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									      GOVERNMENT OF THE BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
       HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS

         HANSARD REPORT OF THE FIFTH SITTING
     FIRST SESSION OF THE FIRST HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
                 OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS

       HELD AT THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY CHAMBER
             THURSDAY, 24TH JANUARY, 2008
                 ROAD TOWN, TORTOLA
                BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS

                     MEMBERS PRESENT


HON. ROY HARRIGAN                    SPEAKER

HON. RALPH T. O'NEAL, OBE            PREMIER/MINISTER OF
                                     FINANCE

HON. DANCIA PENN, OBE, QC            DEPUTY PREMIER/MINISTER
                                     FOR HEALTH & SOCIAL
                                     DEVELOPMENT

HON. OMAR HODGE                      MINISTER FOR NATURAL
                                     RESOURCES & LABOUR/
                                     MEMBER FOR THE SIXTH
                                     DISTRICT

HON. ANDREW FAHIE                    MINISTER FOR EDUCATION
                                     & CULTURE/MEMBER FOR
                                     THE FIRST DISTRICT

HON. JULIAN FRASER, RA               MINISTER FOR
                                     COMMUNICATIONS &
                                     WORKS/MEMBER FOR THE
                                     THIRD DISTRICT

HON. KATHLEEN D.K. QUARTEY           ATTORNEY GENERAL

DR. THE HON. D. ORLANDO SMITH, OBE   LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION/
                                     TERRITORIAL-AT-LARGE
                                     MEMBER
                                                             2




HON. KEITH FLAX                     DEPUTY SPEAKER/
                                    TERRITORIAL-AT-LARGE
                                    MEMBER

HON. J. ALVIN CHRISTOPHER           MEMBER FOR THE SECOND
                                    DISTRICT

DR. THE HON. KEDRICK PICKERING      MEMBER FOR THE SEVENTH
                                    DISTRICT

DR. THE HON. VINCENT G. SCATLIFFE   MEMBER FOR THE FOURTH
                                    DISTRICT

HON. ELVIS HARRIGAN                 MEMBER FOR THE FIFTH
                                    DISTRICT

HON. IRENE PENN-O'NEAL              TERRITORIAL-AT-LARGE
                                    MEMBER

HON. VERNON MALONE                  TERRITORIAL-AT-LARGE
                                    MEMBER

                             ****

MS. ALVA MCCALL, CLERK, HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY




                         PREPARED BY:

                      THE HANSARD EDITOR
                                                                             3



                        Thursday, January 24th, 2008
                       The Council met at 10:26 a.m.
                                 PRAYERS
                       [MR. SPEAKER in the Chair]
                    CONFIRMATION OF MINUTES
THE SPEAKER:          Honourable Members, is it your pleasure that the
Minutes of the meeting held on the 27th day of December, 2007, which have
been circulated to Members be confirmed?
HON. DR. V.G. SCATLIFFE: Mr. Speaker, I notice that my name here
under "present" is Honourable Vincent G. Scatliffe. May I correct it by
saying Dr. the Honourable Vincent G. Scatliffe, please.
      Thank you.
HON. ATTORNEY GENERAL:                  Mr. Speaker, officially I have two
middle initials. So my name will be Kathleen D.K Quartey.
THE SPEAKER: The Minutes hereby stand confirmed as amended.
                ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE SPEAKER
I am very pleased today to welcome the Honourable Members, the Clergy,
the media and all visitors to this Fifth Sitting of the House of Assembly.
Although each Sitting is different, what remains the same is that we are here
to conduct the people's business.           I trust that all deliberations, all
discussions, comments will be done to enhance the work of this Assembly as
it endeavors to do the people's business.
      Thank you.
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS
      I call on the Deputy Premier.
                                                                           4

Statements by Ministers                            SG 2008.01.24
Hon. Deputy Premier


HON. DEPUTY PREMIER: May it please you, Mr. Speaker. I crave your
indulgence to make a statement on matters within the portfolio of the
Ministry of Health and Social Development.
       Mr. Speaker, the records will show that on the 6th of November,
2007, I presented to this Honourable House a Report on the status of projects
under the purview of the Ministry of Health and Social Development. In a
continuing effort to keep this Honourable House abreast of progress in that
Ministry, its initiatives, its projects and programs, I have prepared the
following statement which I now seek to read.
       Of course, Mr. Speaker, all projects undertaken by the Ministry of
Health and Social Development are geared to supporting its mission, which
is to provide leadership that promotes good health, good social well being
and a safe environment that engenders sustainable living.
I speak first of the new Peebles Hospital.
       Mr. Speaker, since my last statement on this subject in this House,
consultations were had and much consideration was given to the new
Peebles Hospital Project.     After weighing many factors, including the
substantial financial costs that would be incurred in changing the
arrangements which were concluded under the contract signed on the 22nd
of January, 2007, Cabinet decided to proceed with a new Hospital Project as
contracted for. As a means of utilizing the space in the most efficient way
and as advised, Cabinet on the 19th of December, 2007, made a decision to
relocate some of the services within the new hospital. The three significant
changes are as follows:
                                                                                5

      Statements by Ministers                                SG 2008.01.24
      Hon. Deputy Premier (cont’d)

      One, the two top floors of the building, namely the fifth and sixth
floors, will be retained at this time as shelf space, therefore, hospital services
will be confined to the first four floors;
      Secondly, the Pediatric Ward which was originally designated for the
fifth floor will be moved to the third floor, and;
      Thirdly, the Accident and Emergency Unit and the Imaging Unit will
be relocated from the Peebles Hospital Annex to the third floor of the new
hospital. A hyperbaric chamber will also be built on the third floor.
I have been advised, Mr. Speaker, by the Ministry's Project Manager that the
contractor on the new hospital has produced a revised program with a
projected completion date of February 2009 instead of September 2008
which was the date agreed under the contract. It is estimated that as at the
end of December 2007, approximately 30 percent of the work on the new
hospital had been completed.
      Specifically, the following matters have been done:
      1. The contractor's compound located off Water Front Drive opposite
the Governor's Office is fully set up and operational.          The contractor's
offices and a storage warehouse also occupy that space;
      2. Excavation for the building and retaining walls, that's the hospital
building and retaining walls, is about 90 percent complete, and some
backfilling behind the retaining walls is underway;
      3. Concrete works have been completed in the basement and are
underway from the ground floor to the third floor.               Retaining wall
construction is approximately 70 percent complete.
                                                                               6

      Statements by Ministers                               SG 2008.01.24
      Hon. Deputy Premier (cont’d)

      Fourthly, about 70 percent of the steel frame is in place, and in some
places it is close to full height.      I am advised, Mr. Speaker, that the
contractor currently has a work force of approximately 90 persons working
on the project. Communication between the staff of the contractor and our
personnel and quality control remain significant issues. I'm advised that
there's been some improvement, however, in the past few months.
      In relation to the Annex, Mr. Speaker, Cabinet decided not to proceed
further with the finish out of the Annex at this time in accordance with the
contract which was signed in January 2007.           The reason for that, Mr.
Speaker, is that there was substantial duplication of services being provided
in the Annex and in the new hospital.
      In terms of the equipment for the hospital, arrangements for the
procurement of the necessary equipment are now in hand, and I have been
advised that the estimated cost for the equipment is approximately $10
million.
      In relation to staffing, I am in consultation with the various relevant
persons to address this matter as well as the related subjects for the new
hospital.
      Mr. Speaker, turning to the governance arrangements for our health
services, active consideration is being given to the governance arrangements
and a review of the BVI Health Services Authority Act of 2004 is likely to
occur in the coming months. Our functions in the Ministry of Health as you
know, Mr. Speaker, are really functions which constitute the hub for all
activities, policies, legislation and regulations pertaining to health and social
development. With the devolution that has taken place under the Health
                                                                               7

Statements by Ministers                              SG 2008.01.24
Hon. Deputy Premier (cont’d)


Services Authority Act from the Ministry to the Health Services Authority, it
is considered that the Ministry can now take a more active role in effectively
steering the health and social sectors.        Just as Ministries of Health
throughout the world, we too must now turn our attention to creating policies
and standards for and regulating both the public and private health sectors.
This we hope will result in improved performance of health services and
improved population health with effective disease prevention strategies. It
would also assist with putting effective health promotion strategies in place
and ensure social development and protection, especially for vulnerable
groups including those with special needs.
       With this in mind, Mr. Speaker, we have solicited the technical
support of the Pan American Health Organisation, PAHO, to assist us with
our governance arrangements in the health sector. We have asked that
PAHO look at the role and functions of the Ministry, because there is a view
that we need to be better prepared to deal with our regulatory function.
In that regard, Mr. Speaker, as part of our efforts to raise standards of health
care delivery, we have put in a bid for financing for the post of Director of
Pharmaceutical Services in the 2008 Budget.          With the prevalence of
counterfeit drugs on the market and prescription drugs being sold by
unlicensed individuals and inappropriate places such as people's homes,
there is a need to regulate the sector more effectively. The holder of the post
of Director of Pharmaceutical Services will help develop policies and
regulations, and make recommendations to the Ministry for action to be
taken to not only ensure that the supply of drugs is appropriate and
satisfactory for human consumption, but also to curtail the illegal sale and
                                                                               8

Statements by Ministers                              SG 2008.01.24
Hon. Deputy Premier (cont’d)

storage of pharmaceuticals. This person, Mr. Speaker, would be responsible
primarily for regulating businesses in the private and public sectors that offer
drugs for sale and would help to ensure that we conform to international
standards.
       On our clinics, of course, they have an important role to play in the
provision of health care in our communities. In fact, it is in the clinics that
preventive care necessary to avert diseases and long-term hospitalization
takes place for many people. We are mindful of the urgent need to upgrade
the services currently being offered and to improve the physical structures of
our clinics. We are embarking on an initiative to upgrade all of our clinics.
Through this initiative we will inspect the structures and make necessary
repairs and adjustments, including providing wheelchair access. The thrust
in health must be, Mr. Speaker, on primary care. It is at our clinics that
many of our diabetic and hypertensive patients are cared for and where
many of our children receive their immunizations. It has been proven that if
the emphasis is on primary health care which focuses on prevention rather
than treatment, the results will be cost savings and a healthier population.
In the area of social development, Mr. Speaker, it is crucial at this time in
our country's growth to assess and re-examine our historic approach to the
delivery of social services. The time has come for us to develop a strategy
that takes into account issues of development within our Territory and in
tandem with their current and potential impact. This strategy should clearly
define Government's role, and in particular that of the Social Development
Department. With this in mind, we are launching a Social Sector Analysis
                                                                             9

Statements by Ministers                             SG 2008.01.24
Hon. Deputy Premier (cont’d)


and a Response Planning Initiative will, of course, be essential to the success
of that.
       The Social Sector Analysis will look primarily at the following three
matters:
       One, the current level and mix of skills available within the Social
Services Department as well as within the wider community;
       Two, strengthening where necessary the legal and institutional
framework for action and protection, and; thirdly, placing greater emphasis
on partnership, community participation and intersectoral collaboration in an
effort to build capacity within and among the sectors.
       In the end it is envisaged that we will have established priorities and
broad strategies for our country's social programs and services, and a policy
framework for the country's social development which would place specific
emphasis on harmonizing our social and economic policies.
In relation to HIV/Aids and the National Aids Program, plans are being
made to mainstream and integrate the HIV/Aids Program into our national
health program. That, Mr. Speaker, is in keeping with trends elsewhere.
The medical care, counseling and other support for patients will be provided
and managed by the Health Services Authority. It is felt that significant
progress has been made in terms of providing programs and services for
persons infected with HIV, but these gains will not be sustainable if the
services are not integrated with the other medical care services. Integration
will improve access to a wider range of professionals who can provide
necessary care and support.
                                                                              10

      Statements by Ministers                             SG 2008.01.24
      Hon. Deputy Premier (cont’d)

      And I pause here, Mr. Speaker, to state to this Honourable House that
the HIV/Aids Program has a very admirable, sustainable involvement with
the young people in this country who last December stated a, staged rather a
highly successful benefit concert for HIV/Aids.
      Continuing, Mr. Speaker, and I shall not be much longer, I am pleased
to inform this Honourable House that the Ministry has recently employed a
Health Disaster Coordinator whose main responsibility will be to develop
the necessary plans to mitigate the impact of health disasters if and when
they occur in our community. The Coordinator is to develop a Health Sector
Disaster Plan, and her first assignment is to revise and update the BVI
National Influenza and Pandemic Preparedness Plan.
BVI Services:
      BVI Services is a day-to-day support program which seeks to address
the needs of those with mental and developmental disabilities.            At the
program, participants receive social skills training, independent and
vocational skills training, counseling and case management services. Both
the programming and the housing for BVI Services are being evaluated,
actively evaluated let me say, Mr. Speaker, with a view toward improving
that service. For many years the program has been housed, indeed from its
inception, it's been housed in a building which is prone to flooding and
which is generally not conducive for creativity or productive by its
employees and participants. There is a design for a new space to house the
program for BVI Services; I am in receipt of that, and this initiative we hope
to continue to proceed with this year.
                                                                          11

      Statements by Ministers                             SG 2008.01.24
      Hon. Deputy Premier (cont’d)

      The Sandy Lane Center, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform this
Honourable House will soon be the subject of a short-term review to
consider and advise on how best we can improve the social and clinical
aspects of its programs.
      In relation to the elderly, the Ministry remains committed, deeply
committed to improving all aspects of the provisions of care and services for
the elderly. Cabinet has taken the decision not to proceed with the building
of a senior citizens home at Spooners Estate, but we are committed to
continuing with the project and we will in very short order decide on a new
site for the construction of a home for the elderly.
      We continue with our program of community centers, and the
community center at Cane Garden Bay is at a very advanced stage and
hopefully we will be able within the next few months to have that center
inaugurated.
      On the incinerator project, and I'm winding down, Mr. Speaker, the
contract for the construction of the foundation and the erection of the steel
building to house the incinerator plant is proceeding. And the foundation for
the plant, the foundation on which the plant will sit should be completed I
am advised, by the 31st of March this year. Arrangements are being made
for the shipment of the incinerator plant from the United States for erection
on its foundation. The electrical, mechanical and plumbing drawings are
being completed and in due course will be sent out to tender.
      On our Derelict Vehicles Project, approximately 900 derelict vehicles
were collected in the Territory during 2007. Most of these vehicles were
delivered to the Sea Cows Bay storage site for processing by the contractor
                                                                              12

Statements by Ministers                                SG 2008.01.24
Hon. Deputy Premier (cont’d)


who has been retained to do so. At present there are approximately 70
vehicles stored on the Virgin Gorda site, and arrangements are presently
being made to barge these vehicles to Tortola for processing. None of the
processed metals was shipped off island last year, but I am advised that the
contractor estimates that a shipment will be made at the end of this month.
In terms of the specific services at Peebles Hospital, I wish to inform the
House as follows, Mr. Speaker.
          The blood banking services are being upgraded within the hospital
and the equipment to store packed cells avoiding the need to bring blood
products from Puerto Rico are being made. This service we hope will help
to improve patients' overall care.
          Much effort has been placed and will continue to be placed on
providing the necessary compliment of staff for Peebles Hospital and the
community clinics. Since my last statement in this Honourable House on the
matter, the following appointments have taken effect or will shortly take
effect.
          An internist has been recruited with effect from the 12th of January
this year; an obstetrician/gynecologist is to take up appointment on the 27th
of January this year.          That's next week.   A pediatrician has taken up
appointment with effect from the 14th of January. An offer of employment
has been made to a psychiatrist who previously worked at Peebles Hospital
as a Medical Officer. He is at present employed for three months in the first
instance with consideration being given to a two-year extension subject to
satisfactory performance. And a Medical Officer, Medical Officer Two has
joined the Community Health Services with effect from the 3rd of January.
                                                                             13

Statements by Ministers                             SG 2008.01.24
Hon. Deputy Premier (cont’d)

A new Chief of Medical Staff has been appointed at Peebles Hospital. She
is Dr. June Samuel, a psychiatrist. And I wish, Mr. Speaker, to publicly pay
tribute to her predecessor as Chief of Medical Staff, Dr. Marjorie Yee Sing
who continues with us in the Health Services as a surgeon.
       The proposals for the enhancement of the terms and conditions of
doctors in the health services as well as for dentists will be finalized very
shortly.
       And finally, Mr. Speaker, late last year I met with the owner and
senior executives of Puerto Rico's PAVIA Hospital. I met with them at their
request and we discussed opportunities for a closer working relationship
between PAVIA Hospital and our Government. PAVIA has expanded its
ownership and its services and they are now able to facilitate among other
things physician consultations abroad including here.
       It is also now the case that PAVIA has affiliations with several other
hospitals in Puerto Rico, including Metropolitan Hospital, Francisco
Hospital in addition to its own facilities at Santurce and Hato Rey. Having
access to these institutions will provide a more efficient response to overseas
referrals, especially for major illnesses as it relates to acceptance by
physicians and admissions.
       Mr. Speaker, there are some distinctly beneficial opportunities with
PAVIA Hospital, and I am already working with them to conclude a
protocol to facilitate admissions of patients who are referred from Peebles
Hospital.     In this country we all know that there have been historic
difficulties with admissions to hospitals. And one of the things as I say that
                                                                                        14

Statements by Ministers                                       SG 2008.01.24
Hon. Deputy Premier (cont’d)

I am working on very actively with PAVIA Hospital is concluding a
protocol to facilitate admissions of referrals from our hospital.
I am also, Mr. Speaker, in discussions with other hospitals to seek to
establish arrangements for the times in which nationals of this country need
to be referred overseas for tertiary care. I will advise this Honourable House
at a later date, Mr. Speaker, of more details of those arrangements.
       I thank you, sir, for your indulgence.
THE SPEAKER: Thank you.
       Minister for Communications and Works.
HON. J. FRASER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
       Mr.    Speaker,         I   make    statement     on    the   activities   at   the
Telecommunications Regulatory Commission at this Sitting today, Mr.
Speaker.
       Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to make points on my
behalf at this critical time on this very important topic.
Mr. Speaker, at the end of 2007 during the final three months (sic) of
December,       a    number          of   unrelated     activities   relative     to   the
Telecommunications                 Regulatory         Commission,        TRC,          and
Telecommunications took place. And in the absence of an official public
explanation, which would have been premature in my judgment, much
debate and controversy was made of it.
       Mr. Speaker, it would be helpful if for no other reason but for the
record to inform Honourable Members of the charter of the TRC just so as to
avoid any misconceptions when I'm done, Mr. Speaker.
                                                                          15

      Statements by Ministers                            SG 2008.01.24
      Hon. Deputy Premier (cont’d)

      Mr. Speaker, I shall begin by laying out the interpretation of the laws
governed by this very Body after being challenged in the courts on a
decision previously taken. Mr. Speaker, in the High Court of Justice, In The
Matter of the Telecommunications Act 2006 of the Laws of the Virgin
Islands and In The Matter of an Application by Digicel Limited between
Digicel Limited, the (Claimant) and the Telecommunications Regulatory
Commission: The (Defendant), dated May 18th, 2007, in Section 63 of her
judgment, Justice Joseph-Olivetti pointed out that the Act mandates the
Commission to be responsible for establishing its own policy and in
formulating its policy to take action or to take account of such policy
directions as may be given by the Minister in the exercise of the Minister's
function under Section 4.
      In Section 69 of the judgment she said, "now to the Minister's powers
to make policy directives to the Commission".
First, Section 4 provides:
      "1. The Minister shall be responsible for:
      A. Developing and reviewing Telecommunication policies consistent
      with the purposes of this Act, (emphasis added), and;
      B. Matters of international Telecommunications affecting the Virgin
      Islands including international, regional and bilateral frequency
      coordination.
      2. In the exercise of his functions and powers under the Act, the
      Minister shall consult with the Commission, (emphasis added)" there
      as well.
                                                                                  16

        Statements by Ministers                                  SG 2008.01.24
        Hon. Deputy Premier (cont’d)

        In Section 70 of her judgment in referring to the above provisions in
Section 4 of the Act, she said:
        "Thus, it can be seen that the Minister can only make policies which
are consistent with the purpose and objective of the Act. Even if it were not
expressly stated as it was in Section 4(1) (9), such an interpretation would
have been given by the Courts."
        Mr. Speaker, forgive me if I am boring you, but this is a boring topic,
controversial nonetheless, Mr. Speaker. If you would only understand that
some people have made a lot of money with the monopoly. And keeping it
that way is in their best interest, Mr. Speaker. Fortunately the people of the
BVI saw things differently on August 20th despite the claims that some
1,000 BVIslanders are somehow being deprived of access to this "cash
cow".
        Mr. Speaker, it is important to understand what is meant here to be the
powers of the Minister. The Judge in Section 78 referred to the Concise
Oxford Dictionary for a definition for the policy and came away having it
being defined as:
        "A course or principle of action adopted or proposed by a
Government, party, business or individual."
        In Section 79, Mr. Speaker, the Judge stated:
        "When one looks at the power given to the Minister to make policy in
consultation with the Commission within the context of the Act as a whole,
clearly it was general policies and policy directives meant to develop course
or   principles      of    action      to   achieve   the   liberalisation   of   the
Telecommunications Services Industry in accordance with the Act."
                                                                            17

      Statements by Ministers                              SG 2008.01.24
      Hon. Deputy Premier (cont’d)

      The Judge also found it useful to caution that:
      "At this juncture to bear in mind the long title of the Act which is, 'to
establish a Telecommunications Regulatory Commission to license, regulate
and develop the Telecommunications Services Industry in the Virgin Islands
and to provide for other matters connected therewith'."
      Mr. Speaker, this is for the benefit of those who exhibit behavior or
behaviors that are consistent with the symptoms of amnesia.           Selective
amnesia that is, Mr. Speaker. This is to show the broad sweeping powers of
the Commission. This is to show the Commission's independence from the
Minister.   Mr. Speaker, I did not make these laws which govern the
Commission and neither did the Virgin Islands Party. If memory serves me
right, and I know I am not losing it, we as Members of the Opposition fought
vigorously against its adoption, Mr. Speaker. So what good reason does the
NDP have to be complaining about the actions of the TRC, a TRC which
they created, except that it impacts upon their pocket books? Mr. Speaker, I
as Minister have no interest in any Telecom company, not now not ever,
financial or otherwise. That is more than others can say honestly.
      Mr. Speaker, the Judge in Section 80 pointed out that, "in her
judgment, the Act does not contemplate that the Minister could direct the
Commission to issue License to specific persons as the Minister has sought
to do in his policy document".
      The Minister of reference happens to be the former Minister for
Communications and Works who tried just that, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, if you recall, I started this statement by indicating that there
was some unrelated activities relative to the Telecommunications Regulatory
                                                                            18

Statements by Ministers                             SG 2008.01.24
Hon. Deputy Premier (cont’d)

Commission, TRC, and Telecommunications. And if I may, I will refer to
two specific actions, the first of which being the actions of the TRC on
December 13th, 2007, when they decided upon issuing to Digicel a license
to operate as a carrier in the British Virgin Islands, and the other of the two
being the Minister's decision to replace the members of the Board of the
TRC.
       Mr. Speaker, the issue with Digicel was one in which the Commission
exercised its powers under the law and issued to Digicel a licence. Nowhere
in the same law was the Commission obligated to consult with me the
Minister, and neither did I instruct the Commission to act in any special way.
Mr. Speaker, at no time during all this did I discuss with the Commission or
any of its members the Digicel application. As a matter of fact, judging
from the opinion rendered by the Judge, it would have been inappropriate for
me to have done so.
       Mr. Speaker, my sources tells me that one talk show host reported that
the Member of the Cabinet told them that the first time they knew of Digicel
being issued a licence was when they heard it on the News. This they were
doing, of course, with cynicism. But let me say this, Mr. Speaker. The same
talk show host can now go report that another Member of Cabinet said that
the first time they knew of Digicel being issued a license was when they
heard it on the News, only this time he can call my name.
       Mr. Speaker, my position on the Telecommunications liberalisation is
legendary and documented. It is a mission I embarked upon as far back as
October 2002 while serving as Minister for Communications and Works
after having met with AT&T Wireless while on a trip to Toronto. Then
                                                                              19

Statements by Ministers                              SG 2008.01.24
Hon. Deputy Premier (cont’d)


publicly by way of a motion in the Legislative Council, on February 21st,
2005, challenging the Government's approval of Cable & Wireless's Rate
Rebalancing, but was defeated by the NDP Government.
       Mr. Speaker, in that motion the Resolution sought was as follows.
       "Now therefore be it resolved that in consideration of the people of
the British Virgin Islands and in an effort to avoid further financial hardship
and in consideration of the soon to come liberalisation and the benefits of
competition, the Government revokes its approval to Cable & Wireless of a
price hike (in particular the line rental fees and the base rate for customers
who do not sign on to the smart choice) and call upon Cable & Wireless to
reimburse its customers for all excess charges incurred since December 1st,
2005."
       Mr. Speaker, the point to take note of here is the consistency with
what I said in that motion regarding liberalisation and what the TRC has
done by issuing the license. Mr. Speaker, while it is true that the TRC acted
independent of any input from me, I go on record as of the same view as it
related to liberalisation. I will not play the numbers game on this one, Mr.
Speaker. As far as the decision taken is concerned, my position remains
supportive.
       Mr. Speaker, my sources also told me that that same talk show host
had some choice words of description for Members of the Cabinet. But if
this individual feels so hurt by this decision as to be so disrespectful of
people they don't know, it stands to reason that they must have something to
lose in all this. Mr. Speaker, people with interest should be the last to speak.
                                                                           20

Statements by Ministers                             SG 2008.01.24
Hon. Deputy Premier (cont’d)

Mr. Speaker, my sources also reported that on another talk radio a Member
of this House of Assembly who seems to have forgotten that it was his
Government which drafted the Bill entitled, "The Telecommunications Act,
2006, of the Laws of the Virgin Islands" which empowered the same TRC, a
Board nominated and elected exclusively by his Government, and that it was
that very Board which granted Digicel their licence. And that that Board
which acted according to the Act and in accordance with the Judge's
interpretation did not and neither did they have to consult with me nor
anyone else for that matter before issuing a license. Mr. Speaker, what else
is new. It is just another piece of bad legislation by his Government.
Mr. Speaker, according to my source, the Member said a lot of things, one of
which was that this thing about 1,000 BVIslanders who have shares in CCT.
Mr. Speaker, I challenge the Member to tell his listening audience the value
of the shares of those 1,000 shareholders on the one hand, and on the other
hand the value of the shares of the 17 or so shareholders of which he is one
so we can compare the difference and see whose interest he really is
speaking for.
       Mr. Speaker, the Member should also tell the people how much
money CCT made during the glory days of the monopoly and whether it is
his desire to go back to those days. Mr. Speaker, it would also be nice if the
Member would tell the listeners that CCT has the exclusive on all
Government cell phones, and for the year 2007 their take was $550,600. Mr.
Speaker, a little fairness here wouldn't hurt.
       Mr. Speaker, my sources also reported that another charge the
Member made was that the joint application between locally owned JML
                                                                              21

Statements by Ministers                              SG 2008.01.24
Hon. Deputy Premier (cont’d)

and Digicel suggests this Government supports the endorsement of
franchising, and that McDonald's and Kentucky Fry must be next. That's a
stretch, Mr. Speaker, and I humbly suggest that the Member give it a rest.
Mr. Speaker, last time I checked CCT was somewhere around 50 percent
owned by ZOCOR, a foreign company, but that isn't franchising. Also there
is Ocean Conversion somewhere around 50 percent owned by Consolidated
Water, another foreign company. But that isn't franchising because I guess
they are too close to home.
       Speaking of franchising, Mr. Speaker, I wonder what the Member
thinks Hertz Rent 'A' Car is. What does he think NAPA is? What does he
think Avis Rent 'A' Car is and National Rent 'A' Car? If he doesn't know
that those are franchises, that is sad and they are right here in the BVI
already. So enough already, Mr. Speaker. All these attempts just to score
some cheap political points are frivolous. I could think of some far better
ways to score points. Why not do some research and tell the truth, Mr.
Speaker. I am not running from my responsibilities; it is not my character.
Mr. Speaker, I have made it a point by which to live not to indulge in
arguments of whatever sort on the street, for in the absence of facts,
ignorance rules. Mr. Speaker, I believe that the true test of a man comes
only after he has proven his enemies wrong not once, not twice, but time and
again just so that his friends would learn to trust his judgment.
       Mr. Speaker, let me remind Honourable Members of one of the
importance of this statement by reiterating that due to unrelated activities
relative to the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission and the
Telecommunications which took place, and in the absence of an official
                                                                              22

Statements by Ministers                             SG 2008.01.24
Hon. Deputy Premier (cont’d)

explanation which would have been premature, much debate and
controversy was made of it.
       Mr. Speaker, now that I have dealt with the Licensing issue, let me
turn to the issue of membership in the TRC.
       Mr. Speaker, the TRC which has a Board as constituted by the
Telecommunications Act 2006 of the Laws of the Virgin Islands had three of
its members appointed by the Minister of Communications and Works. And
the duty of the TRC as prescribed by that very Act is to issue
Telecommunication licenses, provide oversight for the competitive market,
ensure compliance with the new rules, and protecting the interest of users.
       Mr. Speaker, as you well know, Elections in the BVI took place on
August 20th, 2007, and there was a change in Government, with the Virgin
Islands Party emerging the winner. As Minister for Communications and
Works, I was served with a letter dated August 23rd, 2007, from Dr. J.S.
Archibald, Q.C, Chairman of the TRC.          In addition to the pleasantries
expressed in the opening paragraph of the letter, in paragraph two the
Chairman wrote:
       "I am contemplating resigning as Chairman of the TRC to give you a
free hand in appointing a Chairman, and at a time convenient to you to give
written notice under Section 11(1) of the Telecommunications Act 2006
whereby the resignation would become effective upon receipt by the
Minister."
       Mr. Speaker, in that small statement the magnanimity of Dr. J.S
Archibald, Q.C completely overwhelmed me and caused my respect for him
to shot off the chart. Dr. J.S. Archibald, Q.C. convinces me as someone who
                                                                            23

Statements by Ministers                             SG 2008.01.24
Hon. Deputy Premier (cont’d)

has a deep appreciation for the synergy required in running an organisation,
and I thank him for that.
        In my response to the Chairman, Mr. Speaker, by way of letter dated
September 3rd, 2007, I thanked him for his congratulations and went on to
say to him:
        "I consider your contemplation of resignation to be testament to your
maturity in the area of organisational development particularly the politics of
it as I remain convinced that it was not a presupposition of my actions.
We are indeed grateful for having a person like you in such a position, for
you have impressed me as one with the highest regards for the need for
synergy between a Government and its various Boards. For that I thank
you."
        Needless to say, Mr. Speaker, Dr. J.S Archibald, Q.C continued to
serve as the option remained open to both of us.
Mr. Speaker, anyone living on planet Earth, especially in this region, knows
the rocky relationship the Commission has been having with the carriers,
both local and overseas. The TRC in its short existence has so far been
taken to court on three occasions and has an appeal of its own before the
Courts. Under these circumstances, one could only accurately assume the
importance of having Dr. J.S. Archibald, Q.C. as Chairman at such a critical
time in its history. Mr. Speaker, I think that there will never be a better
opportunity than this to say to the Chairman of the TRC, Dr. J.S. Archibald,
Q.C, to his Deputy, Ms. Linnell M. Abbott and Mr. Mikey Farara, that on
behalf of the Premier, his Government and myself, I thank you for the job
you have done at the TRC and for your services to the Territory as a whole.
                                                                          24

Statements by Ministers                               SG 2008.01.24
Hon. Deputy Premier (cont’d)

Mr. Speaker, the media in the BVI has done these three individuals a
disservice, in that reports of their resignation from the Board was
unsubstantiated, premature and without question malicious. Some reports
even went as far as to say that the Board was fired because they had issued
Digicel a license. Nothing could be further from the truth. One needs only
pay attention to the time line, which I shall give later.
As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, again for the benefit of Honourable
Members, let me assure them by way of demonstration that this change in
membership on the TRC's Board is steeped in precedence set by our
predecessor Administration.
       Mr. Speaker, when the NDP took office on June 17th, 2003, by July
16th exactly one month after Elections as in the case of the BVI Ports
Authority and on August 26th in the case of the BVI Electricity Corporation,
members of those Boards were issued what appeared to be a form letter
which read:
       "I have been directed by the Minister to request that all current
members of the BVI Electricity Corporation or in the case of the BVI Ports
Authority submit resignations from the Board with immediate effect so that
a new Board may be appointed."
       The letter which came from the Permanent Secretary did not even
convey the respect of having a signature affixed to it. Mr. Speaker, in that
instance where members failed to surrender their resignation, the matter was
referred to the Executive Council and as such a decision sought which read:
       "Counsel is asked to advise that:
                                                                          25

      Statements by Ministers                             SG 2008.01.24
      Hon. Deputy Premier (cont’d)

      A) The appointment of the following persons on the Board of the BVI
      Ports Authority or in the case of the BVI Electricity be revoked:
      1. John Doe;
      2. Tom Roe, and so on and so forth.
      These were not the only Boards dissolved by the NDP Administration
upon taking office. They did it to all their Boards, but where was the media
at the time?
      So you see, Mr. Speaker, I really don't understand the fuss. In the
circumstance, Mr. Speaker, as they relate specifically to the TRC, I still
consider the membership issue to be a non-issue. Let me explain.
      Mr. Speaker, remembering that on August 23rd just one day after
being sworn into office, the Chairman put me on notice that he was prepared
to give me a free hand to appoint a Chairman of my choice, and that he
continued to hold the post until December 31st. There must have been some
mutual respect between us. Mr. Speaker, it wasn't until careful consideration
and some long thought that I was moved to meet with the Chairman on
December 10th at which time he was given a letter of the same date asking
his kind cooperation in making good on his offer of August 23rd to be
effective December 31st, 2007.       Keep in mind, Mr. Speaker, that this
meeting of December 10th was in advance of the TRC Board meeting of
December 13th when the decision was taken to issue Digicel a license.
Further, Mr. Speaker, Dr. Archibald never mentioned his intention to me nor
did I discuss Digicel's application with him. As to the other two members of
the Board, in my letter to the Chairman I referred to them by saying:
                                                                           26

Statements by Ministers                            SG 2008.01.24
Hon. Deputy Premier (cont’d)

"There is no blindness in my action, for I am well aware of the unique
qualities each member of the Board brings to the team and, therefore, your
departure necessitates the departure of the other members as well, and that I
must do with equal regret."
       Mr. Speaker, when I was saying there is that -- what I was saying
there is that the combination of members was unique, one which I
considered to be the perfect match for the Board, and to try and replace a
single member would have been far more difficult if not impossible to create
the same synergy level than to replace the entire Board. Mr. Speaker,
sometime subsequent to my December 10th meeting with the Chairman, the
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry was directed to inform the other two
members that the Chairman had proffered himself as a right of the Minister
to have a free hand to choose a Board of his liking and that his offer was
accepted. And as such, therefore, they were kindly being asked to tender
their resignation from the Board of the Telecommunications Regulatory
Commission effective December 31st, 2007.
       Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report that all three members, including
the Chairman, have tendered their resignation with effect December 31st,
2007, and that they have each expressed thanks and appreciation for the
opportunity to have served. Mr. Speaker, I hope that everyone involved
appreciates the difficulties of a Minister even without the instigation of the
media. Let me say this, that of the members of the Board, I was fortunate to
have had them during my time and that I would not hesitate to have any of
them serve on any of my Boards at any time in the future.
                                                                             27

      Presentation of Papers/                              SG 2008.01.24
      Notices of Motions Given Orally

      Let me close by saying, Mr. Speaker, that there is yet a whole lot of
work left to be done at the TRC, and it will be left to the Board to ensure that
it gets done. I want to here and now pledge the support of the Ministry of
Communications and Works and this Government to them in their
endeavors.
      Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
                       PRESENTATION OF PAPERS
THE SPEAKER: I call on the Minister of Communications and Works.
HON. J. FRASER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to lay on the table of this
Honourable House the Water and Sewerage Department, 2005 Annual
Report.
               NOTICES OF MOTIONS GIVEN ORALLY
THE SPEAKER: I call on the Premier.
THE HONOURABLE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that at a
later stage in the proceedings of this Honourable House I will seek leave to
move the motion standing in my name under Item 8(1) (i) on the Order of
the Day.
THE SPEAKER: I call on the Attorney General.
HON. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
      Mr. Speaker, it was stated on the Order Paper that the Attorney
General would give notice at a later stage in the proceedings to seek leave to
move the motion standing in her name under Items 8(i) and (ii) and (iii) of
the Order of the Day. Mr. Speaker, at your discretion I may either move
now for an amendment to the Order Paper or I may wait until later to seek an
amendment to the motion intended.
                                                                             28

      Presentation of Papers/                                SG 2008.01.24
      Notices of Motions Given Orally

      Mr. Speaker, with your indulgence I seek to move the motion to defer
the intended order of the business under my name of Items 8(i) and (ii) and
(iii) to the next Sitting of this august House.
HON. DR. O. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, on a matter of information. Is this the
correct procedure or should the motion not come to the House and then be
asked for -- I have not heard it done this way before.
HON. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Mr. Speaker, at the risk of giving advice
in my own case, either way would have been acceptable under the Rules, but
perhaps for the sake of clarity we can move on according to the Order of the
Day, and at the appropriate juncture I will make the appropriate request.
So, Mr. Speaker, with your permission then I give notice that at a later stage
in the proceedings I will seek leave to move the motion standing in my name
under the Items 8(i), (ii), and (iii) on the Order of the Day.
      Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
THE SPEAKER: Minister for Communications and Works.
HON. J. FRASER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
      Mr. Speaker, I give notice that at a later stage in the proceedings I
would seek leave to move the motion standing in my name under Item 8(1)
(iv) on the Order of the Day.
THE SPEAKER: I call on the Leader of the Opposition.
HON. DR. O. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
      Mr. Speaker, I rise to give notice that at a later stage in the
proceedings I will seek leave to ask the question standing in my name under
Items 7(1) (i) thru (iv) on the Order of the Day.
            QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
                                                                              29

Questions and Answers to Questions                        SG 2008.01.24
The Hon. Premier

THE SPEAKER: I call on the Leader of the Opposition.
HON. DR. O. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
       Mr. Speaker, would the Honourable Premier please inform this
Honourable House on the status of the Commercial Court.
THE HONOURABLE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Essex University
Consultants in their March 2006 Report strongly favour that the British
Virgin Islands Commercial Court stay within the Eastern Caribbean
Supreme Court system and establish a Division of that court in Tortola
dedicated for commercial matters. The recommendation was accepted by
Executive Council on 21st June, 2006.          The Executive Council also
recommended a Steering Committee to oversee the implementation of the
Council's decision. The Deputy Governor's Office has taken the lead on
implementing the project and is working closely with the Steering
Committee.
       Mr. Speaker, there are four key aspects to the implementation of this
decision to which the Steering Committee is currently giving its attention.
These key areas include, one, temporary Commercial Court building.
       Mr. Speaker, the Executive Council in its meeting on 21st June, 2006,
took the decision to establish a judicial complex incorporating all the
facilities required by the High Court and the Magistrate's Court. It was also
recognized that the extended timetable for constructing the complex would
not match the urgent need that the Commercial Court should be established
in temporary quarters until the full judicial complex could be constructed.
Mr. Speaker, the old Banco Popular building was identified as the best
choice of the temporary premises, and it afforded the advantage of a central
                                                                            30

Questions and Answers to Questions                         SG 2008.01.24
The Hon. Premier (cont’d)

location and once rehabilitated, a potentially prestigious building providing a
high quality, modern court facility. The Steering Committee approached
architects in the BVI and a selection of specialist court architects in London
to take forward the rehabilitation of the old Banco Popular building. Of
those expressing an interest, two architects have been selected, one each
from the BVI and London. A feasibility study of the old Banco Popular
building was undertaken, and the architect's report is currently before the
Cabinet for consideration. Mr. Vincent Wheatley has been appointed as a
part-time Project Manager to expedite this part of the implementation
process.
       Two, Recruitment of the first Commercial Court Judge:
       Mr. Speaker, due to the specialist nature of the role for the
Commercial Judge, and if the BVI Commercial Court is to be regarded as
dispensing world class commercial justice, it would be necessary to attract a
judge with the right qualities and experience from outside the Territory and
also possibly from outside of the Caribbean. The Steering Committee has
been working closely with the Chief Justice on this initiative. Mr. Speaker, I
am pleased to report that Cabinet has recently given approval on the judge's
remuneration package and to initiate the recruitment package to appoint the
first Commercial Court Judge;
       Three, recruitment of Court staff:
       Mr. Speaker, the Steering Committee has been working closely with
the Chief Justice on the recruitment of staff for the Commercial Court. In
addition to the judge, a staff of nine will be required. Cabinet approved the
                                                                           31

Questions and Answers to Questions                         SG 2008.01.24
The Hon. Premier (cont’d)

operational budget for the Commercial Court and for the recruitment of
staff. Presently, plans are underway to advertise the positions;
       Four, Court Rules:
       Mr. Speaker, the Law Reform Commission recently completed the
Commercial Court Rules and they have been submitted to the Attorney
General's Chambers for consideration. The Chief Justice has also been
closely involved.
HON. DR. O. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
       Mr. Speaker, can I have a follow up just to clarify.        Would the
Premier just clarify for me the matter of the appointment of the judges, and
the advertisement has gone out or has one been selected? I didn't quite
understand.
THE HONOURABLE PREMIER: Yes, Mr. Speaker. The judge hasn't
been selected yet, but feelers are going out, and advertisements will go out.
And the Judicial and Legal Service Commission will make the selection and
advise the Chief Justice and the Governor who has been selected and then
the formal appointment will be made.
HON. DR. O. SMITH: Thank you.
       Mr. Speaker, as he continues to build the status of the House of
Assembly, would the Honourable Premier kindly inform this Honourable
House of a time frame for the all Ministers of Government to have official
vehicles.
THE HONOURABLE PREMIER:                   Mr. Speaker, I am glad that the
Honourable Leader of the Opposition acknowledges that the Honourable
Premier is continuing to build or improve the status of this Honourable
                                                                            32

Questions and Answers to Questions                         SG 2008.01.24
The Hon. Deputy Premier

House of Assembly, a task that he has been doing since he first entered the
House in 1975.        And with the Honourable Leader of the Opposition's
support, he will continue to do so.
       But, Mr. Speaker, if the question is meant to be a jibe about the use of
Government vehicles, I am not aware of any such program in which
Ministers of Government are to get official vehicles yet. However, in the
event that individual Ministers whom I have charged with the responsibility
to promote specific mandates find it necessary to have access to the vehicles
in the Ministry in order to effect that mandate, then they may do so and have
been doing so I believe.
HON. DR. O. SMITH: I would like to thank the Honourable Premier for
responding so eloquently to that question, but it was not a jibe.
       Mr. Speaker, would the Honourable Minister of Health and Social
Development please inform this Honourable House of how many
BVIslanders are presently studying in the area of Health, the specific areas
of study, and when the students are expected to return to the BVI.
HON. DEPUTY PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, on the advice given to me,
there are to date 56 Virgin Islanders presently studying in the area of Health.
The disciplines and number of students in each category are as follows:
In Nursing there are 12; Medicine, 19; Medical Technology, one; Hospital
Management, one; Nutrition, two; Psychology, eight; Radiology, one;
Radiography, one; Biology, two; Obstetrics and Gynecology, one; Health
Information Management, one; Mental Health, one; Food Science and
Microbiology, one; Medical Technology, one; Environmental Science, three.
There is also one person, Mr. Speaker, studying Veterinary Medicine. And
                                                                             33

Questions and Answers to Questions                         SG 2008.01.24
The Hon. Deputy Premier (cont’d)

all students I am advised are expected to complete their studies and return to
the Territory between this year 2008 and 2012.
       Mr. Speaker, if it would assist the Honourable Member and this
Honourable House, I have available a spread sheet with the names, areas of
study and dates of return and I am happy to make that available.
HON. DR. O. SMITH: Thank you, Honourable Minister.
       Could I ask a follow up, Mr. Speaker? Given the fact that quite
recently I have heard that there are doctors resigning, they're not saying, for
various reasons, difficulty to retain staff, but do we have any sort of specific
proposals to encourage the BVI graduates to return and to stay?
HON. DEPUTY PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it continues to be our quest to
ensure that Nationals of the country who go abroad to study return. As I
said in my statement earlier this morning to the House, I am actively
engaged with the Health Services Authority and relevant persons in seeking
to meet the training, sorry, the staffing and other needs of the new Peebles
Hospital. And certainly, Mr. Speaker, we will do whatever is necessary to
seek to ensure that those of our Nationals who go abroad for study return.
And part of that, of course, is providing proper conditions of work and
incentives, and we are committed to doing that.
HON. DR. O. SMITH: Thank you.
       Would the Honourable Minister of Health and Social Development
please inform this Honourable House what plans she has for the support of
the elderly and others in need in the community to replace the support
provided by Legislators, which is often irregular as Legislators come and
go?
                                                                           34

Questions and Answers to Questions                        SG 2008.01.24
The Hon. Deputy Premier (cont’d)

HON. DEPUTY PREMIER: Madam Speaker, let me begin by responding
to the Honourable Leader of the Opposition and say that nothing at all,
nothing has been taken away from the arrangements that have existed over
many years for the support of the elderly and others in need as provided by
Legislators.
       Indeed, Mr. Speaker, one of the first steps taken by the Honourable
Minister of Finance on his appointment last August as my Honourable friend
well knows was to increase the allocations to Members of the House of
Assembly to which Vote I understand the Honourable Member to refer in his
question. The Minister of Finance, the Honourable Minister increased the
Vote from $60,000 to $120,000 for District Representatives and from
$120,000 to $150,000 for Territorial Representatives thereby providing more
funds to Legislators than had been the case in the period between 2003 and
the first half of 2007.
       In addition, Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform this Honourable
House by way of answer to the Honourable Leader of the Opposition that the
Public Assistance Program administered under the Social Development
Department of the Ministry is the legal and primary Governmental
organisation charged with giving monthly financial assistance and relief to
persons in need and who according to the Public Assistance Law are eligible
for assistance.      We are acutely aware, Mr. Speaker, that the Public
Assistance Act which was passed as long ago as 1957 is in dire need of
reform. The current rates paid to eligible persons under the Act also need to
be reassessed. The current monthly rates last increased in 1997 from $50 to
$100 per individual while contributions to a family of five were increased in
                                                                           35

Questions and Answers to Questions                        SG 2008.01.24
The Hon. Deputy Premier (cont’d)

1997 from $100 to $250. Mr. Speaker, those figures are clearly unrealistic,
and Cabinet has already agreed to revise this law and, of course, to increase
those figures. Mr. Speaker, as we all know, the country has witnessed
unprecedented growth in the last several years, and in that comparative
period the cost of living has risen dramatically. It was 4.9 percent in 1997,
and in 2006 it was approximately 11.7 percent. Of course, those most
impacted by this are the elderly, the disabled and single parents. Reforming
our current Public Assistance Law to mirror modern day realities has already
begun and one of my priorities for this year, 2008, is to complete that
exercise.
       In addition, Mr. Speaker, in continuing answer to the Honourable
Leader of the Opposition, there is a Vote in the Ministry of Health and
Social Development named the Special Needs Program. The purpose of that
Vote as stated in the annual budget book is to assist widows and widowers
and others in need of financial assistance. That Vote remains and it has not
been touched. What I have done, Mr. Speaker -- it's not been touched in the
sense of taking it away. What I have done, Mr. Speaker, since assuming
office as Minister is to do what the Legislative Council mandated. That is to
appoint a special committee to advise on the disbursement of funds from that
Vote. That, Mr. Speaker, was a condition that had been imposed by the
Legislative Council when it passed the 2007 Budget, but it had not been
implemented prior to my taking office. Having the Committee in place
helps to ensure more objectivity and transparency in the distribution of funds
under the Vote.
                                                                            36

Questions and Answers to Questions                         SG 2008.01.24
The Hon. Deputy Premier (cont’d)

       Mr. Speaker, I am deeply concerned, I believe we all are, about the
well being, the care and the dignity of the elderly and those in need. That is
certainly the position of this Government which in its manifesto, its contract
with the people, said as much. I believe that structured and sustainable
arrangements must be put in place to ensure that the elderly and those in
need in our community can live independent, dignified lives, and that
meeting their day-to-day needs should not depend solely on the goodness of
the heart of any one man or woman who happens to be elected to the House
of Assembly.        That is why, Mr. Speaker, I am working, we in this
Government are working to develop open and fair standards by which the
needs of eligible seniors and those in need can be assessed and met.
I am aware, Mr. Speaker, that there are gaps, I think, for example, of those
persons who have not contributed at all to our Social Security system, I think
of those who have contributed only at a very late stage in their lives, and
who are at this point in their lives not able to earn an income. I have already
begun discussions with relevant persons, including our Honourable Premier
and Minister of Finance on how such persons can be covered in the system,
because they are entitled to live independent and dignified lives.
       We, as I said in my statement earlier, Mr. Speaker, are conducting a
social sector analysis which will help us to assess the services given, the
needs that are there and come up with a way to meet those needs. Mr.
Speaker, my concern, our concern is to make sure that the elderly and those
in need are taken care of. Our concern is also about fairness and equal
distribution of resources. And, Mr. Speaker, if the Honourable Leader of the
Opposition is aware of elderly persons or persons in need in our community,
                                                                             37

Questions and Answers to Questions                         SG 2008.01.24
The Hon. Deputy Premier (cont’d)

I would ask him to kindly provide me or any of the Members of this House
with the names of such persons.
I'm grateful, Mr. Speaker.
HON. DR. O. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, a follow up, please.
       The Honourable Minister, I think you missed me a little bit. What
happened is that after an election, Legislators change, some of them go and
don't return and the persons whom they have offered assistance to are often
left hanging. So those are the groups of persons I was referring to. I want to
know if there is any sort of general -- the revision of the laws of the policies
you mentioned, that would take care of those?
HON. DEPUTY PREMIER: That is my hope, Mr. Speaker, and it's the
hope of this Government. And let me be very clear. We do not wish any
person who has a bona fide need, an elderly person or a person for whatever
reason is not able to handle his or her affairs. We do not wish them to be
"hanging" in the system in the words of the Leader of the Opposition. And
that is why, Mr. Speaker, I for one believe, and we on this side believe that it
is important to put systems in place so that the fortunes of a person do not
depend on who are the Members of the House of Assembly at a point in
time. We want to have, and we are working towards a system where there is
an institutional structured arrangement that would make, once people
qualify, because we have to be very careful not to allow and institutionalize
abuse, but once people qualify, once there are proper standards where they
would be able without having to rely on the goodness of the heart of the
Minister of the day or the Legislator of the day to make sure that their needs
can be met.
                                                                             38

Questions and Answers to Questions                         SG 2008.01.24
The Hon. A. Fahie

       And I would like to repeat, Mr. Speaker, in answer to the follow up by
the Honourable Leader of the Opposition that if, in fact, he or indeed the
Honourable Member for the Seventh District is aware of any person who,
again to use his word, is "hanging" in the system, our concern is to make
sure that that does not happen. There is a mechanism by which assessments
are done, and I would be very happy as I know Members would be very
happy to receive the names of those persons.
       I trust I have made myself clear.
HON. DR. O. SMITH: Thank you. I would like to thank the Honourable
Minister. So I can interpret that by saying that in all the reorganisation being
done, it would not be necessary for Members in the community to need to
depend on Legislators for that kind of support?
HON. DEPUTY PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I think I've been very clear in
my answers.
HON. DR. O. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, would the Honourable Minister for
Education and Culture please inform this Honourable House the maximum
number of students that his policy would allow at the Elmore Stoutt High
School, and what then would be a policy for the secondary education of our
children?
HON. A. FAHIE: Mr. Speaker, I crave your indulgence, but I humbly
request through the Chair for the Leader of the Opposition to please clarify
the definition of the policy to which he refers.
HON. DR. O. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
                                                                            39

Questions and Answers to Questions            SG 2008.01.24
Hon. A. Fahie (cont’d)

I am referring, Honourable Member, to the policy of not building a second
high school at this point, but concentrating on further developing the high
school in the Road Town area.
HON. A. FAHIE: Okay. Mr. Speaker, I thank the Honourable Leader of
the Opposition for that clarity.
       Mr. Speaker, I crave your indulgence to give as detailed an answer as
possible so the Member can have all the information.
Mr. Speaker, the campus of the Elmore Stoutt High School is presently
spread out over 8.345 acres of flat land in the center of Road Town.
Statistics on the enrollment of the school over the last eight years shows that
the increase in the roll has been rather small and has even shown a decrease
in the last two years.
       Mr. Speaker, in the school year 1999/2000, the total enrollment was
1,297 students. In the school year 2000/2001, the enrollment was 1,292
students with a decrease of five students from the school year 1999 to 2000.
In the school year 2001/2002, the enrollment was 1,299 students, an increase
of seven from the school year 2000/2001. In the school year 2002/2003, the
total enrollment was 1,331 students, an increase of 32 students from the
school year 2001/2002.
       In 2003, Mr. Speaker, 2003/2004 school year, the total enrollment was
1,387 students, an increase of 56 students from school year 2002/2003. In
school 2004/2005, the total enrollment was 1,420, an increase of 33 students
from the school year 2003/2004.        In school year 2005/2006, the total
enrollment was 1,404 students, a decrease of 16 students from 2004/2005
school year. In the school year 2006/2007, the total enrollment was 1,355
                                                                             40

Questions and Answers to Questions            SG 2008.01.24
Hon. A. Fahie (cont’d)

students, a decrease of 49 students from the school year 2005/2006. And as
of December 2007, the total enrollment was 1,318 students, a decrease of 37
students from 2006/2007 school year.
       Mr. Speaker, from the 1999/2000 school year to the 2007/2008 school
year, the increase of the population was 21 students.         In addition, Mr.
Speaker, the average increase from the 1999/2000 school year to the
2007/2008 school year, an eight-and-a-half year time span, is approximately
27 students.      These variables must be taken into consideration when
redesigning the area in order to maximize the functioning of the space at the
Elmore Stoutt High School. Mr. Speaker, it is safe to assume that the
emergence of the different private secondary schools are heavily
contributing factors that have caused the significant decrease in population
at the Elmore Stoutt High School over the past two years. Mr. Speaker, the
space at the Elmore Stoutt High School can be redesigned to have the
students in the lower section of the school, Forms One to Three, and those in
the upper section, Forms Four to Five, physically housed, accommodated in
separate wings or blocks with their own administrative structures. This
separation can allow for staggered breaks in lunch periods, thereby reducing
the possibility of crowding on the grounds and it can lead to greater
camaraderie among students in the same section as well as ensuring that our
students remain on campus from the beginning of the school day to its
conclusion. This can aid in curbing some of the social ills that allegedly take
place during lunch hours.
       Taking into account the size of the campus, Mr. Speaker, and the
trends in the annual enrollment of the school, it is envisaged that a redesign
                                                                           41

Questions and Answers to Questions                 SG 2008.01.24
Hon. A. Fahie (cont’d)

of the Elmore Stoutt High School campus can adequately accommodate the
projected school population thereby eliminating the need for another campus
on Tortola at this time. Nevertheless, Mr. Speaker, the decisions that must
be made at the Elmore Stoutt High School will be made urgently based on
the merit of the facts presented, mainly in terms of the current functionality
(sic) of the existing campus and scheduling in order to make sound decisions
and create progressive debate in helping to create an even more conducive
environment for learning and a well thought out policy.
       Mr. Speaker, this Government is dedicated to doing those things,
because of students and educators at the Elmore Stoutt High School and the
Bregado Flax Education Centre Secondary Division deserve better and in the
not too distant future better they will get. Mr. Speaker, let me make it
abundantly clear that this Government does not want the information
presented to be misconstrued to mean that excuses are being sought not to
improve on the facilities at the Elmore Stoutt High School, but merely one to
highlight that decisions on the future of the type of school facilities and
population at our secondary schools must be made based on proper planning
and research and not questionable motives. As a result, Mr. Speaker, I do
appreciate all the well intended and the seemingly well intended discussions
and concerns about the Elmore Stoutt High School, and I assure this
Honourable House that as Minister of Education I have been given the
authority to speak for this Government on this matter. As such, we will not
only make sound and factual, well-researched decisions on and policies to
improve upon the system, but also develop standards and put in place
                                                                            42

Questions and Answers to Questions                  SG 2008.01.24
Hon. A. Fahie (cont’d)

management structures at the Elmore Stoutt High School and all secondary
schools in the Virgin Islands which will aid in maximizing students' success.
         Mr. Speaker, also provided is a line graph, Mr. Speaker, on the
students' population trend at the Elmore Stoutt High School, and, Mr.
Speaker, a site map of the campus at the Elmore Stoutt High School.
         Thank you.
HON. DR. O. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
         Mr. Speaker, would the Minister now answer the question that I
asked.
HON. A. FAHIE: Mr. Speaker, I don't know if he wants the answer he
wants, but the answer that I think is appropriate for it he got. So if he wants
another answer, he will have to answer it how he wants it answered.
HON. DR. O. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I simply asked a number and the
Minister gave me a preamble. Is it possible to have a number, a maximum
number of the students that you envision that the Elmore Stoutt High School
should have. In fact, that would determine, I imagine, about new high
schools or whatever. Most institutions will have that kind of figure.
HON. A. FAHIE: Mr. Speaker, I did something wrong. I called him "he"
which is incorrect, so I apologise, the Leader of the Opposition.
         Mr. Speaker, as the Leader of the Opposition would know, that we
changed from building a high school at the Paraquita Bay grounds. Mr.
Speaker, in redesigning the Elmore Stoutt High School we have to
determine, Mr. Speaker, first of all how we are going to redesign it. But
while we are doing it, Mr. Speaker, it begs the question statistically if the
school is truly overcrowded at this time or if we have to look at the
                                                                             43

Questions and Answers to Questions                   SG 2008.01.24
Hon. A. Fahie (cont’d)

rescheduling of the courses so that we can maximize the use of the campus,
Mr. Speaker. Because the data that we have found, Mr. Speaker, without
speaking on emotions, lends to show, Mr. Speaker, that there are certain
scheduling changes that can be made that can help at this time. This is not to
say that the whole campus in terms of the development of it will not be
done.
        So it is difficult, Mr. Speaker, while still gathering data, even
tomorrow we have an on-site visit, to tell the Leader of the Opposition what
he wants to hear, Mr. Speaker. Because, Mr. Speaker, we have to first look
at the functionality (sic) of the space and see if it is truly maximized. This
has been loosely thrown around for a long time, Mr. Speaker, but the
question is, based on the data, based on the information, is it truly that way.
And I will not speak, Mr. Speaker, out of turn until I have the data in front of
me to support what I am saying.
HON. DR. K. PICKERING: Mr. Speaker, just on a point of information.
It might be useful for Honourable Members to refer to Standing Orders
38(5) and (6).
        Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
HON. A. FAHIE: Mr. Speaker, with your kind permission, bearing that in
mind, if I can go ahead to answer (b).
HON. DR. O. SMITH: No, I haven't asked (b) as yet.
        Mr. Speaker, I would just like a follow up on the first part of the
question.
        Would the Honourable Minister tell this House if he doesn't have an
idea of an optimum number of students in the one high school, if then his
                                                                            44

Questions and Answers to Questions                    SG 2008.01.24
Hon. A. Fahie (cont’d)

intention for the further tertiary education of students in Tortola be
dependent where the British Virgin Islands Government is offering free
education, be dependent on encouraging more and more private secondary
schools.
HON. A. FAHIE: Mr. Speaker, I didn't quite clearly get that follow up.
Could he repeat that, please.
HON. DR. O. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the question is this.
       If the Honourable Minister has no idea, and apparently has no
maximum number of students at the Elmore Stoutt High School, then in
today's world, in BVI where the policy of Government's, all Governments is
for free education certainly to the secondary high school, secondary level
and also on to tertiary level, is the policy now then to encourage the
education of the children, secondary education be through the addition of
more and more private schools?
HON. A. FAHIE: Well, Mr. Speaker, first of all I want to correct the
Leader of the Opposition. I never said that we don't have a maximum
number, Mr. Speaker. I simply have been stating that before that can be
given, we have to reanalyze the functionality (sic) of the existing campus to
see if it has reached its max. This is something, Mr. Speaker, that probably
doesn't sound good to the Leader of the Opposition because it has been
thrown around for a long time, but I might add, Mr. Speaker, without any
factual basis. So I must clear that first of all, Mr. Speaker.
       Mr. Speaker, as you would know the Government has absolutely no
control over the development of private secondary schools.            But, Mr.
Speaker, they are schools at the end of the day that it's good to have because
                                                                           45

Questions and Answers to Questions                   SG 2008.01.24
Hon. A. Fahie (cont’d)

they add competition, and it also gives our people a choice, those who can
afford to pay for them, Mr. Speaker.          So the Government cannot plan
depending on the secondary schools or private secondary schools, Mr.
Speaker. But the redesign that will be going on at the Elmore Stoutt High
School, Mr. Speaker, has to take also in consideration the projections and the
projected numbers of students that will be filtering into the high school and
the future of how we will structure our educational system. So it will not be
done in isolation of the statistics that are needed to make as accurate a
decision as possible, but it will not be done hoping that the private schools
take the burdens off of us totally, Mr. Speaker.
       I don't know if that was clear enough for the Leader of the Opposition,
but if not I will clear it up more if he wants.
HON. DR. O. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to assure the
Honourable Minister that I do not have any questionable motives. I am just
concerned about the education of the children.
HON. A. FAHIE: Point of order, Mr. Speaker, I never told him he didn't.
HON. DR. O. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I didn't say that he said
that I did, but I am just showing him that I don't. I am just concerned with
the education of our children.
       I think, Mr. Speaker, we have covered the second part of the question.
HON. A. FAHIE: Now, Mr. Speaker, I don't think the second part of the
question was answered, because I want to be truthful to the House, Mr.
Speaker. The first part was based on a policy for the number of students,
Mr. Speaker, and they were based on the Elmore Stoutt High School.
                                                                              46

Questions and Answers to Questions                    SG 2008.01.24
Hon. A. Fahie (cont’d)

The second part of the question, Mr. Speaker, states clearly, what then
would be the policy for the secondary education of our children, which is
something of a total different context. Because the first part was only
concentrating on one secondary school. So, Mr. Speaker, it's up to the
Leader of the Opposition, but if it's possible I can answer to make sure that
the House has it for the records.
       So may I?
HON. DR. O. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I could not get an answer to the first
question and so, therefore, the second question I don't need an answer for
that part.
       Can I continue? Mr. Speaker, would the Honourable Minister of
Education and Culture, please inform this Honourable House of what is
planned for the further development to tertiary education on Anegada?
HON. A. FAHIE: Mr. Speaker, we are humorously going. The Leader of
the Opposition claims that he didn't get an answer for the first question, but
based on the rules of the Honourable House, it's if the Chair is satisfied.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I ask you, is the Chair satisfied with the answer for the
first question, Mr. Speaker? Because it's not a satisfaction for the Leader of
the Opposition. Because it was no way to evade any of the questions. I
must state, if it's not the answer that he is looking for, I cannot be blamed for
that. So I want to make that clear.
       Mr. Speaker, I will attempt to give my answer.
Access to tertiary education for all our people is important. It is, therefore,
pertinent that all efforts are made to ensure that this happens. A Distance
Education program with scheduled visits to campuses on Tortola and Virgin
                                                                             47

Questions and Answers to Questions                    SG 2008.01.24
Hon. A. Fahie (cont’d)

Gorda is a possible direction for tertiary education on Anegada and all sister
islands. Discussions will be undertaken with the HLSCC in the not too
distant future to ensure that the required technology is in place for such a
program to operate as these would be necessary before such initiatives are
undertaken, as well as to explore other vehicles that would yield the same
desired results.
       However, I must highlight to the Leader of the Opposition, Mr.
Speaker, as he would know being a former Chief Minister that H.L Stoutt
Community College falls under the Premier's Office, and the Minister of
Education will have to work in concert with them in order for these kinds of
educational initiatives to come to fruition. It is the Government's firm belief,
Mr. Speaker, that it is important that all our people from Jost Van Dyke to
Anegada receive an equal opportunity, especially in the areas of education in
these beautiful Virgin Islands.
HON. DR. O. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
       Mr. Speaker, actually, I would have loved to ask a follow up about
secondary education in Anegada, but since it was not, I think that's a
question in itself. But I would reserve that for the next Sitting.
       Mr. Speaker, would the Honourable Minister of Communications and
Works please inform this Honourable House, now that he has had the time to
do the research, whether he has found any evidence of monies paid to CCT
Global Communications, or the Ministers of Government of the past
administration, or put aside to be paid in compensation for any loss that they
may have sustained by way of the liberalization process?
HON. J. FRASER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
                                                                           48

Questions and Answers to Questions                    SG 2008.01.24
Hon. J. Fraser

       Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition in his question made two
interesting observations, both of which are wrong. First, he assumed that I
was doing a research, which I was not, and second, he assumed I was
researching CCT Global Communications or the Ministers of the
Government of the past administration, neither of which are correct, Mr.
Speaker.
       Mr. Speaker, as to the question itself, I don't understand what the
Leader of the Opposition is really seeking. It seems rather rhetorical if I
could say so without being disrespectful, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I
humbly suggest that the Leader of the Opposition would ask his question as
clearly as possible so I can be of help to him.
       Thank you.
HON. DR. O. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I don't think I need to ask
anymore of that question.            I asked that question before, Honourable
Minister, and you did mention about having done the research. That is why
the follow up question today. But I think I've heard the answer.
       Question two:
       Mr. Speaker, would the Honourable Minister of Communications and
Works please inform this Honourable House of the terms and conditions of
the Telecommunications license issued to Digicel, and whether all the terms
and conditions have been met.
HON. J. FRASER: Mr. Speaker, before I answer question two, I just want
to say that I am not in any way trying to evade a question from the Leader of
the Opposition or any Member from the Opposition or the Back Bench for
that matter. But, Mr. Speaker, I think that the Leader of the Opposition
                                                                             49

Questions and Answers to Questions                  SG 2008.01.24
Hon. J. Fraser (cont’d)

needs to ask me a direct question so I can answer. I don't understand the
fashion in which the question was asked. He presupposed that I was doing a
research; I wasn't. Just clearly ask me what you need and I'll give you the
information, Mr. Speaker.
       Mr. Speaker, under question number two, Mr. Speaker, the licence
granted to Digicel is a unitary license, and is in form and substance the same
license document that was issued to Cable & Wireless, Caribbean Cellular
Telephone and BVI Cable TV earlier in 2007.          Each of these licenses
contains the same numerous terms and conditions including:
       One, Scope of licensed services:
       The licensee is authorised to establish, install, operate, maintain,
exploit and use within, into and from the British Virgin Islands and all
territorial waters a telecommunication network consistent with transmission,
reception, switching and related equipment including, without limitation
cable (coaxial, metallic or fiber optics) and microwave, radio and satellite
transmission, reception and related facilities. The Licensed Services are:
       A. Cellular Telecommunication Services;
       B. Internet services;
       C. Wireless video program services;
       D.     Basic telephoning services, including local, national and
       international telephoning services;
       E. Trunk capacity resale services including the provision of leased
       lines and circuits;
       F. Satellite telecommunication services;
       G. Third party private network services;
                                                                            50

Questions and Answers to Questions                  SG 2008.01.24
Hon. J. Fraser (cont’d)

       H. Store and forward messaging services;
       I. Valued-added services;
       J. Private Telecommunications services, and;
       K.    The sale and maintenance of subscriber premise wiring and
       terminal apparatus;
       Two, length of license term and procedures for extension:
       The term of the License, ("the License Term") is 15 calendar years
and the Licensee may apply for a renewal of 15 years from the expiration of
the license term by submission of an application for same to the Commission
in accordance with Section 24 of the Act, and the Commission Regulations
no later than 12 calendar months prior to the end of the license term;
       Three, payment of industry levy and royalty fees:
       In consideration of the granting of the License, the Licensee shall pay
to the Commission:
       1. An annual industry levy;
       2. An annual royalty fee in the amount of 3 percent of the gross
       revenues from services provided under the License collected by the
       Licensee payable in U.S. dollars no later than 5th April of each year;
       Four, obligations regarding provisions of services:
       The Licensee shall provide continual service from the startup service
throughout the License term, and any renewal term and may not reduce or
cease to provide a service unless with the permission of the Commission, it
is being substituted by a Licensed Service which is more advantageous for
customers;
       Five, requirements for interruption of operations:
                                                                           51

Questions and Answers to Questions           SG 2008.01.24
Hon. J. Fraser (cont’d)

       The Licensee may not interrupt operation of the telecommunication
network or any portion thereof in the normal course of business, nor may it
in the normal course of business suspend the provision of any licensed
service without having notified the Commission in writing and having
provided reasonable advance notice to affected customers. This requirement
shall not apply if the interruption or suspension is due to an emergency or to
force majeure or to other circumstances beyond the Licensee's control. The
Licensee may terminate the provision of telecommunication service to any
subscriber if such subscriber does not comply with the terms and conditions
of its service agreement. The Licensee shall give reasonable notice to the
affected public of scheduled routine maintenance on the network which
results in disruption of service exceeding 30 minutes.           All routine
maintenance in the network resulting in service disruption shall be
performed between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m;
       Six, service during a public emergency:
       Where a period of public emergency has been declared, the Governor
may authorise the taking of possession and control by the Government of
any facilities, telecommunications equipment or services to be used for
Government services for such ordinary service as the Governor may
determine or direct or authorise the control of telecommunications in any
manner as he may direct. The Licensee may during a period of public
emergency in which facilities are disrupted as a result of force majeure use
its service for emergency communications and in a manner other than that
specified in its license or in the applicable regulations. Emergency use shall
be discontinued when normal telecommunication services are again
                                                                              52

Questions and Answers to Questions             SG 2008.01.24
Hon. J. Fraser (cont’d)

available or when such special use of the facilities equipment or services is
terminated by the Governor, where during a period of public emergency, the
Governor shall require the Licensee to give priority to communications of
the Government of the Virgin Islands. Such communication shall have
priority over all other communications consistent with the ITU treaties;
Seven, service quality requirements:
       The Licensee must ensure that its services meet the Commission's and
international standards, and the Commission may inspect the Licensee's
premises during regular business hours to ensure that the Licensee's services
meet the required standards.
       For the protection of human health, the Licensee shall adhere to the
International Commission of Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection Guidelines
for   Limiting     Exposure      to   Time-Varying   Electric,   Magnetic,   and
Electromagnetic Fields (up to 300 GHz) published in Health Physics Vol.
74, No. 4 of April 1998. The Licensee is obligated to provide minimum
quality of service of its telephone services for calls carried within the
telecommunications network of the Licensee in accordance with the local
call completion rate and the international call completion rate.        For all
services at all times the Licensee is obligated to provide minimum quality of
service regarding the fault recovery rate, a digitalization of the network, the
maximum connection time for subscribers in urban areas, and the average
connection time for subscribers in rural areas;
       Eight, confidentiality requirements:
       The Licensee must maintain the confidentiality of the content of all
communications over its network from interference, eavesdropping or
                                                                                53

Questions and Answers to Questions              SG 2008.01.24
Hon. J. Fraser (cont’d)

recording by the Licensee or any of its employees or agents. The Licensee
shall institute reasonable measures and procedures to safeguard the
confidentiality of business secrets and personal data concerning a
subscriber's which it acquires in the course of its business;
       Nine, cooperation with other providers of services:
       The Licensee is obligated to cooperate with other providers of
telecommunication         services   to   the    extent        required   by    the
Telecommunications Act, 2006, the Telecommunications Code and
Commission Regulations and the orders adopted by the Commission. In
particular and without limitation, the Licensee shall allow interconnection of
other telecommunication services;
       Ten, accounting requirements:
       The Licensee must utilize an accounting system which allows the
recording of investments, expenses and revenues in accordance with
generally accepted accounting principles;
       11. Record keeping and reporting requirements:
       The Licensee must establish and maintain adequate records to permit
the effective supervision and enforcement of the terms of the License;
       12. Interconnection requirements:
       The      Licensee       has   an   obligation      to     interconnect   its
Telecommunications Network with other Operators' networks in accordance
with the principles of neutrality, non-discrimination and equality of access
pursued to terms and conditions negotiated in good faith between them and
at a charge based upon the incremental cost of the all interconnection. All
interconnection agreements between the Licensee and other Operators of
                                                                            54

Questions and Answers to Questions           SG 2008.01.24
Hon. J. Fraser (cont’d)

Trunk Capacity Resale Services and final services shall be in writing and
shall conform to the Telecommunications Act, 2006, and the Commission
regulations.     If the Licensee and the other operators fail to agree on
interconnection terms and conditions, the Commission may require both
parties to enter into the Commission's form of interconnection agreement
with the rate payable thereunder to be set by the Commission;
       13. Competition rules:
       The Licensee shall not engage in any activities whether by act or
omission which have or are intended to or likely to have the effect of
unfairly preventing, restricting or distorting competition in relation to any
business activities relating to communication services.
       Any such act or omission shall include:
       (i) any abuse by the Licensee either independently or with others of a
       dominant position which unfairly excludes or limits permitted
       competition between the Licensee and any other party;
       (ii) entering any contract or engaging in any concerted practice with
       any other party which unfairly prevents restricts or distorts
       competition, or;
       (iii) the effectuation of anti-competitive changes in the market
       structure, and in particular anti-competitive mergers and acquisitions
       in the communication sector;
       14. Limitations on assignment and transfer of ownerships:
       The Licensee shall not assign, delegate, transfer or encumber in any
manner the rights, interests or obligations under its license without prior
express and written consent of the Commission or the Minister as the case
                                                                             55

Questions and Answers to Questions            SG 2008.01.24
Hon. J. Fraser (cont’d)

may be in accordance with the provision 16 of the Telecommunications Act,
2006. Most of these license terms and conditions are due at scheduled
intervals or are continuously applicable. Licensees are expected to meet
these terms and conditions at all times and on an ongoing basis.
Mr. Speaker, as to Part B of the question, Mr. Speaker, there are no records
at the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission indicating the existence
of any non-compliance with the terms and conditions of the Digicel license.
       Thank you.
HON. DR. O. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
       Thank you, Mr. Minister, for answering fully.
THE SPEAKER: Okay. The next item is Public Business, but before we
go on to that, I have a feeling that that's going to take quite a long time. And
as it is already after 12 o'clock, I suggest that we break now for lunch and
when we come back, we can go into this and finish it off one time without
having to break again.
       Is that okay with the House that we break now for lunch?
THE HONOURABLE PREMIER: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
THE SPEAKER: This House is in recess until 2:00 o'clock.
       (Luncheon adjournment taken at 12:21 p.m.)
       (Meeting resumed at 2:16 p.m.)
                                PUBLIC BUSINESS
                          GOVERNMENT BUSINESS
                      SECOND AND THIRD READINGS
THE SPEAKER: Honourable Premier.
THE HONOURABLE PREMIER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
                                                                            56


      Mr. Speaker, I crave your indulgence and the indulgence of this
Honourable House, and I beg to move an amendment to the Order Paper. As
due to some technical difficulties, that's the best way I can find to put it, I
will not be proceeding with this, with the second and third reading of the
Insurance Bill, and I will leave that till afterwards.
      With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I will move this motion that the
second and third reading of the Insurance Bill be deferred until a later date
which I hope will be on the 31st of this month.
THE HON. DEPUTY PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I second that motion.
THE SPEAKER: It has been moved and seconded that the Bill, "Insurance
Act, 2007", be deferred until a later date.
Question put and agreed to.
      Honourable Attorney General.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker for recognising
me.
      Mr. Speaker, I also wish to move an amendment to the Order Paper of
the day. I was to have moved a motion for the second and third readings of
the Bill entitled, "Drug Trafficking Offences (Amendment) Act, 2007".
And if I may with your permission also in similar vein, I was also to have
moved a motion for the second and third readings of the Bill entitled,
"Proceeds of Criminal Conduct (Amendment) Act, 2007".
      Mr. Speaker, after consultation with Members, they have recognised a
few technical difficulties in a way, and for that reason I will crave your
indulgence to defer the reading of the second and third readings of these
respective Bills until the next Sitting of this House of Assembly.
      Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
[Seconded by Hon. O. Hodge]
                                                                          57

Telecommunications Act, 2006, No. 10        SG 2008.01.24
Hon. J. Fraser

THE SPEAKER: It has been moved and seconded that the Bills entitled,
"Drug Trafficking Offences (Amendment) Act, 2007", and the "Proceeds of
Criminal Conduct (Amendment) Act, 2007", be deferred until the next
Sitting of this House.
Question put and agreed to.
I now call on the Minister of Communications and Works.
HON. J. FRASER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
       Mr. Speaker, I move that whereas section 7(1) and (2) of the
Telecommunications Act, 2006, No. 10, Regulatory Commission ("the
Commission") comprising a minimum of three and a maximum of five
commissioners.
       Whereas section 7(3) of the said Act provides that the Minister of
Communications and Works shall after consultation with the Leader of the
Opposition recommend to the Cabinet the appointment of one of the
Commissioners as Chairman and another as Deputy Chairman of the Board
of the Commission and that such appointment shall be subject to the
approval of the House of Assembly.
       And whereas the Minister of Communications and Works has after
consultation with the Leader of the Opposition recommended to the Cabinet
the following appointments:
       Mr. Colin Scatliffe, Chairman and Ms. Sonia Francesca O'Neal,
Deputy Chairman.
       Now therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly of the Virgin
Islands approves the appointment of Mr. Colin Scatliffe as Chairman and
                                                                           58

Telecommunications Act, 2006, No. 10         SG 2008.01.24
Hon. J. Fraser (cont’d)

Ms. Sonia Francesca O'Neal as Deputy Chairman of the Board of the
Commission with effect from the 1st of January, 2008.
       Mr. Speaker, the two individuals I present to this Honourable House
for approval are neither strangers nor "just comers". Sonia O'Neal, I have
known her for the past four decades and for that, she certainly qualifies as a
household.
       Mr. Colin Scatliffe and I have only known each other for about a
decade and a half, but his family roots in the BVI are quite distinguished and
known to all. Mr. Speaker, in the last few months I have developed a new
admiration for Mr. Scatliffe's sense of responsibility, and likewise I hope
Honourable Members find those qualities to be acceptable.
Mr. Speaker, Mr. Scatliffe is a BVIslander who came through the school
system of the British Virgin Islands. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree
in Computer Information Systems from Quinnipiac University, an institution
consistently ranked among the best universities by US News and World
Report.
       Professionally, Mr. Speaker, he worked with the Travelers Insurance
Group of Hartford, Connecticut as a Computer Programmer with
responsibility for Internal IT Programming from 1989 to 1990.
Subsequently, Mr. Speaker, from 1991 to 1995, he worked for the
Government of the Virgin Islands in the Information Systems Unit as
Assistant Director, Information Technology. In that capacity, Mr. Scatliffe
was given overall responsibility for the computer system and its peripherals
which included the AS 400 mainframe, networks and services, JD Edwards
System and some very important billing systems.
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Hon. J. Fraser (cont’d)
       As an entrepreneur, Mr. Scatliffe is the founder and General Manager
of Data Pro (BVI) Limited where he remained since its inception in 1995.
Data Pro is a computer sales and service company with a staff of 12
including technicians.       It is instrumental in the supply of much of the
computer hardware and technical sport in the homes and businesses
throughout the BVI. Additionally, Mr. Scatliffe demonstrates his versatility
with his business acumen through his management of a family dry cleaning
business and his own restaurant which is located in a popular marina at
Wickhams Cay.
       Mr. Speaker, this diverse mix of business functions demands a
specialty not commonly found in a single individual, and it is sometimes
certainly not taught in school. This, Mr. Speaker, speaks to the character of
Mr. Scatliffe.
       Mr. Speaker, Sonia O'Neal is a business merchant, college lecturer
and freelance writer. Sonia lived, studied and worked in the United States,
the United Kingdom and Canada for 15 years before returning home to the
BVI. Mr. Speaker, she is a graduate of Fordham University in New York
City. Her educational background is varied and extensive. It includes
studies in English and Comprehensive Literature at Leeds University in
England.      Additionally, Mr. Speaker, she also did further studies in
Teaching/Curriculum        Development    at   Teachers    College,   Columbia
University as well as Journalism.
       Mr. Speaker, Sonia O'Neal is indeed an interesting individual. Hers is
among the shrewdest analytical minds I have come across lately. She credits
herself for having a keen business acumen which was developed through
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Telecommunications Act, 2006, No. 10          SG 2008.01.24
Hon. J. Fraser (cont’d)

seminars and training at Harvard Business School; the American Association
of Business Management; the American Association of Women
Entrepreneur Development; the US Virgin Islands Small Business
Administration, and an ongoing self study of Business Development.
Mr. Speaker, her corporate experience includes that of Assistant Editor at
Harper and Roe Publishers, New York City; Instructor and Systems
Engineer at IBM Corporate; Reporter at BVI Beacon, St. Thomas Daily
News, Barbados Guardian; Research/Project Manager at BVI National Parks
Trust; Lecturer at H. Lavity Stoutt Community College and UWI/BVI, and
Chairman for the Formation of the BVI Small Business Bureau.
As an entrepreneur, her own Flamboyant Enterprise Limited pioneered the
international duty free, luxury good retail industry in the BVI. She also
developed a Villa Majesty, luxury vacation villas which she owns and
manages.
       Mr. Speaker, Sonia O'Neal is a hard worker and committed team
player. She is quiet and articulate. She is friendly, kind and full of life. She
thrives on challenges.
       Mr. Speaker, it is important that at this point in the development of
our Territory's information and communication technology there is at the
TRC a person with the background of Mr. Scatliffe. Mr. Speaker, I want to
do great things with the TRC, and I believe in order to do them the Board
must be adept in the language and various protocols of the industry. Mr.
Speaker, the next generation networks are here, we just don't have it yet. It
is the responsibility of the Board to make it happen. The Board must work
to see convergence become a reality. It must work to see WiMax utilized by
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Hon. J. Fraser (cont’d)

first having it introduced. Mr. Speaker, there is no getting around this if we
are to become competitive.
       Mr.      Speaker,       at      the   recently    held    Commonwealth
Telecommunications Organisation Forum in Jamaica, Chairman J. Paul
Morgan said, and I quote:
       "Convergence and a development of MGM mark the single biggest
challenge in national telecommunication sectors since liberalisation and
bring with it the potential to significantly impact the development of even
the smallest countries."
       Mr. Speaker, my philosophy for the future of telecommunication
depends heavily upon our ability to make convergence a reality.          This
remarkable feat that would mean having this synergistic combination of
voice, data and video into a single network would certainly transform
telecommunications in the BVI.
       Mr. Speaker, let me close by agreeing with Spio Garbrah, CEO of the
Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization in his address at the
forum in Jamaica, which I attended, when he said:
       "Regardless of the size, wealth or stage of development that your
country or organisation is currently at, there is a growing agreement that the
convergence of the ICT sector and the development of IP based networks
will have a profound effect on all of us in the near future. The principle
question that arises now is how will various entities adapt to these changes
and what strategies are needed to successfully welcome this inevitable
evolution."
       Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
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Dr. the Hon. K. Pickering

[Seconded by Hon. A. Fahie]
THE SPEAKER: The floor is now open for debate.
HON. K. PICKERING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
       Mr. Speaker, the appointment of the Commissioners to the TRC, the
Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, is a very weighty subject, Mr.
Speaker. The Virgin Islands Telecommunication Act 2006, No. 10 of 2006
is captioned, and I quote:
"It is an Act to establish a Telecommunications Regulatory Commission to
license, regulate and develop the Telecommunication service industry in the
Virgin Islands and to provide for other matters connected therewith."
Mr. Speaker, this Act was gazetted on the 29th of June, 2006. It was enacted
by the Legislature of the Virgin Islands.
       Mr. Speaker, in my contribution to this debate, I may say some things
that may not be pertaining directly to the motion, so I am guided by you if I
step out of line. Thank you very much for correcting me, sir. But I would
like to say from the outset, Mr. Speaker, that there are some interesting
developments taking place here, and I am not making reference to the
individuals that are being selected to the Commission in one way or another.
My contribution has to do with the TRC more specifically. And since we
are appointing the Commissioners, then it bears pointing out a few important
aspects of that, because the primary reason for the Telecommunications Act
was to establish the TRC. And I listened attentively to the Minister awhile
ago. And while I agree with his visionary outlook for where we need to go
with the convergence of voice and data, it bears pointing out right away, Mr.
Speaker, that the TRC is a regulatory commission and not a marketing
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Dr. the Hon. K. Pickering (cont’d)

commission. So lest we get the wrong impression from what was said, that
in appointing these Commissioners their job is to go out there and market the
BVI in a way that we have these functional components of our
telecommunications industry, I think we ought to be careful. TRC means
regulatory. And in my understanding of when we struggled with passing
this Act, it was important to understand that very important component.
And so, Mr. Speaker, you would recognise that the developments of the last
few weeks -- and if I am out of line, sir, in referring to the Minister's
statement that he made earlier, please feel free to correct me and I will be so
obliged, sir. But in listening attentively to the Minister's statement earlier
and now in what was said with respect to appointing the Commissioners, we
have to understand that this matter is not a simple matter, Mr. Speaker,
because the whole concept of telecommunications liberalisation itself is a
very weighty issue. The records will show, Mr. Speaker, that from the very
inception of my days in this House when I sat on this side of the House in
my first term, I spoke consistently about the Telecommunications issue in
the Virgin Islands. When I sat on the other side of the House in the last four
years, I worked diligently to help move the process forward to liberalise
Telecommunications in this country. So I will take a pat on my shoulder,
Mr. Speaker, for having been one of those individuals who have helped to
keep this issue alive, at the forefront of the debate. And I make absolutely
no apologies for making public pronouncements on Telecommunications.
       And may I just say here for the record also, Mr. Speaker, if the
Minister doesn't like public statements being made, he has a long road ahead
over the next four years.
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Dr. the Hon. K. Pickering (cont’d)

       So, Mr. Speaker, I want to refer to something that I find a little bit
interesting here. Section 8, subsection 2 of the principal legislation, the
Telecommunications Act, 2006, and I read, Mr. Speaker:
       "In establishing the policy of the Commission, the Board shall take
into account such policy directions as may be given to the Commission by
the Minister pursuant to his functions under section four."
       My question, Mr. Speaker, is does the present Minister or by
extension the present Government have a Telecommunications policy from
which the Regulatory Commission would be guided? Because as I thought
through the appointments, and knowing the work that was necessary to bring
us to the point, because, Mr. Speaker, Telecoms liberalisation, and I will
repeat this over and over again, is a process, has been a process. There is no
country in the world that got it right right off the bat. Everybody made
mistakes along the way, and we did fairly well compared to most other
countries and we were able to limit the mistakes.
       But one of the critical elements of Telecom liberalisation, Mr.
Speaker, was the Telecoms liberalisation policy that would guide the entire
process as you went along. And this was the policy that was done by the
former Government when it became official 15th of November, 2006,
because the Commission had to be guided by something. So I am asking the
question, and I hope the Minister would oblige, what policy will be guiding
the Commissioners in the exercise of their work? Because if there is not an
established policy, then to me we are already putting the Commissioners at a
major disadvantage.
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Dr. the Hon. K. Pickering (cont’d)

       Mr. Speaker, bearing that in mind, and in retrospect with respect to all
the long statement that the Minister made earlier on Telecommunications,
was the granting of the license under this policy, and what else would
happen with this policy if this policy is no longer relevant to the Government
of the day and, therefore, it really, really begs the question, how will then the
Minister and the Commission be able to communicate in advance. Because
the very visionary layout that the Minister just spoke about will be so critical
in guiding the Commissioners as to exactly what can be expected. And it's
not the Commission now, it is what the Commissioners will be guided by to
ensure that the companies operating in the BVI or operating not only within
the framework of the license, but within the formal policy guidelines that the
Government -- otherwise it means that the Commissioner will have to go
redo every license that was given already to the major player.
       So it's not a simple issue, Mr. Speaker, it is not a simple issue. And
we must not allow ourselves to think and, therefore, give our people the
impression that everything would be jolly good. Digicel comes in, we will
have lower prices; we have new Commissioners, they are going to do this,
because it can't work like that. The Act clearly outlines the functions of the
Commissioners and what the Commissioners are expected to do. So even
with all the best intentions of the Minister and the Government, if there is
not a clearly defined policy guideline now in conjunction with the license
that has been issued, we are still not going to be able to get the services that
we are looking for. So we have to be careful, Mr. Speaker, that as we do our
jobs here as elected officials, then we do it right.
                                                                             66

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Dr. the Hon. K. Pickering (cont’d)

       And by the way, Mr. Speaker, with your permission, may I publicly
state in response to what the Minister said earlier. Okay, I am a proud
member of the BVI Investment Club who is an owner of a number of
companies in this country, including CCT Boatphone. The Minister can
make reference to me. I am a proud member of the BVI Investment Club.
Mr. Speaker, I owned shares in CCT Boatphone and was divested of the
shares on legal advice to avoid conflict of interest. I can state that publicly.
The Minister can refer to me. I said certain things publicly that I could stand
up to.    I have no fear of being recognised as a member of the BVI
Investment Club. That said, that is an aside.
       But, Mr. Speaker, when you take the appointment of the
Commissioners a little further, one of the things that we struggled with long
and hard when we were doing this -- and by the way, Mr. Speaker, may I
also remind the good Minister just in case the Minister has forgotten, this is
not an NDP document. And for the listening public, this is not a NDP
document. This is the laws of the Virgin Islands. If the Government of the
day is not in favour of laws that exist on the book, they have all rights to
change them. But insofar as the laws exist, this is not an NDP document.
And so we as Members of the House, especially Members who are in
Cabinet have to be careful with the statements we make in here, giving
people the impression. This is not an NDP document.
HON. J. FRASER: Mr. Speaker.
HON. K. PICKERING: On what point do you rise?
HON. J. FRASER: Point of information.
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Dr. the Hon. K. Pickering (cont’d)

       Mr. Speaker, the motion that I moved made no mention of a document
being an NDP document. The statement is something that's in the past. We
are here to debate the motion, Mr. Speaker. I made no reference to a
document, and I made no reference to the NDP.
HON. K. PICKERING: Mr. Speaker, I said initially there are certain
things I am going to refer to the Minister's original statement that he made
earlier. If I am out of order, sir, I am guided by you. The points I am
making relate to the appointment of the Commissioner.
       May I just repeat myself, Mr. Speaker, for the attention of all who are
listening. The caption and enactment clause of this Bill, Virgin Islands No.
10 of 2006, Telecommunication Act says:
       "An Act to establish a Telecommunications Regulatory Commission."
The primary concern of this piece of legislation was to establish the
Commission. One of the major, major important points of the Commission
is the Commissioners.         A motion is before the House to appoint the
Commissioners. Am I out of place, Mr. Speaker? If I am so, sir, I don't
want to be disrespectful to you nor to the House.
       The Election is over.
HON. J. FRASER: Well act like it.
THE SPEAKER: If you look at Standing Orders No. 38, this is on page
18:
       "It shall be out of order to use offensive or insulting language about
Members of the Council."
       Also:
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Dr. the Hon. K. Pickering (cont’d)

       "subject to the provision of these Standings Orders, debate upon any
motion, bill or amendment shall be relevant", and I repeat, "relevant to the
motion, bill or amendment and members shall confine his or her observation
to the subject under discussion."
       Please act accordingly, Members.
       Go ahead, Dr. Pickering.
HON. K. PICKERING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. But, sir, if I used any
offensive language, which I am not aware of, I will apologise. I certainly --
and, sir, the debate upon the motion, subsection 38(1), the Bill or
amendment shall be relevant to the motion, well the point I am making is
that we are appointing the Commissioners and the Commissioners come
under this Act. But then again, Mr. Speaker, I said it was a little bit of a
weighty subject, because the Commissioners are guided by this and this
depends on the Commissioners.
THE SPEAKER: But please don't forget that we are debating the motion.
HON. K. PICKERING: Yes, sir. I will try to stay within.
       Yes, Mr. Speaker, the Telecommunications Act. Subsection 10 of the
Act, Mr. Speaker, refers to tenure of office. One of the things I noticed, Mr.
Speaker, is that in the motion the Minister does not make any reference to
the terms of office for the Commissioners. Section 10 outlines not only the
duration of office for the Commissioners, it also makes a very significant
point, and I remember we spent a lot of time going over this point. And here
is where the motion and the whole Telecommunications Regulatory
Commission really becomes even more of a weighty issue.
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Dr. the Hon. K. Pickering (cont’d)

       The Act points out that the tenure of the members of the Commission
should be staggered, meaning that we should have continuity on the
Commission. And again, the motion doesn't speak to that. It raises even
further questions, Mr. Speaker, because we have removed or they have
resigned, whichever language is correct, all the Commissioners one time. So
we are bringing in three new Commissioners to serve this Commission at
this point in time, but the Act still doesn't say how long these
Commissioners are going. But that is important, because continuity, even
with respect to what the Minister himself was just speaking about, in order
for us to get the kind of services that we hope to have in a liberalised market,
we will have to have a Commission that understands the clearly defined
policies of the Government and the wishes of the Government, and so will
then be able to guide the providers of the services. But if we have all of
them appointed all at once, it's a learning process, and any number of things
can happen during that time that could set us back as a country. So the
tenure of office, the staggering of those appointments are very important,
Mr. Speaker.
       So in the context of what we are talking about here, it looks simple,
but the point I am making is this here is very critical to the success of any
telecommunications liberalisation in the country.         This is the critical
moment.
       So at the risk of coming under your tyranny, sir, I would like to make
those important issues, and I won't go any further before you ask me to sit
down. But I want to ensure that it is very important that we do not take just
the appointments as lightly as it is, and that the Minister does not give the
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Telecommunications Act, 2006, No. 10          SG 2008.01.24
Hon. A. Fahie

impression to the public that the Commissioners can go out there and market
the BVI and do things on their own, because the Commissioners can only
regulate what exists. That's all the Commissioners can do. They can only
regulate what exists. They can't go out there and do new things on their
own.
       I am finished, Mr. Speaker. Thank you very much.
THE SPEAKER: Member for the First.
HON. A. FAHIE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
       Mr. Speaker, I will try my best to make sure that I stay in line with the
rules of the House.
       Mr. Speaker, I commend the Member of the Seventh; he did a good
job. I think that he brought his points across. They were as accurate as he
sees them, and, Mr. Speaker, for that I always enjoy hearing him debating.
Because, Mr. Speaker, I have a lot of respect for his ability to debate.
Mr. Speaker, I start with a little story I remember in a book with the great
big johnny cake. It was five little boys, Mr. Speaker, who told their mother
they were hungry, and their mother told them she'll do one big johnny cake
for them to eat. And I remember this book in primary school. And, Mr.
Speaker, the mother did the johnny cake, big, gigantic johnny cake, but
when she went to flip the johnny cake up in the air, Mr. Speaker, the johnny
cake came to life and realised that if he lands back down in the pot, he will
be eaten. So, Mr. Speaker, he somehow made it to the door and ran away.
And when he was running, the five little boys and the mother said, "don't go
away, Mr. Johnny Cake, we want to eat you". His response was, "I am not
going to let you catch me to eat me". While he was running, rolling going
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Hon. A. Fahie (cont’d)

down the road as fast as he could trying to get away, a cat saw him and he
said, "stop, Mr. Johnny Cake, I want to eat you". And he said "no, I can't let
you eat me", and he kept rolling. A dog saw him and the dog said, "stop,
Mr. Johnny Cake, I want to eat you". And he said, "no, the cat wants to eat
me, the children want to eat me, I have to keep rolling". Then the cockerel
saw him and said that he wants to eat him, stop. He said, no, the cat wants
to eat him, the dog wants to eat him, the five boys want to eat him and the
mother and he have to keep rolling. He passed a duck by the pond and the
duck told him "stop", he said "no, I can't stop". The duck said, "I want to eat
you". He said, "no, you can't eat me. The duck want to eat me, the cat
wants to eat me, the dog wants to eat me, the cockerel wants to eat me, and
the five boys and their mother want to eat me". But he went and he rolled by
a pig. When he went by the pig, the pig didn't tell him stop, he said, "well
where are you going?" He said, "well, the cock wants to eat me, the cat
wants to eat me, the duck wants to eat me, the five boys and all of them.
The pig said, "but that is nonsense; I don't know why they want to eat you.
All I want to do is protect you, so come on my snout; let me protect you".
When he went on his snout, the pig threw him up in the air and opened his
mouth and that was the end of the johnny cake. And the rest people came by
where the pig was and asked the pig if he saw a johnny cake rolling going,
that was the pig, the cat, the dog, the cockerel, the five boys, the mother, he
said, "a big brown johnny cake", they said "yes". He said, "yes, I saw him
and he was rather delicious".
       Mr. Speaker, you might ask, what was the moral of the story? Well,
Mr. Speaker, sometimes the way to bring 'cross a point to seem like the
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Hon. A. Fahie (cont’d)

Government is wrong is out of love, but if we take that point, we will be
eaten, out of love.
       But, Mr. Speaker, let us remember the past. Being one of the Fathers
of this House now, I remember the past very well. When the TRC was
formed and I was in the Opposition and I gave a speech similar to the
Member for the Seventh, I remember it well, and it was dealing with the
composition of the TRC. So everyone has their job to do. I remember that it
went on record where there was quite a debate on the composition. But
bigger than that, Mr. Speaker, what end up happening is that we tried to
portray the importance of it, of doing it correctly. Today, believe it or not,
what the Government is doing, the Minister, is righting a wrong. How is he
righting a wrong? Let me refer to my notes, Mr. Speaker. I was making
them as we were going on.
       The policy last time, Mr. Speaker, the policy was made before the
formation of the TRC. And if you remember the Court case, Mr. Speaker,
that the Judge ruled, that was illegal. That's in the judgment that you can
find in the Registrar's Office. That was illegal. Mr. Speaker, anybody
knows that I am not saying what is so can stop me, on either side. The Judge
ruled, and I paraphrase, it was out of line. The TRC had to be in place, Mr.
Speaker, so that the Minister can consult with the TRC to make the policy.
That's the law. We had the flip side when the liberalisation started. The
policy was made in terms of all that was made, and then the TRC was put in
place. Mr. Speaker, so today I commend the Minister. I commend the
Minister, Mr. Speaker, for correcting it.
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Hon. A. Fahie (cont’d)

       Mr. Speaker, can the TRC generate revenue? Yes. And the Member
of the Seventh is correct, not marketing, so I hope that that wasn't perceived
when the Minister spoke. But you have the Broad Band, Wireless Broad
Band, you have different regulatories (sic) that they are going to do that is
going to bring in revenue, Mr. Speaker. So it's very important.
       Mr. Speaker, that point in itself is the crux of what is happening today.
I move, Mr. Speaker, to the membership. Mr. Speaker, I think that the
Minister has put together the best team that I could think of, Mr. Speaker. I
have absolutely no opposition. I think the Member of the Sixth was saying
the only thing he would have do, he would have put the woman on top.
That's the only difference he said he would have done with the TRC. But,
Mr. Speaker, when you're talking about quality, quality of persons in
fairness, Mr. Colin Scatliffe, a quality, fair businessman, Mr. Speaker. Even
if we have any doubts, the character of the persons on it is one of a high
standard. And I need to add this, Mr. Speaker, that the Act in terms of what
the Member, previous speaker was referring to, does not require of the
House to name the time frame. It only requires the House to confirm the
two members, the two Commissioners. That is something, Mr. Speaker,
while the point is well taken and he is correct that continuity is needed. So
point well taken, but the Act, what we are here debating today, the only
thing that's required of us is to confirm the two Commissioners. So, Mr.
Speaker, I think I need to point that out.        So it is not that it's being
overlooked or not being taken in consideration, it will be taken in
consideration, Mr. Speaker, but that's not the mandate of the House. So I
don't think that we should pass our remit.
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Hon. A. Fahie (cont’d)

       Mr. Speaker, I want to say for the lady, Ms. Sonia O'Neal, everything
that the Minister has said I would like to make sure that the House knows I
am in concert with it; intelligent lady, Mr. Speaker. The House doesn't
require with the lawyer, but we have a competent young lawyer, Mr. Jamal
Smith, one of our young professionals who is doing tremendous, but the
House doesn't have the remit to deal with his section right now, Mr. Speaker.
So when you look at these individuals, Mr. Speaker, I think that they are not
only competent, but they are efficient and they are going to be effective.
Because efficiency and effective go hand in hand, doing the right things and
doing the things right. And I commend the past members of the Board, Mr.
Speaker. The past Chairman, sir, was stalwart, J.S Archibald, and I want
him to know, and I know that he is a mature thinker, not to get swayed by all
these back and forths. We are ever indebted to the service that he has given
to the TRC, Mr. Speaker. I don't know, Mr. Speaker, he probably felt that
he gave enough service why he resigned, but I want him to know, and I
share with the Minister, that he is qualified to serve on any board that this
Government chooses to have him on if he is ever willing when he is asked,
Mr. Speaker. So we want to respect our people, and we don't want it to
leave from here, Mr. Speaker, that the Government is bullying anyone. I
don't know what, Mr. Speaker, the Opposition wants us to do; the man
resigned. So once he resigned, Mr. Speaker, the only logical step is to find a
replacement. But, Mr. Speaker, I hope that he sees it our way. I have heard
some interviews from him and he has been forthright, upright and honest in
his interviews as we all know him to be. So I want to put on record, Mr.
Speaker, that I thank Mr. Archibald for his service, his stellar service.
                                                                           75

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Hon. J. Fraser

And, Mr. Speaker, on those kind few words, I thank you and I will sit and
listen to the rest of the debate.
THE SPEAKER: I now call on the Minister for Communications and
Works.
HON. J. FRASER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
       Mr. Speaker, my Honourable friend here to my left, the Minister for
Education, he didn't get to be where he is at today by being a nice guy. He
sits next to me and he probably copies everything I have over here, and there
is nothing for me to say. He wrapped up very well. I want to thank him,
Mr. Speaker.
       Mr. Speaker, the Member for the Seventh District, I must say that
back in the Fourteenth Legislature, Mr. Speaker, he has been the driving
force behind Telecoms and its shortcomings.        He was an advocate for
liberalisation I should say. We probably didn't use the word too much back
then. He was a staunch advocate for consumer rights, I should say. And in
the Fifteenth Legislature he graduated to the front offices, making policies
so to speak. So I respect his judgment, I respect his contribution to the
House on Telecommunications. I would never sit here and say that he
doesn't have a keen interest in it. But I say I respect, I don't necessarily
agree with his view of what Telecommunications liberalisation should be.
And I must say that I thank him for his contribution, because as you can see,
he has been the spark plug for this little debate here today. I, Mr. Speaker,
would encourage him to hold his fire for the next, for the closing, that's the
31st when we have Other Business unless he wants to do it on his radio
show. But whatever, he is a grown person, he knows what to do.
                                                                                76

Telecommunications Act, 2006, No. 10          SG 2008.01.24
Hon. J. Fraser (cont’d)

       But, Mr. Speaker, yes, it is true that the Telecommunications
Regulatory Commission is regulatory. As it states, it's regulatory. But, Mr.
Speaker, in regulating the industry, there are ways to get the customers the
best product that's on the market from where they sit. The Commission must
be aware of what cutting edge technology is. In so being, Mr. Speaker, if the
local carriers or the present carriers are not prepared to introduce those
cutting edge technology and someone else wish to do it, we can't force the
carriers to do it. But if someone else wishes to do it, Mr. Speaker, by having
the power of the license, you can introduce that player in the market. And
with the threat of a new player coming in to introduce new technology,
maybe you might want to do it yourself and leave them out. These are
creative ways of making sure that the people of the Territory get what's out
there, what's best out there. I know, Mr. Speaker, that when a company
invests in research and development, and technology is changing as rapidly
as it is, in order to appreciate some kind of value on your return or return on
your expenditures, you would want to keep a particular piece of technology
around for a period so that you can realise some kind of benefit from it. So
instead of bringing in Wireless Broad Band, you might want to stick with the
wired Broad Band. But it's available, and if it's cutting edge technology and
someone else wants to introduce it, maybe you might want to tell them, hey
listen, Tom wants to bring it in; I'm going to bring Tom in so that people can
benefit best.
       And these are the kind of things, Mr. Speaker, when I speak about the
TRC being on the leading edge of things and what they can do, what I would
like to see happening in the industry in the not too distant future. Because,
                                                                              77

Telecommunications Act, 2006, No. 10            SG 2008.01.24
Hon. J. Fraser (cont’d)

Mr. Speaker, things are moving a little faster than most of us might want to
realise.
       Mr. Speaker, the question about the policy. I am sure the Member is
aware that we had this case that was brought before the Courts, and I don't
know if he read the judgment, but it's there for anyone to read and see.
There were difficulties with the policy as it was introduced before,
somewhat cart before the horse kind of thing.              And in putting this
Commission in place at this particular point, this Board in place at this
particular point, Mr. Speaker, it's a proper thing to do. The policy must
follow the Board, because in order to create the policy, Mr. Speaker, the
Minister must consult the Board.
       Mr. Speaker, and what we are doing is the proper thing and we will
get there. I want to say again, Mr. Speaker, at this particular point it's a good
time to say, the former members of the Telecommunications Regulatory
Commission Board was a great body led by Dr. J.S Archibald. And I could
not think, Mr. Speaker, at that particular point in time of the Board's life for
a better person to have led them.        Because everyone knows the rocky
relationship that the Board had with the industry, court case after court case.
So I am not going to second guess, question or anything as far as that Board
was concerned, but I am telling you right now, Mr. Speaker, in my opinion
this is the best thing that we could do at this particular time.
       Mr. Speaker, as far as the lifetime of the membership of the Board, we
are here today to ask the House of Assembly to approve two of the members
that were appointed for the Chairman and Deputy Chair. That's all we are
asking. As far as the staggering of the Board members, it is important to
                                                                            78

Private Members Business/Other Business                    SG 2008.01.24
Adjournment – The Hon. Premier

know, Mr. Speaker, that there are four members on the Board. So we are
only discussing two at this particular time. So staggering is the easiest thing
for us to do. For those of you who don't know, the fourth member is the
Chairman of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission. So at least
no one thinks I appointed a fourth person and nobody knows about it. That's
the mandate of the Act.
       So, Mr. Speaker, with those comments being made, I commend the
motion to the membership of this House and I hope that it gets the approval
it so justly deserves.
       Thank you.
Question put and agreed to, and the motion is passed.
                       PRIVATE MEMBERS BUSINESS
                                OTHER BUSINESS
                                 ADJOURNMENT
THE HONOURABLE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, if you will permit me to
mention a few matters.
       Mr. Speaker, of the 24 days in the New Year, we have been
surrounded by death of many of our friends and families. I would just like
to mention some of them, that the family and friends, the relatives know the
condolences of the House now in their time of grief.
       We had Justice Lloyd Williams who served in this jurisdiction as a
judge of the High Court and I think he came once or twice as a judge of the
Appeal Court, and he died in St. Kitts recently. Then we had our own Sister
Ethlyn Smith, a Member of this House for two terms, past Permanent
Secretary and Accountant General who served well.
                                                                            79

Private Members Business/Other Business                    SG 2008.01.24
Adjournment – The Hon. Premier (cont’d)

       We had Mrs. Euna Thomas who again in her way made a contribution
to this society; Mrs. Allegra Pickering from Baughers Bay. She also made a
contribution to this country. And there were other citizens. The last one I
heard about is Brother Donovan from Carrot Bay. And to all these relatives,
we extend our deepest sympathy and condolences and pray that during this
time the good Lord will continue to take care of them and comfort them in
their sorrow.
       The next thing, Mr. Speaker, I attended a meeting of the Heads of the
OECS in Dominica, and I think it was a most interesting and educative time
for me. We discussed many matters pertaining to the OECS, and also to the
OECS and those independent countries who have relations with various
countries. But we didn't, Anguilla and the BVI didn't take part in that. They
are not permitted to anyway. But it was interesting especially when they
talked about Bird Island which Dominica, which we thought at one time
belonged to Dominica. And some Members may recall that there were a few
trips to Bird Island made by some Virgin Islanders, especially those trading
down to St. Kitts, Antigua, Dominica. They would pass into Bird Island and
get a lot of birds and fishes and turtles, etc. But Venezuela has laid claim to
it, still has a claim to it and one wonders when she would give up that claim.
But while they were discussing these matters, we listened carefully. But one
of the subjects discussed was the question of the economic union, and I told
them well don't waste your time to come to the Virgin Islands about that,
because economic union in my book means eventually freedom of
movement, and Anguilla is of the same accord. They are not interested in it
because eventually what will happen, freedom of movement and one
                                                                            80

Private Members Business/Other Business                    SG 2008.01.24
Adjournment – The Hon. Premier (cont’d)


currency. And as weak as the Dollar might be now, I don't think that we are
prepared to give up that for something else, for another currency.
       One matter that was discussed, Mr. Speaker, was the diversification of
agriculture, and in this, St. Kitts has a good scheme going on now, a good
project. And I hope to go and look at that project, and probably the Minister
for Agriculture might wish to go also. They had 6,000 people get out of the
sugar industry, and they have to diversify agriculture now in order to get
some jobs.
       Mr. Speaker, the other matter discussed, and we spent a long time
discussing that, was matters about the Judiciary. And as you know, the
Chief Justice, the present Chief Justice will be leaving soon and there was a
question of his replacement, and there was a stale mate. And in the end, a
Committee consisting of the Prime Minister of Antigua, Honourable
Baldwin Spencer; Prime Minister of St. Kitts, Honourable Denzil Douglas;
the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Honourable Ralph
Gonsalves, and myself to form a Committee to review the short list and
make recommendations to the Heads of Government. And this meeting will
take place in St. Kitts on the 7th of February. That's when I go to look at the
agricultural demonstration, and then we will see if a Chief Justice could be
appointed.
       The other matter, Mr. Speaker, the other proposal I have in mind and
to discuss it further, but I think I should give some notice now, I am
proposing that the Speaker, Honourable Speaker appoint two Select
Committees. One, to get all annual reports from Departments and they will
be sent to that Committee for them to examine them, and in doing so, they
                                                                           81

Private Members Business/Other Business                    SG 2008.01.24
Adjournment – The Hon. Premier (cont’d)

will be empowered to summon the Heads of Departments to appear before
them to justify matters in the report. This is one way, one tangible way that
Heads of Departments would realise that they are accountable to Parliament.
Not coming before Finance Committee once a year and telling you this and
telling you that and giving you nice answers and so on, and when that is
over, that's the end of that until the next year.
       The other Committee, Mr. Speaker, will be the one to deal with the
annual reports of the various statutory bodies in this country. Again we will
have this, this Committee will have the authority to go through the reports
that are laid on the table of the House, and they will have power to summon
the Chief Executive Officers or whoever to appear before them to answer
questions and to give an account of their stewardship, etc. Again, they must
realise that though they are statutory bodies or autonomous bodies or
whatever you want to call them, they are accountable to Parliament, and we
have got to make sure that Parliament is respected as that Body responsible
for these things. My friend the Leader of the Opposition might call it raising
the status of the House of Assembly, and I don't know if he will call it that.
But it's suggested -- but I hope to discuss more with the Members, and bring
it to your attention as soon as possible, Mr. Speaker.
       Mr. Speaker, thank you very much for obliging me. And I now wish
to adjourn the Council until Thursday the 31st of January at 10 o'clock.
THE HON. DEPUTY PREMIER:                    Mr. Speaker, I rise to second the
motion of the Honourable Premier, Leader of the House for an adjournment
of the Sitting, today's Sitting.
                                                                             82

Private Members Business/Other Business                   SG 2008.01.24
Adjournment – The Hon. Deputy Premier

       I would also, Mr. Speaker, just wish to make a very few brief
comments.       The first is to myself join the Honourable Leader in his
expressions of condolence to the many families in our country and beyond
who are bereaved so early in this New Year.
       The Honourable Mr. Justice Lloyd Williams --
THE SPEAKER: You can't speak.
THE HON. DEPUTY PREMIER:                  Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Mr.
Justice Lloyd Williams who formerly served in this jurisdiction as a member
of our High Court, he was one of our serving resident judges, and I myself in
this very room and in the courtroom upstairs on many an occasion appeared
before him. Our former Member, the Honourable Ms. Ethlyn Smith, whose
photograph is on the wall immediately in front of me, she paved the way,
Mr. Speaker, for women, persons like me to stand in this place.
I will also make mention of Mrs. Marie Wheatley of East End, of whom
much more will be said, Mrs. Marie Wheatley-Durant of Salt Island and East
End who was one of our true, quiet leaders in that community.
So I condole with those families, Mr. Speaker, and all the other families.
       And I just crave your indulgence to lastly mention the young 17 year
old, Travis Liburd who I learnt on Monday, Mr. Speaker, was one of the
many young men in this country who in December performed at the
National Benefit Concert for Aids.
       And on from the condolences, Mr. Speaker, may I place on public
record my commendations to our Honourable Premier for the fine leadership
that he has provided and continues to provide in this House and its
Government. I wish to thank him in particular for his brief but complete
                                                                               83

Private Members Business/Other Business                      SG 2008.01.24
Adjournment – The Hon. Deputy Premier (cont’d)

report which he just made to us, Mr. Speaker, his report from the meeting of
the Heads of Government of the OECS held in the Commonwealth of
Dominica. And I wish to in particular single out his leadership in helping
with matters of the Judiciary, that he, Mr. Speaker, is, together with three
other Prime Ministers, selected to decide on that extremely important matter
of a Chief Justice for the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court. It's a great
tribute to him and his leadership, and it is also a great tribute to this country,
a great honour for us and a decision which will redound to the benefit of the
whole region.
HON. K. PICKERING: Mr. Speaker, on a point of information, please.
Can you, please, explain to me Standing Order No. 12. In the years I have
been in the House, Mr. Speaker, this is the first time I have seen any
statements on the adjournment. And to the best of my knowledge once the
Premier has adjourned, the House is adjourned. Standing Order No. 12, Mr.
Speaker, please, a matter of grave public importance, that it must be urgent
in nature.
THE SPEAKER: It's not urgent, but --
THE HON. DEPUTY PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I stand to second the
motion which the Honourable Premier moved for the adjournment of the
House. The Honourable Member may have seen a lot, but he has not seen it
all. He has not seen it all, Mr. Speaker. And may I just say that long before
the Honourable Member entered these honoured halls, I was standing here
and seeing and speaking.
HON. K. PICKERING: Yes, Mr. Speaker, but, please, on a point of
information, that doesn't make it right. Come on, Mr. Speaker, that doesn't
                                                                         84

Adjournment                                              SG 2008.01.24



make it right. Can somebody explain to me Standing Order 12. That doesn't
make it right.
THE SPEAKER: It has been moved and seconded that this Fifth Sitting of
this House be adjourned until the 31st day of January.
      (Meeting adjourned at 3:30 p.m.)

								
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