losses down there sea erosion. The officials tell me that this is because of the impact of climate change and the mean sea level rise, and the Honourable Member for the Southern Grenadines himself has referred to this action as hampering tourism and also threatening private homes. So, a number of private homes along the beach front have implemented measures through the building of groins to stem the erosive action of the sea and this is something which is commendable and we support them in doing this.The portion of land in question on the Belmont Beach where the Big Sand Hotel now known as Amerindi Hotel is located is badly eroded; it is terrible and if left attended can result in the destruction of a hotel, so the developers as well as the other home owners have been allowed to carry out mitigation works to protect their investment. So, we have not sold. Well, it says here we have not sold, so in any case I suspect he means at what price not at what cost. Mr. Speaker, I want to submit I asked the Surveyor’s Department to send for me maps for the Big Sand area and the extent of the erosion so that Honourable Members could see and as part of the answer for this question I submit these two: a map and an aerial photograph.Mr. Speaker, the land adjoining where the hotel is the land itself was sold, as everybody who is down there knows that was a piece of swamp land which was used as a dumping ground mainly for glass bottles, but which had been refilled and the building gone up, but we have not sold anything in the seabed. These are the [showing maps] Mr. Speaker, I submit these; the Honourable Member can see them, to see the extent to which the problem is and what is being done with the groins. I am obliged.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Question No. 9, Honourable Member as soon as you can. 52HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Mr. Speaker, I know I am not permitted to ask any supplementary but I wonder if I may make a comment; because as good as it sounds to have individual members do groin action that in fact may cause further deterioration elsewhere in that there is a direct you do not gain anything for nothing and it requires a comprehensive analysis to deal with the entire problem. Attempting for individuals to do it is going to compound the situation, just an observation, thank you Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: You are welcome.9. On behalf of Honourable Terrance Ollivierre Member for Southern Grenadines who was absent, the, Honourable Daniel Cummings, Member for West Kingstown asked this question of the Honourable Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Economic Development, Grenadines and Legal Affairs:The roads in Union Island especially the main road from Badjan Corner in Clifton to Cross Road in Ashton, top Road in Ashton from the Ms. Adella James’s residence to Mrs. Norma Thomas’s residence, the Murray Village Road from Park East to Mr. Lambert Baptiste’s residence are in urgent need of restorative work.Can the Honourable Prime Minister please state when restorative work will be done to ensure safety by commuters and pedestrians?HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Prime Minister and Minister of Grenadines Affairs.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, these projects have been listed in the maintenance programme for this year and into next year, and as I go through the details the Honourable Member would see the extent of what is required to be done.The first from Badjan Corner in Clifton to the crossroad in Ashton: the roadway dimension is 600ft x 18ft wide, it is a concrete road. The drain dimension 425ft x 2ft width box drain. The condition is that it is cracked in several sections deteriorating concrete road surface, drains may need reconstruction; drains are currently filled with mould placed by residents along this section. The proposal is to construct the worse areas and to redevelop the drains that would cost $240,000 estimate. The Jeddy Obray Mills second section of this Badjan Corner in Clifton to the crossroads in Ashton that is along the Jeddy Obray Mills to Miss Ramage along Ashton main road. The roadway dimension is 342ft x 18ft concrete road. Again the drain dimension is 342ft x2ft with box drain. The conditions: some sections of the road surface has sunken and cracked and sections of drains need repair. The proposal is to reconstruct the worst areas and repair the drains $137,000 that is costing.The top road at Ashton from Miss Adella James’s residence to Miss Norma Thomas’s residence: the roadway dimension 1425ft of wheel tracks, the drain dimension the same 1425ft of the 18ft wide box drains. The condition, wheel tracks failing sections of drains in need of repairs. To reconstruct the roadway and repair drains and this would cost $253,000.53The third piece has four sections: that is from Ms. Murray Village Road from Park East to Lambert Baptiste Residence. Section 1: Park East to Murray gap 600ft x 18ft concrete road and there is a turning area measuring 20ft x 40ft. The drain dimension is 600ft of 2ft box drain; the concrete surface is unraveling we have to reconstruct and resurface that is $257,000.The section called Murray Road is 1190ft of concrete wheel tracks; the drain dimension is the same extent of the wheel track with 2ft box drains. The surface is cracked and uneven and some sections of the drain need repairs. So we have repairs, proposals and sections of the wheel tracks and drains: $79,200.The road to Lambi’s Guest House that is the turn off opposite Forte Road, the roadway dimension is 463ft x 12ft earthen road, there are no drain dimensions there, the surface is uneven and to upgrade this with 463ft of 12ft wide concrete road, with 463ft of slipper drains would require $116,000.And the section 4 at Zion Road at the turn off the roadway dimension is 89ft x 12ft earthen road and there is no dimension for the drains. The surface is uneven and the idea is to upgrade that 89ft x 12ft concrete wide road with 89ft of slipper drains. That one is relatively cheap $22,000; relatively inexpensive $22,300.I have spoken to the people at BRAGSA and the authority there has indicated to me that they will endeavour before the end of the year to do one piece which is in asphalt and one piece which is in concrete. They did not identify to me which of those so hopefully we will see some start on two pieces of these and then we will have to go into the next year. As you see there are substantial sums involved here.If I may make a suggestion, Mr. Speaker, I know I am the Minister for Grenadines Affairs; it would be good when we have road construction if we ask the Minister of Works that is what happens in Northern Grenadines so that I would not have to contact BRAGSA and go through different people and so on. The line Minister can deal with it easily, so I just want to make that as a suggestion, because when the Honourable Member for the Northern Grenadines does it the roads for the Northern Grenadines he goes to the Minister concern. I will answer if you ask me you know, but I am just making a suggestion.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Question No. 10 Honourable Member for Central Kingstown.10. The Honourable St Clair Leacock, Member for Central Kingstown asked the Honourable Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Economic Planning, National Security, Grenadines and Legal Affairs:On this the thirty-third (33) year of our Independence celebrations; a. Would any individual or institution be recognised and bestowed appropriately in recognition of their national service; b. Would more colonial honours be awarded this year to deserving Vincentians; and c. What problem, if any is there in relation to a systematic and transparent process of National Awards? 54 HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Prime Minister.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, in answer to (a) the answer is yes; (b) the honours which come out from the Palace. The people of St Vincent & the Grenadines have voted in the Referendum and said that Her Majesty the Queen is the Queen of St Vincent & the Grenadines, so I expect that the honours which she gives are Vincentian honours, but I do not mind the definition colonial but those who voted yes in the Referendum would have a different view. Those who voted no and said they wanted to keep the Queen, I am wondering if they are turning around and calling the Queen’s honours colonial, when they say they want her as the Queen of St Vincent & the Grenadines. [Interjection] No! No! Not both parties, Sir James Mitchell who was the lead campaigner on your platform and there was no disagreement on that. Sir James had a pamphlet and he distributed it; he was the only man who prepared a pamphlet from the NDP. He said, “Why you want to trouble Her Majesty, she is not troubling anybody, leave her alone”. [Interjection]Well, no one demurred from that on the platform when he said it; no one demurred from it on the platform; they did not say do not bother on this man, we do not agree on that you just went on something else [interjection] no! No! I am talking about what you said in the report you know, I am talking about what was on the platform. On the platform Sir James was clear, the two things of importance to him: keep the Queen and keep the Privy Council and persons who were saying anything to the contrary including some who sit on committees in relation to the Caribbean Court of Justice were silent. Certainly they were not mute of malice nor mute of visitation of God, they were mute of cowardice, they did not want to say anything; I just want to remind people. Now, Mr. SpeakerDR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: [Inaudible] DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Ah! The what? By and large! By and large! By andlarge! By and large! By and large! Because you noticed the turnout was relatively small.Now, honours would be awarded this year, those awarded by her Majesty the Queen of St Vincent & the Grenadines in accordance with the Referendum [interjection] Yea! Yea! Yea! The people said I must go; the people said she is my Queen is not that what they told me? I am obedient to the people you know [interjections] I am obedient to the people. I will still underneath try to get rid of it but in so far as I have to be obedient to the people. I am a democrat you know. [Interjection] Well, some went and some did not go, I do not control ... but I will tell you something if you were Prime Minister you would have dressed up with tails and go there; you would have dressed up with tails with your wife, you know. She would have said, “You must come with me and put on de tails leh me show off me frock “.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: So, you were in tails? DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: No, I was not in tails I am just telling you. I am justtelling you; I am just telling you. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member, [Striking the gavel].55DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Cross talk with me on this I am a history on anti- colonialism you know, you are barking up the wrong tree. [Laughs] Six deserving Vincentians will be awarded honours this year, and forty persons will receive ...HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: That is (b) or (a). DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: (a); (b) well yes people would be honoured and I amgiving the details in relation to (b).HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: [Inaudible] will be honoured?DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Six deserving Vincentians, [interjection] [laughs] forty persons [laughs] [interjections] [laughter] you know, because you are a good Catholic I would not say what was on my mind. [Laughs] Forty persons will receive the Diamond Jubilee Medals on Armistice Day, 11th November, Remembrance Day. There is absolutely no problem to have a systematic and transparent process of National Awards other than those through Her Majesty, Queen of Great Brittan and St Vincent & the Grenadines. That is what you said you know.I want to say that on the 22nd February, Cabinet granted approval for the appointment of a National Heroes Advisory Committee chaired by Rène Baptiste. The Committee is charged with the responsibility to hold consultation and identify suitable candidates to be conferred with the honour of National Hero. The nominees for conferment of National Hero will be submitted to Cabinet and the Committee has the various members in accordance with the law that is what it is.I do not know whether my Honourable Friend is thinking it is time for him to get an upgrade from the MBE [laughter]. You would accommodate an upgrade?HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Yes, I would take a top up. [Laughter] DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Okay, I just wanted to find out. [Laughter][Interjections] Linton wants one too.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Honourable Prime Minister,HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: [Striking gavel]HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: with respect to the (a) question you did not say what title would be bestowed, you said they would be recognised, so I supposed ...DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Yes.HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: And it is related to the (c) because seriously you came here a few years ago in the parliament and you showed us what had happened to the exercise – medals had rusted, certain things had gone awry and we got the impression that you were going to do some corrective and restorative work to get that thing checked. So, I do not think you are quite really56DR. THE HONOURBALE RALPH GONSALVES: I just want to say thisHONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: flush it out for us please.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, I find it inconsistent, I mean I could be persuaded to the contrary, you campaigned to keep the Queen, you campaigned to keep the Constitution which involves the Queen of St Vincent & the Grenadines, you cannot deny your handiwork now. [Interjections] I am not talking about document; I am talking about what happened on the platform. [Interjections] Mr. Speaker, they even said that the Queen face would not be on the money, they distributed money with my face on one side and Chavez on the other side, and they said with the Queen’s face off they would be a devaluation of the currency. I remember the campaign well [interjections] I have not written on it but I will sometime soon [interjection], you know, men want to deny their ... do not deny paternity for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in relation to St Vincent & the Grenadines. [Interjection]The point is this Mr. Speaker, they said yes to Her Majesty, yes with her as Queen of St Vincent & the Grenadines and then they want to have honours other than those which the Queen of St. Vincent & the Grenadines is bestowing? I am asking the question.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Yes! The answer is yes, it is time for that now. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Well let us go and remove the Queen as Head of State.[Interjection]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: [Striking the gavel] Question No. 11 Honourable Member for Central Kingstown.11. The Honourable St Clair Leacock asked the Honourable Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Economic Planning, National Security, Grenadines and Legal Affairs: a. Is the PetroCaribe arrangement now fully established; b. how much of the fuel price at the pump is offset as a result of this arrangement; c. what is delaying the application of Grant funds to the fuel surcharge to give Vincentians the much needed relief they have been promised; d. of the $36.1 and $58.7 million respectively paid by VINLEC for fuel in 2010 and 2011, how much, if any was actually received by government as Grant; and e. who pays the fuel bill for the Argyle Airport Project and what is the state of the indebtedness? HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Prime Minister, quite a long question.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, the PetroCaribe Agreement which the Honourable Leader of the Opposition said he would unsign he came [interjection] but that is what I am saying, I am just speaking factually what you have said. The PetroCaribe Agreement which the Honourable57Leader of the Opposition said that he would unsign, and has reconfirmed here again in the cross talk, came ... [you are going to get cheap oil] came into effect [interjection] on the 29th November, 2005. [Laughs] you are not ready for this thing you know, [laughs] this is a test match, I do not even think ... you still involved in goat match, man. [Interjection]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: [Striking gavel]DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: The PetroCaribe [laughs] came into effect the 29th November, 2005. Mr. Speaker, in respect of how much of the fuel price at the pump is to be offset as a result of this arrangement: that is not part of the agreement; and where the agreement is as followed: a. The long term objective when the storage facility at Lowman’s Bay is completed early in 2013 is to establish local retail distributors from which the travelling public especially minivan operators would be able to benefit. b. The present capacity tanks at VINLEC: capacity tank at VINLEC cannot facilitate sale to other entities. And that is the reality, I have spoken on that repeatedly, we do not distribute gasoline, we do not distribute diesel, distribution of that will come when we are finished with the fuel tank, when they are being built. I do not know if my Honourable Friend who was shouting across just now knows that you only have before VINLEC moved down at Lowman just about ten days supply: ten days storage nationally, for all the fuel in St Vincent & the Grenadines, diesel and gas that is the reality.Now, in relation to the question of relief for electricity consumers: in 2008 from June to October the period of soaring oil prices; you remember that period when it went to US$147.50 a barrel the highest ever; we give a $6.00 concession monthly concession through VINLEC to a category of consumers whose bills were less than $100 per month. No Grant fund is available to offset the fuel surcharge, and as you know [interjection] no Grant fund is available to offset the fuel surcharge. We gave relief when it went inordinately high. The hotel sector also benefitted from March onwards and then the demand charge was also removed.In relation to (d) in 2010 VINLEC spend $49.5 million on fuel, and 2011 $62 million on the importation of fuel under the PetroCaribe Agreement and from SOL for the Cane Hall facility. [Interjection] $49.5 million and $62 million in 2011 from both PetroCaribe and SOL, the amounts paid directly. What happens, Mr. Speaker, VINLEC pays the full amount and the PetroCaribe Company here we transmit 60% to Pedavasa, which is the supplier and the other 40% we keep under the Agreement as a loan to do what I said we would do, we do things with the airport 25 years 1%. It is really a Grant; I do not know if anybody would want to unsign that it is one of the cheapest sources of money you can get.I want to say this, Mr. Speaker, of interest recently we got the Venezuelans to agree that SOL can buy the fuel from PetroCaribe to supply the Cane Hall Power Plant because originally it was said that you must not deal with any private sector entity, you do it through the state apparatus PetroCaribe and also through VINLEC. But they58have been persuaded to allow SOL it is a Barbadian Company former SHELL, so they have started to get fuel, diesel through, the PetroCaribe arrangement because they have their own storage.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: [Inaudible]DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Go to the top of the class [laughs] you understand it, you see why you should not unsign this thing. The indebtedness ... look let us face it if we did not have PetroCaribe we would have had to go and borrow money to do some of the things which we are doing from elsewhere far more expensively that is the reality. That is why the only time since 2008 we have been to the market to borrow commercially, I am not talking about now the rolling of the Treasury Bills is when we went for $40 million on the Regional Government Securities Market earlier this year on bonds which I discussed here in this Honourable House.Now, Airport, there is an arrangement through VINLEC which is presently the recipient of the fuel from Venezuela under PetroCaribe Agreement for the supply of fuel for the construction of the Argyle International Airport, the operation of the equipment out there, the ongoing work. The amount currently due to VINLEC is $3.6 million; VINLEC is reimbursed through a financing arrangement with the local PetroCaribe St Vincent & the Grenadines. In other words, the PetroCaribe monies pay for the fuel. Payment by St VincentHONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: To the airport?DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Payment by the St Vincent & the Grenadines office is made monthly on behalf of the International Airport Development Company, and what you do have? You have accounts; you would have VINLEC lagging in paying us you know, so they have the reconciliation of the accounts and that is how we get money to do that and to do some other things out at the airport. Plus some other things too like for instance a piece a road down by ... I think I mentioned that earlier, near to the Lowman’s Bay Plant. Not bad eh! Why would you want to unsigned this? It seems as though we need fresh legs at the top [laughter] fresh legs.SUPPLEMENTARY QUESTIONHONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Mr. Speaker, I have to crave your indulgence and patience on the answer by the Prime Minister because with respect to (b) How much of the fuel price at the pump is offset as a result of this arrangement? He said that is not part of the arrangement.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: No, because we are not distributing to the pumps. HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Right, and (c) you said that there are no Grant funds available as aconsequence of these arrangement to go towards the fuel surcharge.59DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. ... let me explain further. Mr. Speaker, other than when you have spikes, where we try to cushion it at that time, like indeed we cushioned say because an importer called me about some yeast to get back to him, we did not put on any additional payments, any additional charges on the yeast but through Caricom we had taken off the Common External Tariff for two years, we had agreed yeast and some shortenings and so forth remember when the prices were high and now that agreement is gone through COTED for the relief; you go back to what it was before.It is as a policy unwise for a direct subsidy to be given to electricity consumers, what we do it is better to increase the public assistance for the indigent and for the poor and to see how you can give targeted assistance rather than to give a generalised subsidy for electricity. It is a scare commodity, and it would encourage people to waste it. That is the policy position of the Government. If you wish to have a policy position that you would subsidise electricity tell me at what price you are going to subsidise electricity, this is not Trinidad and Tobago.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Mr. Speaker, it is important because I am going to quote the Prime Minister with his change of heart. This is what he said in his 2006 Budget:“Mindful of the adverse social and economic impact high energy cost, the Grant element in this arrangement would amount to approximately one third of the credit, when the PetroCaribe arrangements are fully established, we will be sharing this increasing benefit with the consumer by offsetting a portion of the fuel price at the pump and in the fuel surcharge”.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Absolutely.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: You have done neither.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: No but the point I am saying ...HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: You have done neither that is the question. Have you changed your policy?DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: No! HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Is the question. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: But I do not have HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: [Striking gavel]DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, we do not sell anything to anybody at the pump so there is nothing for us to offset, and we have offset in particular cases we have offset for certain producers for instance tourism and we have offset when the price went high for in 19...HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: [Inaudible] 60DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Yea! Yea! You have the answer. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Members DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: in 2008.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: the question is when a Member presents his answer; the person asking the question has a supplementary question could only ask one supplementary question. And we have agreed this morning to follow the Standing Order of the House, let us follow those. I am going say that for the rest of the day. We have agreed on that let us follow the Standing Order, we say we will have to do that.Let us go to question No. 11, No. 12.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: May I crave your indulgence, Mr. Speaker? I do not know for other Members, Mr. Speaker, it is almost 2:30 pm and the question I have for us next has to deal with a serious matter of health, I rather ask that on a full stomach so I am craving your indulgence [interjections]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member, you know if you are begging for a food break I would agree with you [laughs].HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: I am serious, so I speak [inaudible]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Let us go with question No. 12HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Relatively short, Mr. Speaker, thank you.12. The Honourable St Clair Leacock, Member for Central Kingstown asked the Honourable Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Economic Planning, National Security, Grenadines and Legal Affairs.The young people of Kingstown Park and Redemption Sharpes in Central Kingstown have identified the urgent need for hard court facilities for the playing of basketball, netball and tennis. They have also identified private lands and vacant spaces that they feel is suitable.Will the government be prepared to allocate funds in the 2013 Estimates and Budget to secure such facilities for our young people?DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, upon the receipt of this question I called to my office the Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Sports who is very familiar with this area, and I have asked him if he can meet with the young people and to let them show him the lands which have been identified: private lands and the vacant spaces where we can build basketball, netball and tennis facilities. And I suggested to him that when he is having the meeting that he can invite you to attend such a meeting so that the representations made to him will come to me as Minister of Finance in preparation for the Budget if we can get it in time for the Budget. If not, possibly for it to be financed off budget through another source like say for instance the National Lottery.61I do not know how much is the cost for the land; I believe always in having sporting and cultural facilities how much we can afford, we all know what is the objective situation and this is why we spend so much resources on sports and culture as outlined a short while ago in part by the Minister of Sports. But I think that this is a useful collaborative effort, which can be carried forward by the Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Sports and yourself as the Parliamentary Representative with these young people and other people in the community to see how we can proceed and I get the Chief Surveyor involved and so on and so forth, once I get all the parameters.So, I take this as a request. You could have written me a note on this but you raised it here, so I take it as a request because it is for the 2013 Estimates which we are in the process of preparing.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: And I assumed that it is also quite acceptable if I took the Parliamentary Rep. to these lands and we work backwards.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Perfectly, fine. HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: So, Sharpes and Kingstown Park will get their hard courts in 2013. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Yes. HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Thank you very much. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Fine. HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Much obliged. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: But HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: No buts.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: I am very happy that he has changed his position because he told me once, not me, he said publicly that he is not meeting with any Senator Julian Francis. [Laughs] [Interjections]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Prime Minister, I know we have a long agenda here; then we have a couple of Bills coming up.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, we have reached half way; I do not know I think we can probably complete these before lunch can’t we?DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: As long as the answers do not take fifteen, twenty minutes. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: The answer is not taking fifteen twenty minutes.[Interjections]Mr. Speaker, I am in your hands, Mr. Speaker, if there is a feeling that you would like to take a break and continue, I know some persons need to have lunch sooner than others [Interjections] [Laughter] I was only62trying you should talk to the Honourable Member for West Kingstown, you know, your, your ... well, I heard you speak for yourself but I do not ... I mean he is your candidate as Chairman of the Party. [Laughs]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Okay, maybe, I think we can probably take a break. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, it is now 2:30 p.m. so we return at 4:00o’clock, we take 11⁄2 hour. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Beautiful. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Thank you, I am obliged.Question put and agreed to House suspended at 2:30 p.m. Until 4:00 pm House resumed at 4:11 p.m.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Pray be seated.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, in accordance with Standing Orders 5(2) sorry 12(5) I beg to move that the proceedings of today’s sitting be exempted from the provisions of the Standing Order hours of sitting, I so move.HONOURABLE CLAYTON BURGIN: I second. Question put and agreed toHONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Members, I thought when we took the suspension we took it after the question No. 12, which was answered and as we resume we go straight to No. 13, and the Honourable [interjection] [laughs] Member for West Kingstown ... well, I hope he does, he is; Honourable Member for West Kingstown.13. The Honourable Daniel Cummings, Member for West Kingstown asked the Honourable Minister of Health and the Environment:In relation to the current outbreak of tuberculosis in the country, would the Honourable Minister please state:-a. b. c. d.How many persons have contracted the disease;How many of these have died; What facilities have been used to isolate infected patients from the general hospital population; andWere any of the prescribed medications available in the hospital, for the infected patients?HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Minister of Health, and the Environment. 63HONOURABLE CLAYTON BURGIN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker, the first question is who determines an outbreak? Mr. Speaker twenty five cases of tuberculosis have been diagnosed in St Vincent & the Grenadines so far this year. This number, Mr. Speaker, when compared to the same period last year shows an increase of twelve cases. What does this really means for us in St Vincent & the Grenadines, Mr. Speaker? First, the statistical significance of this small increase is far from alarming; second we have been keeping abreast and have had access to the latest technology in the diagnosis of tuberculosis, and this new technology, Mr. Speaker, is called Gene Xpert and it allows for tuberculosis to be diagnosed beyond any shadow of a doubt.What the world including us here in St Vincent & the Grenadines has just recently learned, Mr. Speaker, is that simple microscopy will tend to over diagnose tuberculosis, the Gene Xpert will correct all of this. You see, Mr. Speaker there are different existing tuberculosis complexes, one that causes TB and which may be spread from person to person and one which does not cause TB and which does not allow for human to human transmission. Looking under a microscope, Mr. Speaker, the best trained technologist anywhere in the world cannot recognise the difference. So what do we now do in the context of this new technology? As long as we locally identify the presence of a tuberculosis complex we send for confirmation by Gene Xpert which tells us exactly whether or not that specific complex causes tuberculosis.In the past, Mr. Speaker, in the absence of this new technology we simply reported the presence of every complex under the microscope as a case of TB disease, to demonstrate the efficacy of this new technology the last set of samples done by Gene Xpert only 33% came back as positive for the real TB causing complex. Let me hasten here to add that this is in no way takes away from the high quality work being done by dedicated staff at our laboratory at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital.On the contrary, Mr. Speaker, it demonstrates how much they are keeping abreast and employing new technologies. This phenomenon is not specific to our country, Mr. Speaker, countries over the world are now using this technology to improve the reporting on tuberculosis using precise technology. I am sure, Mr. Speaker, that our data on tuberculosis would be shortly adjusted and I would report to this Honourable House in due course. You see, Mr. Speaker, it is our commitment to transparency and to have our population well informed that lies at the basis of our reporting our numbers on tuberculosis.In order to enhance this commitment to openness, Mr. Speaker, my Ministry will shortly begin reporting to this nation on the status on not just tuberculosis but also on all communicable diseases in our country. I know as always there are those who really and who are ready and willing to paint this country with the worst of brushes; those who are always ready to use this information for every imaginable evil but I am persuaded, Mr. Speaker, that the vast majority of our population will see through the desperate actions of a disillusioned few.Mr. Speaker, the facilities at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital is able to isolate six persons at any one time, isolation is only required for highly suspected cases and also confirmed cases of tuberculosis. Clients who have had at least two weeks of treatment are no longer considered as being contagious and are able to be discharged. Mr. Speaker, there are no confirmed death that we know of from this disease. Mr. Speaker, in St Vincent & the Grenadines we treat tuberculosis using regionally and internationally accepted standards. These standards are driven by the latest of knowledge available the world over. At the basis of tuberculosis treatment, lies the four64uses or the use of four drugs,namely Isoniazid, Rifampicin, Ethambutol, and Pirazinamide. When I last checked, Mr. Speaker, my information revealed that all of these drugs are present at our central medical stores in the required quantities for the treatment of tuberculosis. Much obliged, Mr. Speaker. [Applause] [Interjections]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member, supplementary question he says.SUPPLEMENTARY QUESTIONHONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Minister has indicated that there are six ... there are facilities for the isolation of six patients; may I ask where this isolation unit is located in terms of which health institution?HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member. HONOURABLE CLAYTON BURGIN: Mr. Speaker, at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital. [Laughter]Really? HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Question No. 14. HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Excellent, good to know. 14. The Honourable Daniel Cummings asked the Honourable Minister of Health and the Environment:The general population has been for sometime now required to pay for Ultra Sound Imaging at private facilities at great expense. This is because none of the units at the MCMH is working. Would the Honourable Minister please state:a. How many Ultra Sound machines are available at all public hospitals and clinics in SVG; b. How many of these are currently functioning properly; and c. What arrangements are in place for the maintenance and or replacement of the units? HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Minister for Health.HONOURABLE CLAYTON BURGIN: Mr. Speaker, for us here and the listening public I would give some background to Ultra Sound. Mr. Speaker, an Ultra Sound Machine works on the basic principle of using sound waves to image or treat parts of the body. Ultra Sound imaging occurs in real time with a monitor to view the structure being imaged or acted upon. Ultra Sound is painless and precise and the process must be completed by a trained Sonographer. An Ultra Sound is used to diagnose a range of diseases and can also provide a view of structures that are normally inaccessible. Some of these structures, Mr. Speaker, include the gall bladder, thyroid, scrotum, prostrate muscles and tendon etcetera.Ultra Sound machines are commonly used in prenatal care to view the fetus at various stages of development, assess fetal growth and diagnose any abnormalities during pregnancy. Mr. Speaker, during some procedures an ultra sound can be used to guide the doctor or the surgeon and it is often used this way during needle biopsies.65In circumstances where an ultra sound is neither available nor a viable option MRI and CT scan may be used, although these methods are more involved and expensive than sonography. X rays are cheaper but they are more limited in use and may not be used in some circumstances such as pregnancy.Mr. Speaker, this ULP administration aims to provide state of the art equipment, which will assists in the health care of all citizens as well as to modernise the entire health care sector. Mr. Speaker, there is at present a brand new state of the art General Electric Ultra Sound Unit install at the hospital. The machine was installed in September of this year and has replaced an outdated machine which previously served the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital. Although this machine is completely installed, Mr. Speaker, it is currently not being used to serve the public as the General Electric System Analysis has not yet completed the required training with technical staff at the Hospital to use the machine. This training, Mr. Speaker, will however take place during the week of October 15th, 2012 by the General Electric and Biomedical International. The machine will then be in full use.In the meantime Mr. Speaker, my Ministry has put in place the required mechanism to ensure that persons needing the service can access via an agreement with a private provider. An ambulance currently shuttles patients of the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital to a private facility offering the service, and this cost, Mr. Speaker, is borne by the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital. Mr. Speaker, there is in place a service contract with Biomedical International which is the General Electric representative to provide servicing for all General Electric Equipment being used including the new Ultra Sound Machine and the CT Scan which was installed last year. In addition to the training which will be conducted next week, Mr. Speaker, two Members of staff were attached to the GE training facility in the USA last year where they learn how to provide basic servicing to GE equipment. In addition, Mr. Speaker, there is also a maintenance department at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital which addresses the repair of all equipment. Much obliged, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable ... HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Mr. Speaker, my question (b) has not been answered. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: (b) I would think he has. HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Mr. Speaker, may I ask a follow up? SUPPLEMENTARYHONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: The Honourable Minister indicated that the cost is borne by the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital when he was speaking about an ambulance transferring people to a private facility. May I ask for a clarification: which cost, are we talking about the ambulance cost: ambulatory cost and or the cost of the services.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Minister.HONOURBALE CLAYTON BURGIN: Mr. Speaker, the ambulance cost you know, the drivers are being paid, we provide all the things for the ... so they are not paying for the ambulance service. An arrangement to pay the cost that would have been entailed at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital for the service, you know 66because if the person from the Hospital go up to the private facility on their own you know it would be more expensive so we try to reduce that cost somewhere or the other. So, when you go to the government facility we provide what it would have cost then. Because what is happening Mr. Speaker, there are times whenHONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Government facility? When they go to a government facility I thought it was a private facility they are going to.HONOURABLE CLAYTON BURGIN: I said when you go and you are sent from a government facility. You go to the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital or to a clinic and you have to do an ultra sound and they send you there it would be cheaper than if you were going from private.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Yes, but is the government paying the cost that is why I am asking, I am not clear on what you are saying. Is the government paying part the cost, the whole cost or what? You said the cost is paid by the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital and what I need is whether in fact the cost of the service is being paid for, you are not clear. You are confusing me worse.HONOURABLE CLAYTON BURGIN: Okay Mr. Speaker, as we say we shuttle the folks and I will find out exactly if it is that but I know it is not the ambulance cost. I will find out definitely if there is a reduced cost for the person who is going to the private institution. Because as I just stated, you know you will not pay the full cost if they send you from the hospital to that private institution, you know you will pay the cost what the ... there is an arrangement with the person to pay the cost that you would be paying at the hospital.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: All right, you say you will seek some clarification on that and I guess you will bring it back.HONOURABLE CLAYTON BURGIN: Yes.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Question No. 15, Honourable Member for West Kingstown.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: For my own understanding, Mr. Speaker, the clarification is to come to whom and when because I am left totally confused with respect to this answer. I do not know if the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital is paying for the ambulatory services or the cost of the examination or a part thereof,HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Just a minute.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. SpeakerHONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: [Striking the desk] Just a minute.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: and when ... all I seek clarification on is when and to whom it would be given.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, may I please, you know one of the things in this Honourable House there are some persons some Honourable Members who take an air of superiority. The question is simply this, the Honourable Member answered the question to any normal listener it is clear. He67says, the ambulance services the state pays for, when you go from a public facility to a private one any payment which is to be made at the private one would be less but he would have to check to find out whether the government pays any of the lesser price at the private facility. I do not see anything which is confusing about that. That to me is self evident to anybody who is reasonable about anything.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Added to that I could lonely think that the answer will primarily come to the person who asked the question.Question No. 15.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Again, Mr. Speaker, question No. 15 is to the Honourable Minister of Health and the Environment, apparently we have more than one.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member? DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: I am on my feet on a point of order, Mr. Speaker. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Yes.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: There is one Minister of Health, I am the Leader of the House, the Honourable Member for West Kingstown was pretended to be confused about something, there was no confusion but in order to make a snide supercilious remark he says, that there are two Ministers of Health. There is one Minister of Health.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Yes that is true.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Anybody who reads anything in the instrument handed down by the Governor General knows there is one but I just do not ... it riles me to think that somebody wants to play games with this Honourable House. I am here too long and I am in public service too long to have the Honourable Member for West Kingstown seeking to behave in this manner and I will pull him up every time.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: All right, thank you. HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: [Striking the gavel] Question No. 15. HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: What is your point of order? So, state.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: The Honourable Prime Minister is imputing improper motives to me, nothing that I said, nothing in my question or in my comment can relate to those comments made by the Honourable Prime Minister. Mr. Speaker, again68HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: But then, you HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Mr. Speaker, allow me HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Just a minute.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Mr. Speaker, allow me to finish my claim please [Laughter] Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Minister in responding to my question stated that the cost is borne by the Milton Cato Memorial HospitalHONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: We heard all of that.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: In attempting to respond to my question he made it even more confused and I simply sought for my understanding to get what is happening with patients who are going to this privately owned institution.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I understand all of that. HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: So, the comment made by the Honourable Prime Minister isimputing improper motives to me.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: My question to you Honourable Member,HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Yes!HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: please sit, I am speaking. My question to you: why did you make the remark that there seemed to be more than one Minister of Health?HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Because, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health spoke but another Minister had to clarify for him.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Well, as the Leader of the House HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: That is as simple as you can get it and that is my opinion.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: [Striking the gavel] There is nothing wrong with that as the Leader of the House.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Yes, but then to imply improper motives to me. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I do not consider it.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: To imply improper motives to me is out of order, Mr. Speaker, and I ask that it be dealt with.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I do not consider it as implying improper motives.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSLAVES: You do not accept you have a problem [inaudible] 69HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: There you are. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: [Inaudible] HONOURABLE DANEIL CUMMINGS: There you are. [Interjection]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: [Striking the gavel] let us move with question No. 15. If a Member of the Opposition had addressed a question and the question was unclear and the Leader of the Opposition got to make clear the issue I simply would have absolutely no problem with him. I see him as Leader of the Opposition and therefore I think he has a right to intervene in matters of these. Could we have Question No.15? And that is how I would rule. [Interjections]HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: The truth. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: [Striking the gavel] question No. 15.15.The Honourable Daniel Cummings asked the Honourable Minister of Health and the Environment:The general public continues to experience hardship and longsuffering at the Accident and Emergency Section of the MCMH. Would the Honourable Minister please state: a. Has there been a recent evaluation of the functioning of this or any other component of the MCMH; b. is there an effective strategy in place or planned, to properly manage the care of patients at A&E and c. if so, when could we expect any improvement? HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Minister of Health, your question No. 15.HONOURABLE CLAYTON BURGIN: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much. Mr. Speaker, I noticed in the preamble: “The general public continues to experience hardship and longsuffering at the Accident and Emergency Unit”; during my answer you would see well if such is the case.Mr. Speaker, in much the same way as any emergency unit in any of the four corners of the world there is a protocol in place at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital for the management of emergencies. All critically ill patients are seen within the first five minutes of arrival at the Accident and Emergency Unit. Serious cases are seen within fifteen to twenty minutes and non-urgent cases thirty minutes and more.The critically ill patients, Mr. Speaker, are those life threatening conditions which need immediate attention. These include respiratory and circulatory problems such as active bleeding, air way obstruction such as asthma and cardiac arrest.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Members, quiet please let us get the question. 70HONOURABLE CLAYTON BURGIN: The urgent cases are not immediately life threatening and include fractures of large bones such as hands and feet and spinal column. Non-urgent cases are all others which can be seen by a District Nurse or a Medical Doctor and include the common cold, headache, joint pains and other ailments which clients sometimes have for more than three months. The Accident and Emergency Unit, Mr. Speaker, is bombarded daily by non-urgent cases despite numerous request and announcements via the electronic media for the general public to utilize the services of the Health Centers in their particular communities.For the period January to June 2012, Mr. Speaker, 12,221 patients were seen at the Accident and Emergency Unit of this total 9985 were classified as non-urgent and 2,236 were classified as critical and serious cases. In other words Mr. Speaker, only 18.29% of the patients seen at the Accident and Emergency Unit met the universal criteria as critically or seriously ill.Mr. Speaker, with respect to the question: “Whether there has been a recent evaluation of the functioning of the A&E Unit or any other component of the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital? I am persuaded that the stem of this question specifically addresses the Accident and Emergency Unit but I take that the Honourable Member when he says “Any other component” he is referring to the outpatient department, which is the associated unit of the Emergency Unit.The Performance Indicator of the Accident Emergency Unit, Mr. Speaker for 2012 is as follows: a. Upgrade work processes for efficient and effective management. b. Improve quality initiative for the delivery of optimum services. Mr. Speaker, evaluation is a continuous process at the Accident and Emergency Unit of the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital. There are regular chart audits as well as biannual evaluations. The Milton Cato Memorial Hospital has set a minimum target of 75% on all audit scores; however, the result has been consistently averaging 95%. The Outpatient Unit forms part of the Accident and Emergency Unit. This area can become overcrowded due to the expansion of specialist services such as Gastroenterology, cosmetics/plastic and neurology clinics. For the period January-June 2012: 10,540 patients were seen at this unit, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the aforementioned categorization demonstrates how cases are managed at the Accident and Emergency Unit. Patients waiting for more than thirty minutes are seen after the critical and urgent cases and this happens all over the world, Mr. Speaker.Mr. Speaker, the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital has a system of continuous quality improvement, daily activities are designed to make the good better in order to deliver the best health care service at the named unit. Mr. Speaker, permit me please to appeal once more to the general public to utilize the services offered at the District Health Centres. Non-Urgent cases often abuse the health personnel particularly the nurses when they think that they have been waiting too long to be seen by a doctor. The nurses are accused of being on social media such as Facebook when they are seen at the computer. Permit me however, Mr. Speaker, to advise the public that what the nurses actually do on the computer is enter patient data into the electronic data system in71order to improve the efficient management of patients records. I believe, Mr. Speaker, that the Honourable Member must be aware that the Ministry of Health Wellness and the Environment continues to role out the National Health Information System which is designed to improve the level of efficiency throughout the health sector. Much obliged, Mr. Speaker. [Applause]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: That is it? Supplementary questionHONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Member outlined the time requirement for the various categories of people seen in the Accident and Emergency Unit but I am sure, Mr. Speaker, that everyone would agree that you have periods when the unit is under stress. I have seen my own self at times when people would go there and sit down in access of half an hour before anyone can see them. This is a reality, this is simple reality [striking of gavel] because one moment you have quiet periods another time you have others. And Mr. Speaker,HONOURABLE CLAYTON BURGIN: Just a second.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order,HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: the question I am asking, Mr. Speaker,DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: the occasion for question is not one for debate or for any extraneous comment.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I wasDR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: and is having this long preamble.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I heard your point and I was giving him a chance because I wanted the Minister or somebody who was making some cross-reference to be quiet, because I was about to intervene to ask him please to ask the supplementary question, and I thank you as much for reminding us that a question is not a pretext for a debate. Honourable Member, could you please ask your supplementary question?SUPPLEMENTARY QUESTIONHONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I simply just want to put it into context. My question is simply this, whether there is a system and this is a very serious matter, whether there is a system for an overall when the situation comes as a state of flux, when the existing staff clearly cannot cope with it whether there is a mechanism in place to trigger for some assistance to be offered to the staff at the Hospital. That is all I wanted to ask you know.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Minister, Honourable Member, I do not know if you [inaudible] 72HONOURABLE CLAYTON BURGIN: Mr. Speaker, in my full answer all those things were mentioned. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Okay. So, there is a yes to that is that what you are saying.HONOURABLE CLAYTON BURGIN: Yes.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Question No. 16, Honourable Member for North Leeward.16. The Honourable Roland Mathews asked the Honourable Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, National Security, Economic Development, Airports and Seaports, Grenadines and Legal Affairs:In the light of the fact that the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has made its credit/borrowing facility at the ECCB available to the Government of Grenada to pay their Civil Servants the 2% salary increase.Will the Honourable Minister please indicate to this Honourable House why the Government did not use this facility to assist the Public Servants of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in getting all of or part of the 3% salary increase due to them since January, 2011?HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Prime Minister.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, I take it that the Honourable Member for North Leeward is now enunciating fiscal policy on the part of the New Democratic Party in respect of payment of salaries. And that the question: “Would the Honourable Minister please indicate to this Honourable House why the government did not use this facility to assist the public servants of St Vincent & the Grenadines in getting all of part of the 3% salary increase due to them since January 2011”? Having made a statement earlier that the Grenada Government had borrowed to pay salary increases; so, I take it that the New Democratic Party the Opposition is suggesting that they will borrow in order to pay salaries, if that is so and it appears that that is what the policy you are enunciating, which is quite distinct from what the Honourable Leader of the Opposition has said repeatedly in the Budget speeches. But this is a new departure; policy departure, I want to advise that the Government of St Vincent & the Grenadines does not support the policy position of borrowing money to pay the salaries of public servants or an increase for the salaries of public servants.Now, Mr. Speaker, the preamble to the question is false, I have repeatedly dealt with that and the truth is this if the Honourable Member did not understand when I had spoken about it publicly, and I had written about it I do not think it would make any sense for me to say anything further on that. I have spoken on it enough to show that the preamble is false, the rules of the House says you have to take responsibility for any statement you put in a question. I hope he takes responsibility for his falsehood that is all I would say on it in the preamble and it is interesting to discover that the spokesperson in agriculture for the Opposition has now become a principal spokes person on fiscal matters, on finance. [Interjection] I take it in a vacuum, in a vacuum as Plato once said, “Every cook can govern”. [Interjection] in a vacuum as Plato once said, “Every cook can govern”. So that is all I want to say. [Laughs]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Leader of the Opposition. 73DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: Any one can cook, yes. HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Mr. Speaker, I raised a question today addressed to the Minister ofAgriculture on Agriculture that does not make me the spokesman on agriculture. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Okay, thank you.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: But what you raised was consistent with your policy, to enquire on enhanced productivity and exports on bananas, which we all support.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: You use Treasury Bills for salary too. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: No! No! No! I do not use Treasury Bills to pay salaries.No! No! No! [Striking of gavel] That is where you are also wrong. [Laughs]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: All right, let us continue with question No. ...; yes Honourable Member you said you ... Honourable Member.HONOURABLE ROLAND MATHEWS: I am accustomed to that. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: The new spokesman [chuckles] 17. The Honourable Roland Mathews asked the Honourable Minister of Housing;In light of the fact that the Government has recently purchased building materials in excess of EC $7 million;Will the Honourable Minister please state if any assistance will be given to those persons whose houses were damaged by Hurricane Tomas since 2010 and have not yet received any assistance.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Minister of Housing, your question.HONOURABLE MONTOGOMERY DANIEL: Mr. Speaker, the question before this Honourable House I can just say yes and sit down but I am indeed pleased to be given the opportunity to answer such a question. I am pleased, Mr. Speaker, because the Honourable Member has certainly identified that there is a housing policy by this government and that we have an housing policy that provides affordable housing as well as, Mr. Speaker, to assist affected individuals particularly by disasters or even as much as the unfortunate ones in our society.Mr. Speaker, this government since coming into office in 2001 has established a policy in housing known as the low and No Income Housing Programme, and to drive this programme, Mr. Speaker, the Government would have imported approximately $7 million worth of building materials specifically for the purpose of the housing programme. Mr. Speaker, of this $7 million $2 million worth of materials will provide assistance to the No Income Housing Programme specifically to those persons affected by the disasters of 2010 and 2011: that is Hurricane Tomas and the April floods as well as this programme will also help fire victims as well.74Mr. Speaker, further, of the $7 million $5 million worth of materials will be used in the Low Income Housing Programme where this would be used for the improvement of not only improving the housing stock in St Vincent & the Grenadines but to create a stimulus in the economy. Presently, Mr. Speaker, the HLDC has recently opened nine acres of lands in Green Hill for housing and at the moment twenty houses are being built. Mr. Speaker, equally another twenty houses are now being built at Clare Valley in that ongoing programme and overall on these two job sites the HLDC has approximately some 480 workers being employed there at this point and time. Mr. Speaker, the target of HLDC is to have approximately 1,000 workers working in the very near future as well as to repair some 200 houses before the end of December and to make sure that Vincentians do have a good Christmas season.Mr. Speaker, I want to commend this government for making available such material assistance to Vincentians outside of an election period [knocking the desk]. This, Mr. Speaker, shows that the Government understands the need of the people, and delivers to the people’s needs. Mr. Speaker, I am sure that for seventeen years of the NDP administration much cannot be said about such a housing programme here in St Vincent & the Grenadines. Yet, since this government came to office we have built houses in North Leeward in Central Leeward, in South Leeward, in Central Kingstown to as far as North Windward, Mr. Speaker. West Kingstown as well, as much as to as far as Fancy, and this government can boast that within the period of time we are here we have built well over 700 houses in this country [knocking the desk] since 2001.Mr. Speaker, these materials: of the $7 million worth of materials, these materials we give for assistance to persons who would have been affected by Hurricane Tomas and others who are unfortunate will receive assistance from this programme. I am much obliged, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE ROLAND MATHEWS: Supplementary question, Mr. Speaker. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Supplementary Question SUPPLEMENTARY QUESTIONHONOURABLE ROLAND MATHEWS: My question asked specifically to deal with Hurricane Tomas victims. My question to you is, Mr. Minister, from this $7 million how many persons whose homes are damaged by Tomas are given assistance at the present moment? Are any persons affected by Tomas being assisted?HONOURABLE MONTGOMERY DANIEL: You are asking a separate question. When I started my answer I could have said yes and sit down,HONOURABLE ROLAND MATHEWS: You haven’t answered my question. HONOURABLE MONTGOMERY DANIEL: but I gave further information.HONOURABLE ROLAND MATHEWS: that is why I am asking. You said a lot of things, they weren’t making much ... [laughter]75HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: [Striking the gavel] [interjections] I am not clear [interjection] what is happening was he asking over the same question [interjections]HONOURABLE MONTGOMERY DANIEL: I do not know exactly, Mr. Speaker, that is what it looks like. I said, in my opening remark I said I could just say yes to the question and sit down.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Yea! Yea! But, I really would like to hear the Honourable Member what his supplementary question was.HONOURABLE ROLAND MATHEWS: I was asking if persons who were affected by Hurricane Tomas if they were getting assistance now.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Okay. HONOURABLE MONTGOMERY DANIEL: Well, I said that my Brother, I said those persons who werebeing affected by Hurricane Tomas; I also said that even fire victims HONOURABLE ROLAND MATHEWS: Will get? HONOURABLE MONTGOMERY DANIEL: can also get assistance, yes. HONOURABLE ROLAND MATHEWS: Are they getting or will get it? Yes to what? [Interjections] HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Question No. 18 please. [Laughter] [Striking the gavel]18.The Honourable Roland Mathews asked the Honourable Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry;Marketing of non-banana agricultural produce has become very fragile within recent years causing a lot of farmers to become disenfranchised and leave the sector. Will the Minister state: a. What efforts, if any are made by the Ministry of Agriculture to stimulate the sub-sector; b. has any consideration been given to the reactivation of rural buying depots to purchase agricultural produce; and c. If in the affirmative, can the Honourable Minister give a timeline and the mechanism for the implementation of the same? HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.HONOURABLE SABOTO CAESAR: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I do not really know the yardstick which was used by the Honourable Member for North Leeward to formulate the question, however, what I know is that the Statistical Department has provided me with this information and I would like to share with the Honourable Parliament. In 2011, root crops as a group generated foreign exchange earnings of EC$13.3 million compared to EC$11.7 million in 2010. Mr. Speaker, the question of marketing is one which76must be addressed by any serious Ministry of Agriculture anywhere in the world and I am going to address the question.Mr. Speaker, over the last two months at the Ministry we have continued to build on the legacy that was left by the Honourable Member for North Windward and we have been able to frame an initiative; Agri. Export Strategy Initiative; very important. The Agri. Export Strategy Initiative and in the first phase of this initiative we are seeking the assistance of WINFRESH to market not only bananas but significantly non-banana commodities in the United Kingdom. Mr. Speaker, if I may say, I was reading the newspaper a few weeks ago, I came across a statement the man about town he said in the newspaper: the Vincentian Newspaper that I had a meeting in the constituency of North Leeward and I did not show up and he wanted to know if I had gone off to England on personal business. I am putting everything in context, I actually went to a shareholders meeting of WINFRESH and this issue was ventilated for several hours and it is something I expect to speak on later on in the year at the budget, and also to have serious consultations with the farmers and other producer groups and organisations.So, the first aspect that we are dealing within the framework of the Agri. Export Strategy Initiative is the renewed role that WINFRESH would be playing. Secondly, Mr. Speaker, in terms of creating ready markets for non banana commodities we have over the last two years been working and we continue to work on the possibilities of having an agricultural trade between St Vincent and Grenadines and Venezuela. Thirdly, we have been in discussions with a company in United States of America by the name of Frontier and they are very much interested in purchasing significant quantities of arrowroot starch and other spices. Also, we are continuing our meetings and our dialogue with the traffickers because we have to ensure that we create the requisite framework for the traffickers to strive, so that the traffickers can move more produce out of St Vincent & the Grenadines. And also, Mr. Speaker, we are in the process of developing a National Cocoa Industry and since we are on the issue of marketing the issue and the role that ARMAJARO Trading Company will be playing in this regard is not too early to bring such to the table.Mr. Speaker, this is answering the question from a marketing standpoint, and we have always ventilated in the parliament, Mr. Speaker, the assistance in primary production that the Ministry of Agriculture continues to ensure that all that is taking place. Mr. Speaker, great consideration has been given to the reestablishment of rural marketing depots in all agricultural belts, the Windward side the Leeward side and in Marriaqua. And I want to particularly note because I know that the Honourable Member for North Leeward may have a sincere interest in the buying depots in Belmont and we are currently doing a costing, so that we can see the feasibility and viability as to whether you are going to place it in Belmont, whether you are going to place it in Wallilabou; whether you are going to place it in Chateaubelair or different areas. I know that different persons may have a certain liking for a particular place, but at the end of the day we want to know that when we place a buying depot at a particular location that we can move to the stage of containerization and all these are factors that we are taking into consideration.Mr. Speaker, the banana accompanied measures programme is expected to be implemented over a period of three to five years. The expectation is that the marketing facilities are scheduled to be upgraded within the first two years of implementation beginning from January 2013. And Mr. Speaker all this is taking place whilst77operation plant back has over the last two months we have been able in each month to put in twenty five acres, I have been so advised by the head of the Banana Services Unit during the break, since during a discussion the Honourable Leader of the Opposition had raised it. I am obliged, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Question No. 19, Honourable Member for South Leeward. 19. The Honourable Nigel Stephenson asked the Honourable Minister of Social Development:a.b. c.Some repairs were done to the building which was once used as the Roads Division Office located in the yard of the Campden Park Community Centre.Will the Honourable Minister please state the purpose of that building; andPlease give an update on the status of the Campden Park Community Centre with respect to the restoration of the roof?HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Minister of Social Development.HONOURABLE FREDERICK STEPHENSON: Mr. Speaker, this question, the first part of this question should have been properly put to the Minister of Works. The Ministry of Social Development is not in control of government buildings in relation to buildings that we use for Roads Division and it should have been properly put to the Minister of Works. But all in the light of transparency and good governance and we on this Honourable side of the House have a responsibility to the people of St Vincent & the Grenadines, I took it up upon myself toHONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: This side of the Honourable House not “this Honourable side of the House”.HONOURABLE FREDERICK STEPHENSON: I said this side HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Of the Honourable House. HONOURABLE FREDERICK STEPHENSON: of the Honourable House; in this Honourable House. HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: Very good, well done, well done. HONOURABLE FREDERICK STEPHENSON: Yes, I take that back and I correct myself.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: So, you want to say only one side Honourable. [Laughter] [Interjections] I took it upon myself to enquire ... [interjection] yes and I am doing that. [Laughs] I took it upon [laughs]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: [Striking of the gavel]HONOURABLE FREDERICK STEPHENSON: I was going to respond to you but I refuse, I refuse. [Interjections] So, I took it upon myself to enquire, the old Roads Division Building: office building which is located in the yard of the Campden Park Community Centre was used by BRAGSA sometime ago but, Mr.78Speaker, it has been felt that there is a need for a Community Library, in the area of Campden Park, and this building is being repaired for that purpose. The works had to be held up because I understand that persons in the area have been removing the materials used for the repair work and now someone has been placed there on a temporary basis to ensure the security of the materials there in order that the works can be carried out.Part (b) of the answer the reconstruction of the Campden Park Community Center is included in the Caribbean Development Bank and the Government of St Vincent & the Grenadines Funded at Natural Disaster Management Project, which is being administered by the Ministry of Transport and Works. Some preliminary works have begun and the consultants from the CDB will be here soon to make their assessment and recommendations. The scope of the work of the building will include a complete redesign and the erection of a new structure at the present site.The Natural Disaster Management Project includes other infrastructure initiatives and is scheduled to be completed by 2015. I am much obliged, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Question No. 20 Honourable Member for South Leeward. HONOURABLE NIGEL STEPHENSON: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I will move on. 20. The Honourable Nigel Stephenson asked the Honourable Minister of Tourism, Sports and Culture: a. Will the Honourable Minister please state unequivocally when will work commence to improve the Campden Park Playing Field; and b. give a status report of the Penniston Playing Field and say when the people of the Buccament Valley can have access to that facility. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Minister of Tourism, Sports and Culture.HONOURABLE CECIL MCKIE: Mr. Speaker, the Campden Park Project is indeed a large project, because we all know that the pavilion that was placed down there some years ago not by this government really was not benefitting of that facility. We are moving forward, however, with our plans to complete that project and to date we have the necessary designs and we have the costing of the project that is the pavilion, change and washroom and the cost of that project has been placed at just over $400,000 and funding will come from an overseas source. And from all indications the project has been approved and we would have funds available in the first quarter of the new year to commence that project. It is expected to take about twelve, fifteen months I understand to complete that project, but that would not hamper the use of the field itself.Relative to the Buccament Playing Field we have been working along that is the National Sports Council they have been working along with interest groups in the area and we have been able to cut that facility from time to time it is in need of a cutting now but very recently working with the interest groups in the area as well, two loads of topsoil would have been placed at that facility and that is to assist with the laying of the cricket pitch. The stones are already in place and very shortly work will be commencing by the National Sports Council to lay that cricket pitch. I should also advice the Member that we are also close to ordering two goal posts so that the footballers in the area would also have the use of that facility for playing football. It is expected that it would be 79available to the residents in the area in the first quarter of 2013 as well. [Interjection] I love it. [Interjection] although I may not [laughs] [nterjections]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Question No. 21, Honourable Member for South Leeward. 21. The Honourable Nigel Stephenson asked the Honourable Minister of Health and the Environment:The nurses at the Clare Valley Clinic were told not to turn up for work when it rains heavily because of the leakage of water into an electrical outlet and the subsequent pool that develops on the floor where the patients are attended to due to the bad state of the roof. a. Will the Honourable Minister give an indication as to when that clinic will be safe for both Patients and Healthcare Providers and how he intends to proceed; and b. state when will work commence to refurbish the Campden Park Doctors and Nurses Quarters as indicated in the 2012 Estimates given the poor state that it is in? HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Minister of Health and the Environment.HONOURABLE CLAYTON BURGIN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker, I have not yet found out who gave this instruction since there are no records, maybe the Honourable Member could tell me who gave this instruction.HONOURABLE NIGEL STEPHENSON: [Inaudible]HONOURABLE CLAYTON BURGIN: Well, I know those are the ones you get the information from, and they would also tell you something and you would run with it. As a matter of fact all these questions that I answered; I heard them already discussed on the radio months ago, you know when persons say, “Well ask the question in the House”; and then they came to the House, but I have heard them before, but you know I did not even bother to mention that. I heard all of them before.Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that the Clare Valley Clinic is in a state of disrepair, however, Mr. Speaker, I wish to state here today that during the latter part of 2011 officials in my Ministry started holding dialogue with the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) Programme on the possibility of lending support for the redesign and renovation of a model clinic and wellness facility at the current clinic site in Clare Valley. In the earlier submissions to the BNTF the Ministry envisaged using the Clare Valley Clinic as a model programme which would house in addition to the regular health care services a Wellness and Fitness Center and a Nutrition and Homemakers Programme, which will train persons in the use and preparation of healthy food. This programme, Mr. Speaker, was also expected to serve as the base for weekly health foods cooking programmes which will be carried live on the television.Designs were completed and submitted to the BNTF, however the estimated cost for the completion of this facility as per the designs was far too exorbitant and so the scope of the project had to be readjusted and resubmitted to the BNTF and we are therefore awaiting a decision by the CDB where all projects must get the final nod of approval. The cost for the project is now expected to be EC$160,000 and we will give the entire80Plant a much needed facelift. The proposal is to change the roof to make it higher in a bid to increase water run off, which is part of the existing problem with leakage, as well as to increase the circulation of air inside of the facility, upgrade the air-conditioning and electrical systems, improve perimeter fencing and security, to provide comfortable walking and waiting spaces for staff and patients, visiting the centre and refurbish the attached staff quarters to possibly house the District Medical Officer for that area.Mr. Speaker, during the construction phase, the Clinic will be relocated to one of the, that is activities, to one or two locations already identified the Clare Valley Community Centre or the Questelles Community Center. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to state here today that a new Polyclinic will also be built in Buccament under the Tenth EDF [applause] as part of the modernisation of the of the health sector. The designs are already completed and this facility along with the refurbishment works at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital, the complete renovation of the Mental Health Center, the Marriaqua Polyclinic, four Doctors Quarters in Sandy Bay, Mesopatamia, Chateaubelair and Canouan as well as a multiple staff facility in Union Island will be out for tender within a couple of weeks. Construction is expected to begin by the first quarter of 2013 on all of the named projects.Mr. Speaker, given the focus of the Government of St Vincent & the Grenadines on health and wellness, the Government is proposing to build a new polyclinic in Buccament and enhance the Clare Valley Clinic. The Ministry is in the process of looking at the optimum location for relocating other services in the South Leeward area. In this regard the Ministry will use new demographic data from the census results when available to determine whether clinics such as the Campden Park Clinic, the Retreat Clinic and staff quarters should be relocated or upgraded.Mr. Speaker, I am even more pleased to state that the Port Elizabeth Health Centre has been given its certificate of practical completion, and will be reopened in a few weeks to serve the people of Bequia. We will then proceed, Mr. Speaker, to completely renovate the Bequia Hospital. Much obliged, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: No supplementary. Question No. 22, Dr. the Honourable Linton A. Lewis, Opposition Senator.22. Dr. the Honourable Linton A. Lewis, Opposition Senator asked the Honourable Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, National Security, Economic Development, Airports and Seaports, Grenadines and Legal Affairs;in the light of the recent decision by the Immigration Authority of Canada to impose a visa restriction on nationals of St Vincent and the Grenadines wishing to gain entry into Canada, and in the light of the fact of the unreliability of the travel documents of St Vincent & the Grenadines being mentioned as a determining factor in the imposition of the visa restriction; will the Minister please state:-a. How many Vincentian passports were issued to nationals of Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, Syria and Lebanon over the past seven years?HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Prime Minister, Minister of National Security. 81DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, this government does not accept that the travel documents of St Vincent & the Grenadines are unreliable. I made that plain in a letter to the Prime Minister of Canada and I made that plain in a face to face meeting with Minister Diane Ablonczy and her officials recently on the margins of the United Nations, when I met them at the office of the Canadian High Commission in New York City.Mr. Speaker, we met travel documents which were unsafe and unreliable, you had an old passport on which you could stick on a picture, no safety feature in it, you just take the picture and you stick it on. People used to go to Barbados on their way to England, America; the person who was having the passport did not know their own biography because I know from my days of practicing law and cases have come to me one and two came to the courts where a person’s passport would be appropriated; he is 6ft 2inches. I know of a case a fellow who is 5ft 4inches got an immigration consultant here to appropriate his passport, change the picture, take it off and stick on another one. The immigration consultant did not train feller well enough in his biography so when he turned up to Barbados the Barbadian Immigration Officer said when he saw 6ft 1inches and watch the fellow [laughter] and said, “Were you ever in Barbados? He said, “No, I was never in Barbados”. That time there is a deportation stamp for the 6ft 1inches man, he has a visa which he had gotten through somehow; the passport in the visa is not for him but for the original 6ft. 1inches man so they sent him on to America to see if the Americans would lock him up. Anyway they deported him and send him back here to St. Vincent & the Grenadines. It was a joke the passport of St Vincent & the Grenadines, people used to laugh at it.Then in terms of the Birth Certificate, you had no controls there, we instituted serious controls for the passports and for the Birth Certificates; and every time we did it the voices from the Opposition say, “The Prime Minister does not want people to get birth certificate, do not want poor people to get birth certificate easy, do not want their passport easy”. I have heard it said, I myself have heard them on the radio. Mr. Speaker, we have instituted secure measures, this does not mean that these measures cannot be tightened further and however, tight the system is you always have individuals who will try to breach it.The United Kingdom Border Control Agency which has very stringent provisions in relation to the travel documents came here, we invited them to look at our travel document, the came and they gave us a clean bill of health. They did not put us on notice, they put Trinidad on notice for six months, they put two three other OECS countries on notice, I am not going to call the names of my OECS brothers and sisters. Not St Vincent and the Grenadines, I am not going to allow anybody to besmirch the good name of St Vincent and the Grenadines [knocking the desk] unreasonably and I am thoroughly amazed that there are persons in the Opposition who would want to join with that bandwagon to pull down St Vincent and the Grenadines. [Knocking the desk]I heard them on the radio, they want to pull it down with the passports which were destroyed, we heard the explanation today and we know the facts. Everybody now would be satisfied that there was nothing wrong with the destruction of those passports, not a soul in this country. Mr. Speaker, then I heard them and this is the question which comes here; passport issued to Iran: people from Iran, from Cuba, Venezuela, Syria and Lebanon. Mr. Speaker, when we issue passports, we issue passports to nationals of St Vincent and the Grenadines and this is how we record them; you are a national this is how we know under the Law: they are nationals by birth, they are nationals by descent, they are nationals who can get the Vincentian nationality82through marriage provided that they satisfy certain qualifications for registration of that marriage it is not automatic as descent. Birth is automatic for citizenship, descent is automatic for citizenship under the constitution; marriage has to be by registration and then of course there are different species of naturalization. You can have a certain number of years to be naturalized or you can make an important contribution in economic terms, social terms for a period of five years and if you are of good character, you can speak the English language and you understand what citizenship is you can get citizenship. That is the citizenship law and anybody can read that. When you go for a passport there is no entry made at the passport office, there is no diary kept that a Syrian national has been granted a passport because you can only be granted one if he is a Vincentian national either by registration or by descent or by marriage or through one of the other ways like for instance a contribution in economic or social terms.We do not keep at the immigration office a register saying that you were a Syrian and you become a Vincentian that record is not kept there at the passport office; that record is kept where the citizenship is granted. So for instance if you are registered as a citizen through marriage you go and you take your citizenship certificate to the passport officeHONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: The passport has to say where you are born.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: It says where you are born but it is not kept [interjection] yes but the immigration office does not keep a list on the basis of where you were born, they have it on the document but they do not keep the list because on your passport what you have here nationality, Vincentian; they do not put Vincentian by birth or anything you are a Vincentian. They will have it on the passport but there is not a record kept to say these persons who have received citizenship from this that and the other country. What we can say is that when we cross-reference from the office of citizenship you can then say that those persons are likely to have received passports because if you are a citizenship of the country you will go also and get a passport for the country. So, I can give you the number of persons who have become citizens and; therefore, those persons are eligible for passports.DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: [Inaudible]DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: No, you say how many Vincentians passports were issued to nationals of Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, Syria and Lebanon. I explained to you the data how it is collected but I can give you the number of those persons from those countries that have been made citizens, [interjection] yes, but I will ... the other one asked for other nationalities so I am giving you Venezuelans, Cubans, Iranians, Syrians, Iranians and Lebanese so that you can expect that those if they do not have passports they can get passports:Venezuelanspage83image2782410page83image29176Cubans6Syrianspage83image3452033Lebanese23Iranians4(That bad category)83That is the number; Mr. Speaker that is the number for 1990 to 2001 March. I saw the joy on their faces that they heard four Iranians that is the number for 1990 to March 2001. I am coming now to April 2001 to 2012, I am even going more than seven years for you. I gave you eleven there and I am giving you eleven here.Venezuelan 5 under your period for the last eleven years was 10; 6 Cubans in your period for the last eleven years, there are more you know I could go back to 1984 but I do not want to go there I am only dealing with your last eleven under the NDP. Six Cubans in the period since ULP came to office so that is equal. Syrians you had 33 in the last eleven years of your administration we have 23; you have 23 Lebanese we have 18. Iranians four under you in your last eleven years zero under ULP administration. [Interjections] You see you can go about and you ... you see truth, truth is a strange thing it trumps lies and distortions all the time. I saw the glee when I mentioned first the number and 4 Iranians; I saw them whispering, they looking now, they are happy now: “Yes, I got you”; 4 Iranians [interjections] except to say you did not know yet, I was leaving the sweet part for you 1990 to March 2001. Is it not true? [Interjections] Let me tell you this eh! [Interjections]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Just a minute. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Just a Minute, Honourable Prime Minister.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, I have the same list here, you see the truth, Mr. Speaker ...HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: No! Just a minute! DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Sorry.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I just want to address this subject because I think this is the second time I am hearing this coming from the Member for North Leeward.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: No! This one this time, Mr. Speaker, in fairness to him the “Not true” was from South Leeward.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: No! [Interjections] hold on, hold on I know what I heard. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: [Laughs]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Prime Minister, I know what I heard. Honourable Prime Minister, I know what I heard.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Oh! You heard that one too, okay. 84HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I heard him using the words “a lie”, “that’s a lie”. He cannot deny it. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Oh I see! I did not hear that.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: He made that statement earlier during a question time, and I let it pass and I am cautioning you in relation to that kind of statement. [Interjection]DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, I say I would not lie about public policy though. Mr. Speaker, to be precise 1 Iranian got citizenship in 1997 and 3 of them got in 1998. You want to find out whether they got them after June when the Honourable Member was Minister of Finance? I leave that for another day. I have them here you know, I have them here.DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: [Inaudible]DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: This is why when people ask me questions they think that they are going to give me a lot of work, I have this prepared all the time and I just update it. Mr. Speaker, I want to go further and say this, the person who was on the ground I have nothing ... the Iranians who got citizenship if somebody marry somebody else, an Iranian make some important contribution in the country you do not throw a whole blanket over a nation and discount everybody. Iran was the centre of the Persian Empire. In the book of Isaiah and in the book of Daniel, you meet Persia, you meet Iran, you meet Darius you do not meet the United States in the Old Testament you know, but you meet Persia [Laughter] [Knocking the desk]Mr. Speaker, interestingly the person who agitates a great deal on Social Media, one of them and on the Talk Shows about I going to Iran to make a visit that is the person who shepherded the Iranians in St Vincent and the Grenadines to have them go and get citizenship. I would not call the person name; 1 in 1997 and 3 in 1998.If you do not know the answer about something and the Honourable Senator Lewis is an individual who is supposed to be scientific, he cannot allow himself to get bamboozled by people who talking on radio. Why did you select Venezuelans, Iranians, Cubans, Syrians and Lebanese? Why select them eh? And when I come to the next question I will show you the number of other people who have gotten citizenship of other nationalities, I will come to that; but they want to hype the nation with some set of prejudices. Mr. Speaker, Cuba is a country where Vincentians have gone to study; our Ambassador to Cuba his wife is a citizen of this country as well as to Cuba; she is a citizen by marriage. There are several Cubans male and female who are citizens of this country as you see the number: 6 between 1990 and 2001 and 6 in 2001 to now.So what you want to do? And Mr. Speaker, further to that there are citizens by descent; those by descent are not going to be registered here because they are naturally by descent under the constitution they can go; there is not a procedure for them. We can put in a procedure for them to be formally registered too. You cannot stop them from being registered but for the purposes of a record you can do that; so, Mr. Speaker, that is the story.And specifically for the seven years, I gave you for eleven I now come down to seven. Venezuela 7, Cuba 4, Syria 20, Lebanese 13, Iranian 0 because if it was zero from 2001 to 2012, from 2005 to 2012 it will still remain85zero; and I do not understand in the prejudices of some they are lumping hardworking Syrians and Lebanese who have come to this country and help us to transform along with Guyanese and some Jamaicans, help to transform the trading sector in this country. Why are we doing this? In heaven’s name, why are we doing this to ourselves? We are being driven by the same set of people who go down and hear something from somebody down at the Printery; somebody who is dubious. As soon as somebody who is dubious tells them something they gone and they run with it, surely, we expect better. And this idea of traducing the country about unreliable travel documents when in fact the declaration, the diplomatic notes sent to us by Canada: by the Government of Canada spoke to the question of not unreliable travel document but the issue of asylum seekers and also immigration infractions in Canada. And High Commissioner Archibald apologised to me on the telephone and she said, “You can say it, that it was wrong to lump St Vincent and the Grenadines when the original announcement was made out of Ottawa with other countries about unreliable travel documents”.No one as ever spoken to me from Canada about unreliable travel documents, no one has made any representation to us about that not one; and the fact that when somebody breaches the system through a birth certificate process we had him brought to court and he got three years, he is serving three years now; showing that there are checks and balances in the system as we saw this morning how we are vigilant about the type of passport which we issue. And when I met Minister Ablonczy in New York City, the officials there said that: yes they were sorry that St Vincent & the Grenadines were lumped with others; they have never had allegations against us, this does not mean that people wouldn’t still carry these allegations you know; but I am determined in every forum to stand up and defend the integrity of the passport and travel documents of St Vincent and the Grenadines and it is a shame [knocking the desk] that persons in the Opposition who just want to pull down St Vincent and the Grenadines, pull it down for what purpose because you want to replace me. [Interjection] well, you would have a long time to wait.I am going to be seventy four in the year 2020 that is when they have to look for it. In fact I do not know which of them will win the race trying to get me out of here or “Death where is thy sting, grave where is thy victory” because things being equal as a male in St Vincent, I will go at seventy four I may get a little more but the average lifespan of a male in St Vincent currently is seventy four, I have eight more years to go. Of course, I may get a little more like my father and my mother but that is where it is. Mr. [interjections] the doctor does not advise me properly? I hope for your sake I do not have to attend your funeral. [Interjection] I hope for your sake I do not have to attend your funeral, when you wish ill of people, when you dig a pit for somebody dig one for yourself too. I am obliged.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Question No. 23, Dr. the Honourable Linton A. Lewis23. Dr. the Honourable Linton a Lewis, Opposition Senator asked the Honourable prime Minister and Minister of Finance, National Security, Economic Development, Airports and Seaports, Grenadines and Legal Affairs, will the Minister please state: a. How many Vincentian persons were granted citizenship over the past seven years; and b. what were the nationalities of those persons? 86 DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, under the last eleven years of the NDP administration and the first eleven years of ours; we have under the period of the NDP citizenship granted to persons with 81 nationalities. Under us persons with eighty nationalities; the one nationality under the NDP we cannot figure out what happened there the nationality is unknown, I do not know what nationality exists there; I could tell you when the unknowns were issued. Why he asked this? [Laughs] I know some people on the NDP are happy that you ask these question because your stocks going down after today. [Laughs] your legs do not look so fresh [laughs] to replace those who are old and tired somebody said; old and tired.Mr. Speaker, I am sure that this Honourable House would not want me to go through all 81 nationalities that would take us a long time; permit me to deal with the major ones. Mr. Speaker, the last eleven years of the NDP administration 1377 citizenship: citizenship was granted to 1377 persons; in our eleven years and little bit 35% less, 483 less, the number which was granted under us 894; and I will deal with those under the NDP first and then the ULP. And remember here I am dealing only with the last eleven years of the NDP.Country or Nationalitypage87image13920NDPULPAmerica8869Barbados6727Canadian4029Chinese133Dominican Republic152Commonwealth of Dominicapage87image3547220page87image3672011British13294Frenchpage87image4252832page87image4377626German187Grenadians4728Guyanese293155And it is very interesting, the highest number was in 1998, and you know an event took place then, and in 2000, and another event took place shortly after that. I just want to point that out.Indians2317Italians212Jamaicans8791Lebanese2318Nigerian s1912St Lucians3823Syrians3323Trinidadians19311887Mr. Speaker you see, it did not make any sense for people to single out Iranians, Cubans and Venezuelans. [Laughs] Well, they wanted to put Syrians and Lebanese ... well the Syrians and Lebanese especially in East Kingstown would want to know whether the Honourable Senator wants to sabotage the Leader of the Opposition by joining Syrians and Lebanese out of Cane Garden especially to bring their business out of parliament that is the answer, Mr. Speaker. [Knocking the desk]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Our final question on this question No. 24 to the Honourable Senator Lewis.24. Dr. the Honourable Linton A. Lewis, Opposition Senator asked the Honourable Minister of Transport and Works, Urban Development and Local Government:For over five years the main road from South Wood past the Belmont Seventh Day Adventist Church has been in a deplorable condition and therefore has been a hazard for pedestrians and motorists alike will the Honourable Minister please state: a. Whether there are any plans to improve that road, and if so; b. How many feet of that road are earmarked to be improved; and c. When is work scheduled to commence on that road? HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Minister of Works. HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: Mr. Speaker, after a marathon session of questions, I shall make thisone very brief.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Okay, please.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: Twenty four questions. Mr. Speaker, it is really a suspect that the Honourable Senator will pick the last five years. That road has been in a terrible condition for the last fifteen to twenty years because of the root system of the pine trees around the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and the settling in the area there seems to be a fault in that area. That road has been repaired five or six times already. It is to be repaired again there is a fault there and the hard heavy roots of the pine trees have been mashing up that road in fact since the days I used to go Grammar School [interjection] South Road going to Belmont at the Seventh Day Adventist Church, I know where you talking about.DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: [Inaudible] HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: Didn’t you say, here the Seventh Day Adventist Church? DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: [Inaudible]HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: Yes! Yes! Yes! I know what you are talking about, I know it better than you and you just came back after ... when you were away studying I know the road, I used to drive it at night time [Laughter]88Mr. Speaker, this road is among many to be repaired: many to be repaired, Mr. Speaker, and as I indicated in last parliament I am hoping to get the $5 million work programme and as soon as I get that. I cannot tell you when it will start as soon as we start the programme that road will definitely get some attention. Thank you very much.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Okay this brings us to the end of questions. ORDERS OF THE DAY3. THE PROPERTY TAX BILL 2012 OR THE VALUATION AND RATING BILLDR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable , we have come out of the Select Committee with this Bill, renamed the Valuation and Rating Bill, 2012. I beg to move that a Bill for an Act to make provisions for the valuation of property for rating purposes, levying and collection of property tax and for connecting purposes be read a second time.Question put and agreed to Bill read a second timeHONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Debate.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, I will not be very long on this Bill, because we spent a long time in Select Committee on it. I want to set the backdrop. This Bill Mr. Speaker seeks to convert the rental value assessment system into a market value assessment system as part of the tax reform programme, which has been ongoing since 2007. Other elements of the reform programme which have already been implemented included the following six measures. 1. The reduction of the top marginal rate of personal income tax from 40% to 32.5%. 2. The reduction of the standard rate of company tax from 40% to 32.5% with lower rates for manufacturers and tourism related businesses. In the case of tourism related business you get 15%: you are taxed at 15%. In the case of Caricom you go down to 25% and in the case of OECS 15% for manufacturing enterprises. 3. The increase in the tax threshold for individuals to $18,000 a year, from $12,000. 4. The introduction of the value added tax to replace a series of taxes including the consumption tax, the hotel turn over tax, the stamp duty on receipts, the telecommunication surcharge and the entertainment tax. 5. An extensive programme of improved client services and operation efficiency at the Custom and Excise Department. 6. The introduction of a modern excise tax to replace the old excise. 89 These are major tax reforms which we have introduced over the period of time, Mr. Speaker, taxes on land and property are among the oldest and most common form of taxation and now we have come to the business of reforming the way in which we assess the properties based on a market value rather than a rental value to effect a new tax regime as regards land and property.Although property tax typically constitutes a minor source of revenue at the Central Government level they may constitute substantially to the financing of local government authority. In 2010 for example collection for property tax by the Central Government amounted to $2.9 million or less than 1% of current revenue for that year. On the other hand the Kingstown Town Board collected $720,000 for property taxes in 2010, which amounted to about 30% of their receipts. Mr. Speaker, the rationale for property taxation is well established. Property tax may be justified on the grounds of both benefit and ability to pay principles of taxation, benefit consideration points to the protection provided by the state for private property through the maintenance of law and order. And the services provided such as roads, construction, and cleaning, street light etcetera. Ability to pay consideration suggested that the holding of property implies the capacity to receive property income and an inherent form of potential consumption.Mr. Speaker, there are two basic forms of property taxation. 1. A tax based on an annual or rental value of the property. 2. A tax based on the capital or market value of the land and improvements. The value of a property reflects economic, social, physical and legal factors. The purpose of assessment is essentially to determine the fair market value of the property. Accurate assessment is the benchmark of a good property tax administration; this is why we have spent so much time and money in preparing in preparing the valuation list for the various districts. The process started in 2003, this particular process, when a pilot study was conducted by the firm of Brown and Company out of the United Kingdom. This pilot survey identified additional revenues to be gained in capturing missing properties and completed the design for the full reevaluation exercise which started in 2008 through a tax assessment an entire survey for the whole country. During the exercise information was collected on all properties including the physical size, ownership, the value of land and improvements.Mr. Speaker, in my 2012 Budget Address, I indicated that the proposed tax; rate of tax is 0.08 percent of market value. I pointed out that from all the analyses which were done 0.07 would be neutral but there had been no increase in any property taxes since 1991; that is the last time there was an assessment. So we suggested that maybe we should go a little higher than just neutral, but of course we had said that we will exempt the first $25,000 on property: properties with $25,000 and less. Mr. Speaker, analyses has shown that using this rate of 0.08 approximately 50% of the property owners presently on the tax roll will see a reduction in their property tax bill. If this is so how then will the Government collect more revenue without exorbitant increases for the remaining 50%? This is the answer I will give:901. We are going to have an increased number of taxpayers; the updated valuation list has a combined total of 38,386 properties as compared with 26,113 properties on the old list.In other words a 47% increase in the base. So, those who are already on the list the assessment at 0.08 percent would see half of those, half of the 26,113 properties currently on the list would pay less taxes. Of course, those who are now coming on will pay property taxes for the first time, but they have a lot of buildings, substantial buildings which have come on after 1991 and existing properties have been refurbished and extended since then. So that is the first situation, the number of taxpayers captured would increase by 47%.2. Improvement in the compliance rate.Our analysis has shown that the compliance rate ... Yes.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Of the 26.113 existing? You said 50% is likely to pay less.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: That is the analysis.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Of the balance does this include those that are below 25,000 or whatever, 50,000 that would be exempted because I am trying to follow your argument.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: The 36,386 properties would be those on the Valuation List currently. We have not dealt with the ...; 38,386, we have not dealt with the extent of the numbers which would come off the list as a result of not the available for taxation because of the exemption for the first 25,000; so, that the actual increase which would be there in all probability thus would be less than 38,386 properties.2 The improvement in the compliance rate:Currently the compliance rate of the 26,113 properties is about 65% and those who are in the business tell me that they can increase with this new legal framework and with the improved capacity which they would have to increase the compliance rate to 90%.3. Where we will see additional revenues is increased taxation for commercial properties.The increase in the valuation for most commercial properties particularly those in the Central business district of Kingstown under the new system would increase sizeably. Accordingly, we are in the process of carrying out the relevant analysis to reduce the rate for commercial properties particularly also for hotels and factories.Mr. Speaker, as the data are being finalized [I know it sounds strange that the data “are” but that is correct] it is correct, data being plural. As the data are being considered we are thinking and I had raised this question I remember when the Leader of the Opposition was at the Select Committee, remember I raised this issue that on a clearer analysis of everything we may be able to reduce the standard rate of 0.08 and probably bring it to maybe 0.07. And there was some consideration of even lifting the bar from $25,000 to $50,000, I will make91announcements on those in the Budget when we do [interjection] that is true because we had decided to put it to $50,000, quite correct. There is some fine tuning therefore which we will do before on the numbers, before we reach our budgetary presentation again.Mr. Speaker, in relation to properties I want to say this, I want to urge that people do not look at property taxation just in isolation of other matters in relation to property. We do not have in this country capital gains taxes and the truth is this, even in an absence of capital gains taxes our property taxes are relatively small. In countries without capital gains taxes such as Barbados, the Honourable Leader of the Opposition lived in Barbados and he knows the extent of property taxes in Barbados and they have gone up since. In fact, it may well be that if you were ... I should say this too we have a transfer tax, five and five, but it is less in Barbados. But if you were to check everything out you may find that what the Barbadians are recovering over a twenty- year period with their increased taxes to say the house could last for 50 years or more; but even a moderate period like 20 years could well be recouped what you would have put in, in the transfer taxes. But of course, the transfer taxes you pay that very much as at one lump sum up front.In the United Kingdom and the Honourable Senator Lewis has studied in the United Kingdom and he sees the property tax rates in the United Kingdom, they are very high and that country also has ... they also have capital gains tax which is very significant, also in the United States of America. We do not have capital gains tax here. [Interjection] yea, well the point is this it is one of the selling points. Ah!HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: It is a bad example.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: No, it is not a bad example because we are talking about all ... I am talking about the various taxes which are attendant upon property. Generally speaking, we do not have capital gains tax. But despite the fact that we do not have capital gains tax where in Barbados where that is the same thing, the property taxation in Barbados the rate is much higher than what we have here or indeed what is being proposed even with 0.08% of the market value; and even if that goes down to 0.07% which is the neutral rate in relation to the rental when you make the connection with the rental value.Now, Mr. Speaker, in many respects the current law follows the Valuation and Rating Act which is being repealed generally speaking but there are some important differences. One obviously is the question of the definition of “value” with reference to this Act “value” means the price which in the opinion of the Valuation Officer property would realise if sold on the open market in the base year of valuation. And the base year may well change and there is provision for the changing of the base year. So that is significant because it differs from the current law because the current law has rental value, so that is one important difference there.Mr. Speaker, this Act has several parts, part (2) deals with evaluation, part (3) valuation procedure and appeals; part (4) rating; part (5) miscellaneous and of course there are schedules including consequential amendments for instance to the Kingstown Board Act and to the Local Government Act. I want to say this, under the whole law there was a very draconian provision. This draconian provision pointed to that if you did not pay your property tax and the Government after a particular process giving you notice and all the rest of it and you still do not92respond could actually sell the property basically for the tax for which you owe. Now, we consider that not to be fair or reasonable, so that is changed that it has to be in relation to what is a fair and reasonable value in the open market value. We changed the provision inside of the law and even after that there is a complicated procedure for you to go to auction and the like. So, it is extremely difficult to sell the property if somebody does not pay their tax but in any event it has to be done on a basis which is quite reasonable as distinct from the old way. But you know we have to pass laws to suit our circumstances and what is deemed to be reasonable by the policymakers. YesHONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: It is normal and it will be extremely helpful if the Prime Minister will refer to the section of the Act.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Yes! Yes! HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Because I do not recall having read anything that he just said there.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Yes. Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker, I am giving an overall and omnibus view of the section [interjection] Yea! Yea! I can give you the section. I can give you the section, but I am doing ... I do not want to spend as much detail on this because we went through it in the Select Committee.HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: And you do not have the conviction. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: What is that? HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: And you do not have the conviction. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: I do not know how you come to that conclusion. HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: [Inaudible]DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: No! No! No! On the contrary, I will tell you this, this law is not the issue, this is the framework for the application of the law, once you accept that the market base, the market value system is a better system and I accept that.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: You accept that? DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: I accept that. HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Well you are a capitalist.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: No I am not a capitalist [laughter] I am a person who is dealing with taxation.93HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: You are a pragmatist, you are a pragmatist.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: I am a person who is dealing with taxation, this is not a socialist measure or a capitalist measure; it is a taxation measure which is reasonable in all the circumstances. Now, really at the end of the day is what is going to be the standard rate. Are we leaving it at 0.08%? We are taking it to 0.07% will somebody carry it further in subsequent years as they could have carried valuations on a rental base? Those are the issues which will concern people at the end of the day, how much they are paying. And we are giving exemptions when no exemptions existed hitherto and we are improving the framework for the administration of the law. For instance, Mr. Speaker, you take...HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Mr. Speaker,HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Yes.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: I wonder whether the Honourable Prime Minister would want to take a little time out to explain to us not just here but to the listening public what he understands to be the fundamental difference between the rental basis and the market value so that the listening public ... a lot of the people in the street may not grasp or appreciate that.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: [Inaudible]DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker, in simple terms the rental value is what it says, what is the property rented for on an annualized basis, the market value is the market value of the property but obviously what you would charge as a percentage of the rental you cannot charge as a percentage of the market value that is why it is low as 0.08%. I want to [interjection] Mr. SpeakerHONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member, would you please. [Interjection]DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, I want to draw the Honourable Member for West Kingstown attention first of all, from clause 27 you can have a “warrant of distress” you go for the goods but if you do not get goods you can then go 37, 38, 39 you go in respect of the goods first; 40 “the Comptroller”This is now notice to be served on default or before sale of property. So this is the one, now you do not get enough money from the distraining in respect of the goods, you then go to the property. [Interjection] No, it is not a different thing, you then go to the property and then when you go to the property you can then address the sale of the property in respect of clause 40, clause 41 and clause 42. These are provisions in relation to sale, and 43 the “Effect and the conferment of the Title”. Then we go on with 44: the “Form of conveyance’ and 45 the “Disposal of the surplus of the proceeds of sale”.Now, what these provisions here ... if the Honourable Member would have read them he would have seen that you cannot just sell it for the value of what was owed, you have to sell the property in relation to the base year assessment of the value that is what it is. And that is why I was saying that if the Honourable Member reads it,94he will find that he would find it there in those provisions which I have identified. Mr. Speaker, and it possesses all the various appeal provisions if you have any dispute. It tells you what the Valuers can do, and what they cannot do, what the officials can do, what they cannot do and in those respects follow broadly the law as it existed here for a long time and in other jurisdictions.If there are any queries, Mr. Speaker, I can address them during my winding up. I would say that this is a Bill to be supported and as I said we have ... we did in fact insert, the Leader of the Opposition is quite right, we did in fact in the Budget said the first 25,000 but we decided when we saw the numbers at the Select Committee that we exempt the first 50,000. Well, not the first 50,000 properties valued up to the 50,000 which is a different thing than the first 50,000. So, it is not if you have a property valued at $400,000.00 $50,000 is taken off and you only pay $350,000. It is only in relation to a property which is under 50,000 which would be exempted.This Bill is a much improved product than what we had brought first given the way we knocked it about in the Select Committee and certainly an improvement on what we have currently. In the final analysis the public would want to know how much they will have to pay; at what particular rate and to see the extent of the exemptions and to see whether in all the circumstances this is fair and reasonable. And I believe that we will have rates and the exemptions which are fairer and reasonable. Some are already in this particular Law.Mr. Speaker, I just want to say one thing. I am very, very mindful that a tax which people have an instinctive resentment to is property tax. I know it from inside of my own family, even though it is low at a $100 or an $150.00 even though it is a big house you have people still, they do not, they get agitated a lot of people when they have to pay property tax. But I want to ask them please it is reasonable to have to pay and it is miniscule compared to what is happening in other jurisdictions.The street lights alone is $6 million we have to clean the drains, we have to fix up, we have to provide security, they would say well we pay other taxes, yes, but they just not enough and especially in relation to the Local Government Authority. We have to clean up Kingstown properly, we got to do something about it and we need a little more money but the increase is not going to be coming from the increase on the properties for most people but from the wider spread of the tax base, and clearly with an improved information system that we would have a better compliance rate. I know what I am talking about with individuals. Sorry.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Mr. Speaker, I know this is a very sensitive piece of legislation as the Honourable Prime Minister is indicating and in my presentation I would want to take that on board when I come to a conclusion. Now, you indicated earlier, Honourable Prime Minister, that less than 50% of the existing property owners may be affected negatively. Is that an accurate assessment?Normally, you would provide a little flesh and bone in your presentation tonight you did not indicate to us at about what threshold level you figure that 50% kicks in. Is it with people with a value let us say $100,000 property $150,000, $200,000, $250,000, $300,000? You see that could be helpful that we know what thresholds of people are not likely to see an increase in taxes on their property. Would you be able to do the crunching?95DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: I think, Mr. Speaker, what would be more to look at is not so much over what particular number but there are some persons who would have increased tremendously the value of their property by extensions, rebuilding, where they had a valuation in the year 1991 and you have a different valuation today. Now, the list is going to be put up and the people could question the evaluation you know. The list is going to be put up all about and there is going to be a big promotional campaign on this but the problem is not so much what we have here in this Bill for the administration of the tax because it is an improvement by far, once we accept. Improvement by far to the existing administrative law for taxation in relation to property, once we accept which I think the entire House accepts because the earlier position from the Honourable Leader of the Opposition when he was Minister of Finance was supportive of a market value tax system for property. Ah!HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: [Inaudible]DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Yes, when you were Minister of Finance, you have it in your Budget Speeches, and you may have changed your opinion a man is free to do that but the issue is going to come with the actual rate at which we are being paid, which we will deal with that matter in our budget address. This is the framework now. And this Bill when everything is in place we will do the proclamation because as you would notice in clause (1)“This Act shall come into force on a day to be appointed by the Governor General by proclamation published in the Gazette”;1qwhen we have every single thing in place. I am obliged.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Leader of the Opposition.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Mr. Speaker, I must say that the brevity of the presentation by the Honourable Prime Minister is a reflection of the reality that is associated with this piece of legislation. Legislation of this type is not easy to swallow and the Prime Minister is indeed right in saying that some years ago I myself was supportive of a market based system. I am still supportive of a market based system. [Interjection] leh me finish nah, [inaudible] I just started [laughs] [Laughter]Mr. Speaker, the big difference today is the state of our economy, and what the implications are for the economy of this piece of legislation that is the issue. In periods of reasonable economic growth when the economy is not doing too badly it is more appropriate to introduce this type of legislation. Mr. Speaker, this Bill must be placed in the context of the state of the Vincentian economy and the need for adjustment for the economy to grow. It must be placed in that context. It is not an item of just simply increasing taxes; we are going through an adjustment process, Mr. Speaker, after four years of negative growth, after other efforts at reform in the taxation system mentioned by the Prime Minister in his presentation; and this is another aspect of the reform. But as you know all taxes have their impact not simply on revenue but they impact very harshly sometimes on people and could lead to some very negative economic implications.96Mr. Speaker, when we look at the implications that we have to deal with in St Vincent and the Grenadines and those we have to deal with outside, they are all aware of our recent poor economic performance and we are looked at as having the need to make adjustments both on the revenue side and the expenditure side in relation to our budget, and the need to provide some stimulus to our economy and at the same time attempting to grapple with our own fiscal crisis whether we want to accept that we are in a fiscal crisis. We have projections of economic growth coming on line by the end of this year; some say we may get maybe 2%. I noticed that Moody in their own report suggest 1.5% to 2% maybe up to 2013, and the IMF 2% by 2012 but there are a number of factors, Mr. Speaker, that we all have to take into account when we examine this particular piece of legislation.What are the circumstances now, what are the economic circumstances now even apart from the four consecutive years of negative growth? The Government finds itself in a situation of trying to curb expenditure while at the same time trying to find some mechanisms to improve revenue so you can have some surplus to be used in facilitating your capital programmes and facilitating growth in the economy. So, you are not paying the 3% to public servants: that is what it is about. There is no indication of any payment when the new three-year contract for the public service for 2013, 2014 and 2015. What are you having? Are we having a freeze on salaries during that period of time? Because that is a measure of expenditure control, so is the non-payment of the 3% at the present time.Those persons now who fall into that category, and who own their own properties already have to face the difficulty of lower income. They have to face the difficulty of inflation in our economy and they expect that to increase in 2013 because of failures internationally in agriculture due to drought and so forth. So, you are addressing a public sector already under some significant pressure and you are saying to them: you will have to pay some more on your property but I cannot help you with your salary. That is the reality you know.Such persons are expected in those circumstances to perform as usual and indeed even to improve their performance that is the climate that they face right now in St Vincent and the Grenadines. And I want to refer, Mr. Speaker, and the Prime Minister himself referred to it earlier today in one of his ministerial presentations where Moody describes the reason for their downgrade, and by the way my documents says nothing about downgrade in terms of foreign exchange. It has:“Key rating drivers for the decision are poor growth prospects following the protracting recession and weak recovery in tourism”.That is the first driving force in their perception in relation to the St Vincent and Grenadines economy. The second one is what we are dealing with today.“Significant and rapid deterioration of government’s balance sheet...”That is number two, and that is what we are dealing with here now in this legislation. What can we do to bring the fiscal situation into balance and at the same time provide a stimulus for growth in the economy? That is what we are dealing with and I know that the Prime Minister himself very well knows that but sometimes in 97political it is difficult to come out and say straight certain things for political reasons. But now we are dealing with the economy and people feeling the pressures of the economy and we are saying to them: one of things I now have to do to help clean up the balance sheet is for you to pay some more property taxes, even though you cannot get anymore salary right now. That is what it is. That is exactly what we are dealing with here and then there is the question of elevated vulnerability to external economic shocks, which the Prime Minister explained when he spoke about in his ... when he did his ministerial statement.But I want to say this in relation to that particular point of view is that we already know from what is happening with our trading partners both in the European Union and the United States that next year a lot of food commodities would have significant price increases. We know that already because of crop failures due to drought and so on in the United States. We expect a significant impact on the inflation rate in St Vincent and the Grenadines. So, here you are people are not in the position to get any wage increases even those which had been granted before or a portion of it, so there is no additional income. Prices are rising because of inflation and now you find yourself in a position where you have to present before those same people that you have to increase the taxes on their homes. Those persons who are renters of property they can expect that part of the tax increase will pass on to them in their rents those who occupy rental property. The property owner is not going to absorb the entire increase in the tax some of it is going to pass down to those persons who are renting those properties.I want you to understand what that means that the same persons who really you are not in a position to give additional income, who have to continue to work who is going to meet increase prices have to meet increase property taxes and even further price increase later on. So what do you do? Then you look at the private sector, persons who own businesses in Kingstown and so forth, I want the people to recognise this. I want the people of St Vincent to recognise these realities for in the end whatever decision is made the whole idea is that we are trying to bring our economy back into growth to improve employment and incomes and the standard of living for the people of our country. That is what all the exercises are about, you know, not only in terms of this particular measure, which we are discussing but generally speaking for the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines.And who will pay the highest property taxes the same business owners in Kingstown and when they pay higher property taxes we are going to pay it because it is going to be reflected in the prices of the commodities that we buy. Already, with incomes being limited in terms of no growth in income. This is the context you know but at the same time we are expecting the businesses in our country a number of which are slowing down and closing and laying off people, you expect them to help in the stimulation of growth in the economy. Growth with increase cost, and people with less incomes and increased cost not only locally but internationally. But in the end it is the consumer in this country that pays that is what it is. That is what we are dealing with when we discuss this taxation.I recognised that a number of changes have been made in the legislation, I was involved in some of those changes even some of those the Prime Minister himself just mentioned, but I have to stop and think, Mr. Speaker, I have to stay and think about what this means for the economy of St Vincent and the Grenadines and for the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines.98I recently noted a statement from the Prime Minister they were quoting him in the newspaper a few days ago some of it he gave us again today, in which he spoke about the impact and what is happening and he gave us some today in the fiscal outturn what is happening with the various taxes, and what government is getting in terms of revenue. And there have been some increases; you had some fairly significant increases in the VAT take, taxes in international trade and so forth. We have had all of those but we have to have something because it is not sufficient to deal with the current deficits that we face, whether it be a current deficit in the budget or current deficit in terms of international trade. And if you want to change those deficits especially the one in terms of international trade we have to provide stimulus, we have to provide some sort of concession that allows businesses to go forward small and large in order to create employment and additional incomes.In this same newspaper right next to that I see global international crisis hits Erica’s an Agro Industry that has been operating here for the last twenty three years. What are we going to do with these things? What is the policy framework that is being established both for austerity as we are having here today and for stimulus to the sectors to have an increase in growth and employment? That is the bottom line. That is the straight bottom line that we have to deal with. The same private sector and a lot of private individuals still are waiting to get back some of the British American and CLICO money.Some are waiting for the Government to pay them the money that the Government owes them, the same private sector and the same individuals but you expect those persons also to be able to make a contribution of a significant nature for the economy to grow. We are in a bind and the bind that we are in today is caused by this administration in terms of its fiscal policy over the last five, six years. [Knocking on the desk] I spoke about that about five different budgets now and today we are facing the reality of that condition. “The chicken has come home to roost” man let us face that reality.You noticed: “Poor growth prospects following a protracted recession and weak recovery”. I listened to the Minister today he tried to duck the second part of my question on bananas. Banana is one of those areas you know which needs some very serious attention in terms of getting back on track. I understand by the way that the Black Sigatoka level has gone from two to four, which means it is coming back.HONOURABLE SABOTO CAESAR: Three point eight. HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Three point eight what is the difference? HONOURABLE SABOTO CAESAR: We still under.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Still under? [Inaudible] the point is, it had gone down to two and it is now almost back to four, and when you gave the data today on banana export in St Vincent it is a disgrace. [Interjection] We are talking about a country which used to average some $66, $63 million a year with its best year being one hundred and something million dollars with 79,000 tons and we are talking about half a million dollars with $581,000 for about seven months, come on.HONOURABLE SABOTO CAESAR: I am still waiting on the post carnival plan. 99HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: Eh! I made some announcement about that yesterday, you weren’t listening? [Interjections]HONOURABLE SABOTO CAESAR: Post carnival plan. HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: The point is the spraying is not working because the plane is down.[Interjections] The pilot is not payingHONOURABLE SABOTO CAESAR: You said it was dead.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: But you are killing it now that is what I am saying.HONOURABLE SABOTO CAESAR: It was already dead.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: You are killing it now. You are talking about half a million dollars, six hundred thousand dollars in bananas to September! Man come on! You have a list of farmers nowHONOURABLE SABOTO CAESAR: You said we understated Hurricane Tomas.HONOURABLE ARNHIM EUSTACE: You have a number of farmers now who are been told that they are not allowed to export, there is a list of thirty four of them anymore. [Interjections] Whatever the issues, the point I am saying is that is an area of potential growth which will impact positively if it is taken more seriously. [Interjections] We cannot afford to have a situation where the Sigatoka level continues to go up; you know that, Mr. Minister, I do not have to tell you that you know it. And I am saying in terms of any stimulus that is one area that has to be addressed more urgently than is being addressed now. Not simply by increasing taxation, the stimulus component in relation to the economy is critical and like all of us, all of us want St Vincent to do well. We want farmers to have income we do not want farmers on welfare. We do not want that. I know you do not want it either I am quite sure of that but we have to take the matter seriously and deal with it.And the same efforts to come back to fiscal balance in an effort to be able to help BRAGSA and the Ministry of Tourism and so on in doing what they have to do. So, the focus cannot be mainly an additional taxation that is part: a component of any restructuring that has to be done to get us out of negative growth. That is what we are talking about and that is how I view the timing on this measure. I maintain that I have no problem with the market approach but I will be very careful with the timing for its implementation so it does not have a negative impact on people already pressed both in terms of their income, and their earnings otherwise other than salary. In terms of the amount of money you now have to spend on welfare. If more people are employed that would not happen, you would have to spend less on welfare and that is part of getting into fiscal balance.So, my concern about this is when you do it, and I am saying that now is not the time to do it because the impact is going to be very widespread both on persons who only working part-time or no time and even on those who are working even in reasonable jobs because of the other facets they have to face in terms of expenditure control. You cannot get away from that you could twist and turn and dance how you want that is100the reality we cannot get away from. What the Prime Minister is doing by this measure is an effort to increase revenue given the nature of our fiscal situation I understand that. That is not my problem but then you must go the same time with a stimulus package not like the one you are doing with bananas something more substantial.And I am saying those in situations with whom we have to work whether you like them or not must look at us and understand the whole package that is being put together for the improvement of our economy and to be able to see the assistance in financing. We cannot finance it, we have no surpluses and we cannot even meet our normal expenditures. That is why so many things are delayed and maintenance of road and so forth. I will not support this coming into being now. I want to see along with that time an incentive package recognising the difficulties that the private sector now has some of it caused by the government who now owes them and some of it caused by their own bad decisions in relations to CLICO and British America. I am not blaming the Government for that only in the sense that they did not keep a statutory reserve as required by the law.But we have to ask and give incentive to those people for job creation; we cannot let the thing go helter-skelter on taxation they have to come together. The measures have to come together in order for us to move forward to economic growth and further employment. That is the bottom, bottom we are not discussing anything else really you know. In almost every piece of legislation that comes before this parliament is an attempt to improve the condition of our country and our people. People accuse us in the opposition here of supporting legislation – “Why you don’t oppose it”? I do not oppose everything, if I feel a Bill is good I say it is good and I support it. [Knocking the desk] I have always done that. I am saying in this particular instance here, I want to see coming along at the same time a stimulus package going along with the austerity that is required to improve the fiscal situation and the economy of St Vincent and the Grenadines. I therefore will not support this legislation at this time. Much obliged.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Further debate on the Bill, Honourable Member for Central Kingstown.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise at this time to engage myself in this important discussion of what we previously called the Property Tax Bill but which has been renamed the Valuation and Rating Act. [Interjection] yet on another occasion, Mr. Speaker, one listened to the Honourable Prime Minister without the usual gusto in presenting this Bill, without any real conviction and I think he concluded at the end and he said look, he is a pragmatist, he lives in a real world, he knows instinctively how the man in the street reacts to this his own family and his own experience.He too has his own business background and culture out of which he came, and indeed generally speaking no one wants to pay taxes: that is the name of the game; no one wants to pay taxes. So you have to come to grips with that. But he [interjection] finds himself, Mr. Speaker, between a rock and a hard place and if you listen very carefully, Mr. Speaker, in the way the Honourable Member for East Kingstown presented his argument there has been a caution that we could say a lot of things on either side of the house but as the “Manage” says ultimately we have a country to build and we have to find the money to run the country.So we cannot wholesale take objection to revenue measures because if the boots come on the other foot tomorrow, we have to move on and I suspect the Honourable Leader of the Opposition, Member for East 101Kingstown sticking with the calypso adage “Manage we have a country to build” was also reminding us of anther powerful commentary by the man CP himself “Pressure” to me that summarises the debate tonight. Do you believe wholesale in the Honourable Prime Minister, we have a country to build and we must gather more taxes? Or we take the position of the Honourable Leader of the Opposition that already there is too much pressure and we have to find a way to ease the lid? There are really two contrasting views which clearly have their measure.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: [Inaudible]HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: The Honourable Prime Minister also needs to take on board following the arguments presented tonight by the Honourable Member for East Kingstown that unfortunately one of the problems that his administration has had to face over the last eleven years or so even when there was economic growth because he now concedes that there has been no growth for the last four years.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: I have not conceded to that.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: But even when ... I know you, I know how you are stubborn [laughs] it is all right you had 0.8 last year or 0.4 something like that so you are holding on to that it is all right that is what drowning people do.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: I am not drowning, I can tell you that.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: I know, I know. I am simply saying is that the problem with your administration in the first eight years when even you had growth, unfortunately most of those years were jobless growth and it compounds the situation. If when in your growth years you had created jobs there would have been more people now in the tax brackets, more property owners, a stronger property owning class which could have been of some assistance at this time.Mr. Speaker, I have an even stronger abhorrence even as I give way to the argument of the Honourable Leader of Kingstown of not this time. Mr. Speaker, when this Bill was at the Select Committee stage I think I recalled at one occasion the Honourable Prime Minister did allude or indicate to us that a factor that we had to take on board was that for organisation such as the Caribbean Development Bank a move towards a market based assessment represented a contingent precedent especially in regards accessing policy based loans. I hope I interpreted you correctly?DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: I will speak afterwards.HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: You would speak afterwards. But that is how I understood it. But even in that regard I really have issue even with the Caribbean Development Bank a respected regional organisation. You may say who am I? But the fact is, it may be a policy based loan for a country; and maybe the CDB may say it is not their job to determine what governments’ policies are. Of course, we have a good case in102point we went to the CDB for a policy based loan for $100 million to sell the National Commercial Bank history will still pass judgement on that that it may not have been the wisest approach at the given time.Mr. Speaker, I have taken note of the Prime Minister’s rational argument is that this tax measure is not a stand alone measure. It follows a series of other ameliorative measures, which did ease the pain and suffering of taxpayers and institutions subjected to tax by different approaches, different actions and that is a fair position. I have a fundamental objection, Mr. Speaker, as I stated before and I want to leapfrog two of his narratives that in a sense the market based approach has some resemblance to capital gains taxes. Now, my interpretation of capital gains taxes is that it comes about when a person owns capital in property whatever form it is and he or she sells or the institution sells or disposed of that property realises a profit on the disposal of that property and then they pay a tax on the income gained from the disposal of that property. That is how I understand capital gains taxes. That is my limited measure.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Two points if my Honourable Friend would give way. First of all I was putting the issue of the new property tax system within the context and rates in particular in the context of other forms of taxes connected to property. That is the first point, and I do not want to go over that debate. But the second issue is not just for ... the question of property gains tax, it is not only when you sell, it is during the course when your property actually has a gain whether you transfer it or not there is a tax on it.HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Let me borrow your language: yea! Yea! Yea! Yea! Yea! [Laughter]DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: No! No! But I, I ... HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: No! No! I accept what you said yea! Yea! Yea! Yea! I agree withyou. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Well, I, I should have let Senator Lewis [laughter] HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: No! No! I learn a lot of my politics from you, you know. [Laughs]DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: I should have allowed Senator Lewis; I saw when you said it, he shook his head like this [showing the action] as almost to say “Oh no St Clair”. [Laughter] I saw him cringed so that is why I got up to give aHONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Yea! DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: more abbreviated statement on it. HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Yea! Yea! Yea! That is all right. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: You like it eh!103HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Ah like it. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: [Laughs]HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK Keith Joseph says it better than you though. Keith Joseph says it better than you.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: I see.HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: [Dragging his words for emphasis] you like it.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: You bound to get a top-up. [Laughter]HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Whatever you give me I will take, whatever you give me I will take. We all want to get home to hear Biden this evening.To get back to that point, Honourable Speaker, Honourable Prime Minister, this is where you and I separate; this is what I consider the fundamental difference that is why I asked you the question about the rental basis versus the market value approach. For me the rental basis more often than one is almost in the instance when there is an arms length bargain situation and voluntary to some extent. In addition to that - it invariably involves the movement of cash between the transacting parties the rental value approach that is how I am conceptualizing that. That is how I am presenting my argument.The market value approach that we have been arguing; the market value approach of assessment is essentially an accounting measure, I have a property with the passage of time there is inflation or deflation or change in the economic circumstances and the value of my property goes up or down according to changing economic circumstances. In our societies, more often than not and we do not have Fanny Mack, Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae here and so forth, and we do not have those vicissitudes as happening in the United States of America.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: They have no Fanny Mack.HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: In our societies for the greater part, Honourable Prime Minister, and I am sure you would agree with me our properties appreciate, they go up seldom do we come into experiences where the property of a person goes down. Save and except in situations where a person has his property you choose to put a cemetery next to them, you put a garbage heap next to them, you put a power plant next to them, you put a funeral home next to them, you put a airport next to them and it has the effect ... I see the Member for Central Leeward is following me and I appreciate that and it may send the person’s value down.HONOURABLE SABOTO CAESAR: The airport will send it up eh.HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Well, it may go either way you know. People may want to run from the noise; people may want ... businesses may grow as a result of it. So, it could go either way in an airport situation.104HONOURABLE SABOTO CAESAR: Like the Leader of the Opposition House and [inaudible]. HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: It goes up because you have built a mansion next to them[laughter] point taken.HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Point takenDR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker may I? In the way in which the debate is going and I think we have to help people who are listening to understand. Mr. Speaker, the implication that the rental value is relating to an arms length transaction with money being passed is not the basis of the rental value. You have a property St Clair Leacock, if I may just call his name for that purpose, Mr. Speaker, the valuer comes and seize what is the rental value of your property even if you are living in it and they do an assessment of the rental value, and a percentage of that rental value is fixed in respect of the tax: the property tax to be paid. In relation to the market value it is the value at a particular base year which is used and the year which is being used is 2008. And because they have their values already, and the base year can change and it is valued and the regression analysis which has been done all the statistical analyses show that the market value is seventy three times the annual rental value in St Vincent and the Grenadines broadly speaking. And that is why analysis which is done suggests that 0.07 is neutral broadly in relation to ... it would approximate the existing annual rental value tax. I just want to explain that I do not know if you are with me.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Well, I am with you, it is like Minister Burgin said this evening in the four corners of the earth, which means his perception of the earth is that the earth was square. I mean we could of said over here, no we do not agree with him over here the world is round [laughter] it is one of those kinds of analogies.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: It is a different thing. [Laughter] HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: But the point is. HONOURABLE FREDERICK STEPHENSON: Figurative language.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Figurative language. [Interjections] but ... eh! No do not throw me off with no academic thing that is where the rubber meets the road, Honourable Prime Minister, and it is precisely the argument I am bringing to you and I like the exchange because we are looking for a good outcome you know. If I narrow what you said and I am putting you in your professorial robe. Now, one of those measures the rental base is still essentially an economic argument and measure more so than the accounting measure. Hear me out, Honourable Prime Minister, and I have used this example against my colleagues. It is like VINLEC situation you have a mango tree, breadfruit tree, papaya whatever fruit tree in your yard and VINLEC walks through your compound and they see your fruit tree and they say, “Look that fruit tree is worth $80, it is worth $100, it is worth $120, it is worth $40 because that is the snapshot picture of the tree at that time and they pay you a price and you take it or leave it because the law also supports them in that regard that is the price. But if you take that same tree and you look at the economic earnings from it over ten years it may bringyou $800, $3,000, $4,000, $5,000. So, there are different measures Minister Saboto Caesar of the same item.105Now, this is what is problematic with the market value approach and the example you cited this evening brings that to life you know because you spoke of the last base year measurement of 1991 those people now in 2012 will have to come to grips with a new reality that what they thought the value was worth in 1991 and what the valuators are now saying in 2012 is going to be a horse of a different color. So, it might have been in 1991 I am going to pick a figure $100,000 property and the 2012 valuation now may say that it is now worth $200,000. It is just we are reasoning that is the difference. Those people twenty one years after in 1991, 2012 have absolutely no intention of disposing of their property of selling their property of realising cash but you the government wants to extract cash from them and more often or not it may well be people who are now at a stage where they are no longer income earners quite likely. They may be people who are no longer earning income but they now have a cash responsibility being imposed upon them and have no income stream. It is important. [Interjection]DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: But you would have to pay it in an annual rental value the same way.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: The market value is going to impose a level of pressure on some people ... and that is not the only market value you know, by the way because we must think through these things. You see that whole subject you call VAT – VAT is also market value, when you impose 15% it might be 15% on a tin of juice, a bread or a pound of beef when it was $2.00, $3.00 per pound but as that item increases as cost of living increases and the import value goes ... your VAT is increasing all the time it is no longer 15% on one, 15% on two, it is 15% on three, four, five, six seven, eight and nine.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: But you get back the import tax. HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: The person who goes to the supermarket to buy grocery gets backno VAT.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: No, but the price is [inaudible]HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: I am talking about the man in the street and this is where we are in disagreement Honourable Prime Minister and I am going to repeat for you. I have said in this parliament many times and this is my summary of this matter. I am going back, Mr. Speaker, you have heard me speak about [inaudible] of Japan this is the new owners of Hyundai I met these people in South Korea he gave me this book and this thing has always stuck with me, this is how the Hyundai group approaches life his father’s philosophy he says his father believes in Mencius over Confucius and why he says:“Only when the country prospers The country prospers.106can we be well, but only when we strive can the country succeed. It represents my father’s belief that a country’s development ultimately depends on the efforts of the individual. Likewise the success of the country is measured by the well being of the individuals. He strongly opposed the idea that people should be sacrificed for the benefit of a nation”.That is the difference in the argument you know [interjections] plus one minus one: the country wants to get on with its business. It is not earning revenue and decides that it must take it from the people and that the government can better spend whatever income there is disposable or otherwise than the individual. And so while government may in fact be getting stronger the people are getting weaker and weaker. That is the argument that was coming from the Honourable Member from East Kingstown, as we have difficulties fiscal and otherwise in the economy government has to find measures to carry them forward.Now, you see the Select Committees have their benefits as well; they have their benefits as well because I recall in the middle of this room here that in one of our side bars the question of the constituency development fund came up. You know, everybody knows that is my hobby hat and typically the Prime Minister responded, “Nah! Nah! Nah! Nah! Constituency development fund is a bad thing”. [Interjection] today you are arguing for local government support you know. There isn’t anything that is more local than governance than being able to do thing for people at the constituency level and it is more relevant today than resurrecting for convenience only this notion of Town Boards which are not in existence: nonexistence there is no Board except for the lumber and galvanise that is so often spoken about. It is a euphemism for a Permanent Secretary there is no board it is a fraud on the people of this country, but constituency development is alive and real. [Interjection] So, when you want to make an argument and maybe if you had [inaudible] before it may soften my position in some different ways.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Like what? HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Leh me go on you want to distract me this evening but it aint gonwukDR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: No, I was just trying to get the point.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I did not get the point either.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Thank you, the point which I want to make, Mr. Speaker, this same property tax that we talk about here, there is an old adage in this country: “He who owns the land owns the country”. You may fault the New Democratic Party for many things. You may call Sir James Mitchell name for many things but one of his success story or one of the success story of the New Democratic Party has been our creating a land owning democracy in this. [Knocking the desk] A land owning democracy and we know that there is a culture about land owning and being a property owning class. It does not end there you know, from the time a man owns a house a car whatever he owns he begins to see life differently and saves more and takes a different responsibility to life.So, those of us who own property have already become accustomed to the fact that we are not going to get home on better roads, that is now a thing of the past but we are still, licences for vehicle licences to drive on the 107roads. You still have to pay for your electricity, you have to pay for your telephone, your have to pay for your cable, you have to pay for your water, you have to pay for the insurance on the property and you have to pay interest on your mortgage. So, property has a whole bag of expenses that is consistently running and keeps going with property. It is not like you buy your property and you live happily ever after you know. [Interjection]HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: I know it is part of the process but I am saying those who are property owning have to meet monthly expenses as a consequence of being a property owner and anything that comes that may add to that may be problematic. Now, you see, I am going back to the conversation at the Select Committee because it is not just us the politicians who are present, we had the benefit of the professionals and professionals have a way of thinking and representing themselves because after 4:30 they gone home they do not have constituency to deal with. They rubbish us as politicians but there is something unique, something unique about us who have taken on this higher order that I call politics and they can go home.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: believe they are [Inaudible]HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Oh yes! But I did hear them say, “Well you see if we have this thing called market value and the notion [inaudible] well it is something we will do every five years”. And they just throw that in, so it is not that market value the thing would come into being but in the minds of the technocrats it is not also something it is a cash cow every five years you can say, “Look gimme a top-up add on a little piece a something more on this thing”. You see what I am suggesting to you, Mr. Speaker, Honourable Prime Minister this property tax based on market value is bad architecture, it lends itself to exploitation, it is corrosive, intrusive, punitive, disincentive and regressive all in together. And if you understand as I do and I hope Senator Charles has an appreciation for not becauseHONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable, Honourable.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Honourable Senator Charles. I hope that by now when he climbs the steps in Trigger Ridge and he understands that the people who are there and who have taken a year, not easy work you know. Their children come home from school in the evenings; they throw their shirt off and start to drogue it up bag by bag by bag, sack a cement by sack a cement. Sometimes the human cost of taking the material up the hill is greater than the truck that brings it to the foot of the hill. So, they have properties there that are valued $300-$400,000 they have value there... some people are so distracting, Mr. Speaker, let me look this way. They have properties there that are valued $300,000/$400,000 but even though it has that market value, Mr. Speaker, they would never get it sold for $300/$400,000 because a man who has $300/$400,000 will not go through those sacrifices he or she will go somewhere else where he can build. They can never realize the value of their property or their sweat and tears and therefore it is unfair for those sets of people to be subjected to a market value tax.In fact, a government with a human heart may say that you deserve a tax credit because what they have actually done is improve the GDP of this country.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: But the person had to pay a rental value because tax is paid on the annual rental value.108HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Yes and I will explain to you why the rental value is a different approach to the market value and maybe you are not getting what I am saying; you are not understanding that. So, I Mr. Speaker do not have great sympathies for this market value approach, I do not have any objection on the existing property taxes situation you know if you said you needed to move it a point or something like that. You may say it is not the same thing because you see there is so much confusion in the minds of some of my colleagues on the other side that they contradict themselves daily. I mean let us take the notion that Kingstown for example is a special category a special situation and therefore properties in and around the City may attract their particular market value and so on and so forth while in the same breath you are talking about building a City at Arnos Vale airport when the airport moves God knows when that is not how business men think you know.You do not build city, government cannot build city anyhow, and I do not know why you think you can fool poor people with this kind of nonsense.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Public-private partnership.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: You cannot build any city; you cannot even fix the road to go over Edinboro you are talking about building city, let us be real and that is how business people think. If the value of property goes up in Kingstown and Arnos Vale they will move to Stubbs, they will move to Villa, they will move to South Leeward and they will move to Campden Park because businesses are always trying to see if I can get the same for less and if you can drive an extra five yards to get somewhere else. So that is not how it is going to work and you may well find your situation that by trying to kill the goose that lays the golden egg of imposing more tax in Kingstown you begin to turn the City into a ghost town because people decide, look, it is better I try doing this thing from my home. It is better I go here, go there or somewhere else where I can avoid this excess amount of taxes so you may in fact reap the complete opposite result than what you intended. [Interjection]I understand you old boys and so on and so forth you know you said you read some economics between your medical classes and therefore you have an understanding of economics so I am not even going to go through that. [Laughter] So, I am not even going to try to go through that this evening [[interjections] I am not even going to go through that this evening. [Interjections]HONOURABLE DR. DOUGLAS SLATER: I cannot believe this. [Interjections] [Laughter]HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: You see, Mr. Speaker, [interjection] you see, Mr. Speaker [interjection] parliament is a serious place and when I come here I represent my people. I was in Atlanta recently Mr. Speaker ... how much more timeHONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: But why did you attack the Member who did not say anything? HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: I did not, Mr. Speaker. [Laughter] If you want me to [laughs][Laughter] No name, no warrant. [Laughs] No name, no warrant. [Interjections] HONOURABLE DR. DOUGLAS SLATER: Do not try it, I am not taking it you know.109HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: [Laughs] you know you are family. You know your are family. [Laughs] [Interjections] It is only your family you can do so. [Laughs] [Interjections] Mr. Speaker [interjections] I had that put up for him. [Laughs] Mr. Speaker, how much time I have there?HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: You have fifteen minutes.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Mr. Speaker, when I was in Atlanta recently during the illness of my brother I had to go to the supermarket a number of occasions, so this is not the best time to do it but I will do it. I went ... because you see we have a problem in the country that we want to solve, we have a problem and we have narrowed the problem of the fiscal challenge to the country to be one in which we must tax and spend. You know I was almost tempted when the Honourable Leader was on his feet to apply some reverse psychology, just as Senator Browne got up this morning and historically asked questions of the Leader of Government business, Honourable Prime Minister. I almost wanted to get up on a point of order but I had not alerted him before so it would have looked rude and ask him a number of questions because he was on a good batting wicket pointing out now that we are victims of the same countercyclical measures that we have been talking about for years that was supposed to be our Saviour. But what has it led to $56 million at the airport? As I said before the dance cannot pay for the light, not a cent coming in. [Interjection]So, I am saying something when we have a problem, Mr. Speaker, we come to the wrong conclusions because we did not ask the right question in the first instance. You see this, Mr. Speaker? [Displaying an item]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Is it a missile? [Laughter]HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Well, I can understand. You see how it is prepared properly? This is in the supermarket selling in Atlanta; this is coconut water, all the way world direct from countries and sources that do not have any tropical aspect of life. This is coconut being sold. We ... I do not know if this is true Minister Caesar may tell me if it is just old wives tale that we have second, third and something number coconut thing in the world. Have you ever heard it said that we have the largest or second largest, third largest coconut estate in the world?HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: Largest singly. HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Singly. You ever heard that? [Interjection] I do not know if it isfactual but you grow up and you hear these things and you never measure them.HONOURABLE DR. DOUGLAS SLATER: We used to [inaudible].HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: We used to have them and we probably could have it again if we want to look at coconut as a way out, so that is why I brought this Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, this is the Éclairs [displaying a pack] the Éclair sweets that were here, you know why I look at it?HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: No. HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Assorted toffees with coconut.110HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: You can give me some.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: No! No! I do not want to. I am saying but here is the case in front of me, assorted toffees with coconut inside of it. [Displaying other items] coconut patties, Mr. Speaker, with lime flavour, Goya Coconut milk. There is a laziness Mr. Speaker,HONOURABLE DR. DOUGLAS SLATER: In the private sector.HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: there is a laziness, including the private sector and the Prime Minister was quite right, he was quite right awhile ago when he spoke about public, private sector partnership because there is in fact a responsibility for us as government to try to build a private sector. I am not holding up the private sector that it is without fault all I am simply saying that one of the ways to take the monkey off the back of the taxpayers of this country is to place the emphasis on solution on improving our productivity, on the productive sector in this country [clapping] [interjection] both of them, the productive sector and productivity and if more of that is done, Mr. Speaker, if more of that is done, Mr. Speaker, less and less pressure would be on the taxpayers of this country. I mean, let us be real; let us be real, Mr. Speaker, when you give an exemption that you are not going to charge any property taxes on a $50,000 house not one of us here live in a $50,000 house. Some of us have dog houses in here must be $50,000.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: How much your own cost?HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: I do not have a dog. [Interjection] I do not have a dog. I am not a dog lover. But the point is what are we saying at $50,000 a certain set of people should [laughter] [interjection] aspire to live in that regard [laughs] in that regard [laughs] in that regard I revised my comment. [Interjections] Mr. Speaker, let us get back to the sense of this, no one will aspire to live ... we had less than that before you know, no one aspires to live in a $25,000 home. What are we saying that some people must born and die in a plywood home? When you look at the stats it is shows how we have progressed as a people from the wattle and daubs board houses and moved into concrete and block houses in 2012. It is not easy to give anybody $50,000 exemption from property taxes, we can do better than that and we ought to do better than that becauseHONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: How much time each Member has? HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Forty five.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: Well, I was just wondering if the Honourable Member I am sure has gone pass forty five minutes, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: No. HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: No? Sorry to question you, Mr. Speaker, but [interjection] HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Encroaching. Encroaching! HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: You see for instance, when you stand up the clock watch stop. [Laughter]HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: Yes, but it is the first time I am standing. [Laughter] 111HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: Mr. Speaker, they think everything is bad about you, you trick them. [Laughs] I live to see, I live to see, Mr. Speaker. As a matter of fact we can go one better than that, Mr. Speaker. You see this [displaying another item] ginger drink, you know where this is coming from, Mr. Speaker, Singapore, Singapore. This is a tea bag, this is tea bags of ginger, I look through the declining exports of our agricultural produce of St Vincent and the Grenadines during the period of this regime, and every single aspect of agriculture has declined over the last ten, eleven years but here is a part of our solution because the cry for people in St Vincent and the Grenadines before we begin to speak about tax you know is for jobs, jobs, jobs. This is what the people in Green Hill want; this is what the people in Sharpes and Trigger Ridge want and the people in Rosehall want. They want to see and hear government with an enterprising look at their future, not a government that wants more and more to push their hands deeper and deeper into their pockets, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE DR. DOUGLAS SLATER: The government [inaudible] what the private sector doing?HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: When the private sector does not come up it is for us to fill the breach because that is why we are offering ourselves as solutions and saviours to the people and provide incentives to the people in short there is another way, to solve these problems, Mr. Speaker, and so I am not sold on the market value approach not one bit, Mr. Speaker. The time could not be worst, it could not be worst because as one who is in his wisdom years and you are a year or two ahead of me, Mr. Speaker, once a person acquires a property many people do it you know, we have two or three mortgages probably we got the land first, probably we got the house after and maybe sometimes we got a car a long side with it. So, we carry about three long term commitments, the car is a bit more shorter, [interjection] but we have absolutely no interest, Mr. Speaker, and this is what I want to take home, Mr. Speaker, we have absolutely no interest in selling the family silver, we have absolutely no interest in realising cash from the sale of our property. In fact, we intend to hold on more and more as we get older when we go into our retirement years, our golden years, and our wisdom years.St Vincent is not a society that is accustomed to practice on reverse mortgages, people ‘fraid the bank, they do not want to go back there and so anything in which they have and owned and they have sweat and laboured to get that has to become for them an albatross or some sort they will find that there is much pain resentment. At a time when the government and the Honourable Prime Minister is appealing to our public servants to let him catch his hands “hold on”; and I know that he got to be agonizing because two weeks from now it is independence and it is a time that he likes to go there: “barrel coming by November, this year it gun be this, I couldn’t mek the 3%” because you are forcing to gi dem the 3% for independence. You would love to go round the park and seh dat you know, and I believe you want to do it. I know you long enough [laughter] I believe you want to announce on Independence Day you are giving them the 3%, leh we strike a deal you try one with Friday this morning, if you give the public servant the 4% on Independence a support your tax.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Nah! Nah! Nah! Nah! [Laughter] HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: I mean that is reasonable because [laughter] you giving them alittle bit more out of the 3% they can find the .08%. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Is only them alone?112HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: No a mean ... [laughs] you want something too? [Laughs] I know you are working hard you know, a mean we say a lot of things but I know you work hard no one envy you with your work. In all seriousness, Mr. Speaker, the timing is wrong; we cannot or ought not to be seen to be going to the people now to ask for more, while in the same breath we are telling them we will give them less. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members much obliged. [Interjections]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Just a minute. HONOURABLE ST CLAIR LEACOCK: [Inaudible] some private business and I will come back in about 15minutes. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: All right. Just a minute Honourable ... all right you may begin. HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: Me Mr. Speaker? I was up long before the Senator came up you know. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I am sorry, I was looking at ...HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: You were looking at the Opposition because the Opposition was speaking but I was standing a long time before the Senator stood up. [Interjections] I will abide by the rules, all right.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: [Laughs]. Who catches his eyes. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Exactly, it is who catches the eyes. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Maybe you got up too quietly [laughs] HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: What you said, I am too quiet? HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: You got up too quietly.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: It has been a couple years now.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I will take you after.DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: Mr. Speaker, I look at the debate on this Bill the Valuation Rating Bill in this way, we either go with the market value route or we retain the rental value method. And if we retain the rental value method there must be justification for its maintenance and reasons why we should not adopt the market value at this time and I will seek to indicate why we ought not to at this time adopt the market value method but before I do so, Mr. Speaker, there seems to have been some doubts with respect to the philosophical underpinning of the rental value. Mr. Speaker, property is the greatest personal saving for any owner; personal saving and I say that because there is always an owners equity as a property appreciates and that is looked at as a saving to the owner of the property. Even though there is a mortgage there becomes a time when that mortgage is no longer in existence and the property will appreciate so the difference between the cost of the property and the value of the property at the end of the day is the owner’s equity and that is what is referred to as income which is rather interesting because in tax comprehensive income is that which is113consumed over a period of time without reducing the value of our wealth. So, if you can consume a lot during a period of time and even add to your wealth well that is what we call comprehensive income and as the property increases we refer to that those of us who have done Revenue Law Taxation as income.What happens there is that with property there is what is called imputed income to the property owner, the person who rents pays a rent and the owner earns an income and that imputed income is taxed and that is why we have what you call the rental value because there is a presumption that the owner of the property is paying taxes on his income which is also rent for another person. So that is how we come to the conclusion that there ought to be rental value and that was schedule (a) in England until 1963.Mr. Speaker, the problem, however, that we are confronted with at this time is a very classical one for the economics of taxation and I will tell you why. We in St Vincent and the Grenadines at this time can only use our fiscal policy to assist us to determine the amount of money circulating in the economy, our employment and also our expenditure which will also determine our employment. In other countries in the international community there are two major economic approaches to the economy, the monetary policy and the fiscal policy. We cannot employ our monetary policy, Mr. Speaker, because we have a unique situation with the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, so we cannot adjust interest rate to affect the amount of money circulating in the economy so we focus on our fiscal policy. The problem, however, Mr. Speaker is that we are not using our fiscal policy to contract employment or to contract the heat in the economy, we use our fiscal policy to earn income, to earn money, to tax revenues to allow the government to be able to carry out its projects.There is a problem with that, however, if you carry out what we call an expansionary budgetary by having a budget deficit over the past four years you have to be able to finance that, Mr. Speaker, and in so doing it therefore means that you have to try and raise tax revenues. But if you listened to the Leader of the Opposition earlier on the environment within which you are trying to raise those tax revenues is not the environment that can actually absolve an additional expenditure. So, we look at St Vincent and the Grenadines at this time, we are going through what you call a poverty track and that poverty track is where every single dollar that many of our Vincentian earn we spend it. So, we see our marginal propensity to consume every additional dollar is almost 99% [interjection] which means that we have little saving: we have little saving and if we have little saving it will affect our investments now that is the reason that is the fundamental reason why we have to; the fundamental reason why we have to raise this revenue because our private sector: the private sector is not doing that well to be able to absorb some of the expenditure that the government is engaged with at this time that is the simple situation. If you had a strivingHONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable ...DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: If my Honourable Friend would give way, Mr. Speaker. I am quite happy he gave way. That at the Central Bank you have about $1.2 billion Eastern Caribbean from the banks in this currency union on which they are getting zero percent interest.DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: The problem is, Mr. Speaker, is that we are not having that sort of investment in the private sectorHONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: Ahhhhh! 114DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: that will enable the Government to reduce its own expenditure.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: You do not blame the Government for that.DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: But, but the Government has to create the enabling economic environment for the private sector to strive. [Interjections] the problem is this why would you invest when in truth and in fact you are not going to be able to maximize the profits? And that is a problem that we have here.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: No! [Inaudible] facts that is abstract.DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: It is not abstract, because if that were the case and we have so much savings then we would have had far more persons investing in St Vincent and the Grenadines but we do not have that. Just as an example [interjections] we have just had an example of one of our major producers Erica Mc Intosh going under. We have had examples of Sprotts’ Brothers not doing well, we have had examples of Ju-C not doing well, we have also had a decimation of the Banana Industry which reduced significantly the amount of money that actually circulates in the economy [interjection] and we have a significant downturn in our tourism revenues as well.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: We are [inaudible] one hundred and something million dollars property down at Buccament and you opposed it.DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: Well, you have never heard me make any statement with respect to Buccament. [Interjection] the issue is this, Mr. Speaker, is that in the economy you have not only the Tourist Industry but even people involved in Cottage Industry are having significant problems, they are unable to make ends meet. Shops are closing down one after the other in different parts of the country, it therefore says to you that people do not have sufficient funds to be able to consume and if you do not consume then that much money is circulated in the economy for persons to invest. And this is the type of economic environment we have established here now, existing now, why it is not appropriate for us to introduce the property tax this time.You see, Mr. Speaker, with property tax and the market valuation that does not take account of the number of persons in a household you know neither does it take account of pensioners who live in large mansions. You may well find yourself paying a lot of tax, it may be one person in a house, you may not even be working but because of the market value which will be higher than the rental value you are paying far more taxes now than you did before and we are saying that it may not be appropriate at this time to introduce property tax here in St Vincent for this reason. The problem, however, Mr. Speaker, we have to look at our own tax situation; why in the first place did we have a rental value introduced in St Vincent, is it because much of our properties were for rent? In those international countries the rental value was introduced because a number of persons rented homes. Do we have a situation where there is an increase of a number of homes that are rented? Do we have a number of apartments which are rented? Can we say now that we can have a far more verifiable rate of rental value than we had in the past and if so why then do we want to move to a market value?Usually when we move from the rental value is because assessment of value is arbitrary because you will find more people owning their homes, less people renting homes and it is far more difficult to be able to ascertain a value that is realistic and reasonable.115HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: That is for the poor [inaudible] DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: I am saying the question [interjection] I am asking myself Ihave not heard it addressed here.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: [Inaudible] you were right on target [inaudible] [striking of gavel]DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: The fact is this is that we also have an increase in apartments; look for example the number of apartments that are left empty in East St George because of the closure of the Medical College, well you must have done the philosophical taxation [interjection] thank you very much. Well, the issue is this, look at the number of apartments that we have closed in East St George as a result of the closure of the Medical College.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: You are really going there?DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: I am not going there, I am telling you that there are quite a number of apartments in different parts of St Vincent and people are renting them. Now it gives us a pretty good idea of a rental value that we can attribute to certain districts in St Vincent and the Grenadines.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable ...DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: I wonder if my Honourable Friend realizes that today in St Vincent and the Grenadines there are more medical students than at anytime in the history of St Vincent and the Grenadines? [Applause] [Interjection]DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much, the Prime Minister has a way of not looking at the issues precisely that I am discussing. I am speaking of East St George, and in addition to that, Mr. Speaker, my question was about seven years and the Prime Minister went back to quite a number of years so I understand that politically. But the fact isDR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: You do not want anybody to rent places in West St George?DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: No, I want them to rent all over the country.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Well fine.DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: The point I am making and you and you have just supported my point so if you have more medical students there are more places in St Vincent which people are renting so it makes it easier for one to assess the rental value not in an arbitrary manner but in a more precise manner. Now the reason in 1963 why the United Kingdom moved from a rental value at that time was because assessment of the rental value was arbitrary. The question was whether or not they looked at the rate, and determined the rate as opposed to the method and I am wondering if we in St Vincent looked at the rate as opposed to the method to try and determine how best can we ease the plight of the people of this country. It has been identified already that the market value would give you a greater value with respect to the tax that you116would pay but we have not heard yet, Mr. Speaker, which is rather interesting – we are debating a rather important tax in this country yet we have not gotten any definitive position on the rate that we are going to use to assess the tax and come with a value. [Knocking the desk] and that is very important that is what makes difference between at this time the rental value and the market value method of property tax here in St Vincent and the Grenadines but we are not hearing any discussions on that.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: But you alone debating, so how are you going to hear it.DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: But ... but the mover of the Bill, the mover of the Bill are you saying to me that the mover of the Bill omitted to discuss the most important and significant aspect of the property tax?HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: [Inaudible] HONOURABLE MR SPEAKER: [Striking the gavel] DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: Well, wait on your time. HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: Let him go ahead, do not make him lose his way again.DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: No, I would not lose my way. Mr. Speaker, you see, those are things that are very important to us because you are not just introducing a tax in a vacuum it is paid by people and people have to be in a position to be able to pay it. There is another very significant point that I noticed that many persons seemed to have omitted and that is [interjection] No! No! No! I am talking specifically about the mover of the Bill [interjections] we did not introduce the Bill [striking the gavel] [laughter] all right you would not get me off track though [interjection] [Laughter]Mr. Speaker, there is something that is very interesting that I noticed in this property tax [interjection] you are going to be introducing a tax that would be more excessive than what obtains currently. You are doing it at a time when people are struggling to pay their mortgages on their homes where there are a number of delinquent loans, where banks are unable to sell properties that they have for sale because people do not have the money to buy those properties. That is the environment in which we increase the property tax you know and the problem is this also is that you are saying to the people that if they do not pay that you will confiscate their properties and you will acquire them and sell them but you know it is also important to note that we have a constitution in St Vincent and that constitution saysHONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Section? DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: Section 6(1):“No property of any description shall be compulsory taken possession of and no interest in or right over property of any description shall be compulsory acquired except for public purpose and except where provision is made by a law applicable to that taking of possession of acquisition for the payment within a reasonable time or adequate compensation”.117[Interjection] Mr. Speaker, I wish to draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, I wish to draw your attentionHONOURABLE DR. DOUGLAS SLATER Come on.DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: You did medicine; you heard that earlier on [interjections]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: [Striking the gavel]DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: Mr. Speaker, I wish to draw your attention to section 6(6) [interjections]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: [Striking the gavel] just a minute.DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: Yes.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: That statement was not insulting.DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: Well, Mr. Speaker, I am a true sportsman you know when the umpire says to do something I do it. I withdraw the fact that he did medicine. [Interjections]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I think you should withdraw it. Continue Sir. [Interjections] HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: It says:“Nothing contained or done under the authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of subsection (1) of this section[Interjections]to the extent that the law in question makes provision for taking or acquisition of any property, interest or right in satisfaction of any tax rate or due”.Now, what it is saying, Mr. Speaker, is that yes you can do that you can for the payment of any tax or rate acquire someone’s property but the law says there must be adequate compensation and under clause 42 I see a talk here about an issue of a reserve price, 42...,HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member... DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: YesHONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I think you are kind of confusing there, Clause 42 of what? Because you were just quoting from the Constitution.DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: Section, but I am saying Clause, so it is the valuation and rating [inaudible].Mr. Speaker, what that is saying is that we have to be very careful. An Englishman’s home is his castle. Do you see how Vincentians live, they start, someone helping them to build a downstairs, they work hard and they build118an upstairs, sometimes they do not even have a plan for it, sometimes they get assistance for it. They work hard; Vincentians take pride in their property.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: [Cross talking] [Knocking of gavel on desk]It has happened, I can tell you it happened on many occasions, and many of those squatters do not have plans.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: [Knocking of gavel on desk] Honourable Member, I am trying to help you, but the disruptions are on both sides. [Cross talking] [Knocking of gavel on desk]. Honourable Members could you allow the Member to continue.DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: Mr. Speaker, I am accustomed to deal with bowlers bowling at a hundred miles an hour, so it is alright. Now, Mr. Speaker, coming back to the point about the importance of one’s property, what I also noticed in this hard guava crop is that in Clauses 6(2), 6(3), 6(7), 6(8), Clauses 8(2), Clause 13(8) and Clause 47, they all speak about fines and all of those fines have been increased from 15 to 3,000, from 750 to 1,000 and so essentially what is happening is that you are saying not only are you penalising our people but increase taxes but the penalties for not complying on time are also significantly increased.So I am saying that in this prevailing economic environment you have to temper justice with mercy. So if even you feel that you are justified in introducing this tax at this time you have to be very merciful in the way you do it. [Applause] And what we have here, Mr. Speaker, is a situation in which the Property Tax is introduced without any reference to the prevailing economic situation in this country and the Leader referred to that significantly and so did our own, the Honourable Senator St. Clair Leacock, Honourable Member for Central Kingstown, Senator Leacock.HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: [Inaudible] DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: Good, [Laughter]HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: [Knocking of gavel on desk] you cannot call anything in the House, somewhere else [laughter].DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker, I heard talk earlier on also about the issue of Capital gains tax, and I do not want to go into that but I just want to say here that the Honourable St. Clair Leacock was correct to the extent whereby he said that we are taxed on the gains because what happens is this, whenever we sell our property the seller has to pay 5 percent and the buyer has to pay 5 percent on the Market Value of the property, because if I am selling a property to my colleague for $500,000 and the Income Tax Department feels that it should be $600,000, the 10 percent would be charged on the $600,000 which is again the Market Value of the property. So essentially it is not to say that we are not really being hit hard in every respect of the word, we have been hit hard, because we also have a problem, because we have private valuators and we have the government valuators and the valuation exercise can be very subjective.What I noticed in the Valuation and Rate Act is that you have some sort of indication of the circumstances under which a value will be arrived at, but in this Valuation and Rating Act, and I will get to that, now that the Prime Minister is here, I think we should refer it back to the Property Tax, but I will get to that later on. But in 119this new Bill, there seems not to be any serious indication as to what are the factors that have to be taken into consideration in arriving at a value. We don’t have any clear guidelines as to how it is to be done. I have not seen it and I will be happy if someone can stop me and draw my attention to it [Interjection] I did, I did, [Interjection] I did, well it is your job to correct me, if you find it I shall appreciate it very much, I do not know everything, so let me know when you find it.But the issue is, Mr. Speaker, is that we have to be very conscious, very, very conscious of what appeals now, they are taking the Valuation and the Rating Act, virtue pari materia, lifting it up and putting it back down except for a few tinkering here and there, and what is interesting about it, in that Valuation and Rating Act it is replete with terms Property Tax, all the way through, Property Tax, Property Tax, Property Tax and then you start calling it Valuation and Rating Act, you change it back from Property Tax, it does not make much sense. There are some other things that cause you to consider calling it the Property Tax because what is happening is really the Property that you are taxed and your reference is made to that throughout the entire Act.Mr. Speaker, I come to another very important point, on the issue of property. Mr. Speaker, if we look at the definition of property, Mr. Speaker, that can create some confusion, Mr. Speaker, if you look at the definition of course, because the law should be clear, it gives the impression, Mr. Speaker, that you are only dealing with Property that is in the Kingstown area or somewhere where there is a local authority, but then when you come round now to Clause 4, you see a more extensive appreciation of the properties that will be taxed.In addition to that Mr. Speaker, what we also have, we have some terms used in our Property Tax as oppose to Valuation and Rating Bill, like plant and machinery and Mr. Speaker, there has no explanation given of what they mean, those of us who in accountancy did taxation grapple with the application of those terms, plants and machinery in the calculation of taxes, and those of us who did Revenue Law at the Master’s Level grapple with the understanding, appreciation and philosophical underpinning of the terms plants and machinery. So what is plant, Mr. Speaker, and what is machinery? But they are significant because in the Bill reference is made to the fact that if you introduce into your building plant and machinery, they will be valued and that can carry you up the Market Value of your property. So what can carry up the Market Value of the property, what? What is plant and what is machinery? I can give you a definition of plant which is really what is being used is not trade, but the apparatus as it is being used in the carrying on of the operation of the business that will not include stock in trade. That is, [interjection] where are the property, you point me to it. Now even that definition Mr. Speaker has created a tremendous amount of problems for tax experts, especially those who would have drafted this legislation, we adapted this, much of this and that created a tremendous amount of problems.We do not have a schedule indicating what may well be plant and what may well be machinery and what do we consider to be buildings. We are not just talking like we are having a conversation in the street. All of those, we could have indicated those, give some indications. We may have extended later on the categories, what is plant, okay for example, if I have a business and I buy a computer software system to use in my business which entails a large expenditure, is that plant and machinery? And if I go and I lease a computer software, would that be considered to be a plant and machinery even if I do not own it, because I just have a licence to use it for a period of time.120I am speaking, Mr. Speaker, about legal issues that created difficulties for legislators and tax experts for a number of years and we in St. Vincent need to have some clarifications, because if we are entering new waters clarify certain things. If you are going to have [interjection] well I could understand it is difficult to get certain people to understand these technical issues [interjection] the Prime Minister says I am not making any sense. Well the Prime Minister is Popeye, he knows everything [laughter] [interjection] but I will teach you this one. The issue is this, Mr. Speaker, is that too often, Mr. Speaker, too often by virtue of the rules of the House, Mr. Speaker, too often they have been abused to try and traduce persons in a technical and diplomatic way and that has been done by the Prime Minister over and over again. And I am saying to you...,Dr. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, all I asked, I made the cross talk that he is not talking sense because the existing definition of property is the definition which is in the current law under the annual..., where we have the annual rental value is property. It is only the method of changing. You cannot have in your definition, a coverage for every conceivable legal case which is decided upon, because the law is taking into account in relation to decided legal cases and we assume that everybody knows the law and knows any decided legal cases for the interpretation of anything in relation to property. This definition has been here for donkey years and the experts who have come have said, let us keep this definition of property because it makes sense in all the circumstances. You do not have to have a Master’s Degree, the fact that you claimed you did it at the Master’s level does not mean that that declaration itself alters the fact.DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: And at the PhD too. Dr. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: At the PhD level too. I mean I am not dazzled by PhD, Ihave one since 1974 and I do not even remember I have it.DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: I know that will get you.Dr. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Eh?DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: I know that will get you to speak.Dr. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: No, you not getting me, all I am saying, why are people so preoccupied that they have a Master’s or a PhD.DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: Mr. Speaker, I sit here and I hear how many years experience I have had with this and how many years I have had a PhD and no one behaves like that, I am saying, Mr. Speaker, that the Prime Minister does not understand exactly what I was saying. I was referring to plant and machinery. It is true that there are times when judges and the court will interpret certain provisions in any legislation, but there are times when there need to be clarification for certain provisions that we put in our legislation to make it easier for persons to understand and I am saying that plant and machinery, because plant and machinery, these terms are so vague, at least an indication could have been given as to what some of them are. You could have added it to the list.In England you have definition for those in the legislation. So I do not know what the Prime Minister is talking about. Now the issue is this however, Mr. Speaker, this PhD issue is what getting to him you know. He raised121the Master’s thing, [interjection] believe me, I am very proud of you Mr. Prime Minister and your PhD, be very proud of me in mine and stop talking about it.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member..., DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: Mr. Speaker, it is irrelevant [cross talking] [laughing] HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Striking of the gavel.DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: So Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker, what is very interesting about debates in the House, is that we are never going to agree on everything as the Leader of the Opposition said earlier on. We will support some Bills and we will not support others if we think they are not in the interest of the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and that is something I want Vincentians to know and to hear that we are not supporting this Bill because it is not in the interest of the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines at this time.Outside of the House of Parliament you hear on the radio, you hear on the road how the Leader of the Opposition supports 75 percent of the Bills that come to the House and he should not do it. Now he is opposing one there is a problem, I am opposing it too, because we do not think it is in the interest of our people at this time to have that sort of tax imposed on them that is why we are opposing it. I do not think one has any significant problem with the method of the valuation. One does not have any significant problem with having a Market valuation for property, one understands.And then, Mr. Prime Minister, I heard you grappling to try and answer, I mean Mr. Honourable St. Clair Leacock’s question on the issue of the philosophical underpinnings of rental value and the proper answer was not given to it, but notwithstanding that, what I am saying, Mr. Speaker, is that at this time the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines they have the VAT to deal with which is 15 percent on their disposable income. I am talking about the consumer at the end of the trade.Dr. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Honourable Members, it is incorrect to say that the VAT is a 15 percent charge on their disposable income. That is not the basis for VAT.DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: I have never said that, Mr. Speaker. Dr. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: But that is what he just said. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Now wait, wait, wait, wait. Dr. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: That is what he just said. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member, maybe...,DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: I said you have to deal with the 15 percent charge that would affect their disposable income.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: The VAT122DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: The VAT Yes, HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: The VAT on their disposable income.DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: It affects 15 percent..., charge will affect their disposable income.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: You said they have the charge on their disposable income. DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: Okay I say 15 percent that will affect their disposable income. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Okay.DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: Then you also have the issue of the bottle levy that has been imposed on them. It is imposing them because they will have to pay the increased cost as consumers and I am taking about the people at the end of the chain at this time. Even if it had been there and it was not administered, it is now being administered.Dr. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Friend, I mean really if we are going to be serious in our debates and just do not go helter-skelter, with great respect the bottle levy was introduced as an environmental measure by the NDP administration piloted by Sir James. It was and it is a very good measure, because one of the reasons why we do not see as many buster bottles going down into the sea as we used to have before is because we are trying to see if we can implement the bottle levy and what is wrong about implementing the bottle levy, what is wrong about that? I mean, you want to see all the rivers and the beaches, all of them showing with all kinds of bottles.DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: Mr. Speaker, with respect, Mr. Speaker that was not what I said at all. I am saying this is what they are confronted with at this time, why it is not appropriate for us to bring I mean the Property Tax at this time. Do not twist what I say, Mr. Prime Minister.Now the issue, then, Mr. Speaker, you have an economy that is very slothful, money is not circulated like it used to, it is not circulated like it use to, because we have the decimation of the Banana Industry, we have problems in the Tourism Industry, people cannot find jobs, so money is scarce and if we are unable to earn income, we are going to have difficulty being able to pay our property taxes and also to pay the fines if we are unable to pay our property taxes and the fines have been increased, increased substantially in some respects. Now we have to look at that, we have to look at the..., it is not about politics and about the ULP or about NDP, it is about the people and we are in here to do the people’s business.Understandably the other side of the House will have a different view and I appreciate that, because of the expansionary budgetary policy where there have been four years of budgetary deficit with that expansionary budget policy, they have to enlarge their fiscal policy to the extent whereby more tax revenues will have to be earned in order to be able to financed that. So there is hardly any significant scrutiny, diligence and prudence with respect to the manner in which expenditure is incur. And I am saying, Mr. Speaker, like I have always said; we should look at both the revenue and the expenditure side of our budget [interjection] well Mr. Speaker,123the mere fact, let me..., thanks for telling me that, Mr. Speaker [laughter] because the Prime Minister attempted to give us the philosophical underpinning of the taxation system that he wished to introduce.He refers to the benefit principle which is the benefit theory of taxation and I am coming to your point. That says, Mr. Speaker, that because expenditure is collected and people suppose to benefit from it, they are supposed to pay for the benefit that they receive. But people paying road licences, they are paying licence for the vehicle, they are paying taxes, but they still have very bad roads, so where is the benefit?Dr. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: My Honourable Friend, let us assume that there are 25,000 vehicles in the country and you have $600.00 on an average for each vehicle, let us even say $700.00 motor vehicle licences, 7 x 5 are 35, 7 x 2 are 14 and 3 is 17; $17 million, eh it is not quite there that is assuming 100 percent compliance which we do not get. Now tell me something, let us put it at $15 million, and tell me how many roads $15 million can repair. I just want to..., you see it is one thing to just blow, you know you have to blow in relation to certain numbers.DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: Mr. Speaker, you see sometimes people are too quick because the Prime Minister only introduced the benefit theory and I am trying to say to him that for that very reason the benefit theory does not work and therefore you are not introducing a tax because of the benefit someone receives today, or does not receive from it that is the point I am making to you, Mr. Prime Minister. The other issue is one of the ability to pay which is the other system and Mr. Speaker...,HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Five minutes.DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: Thank you. If I can have 10 minutes more because of the interruption. Mr. Speaker, the ability to pay that is a situation in which, Mr. Speaker, you have the collectivity of the expenditure that the Government is to incur that is being met by persons with their ability to pay. So they did not charge tax in accordance with their ability to pay. None of those approaches at this time can be applicable to the Bill that we are debating in the House and that is the point I am making [interjection] I do not know, Mr. Prime Minister and that is a personal issue.Mr. Speaker, I am new to this House and it is on two occasions that the Prime Minister seems to have come personal at my assets. It appears as if I am not supposed to have anything in St. Vincent and the Grenadines [interjection] I get the impression that you are supposed to come from overseas, you should come from overseas and earn something in St. Vincent, but no person from this country is supposed to earn something and that is very, very bad [cross talk].Why you continue to be personal? Talk about something else that is how I feel. That is how you make me feel even if that is not what you mean.Dr. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: My Honourable Friend would know that for everyone of us inside of here, I could have taken my house..., the property tax which is paid at Frenches, I am hoping that on the revaluation that I have to pay a little bit more, because what is paid, it is really..., all of us if we are honest, we do not pay a great deal of property tax [interjection] I do not own Cane Garden, all right. And the other thing, Mr. Speaker, my Honourable Friend is really being unfair to me. He knows that I have always been124in his corner with his property acquisition. In fact, it is his colleagues when he was building this building up there, who told him to stop building it because he giving confidence in the ULP management of the economy. They did not want you to build it. Those are the facts. So you know I was in your corner, so do not throw it back at me. I mean really, please.DR. THE HONOURABLE LINTON LEWIS: Mr. Speaker, my personal affairs, my assets, my PhD none of them are on debate here at this time. It is a property Bill that we are debating, Mr. Speaker [interjection] we will come with cricket just now, we will come with the cricket just now. We will speak about cricket and football just now.So Mr. Speaker, the issue is this, the issue is this, Mr. Speaker. I can understand that some people will feel aggrieved and very agitated if they do not understand some of the issues that are discussed here, I understand that. And Mr. Speaker, I heard an acknowledgement this morning, Mr. Speaker, that I do not understand certain of the economic issues and put them in writing, so I can understand. But I must not be the victim of the ignorance of the knowledge of certain issues that we discuss in the House of Parliament.Now so Mr. Speaker, I daresay..., Mr. Speaker, I do not support this property tax and I have indicated to you why I am not in support of the property tax. I feel at this time, it may well have been more appropriate for the Government to look seriously at the rate at which they currently apply to the rental value and not necessarily jumping into deep waters and trying to drown our poor people, our poor population with greater and greater expense. I daresay, Mr. Speaker, I crave your indulgence and I quite enjoyed the lack of appreciation for many of the very salient important points that I have been making. Thank you so very much [applause].HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Senator Francis, Minister of Works. You can begin.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: Mr. Speaker, thank you. Mr. Speaker, I am glad that I am not in the category of those who have to debate their qualifications [laugher] I neither have Master’s [laughter] nor PhD neither am I studying for PhD, because there are some of us who say they studied [interjection] yes, but I have a basic understanding [interjection] that is what? [Interjection] not for me, yes, I conclude that long time. I am 61 [interjection] yes, yes, yes, I do not need to be lectured by you right now my dear senator. You just had your second initiation.Mr. Speaker, we obviously are not debating the Bill that is before us. I do not think the listeners on 705, the listeners on Star Radio, the listeners on the TV Station that is looking at it, understand yet, what we are doing inside here after the Prime Minister had made the opening presentation. Obviously the Opposition is divided on this matter. The Leader of the Opposition says, he support Market Value-based property tax, but it is the wrong time, not at this time. His Vice President in the New Democratic Party, the Honourable Representative for Central Kingstown says, he opposes the Market Value assessment on properties. Yes, so two of you different views, different, so you all have to get together as a party first. Over here we talk as one. So get together as a party and then the Honourable Senator came in and basically confused the whole thing, but if I were to make the assessment, I would say that he is more on the side of the Parliamentary Representative for Central Kingstown than he is on the side of the Leader of the Opposition. So it looks like so far the Leader of the125Opposition has been left out in the cold on this matter. But we are accustomed to that in here. It is not a united front over there; it is individualistic views that are put forward.Mr. Speaker, one of the other things that surprise me about this debate tonight, I have here, Mr. Speaker, the report of the Select Committee and I would like to call out the names of the individuals, the members of this House who sit on this Select Committee for the records, because I am hearing Honourable Senator Linton Lewis questioning basic clauses in this Bill, when he is a Member of the Select Committee. Why did not you bring it up at the time? It reminds me of the debate when we were a Committee of the Whole House on the Constitution. They started out by supporting this thing you know and then midstream, one day I am listening to the radio and I am hearing the Honourable Leader of the Opposition saying, I am not going back to that Select Committee, I done with that. I ain’t supporting that Bill, I done with that, because they want to sell people’s property for the taxes that they are owing. I heard him with my own ears. He say that was the reason he was not coming back to the Select Committee, because the Bill says that we will sell the people property if they do not pay their property tax on what they are owing as property tax.Now I have it written down on my copy of the Select Committee, because that same day on the 30th August that was the day the Opposition Leader did not come and the next day he spoke on radio, but that same day, his Deputy Political Leader, the Parliamentary Representative for Northern Grenadines came to the Select Committee at 10:42 I have the notes here and it was at that part of the meeting at the Select Committee where we agreed on the section that I will refer to you later on as to the value at which we will sell properties if you have to.Honourable Representative for Northern Grenadines was representing the Opposition there and participated in the discussion on that clause. The next day, the Leader of the Opposition is on radio saying that he ain’t supporting it anymore, he done with that, because they are going to sell out people property for what they owe as tax. So that is the division that is over there.But I want to call the names, Honourable Linton Lewis is on the Committee, Honourable Daniel Cummings is on the Committee, Honourable Roland Matthews on the Committee, Honourable St. Clair Leacock is on the Committee, Honourable Godwin Friday is on the Committee, and Honourable Arnhim Eustace and on this side, Honourable Elvis Charles, Honourable Julian Francis, Honourable Douglas Slater, Honourable Cecil Mc Kie, Honourable Saboto Caesar, Honourable Clayton Burgin, the Honourable Leader of the House Prime Minister Gonsalves and the Attorney General.So when I sit and I hear, the people out there are listening to us, but during the debates that we have had on that side of the House, the people do not understand what we are talking about in here. A lot of academic arguments coming out, you have come with a deliberate and a decision already made that you are not supporting the Bill and you are going to use your opportunity to pound the Government on the economy and the bad state of affairs in St. Vincent and that is your strategy. Well I will try to show the people out there who are listening to us, who all of us depend on to keep us in this House. We have to be fair to them. Somebody got to be fair to them [interjection] well you beat me once; you would not get the chance again. But I beat you every time I have an election [laughter] because from the time you won in 1998, I have been in this House from 2001 beating your126party every single year as Campaign Manager [applause]. You have beaten me once, I beat you four times. So let us be the judge.The people have selected me, you know why? Because I am the General Secretary of the Unity Labour Party elected unopposed since 1994, not he, not him that put me there. Not my political leader, he is elected as I am. He is elected at the National Convention; I am elected at the National Council [laughter]. Out there when I ready to whistle after him they are going to listen to me. So you over there, you cannot even have support [interjection] seeing that you have raised it Mr. Speaker, seeing that you have raised it...,HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: [Striking of the gavel] Just a minute please. This thing is going a little bit too far.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: I know, Mr. Speaker, but let me just finish this point.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Please thank you, let us pull this thing back, let us pull this thing back.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: It is okay. He knows the respect I have for him and the love, because I will stand here and support this Bill that he has brought to this Parliament, but you sit there and stand there and do not support the position of your leader, okay.Mr. Speaker, when the Prime Minister presented his budget address, I did the extract from his budget speech, and I have a copy, so I am not reading from the actual document. But he said, the property tax (and I am doing this for the purpose of people who is listening outside) applies to the value of real property, assessed on the basis of the Annual Rental Value. The rental value is determined administratively using a number of parameters including the size, the location and the use of the property. A tax levied is at a flat rate of 5 percent on all real property except rural land which is tax at a specific rate per acre. A reduce rate of 2.5 percent applies to hotels and agricultural property. So there is a difference between agricultural and hotel properties as it is on residential and other properties and the 1.5 percent applies to tourism related properties. So it is 5 percent, 2.5 percent and 1.5 percent.The Honourable Senator Linton Lewis said, it is difficult to use the ARV to come up with a good value, and I then said to you, well why do not you support the Market Value? That is when I supported you and told you what to say, but you did not say it. Rental values are administratively difficult to determine (and hear this part) especially in areas where almost all properties are owner occupied. Apart from Kingstown where we rent out properties and maybe Montrose, some properties in Montrose and maybe Cane Garden, you take Diamond, you take Riley, and you take Richland Park, [interjection] eh? No, how do you assess, most of the properties there are not rented. They are owner occupied.I know of a property that was valued, built around 1999, put on the tax role at $300,000 value that tax rate at $240.00 per year still stands. It means that if you reverse to get what the tax is calculated on, it is a $400 a month rental. The property I am talking about is a substantial three and a half storey house. But we are still paying on a property of that value that was built since 1999; $240.00 a year because of the Annual Rental Value System that is in place.127The Honourable Prime Minister in his presentation said that properties have not been revalued since the 1990s, early 1990s that is what he said in this, he said today 1991, so early 1990s. So since then, in his presentation he also said that there were..., at that time the figures have been changed today 26,000 properties on the line, but today we are counting 38,286 so there are 12,000 properties that are not yet in the net. What do we do with them, do we apply the same old system of Annual Rental Value and charge them say the rent is 400? I mean the house I am talking about, nobody will get that house to rent under $2,500 a month. But for $240.00 a year if you do the calculations you would see that the Annual Rental Value placed on that property is $4,800. So why are we arguing on this matter with that property?MAJOR THE HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: The income earned for $2,500 per month is not the owner going to pay taxes on that? Is the owner not also paying interest in the bank for that property?HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: Mr. Honourable Member, you brought your academic argument to this House...,MAJOR THE HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: That burn you?HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: And projections, I am telling you what the reality is, so I am talking to the people out there, hoping all yo going to listen to me. I am not going to respond to you, because if we are going..., nobody in this House, nobody who owns a property will declare more than $400 if they have been assessed as $400 rental on the house. So also the Government is losing money there.Now if you go to the Market Value on a property, it helps the property owner you know, because one, it establishes the value of the property. There is nothing a homeowner like and loves more than to know what his property is valued. And when you send a valuator to value a property, they want you to add on the outside works you know. The fence wall, the gate, the tool house that you put outside and whatever other things you have in the yard, those are included in the value. It helps that homeowner when dealing with the bank for example, so you may find a little piece of change and they put on a nice gazebo outside with something, you get a revaluation done, it gone up by $25,000.Properties that were built since 1990 Mr. Speaker, and Honourable Members and cost $300,000 to build then and valued at $300,000 today are valued at $600,000; $700,000 and $800,000. Now is the Government getting the advantage of that increase in value? Are the taxes increasing? You know what property tax is in this country total, $3.6 million and $3.2 million is what we collect. So if you are going to change from Annual Rental Value, or let us put it this way, St. Vincent and the Grenadines may be one of the last remaining countries that still have their property taxes based on Annual Rental Value. I will like that to be contested because I have done a little bit of checking on it before I came to Parliament. It is the last of the few; very few of us said this, all the developed countries, most of the Caribbean Countries have gone to the Market Value. All the people in the business, the professors with their PhD write that [laughter]. I have been reading them. I have two printouts here, but I am not going to read them tonight because I want spend a little bit more time talking to the people about what is in the Bill.So Mr. Speaker, the Market Value also helps because I will go through some of the clauses in the Bill, becauseit is important that one of us take the time off and give the people an insight into what is in this Bill. It is not the128Prime Minister’s job as mover of the Bill to give the entire insight. All of us are debating we should give the people an idea, but the point I want to make is a Market Value for a property owner helps both in receiving their value, it increases their equity in the House, because the financial institutions will quicker accept a heavy value if it matches with the valuation of the Government valuators. It is the real world in which we live.If you employ Frankie Browne to go and value your property and Frankie comes back with a valuation of $600,000 the bank will reduce that by about 20 percent because the bank will say, well you know, valuators charge on the value that they put on the property. It is a percentage, so he will inflate it to make his fees a little bit higher and I am only using Frankie Browne because I know him well and I can say these things about him. Not that he is practicing that, but if it so happens, the bank would then have another list by which they can compare the value that is coming from valuators. Because the Government valuation list will then give you a Market Value of that property, so therefore, the homeowner stands to benefit by us moving into the Market Value. It is a backup system for valuations done by private valuators. Because as the Honourable Member said, one Honourable Member said, “When you sell a piece of land, if you and I make a deal on a piece of land for $50,000 that is valued at $300,000 you pay the transfer tax on the $300,000 because it is valued by the Government valuator.” Do not forget that.Mr. Speaker, let us go to the Bill. Let me just give you some figures and I did it during the budget. If we use 0.08 percent a property valued at, well we have cut out the $50,000 because it says now everything below $50,000 all you have to pay is $10.00 it does not say, free, it say, you have to pay $10.00 because somebody had raised the matter of the legal side of it that you must show that you are paying taxes for your property. So instead of exempting it zero you include a $10 minimum charge on it. So $100,000 at .008 is $80.00. Let us go up the line $150,000 house is $120.00 a year that is $10 a month you know under the new rate, even at the .08 percent that the Prime Minister is talking about which he said that he will review depending on how the figures work out.HONOURABLE THE DR. DOUGLAS SLATER: He did state a figure.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: He did state a figure and he did state it in his budget speech as well. A $200,000 house at .008 percent is $160.00 a year. A $300,000 house at .008 percent is $240.00 a year $20 a month. For those are low values because lots of people now are building massive properties $300,000 and up. Even the low income houses that we are building now are over $120,000 with land. So if we go up the ladder a $750,000 property you will be paying $600.00 a year $50 a month. Now is this an exorbitant? The Prime Minister is saying and the figures that were presented is that property taxes with the new method would raise about an average of 15 percent increase on the present taxes and because of the large extra properties that are now coming on the tax role, he could see another $3.6 million per year. That is the most he is seeing you know. So when you add the $3.6 million additional for an additional 12,000 properties. Because he say there is 26,000 on the role now and 38,000 is on the list that is 12,000 properties. You are getting another $3.6 million so you are going to get $6.8 million per year. You have to do a revision of the current ARV situation because the values are way out, way out. One million dollar property is $800,000 a year, simple mathematics .08 by a million is $800.00HONOURABLE THE DR. DOUGLAS SLATER: Simple terms like that they cannot understand. 129HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: That is what we are talking about. That is why I am saying; let us give the people the advantage.HONOURABLE DR. DOUGLAS SLATER: You do not want no set of PhD to understand that.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: And let us not beat ourselves across the head in here with all the academic and economic arguments that we have. Let us give the people out there a fair chance so that when the New Democratic Party goes on its radio station and on its programming to try and say, why they are not supporting, Mr. Eustace is saying the Honourable Member for East Kingstown, the Leader of the Opposition is saying, he supports the Market Value, but it is wrong timing. When will be the right time? When it is going to be the right time? Should Government just come to a standstill? If you have a reasonable proposal, this thing was presented since December last year; it is supposed to come into effect in this current financial year. We are three months away from the end of it. So there has to be a lot of work done by the Ministry of Finance to get this in place before, well, I would say, for January coming. So that if we are going to review the list of properties in St. Vincent, now I see it as the best opportunity to move like the rest of the world from the ARV situation to the Market Value situation [applause] that is how I am presenting it.Now what is property? I heard the Honourable..., what is property? If we look in the Bill (and I will go through some sections of the Bill) property on page 7 Mr. Speaker, let us go through it, because people need to understand too. Property means, “any separate parcel of lands within the area of Kingstown or the area of jurisdiction of a local authority, any building or erection together with the land occupied by the same and the curtilage thereof and any other building or erection within the curtilage used in connection therewith, and the land occupied by the same”, (and this is where he was carrying the argument of plant, but hear what it says). “So for residential properties there would not be any plant and machinery except your water heater which is a fixed part of a house. You are going to sell the house, the valuator comes to value it, and your water heater is a part of the equipment. Your sink, not your refrigerator you might move it out, those are chattels, any plant, machinery or equipment permanently installed or fitted for the purpose of or in connection with any trade or business, upon any such land or within, or within the curtilage of, such building or erection”, and as the Honourable Prime Minister says, this was copied from the old law which was in place when the New Democratic Party was in Government. This was copied and with regards to the name of the Act and the name of the Bill, yes it came to us in the Select Committee as the Property Tax Bill, but all of who were there agreed [interjection] well the majority of us.Okay, we changed it to reflect the Valuation and Rating Act that exist in the current law, because that law at the end of it, it says, that law is repealed. That is the last section on the Bill. It says so. It is there, I ain’t going find it now, and it says so. It is repealed. So we agreed [interjection] so what is the argument? It is Valuation and Rating before, but it was property tax. ARV was property tax that based it on ARV (the Annual Rental Value) but it was property tax that we were talking about, but it carried the name of Valuation and Rating. So we just continued the name of valuation, we are not trying to hide this property tax. This is why I am continuing to say property tax [interjection] Valuation and Rating Act 2012. What is the old name of the Bill Prime Minister? [Interjection] okay, I am talking about the name of the Bill that you were attacking.130Mr. Speaker, value. Let me say this, value with reference to this Act means “The price which in the opinion of the Valuation Officer, property would realise if sold on the Open Market in the base year of valuation.” Market Value, you remember that debate in the Constitution, I wonder if you remember it? [Interjection] eh, [interjection] I voted “YES” you know you voted “NO”. You hear what I tell you, you voted “NO”. [Interjection] I voted for the Constitution as it was, you say, “NO”. You are not taking me off track. So that is the valuation, Mr. Speaker.Mr. Speaker, I heard the Honourable Senator says that the Bill should have in, how the valuation is done, the conditions on which the valuation is done. Valuation is a science. Valuation of a property is a science. What you are going to do, put the science inside the Bill? I mean I am not a lawyer [laughter] but for a lawyer to come and tell me that you must put how you are going to value property inside of a Bill, because it is a legal requirement. I mean I do not understand them things. But as far as I know Shacker, Frankie, Craminer all of them went to university and get a degree in valuation. It is a science. So I do not understand how this thing becomes a problem because in the Bill it does not have how you value a property.The average man in St. Vincent knows how a valuation is done. If Shacker or Craminer or Frankie Browne comes by your house to value a property, the average Vincentian and undervalues it, they will realise it, they will know it. Our people know value of property and they are proud when they get a valuation printed, especially if it has pictures of the property on it to say that this property is valued at $600,000 and they will be proud to pay a reasonable tax on it because they will have their property. He said the Englishman said his house is his palace, Vincentians house is their palace too [applause]. Mr. Speaker,HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member...,HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: Mr. Speaker, what is it?HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Well I am waiting on him, he is standing.MAJOR THE HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Would you give way on a point of order.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: No, no, no, no, no.MAJOR THE HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: I thought when I stand; he is supposed to sit Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: No I am not giving way, I am not giving way.MAJOR THE HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: You are not giving way.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: No.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Well if he is not giving way you know you have to move on a point of order.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: If you want to give a point of order and the Speaker accepts the point of order I will give way.131HONOURABLE DR. DOUGLAS SLATER: That is your friend. Only your friend could do that man. That is your friend.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: The same thing he tried on me at Victoria Park you know. You remember that, all right cool. Section 18 Mr. Speaker, clause 18 of the Bill, let me tell you where it is on page 17, there is a Valuation Appeals Boards set up and the details are there. So if the valuation..., and again what I am saying here, I know Members here have read this Bill you know and they are hiding what is in it. They are debating all kinds of academic things, but they are hiding what is in the Bill. I want the people them out there to know about the Bill because they ain’t go see the Bill. The interested ones would try and get a copy but the general population out there will never see the Bill. So if there is a valuation done on your property, there is an Appeal Board. Who comprises the Appeal Broad? Not the Honourable Prime Minister, not the Leader of the Opposition, not the Honourable Senator Linton Lewis. A Board shall consist of one magistrate, who shall be the chairperson and any four other individuals appointed by the Governor General.So a Valuation Appeals Board where you can go and it is a long section, so I would not read through it, but basically to the people, you can test the valuation that is placed on the valuation list. And the right of appeal goes on in clause 19, any person, being an owner of property included in a valuation list, who is aggrieved by the value ascribed in the list to that property may, by notice of appeal in the prescribed form (and the Bill has the form and these forms would be available) served on a valuation officer within forty two days (so once the list is out) and there is a clause of the Bill that tells you that we will be publicizing these Bills like how we publicize the voters list that is what we came to in the Select Committee. We did not say so inside here, but at all the usual stations where we advertise and hang and the voters list we would hang this valuation this way. I am not into hide on it. I think the benefits of this Bill, the people will see the benefits of us moving from the Annual Rental Value, because tell you the truth, If I have a property and the taxman come and tell me that my property is valued at $400.00 a month rental, I will tell him, man go to hell. My big nice expensive house you telling me I should rent it out for $400.00 a month. That is the value you are putting on my property? Something is wrong with you man.Mr. Speaker, the basis of property tax, 20, 21 and 22 those are application of rating provisions and again the Honourable Senator should take note of those sections. He was asking to point out where they are 20 and it tells you application of rating provision, power to settle, impose and levy property tax, basis of property tax, property tax book and adjustment of property tax.Mr. Speaker, there are lots of properties that are exempted (but you did not read it, if you read it, you are being dishonest in your presentation right). Exemption of certain properties, let us go to clause 25 Mr. Speaker, no property tax shall be levied in respect of the following properties. Property used solely for the purposes of public religious worship and on which no rent is payable; property used exclusively for the purposes of education or for public charitable purposes; residential property vested in or owned by a religious denomination and occupied by a minister of that religion; property used for the purposes of a burial ground or cemetery; property belonging to the Crown or the Government, or vested in any person on behalf of the Government; and such class of description of property as the Governor General may, by order, specify to be exempt from the payment of property tax.132The next clause 26 goes on to say, subject to subsection (2) the Minister may, by order, exempt from liability to pay property tax the owners of property the value of which does not exceed $50,000. So it is $50,000 and that is in there. But it says, where an order is made by the Minister pursuant to subsection (1) an amount of $10.00 shall be payable as property tax by the owner of property the value of which does not exceed $50.00. So instead of making it zero there is a nominal figure of $10.00; $10.00 per year less than $1.00 per month [interjection] well $10.00 we ain’t changing it from $10.00 to $20.00.Now, clause 30, I want to show the people how well prepared this document is and what all we considered in our deliberations on this matter. There is a very important section, notice to be given to defaulters clause 30 and; 31 tells you the comptroller to issue warrants against goods for recovery of property tax and fines. Clause 38 deals with sales of goods, in other words, what this Bill is saying is that you do not have to go to sell the person’s property first which is the point at which the Leader of the Opposition said he left the debate in the Select Committee. You do not have to go and sell the person’s property first. It tells you in clause 38..., how much time I have Mr. Speaker?HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: You have 11 minutes.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: Okay. I would not read the sections because that will take up some time. But sales of goods and disposal of proceeds and then 39 deals with failing to recover on goods, the Comptroller to sell property. Notice to be served on defaulter before sale of property. So basically persons listening to us tonight and Members, Mr. Speaker, not because you owe some tax it means that the Comptroller of Inland Revenue would just go and grab your property and sell it for what you owe on tax. If you have some goods and other assets, he will try in discussion with you because he has to notify you and he has to send you a notice on the default and on your taxation. So you would be kept informed.I heard the Honourable Senator Lewis saying that they can..., the value the Market Value will not be of help. But you did not quite put it in that way, I want to put in response to what you have said that the section I am going to deal with next will help borrowers at financial institutions who want to sell their property that a precedent has been set in this Bill that the reserve price must be 75 percent of the Market Value. So I think that will establish a precedent Honourable Senator to give the owner of a property another benefit...,MAJOR THE HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: 35(a) and (b) Mr. Speaker. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable you move under 35 MAJOR THE HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: (a) and (b) Mr. Speaker. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: (a) and (b)MAJOR THE HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Yes please, Mr. Speaker. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Okay, you move a motion under 35(a) and (b). HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: I am not giving way until you rule, Mr. Speaker.133HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: What is that? HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: I say I am not giving way until you rule.MAJOR THE HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: 35(a) says that the Member should sit Mr. Speaker and the Speaker would rule.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Yes, but you have to first indicate that you are raising a point of order. MAJOR THE HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: That is what I said to you, Mr. Speaker, I rose ona point of order and I said what I wanted 35(a) and (b).HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Okay fine, therefore once you rise on a point of order, okay.MAJOR THE HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Because, Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Member has been making the important point and he give a scale of what the tax would realise if you move from $100,000; $200,000 and $300,000 but the impression one would get in listening, Mr. Speaker, is that the only incidence as a result of the Market Value is the tax incidence.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Wait, just a minute, just a minute. MAJOR THE HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Mr. Speaker, I...,HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Let us not go too fast, let us get the whole..., you said you move on a point of order so that you may stand. What now is the point of order that you are moving?MAJOR THE HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Clarification on the impact of the Market Value which the Honourable Member is attempting to limit only to the tax incidence. I am suggesting, Mr. Speaker, the House is being misled in the sense that once Market Value obtains, Mr. Speaker, property owners will also almost automatically also have to pay a higher insurance premium on annually. In many instances they would pay their premiums on the basis of the Market Value...,HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: Mr. Speaker, what is the point of order? HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Just a minute please, just a minute. HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: I am really not giving way for any debate on it.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Just a minute Honourable Member [laughter], just a minute Honourable Member. The Member got up under 35(a) and (b) and 35(a) says, “by rising to a point of order, whereupon the Member speaking shall resume his seat and the Member interrupting shall simply direct attention to the point which he desires to bring to notice and submit it to the Speaker or Chairman for decision; or to elucidate some matter raised by that Member in the course of his speech, provided that the Member speaking is willing to give way and resumes his seat and that the Member wishing to interrupt is called by the Chair,” that is under (b).HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: Mr. Speaker, I am not giving way please. 134HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Under (b) so I do not know..., I do not understand the point of order [laughter] so you cannot make it under point of order.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: Yes. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Under (b) you cannot make it under (b). HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. He has resumed his seat [laughter]. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: You cannot make it under (b) [laughter].HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: Mr. Speaker, one of the important sections..., because I started out by saying that the Leader of the Opposition left the Select Committee and went on public radio and said that he is leaving the debate and he is not supporting the Bill. He give another reason today as usual that the..., we would sell the property [interjection] I love that point. Remember that is the basis on which I build my whole presentation that they would sell it for what you owe in taxes. In other words, he listens, and I am not belittling the Leader of the Opposition, but we may listen and hear that you can buy property in Miami for $100.00 because they owe $100.00 tax on it and property going down. Property values gone down, so they owe tax on it. You can go up there and pick up their property for $250.00 and you can buy a jeep for this because the taxes owing. Not so for this Bill, not so in this Bill, Mr. Speaker.Clause 42 conditions of sale, 42(c) it says, “The reserve price shall be not less than 75 percent of the estimated Market Value of the property at the date of sale” [applause]. Not on the day when the valuation list was made you know.HONOURABLE THE DR. DOUGLAS SLATER: And we agreed to that in the Select Committee.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: The Honourable Parliamentary Representative for Northern Grenadines was sitting there [interjection] yes, we changed it from the old Bill [interjection] no, no, no, no, no, no, no while he came the next day after we done do that. You were sitting at 10:42 you arrived.HONOURABLE FREDERICK STEPHENSON: He was not listening.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: I tell you, you arrived at 10:42 because I made a note that said, Opposition absent, and Friday arrived 10:42. Mr. Speaker, what further strengthens this [interjection] no, I am not giving way [laughter]. The reserve price shall be not less than 75 percent of the estimated Market Value of the property.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: You have to state your point of order Sir if you want the Honourable Member to give way.DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: Point of order 81.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Point of order 81? No, I shall not be ruling under 81.DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: The general powers of the Speaker, Mr. Speaker [laughter]. 135HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I shall not be ruling under 81. Continue your debate ,Honourable Member.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: Thank you very much [laughter]. DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: All right I have to come next. So I hope I would bespeaking without any interruptions [laughter]. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: But you know that is not a fair point of order. HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: Mr. Speaker, 42 subsection (3). HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: And Honourable Member, you have 5 minutes to conclude.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: Yes, I am going to conclude now. And hear what it says Mr. Speaker, very important, “For the purposes of subsection (1) (c)”, (which is what I just read, the 75 percent of the Market Value) “the “Market Value” refers to the price which the property is expected to fetch if sold on the open Market at the date of the sale.” [Interjection] I just told you, 42(3). So that there is a valuation placed when your name and your property goes on the valuation lists, but contrary to what the Leader of the Opposition says, the Comptroller of Inland Revenue cannot sell your property under 75 percent of the Market Value and that Market Value refers to the price which the property is expected to fetch if sold on the open Market at the date of the sale.So if it is 10 years later your value will be given to you 10 years later. And today, Mr. Speaker, values of properties have increased substantially the costs of buildings have gone up, people are building more sophisticated buildings. I drive around [interjection] what is what? [Interjection] I will say low income about $100.00 a square foot, middle income maybe $150.00 to $160.00 and upper there is no limit to that. Fellers putting in marble tiles and all kinds of things these days and Jacuzzis all over the place. They put in four Jacuzzis your price gone up to $500.00; $600.00 a square foot, I mean there is no question about it. So it all depends on your taste and Mr. Speaker, so to recap, because I am down to a couple minutes now.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Please do that.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: Yes. The move by the Government is not to increase taxes, let us establish that and the time for implementing it got to be some time. We have to have a time when we can implement it. The Leader of the Opposition is saying now is not the time, well, when is the time, when it is going to be the time? We have not reviewed the Annual Rental Value Valuation List since 1991. [Interjection] those values are there. Those are outdated. I give you the personal experience about $300,000 property built in 1990 that they are still charging $240.00 a month on. The person who is paying that tax feels that they are cheating the Government [laughter] because that property is valued at $600,000; $700,000 and $800,000 today, fifteen years later. Why is that person only still paying $240.00? They should be paying $800.00 a year; they should be paying $600.00 a year.There are properties that have not yet being included on the tax role, 12,000 such properties. We have to bring those into account and that is what is going to give us the increase in taxation. This is not a taxation measure. 136This is a review of property taxes and moving from the Annual Rental Value which is outdated, we are one the last few, we are dinosaur in this matter, like how I am a dinosaur so I am still smoking and we are moving to a modern day Market Value and I want to guarantee you that it is not going to be a burden on the taxpayers. Thank, you Mr. Speaker, I support this Bill [applause].HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member for Northern Grenadines, but before you begin Sir, I am going to ask the Honourable Deputy Speaker to take you through your submission. I have been sitting here for the past five hours.HONOURABLE DAVID BROWNE (the Deputy Speaker takes the chair). You may begin Honourable Member.DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise to make a contribution to the debate on this Bill before the House which is referred to as the Property Tax Bill, the Valuation and Rating Bill. Mr. Speaker, it has been a long day and we have had some very useful contributions, very good contributions from the Honourable Members on this side of the House, Mr. Speaker, elucidating the flaws in this Bill which as the Honourable Senator Francis pointed out, we on this side indicated were many.Mr. Speaker, the nature of the Bill itself dealing with property as has been noted before by the Honourable Prime Minister, by Member for the Central Kingstown is one which people pay a lot of attention to because it affects them in the pocket and it touches something very near and dear to them, their property which they feel that they built with no assistance from Government and still Government wants to put their hand in their pocket. And they are quite right, Mr. Speaker, to jealously guard what they have earned through their hard sweat, the hard labour and sweat.Mr. Speaker, you have heard from the Honourable Leader of the Opposition the context in which this Bill is coming which is a period of unprecedented economic hardship in this country. One where people are much, much more attune to issues relating to, but the Government will call revenue measures, but what they will call as another straw that possibly will break the camel’s back. So Mr. Speaker, we take the Bill very, very seriously and one of the things that I know the Honourable Senator Francis has been doing a lot of mental contortions to try to find differences among the Members on this side of the House. I suppose aiming to suggest somehow that there is confusion on this side of the House regarding the Bill. But be clear about this, Mr. Speaker.There is no confusion whatsoever. We are very clear about the potential impact of this Bill on the Vincentian people, about the concerns and the apprehension that people feel about it and the hope and faith that they place in us to come to this Honourable House, Mr. Speaker, to make the Government account for the Bill. That is what we are doing. We are raising issues that resonate with people in our constituencies and throughout the country as a whole and it does not do us any good or it does not do the Government any good to try to undermine or to somehow put down the presenter, to blame the messenger rather than to consider the message, because the message does not come just from us. It comes from the people out there, Mr. Speaker, who sends us here.137One of the things that we have been very, very consistent about, Mr. Speaker, is the issue the fact the Bill in itself does not have the rate of taxation within the legislation. There is provision for the Minister to change the rate from time to time by order. I think, Mr. Speaker, in a democratic environment more and more, when revenue measures are being considered that people expect that if the Government wants to raise taxes, whether it is property tax, income tax any kind of tax, VAT that they will come to this House and it would be debated and the matter would be ventilated so that everybody knows what is happening and not that you would see it published in the Gazette at some point after Cabinet had made a decision about it. And to tell me that it was so in the old Bill is no defence at all, because if we were going to stick just with the stuff that is in the old Bill, then there is no point in bringing a Bill to the Parliament. The whole point is to try to improve the legislation with the intention of improving the lives of the people in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We do not believe, Mr. Speaker that this Bill accomplishes that.As the Prime Minister himself said in his own presentation is that he can tweak after the Bill has been passed in Parliament, he can tweak the rate up or down or after he is gone somebody else can sit in Cabinet and say okay instead of .08 he will make it .10 or whatever rate they wish and it does not come back here for discussion. So as someone said to me this morning as I was coming here from the Ferry, and I said you know we are going to Parliament and we are discussing the Property Tax Bill and the person said, “Well good luck,” and I said, I guess he must have been listening to the radio from time to time and he said, “well, but it does not set the rate, it does not say how much the tax is going to be, does it?” I said, “You are right about that and that is one of the important points of objection that we have with the Bill.” So he said, “so what exactly are you passing, you do not know how it is going to affect people,” and that is the concern that we have. That is a true story, Mr. Speaker. So this is something that people are very concerned about.I am particularly concerned, Mr. Speaker, because I know the hardship that is being felt by the people in my constituency and throughout the country. I have a particular concern because the property values in the Grenadines as everybody knows tend to be higher than those with comparable buildings or homes here on the mainland and it is not a question of being in a luxury area or an expensive area, it is just a matter of share necessity for having to build a very expensive water tank under your house and this, Mr. Speaker, pushes the value of the properties up by $60,000; $70,000 from others house of three rooms for a family of five, three bedrooms and this, Mr. Speaker, is something I know that people in my constituency were very concerned about. What I had discussed one time when the people came around doing the valuation, I had asked Mr. Speaker if there would be different rates for different parts of the country, because I was concerned that one flat rate would disproportionately affect the people in the areas like the Grenadines where the property values were higher and higher not necessarily because you are living in a more posh or fancy neighbourhood.Mr. Speaker, I am still very, very concerned about this, because we do not have the rate in the Bill. I do not know precisely how it is going to affect the properties in the Grenadines. I have not seen the valuation list, so I do not know what values have been put on the properties and nobody will know for sure how it affects them until they see that list and until they see the rate. So Mr. Speaker, in a sense we are being asked to debate the Bill without all of the tools and this is not the way that it should be done in a modern day democracy.138I cannot vote for this Bill, Mr. Speaker, and then I go back to my constituents and they say, “well how is it going to affect me”, and I say, “well I cannot really tell you”, and they are going say, “well what you mean you cannot tell me, you went there and you voted for the Bill and you do not know how it is going to affect me?” How am I going to defend myself? So Mr. Speaker, when we speak about these things, it is not to give the Government a hard time. The Government is doing a good job of that itself. It is because Mr. Speaker, these are matters that concern people [interjection] you ain’t getting four though.Mr. Speaker, these are matters of national concern and you know that the people out there when they feel it, they are not going to blame Arnhim Eustace for it this time, because he stood up loud and clear in this House of Parliament and he said, “we do not support this Bill.” They will not turn to the Member for Central Kingstown and say similarly or to Senator Linton Lewis, Honourable Linton Lewis or to myself, Mr. Speaker, because we will have none of it.Mr. Speaker, the issues raised here, it is not too late for them to be reconsidered and when the Government proceeds with a slim majority in the House to take measures that may have widespread repercussions, then that is a very risky political move as the Honourable Prime Minister as the wise political figure that he is would be very, very much aware of.Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Senator Francis raised a couple of issues. I do not intend to be as long as some of my colleagues, because I know we have been here a long time. But there are a couple of issues I want to address quickly. One of them has to do with the right of appeal and I think it is covered in section or clause 18 and 19, it says that there is some uncertainty about it which may be I hope that it can be clarified, but first of all it provides that there is a right of appeal to the Valuation Appeal Board and it seems that the rights is given to the individual and to the state entity whether it is the Comptroller or the district. But I am not quite sure exactly. It says that the notice is served on the valuation officer, but it can be served by either the Comptroller as the appellant or by the individual property owner and in the relevant section it refers to the parties, but I am not quite sure, Mr. Speaker, whom the Comptroller appeals against, whether it is the Appeal’s Officer. And perhaps the Honourable Prime Minister could clarify that.If we look for example at clause 19 sub (3) it says, the parties to an appeal, at any time after a Notice of Appeal has been served and before the determination of that appeal by the Board we agreed to an alteration and then it goes further down, it says, on the valuation officer concerned shall thereupon make the alteration agreed upon, and direct the Comptroller and any local authority to alter the listing.That seems to suggest that the Comptroller is not a party and the party is referred to at the top of that paragraph does not seems to include the valuation officer. Can I have some clarification on that, Mr. Speaker? The second point however and perhaps more importantly is that although the Honourable Senator Francis said you can test the valuation by going to the Appeal’s Board, there is a consequence for losing because costs are awarded in the discretion of the Board to the winning party and against the losing party. This is in subsection (9) of section 18, I hope I have it right, because I am still using the old draft of the Bill, but I think it is the same okay [interjection] yes so it has gone to (10), okay yes.139Yes the words are the same just the section is different. The costs of appeals shall be awarded in such manner as a Board may in its discretion determine and shall be recoverable summarily as a civil debt and that means recoverable by the state. What powers is the individual, the property owner have to recover its debt from the state if it is successful as a civil debt, so you sue. The costs, Mr. Speaker..., you know even if you look at the sales procedure rules of the court, I think it is rule 56 which deals with administrative matters, in fact, I do not have a copy of it here, that rule, Mr. Speaker, says that essentially in administrative matters you do not award costs against the appellant when they are appealing on matter against the state unless of course the appellant was being unreasonable.And I would like, Mr. Speaker, that if the appeal right is to be fully enjoyed by the persons who are affected that a provision of that sort (I have a copy of it here Mr. Speaker) the provision in rule 56.13 of the Civil Procedures Rule 2000, it says, “the general rules that no order for costs may be made against an applicant for an administrative order unless the court considers that the applicant has acted unreasonably in making the application and in the conduct of the application.” And in the Toussaint case Mr. Speaker, the Privy Council said really the intention of that is to encourage individuals to defend themselves against the state and they should not have to feel that if they lose that suddenly they are going to have bill in addition to their tax bill to pay and this is something, Mr. Speaker, that we should seriously consider that the person..., it should not be left entirely simply up to the discretion of the Appeal Board that a proviso should be put there similar to what is in the Civil Procedure Rules to say that the costs would only be awarded against the applicant where the applicant acts unreasonably.If somebody is simply challenging an assessment and they lose I do not see why they should have to pay the costs of the Valuation Officer whoever the respondent is [interjection] Mr. Speaker, I mean Prime Minister, these are not lawyers, they are not judges and a lot of people will be dissuaded if they understand that if they lose, costs will likely be awarded against them.Now Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Senator Francis also said that the Leader of the Opposition opposed the Bill and said he was not coming back to the House, I mean to the Select Committee because of the Government would sell the property for the tax that was owing and he made a lot of noise about it to say well this is not what the Bill said, but in fact at the time when the Leader of the Opposition spoke there was not the provision for the reserve price that he mentioned in his presentation, because I was looking, Mr. Speaker, at both the original draft of the Bill that we debated in the Select Committee and the final version that was presented here to us this morning and in the new version it says that section 42 subsection (3) there is a provision which defines Market Value that is to be use to assess what price the property can be sold at and that was not in the Bill that was considered before.Well I have the old one and the new one, which section is the old one? Section 42 does not have that provision [interjection] the new Bill section 42 subsection (3) [interjection] I said it is not in the old Bill it is in the new one. So when the Leader of the Opposition spoke the proviso or the reserve price that you was saying is the saving grace to the Bill and was using it to contradict what the Leader of the Opposition had said. You said he had said on the radio that that was not the position that was in the original Bill, so the Leader of the Opposition was quite correct in what he had said at the point in time.140Mr. Speaker, there is another point which I think could create some difficulty, I am not sure whether it was discussed quite frankly in the Select Committee, yes I think it might have. This is in clause 13, the valuation procedure and appeals, 13 subsection (4) if a person whose property is shown on the valuation list dies his personal representatives shall within three months (I am not reading from the old Bill) thereof give notice in writing to the satisfaction of the Comptroller or the local authority, as the case may be of such death the date thereof and the person or persons in whom the property is to be vested. And this is for three months [interjection] eh?, we do know who the person or representative is. Usually this is a matter has to be determined after administration or there is no will, if there is no will you have to go through the..., to seek letters of administration in the court who is.Honourable Prime Minister you go and try it with a bank and ask them to release funds from an account of somebody who has died without having administration done.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: If my Honourable friend..., let me relate a matter of legal interpretation. If a person whose property is shown on the valuation list dies, his personal representative shall within three months give notice in writing to the satisfaction of the Comptroller or the local authority as the case may be of such death, the date thereof and the person or persons in whom the property is to be vested. So what you do, the person, a family, if somebody dies you go you write..., one of the children write to the Comptroller and say, I am going to be the personal representative or it may be somebody else and this is the information [interjection] you do not have to have an administration yet, you do not have to have an administration yet, you do not have to have it yet. It says, is to be vested.DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: Prime Minister you know the difficulty of this. I just dealt with a simple matter relating to this, this morning. When somebody dies is either if you have an account in the bank, you cannot touch it, if you die without, it is no different, you need a personal representative. The administration may have said that person representative is the person who applies for administration and gets a grant and we have a definition...,HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: Just a point of order for elucidation. Well I have stated my point of order..., so it is allowed under the rules. You said that we go by rules eh? [Interjection] yes, yes, yes, yes, no, something he said. The Honourable Member said, in the old Bill under section 42 the matter of the sale of the reserve price was not listed. It is listed as 42 (c) and it says, the reserve price will be the aggregate amount of unpaid property tax, fines and any other costs and charges. You were saying when the Leader of the Opposition left it was not in the Bill, I am telling you it was in the Bill.DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: But this is..., I do not understand, you are just making it worse for yourself. This is precisely what the Leader of the Opposition was objecting to. What I am suggesting is, not suggesting, I am stating very clearly what is in the new Bill as a reserve price is not in the old Bill. There is a definition that you have here which basically says that the price is you sell it for what is owed.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: Yes, but when you said what I said just now, you said I said, what section in the old Bill it was in? You said it was not there. I am just pointing out to you that it was there. You attended the meeting and knew that we changed it.141DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: Okay, all right, show me in the old Bill where it says that the price would be 75 percent of the value. You show me in the old Bill where it says that.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: If you sit down I going tell you. HONOURABLE DEPUTY SPEAKER: [Striking of the gavel] DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: Now you are talking about something else. HONOURABLE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable Member, please continue.DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: Now I am too experienced in this thing to be easily distracted by that. Mr. Speaker, the point that I wish to make regarding personal representative. We know what it means under the Administration Estates Act. We know the difficulties that arise, somebody dies he does not leave a will, several children, nobody knows who can touch anything and this says that any person (in subsection (8)) who fails to give the notices required to in this section commits an offence and is liable to a fine of $1500 and here it is that somebody is supposed to be arrogate unto themselves the title of personal representative and if they fail to do so they can be fined. Who is going to say, well you are the personal representative because you are the eldest son. That has to be changed. A timeframe is the main problem.Mr. Speaker, another issue that is still confusing to me although I raised it in the Select Committee. The process begins with the creation of a valuation list. There are procedures within the Bill for alteration of the valuation list for the valuation officer to send notices to property owner to provide additional information, then the valuation officer under clause 16 subsection (2) he can made an alteration of the valuation list, and it says in 16(2)(a) that it shall have effect on or after such day as the valuation officer is satisfied is the day when the event by reason of which the alteration was made occurred.So I assumed that the alteration is triggered by an event. So if somebody adds an extra room to their house, let us say he puts in a swimming pool, at some point the valuation officer catches up with this and the value of the property is affected. Now the question is what effect could this have on the taxes to be paid? The fact that the valuation list is to be changed suggest that the taxes to be paid will change, but the law says (I will see if I find the section) that the tax is to be based on the valuation list, yet in this section 16 sub (2) it says that it shall have effect on the day that the event occurred. So what does this means then, is that means that if the event occurs in 2010 let us say an extra room and a swimming pool is added, the valuation officer makes a valuation in 2012 and he says to the owner, well you sent a notice saying that you have added on to your house and so on, we are going to now change the list, the valuation list to change the value of your property, but according to this, the tax to be paid would be based on the time when the alteration was made, which was a time before the list was actually altered. Yet in another provision it says that the tax can only be based on the valuation list. So where is the authority to charge that person more in a sense retroactively when the list has not been altered?So Mr. Speaker, these are serious matters that raised a lot of questions about how this Bill is going to function in the real world. How it is going to affect people that is the bigger question of the rate and the valuation list, what my house is valued at, what your house is valued at and how that is going to affect people. You put them142all together, Mr. Speaker, and you get the impression that this Bill, given all the time in respect of all the time we have spent on it is still not quite ready.And a final point, Mr. Speaker. In section 45 (I am not sure what it is in the new, yes it is the same section in the new Bill) and this one has to do, Mr. Speaker, with where the Government sells out somebody’s property to pay the taxes. It says, “If you cannot find the person then you put the money into an account for up to six years and then after that you still cannot..., well if the person does not show up because you are not notifying them again, then the money goes to the Crown.” This is in section 45.So let us assume that somebody owns a house of $500,000 they owe the Government $50,000 in taxes, they sell the property for $450,000 they pay off the Government taxes in expenses $50,000 the Government now owes you $400,000 they could not find you at the time when they send the notice out, so your money is put into an account and nothing happens again. After six years quietly that becomes part of the consolidated fund [interjection] how? It does not say you can get it back.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, the general legislation passed not by this Government, but which has been in existence before, if you have an account which is idle for a particular period of time it is passed to the Government and you can then go back and claim it. You cannot deprive people of their property simply because of a delay. It would be unconstitutional.DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: Thank you Prime Minister, but let me just tell you what it says here [interjection].HONOURABLE DEPUTY SPEAKER: [Striking of the gavel]DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: Listen we cannot draft legislation Mr. Speaker, just for us to interpret. This legislation is supposed to be there after we have left this Parliament. It is supposed to be interpreted by practitioners in the field, by individuals, by homeowners, by the court. They are not going to come back and ask the Prime Minister, what did you mean when you put that there? You were the Minister of Finance. They do not interpret legislation like that. Let me tell you what it says. It says here in section 45(1) after any sale under this Part, where the proceeds of sale, less the amount of all property tax, fines, fees and expenses due and payable, are such as to leave a surplus, that surplus shall be paid by the Comptroller to the owner, but if the owner is not known or identifiable such surplus shall be put at the disposal of the Governor General for a period not exceeding six years immediately following the date of the sale, where after it shall be appropriated to the Consolidated Fund.There is no provision there saying that you can get it back. If you want to put that in there, put it in now [interjection] well Prime Minister as I have said, if we are going to stand on the older, why change it, why have a new law? The whole point is we are now trying to make it better. They said it is appropriated. If after six years, ten years somebody comes up and say, listen, you sold my grandmother house sometime ago, I inherited her estate. You sold it for $450,000 you took $50,000 out in taxes, what I said you know, Mr. Speaker, in the Select Committee, I say at least when the six year period is expiring, put a notice in the newspaper, do something, make some noise so that the person might say, wait a second that was my grandmother house youknow I better go find out what is happening. But nobody took me up on it. They said, naaah man, six years if143they ain’t come after six years they ain’t coming again. But you have in my example; you have $400,000 of the person’s money there. It is not going to cost the state anything to put an ad in the newspaper, to put something in the gazette or whatever you want to put it in. Spend $50,000 if you want trying to contact the person you will still get $350,000 back and that is the point I was making. This is people’s property. It should not just slide quietly by and become part of the Consolidated Fund.HONOURABLE DEPUTY SPEAKER: You have five more minutes.DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: I think that is all I need you know, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the point that I am making is that this Bill it simply not ready for the support of the Members of the Opposition. It does not meet our standards, Mr. Speaker. Thank you.HONOURABLE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Any further debate on the Bill, Honourable Member for West Kingstown.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, at almost 10:00 p. m. I rise to make my contribution to this Property Tax Bill which despite the attempt to rename it is in fact the Property Tax Bill. And I want first, Mr. Speaker, to address some housekeeping matters.Mr. Speaker, Parliament has been twice postponed since we last met and this Bill has been around for some time. Since the work in the Select Committee, Mr. Speaker, there have been some changes, some of them fairly substantial and for us to come to this Parliament only this morning to get a revised copy of such an important Bill, I think the work of this Honourable House can be much better facilitated if some more respect is given to the Members on this side of the House.This Bill is of immense importance, this Bill if passed will impact on the vast majority of our people in a very negative way at a time when we can least afford it. I want to agree 100 percent Mr. Speaker with the Leader of the Opposition and my colleagues in identifying the economic conditions under which this Bill is being proposed.Mr. Speaker, it has not been long ago that Water, Sewerage and Solid Waste charges have been increased. Mr. Speaker, the population faces regularity in going to the hospital and not being able to get all of the medication and having to go outside and pay additional costs for relatively simple tests that are not available at the hospital which are adding more burdens to the poor people of this country. We are existing in a time, when the Government has repeatedly admitted its inability to pay public officers increases legislated for them over time. These are, Mr. Speaker, just a few of the issues germane to the timing of this burdensome piece of legislation.In an attempt, Mr. Speaker, to prevent unnecessary interruption to my presentation, I will attempt to paraphrase, although I made notes and I listened carefully to the presentation of the Honourable Leader of Government business. Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister indicated that there are some 26,113 homes on the old system, the Annual Rental Value mechanism. The Prime Minister went on to state that they did a sample or something to that effect in 2003 with Browne Consultants and he went on to say that they have now..., well they are subsequent to 2003, I think he said it started at around 2008, done evaluation of all the properties in this country and we have a figure of 38,386.144But very importantly, Mr. Speaker, in addressing one of the concerns raised, the Prime Minister indicated that all of the experts, and again I am paraphrasing, have indicated a close correlation between the Annual Rental Value and the new system proposed. Now I have a very simple question. If we take that to be factual that we have a clear understanding of the value of all of the properties in the country, some 38 thousand plus, we have done that exercise, so we know what the Market Value of these properties are, that is what we are made to understand, eh? We know the correlation between Annual Rental Value and Market Value that is what we are told. Now if this exercise is to be revenue neutral or indeed if you want to increase your revenue all you have to do, you do not have to bring any Bill, you do not have to do anything, simply bring on stream on the old system all those additional homes that are not now on the system. You have a recipe that is going to cost the people..., you have to bring this Bill, and you do not have to do anything. All you need to do you have all of the values for 38 thousand plus homes now. You said you have done that exercise and you know the correlation between that the Annual Rental Value. So you can on that basis use the existing methodology to bring all those additional properties on stream. Is not that simple? But you are not doing that. You come up with this Bill, very interesting Bill.Mr. Speaker, I submit to this Honourable House that this whole exercise brings up in my mind and to any right thinking member of our community a simple, simple word called “trust”. Can we trust the Government that has this information and wants to get people to pay their property taxes, have the ability to do it, you do not do that, you come up with a strange Bill and I will go through some of the concerns I have with the Bill, you come up with this new Bill and you want to tell..., Mr. Speaker, there is an expression we use in this country in the parlance which say, “They want to sell you pig in bag.” Eh, you ever heard it Mr. Speaker? They want to sell the people and the Parliament pig in bag because nothing in this Act tells the people that the Government is going to charge you at any rates for your value.The normal thing would be you put in a rate, because the very Bill before us gives Government the ability to vary it up or down. So if you put in a figure now that is it. Tell the people confidently, this is what we are proposing, so I can have appreciation if the surveyor come and tell me my house value $200,000 I cannot do Maths good eh, so this poor person will tell me, but I will get somebody to calculate what zero point whatever percent is. So I will know what I am supposed to pay. What on earth is so difficult about that? To put in the Bill that the first rate would be “X” knowing that you have the ability, if you try it and it too high, you can adjust it downwards or upwards. That is what normal..., but this I submit is what we call, “pig in bag” and I ain’t buying it [laughter] no Member on this side is going to buy it, because the people of this country is not going to buy it [applause]. This ain’t ready yet, this ain’t ready yet, this ain’t ready yet.But moreover, Mr. Speaker, I am submitting further that I do not believe that the Government has the information with respect to the value of those 38,386 properties. I am submitting it and I have good reason to say that. If you had that information, you could say categorically that we want “X” percent, but you are groping in the dark. Go and talk to anybody who has been working in that department for years and they will tell you. What system you are talking about, what evaluation you are talking about, pie in the sky.So Mr. Speaker, we have a situation before us where this Government seems to think that because you change the Bill from a Property Tax what is the name of the Bill from a property tax to some name that I cannot even145quite wrap around my head yet that John Public they are going to believe that it is not a Property Tax Bill. Well no matter how you twist it, it is an awful Property Tax Bill.Mr. Speaker, I know of a couple, man and woman, one a teacher, one a public servant, together they earned about $4,000 a month, take home is about $3,500 they have a mortgage of about $1,200 they have a child going to school, they have to pay the insurance mandatory since they have the mortgage, they have to buy food, they have to pay transport and they have to pay schooling, basic things. Now you see in this country, Mr. Speaker, the evidence suggests that a significant number of our people not only pride themselves in their homes, but they mortgage themselves tremendously. In fact, if you compare Vincentians say with Antiguans you go to visit your friends in Antigua and they are driving a BMW and they drive it into a galvanise shack, they travel all over the world on holidays, Vincentians first want to build a home and in most cases they mortgage themselves to the point where, God sometimes one wonders how they survive. It is a tradition. I do not know where it came from. But it is a reality.Now you and sometimes another Member of this Honourable House made reference to the point about how people build house, especially under the NDP regime when a lot of lands were open up and people systematically started with a foundation and brought in their families and so on and they have such pride. They are not rich, they are not rich man, them people nah rich, they catching their nennen, pardon my expression, Mr. Speaker. The quality of the house is a strange phenomenon in this country. You cannot measure people’s wealth by the quality of their house. It is a strange thing in our country. You cannot do that, you cannot do that, I am submitting to you, you cannot do that. If you do a close analysis you would find a lot of people with these homes, people have such pride, but they really are pushed. It is difficult to sustain the mortgage and all the other things that they have.Water rate I say gone up, solid waste rate gone up, sewerage rate gone up, everything going up, pressure going up all around and you are going to tell me now you going to ask these people [interjection] me, me I ain’t supporting this Bill you know. You going to have to face the population out there.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Your pressure going up.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: All of the Honourable Members on that side, Mr. Speaker, who come in here and want to ram this Bill down the throat of the population in this country, [interjection] your pressure ain’t going go up, something else going go up, you hear me, something else going go up.MAJOR THE HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Tell me about it.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: I am saying this Bill is unjust. It is the wrong time, it is a wrong Bill. I ain’t getting into no nitty-gritty about whether you want to use Annual Rental Value, you all could argue from now until Thy Kingdom Come, I am arguing how this is going to impact on John Public and it is too negative at this time for me. I cannot support it [laughter]. This is not politics. This is St. Vincent and the Grenadines in 2012, simple reality.146I want, Mr. Speaker, to just draw a simple example of how we seem to be going full steam ahead at simply extracting from the people, extracting from the people anything, tax, every how. Mr. Speaker, if I have a small manufacturing something, if I have a small manufacturing facility and I get invest whether equity or however I source some equipment and I get some equipment, Mr. Speaker, now while one understands the nature of a property value to appreciate. I am at a loss to understand why the equipment is included in this kind of thing, because the equipment on the contrary depreciates over a time, it does not appreciate. Why you want to include the equipment in the plants? I thought you want to give incentives to people to come in here and expand their plant and create employment for people. You want to include the equipment cost in the value of the property to put more burdens on the people who should be driving your economy. I mean, give me a break. I thought that was common sense. Are not we hoping to encourage people to invest more in plant and equipment? It is the objective of this Bill to say to people, boy take your money and go somewhere else, because if you only improve that plant there, they are coming after you. More house tax that is what this is telling me and I say to myself, boy you know something ain’t right. Something ain’t right, something ain’t right [laughter] something ain’t right.You see, Mr. Speaker, you know I have always said eh, there is something about legislation when people are in Government. I have seen it in previous Governments and I have seen it continuously in this Government. I listened to the Honourable Members on that side, Mr. Speaker, you know when you are discussing legislation, you must think of legislation not just for when you are in Government, but also when you are in Opposition or out of Government. It is easy to throw cold water on very critical points because now you are in the driver seat. But it ain’t always..., and the test of any legislation must always be if it can survive you in Government as in Opposition.There are some clauses in this draft Bill, Mr. Speaker, that frighten me, I do not like them. You know what it reminds me of? When we were debating and discussing the Referendum you know. The same issues [interjection] aah, current Market Value for property, you remember how the other side opposed it. They did not want to hear anything about current Market Value. Today they want to take current Market Value to come to charge poor people taxes on the current Market Value that they denied you when they want to take away your property. I want you all to listen to this; I want the poor people to listen.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a point of order. The point of order is my Honourable Friend is misleading the House about the issue concerning the Referendum debate. Mr. Speaker, the law as amended in the Constitution made reference to the Land Acquisition Act which detailed the issue of the Market Value, because of the complexities in relation to the matter for acquisition, it could not be stated inside of the Constitution itself, but the cross reference was made to the Land Acquisition Act as it was in the old Constitution. The provision was improved to what it is at the moment. The property provision in the Constitution today is worse for Vincentians than the amendment to the Constitution would have been and it did not have anything to do with Market Value, because that was defined in the Land Acquisition Act. So let us, Mr. Speaker, be very clear on this issue factually. You can create an opinion, but let us get the facts.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: May I, Mr. Speaker? 147HONOURABLE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Yes please.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Oh thank you very much. Seven is better than ten to. But, Mr. Speaker, I have made the point that when we were debating the Constitutional Referendum to change the Constitution, we on this side of the House clamoured for, begged for, pleaded for that particular clause to be changed to reflect the current Market Value and what is a fact Mr. Speaker that was vehemently opposed by the other side. That is the fact.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Again I rise on a point of order. The issue regarding the current Market Value was cross referenced in the Land Acquisition Act. Demagoguery cannot get us past those facts.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: I say, Mr. Speaker, when we were debating this point, we asked that the current Market Value be included and there were all kinds of reasons put forward why you cannot put it. You are happy now. Do not change the...,DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, again I rise on a point of order. HONOURABLE DEPUTY SPEAKER: State your point of order.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: The point of order being that my Honourable Friend is misleading the House.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Really?DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: The issue of the draft in the Constitution, the changes related to issues regarding the compensation within a year cross referenced with the issue of Market Value addressed in the Land Acquisition Act. That is a fact. It does not matter how they wanted to represent it, I am saying what is a fact.HONOURABLE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable Member, can you move on please?HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: How much time I have Mr. Speaker?HONOURABLE DEPUTY SPEAKER: You have 23 minutes.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Mr. Speaker, I started at 10:00 O’ Clock you know, I started at 10:00 O’ Clock for your information, Mr. Speaker.HONOURABLE DEPUTY SPEAKER: You have 23 minutes please. Twenty-two minutes now. HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: I started at 10:00 O’ Clock for your information, Mr. Speaker. Iknow better than that you know.HONOURABLE DEPUTY SPEAKER: You have 22 minutes please.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, thank you, thank you very much. 148HONOURABLE DEPUTY SPEAKER: And before you continue the Speaker is back, so hold a minute.HONOURABLE JULIAN FRANCIS: [Inaudible]HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Yes, but you have interrupted me for ten minutes. Your leader has interrupted me for ten minutes [laughter]. You know those times are supposed to be taken out. It is a good thing the real Speaker is here.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: All right Honourable Members, according to our stop watch..., DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: I must draw something to your attention..., MAJOR THE HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: You get the Speaker you want now? DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, the same...,HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member, just a minute, just a minute. MAJOR THE HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: How you hear that, HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: What remark is that? MAJOR THE HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: I wonder how you hear that? HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: What remark is that Honourable Member?MAJOR THE HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: You won’t a hear that before half time now you come here...,HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: What remark is that? MAJOR THE HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: I do not know, I do not know what remark is that,let that pass, the night is going on.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Well this is not for this time of the night.MAJOR THE HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Yes the night is going on.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, I really must draw to your attention Mr. Speaker, the precise supercilious attitude...,MAJOR THE HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Jesus, DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: of the Honourable Member for West Kingstown, whenthe Deputy Speaker left, he said it is lucky thing the real Speaker come now.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: But of course, this is the real Speaker that is the Deputy. 149DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: He is treating the Deputy Speaker with what the word supercilious means, contempt.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Is contempt of course. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Contempt. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Yes, ah..., DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Or haughtiness MAJOR THE HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: So what you call it, is contempt of court?HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Members, you know sometimes, I mean sometimes we understand that there are certain things in which we do give way in this Honourable House, but then we cannot be guilty of blatantly disrespecting the Speaker of the House. I mean they do it with me and sometimes I just allow it, but that does not even give you the right to disrespect the Deputy Speaker and it is not the first time I have noticed this level of disrespect and let us be serious. The night is 23 past ten there about and we need to get on with the...,DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Member for West Kingstown has been obeying all of the speaker’s, the Deputy Speaker’s statements.DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: Could we move on please. DR. THE HONOURABLE GODWIN FRIDAY: He has been sitting when other Members rise to object. Hedid nothing that was disrespectful of the...,DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker, persons may be listening or not listening, but we have to get the facts. When the Honourable Member for West Kingstown asked of the Deputy Speaker who for all purposes is the Speaker in the Chair, how much time remaining, he told him, he repeated more than twice to him that I started at 10:00 O’ Clock, the Deputy Speaker said, you have 22 minutes remaining, at that time he saw you there and said, “please before you continue the Speaker is there” and then he burst out, “well is lucky thing the real Speaker coming now.” Sometimes when he is in these flights is like he is some kind of height; some medication is running into him that he just cannot control himself.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Mr. Speaker, I do not take any medication that affect my..., any aspect of me and I would kindly asked that that aspersion be withdrawn.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Member,HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: I am kindly asked that that aspersion be withdrawn.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I am asking you now..., 150MAJOR THE HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Let him withdraw that aspersion. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker..., HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Just a minute. I want you to continue with the debate now. MAJOR THE HONOURABLE ST. CLAIR LEACOCK: Cheese and bread. HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: May I ask you, Mr. Speaker, how much time I have left. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: You have 20 minutes there about.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Mr. Speaker, let me state for the record that nothing I said meant any disrespect to you or the Deputy Speaker and if perchance Mr. Speaker, what I said was construed as such, I humbly apologise and withdraw it. Mr. Speaker...,HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Let us continue with the debate.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Thank you. Mr. Speaker, you see I was developing the point that this Bill before us reminds me so much of the debate involved in the Constitutional Amendment Bill in so many ways. I find it difficult to understand why a Government wants to introduce his legislation for the purpose of enhancing its taxation. But it brings in to the whole frame a number of issues that give me..., my Honourable colleague dealt with section 18 and 19.Imagine, Mr. Speaker, a Government sets up a Board of Appeal, sets up a Board of Appeal, and the Board is comprised of a magistrate and by the way, Mr. Speaker, what I find intriguing in this is that while the legislation speaks to who appoints the other four Members, it does not say which magistrate or who appoints the magistrate eh. Very interesting, but you have a system like that set up and it allows your officers, whether it be from Inland Revenue or assessment people to be part of the hearing and that Board makes a ruling, but the Government turns around and want to appeal. It portrays an impression of a mercenary approach, hell-bent Mr. Speaker, pardon the expression, in extracting maximum from the poor people. Why would the Government want to appeal a ruling by a Board it set up with a magistrate and people appointed? If the Governor General is going to appoint, one would naturally assumed that the Governor General will appoint people of integrity who would be able to make sound decisions. Why, therefore, the Government wants to give itself the authority to go and appeal against that decision? I do not understand it. It gives me the impression that is at all cost you must get from these people. What is your pound of flesh at a time like now? What strange matter is that? I do not understand it.Even, Mr. Speaker, there is a section dealing with..., we were told you know in the first draft that if you own a house for $25,000 (I would like to see one of those) that you would not pay, but the thing that is changed now, this Bill is changed and some people will say that it says that if your property is $50,000 or less you would pay $10.00 but Mr. Speaker, I do not see that. This Bill does not tell me that you know. I am trying to find the precise clause, Mr. Speaker. You see it is only this morning I got this thing so it is not..., I do not have the151same fluidity as with the original draft. But if someone could help me..., aah, I got it, section 26 [interjection] eh? Clause 26 subject to subsection (2) that is where they charge you $10.00 the Minister may, by order, exempt from liability to pay property tax the owners of property the value of which does not exceed $50,000 so why..., if you want to help people $50,000 and under say, say it nah. Say that if your property value $50,000 or less that you are exempt except for the $10.00.I talked about pig in bag you know, Mr. Speaker, I like that expression. This reminds me of that. On the one hand the Government wants to..., Honourable Members on that side, Mr. Speaker, wants to tell you that the..., but still they put a caveat, the Minister may, suppose the Minister ain’t feel like doing it, eh? What is this about, what is this about? Say, you know and they will tell me about legal language you know. Put the intent in the legislation if you say you are exempting people whose property is $50,000..., do not make me have to go before the court, do not make me have to go before the court to prove that that is what you mean. Put the intent, the Minister shall exempt all properties of $50,000 why the... thing eh? We ain’t dealing with no month of the year but May and June and so on and all that. Tell me if you really want to help the people, say that it is definite. Do not mamaguy me and want me buy pig in bag. I ain’t buying no pig in bag, no sir. Mr. Speaker, it is not unparliamentarily to say, pig in bag, is it?HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: I do not think so. HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: I hope it is not. I like it, Mr. Speaker. I find it most appropriate inthe context of this Bill you know. I mean, listen. Let me draw the comparison with that. Under 25(c)...HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: 25(c)HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Under 25(c) it is a nice one you know, listen, no property tax shall be levied in respect of the following, you know what I am saying, just including this paragraph the $50,000 and under nah, but you go know..., nicely especially (c) you know and all the preachers would love this. I mean this tells of religion you know when they build a house and they live in it they are exempted and the church property and so on. So put under this same section nah that $50,000 under shall be, I love that, it sounds good eh [laughter] so there can be no doubt, there can be no doubt in anybody’s mind [interjection] it cannot be no [interjection] no not at all, not at all, [laughter] not at all, not at all [laughter]. Mr. Speaker, there are so many...,HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: You sound like the spirit [laughter]. HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: That is all right. One thing I know I ain’t having no problem withmy...,HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Good spirit, good spirit.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Now, Mr. Speaker, there is another clause and in all of this I say you know, let me go back as the overarching condition, I am totally opposed to this Bill, but even you want to152go through I want to point you to subsection (9) of 18 [interjection] aye [interjection] do not bother with me man, but my wife not here what happen you want to help me? [Laughter] [interjection] you cannot cook.Mr. Speaker, section 18 subsection (9) huh that was interesting [laughter], the service of a notice of appeal shall not affect the liability of an appellant or owner of property to pay property tax in accordance with the provisions of this Act. Well, Mr. Speaker, this one too gives me pain.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: 19 subsection what?HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Sorry 18, subsection (9) on page 18.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: okay I see it, I see it.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: This again to me is of the mercenary type. Mr. Speaker, you know and you have to allow for all kinds of circumstances. We are human beings, we tend to make error, sometimes people..., I am not implying motive to any evaluator or anybody, but we are human beings and you can have a situation where someone may wish to get at, as we say in the local language, get at somebody and they deliberately hike your estimate of your property and the recourse you have is to go before the Appeal Board and so forth and if this clause were to remain, when one considers that there is no timeframe anywhere in this legislation for the resolution of these kinds of matters, in other words and because there is a magistrate and Mr. Speaker, let me..., I have taken a close look at these aspects you know. The legislation here, allows for people to bring in the legal representatives and so on and anytime I hear that I get scared you know, because it tells me that the process can be unduly delayed. There is a possibility that the process can take a long time, because there is a semi juridical.., I mean I will get the word right you know.You have a magistrate in charge and you have those who opposing and those who for can have representation and or legal..., so already start to see red, you know. But I am saying that there is no requirement in this for the process to be completed either at the first stage or at the appellate stage in a reasonable time. It is virtually open-ended. And you are saying to me, if I had been wrong there can be no adjustment. I have to pay what I am assessed for until the process is finished. By that time, Mr. Speaker, a small business may be out of operation. A homeowner (interruption from the public gallery)..., I hope I did not say red and caused that [laughter] [interjection] no, no, no, Mr. Speaker, if I [interjection] [laughter] if I may Mr. Speaker, when I look at the Honourable Member for North Windward with particular emphasis on his attire, I cannot help but noting, it is almost, Mr. Speaker, it is getting there and I [laughter] wonder if it is reflecting the change in North Windward at this time with some fire in Sandy Bay. But I notice the colour is coming closer [laughter]. But, Mr. Speaker, seriously that is again ingest eh.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Nine minutes, Honourable Member.HONOURABLE DANIEL CUMMINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. So I am saying, Mr. Speaker, this clause gives me a lot of trouble, this clause gives me a lot of trouble because..., to specify that you know, you do not even say that the magistrate may have the possibility or the Chairperson in his or her discretion may be153permitted to, you know, to allow the status quo until a determination, because, Mr. Speaker, that really can put undue pressure on people and I reiterate my concern. This is not about who is in Government now and who is in Opposition. We are dealing with flesh and blood and we need to make sure that circumstances of these kinds can be dealt with without putting undue hardship on people.In normal circumstances, nobody wants to make fun of doing your civic duty, so it is understood, but we all agreed that the times are so hard that to come with this now is an unnecessary and undue burdens on too many of the people of our country and as I submit again, Mr. Speaker, that given what the Honourable Prime Minister said in his open salvo, I find it difficult to understand why and again the more I look at this legislation and I see that the driving force is clearly revenue, revenue, revenue, revenue and if you have done that evaluation of all the properties and if you know the correlation between that and the Annual Rental Value, the easy and simple way is to collect that you are collecting and simply collect from so many more thousands that are not collecting at this time. Bearing people would know, you know the devil you have now, you know the devil you have now, but low and behold you bringing an unknown devil. There is nothing in this legislation..., if this legislation passes now, Mr. Speaker, for example, there is nothing to prevent the Minister from making the thing .1 percent. There is nothing to stop that. Why would we sit here and agree to give the Minister the sole prerogative based on if you have all those information, put the figure in there, put it in there now. Mr. Speaker, I thank you and I do not support this Bill [applause].HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. Honourable Prime Minister.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I would like to thank all Honourable Members for their contributions. Mr. Speaker, I want to point out something at the very beginning that the Valuation and Rating Act Cap. 343 were passed in 1977. It was amended in 1978, 1980, 1983, 1987, 1988 and 1992. Prior to the 1977 Act there was an earlier piece of legislation going back to the 50s and if you go earlier, you would find it earlier.Very interesting that provisions which was critique including the provision which we have changed that is to say that you were able to sell people’s property for just the tax. The Honourable Leader of the Opposition was the Minister of Finance for two and half years running this Act with the Government having the power to sell property for what people owed in property tax and never bothered to change it. He is so exercised about it, but of course, we went into the Select Committee and I moved the Motion to have it changed even before I heard anything about what the Leader of the Opposition saying, because this was dealt with before the Leader of the Opposition went on radio apparently and said why he is not coming back to the Select Committee. I did not know anything about all of that.Mr. Speaker, a number of provisions which are being critique here, sometimes with the fervor of trying to have angels dancing on the head of a pin. What is the substance of this matter? It is well established universally that a Market Value system is a clearer and better system, a fairer system on which you can base a property tax. The issue of rental value can be very arbitrary, not so the question of a Market Value, where the assessment is more objective and there seems to be..., the context of the debate by the Opposition is that there was no property tax before this new Valuation and Rating Bill. There was a property tax called, “The Annual Rental Value” and the154base of that was laid in 1991 for the last time and that under the Market Value system you are going to have of the existing 26,000 plus persons some half of those on the basis of Market Value they are expected to pay less under the Market Value than they would pay on the Annual Rental Value, so much for this thing about murder, unjust and the like.Similarly, under the existing system persons who were..., poor people who owns properties under $50,000 who pay property taxes now will pay no property taxes because this Minister has it in there and will signed the order. Other Ministers subsequently and I may wish to even raise it from $50,000 to $75,000 for the exemptions as you go along, so poor people with houses under $50,000 properties under $50,000 will pay no property tax under this current system. We say that they pay $10.00 the reason being because we have the law known as the Possessory Titles Act where part of the evidence, not conclusive, but part of the evidence for adverse possession is that not only were you in possession but I had been paying taxes on it and here is my tax bill, my tax receipt. Well there would not be a tax receipt in the old way, but there would be a minimum $10.00 which would be issued by the same Valuation Department, the same Tax Department which you can take to court in the same manner that you paid for this property.So the very poor people are exempt, then half of what is there existing are likely to be paying less under the current value and that where there are increases because you have improved the properties so much, there will be a cap, I have announced this in the Budget, there would be a cap placed on it. You cannot put everything inside of the actual administration, the values, the rating number, the exemptions you can address those by way of orders and by administrative decisions. That is how it was under the Annual Rental Value which is 5 percent that is how it was set. The provision is made for regulations. It was not in the Act. The 5 percent was not in the Valuation and Rating Act currently, the one which we are repealing.So I want to repeat, Mr. Speaker, the poor people will pay no property tax up to $50,000 save and except the $10.00 to help you if you do not have title and to assure you to take advantage of the Possessory Titles Act and half of the existing number will pay less. Those who will pay more there will be a cap which is put on above which you will not go because you improve the property so much and so on and so forth and that I have honestly said that in the city that you are having commercial properties, the rates will go up for them, but I made it plain in my opening that we are going to make sure that those are contained and also we are going to have a situation where there would be lower provisions in respects of factories and hotels. I made that absolutely plain, so this hysteria and even some demagoguery, it is entirely misplaced.Mr. Speaker, I want to address the practical matter relating to Bequia or the Grenadines for that matter. The issue about property. Property means any separate parcel of land within the area of Kingstown or the area of jurisdiction of a local authority, any building or erection together with the land occupied by the same and the curtilage thereof and any other building or erection within the curtilage, used in connection therewith and the land occupied by the same and any plant, machinery or equipment permanently installed or fitted for the purpose of or in connection with any trade or business.Now you have your water tank and it is not fitted, it is not there for trade or business, how we can put it in the valuation? So I mean, we are manufacturing problems where they do not exist [interjection] what is that? You said that there is water tank underneath. The water tank which is underneath, if the water tank is there where it155is..., you are valuing it separately, but how are you going to..., it is not used for the purpose of the trade. Now Mr. Speaker, I want to make a few general comments.It is said by the Honourable Leader of the Opposition that he supports the Market Value system, but he does not support it in this time. Which means that he is not getting with a lot of the other spurious things and some of the hysteria which we have heard, he is just saying in this time, he does not think it should be done and this time, meaning what he considers adverse economic circumstances. But Mr. Speaker, the poor are going to benefit from this. Half of the existing number are going to benefit and what is so wrong in asking persons where the values of their properties have been increased as a consequence of, they putting on additions and enlarging it from what they had had before to pay a little more, but with a cap and indeed for everybody to pay, because at the moment a large number of persons 12,000 persons do not pay anything. How is it that you can feel that you have a house valued at $300,000 you are paying, but somebody build a house sometime afterwards, they are not paying anything at all. What fairness is in that? It is unjust for you to be paying and somebody else does not pay. The substance of the law administratively is the same as the existing law, save and except in areas where we have improved it markedly, like for instance in relation to the amendments concerning how you can sell people’s property in relation to improving the appellate proceedings. All of these things have been improved in the current law.Mr. Speaker, of course the Opposition came sometimes to the Select Committee did not come. For instance, the Leader of the Opposition came for a certain time early, he did not bother afterwards. I think the Honourable Senator Lewis came once, I cannot remember seeing the Honourable Member for West Kingstown [interjection] you came more than once? Okay, fine, if you..., the list is here, but I mean you were not a feature all the time.Now the point is this I am making, we are hearing the commentaries, of course the answer is this, why should we come to the Select Committee? You do not know [interjection] how many I use to attend because you were busy being judge and jury up by Water Authority and which I put a stop to. I put a stop to that, I put a stop to that [interjection] yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, I put a stop to that.Mr. Speaker, the economy in relation to employers, there are far more employers today in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, far more businesses, including small businesses, than you had in 2001. The statistics show that [applause]. You have more people employed today than existed in 2001 and I am amazed that the Honourable Senator Leacock..., the Honourable Member for Central Kingstown can say that we had jobless growth when in fact, the statistics from the NIS showed that between 2001 and 2009 about 10,000 new persons came onto the list paying NIS contributions and I want to make this point, because one has to do the comparison [interjection] yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, well you can go you know, I am talking.Mr. Speaker, between 1990 and 2001 in that period the official statistics show that unemployment increased by 1.5 percent over 1990. In 2001 unemployment when we came to office was 11⁄2 percent more than in 1990 and in that period you had the situation where death migration exceeded the natural increase of the population. So despite the fact that more people left than the natural increase in the population, you still had an increase in unemployment of 11⁄2 percent and you had indigents of 25.7 percent that is the record. So people in this country know, they know what is happening you know.156Mr. Speaker, the business community in Kingstown every time I meet them, they say to me, “we need to pay a little bit more in property taxes. The Town Board needs to get some more money to help to keep the Town clean.” There are businesses that are coming forward and wanting to partner now with the Ministry of Local Government to help to clean up Kingstown. You see the version of Members of the other side about businesses. I do not know how much they are in contact with people with businesses you know, I do not know how much. I am talking about communications with me. They tell me that they think the property tax in the city for their businesses is too low. They tell me that repeatedly, clearly you do not want to put that out of whack because you do not want it to reach a point where it is a disincentive.The increases for the business in the city would be modest. The increases on the face of them I say are sizeable, but that we are going to make certain concessions including for the hotels and for factories. I made that point. Obviously the values have gone up tremendously and the Honourable Minister of Transport and Works did something which everybody on the Opposition side avoided. At 0.08 which I have indicated and considering maybe even lowering it to the neutral number of 0.07 as advised by the technical people, but at 0.08 somebody who is listening and they say, okay Prime Minister my property is worth $200,000 how much am I going to pay at 0.08? One hundred and sixty dollars, how much am I going to pay if my property is $400,000? Three hundred and twenty dollars, if you have a property for $400,000 let us be reasonable is $320.00 for the whole year, so unreasonable that you would want..., you do not want the services, you want additional police, you want the place to be cleaner, you want more street lights, I mean, come on. Let us..., I appreciate the fact that people have to pay mortgages, but people have equity in their property, the banks alone do not have equity in somebody’s property.I understand that they have to pay insurance on it, but currently they have to pay property tax also at 5 percent of the rental value and if you were to just maintain the rental value and you were to go and increase the rental values all about, whether it is a certain arbitrariness, you can have people end up paying more. I outlined in my presentation that if half..., I said about half of the 26 thousand plus are likely to be less. I went further and said; well why therefore are we doing this? I said, well because (a) we are going to have a wider spread 12,000 persons more, then I am talking about compliance and I am saying that we will get more from the commercial properties. I have said that at the beginning. Apparently all what I said was simply ignored by Members of the Opposition, Honourable Members without taking any of these facts into consideration.I know that the Opposition they have the feeling that because they were able to confuse people on a large number of people in relation to the amendment which we proposed concerning the section dealing with property in the Constitution. Where the existing law, Mr. Speaker, the existing constitutional position is far worse than what we were proposing to change. If you were to asked honestly the Honourable Senator Linton Lewis, he would tell you that the amendment, he must tell you if he is an honest man, an honest lawyer and I believe he is, would tell you that the provision which we were putting forward is a superior provision to what currently exists in the Constitution of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and any lawyer would tell that. But you see, where this one you are not going to be able to confuse people, because people will get their valuations and they will have their appeals and they will see the amount of money which they will have to pay. Of course those who are paying for the first time are going to be very upset, but why should their neighbour pay and they do not pay? There has to be some equity in this business, the proof of the pudding is going to be in the eating.157Mr. Speaker, I want to end as I began. I would say this and I made this point at the Select Committee, I would make it here. My mother who is now 93 years of age, when my mother used to work, running her little shop in Colonarie paying income taxes..., paying taxes on her earnings never really bothered her. She would take all of her books and she takes them by Neatha Taylor and whatever Neatha tell her that she has to pay for Income Tax she will pay. But my mother will get agitated when she get the notification to pay the property tax $100 or something like that for the year. She say, “But why do I have to pay this, I build my house”. I note the sentiment, I have lived it and I would say, “Mom they have to clean outside by your house, if you call the police, the lights up the road and so on and so forth,” She say, “yes, yes, yes, yes, but why do I have to pay it.” Of course there is an instinct that they do not want to pay it, but the point is this ..., I understand the instinct, I understand it very well, but we have to be fair in a modern tax system and we have to be reasonable and that is all the point that I am making here.Mr. Speaker, this Bill had been gone through by several experts. There is no Bill of 52 pages which is going to be perfect in its administrative framework, but it is a Bill which is improved considerably on the existing law that we may have to come to tweak this or that provision. I have no problem about that, because we have always tweak legislations. The fundamental issue though is how much people would have to pay, that is the matter at the end of the day.I want to say one thing concerning part of the context which was raised, 3 percent for public servants, police officers, the nurses, doctors and teachers. Mr. Speaker, this Government made a commitment to pay the 3 percent. I have outlined the circumstances in 2011 in January and in 2012. The broad group of public servants knows that they have done well under this Government. Let us take police officers, the police officers used to start about $900.00 eight hundred and something when I arrived, and the police officers starts now with $1,700 dollars. Their percentages ranging, the Qualified Assistant Teachers sixty add percent increase in their salaries. Permanent Secretaries fifty add percent, other categories within those ranges, now if in 11 years you have an increase of 55 percent, you would have gotten an increase on an average 5 percent a year because I am putting in the reclassification numbers here.The only two sets of people who have gotten below that number are the Parliamentarians who were not reclassified and of course I am talking as a group and the Senior Clerks. The Senior Clerks I think because they were not reclassified their increase is probably just about 20 percent or little more than that over the period. Senior Clerks used to start much higher than the police now the police are starting much higher than them now and of course, the Parliamentarians who have gotten an increased in the region of 33 percent over the 11 years, certainly at the midpoint. Those are the numbers which I did at the midpoint.Mr. Speaker, the increase was for the public servants, teachers, nurses and the like. I would have liked to see it even larger, but at the extent that they have received they have gotten benefits in excess of gross productivity in the country. These are the economic facts of life. I have to speak them. Mr. Speaker, sometimes when we talk about our economy, I get a sense that there is certain air of unreality. We have 50,000 people, 50,000 persons in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to work, to produce the goods and services, to keep our societies of functioning, sophisticated, civilized societies, because the other 55,000 is either too old to work, too sick to work, too young to work or are at school.158Agriculture remains very important, but Agriculture, we have about 20,000 acres of land for agricultural production. Some of it is not very good lands. The rest of the land is taken up with buildings of one kind or another. We have in the whole of St. Vincent and the Grenadines about 90,000 acres of land. In Ecuador a 20,000 acre farm is a medium sized farm, one farm. Ours is divided into a number of different groups. This is why I am amazed at the resilience of our farmers and the tremendous work that they do [applause] but let us not think that it is easy and; therefore, Mr. Speaker, we have to produce goods and services to sell to people. We have to send them overseas to sell and we have to be competitive. We also have to either send the goods and services there or bring the people here to sell them our goods and services, that is why we need the International Airport, that is why we need to do more work in Fisheries, we got tremendous space there. The number of people who are working, who are available for work in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a block or maybe two blocks in Brooklyn. Let us keep our feet firmly planted on the ground and try to get the spaces where we can get them.Mr. Speaker, I want to make this final declaration. There are some persons with..., and this happens to people who come to make assessment like Moody’s, people in the IMF, the World Bank and some of our own trained economists in the University of the West Indies, not to talk even about those further afield. Classical, neoclassical, Keynes and economics variance cannot be applied in any generalized way to a microeconomy like St. Vincent and the Grenadines the way it was structured. We have to look at our strengths and possibilities, our weaknesses and education and we have to make an assessment of our assets and among the assets beyond land, labour, capital, sea the people which we have sought to develop through the Education Revolution. You have to put political leadership, sovereignty and independence and good governance to be utilised on behalf of the people to address the extant questions in our economy and the condition of our society.So please, while we fight among ourselves sometimes and while sometimes, occasionally and sometimes more than occasionally, vanity may hold one or more of us. We have to remember that this is a very small society, a very small economy. The extent of the revenue to be gained by the Central Government from this measure is not significant, but it is what would come to the local government. In particularly in Kingstown to help to improve all of the things what we are talking about in Kingstown [interjection] no well I make the distinction. It is not an artificial distinction, it is not a distinction which is where you do not have..., lines, but I am making the distinction for heroic purposes, so that but in the... of the analysis I have to do it that way, not that there is..., there is not a wall of separation between them. I never said so and I would not contend that. I know what is the juridical position in relation to the quote unquote local government authorities.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Prime Minister, time is up.DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, accordingly, I beg to move that (we move to the third reading Mr. Speaker) a Bill for an Act to make provision for the valuation of property for rating purposes, the levying and collecting of property tax and for connected purposes name the Valuation and Rating Act 2012 be read a third time by title and passed.Question put and agreed to. Bill read a third time by title and passed.159DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, before we move for the adjournment, may I crave your indulgence for those who may be listening to us still. It is my duty as the Minister responsible for disaster preparedness, a document has been circulated, and there is just one minor adjustment to it, if I may be permitted to read it Mr. Speaker.The heading is “Tropical System approaches St. Vincent and the Grenadines”, a vigorous tropical wave located about 175 miles to the East, South East of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is gradually becoming better organised and satellite data indicate winds of near tropical storm force strength occurring in some of the heaviest falls, thunderstorm activities have also increased near the centre over the past several hours, some further development of large disturbance is possible over the next few days as environmental conditions becomes slightly more conducive. The system has a high chance, 70 percent of becoming a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours as it moves West North West at 10 to 15 miles per hour.Regardless of any further development, Mr. Speaker, strong gusty winds and heavy rainfall will affect St. Vincent and the Grenadines over the next few days. The residents in flood prone areas as well as areas prone to landslides should remain alert. The forecast, partly cloudy to cloudy at times with occasional showers possible isolated thunderstorms and gusty winds. The seas would have moderate in open water swells 2 to 21⁄2 meters. Small craft operators are advice to take note. The metrological office will continue to monitor the system and provide further updates as necessary.So Mr. Speaker, by tomorrow morning at 5 O’ Clock we can expect very heavy showers. I repeat residents in flood prone areas as well as in areas prone to landslides should remain alert. Fisherman you are at sea, you are going out, be very careful [interjection] well we do not know. No it is a reasonable question. By the early morning yes we will make the decision at that time depending on whether what is forecast has actually come about. We have radio systems so we can get the information out to people.HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: Honourable Prime Minister, I crave the indulgence of the House to move the third reading of Church Bills that we have because we are supposed..., we should be out of here before 12 O’ Clock [interjection] hello [interjection].DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: This is simple, this is easier. HONOURABLE MR. SPEAKER: We have to close by 12:00 and adjourn and come back or suspend by 12. 4. Bequia Community Church Incorporation Bill, 2012Question put and agreed to. Bill read a first time.6. Prayer and Faith Assembly Incorporation Bill, 2012Question put and agreed to. Bill read a first time.1607. Maranatha Baptiste Church Incorporation Bill, 2012Question put and agreed to. Bill read a first time. 8. Harvest Bible Chapel Incorporation Bill, 2012 Question put and agreed to. Bill read a first time. 9. Berean Baptist Church Incorporation Bill, 2012 Question put and agreed to. Bill read a first time. 10. St. Joseph Spiritual Baptist Church Incorporation Bill, 2012 Question put and agreed to. Bill read a first time. DR. THE HONOURABLE RALPH GONSALVES: Mr. Speaker, I would like to indicate the schedule which we have in mind before the end of the year. We will come back to Parliament in the 15th November for another meeting and then, sometime in the week of the 19th Parliament will be prorogued and we will have the Finance Committee meeting on the 27th November, Estimates the 28th November and the Budget Debate would commence on Monday 3rd December. These are the indicative dates that I have given my colleagues and also to the officials in the Ministry of Finance.There is a lot of work that we have to obviously between now and then. I know that..., some who know and appreciate what is involved here, on Monday mornings sometimes they may wish that they are in my seat, but when this thing is to be done, I guess that there will be some commiseration given the amount of work which we have to be doing. It is not...,Mr. Speaker, I will accordingly beg to move that this Honourable House do stand adjourned until Thursday 15th November, 2012 at 10:00 a.m.Question put and agreed to. House adjourned at 11:28 p.m. until Thursday 15th November, 2012 At 10:00 a.m.161