Dominica House of Assembly Meeting Wednesday 28 August, 1996

Day One:


When the Second Meeting of the Second Session of the Fifth Parliament under the Commonwealth of Dominica Constitution, met on Wednesday 28 August, 1996, the first order the day was the taking of oaths by the three newest members of Parliament.

Parliamentary representative for the Mahaut Constituency Julian Prevost, who recently won the by-election in that Constituency, Dominica Labour Party, DLP, new Senators, Kelly Graneau from the Carib territory and Osborne A Rivierre of Colihaut. The two DLP candidates failed to win their seat in the 1995 General Elections on June 12.

The swearing in of Julian Prevost increases the United Workers Party position to a three seat majority in parliament, and the DLP strengthened its position to nine with the appointment of two senators, while the Dominica Freedom Party was reduced to four.

Prime Minister Edison James in his welcoming remarks described the New UWP parliamentary Representative as a capable and Charismatic young man with a vision. He said he is convinced that Mister Prevost will be an asset to the house. While welcoming the two Labour Party senators to the House, the Prime Minister appealed for their co-operation in the development thrust of the country which he says they are all a part of.

Dominica Labour Party Leader Rosie Douglas in his welcome message, appealed to the new parliamentarians to take their duties seriously. For the Dominica Freedom Party Leader Charles Savarin, he urged the new members to get acquainted with the many issues of the day such as the problems facing the banana industry, the hospital user fees and land issues. He said these are among the challenges which the new parliamentarians will have to get familiar with in order to properly articulate them to the people.

Other words of welcome and congratulatory messages came from other members of the house from both the government and opposition sides. It was then time for thank-you responses from the new members. United Workers Party member for the Mahaut Constituency Julian Prevost, thanked the members of the house for the words of welcome and the members of his constituency for their vote of confidence in his appointment as a new member of parliament.

Mr. Prevost spoke of his development plans for the constituency and urged them to put aside their political differences and work towards the overall development of the constituency.

For the Dominica Labour Party Senator Kelly Graneau, in his maiden address in Parliament commented on the behaviour of Parliamentarians in the house as far from desirable. He said his presence in the house increases the power of the voice of the country's indigenous people.

The new Senator extended a hand of friendship to the United Workers Party's MP Francois Barrie who is the Parliamentary Representative for the Salybia Constituency, and expressed a willingness to work with him and any other government for the advancement of the cause of the Carib people.

The Other Dominica Labour Party Senator Osborne Riviere said he was satisfied with the warm reception he received, and that he looked forward to fulfilling the new responsibility which has been placed on his shoulders.

Before the adjournment of the House late on Wednesday evening, one of the three Bills before Parliament was passed without debate from Parliamentarians. An Act to Amend the Dominica Agricultural Industrial and Development Bank Act, (CHAP. 74:03).

The four amends short titled :

DOMINICA AGRICULTURAL INDUSTRIAL AND DEVELOPMENT BANK (AMENDMENT) ACT 1996.
(2) In this Act the Dominica Agricultural Industrial and Development Bank is referred to as "the Act".
(3) Section 13 of the Act is repealed and replaced as follows:
13-1 The business of the Bank shall be the - (a) making of loans and advances, and (b) participation in the share capital or management of any enterprise, in accordance with the provision of this Act.

(4) Section 17 of the Act is amended as follows:
(a) inserting the following as subsection (2): "(2) The Bank may accept any sums deposited with it by associations, bodies corporate, co-operative societies, individuals or public bodies and pay interest thereon as it considers necessary to encourage such deposits.": (b) by replacing the word, sign and figure "subsection (2)" in subsection (3) with the word, sign and figure "subsection (3)": and by renumbering subsections "(2)" and "(3)" as subsections "(3)" and "(4)".

The objects and reasons for the Bill is to allow the Bank to accept deposits and to pay interest thereon and to participate in the share capital and management of enterprises.

The other two Bills Parliament will debate are : An Act To Sanction Certain Payments From The Consolidated Fund Of Dominica In Excess Of The Sum Provided By Law For The Services Of The Commonwealth Of Dominica During The Year Ended The Thirtieth Day Of June, 1996. And An Act To Amend the Registration Of Ships Act, (Chap. 48:01).

Day Two


The Dominica Parliament on Wednesday 28 August, has given the authorization to the Minister of Finance Julius Timothy, to borrow 1 million nine hundred and sixty thousand dollars, for the execution of three major projects on the island. EC$ 675,000 which will go to the Basic Education Reform Project to assist students wanting to further their education. The Basic Needs and Trust Program will receive 300 thousand dollars and nine hundred and eight five thousand dollars, will be used for Tourism Sites Improvement.

Parliament also approved Nine Hundred Thousand dollars for the construction of a new bridge over the Belfast River.

When the House was adjourned on Thursday 29 June, Parliamentarians were debating a Bill in the name Minister of Community Development Gertrude Roberts, to repeal the old Co-operative Societies Act, and replace it with a new one.

Day Three:


Manager of the Dominica Co-operative Credit Union League Ackroyde Birmingham, believes that the new Co-operative society's Act which was passed in Parliament on Friday 30 August, 1996, is going to be beneficial to the credit union movement in Dominica. He is of the view that the Act is a harmonised one which places a lot more responsibility on the volunteer who have been entrusted with a mandate to manage the financial affairs of the members.

Mr. Birmingham says the new Act which replaces the previous one of 1983, gives the commissioner of Co-operatives more authority to regulate credit unions. He added that the Act will add more responsibility on the management of credit unions to manage the society's affairs more efficiently.

However, Mr. Birmingham says there are certain sections of the Act which the board of directors and members have difficulties with which need to be amended.

The "Act" to make provision for the registration, supervision and management of co-operative societies and to repeal the Co-operative Societies Act, came up at the Second Meeting of the Second Session of the Fifth Parliament, which started on August 28th at the Dominica House of Assembly, for the third and second reading. The bill was passed but not before opposition members argued that while they support the bill, there are areas which should be amended like the section dealing with voluntary service.

Still on the Order Paper to be debated in Parliament at the next sitting is a motion for the implementation of a crop diversification program in the name of Labour Party Senator Ambrose George , and a motion to review hospital fees, and its administration, by Parliamentary Representative for the Soufriere Constituency, Charles Maynard, did not come-up for debate during this sitting of Parliament.


Presentation of papers laid on the Table came from Hon. Minister for Health and Social Security, Mrs. Doreen Paul , who presented the Annual Report and Financial Statements of the Dominica Social Security for the year ended December 31, 1994.

From Hon. Minister for Finance, Industry and Planning, Mr. Julius Timothy, the schedule of Supplementary Estimates for the financial year ended 30th June, 1996, and Commonwealth of Dominica Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 70th Birthday Commemorative Issue Stamp Order, 1996, the Commonwealth of Dominica Beijing Commemorative Issue Stamp Order, 1996, Commonwealth Issue Stamp Order, 1996 and Definitive Issue Stamp Order, 1996, by the Hon. Minister for Communication, Works and Housing, Mr. Earl Williams.


Some 37 questions from opposition members were on the Order Paper to be answered during this sitting of Parliament. But, the House could only deal with 12 questions during the question and answer session. The remaining question may come up at the next sitting of Parliament

Honourable Member for the Portsmouth Constituency and Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Rosie Douglas, asked three questions. First to the Minister for Tourism, Ports, and Employment, Mr. Norris Prevost, one the Prime Minister Hon. Edison James and Minister for Affairs, Legal Affairs, and one to Minister for Agriculture and the Environment, Mr. Peter Carbon.

Plans to declare area adjoining Indian River as part of national park.

Question:


Will the honourable Minister for Tourism inform this Honourable House whether his Ministry has any plans to pursue with the relevant Ministry the declaration of the area adjoining the Indian River as part of a National Park, given the tourism potential of the area and does his Ministry intend to undertake the necessary repairs and put in place amenities to facilitate the river tours?

Answer:


Ministry for Tourism, Ports, and Employment recognises the importance and potential of the Indian River and adjacent wetlands to Dominica's ecotourism efforts and the conservation of the islands ecosystems. The Ministry further uses of the Indian river and adjacent wetlands it is necessary to incorporate these areas into the island's National Park System.

My Ministry has been collaborating with other interested parties such as the ministry of Agriculture and the Environment, the Portsmouth tour Guide Association, the Environmental and Coastal Resources Project (ENCORE), and representatives of some of the landowners in the area with a view of finding an acceptable frame-work. Because of the fact that all the lands identified for inclusion in the proposed park are presently privately owned, negotiations would have to be concluded with the owners and financing arrangements made.

In the interim, however, efforts are being made to provide improved facilities at the Indian River for both the visitors to our shores and our local tour guides. In this regard $100.000 has been budgeted under the ENCORE project to finance the construction of a small building in the area to provide office space for the tour guides, toilet facilities and souvenir shop for the visitors, and to serve as a tourist information centre for the area. Baring unforeseen developments work on this activity should commence within the next sixty days. An amount of $375.000 was provided for in the ENCORE Budget for the 1994/95 fiscal year but because the project activities were not implemented by the then Government the allocation has been reduced.

I would also like to inform this Honourable House that three tour guides operating in the Indian River are participated in the Tour Guide Stewardship Training Workshop held at Springfield during the period August 12 - 24, 1996. The workshop was jointly sponsored by the United States based the Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Forestry and Wildlife Division of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Environment, in collaboration with the Tourism Division.

In addition, President of the Indian River Tour Guides, Mr. Andrew O'Brien, better known as cobra, was selected to be part of a team representing Dominica at the 5th Ecotourism Conference in Guadeloupe earlier this year.


Accreditation of Ross University School of Medicine.

Question:

Given the economic importance of the Ross University School of Medicine for Portsmouth and for the entire country, will the Honourable Prime Minister inform Parliament about the accreditation problem now being experienced which could affect the ability of American students to secure student loans/grants from the United States Government to attend the University and what steps are being taken to ensure that this serious problem is resolved as soon as possible to avoid a major drop in the number of students enrolled at the University.

Answer:

The national committee on Foreign Medical Education and Accreditation of the United States Department of Education is currently seeking to evaluate the standards of accreditation applied to medical schools outside of the United states of America to determine whether those standards are comparable to medical schools in the United States.

If it is determined that the country's standards and processes for accreditation are not comparable with that of US medical schools, then US students will no longer be eligible for foreign student loans to help with their tuition at these institution.

since 1994, a document outlining Dominica's standards and processes for accreditation of medical schools was submitted to the NCFMEA. In March 1996 officials from the United States Department of Education met with Ministry of Health Officials to further discuss the process. they made it clear that this was not specific to any particular medical school. Documents requested by the United States Department of Education were transmitted to NCFMEA.

The Honourable Prime Minister met officials from the United States Department of Education and officers from Ross University to discuss the situation. As a result of this meeting NCFMEA has given until November 1996 to respond to their follow up queries.


Action to ensure that famers secure feeder roads required to increase banana production.

Given the importance of increased efficiency, improved productivity and proximity to ports as all assets that will contribute towards the viability of the banana industry, will the Hon. Minister for Agriculture inform this Honourable House whether his Ministry will take action to ensure that farmers in the Portsmouth, Mountain, Zeretier and Brandy areas inclusive, secure the feeder roads required to vastly increase banana production on the relatively flat lands in that area?

Answer:

Construction of feeder roads is a function of the Ministry of Communications, Works and housing. However, the Ministry of Agriculture supports farmers efforts in the maintenance of their access roads by providing the services of heavy equipment.

At this time, the demand for maintenance of feeder roads is tremendous, therefore very little resources can be placed on the cutting of new roads but as funds become available these roads will be considered.


Senator the Hon. Ambrose George had two questions. One to the Prime Minister to Edison James, and the other to the Minister for Agriculture and the Environment, Mr. Peter Carbon.

Question:

  1. Implementation of decision for free movement of skilled nationals.

  2. The number of CARICOM countries which have implemented the decision for the free movement of skilled nationals within the CARICOM; and

  3. for those who have not yet implemented, how far are they in the process of implementation since the January 1, 1996 deadline has already elapsed?

Answer:


Mr. speaker, five countries have implemented the decision. These are Grenada, Dominica, Guyana, Barbados and Jamaica.

  1. As far as the other countries are concerned the position is as follows:-

  2. For Belize, the draft legislation is before the Cabinet;

  3. For Montserrat, the decision is being implemented administratively through statutory rules;

  4. For St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines respectively, the legislation will be tabled in Parliament sometime this year;

  5. For St. Kitts and Nevis, the issue is being considered by Cabinet

  6. For Surinam, comments on the draft legislation are being available from Ministries within that Member State;

  7. In Trinidad and Tobago, the draft legislation had been approved by Cabinet and the Attorney General had been instructed to urgently place it before Parliament for debate;


Question: (2)

Steps taken to ensure sustainment of economic viability of Japanese - funded Fisheries Project.

Will the Hon. Minister for Agriculture inform this Honourable House of the steps being taken or already taken by his Ministry to ensure that on completion of the Japanese funded Fisheries Project at the Roseau Bayfront, the fishermen of Dominica will be in a position to supply the volumes of fish required to sustain the economic viability of this new facility?

Answer:


the Ministry is undertaking to ensure the upgrading of fishing fleet; the training and o organising of fishermen; the improvement of fish land sites, the processing and utilisation of fish stocks.

The Japanese funded facility itself, is the stimulating factor to facilitate the islandwide process of increased productivity in the fishing sector.


Question by the Hon. Member for the Cottage Constituency, Mr. Reginald Austrie, to Hon. Mr. Peter Carbon.

Availability of lands in Buck (lagoon) to farmers.

Will the Hon. minister for Agriculture inform this Honourable House whether his Ministry intends to make the lands in Buck (Lagoon) available to the farmers or the area, some of whom who have been occupying the said land over thirty years.

Answers:


The lands referred to by the hon. Member as 'Buck' is really part of Cotton Hill Estate and the lands which the farmers presently occupy was given to the Development and Planning Corporation, a statutory body, by the then Labour Party Government, for which they hold a certificate of Title registered in Book J3 folio 76.


Question: by Ossie Walsh Hon. Member for the Roseau South Constituency to Hon.Mr. Peter Carbon

Assistance given to fishermen, Roseau south constituency..

Will the Hon. Minister for Agriculture and the Environment inform this Honourable House:

  1. (a) Whether any fishermen in the Roseau South Constituency have received any assistance from central government over the past six (6) months and the details of that assistance? if not,

  2. (b) Are plans afoot to assist the above mentioned fishermen, and if so, when will they be assisted and to what extent?

Answer:

(a) Yes, fishermen in the Roseau south constituency benefited from assistance from the Ministry of Agriculture under the Hurricane Relief Programmes:

The following items were granted:

  1. rolls of wire
  2. engines
  3. miles longline
  4. gill nets
  5. keel boats

Question: by Member of the Paix Bouche Constituency, Mr.Matthew Walter, to the Hon. Ronald Green Minister for Education, Sports and Youth Affairs.

Incorporate of Pre-School programme into Government's educational programme.

Will the Hon. Minister for Education apprise this Honourable House whether his Government intends to incorporate the Pre-School programme, which is a major contributor to the enhancement of learning, into the Government's educational programmes or subsidise the salaries of the teachers in order to minimise severe problems experienced by those teachers and consequently avoiding possible closure of this vital educational programme?

Answer:

Education is high priority of this Government.

This Government recognises the importance of Pre-School Education and also appreciates the collaborative efforts of the Private Sector, None Government Organisations (NGO's) and Teachers and Parents at community level in the delivery of this important service.

It is hoped that in the future, Government will, depending on resources available, be able to incorporate the Pre-School Programme, not necessarily by removing it from private hands but by a greater contribution to their efforts.


Question: by Hon. Mr. Reginald Austrie Member for Cottage Constituency to Hon. Earl Williams Minister for Communication, Works and Housing.

Deterioration of Tantan/Capuchin road and temporary repairs to:

Will the Honourable Minister for Communications, Works and Housing inform this Honourable House whether he is aware of the continuing rapid deterioration of the Tantan/Capuchin road and whether his ministry intends to begin at least temporary repairs to the road?

Answer:

The Ministry is aware of the deterioration of the Tantan/Capuchin road and is taking steps at rehabilitation under its roads and bridges maintenance programme. Such repair works are due to commence in the month of September.


Member for the Roseau Central Constituency and Leader of the Dominica Freedom Party, Charles A, Savarin ask two questions. One the Hon. Earl Williams and the other to Hon. Ronald Green.

Question:

Public purpose for Acquisition of land, Pound Area.

Will the Honourable minister for Communications, Works and housing inform this Honourable house for what public purpose were the lands in that part of the city of Roseau known as Pound Area acquired.

Answer:


As stated in the Declaration Order published in the Official Gazette No. 41 dated September 12, 1991, the land in Pound was acquired for "housing development and social infrastructure."

Question:


Common Entrance Results


(i) Will the Hon. minister for Education inform this Honourable House- of the number of children whose names did not appear on the 1996 Common entrance Results list who were later found to have scored sufficiently high to have been included on the list and the names of any such children including any who qualified for scholarships or bursaries.

(ii) The names, school and scores of all children scoring more than 235 points, (the lowest score on the least) and whose names do not appear on the Ministry of Education 1996 common Entrance Results list?

Answer:


(i) The number of children whose names did not appear on the 1996 common entrance Results list who were later found to have scored sufficiently high to have been included on the list, is nineteen (19): one (1) qualified for a scholarship and one (1) qualified for a bursary.

Government is of the view that it is inappropriate to disclose the names and the information sought by the Honourable Member in part two of the question.

Zoning has been a practice in the conduct of Common entrance Examinations since 1984. The consequence of zoning is that there will be differential cut off points, based on availability of space in the school of that zone.

The main issue is the rapid expansion of space availability relative to the school population in the zones, so as to achieve balance and equity in a system of zonal selection that has operated for thirteen (13) years.

Such expansion is vigorously being pursued with the planned construction of Castle Bruce Secondary School, GrandBay Secondary School and extension of Portsmouth Secondary School St. Andrew's Secondary School and others; not only to increase access, but provide for rural-urban balance, equity, plus fairness.

Prior to this Government coming into office, 711 (1994) were accepted to Secondary school. in 1996, this government offered 1,000 spaces.

This Government is ware that the zonal systems of Common entrance Examination selection to secondary school needs improvement, and is seeking actively to effect reform.

In that context, this Minister would welcome thought out, constructive proposals for adjustment of this zonal selection system, especially from former Ministers of Education who operated and managed the system, since expansion efforts expected to assist in achieving some balance and equity may not materialise until September 1998.


Question: from Hon. Urban Baron Member for the Petite Savanne Constituency, Hon. Earl Williams.

Road for Ritireau (fab)

Is the Honourable Minister for Communications, Works and Housing aware of the plight of over 200 residents of Retireau (FAB) who do not have a motorable road to their village which is less than one mile from Fond St. Jean and will the Honourable Minister tell this Honourable House what are his plans for relieving the suffering of these residents by providing a motorable road to Retireau?

Answer:


Yes the Minister was made aware by Mr. Gerald Hill a leader in the Community who is concerned of the plight of the residents of (FAB). At that meeting Mr. Hill suggested to me that Government can provide materials, equipment and technical assistance while the residents are willing to assist with labour. Presently we are awaiting the Ministry of Finance to make funds available for this project. Therefore, it is unfortunate this question is so late.

The House was adjourned sinedie on Friday 30 August, 1996, just before mid-day.


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Created: Wednesday, September 04, 1996, 9:36:44 PM Last Updated: Wednesday, September 04, 1996, 9:36:44 PM