Statutory Bodies to reclaim money

Five Statutory Bodies have won the first round of a battle with EX-IM Bank of Taiwan, which has embarked upon legal action against Grenada to recover an estimated EC$83 million owed in loan commitments.

EX-IM Bank last year served restraining orders on state-owned bodies like the Grenada Airports Authority, Grenada Ports Authority, National Water and Sewerage Authority, Grenada Solid Waste Management Authority, and the Grenada Postal Corporation which provide services to cruise lines and aircrafts to have the money that they collect paid into an escrow account.

MBIA CEO Lester Andall – we have to pay our creditors

The five state-entities came together to fight the action taken by the Taiwanese bank, however in a landmark decision handed down last month, a court in New York lifted the restraining orders.

Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Grenada Airport Authority, Rodney George who addressed the media on Monday about the court’s decision said the Statutory Bodies are now able to lay their hands on approximately EC$7.5m by the end of July.
George told reporters that on June 22, Judge Harold Baer sitting in the Southern District Court of New York ruled that the restraining orders be vacated immediately and ordered that the funds that were sequested are not attachable now or in the future as they are protected under a United States Statute called the Foreign Services Immunity Act.

According to George, the Taiwanese are not surrendering so easily since the EXIM Bank lawyers have filed an appeal against the ruling.

“The good news is that the judge’s orders remain in force, the restraining orders have been vacated, and even if the appeal has been filed that does not overturn the judge’s order,” he said.

Finance Minister, Nazim Burke who addressed the situation during last week’s sitting of the House of Representatives said he believes the lifting of the restraining orders is good news for Grenada as the Statutory Bodies were seriously affected by the decision of the Taiwanese.

Grenada has four loans with the EX-IM Bank of Taiwan which were contracted in July 1990 in the sum of US $10 million, April 1997, US $2 million, October 1997, US $6 million, and a further US $10 million in August 2000.

Chief Executive Officer of the Airport Authority, Lester Andall who joined his Chairman at the Press Conference said of the total sum that is due to all of the Bodies, $4.5m goes to the Airport Authority.

Andall said that money would now be used to service loans taken as a result of the shortfall in the cash flow to meet the airport’s operations.

LIME adds to Carnival City

WCK Lead singer Neijel Baptiste performing at Carnival City

The crowds at Carnival city are growing and patrons are having a true Spicemas experience.

Last Thursday, July 28, the stars were out in their full splendour.

The “LIME” night lived up to expectations with sterling performances by local artistes and lead singer of WCK, Dominica , Neijel Baptiste.

It was also the first time also that Sugar Jay graced the stage for the Carnival season.  Patrons got a sneak preview of new releases from Melz, Sugar Jay and others.

Tall Pree and reigning Soca Monarch, Terror Kid also took the crowd back in time and gave a taste of the present.

With the theme being “all things Carnival”, the mas band – Andre Garvey and Associates – sponsored by LIME also crossed the stage, much to the delight of the patrons.

Commenting on the evening – Producer Clarence Baker said: “The momentum is growing and Carnival City is having the desired effect.”

According to Baker, Carnival City is a mini carnival where carnival lovers can feel the Spicemas vibes and look forward to “all thing Carnival before the “big shows”.

“Carnival is a season” he noted, “and we are ensuring that from the launch to the culmination on Carnival week, there are carnival events”.

To compliment carnival city, the carnival caravan moves through the parishes on Sundays.

Patrons were delighted that Niejel Baptiste, WCK lead singer graced the stage.  His appearance was arranged by LIME.

According to General Manager – LIME, Angus Steele, “We promised that Spicemas 2012 will be the best ever and we are working on delivering on the promise.

Carnival lovers can expect more as move towards the climax of carnival.”

The LIME/Spicemas Corporation Soca Monarch quarterfinals are scheduled for the July 5, 6, 7 and 8 at Gouyave, St. Mark, St. Patrick s and St. David respectively.

Peter David seeking re-control of NDC Women’s Arm

A rebel faction within the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) is making moves to regain control of the Women’s Arm of the party.

Jenny Rapier – replaced Carmen Maria Roberts-Pascall as President of the NDC Women’s Arm

The NDC Women, last month, put in place a new executive that is headed by South St. George Constituency Branch Member, Jennifer Simon-Rapier who is known to be a strong ally of Prime Minister Tillman Thomas.

The Grenadian leader has been engaged in a serious battle in recent months to try and regain control of the National Executive of Congress in which David is said to be in control of most of the membership.

Prime Minister Thomas and his close aide, Senator Glen Noel reportedly played key roles in allowing the Women’s arm to hold their election in the face of behind the scene maneuvering from pro-David members of Congress to put the elections on hold for a second time.

THE NEW TODAY was told that at last week Thursday’s National Executive Meeting of Congress David labelled the elections as null and void and  announced that it would have to take place at a later date.

David reportedly told the National Executive that he would organise new elections together with the former President, Carmen Maria Roberts-Pascall.

According to a party insider, David claimed that the National Executive body of the party had taken a decision to put all elections on hold, including those at the constituency level.

The source said members who were present at Thursday meeting were at a loss as no one recalled that such a decision took place.

He stated that it was his understanding that the decision was taken in respect of election of candidates at the constituency level to represent the party in the upcoming general election.

“I heard it was endorsement (of candidates) when all the turmoil was going on a couple months ago. Up to now nobody could find it in the Minutes,” the source said.

Speculation is rife that the women are viewing David’s move with great suspicion since the Constituency of St. Andrew’s North East went ahead and had its elections of officers not too long ago.

The source quoted David as saying that the Chairpersons from the Constituency Braches were not informed about the elections of the Women’s Arm.

Under the NDC Constitution,  no provisions are made for heads of Constituency branches.

A member of the Women’s Arm told this newspaper that when the group met in the month of May, the date for the elections of officers was set for June 9.

She said that three days before the scheduled date, the NDC Women were being advised by outgoing President, that the Party’s Secretariat has advised that all elections be put on hold.

The source who spoke on condition of not being identified said there has not been an election for the past three years, and the past President has been informing them that due to the position of the Secretariat the meeting and election would be rescheduled for a date to be announced.

According to the source, members were not briefed about who was the person making such decisions on their behalf.

THE NEW TODAY learnt that through the intervention of Prime Minister Thomas, and Senator Noel the meeting went ahead last month as planned and Jenny Simon-Rapier was elected as the new head of the Women’s arm.

According to the source, Sen. Noel advised the women’s group that the party’s constitution does not give the Secretariat the power to postpone a meeting called and/or organised by an organ of the party.

The source spoke of being confused over David’s utterances since he also said at the same meeting that the Executive cannot make any decision on behalf of any constituency or party organ that is due for annual election.

At the meeting, the new president, Simon-Rapier claimed that her predecessor approached her at her workplace with a letter asking her to take over the Women’s Arm.

The Women’s Arm is believed to be an influential organ within Congress.

G’da/US ties take centre stage

Prime Minister Tillman Thomas is greeted by U S Ambassador Larry Palmer

Prime Minister Tillman Thomas, is seeking the assistance of the United States in strengthening Grenada’s capability to utilise alternative and renewable sources of energy and in accessing greater foreign direct investment in tourism related development.
The call came during a conversation with new US Ambassador to the Eastern Caribbean and Barbados, Larry Palmer, who paid a courtesy call last week on the Prime Minister at his Botanical Garden office.

PM Thomas said that Grenada and the United States share a special relationship because of “certain historical situations” and shared democratic traditions and human values.

He welcomed the United States commitment to assist Caribbean countries in identifying renewable sources of energy including harnessing wind, geothermal and solar resources, as part of efforts to reduce the dependence on fossil fuel, which “is a burden to our economy.”

“We in Grenada and in the region need support in the transfer of technology, so that we can take advantage of these new energy sources,” the Prime Minister told the new US Ambassador.

Ambassador Palmer presents Prime Minister Thomas with a copy of the US Independence booklet

He also expressed his appreciation to the United States government for two fast patrol Interceptor boats that were handed over to the Grenada government last week at the Coast Guard Base in True Blue.

The Prime Minister noted that the boats, provided under the US Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) will help to “reduce our vulnerability to breaches in our maritime security, as well as support search and rescue missions, especially where our fishermen are concerned.”

The Prime Minister also commended a US Government decision to increase the number of scholarships at US institutions for Grenadian young people, including Fulbright scholarships, saying, “we welcome this and we will take advantage of every opportunity for our young people to achieve a higher education.”

Ambassador Palmer said Washington is discussing the way forward for a request from Grenada, for the local US Embassy to facilitate or issue visas to persons wishing to travel to American educational institutions.

Coast Guard receives interceptive vessels

CoP Thompson receiving the keys for the boast from Prime Minister Tillman Thomas

Operations at the Grenada Coast Guard have been enhanced with the provision of two new safe boats and a maritime support package by the Government of the United States valued at US$2m.

The keys for the boats were presented last week Friday at the Coast Guard Base in True Blue, St. George’s by the United States Ambassador to Grenada, Larry Palmer to Prime Minister Tillman Thomas who then handed them over to Commissioner of Police, Wilan Thompson.

The commissioning of the two boats that are to be used in the fight against the illegal drug trade is part of the United States Secure Seas Programme.

Ambassador Palmer said Grenada is among one of the first countries of the Eastern Caribbean to receive the interceptive vessels.

He indicated that the Grenada Coast Guard is an important partner in protecting the island and the region from illicit narcotics trafficking and other threats to the maritime borders.

The American Ambassador spoke about the partnership that now exists between St. George’s and Washington in the fight against illegal conducts.

He said the National Security Ministry along with the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) work closely with the United States Law Enforcement Agency.

Ambassador Palmer said the interceptive boats and the communications systems will provide Grenada with the distinct aid in detecting, tracking and pursuing suspects, and would facilitate operational effectiveness and efficiency between Grenada and the United States.

He added that the maritime package is only part of the long-term US Government commitment to support Grenada’s ongoing capacity to increase the national security.
Prime Minister Thomas who was elated over the gift noted that since assuming the leadership position of the country and in his capacity as Minister of National Security, he has been concerned about the country’s maritime security.

He recognised that the country has many small bays and inlets that pose a significant danger to the peace and stability of the State.

The Grenadian Leader said it is these coves and inlets that are used by persons with criminal intent to hide and evade law enforcement personnel.

He pointed out that the provision of the two interceptive boats would significantly add to Grenada’s ability to confront drug trafficking and other criminal activities in the local waters.

“This would hopefully lead to a decrease of the availability of drugs in our country and halt the use of our island as a transportation point for cocaine and other drugs,” he said.
The Prime Minister indicated that law enforcement is pivotal to the development “of our democracy” and to the maintenance of the peace and stability of the country.

The new Coast Guard Vessels

May Rally not paid for by taxpayers

Political Leader of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), Tillman Thomas says that taxpayers did not pay for his May rally.

“The rally was not funded in part or in whole by the Government of Grenada”, he said in response to a question on the Order Paper put forward by Opposition member Elvin Nimrod during the last sitting of the House of Representatives last week Tuesday.

Prime Minister Thomas held a major public meeting at the Grenville Car Park on May 20 after his four-year old government managed to survive a no-confidence motion brought by Opposition Leader, Dr. Keith Mitchell.

The Congress leader in his capacity as prime minister announced the rally in his address to the nation in May, in which he invited the nation to attend and to give thanks.

“As an act of appreciation for the fervent prayers and expressions of support for the government especially in the past two weeks, I, in my capacity as Prime Minister, will be holding a national thanksgiving rally at the Grenville Car Park on Sunday 20 May from 3:00 PM.  The entire nation is invited to join us in giving thanks and acknowledging our gratitude. I thank you”, he concluded his address.

Controversy surrounded the rally shortly after the PM’s announcement as a group of rebel within the NDC Executive disclosed that they were informed about the event during a party meeting.

The rebels were at pains in pointing out that the meeting had nothing to do with the NDC.

The question of payment for the rally surfaced after allegations that the bill was being paid by taxpayers.

However Finance Minister Nazim Burke dismissed this as false adding that the rally was paid for by private people sympathetic to the Prime Minister.

PM Thomas was in a jubilant mood given the size of the crowd and he told supporters during the public meeting: “Many of you were apprehensive about your government…… however, I was never in doubt because I firmly believe that God is in full control. So today, we give thanks to the Almighty for taking us thus far.”
Since taking office in July 2008, Congress has been dogged by infighting with two factions at work – one remaining loyal to the Prime Minister and the other is said to be controlled by former Tourism Minister, Peter David.

GRENLEC CEO Retires

Grenlec Managing Director Vernon Lawrence – bowing out of the company

After a decade at the helm of Grenada Electricity Services Ltd. (GRENLEC), team members at the utility bid Vernon Lawrence goodbye on Wednesday, 20 June.  He will retire from his post as Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer effective 9 July 2012.
Lawrence’s top priority was people and under his leadership much attention was given to building the Company’s human capital, improving customer service and enhancing community relations.

Paying tribute to Lawrence, the Chairman of GRENLEC’s Board of Directors thanked him for successfully steering the Company through turbulent times and particularly his leadership in the post Ivan period.  Significantly, he provided the sound leadership needed to restore electricity to the island in record time after the severe damage caused by Hurricane Ivan.  G. Robert Blanchard went on to speak about the Company’s growth during the last ten years.  Among the achievements, dramatic improvements in reliability and service enhancement have transformed the utility’s customer relations.  Simultaneously, decreases in losses, efficiency improvements and cost containment have helped GRENLEC to weather the turbulent financial times that marked the period of his leadership.

“We will miss Vernon greatly”, Mr. Blanchard stated. “He led the effort to bring GRENLEC to the forefront of Caribbean utilities. For this, everyone associated with energy in Grenada should be grateful. We wish Vernon, Sandra and their family all the best in the next phase of their life.”

As Lawrence prepares to depart, the Company’s renewable energy programme, which started with an interconnection programme, is on the verge of celebrating the start of the Carriacou Wind Farm project at Top Hill, a partnership between the European Union, the Government of Grenada and GRENLEC.

Lawrence, who came to GRENLEC with more than 30 years of experience in the electricity industry, joined the Company in 2002 as General Manager.  He assumed the post of Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer in 2004.  A proponent of corporate social responsibility and service, he served stints as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Caribbean Electric Utility Corporation (CARILEC), Vice President of the Grenada Chamber of Industry & Commerce and a Rotarian.

Thanking his team members for their commitment and support, Lawrence noted, “I believe we have bowled and batted a good innings and I am preparing to begin another spell in a different match…I want to change my focus and do some other things at my own pace.  I have been privileged to work with a wonderful and capable team and as I depart, I am proud that the team can carry the mantle and continue to build the organisation”.

Chief Engineer, Clive Hosten will serve as the interim Chief Executive Officer.

Support from men in St. John’s

“First of all on behalf of all of us present here today, I want to give the Ministry of Health a big high-five for bringing such a program to us in St. John. We think it’s very important and valuable to us and we know that from the turn out here today, we are ready to work with you to better provide for our healthcare needs.’’

Those were the words of former national football player and local football coach, Dexter George as he was speaking at last Tuesday’s Men’s Health Consultation in Gouyave, where more than 100 men received an array of healthcare services.

The event was the first in a series of consultations for men, planned for the western and northern health districts by the Ministry of Health.

During a clinical screening session, male clients were offered prostate examination services, blood pressure and blood sugar tests, weight and height checks, dietary services, stress management tips, body mass index checks and HIV/AIDS counseling and testing.

On completion of the screening exercise, the men participated in a two-and-a-half-hour-long consultation where they were informed of the Ministry’s plans, programmes and services and the benefits to be derived from their utilisation.

Participants were also encouraged to have their say on health-related issues that affect them and, most importantly, on how men’s health services can be improved.

The main facilitator of the consultation was Dr. Francis Martin, the Ministry’s Director of Primary Healthcare Services who looked at chronic diseases and the findings of a men’s health survey that was carried out last year in St. Andrew.

Dr. Martin used the opportunity to encourage the male folks to take charge of their health and well-being, referring to the doctrine that “prevention is better than cure’’.

“Men, you are in control of your health,’’ he emphasized. “Therefore, take charge, manage and control your diabetes, your blood pressure and sugar and your diet, and please exercise as often as possible”, he told the gathering.

The Primary Healthcare Director disclosed that although strokes are common in Grenada, prostate cancer is the leading cause of death among the nation’s men.

He called for positive lifestyle change that must be supported by early screening and detection, saying this can prevent and delay the onset of prostate cancer and – in some cases – reverse the disease.

“So, the onus in on you. And it is because of our commitment to service delivery and your health and well-being, we are here today and we will continue to support you,’’ Dr. Martin said.

The participants also commended the Health Ministry for its initiative and agreed that the activity was a major success and also described it as a very valuable event.

They also encouraged the Ministry to make the exercise an annual event and pledged their support towards the initiative.

Teenager Knifed to Death

Akim Monah, alias Ali Barber – charged with murder

An 18-year old mechanic from Belmont, St. George’s is the country’s sixth murder victim.

Samuel Gabriel was allegedly knifed to death by Akim Monah, alias Ali Barber, from Grand Anse Valley, St. George’s.

A release from the Community Relations Department of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) said that Gabriel received a single stab wound underneath the left breast at the hands of Monah.

Samuel Gabriel – stabbed to death at a Carnival Show

The incident happened at about 2:00 a.m. last week Friday at the weekly Carnival City activity which takes place at Garfield’s Summer Lime at the Kirani James Boulevard.

Gabriel was rushed to the St. George’s General Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

A high level source told The New Today Newspaper that both men were involved in a heated argument which, in the end, turned out to be fatal for Gabriel.

Immediately following the incident, the police issued a “Wanted Man Bulletin” as the 20-year old Monah attempted to evade their noose.

However, he was captured the following day and taken into custody by Officers attached to the Criminal Investigation Department.

Monah, a tradesman by profession, was charged for the offense of murder by unlawfully causing the death of Gabriel.

The Grand Anse Valley resident who is being represented by Attorney Peter David was remanded to Her Majesty’s Prisons at Richmond Hill, St. George’s by Chief Magistrate Tamara Gill on Monday.

He is due back in court on July 20.

Lotto gives $100, 000.00 for Carnival

Chairman of the National Lottery Authority (NLA) Board of Directors, Lingham Samuel made the presentation to Chief Executive Officer of the Spice Mas Corporation, Jennifer Woodroffe

The National Lottery Authority (NLA) has handed over EC$100, 000.00 to the Spice Mas Corporation (SMC) to assist with the staging of Carnival 2012.

The authority on Tuesday presented the cheque through the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Lingham Samuel to Chief Executive Officer of the corporation, Jennifer Woodroffe.
During the brief ceremony, Samuel announced that next year’s contribution to SMC will be bigger than what is given this years.

The NLA was set up primarily to contribute to the development of sports, culture and nation building in Grenada.

Samuel said that authority would like to make the partnership existing between the two state bodies become a living organism so that all aspects of carnival can become successful.

He stressed that NLA would like to see SMC get involved in development initiatives such as workshops and seminars which the Authority will support as part of a commitment to build on the partnership.

Samuel used the occasion to address recent allegations of sexual harassment at the authority by a senior member of staff.

Last month, Attorney-at-Law, Ian Sandy and Pastor Gerald Keens Douglas were appointed to investigate the allegations.
The inquiry came days after the powerful Technical and Allied Workers Union (TAWU) took to the Carenage, St George, in protest action demanding for justice for affected NLA workers.

TAWU called for the immediate suspension of the alleged perpetrator, and other members of the Board of Directors.
The individual at the centre of the controversy was asked to proceed on leave for the duration of the inquiry.

According to Samuel, despite negative publicity which engulfed the NLA as a result of the allegation, the Authority was still able to see increases in sales, as well as pay out more prizes and engage in more game draws.

He conceded that the allegations resulted in a level of distraction and unsavory painting of individuals and the Authority itself, which is not good for business but assured all that the NLA Board of Directors, is focused on progress and is not concentrating on the negatives.

Samuel said that the NLA has seen a significant increase in business and assured the corporation that the authority would continue to give 100% support to its development.

In response, Woodroffe welcomed the assistance and NLA’s commitment to support the development of initiatives geared at making the Spice Mas Corporation a success.

“The development of carnival must happen and it’s good to know that NLA is behind us,” she said.

Woodroffe noted that SMC, previously known as the Grenada Carnival Committee, has always been thankful to the Lottery Authority even at times when they (NLA) were not recognised for their contributions and support.

The SMC Executive Officer promised to ensure that the money received would be used to pay subventions to carnival stakeholders.

Acting Manager of NLA, Damian Darbeau attended the cheque presentation ceremony that took place at the Grenada National Stadium at Queen’s Park, St. George’s.