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After 15-year Monopoly Cable TV, Time For The Benefit of Competition

By Bennette Roach

During the 1980s, it seemed the norm for Montserrat to favour foreign business in Montserrat. At that time a young man named Winston Ponde sought to introduce a Cable TV service to Montserrat. Others have followed since. But at all times, rather than encourage the young man or others like him, the government opted to favour a foreign group with the franchise -- along with incentive concessions -- to supply Cable TV on island.

The TV operation started around 1982, and, after the concessions had run for some five years, the system was sold to the current owners. Their sweetheart agreement contains generous tax and duty concessions, including an exclusive franchise for 15 years, from 1987 to 2002. The terms of the agreement put the consumers entirely at the mercy of the Cable TV company.

This did not go unnoticed when, in the early ‘90s, the TV company again sought and received increases in their rates for service. There was an outcry on all sides.

This year, because of losses claimed to have been suffered because of hurricane Hugo and the eruption of the volcano, and with four years of monopoly still to run, the Cable TV company is seeking an extension of its monopoly for an additional 11 years beyond 2002.

It is understood that a sympathetic Government of Montserrat, seemingly without the benefit of thorough accounting, responded by offering to extend the monopoly for two years until 2004, i.e. two years beyond the current agreement, along with extension of tax and duty exemptions for a further six years, until 2008.

Amazingly, the Cable TV company has refused, threatening instead to close down its operation.

There are still several Montserratians who have been waiting for the opportunity to compete, by offering consumers a choice of Cable TV service. These young men do not seek any exclusivity or monopoly; they simply seek an opportunity to compete. Only they are confident that they can compete successfully by offering consumers a better and cheaper service.

With the present cable company already well established in the market, and having the customers, newcomers could hardly pose any serious threat to the viability of Cable TV, unless it is true that better and cheaper service could be provided. In that case the people of Montserrat should not be denied the choice.

Sources advise that the company did make profits in at least one year, 1994. We have learnt that the company supports its alleged losses with statements which some accountants find very suspect. It is believed that the combination of expenditure heads as presented in the statements, holds enormous potential for overlapping and duplication.


ZJB Rededicates Its ‘Semi-Permanent Site

"For ZJB it is relocation number six…soon we hope that the term 'relocation' in the Montserrat context will be an experience of the past…an experience to draw on in the future to teach lessons of survival, of perseverance and hope."

Rose Willock.jpg (31827 bytes)Those were the words of Miss Rose Willock, manager of ZJB (Radio Montserrat), after she had welcomed the many guests who showed up to celebrate with her and her staff at the rededication of the facilities of ZJB at its "new semi-permanent home" in Sweeneys.

The event took place on Friday morning at the premises housing the facility, during which the presentation of a BBC satellite dish also took place. Present and making this presentation was Mr. Jerry Timmins of the BBC, who was remembered by Chief Minister David Brandt in his speech as head of BBC Caribbean reports. "You worked with Hugh Croskhill and Mike Jarvis, a former ZJB Station manager," Mr. Brandt said.

In thanking the BBC for the satellite dish and receiver, Mr. Brandt told Mr. Timmins, "Take the message back to the BBC that Montserrat is recovering…The news items on the destruction of the volcano must have a change of content, they should comment on the resilience of Montserratians and the progress made as we rebuild our lives."

Mr. Brandt went further and mentioned another Montserratian, Keith (Stone) Greaves, currently at the BBC. "Negotiations should take place," Mr. Brandt said, "to see if the BBC Caribbean reports can be received through this gift. It would be nice to hear in better quality the voice of our own Montserratian Keith Greaves." He compared the local and regional happenings which take precedence to us over information from Europe and the Middle East.

Ms. Willock said the rededication was "necessary, since for the first time since the volcanic crisis and the consequent upheavals …ZJB is now able to operate from a building which provides more space and is upgraded to function as a proper Radio Station as we move beyond emergency stage into sustainable development."

She shared "a common experience which at this time needs no clarification." "… loss of property, of equipment, of some trained and talented manpower have taken a toll ... But we have survived …as the island has survived."

Quite a cross-section of the public witnessed the rededication, where Fr. Larry Finnegan of the Roman Catholic Church invoked the blessing of God on the buildings, the programs and all who served and came in contact with the radio station.

The station manager was full of praise for their survival, which she said was mostly fed "by the tenacity of a small team of young, resilient, aspiring colleagues comprising program staff, technical staff and administrative staff, and the support of a larger network of persons such as yourselves, volunteers and agencies in the public and private sector here at home, in the wider Caribbean and outside the Caribbean."

Credit was given to the international effort which she said brought the station this far. She mentioned each staff member by name, offering special thanks to "Miracle worker Lowell Mason who worked tirelessly in spite of ash, rain, thunder and lightening kept our transmitters running, with the able assistance of John Silcott, a broadcast engineer who until very recently was GEM Radio's chief engineer."

Brief addresses were made by His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Timmins and Mr. Lorenzo Cassell, British Executive Service Overseas (BESO) representative on Montserrat. BESO came in for special mention along side DFID, who assisted in providing "a broadcast engineer and a BBC journalist and trainer.

Along with music from the station, entertainment was provided by the St. Augustine school children and the proceedings were followed by refreshments, which included the island's favorite goatwater.


 EDITORIAL

"Are Monopolies Outdated Only Outside Montserrat?"

CableTV of Montserrat, which already has a monopoly to provide such services, wants more. If it doesn’t get more, it threatens to pack up and leave Montserrat.

The Government of Montserrat, supervised by Governor Abbott and Chief Minister Brandt, has a responsibility to ensure that the best interests of the people of Montserrat are given priority in any decision it takes on this issue or any other issue.

In this regard the Governor who sits as chairman at executive council, and the Ministers should bear the following facts in mind.

  1. Caricom and OECS have been committing themselves to eradicate monopoly in their respective countries.
  2. The monopoly agreement, which still has four years to go, is totally unfair to Montserratian consumers.
  3. Cable TV has enjoyed a total monopoly on the provision of TV programs since 1987. This monopoly will continue until 2002. At the expiry the company will be in an impregnable position to withstand any assault from any small company entering the market. There is therefore no reason why Montserratians should be debarred from entering the field if they wish.
  4. Since 1987 the TV consumers of Montserrat have been at the absolute mercy of the Cable TVcompany as a result of its monopoly. Consumers have had no options, no alternatives and no choices. They have been obliged to take whatever quality of service Cable TV has provided. That situation should in no case be extended beyond the 15 years of the agreement.
  5. International trade, commerce and communications are all moving steadily away from monopolies. It would be a retrograde step for the Government of Montserrat to grant or extend monopoly agreements.
  6. The extension of a monopoly agreement is an extremely dangerous action, and before the government takes any decision on such a matter the issues should be placed before the people in a comprehensive public consultation process.
  7. Cable TV must have suffered some additional costs and may not be attracting as much revenue now that the population is down by some 60 percent. However, one must believe that since Hugo, if we take the average and assume that at least 25 percent of the population subscribed, it would give on average sales of $50 per person about $125,000 per month. We know the rates range from $25 to just over $100.
  8. It is known that some of the TV programs provided in the region cost the companies nothing. The interests of the people of Montserrat require that the TV Company present adequate documentation that the expenses claimed were real. They should be required to provide a comprehensive detailed breakdown of each and all of these expenditure heads together with receipts and other documentation to verify the authenticity of the losses which they claim to have incurred.

There is concern in some corners that the Honourable Chief Minister, Mr. Brandt, was the legal representative of the Cable TV company, when this "sweetheart" agreement was negotiated. But today he represents the people of Montserrat and there should be no compromise in that latter fact.

For 11 years, enterprising Montserratians have sought to offer alternative cable TV services. They could demonstrate, even at their own risk, whether they could compete by providing more attractive, less expensive service, because the market is closed to all but one.

Is the current market so financially unrewarding that the monopoly company really wants to leave, as it threatens to do? Or is that brazen threat simply a cudgel to beat extended concessions out of the Government of Montserrat?

Call their bluff. The existing agreement will end in 2002. Four more years is time enough to sort out the alternatives.


LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

CM Brandt Vowed To Consult; It’s Time

Dear Editor,

According to news sources, Montserrat Cable TV has applied for an extension of their monopoly, for the provision of cable TV programs in Montserrat. I have also learned that there are local entrepreneurs who for several years have been seeking an opportunity to compete and offer consumers the choice of better quality and a more reliable cable TV service.

The Cable TV Company has enjoyed a monopoly position for over 11 years and still has four years to run before the monopoly expires. The extension of a monopoly at a time when there is a concerted effort between the OECS Territories to protect consumers from the scourge of monopolies is a very serious matter. Our consumers have suffered long enough from the cable TV monopoly and others. It is time that our consumers are given their right to choose between alternatives.

Montserrat Cable TV claimed severe losses as a result of the volcanic crisis. A case for such an extension based on professed losses must certainly require absolute confirmation of their validity. Anything less would be a disservice to the TV consumers in Montserrat.

Every other business on Montserrat has suffered some degree of loss as a result of the volcanic crises. Therefore, can one justify giving special consideration to one business and not others based only on their purported losses?

Since there is still four years to go on the current monopoly agreement, there is enough time for public consultation to ensure that the decision taken is in the interest of the people of Montserrat.

The Chief Minister has always promised to consult the public on important matters such as this and we hope we can depend on him to fulfill this promise in the interest of his people.

Most Concerned.


Aid Is Not a Free Ride, Even for the Recipients

Of course it seems absurd that British aid people should get free passes on the helicopter. But then aid is always like that -- the British give the aid, they spend it how they want, and if part of the deal is that some of it is spent on perks for their employees then that is standard practice. He who pays the piper calls the tune. Almost everywhere in the world aid people live far more affluent lives than the people they are aiding -- so what else is new? And everywhere in the world aid money is spent on things that will directly or indirectly benefit the donor country, whether through employment, contracts for public works, or whatever. (There are a few exceptions -- like the Cuban doctors and debt forgiveness for Central America etc., but those can be counted on the fingers of one hand, and can be attributed to political grandstanding or true philanthropy, according to your level of cynicism).

Accountability for the allocation of aid money would be wonderful. But then how much accountability do Montserratians demand of their own people? Look at the photo of that MonLec truck. Someone left it there, a lot of people saw it left there, but nobody cared. Did the person who left it there get held accountable for the loss? Did he get the cost of the truck deducted from his pay cheque, or did he get fired? Maybe he did, but somehow I think that nobody really cares, because the Montserratian taxpayer, the Montserratian electricity bill payer, and probably the British taxpayer will foot the bill.

In pre- and post-volcano Montserrat, expensive equipment is treated as if it grows on trees. From the gas chromatography equipment in the old Police Station to the heavy logging equipment donated by the Canadians all those years ago, the fully equipped new Glendon hospital that was just left to be consumed by the volcano (didn't anybody even THINK of getting all that equipment out of there?), the police vehicles and school buses and garbage trucks and police boats that get bought and then get wrecked or left to rot . . . . and who was held responsible for the demise of Montserrat Aviation Services as an aircraft-owning airline? I could go on and on . . . those are just a few examples . . . no, I'm not absolving the British of one bit of blame for their shortcomings, but there are less faceless and nameless accountabilities closer to home that are not being owned up to either.

Tony


FEEDBACK

Should Visitors’ Opinions Set Standards for Montserrat?

Let me first congratulate you on the wonderful job you are doing in keeping "interested persons" informed about Montserrat. Please keep it up.

There are some very good suggestions in the article "A View From the Outside." However, I must ask: Is the author more interested in the creature comfort of "Ecotourists" than in Montserrat getting back to some semblance of "normalcy"? Yes, successful "sales" come to those who do their homework. Is determining whether your segment is "niche or mainstream" a part of your "market research"? Does the author believe that Montserrat will "ever" be similar to Antigua in the tourist industry, and should the GOM consider whether it should base its economy [to be] on "tourism"?

Since the author appears to have some knowledge of St. Croix, is it possible that one of the reasons that the economy of St. Croix is where it is, may be because the "politicians" have tried to fashion St. Croix on the St. Thomas tourism model?

I always get panicky when "jargon" is used in place of sound judgement.

Should the GOM consider the "opinion" of two (2) visitors a "benchmark"?

The people of Montserrat are concerned about LPG to cook "TODAY," and he is concerned about a "Welcome" sign. Yes, if it is determined as part of a "development plan" that Montserrat should go into "niche" tourism, then ALL of the factors to be successful MUST be considered. "Revising the Custom/Immigration regulations," "long lines"; as we say in the West Indies: "joke 'e makin'." Which line is the longest at the International arrival wing at Kennedy, Newark or Boston? I do not think it will be the line for U.S. citizens: Mayor Guilliani will be the first to tell you how much visitors spend in New York -- and it is not, repeat not, what one is expecting in Montserrat.

Yes, "service" not "servitude" should be one of the criteria in the development of a tourist industry, and the customer's time should be a consideration. However, it is NOT clear to me that Montserratians should be asked by "anyone" to subordinate their place for any number of $$$$$$$ [U.S. or otherwise]. If the industry cannot bear to sustain itself, sound marketing principles indicate you should try another industry. "Focus Groups": who are the people in 'focus'? What is the Department of Tourism to "focus" on? How much is this going to cost?

And as the CM says in this same issue, " ... the needs of the islands to match the available resources", Amen. Going forward, this should be a beacon, guiding any future development.

I should comment on the growing controversy regarding the "airport", but enough for today.

I apologize to "Jus' Wonderin'". Thanks for listening!!!

BLT - St. Thomas


SCRIPTURE VERSE THIS WEEK

Love is the task of a lifetime

For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision or uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. Galatians 5:6

Christ values only "faith working through love"! What a surprise to many of us who have assumed our religious report card has many columns of requirements and duties to be checked off and added up, either in our favor or to our dismay. A surprise, but not necessarily a relief, for the standard of faith working through love is a challenge of no small proportion.

First, it calls us to faith: to study, accept, and believe the teachings of Christ. To do this we must step beyond the scientific world of what can be proven or disproved, and into the realm of trust, hope, and that which is untouched by time and space.

Next, we are to love: nothing less than the task of a lifetime! Our ability to love grows through the inner work of personal development, and the deepening of our compassion, vulnerability, and generosity. Finally, we work:- love and faith must find expression in action. Putting positive and pious feelings to work requires self discipline and the courage to risk. As we take action, we come full circle to fine-tune the quality our faith and our love.


NEWS BREIFS

Brandt, Weekes Vow Proper Lookout Roads

On Friday morning, following their presence at the ZJB rededication, Chief Minister David Brandt and Minister of Communications and Works Rupert Weeks invited the local media to Lookout where they viewed damage to roads laid down by Brown & Root at the Lookout housing complex.

damaged road at Lookout.jpg (46390 bytes) "We have received approval for a sum of 500,000 to build roads leading to these homes…not only these but those in Davy Hill as well." That was the honourable Chief Minister David Brandt speaking at the Lookout site where service roads built to the occupied homes have been destroyed by the rains that have been falling over the past week.

Mr. Brandt announced there also that a further sum of 150,000 was approved to re-site and upgrade the current heliport and its facilities. He pointed out that Mr. Weekes, who he referred to as "a man of action, who means what he says," had come to see with him the conditions of the roads and to tell the people of Montserrat that the roads will be fixed.

Mr. Weekes later confirmed that the roads constructed by Brown & Root had become worse and impossible.

He said that his Ministry had applied for the money to fix the roads quite a long time ago and that "roads have become so bad that we think we will need additional funds to bring roads to the required standard." He said further that they will need to restudy the figures that they had submitted. He promised further that as early as next week the road works will commence.

Mr. Weekes said also that his ministry's Public Works Department had not been consulted in the laying of roads at any of the housing projects, but the roads have now been passed on to them and they will do the necessary works to bring them to an acceptable standard, having received the funding from DFID.


Governor’s Court Visit Raises Eyebrows, Hackles

govabbot.jpg (5599 bytes)On Tuesday last week, Montserrat's Governor Anthony Abbott made a rare and perhaps unprecedented visit to the High Court assizes being held at its temporary location at the Salem Primary School.

The Governor reportedly remained in the makeshift courtroom for nearly two hours and observers noted that for the better part of the proceedings he seemed disinterested.

When contacted about what was described to him as unusual and unknown to have been done by any of his predecessors, the governor was very surprised. "I have never visited a court before. It is the first one I've been in and I thought I would go and have a look to see what it is like and see also what the facility, etc. was like. I was very interested in seeing a court in session," he replied.

The case being heard, and still continuing, is that of the alleged bank robbery involving Barclays Bank in Plymouth and ECCB unissued notes. Nine persons are charged with burglary, conspiracy and handling stolen property.

It was suggested to the Governor that his appearance at court might be thought to influence the proceedings. He expressed utter dismay and outrage. "I don't believe it. What an outrageous suggestion! It is very strange, I can't believe what I am hearing," he said.

The Governor said he felt that it was his right and privilege to go and see how a court is operating and that persons making such suggestions should be reprimanded. "I am not only surprised but I am outraged at any such connotations, I would like to have a word with anyone saying things like that."

During our investigations of the occurrence, it was revealed also that other members of his household and of the Attorney General's had been following the proceedings at court fairly regularly.

The case has completed its third week and is expected to run well into the rest of the month.


English Rotarian Club Supports Local Club
At the meeting of the Rotary Club of Montserrat held on 25th November a donation was made by Past President Brian Bird, the chairman of the International Service Committee of the Rotary Club of Eastbourne Soverign (formerly the Rotary Club of Polegate and Willingdon), which has had a friendly relationaship with the Montserrat Club for nearly 10 years, since Past President Geoffrey Brewer and Doreen, his wife, bought a house in Olveston.

rotaryEnglish club gift_web.jpg (24742 bytes)The relationship between the two clubs, which were both chartered in 1970, has been helpful to Montserrat Rotary Club, and financial and "emergency box" donations have been made in the past, following reports made by Geoffrey Brewer as to the disastrous effect of Hurricane Hugo and the various stages of the volcanic crisis.

The President and Council of the Eastbourne Soveriegn Club wished this year to benefit the schools and pupils in Montserrat. They arranged that when Brian Bird came to Antigua on holiday he should come over to Montserrat with his wife Jo as a guest of Geoffrey and Doreen Brewer, to present a cheque for 500 sterling, approximately EC $2,250, towards the cost of educating the students remaining in Montserrat, whose opportunities had become limited.

This donation for the benefit of education in Montserrat is one of three main charitable objects of the Eastbourne Sovereign Club this year, and it is hoped that another donation of possibly the same or similar amount will be made by Eastbourne Sovereign for the benefit of education in Montserrat during the coming year.

President Julian Romeo said how much the Montserrat Club appreciated the help given by Eastbourne Sovereign and thanked Brian Bird, President Barry Mason and all the members of the Eastbourne Sovereign Club for their generous support in the past and at this time when help for the young people of Montserrat was so urgently needed.


UN Backs Air Jamaica Song to Aid Montserrat

The United Nations has given its support to a regional project which features 120 Caribbean artistes recording a song to raise money for the volcano-stricken people of Montserrat.

Aptly titled "A Song for Montserrat," the song is the brainchild of Air Jamaica's general manager for the eastern Caribbean, Tom Hill, who sought and got support from the entire Air Jamaica organisation. As such, the project is actually owned by the airline. However, the funds from the project will be managed by the Caribbean Tourist Organisation (CTO).

The involvement of the United Nation has given the project, titled "Family in Action for Montserrat," global clout, and as a result, the organising group wants to take advantage of the UN's reach.

"In the first meeting with the United Nations, we were looking at the first cut of over 250,000 CDs around the world," disclosed project producer Gil Figaro. He said that the UN is spearheading a move to have "A Song for Montserrat" played simultaneously on all radio stations throughout the region as a gesture to mark its official release.

"It's one song about 10 to 12 minutes long. We will have a radio cut in the CD of about three minutes. We will have two instrumental versions, one about three minutes and the other the entire length of the song. And there will be two other songs donated to the project, one entitled ‘Sunshine’ and the other ‘My Mother's Hands’," explained Figaro.

According to the Trinidad-born producer, and the founder of the Sunshine Awards, which recognises Caribbean artistes, each artiste involved with the project recorded a line in the song. "One of the exciting experiences for me is that they sang the song with so much passion for the people of Montserrat and were victims," Figaro told Sun Day in an interview at Mikey Bennett's Grafton Road recording studio last Monday night.

Figaro co-wrote the song with Joe Brown. The other Jamaican artistes involved with the project are Ambleique, Norris Weir (of the Jamaicans' fame), Rita Marley, Lisa Salesman, Cheryl Crooks and Papa San. "Bringing the Caribbean Community together is such an important thing," said Carlene Davis, with her usual enthusiasm. "I guess the music fraternity has been able to do what politicians are unable to do. It's a very worthy cause to reach out to our fellowmen at a time like this. I'm excited."

Norris Weir, just as spirited, simply said: "To do it is one of my greatest pleasures."

No one will be paid for their services and that includes Crystal Sounds Recording Studio in New York, Coral Sound Recording Studio in Trinidad, Air Jamaica, BWIA, which has supported the project by flying some of the artistes along with Air Jamaica, and Grang Production video crew from New York

This musical enterprise also features the talents of David Rudder, Mighty Sparrow, Ajamu, Arrow, Edwin Yearwood, Gaby and Jaunty.


Professor Urges OECS Develop Strategic Vision

"In order to cope with the paradigm shift and complex multi-dimensionality of globalisation, the OECS must develop its own strategic vision for its future development."

So said Professor Clive Thomas, of the University of the West Indies Mona, while addressing participants in the recently concluded ECCB sponsored two-day conference on Development at the Ocean Terrace Inn in St. Kitts. The Professor expressed concern at World Bank documents which purported to provide a vision for the Caribbean for the future.

"This," the Professor declared, "violates best practice which requires that the vision for a society’s development should be produced by indigenous institutions working in a participatory, transparent and proactive environment. It is only from a sense of ownership of the design, methods of monitoring and evaluation of a strategic response that any society can be expected to repose confidence and conviction in the articulated vision of its development."

In his presentation, entitled "The Economic Development of the OECS in the Newly Emerging International Economic Order," Professor Thomas asserted that the old ways of achieving economic progress -- producing for protected markets, reliance on significant concessionary financial flows, along with technical assistance and a less than urgent approach to regional economic integration -- are under serious threat.

He cited the need for reforms to institutional, regulatory and incentive frameworks in order to make them more market driven, less bureaucratic, more efficiency-rewarding and inefficiency- penalising, as the region faces the twin processes of globalisation and liberalisation.


REGIONAL NEWS

CARICOM Team to Attend William Demas' funeral

Guyana, CANA - Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary-General, Edwin Carrington, will lead the Secretariat's team to the State funeral for former Secretary-General William Demas in Trinidad and Tobago on Monday. Assistant Secretary-General, Regional Trade and Economic Integration, Byron Blake, and three officers who worked with Demas during his tenure from 1973-74 will attend the funeral. Demas, 69, died last Saturday at his home in Trinidad and Tobago.


Busy 1999 Atlantic Storm Season Ahead

Miami, CANA - A warning has come that next year's hurricane season could be just as bad as this season's.

This forecast comes as Caribbean and Central America countries struggle to recover from one of the worst Atlantic hurricane seasons ever that saw 14 tropical storms, 10 of which became hurricanes and three were intense.

The Atlantic basin will see 14 tropical storms next year, nine of which will grow to hurricane strength, said Dr. Bill Gray, a Colorado State University researcher. 


U.S. Troops Won’t Raid Marijuana Fields

Barbados, CANA - United States marines will not be actively involved in an exercise to destroy marijuana fields in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a U.S. military official said Thursday. "The Americans will only be providing transportation to and from the eradication sites. We are not law enforcement agents, we are not police, we will not be on the ground," Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Douglas said. He said the eradication will be carried out by members of the Regional Security System.

Later in St. Vincent it was reported that a US official in the Barbados embassy said that Peace Corp volunteers in St Vincent and the Grenadines were not instructed to evacuate the island because of a marijuana eradication exercise starting Monday. But Jennifer Clarke, the embassy's Public Affairs Officer, said that all American citizens have been asked to be more vigilant. US military personnel along with Caribbean forces are expected to destroy marijuana farms in the country. 


Top Opposition Post At Issue in St Vincent

Kingstown, St Vincent, CANA - Leaders of the two parties which merged to form St Vincent and the Grenadines’ opposition Unity Labour Party tomorrow contest for the party's top position at its convention.

The withdrawal of party chairman, Louis Straker and Ken Boyea paved the way for a straight fight between Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, who headed the former Movement For National Unity, and Stanley "Stalky" John, who led the St Vincent Labour Party when the two merged following the 1994 general elections.

Boyea, the Parliamentary Representative for Central Kingstown, and Straker are now supporting John in the contest for party leader.


Canada to Deport Jamaican Pastor

Toronto, Canada, CANA - A prominent church pastor and four of his 10 children were yesterday scheduled to be deported to Jamaica from Canada as illegal immigrants. The Rev. Vincent Lee Sterling, a senior pastor at Power of Faith Pentecostal church in Toronto's eastend, was arrested by immigration officials Monday while picking up his children at school. Sterling's wife, Patricia, 34, who is also an ordained Minister, is being sought under an immigration warrant and is allegedly being hidden along with the couple's other six children by congregation members.


Rain-triggered Mudslide Wreaks Havoc in St. Kitts

Compiled from Dispatches

The government of St. Kitts-Nevis this week reported that Basseterre and elsewhere on St. Kitts suffered estimated mudslide damages at $3.9 million.

The slide occurred after the island was drenched with about 5 inches of rain in four hours of Saturday, Nov. 28.

Flooding from the torrential rains damaged at least 100 buildings in Basseterre’s commercial district, 40 homes in other areas of St. Kitts, 50 cars, a sugarcane field and part of a railroad.

Prime Minister Denzil Douglas declared part of Basseterre a disaster zone and released extra funds for rebuilding.

The only confirmed casualty in the mudslide Saturday night was a man identified as Steve Maynard, 41, of Basseterre, whose body washed ashore about a half-mile from the city's port, police said.

An unidentified woman was hospitalized after being rescued from a trapped car.

The mudslide, triggered by torrents of rain, stormed down two gullies in downtown Basseterre and buried more than 30 vehicles, most of them parked cars.

Vehicles were still being pulled Monday from muck as much as 15 feet deep Waterfront businesses were flooded with silt, and mudslides and fallen trees closed roads in other parts of the island. Utility workers were trying to raise downed electric poles, but many parts of St. Kitts remained without electricity Monday. Part of the island's power plant was also damaged.

St. Kitts was still rebuilding from September’s Hurricane Georges, which caused at least $445 million in damage, affected 70 percent of the island's homes and killed three people.


GOVERNMENT INFORMATON SERVICES

Montserrat pays Tribute to William Demas and Kurleigh King

The Office of the Chief Minister paid tribute this week to two giants of the regional integration movement.

Mr. William Demas and Dr. Kurleigh King, former Secretaries General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), passed away last week by natural causes.

In a letter to the Government and People of Trinidad & Tobago, Chief Minister Brandt said it was with deep regret the people of Montserrat mourn the passing of the Honourable William Demas on Saturday, 28th November. This national of Trinidad and Tobago adopted the cause of West Indian integration and his name is synonymous with our regional institutions and development as a Community.

The Chief Minister said the people of Montserrat and the region have benefited from Mr. Demas’ tenure as President of the Caribbean Development Bank, Governor of the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago and Senior Fellow at the Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of the West Indies.

According to Mr. Brandt his legacy is especially evident in the outstanding cadre of regional thinkers and economists who were influenced by his sharp intellect and belief in the region.

The Chief Minister stated that even as we this year celebrated the Caribbean Community’s twenty-fifth anniversary, his input into the celebrations was noteworthy as he succinctly commented on the origins, challenges and transitions of the Community.

Chief Minister Brandt said the Community will miss this personification of regionalism.

Dr. King was Secretary General of CARICOM from 1978-1983. He was known for his great managerial and organizational skills. Prior to his assuming office as Secretary General of the Community, Dr. King was a senior official of the Caribbean Development Bank, serving as Director of the Industrial Division. On completing his tenure at the Secretariat, Dr. King returned to Barbados and served as Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados.

Upon his departure from public life in the Caribbean, Dr. King who had earlier taught at Columbia University returned to teach in the United States.


Tourism and the Environment

(The following was written by Acting Principal Environmental Health Officer Trevor Howe for Tourism Week which was observed in September).

We recognize that there is an important link between tourism and the Environmental Health. The economic importance of tourism as a product and the emphasis on eco-tourism puts the onus to keep our environment -- that is air, land and waterways -- healthy, and the need to sustain this resource over the long term.

The challenge and the commitment we seek from each and every individual resident or non-resident living in this country or the visitor to our shores is to maintain and sustain a clean environment.

A good starting point is managing our solid waste or refuse. Not so long ago, maintaining a clean environment was a part of our culture. It was a way of life for householders, business places and the general community. Individuals recognized the significance of managing their waste properly, because right before their very eyes family members and love ones became victims of ill health and sometimes death from communicable diseases such as malaria and diarrheal diseases.

The gains made during that era have been quickly eroded and are replaced by complacency and utter disregard in respect of maintaining a clean environment. (This is) a growing concern, echoed by the Environmental Health Department and other government agencies, including the Department of Tourism, private sector, schools, communities and individuals.

This concern is justified, for as you walk, drive, peer through our windows from our homes or workplaces, there is substantial evidence of paper, plastic and metal containers, old stoves and refrigerators, tyres and construction debris; you name it and it can be found dumped illegally on sidewalks, open lots or in ghauts.

The implication of such action increases the public’s risk to communicable diseases through providing harbourage and food for rats, flies, mosquitoes and other pests. It creates offensive odors, pollutes streams, and creates the potential for accidents. All of this, plus the presence of unpleasant surroundings, can be very stressful. To stop this unwanted act every individual must see it as a potential public health problem. Through waste reduction, proper storage and disposal at designated solid waste sites, we can begin to restore our environment to what it was before. To achieve this requires minimal effort.

Here are a few steps that can set us in the right direction.

This problem is not beyond us as individuals. For as people we can all contribute in a positive way to achieve the goal of sustaining and maintaining a clean environment.

Each person doing his or her part on the road to sustainable development in the Emerald Isle.


Caribbean Journalists Changing Perceptions

A large contingent of regional journalists visited Montserrat this week with the hope of changing the Caribbean’s perception of the island.

Invited here by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency CDERA, the regional media professionals were impressed and in some cases astonished by what they saw: a people full of spirit and determination despite their lives being torn apart by almost four years of volcanic eruptions.

Trinidadian journalist Junie Browne, speaking on behalf of his colleagues, said, "The spirit of the people here has really impressed me very much. You can get the impression that life is not only going on but that it may even be better than it was before and it does set an example for what can happen when people do put their best resources together to overcome such an obstacle."

Browne said the hospitality the journalists received was "tremendous."

The journalist took his counterparts in the region to task for their reporting on the situation on Montserrat. "We do hope for what has been done or what has not been done properly by other journalists both abroad and within the region that we do have a responsibility to ensure that we not just give a good side and a bad side but to give the truth and if the truth is positive then that is what should be reflected. If the truth is negative then that should be reflected. Our job is not to report things out of malice or emotions but out of what is actually happening. And I believe that we have seen a lot of positive things occurring here. Therefore if that is the case that is what the world should know. I believe the Caribbean has suffered enough from a lack of proper balanced reporting on its own neighbours and we need to correct that we are going to move along as a united body."

The journalists were taken on a tour of several projects in the north. They were told that there is no new volcanic activity and the current lull may last for a while.

Director of Tourism Ernestine Cassell told the group that despite the devastation of the capital Plymouth, Montserrat still has a lot to offer.

Ms. Cassell said as part of the island’s development plan the Tourism Department plans to develop trails for tourist. She also reported that through a number of private sector initiatives accommodation in Montserrat has been increased, and Montserrat is marketed as a tourist destination in Europe, the United States and in the Caribbean.


REGIONAL MEDIA WORKSHOP A SUCCESS

This week’s two-day regional media workshop in Antigua and Montserrat has been described as a success.

Organised by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA) and the Department for International Development (DFID), the workshop included discussions on CDERA’s role in Montserrat, how the regional media have covered disasters in the region, with special focus on the Montserrat situation, and how to improve and expand regional coverage about Montserrat.

During the opening ceremony addresses were made by Information and Communications Officer for the Montserrat Evacuees Project, Theresa Daniel; CDERA’s Deputy Coordinator Judy Thomas; Antigua/Barbuda’s Minister of Home Affairs, Adolphus Freeland; Head of the DFID Montserrat Office, Doug Houston; Montserrat’s Director of Development, Angela Greenaway, and Anthony Liverpool, Regional Coordinator for the Montserrat Project.

Twenty journalists from the across the region were updated on the situation in Montserrat and CDERA’s role in the existing crisis on the island.

CDERA’s Deputy Coordinator Judy Thomas gave a background to CDERA/CDB projects and activities in Montserrat, placing specific emphasis on CDERA’s provision of technical assistance to Montserrat since volcanic activity started.

Mrs. Thomas said support focused on operations management, coordination of regional response efforts, information sharing to highlight decision issues for all stakeholders, and soliciting support from donors, Governments of the region, and resources such as humanitarian, economic, technical, diplomatic and other forms of assistance in support of economic and social life in Montserrat. These include the mobilization of external assistance from regional and international donor institutions and countries.

The Deputy CDERA Coordinator said the Governments of the region therefore instructed the agency to coordinate the pledges of emergency assistance to be provided by member states.

One of the critical elements, she pointed out, was the establishment of the CARICOM Village. "The idea of the village was endorsed by the Conference and CDERA mandated to coordinate the arrangements for its establishment," Mrs. Thomas explained.

She also reviewed media coverage of the crisis in Montserrat and suggested ways to improve and expand regional media coverage beyond the actual crisis. Mrs. Thomas urged the regional media not to focus on the sensational, but seek to highlight life in Montserrat generally.

The second day of the workshop on Montserrat saw journalists embarking on field trips to the Look Out housing projects, including the CARICOM Village, the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, the Emergency Department and the Golden Years Home for the Elderly among others.

On the Afternoon of Tuesday December 1st, the journalists were taken on boat trips from Little Bay to the abandoned capital Plymouth to see first hand the devastation caused by pyroclastic flows down the flanks of the Soufriere Hills volcano.

Having seen for themselves first hand the media professionals said they now have a better idea of the situation on island. Some of them also expressed a willingness to return to cover what they saw as a developing island with a bright future.


Antigua Promises Continued Assistance to Montserratians

Antigua and Barbuda has pledged continued support to Montserrat evacuees living in the two-island state.

The commitment was made by Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister of Labour and Home Affairs Adolphus Freeland.

He was at the time addressing the opening of a two-day regional media workshop in Antigua. The workshop was organized by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA) and the Department for International Development (DFID).

Since the start of the volcanic crisis in 1995 an estimated 3,000 Montserratians relocated to Antigua.

Mr. Freeland said even though they embraced their brothers and sisters from Montserrat and are doing their best to help alleviate the inevitable stress and strain, the unforeseen development has stretched the health and education resources of Antigua and Barbuda.

He said, however, the British Government is working at resolving this by providing additional classrooms/health facilities.

The Labour and Home Affairs Minister also said that Montserratians have been integrated into the Antiguan workforce at various levels in the public and private sectors. He also stated that Montserratians do not require work permits to work in his country.

Mr. Freeland said the Antigua National Office of Disaster Services (NODS) has been fully engaged in supporting the Montserrat evacuation plan, pointing out that Antigua/Barbuda is the sub-regional focal point of that plan.


Commonwealth Conference Pledges Support For Montserrat

Minister with responsibility for Women’s Affairs the Honourable Adelina Tuitt participated in a Regional Symposium on Gender, Politics, Peace, Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Bridgetown, Barbados from 23 - 26 November 1998.

The symposium was organized by the Gender and Youth Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat, in collaboration with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) and the Commonwealth Foundation.

The Honourable Billy Miller, deputy Prime Minister of Barbados, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tourism and International Transport and Chairperson of the CPA International Executive, opened the symposium.

The participating countries were Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos Islands.

The following NGOs and IGOs were also represented:

It was the third in a series of Symposia on the same theme, following the African and Asian/European Symposium held in June 1997 and March 1998, respectively.

The Symposium offered participants the opportunity to explore issues, propose solutions and identify strategies in both plenary and working group sessions. It also provided a meaningful training component in mediation and negotiation skills.

The parliamentarians addressed the issue of volcanic disaster in Montserrat, which reduced the population from 11,000 to 4,000, many of whom are still living in shelters. A specific proposal offering assistance to Montserrat would be made through the Ministry of Education Health and Community Services, the ministry responsible for Women’s Affairs. This proposal was the outcome of extensive discussion on how assistance could be given to the people of Montserrat, especially women and children, who were the most vulnerable (e.g training in construction and the service industry, etc).

One of the major issues emerging from the conflict in the Caribbean is violence against women, and as the symposium coincided with the International Day Against Violence Against Women on 25 November, 1998, it was commemorated through a special candlelight ceremony (Montserrat has just recently passed its Family Protection Against Domestic Violence Bill in November 1998).

Participants stressed that real democracy can only be achieved with the full and equal participation of women and men. This requires dynamic and strategic interventions to increase women’s participation in the political decision-making process at all levels. Building a partnership between women and men in political life will positively transform the society in the 21st century.


Honourable Adelina Tuitt Meets OECS Education Ministers

Minister of Education the Honourable Adelina Tuitt attended the 11th annual meeting of OECS Ministers of Education in Tortola on Friday 8th November 1998.

At the plenary session the ministers received a report on the status of implementation of decisions taken at the tenth meeting of ministers in Antigua and comprehensive progress reports on the activities of the OECS Education Reform Strategy (OERS) and the donor-funded projects that support the strategy, namely, the Eastern Caribbean Education Reform Project (ECERP); the OECS/EDF Human Resource Development and Tertiary Level Programme; the OECS BDDC/UWI Primary Teacher Training Project; the GTZ/TVET Project; and the Basic Education Reform Project supported by the World Bank and the Caribbean Development Bank.

The OERS status report included an update on the completion and circulation of the final draft of the harmonized education legislation, the implementation of standardized grade names in all schools, the appointment of a curriculum specialist to coordinate and guide the implementation of a harmonized core curriculum in primary schools, and of an information and research specialist to advise on the implementation of improved management information systems, internet training, and electronic communication among OECS ministers of education.

Status reports on the work of the reform strategy included achievements of the recently appointed three-member staff under the OECS/EDF/HRD Tertiary Level Education Programme to accelerate the development of tertiary level institutions, along with the establishment of centers of specialization. The report also included the initial activities of the OECS/BDDC/UWI Primary Education Project, work undertaken through national basic education projects supported by the World Bank and the Caribbean Development Bank and the activities of the ongoing ECERP initiatives designed to assist ministries of education in the management of components of the education system to facilitate the implementation of the reform strategy.

The ministers of education reviewed the institutional structures employed in the management of the reform process and considered proposals submitted by the OECS Secretariat for rationalizing these structures. The meeting agreed to aggregate the functions of technical committees into a single OECS Technical Education Committee (OETEC) which, among its other functions, will be responsible for reviewing all of the technical issues arising from the implementation of the reform strategy. The conclusions and recommendations of this committee will be submitted directly to the ministers at their annual meetings.

In endorsing the ECERP work plan for 1998-99, the ministers noted the progress on the OECS Education Reform Strategy and gave an undertaking to provide the required administrative support and policy direction for the activities implemented at the national level to ensure that the full impact was realised.

The ministers received an update on the OECS/GTZ/TVET project and endorsed proposals for the establishment of a national training mechanism to address areas of standards, certification, management of training programmes, and the development of national TVET policies similar national human resource development policies. There was also agreement to create a Project Management Committee.

The meeting also received the work programme from the OECS/EDF/Human Resources development Tertiary Level Programme, along with a report on the activities implemented during first nine months. Of particular interest to the ministers was the progress of the infrastructural component which is aimed at expanding the physical facilities at the tertiary level colleges in the member states. They pledged their commitment to provide administrative and budgetary support to ensure timely completion of these activities.

The Tertiary Level Institutions Unit of the UWI Cave Hill Campus presented to ministers a report which highlighted the Unit’s involvement in articulation arrangements between the first year programmes in colleges and the university in their efforts to link these programmes to the associate degree.

The meeting also received an update from the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) on the agency’s success in piloting the Caribbean Advanced proficiency Examination (CAPE) and commended the work done by regional teachers to ensure that music be an examinable subject in 1999.

The presentation from CARICOM informed ministers of the forthcoming meeting of the Council of Human Resource Development at which matters relating to education will be discussed. The proposed agenda will include topics such as multi-grade teaching accreditation and gender education.

The next meeting will be held in Dominica in May 1999.


Developments in the Ministry of Communications and Works

Minister of Communications and Works the Honourable Rupert Weekes has reported on developments within his ministry.

In an interview on the Government Information Service radio programme "IMPACT," Minister Weekes made the following points:

Port Development Project

A project proposal in the final stage of preparation will further develop the emergency jetty at Little Bay. This project includes additional work on the jetty itself and the erection of proper storage, while improving other facilities. A study will be conducted shortly to examine the effects of wave action at both Little Bay and Carrs Bay. A decision will then be taken whether a new port needs to be built at Carrs Bay or improvements made to the existing emergency jetty at Little Bay.

Airport Development Project

The position of the Government of Montserrat is that a fixed wing air facility is needed on the island. The matter will be looked at in more detail in order to determine the best site. That site should allow us to have a viable air link and expansion capabilities. Work will start very shortly on upgrading the heliport to meet international aviation standards. While W.H. Bramble cannot be completely ruled out, the Government of Montserrat would have to be convinced that it is safe for aircraft, staff and the public. In the meantime the Government will continue its own investigation to determine the best site for the airport.

Roads

There are a number of projects currently before DFID in London awaiting approval. These include proper road access to the Davy Hill and Look Out Housing Projects and the Geralds Main Road.

New MONLEC Power Plant

There are plans for a new power plant for the Montserrat Electricity services. Land for this project has already been allocated. For over a year MONLEC has been generating electricity from emergency generators.

Merger of MONLEC and MWA

Executive Council has taken a decision that there should be functional cooperation between MONLEC and the Water Authority. The Government is looking at setting up a new entity known as the Public Utilities Authority,, which will include both MONLEC and MWA. Under such an arrangement the management and accounting departments will be combined. The benefits of this move include more efficiency and a reduction in costs.


TAMEC Programme Gets Underway

The Targeted Assistance For Montserratian Evacuees in the Caribbean (TAMEC) programme is underway.

Coordinated by the Antigua-based Caribbean Conference of Churches (CCC), the goal of TAMEC is to help improve the social and economic conditions of evacuated Montserratians in their local Caribbean societies, pending possible return to Montserrat.

Antiguan Anthony "Mamba" Liverpool is the Regional Coordinator for the Montserrat Project.

He said following the visit of a DFID consultant to the islands earlier in the year, it was proposed that one or more projects be funded in the territories of Antigua, Anguilla, Dominica, St. Kitts/Nevis, St. Maarten and Tortola (BVI) with highest numbers of evacuated Montserratians.

Mr. Liverpool said it was out of this exercise that the Caribbean Conference of Churches was identified to coordinate the TAMEC Programme.

He said major purpose is to assist poor and vulnerable Montserratians to achieve greater financial independence and to assist those who are unable to help themselves avoid destitution.

Mr. Liverpool said there are two main components to the programme. He said the first, the Special Needs Fund, is geared towards providing support to elderly and disabled individuals who may have no other means of support and to provide an opportunity for all Montserratians to meet on a monthly basis for socializing and mutual support.

He outlines that the nature of support involves the provision of a "small grant" to assist in areas of health, community care, payment of house rent and or food. "Additionally, recipients will be eligible for services provided by non-governmental organizations in the respective islands," Mr. Liverpool added.

Mr. Liverpool said the Special Needs Fund is presently been administered in the six islands by the following organizations:

  1. Antigua - Society of St. Vincent de Paul
  2. Anguilla - Anguilla Christian Council
  3. Dominica - R.E.A.C.H
  4. St. Kitts/Nevis - St. Kitts Christian Council
  5. St. Maarten - The Rotary Club
  6. Tortola - British Red Cross(BVI Branch).

Mr. Liverpool said the second component is Community Empowerment, which is designed to enable the wider community of evacuated Montserratians to further enhance their social and economic well being.

This will include projects that seek to assist Montserratians in meeting educational needs, skills training, day care for single parents, counseling services, small business and micro-financing and agricultural development.

Mr. Liverpool said the programme will also provide support to individuals who are seeking to pursue short-term courses geared towards improving their employment capacity.


FEATURES

Developed Housing is Key To Future Property Ownership

Danger awaits only those who do not react to change. Usually our reactions to change go unnoticed. But that is because the change takes place over a number of years. Recently, however, many changes have taken place on Montserrat. And luckily some of us have avoided danger, by reacting swiftly.

Unfortunately for Montserrat, the main reaction was to take "flight" to the UK. I say unfortunately, even though I recognise that in most cases the reaction was due to fear of the dangers of the Volcano. But the "flight" was due to the Government's failure to react sensibly to the changes in living conditions and housing arrangements. Nevertheless, those who stayed have adjusted well to some subtle changes which will become part of our lives for the foreseeable future. Changes such as age benefits, unemployment benefits, organised care for the aged and housing developments are here to stay. And not to react to them will be dangerous.

Not too long ago, I wrote that good leadership is reflected m the way leaders accept or resist change. I hope that our social, economic and political leaders have noticed how population have accepted and adjusted to changes. I also hope that our leaders will adjust their thinking and legislate so that those important changes become a way of life for Montserratians.

Let us look at the unemployment and old age income support benefits. No one will deny that these benefits have improved the quality of life for many Montserratians. And if we were to measure the ultimate rewards, by the increased income at Church collections or by the cash receipts of the shops, we will appreciate how important it will be to incorporate these benefits into fiscal and budgetary policies.

Let us take another look at the benefit of organised caring for the aged. Without a doubt, there have been great improvement in our overall social wellbeing. This could be measured in the creation of new jobs; the opportunity for social contacts for old and otherwise left-alone people; and the opportunity for people with similar concerns to regularly meet and discuss their sick or aged loved ones.

There is no doubt in my mind that to provide organised care for the aged is just as important as to provide organised education for our children. I must also add, it is no less important than to provide jobs and income to civil servants, workers, police and teachers.

No matter how we look at the changes, we should accept them and plan to incorporate them into our customs and culture. To do so will greatly enhance the quality of life for many Montserratians and remove certain dangers from our tomorrow.

In spite of what I have written so far, the most important change for Montserratians is the way people obtain the right to ownership of property.

Let us take a look at the housing developments at "Look Out" and "Davy Hill." No one who lives there had to purchase one inch of land. Yet someday soon, they will eventually obtain the right to purchase and own the house and the land. Yes, in spite of all the difficulties with the roads, these groups of people are the most satisfied, with respect to the re-housing situation.

Compare the people living in the housing development at Look Out or Davy Hill with others who had to purchase or lease lands. Some have constructed costly buildings on other peoples’ land, and look forward to legal nightmares and possible bloodshed, when they will be asked to vacate. Others are still struggling with unreliable contractors, unsafe road access, costly utility arrangements and impossible waste disposal.

Which way do we want to go? Which was the better way to react to the changes? Which way will provide for the better quality of life. Is the better way not housing developments? Certainly, it is not the individual purchase of lots and the costly and unreliable interaction with local contractors people want. People prefer to make a down payment and regular installments for a house ready to live in. No longer do they want the stress and hassle of building their own -- even with the assistance of a contractor.

No matter what we may think about "Crown" and Root, housing development and developers are the way forward. This is a change which we must not resist. To resist the change from building your own house to purchasing your property from a developer is to flirt with sure danger.

I beg our leaders to recognise this important change in the way people are thinking with respect to housing and property rights. I command our politicians to move quickly to create land policies, not just brag about housing expectations. Create real land policies -- that will blend with peoples acceptance of the changing times -- land policies that will avoid the danger which is lurking in their very nature if displaced people do not get easier access to land and property rights.


A View From the Outside - #3

By Ken Walter

There is a reoccurring question line that seeks to define, "Just what is Ecotourism and how do I develop a Sales Plan to cash in on this new breed of tourist?" Now if this question is asked of a banker, Small Business Development Agency or similar organization, the person asking the question needs to be prepared for the fact that he or she may receive a reply, "First tell me about your market research and Marketing Plan." If you are going to sell a new product or service, especially in a new and emerging market, then understanding that market is necessary before you attempt to prospect and make a sale. Marketing is the process of understanding who your potential customers are, their specific needs/wants and what influences drive them. Selling takes place only after you clearly understand the marketplace. Let’s use BMW and Hyundai for example. While both make automobiles, each has a market niche dramatically different from the other. BMW markets performance and prestige, Hyundai markets price and economy of operation. Obviously, then, their respective Marketing Plans are going to be very different. As a business management consultant specializing in small business, I can attest to the fact that not understanding these two concepts and not properly addressing them is one of the first major blunders that small business start-up entrepreneurs invariably make!

Your Tourism Department, I will wager, has spent considerable resources in understanding "Ecotourism" and how to market Montserrat, but this needs to be a cooperative effort by everyone to insure maximum success. This is especially true of "Ecotourism" as it relates to Montserrat because one of the most significant differences between the classic Caribbean traveler and the "Ecotourist" is that the latter tends to spend a great deal more of their vacation dollars locally. I am an "Ecotourist," thus I have no interest in resort hotels, a choice of European or Modified American meal plans, gambling casinos, "all water sports" or tickets for "Happy Hour" at my neighboring hotel. The fact of the matter is that most of the Caribbean tourists whose destination is Barbados, St. Martin, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, or Jamaica will not be spending their dollars at local small businesses. On the other hand, there are many "Ecotourists" who would love to visit the wonderful island of Montserrat. They will not only want see your island but also experience your culture -- learn about your colorful history, about the original indigenous people, the volcano, etc. These "Ecotourists" will hire your taxi drivers and guides, eat in your restaurants, purchase local crafts and, if they are not "day trippers," stay in your small hotels and bed & breakfasts, etc. The Vue Pointe, with it’s charming "Rondavels," can again be your anchor facility.

So you say, "What’s the point?" Opportunity is the point! Montserrat has the potential to be the #1 "Ecotourist" destination in the Caribbean. Thus the opportunity for Montserratians, both on island and for those that will be returning, to start sole proprietor businesses and to employ Montserratians is there -- for those willing to do their homework, invest their time and talent, and seek the help/assistance of those who have already trod this path successfully; (an Executive Service Corps Chapter would be ideal to fill this resource need). The real point here is that the "Ecotourist" wants personalized service, which is best satisfied by the small business sector, not by mega resorts.

Even if there wasn’t a volcano, this "#1" potential still exists. The number of "Ecotourists" who would love to experience your diversity of topography, flora and fauna is a major niche market unto its own, but these people need guides. Guides who are friendly, personable and honest (all Montserratian traits), who can identify for their clients the types of trees and their use, provide folklore tales, etc., etc., etc. Those entrepreneurs willing to contribute the extra effort to provide your customers an experience that exceeds their expectations will succeed and be paid handsomely for their services.

I say to all Montserratians, the potential is there. The opportunities to enjoy a quality of life unparalleled in this island’s history, while still retaining your culture and values, are endless. I hope you hear opportunity knocking on your door!

These "Views From the Outside" are presented as motivational food for thought. As an entrepreneur and business veteran with over 35 years of hands-on management experience, I feel I can speak with some authority. My goal is, hopefully, to generate some of the sparks that kindle the desire to proactively respond now, not reactively after these opportunities are lost.


Christmas Carols

revised to fit the current situation in Montserrat

(To be sung to the tune of "Jingle Bells")

Dwarfing Chances Peak
The huge magmatic dome
Makes the boldest meek
Fearing what may come.
Pyroclastic flows, 
Avoid their heat you must,
And put a mask across your nose
When ash comes down as dust.
Volcano, volcano,
You’re a pain, it’s true,
Oh what joy we all will know
When you no longer spew.
Thousands fled abroad
With no place here to go,
Free fares they applaud,
To shelters they said no.
DFID vowed to help,
Warily, at first,
And now and then Clare Short would yelp
Poor Bangladesh is cursed.
Volcano, volcano,
You’re a pain, it’s true,
Oh what joy we all will know
When you no longer spew.
Christmas ’98,
Now there is less to dread,
We anticipate
Better days ahead.
Everyone will see
Written in each smile
What dedication means as we
Restore the Emerald Isle.
Volcano, volcano,
You’re a pain, it’s true,
Oh what joy we all will know
When you no longer spew.

(To be sung to the tune of "God Rest You Merry Gentlemen")

God rest you Montserratians
Let nothing you dismay,
Remember that the ferry
Departs from Little Bay,
The helicopter’s not for you,
Just those who needn’t pay,
O tidings of comfort and perks, comfort and perks,
O tidings of comfort and perks.
All those who serve Her Majesty
Here sacrifice their ease,
Enduring deprivations
And risking rare disease,
So surely you should not resent
Their short flights overseas,
O tidings of comfort and perks, comfort and perks,
O tidings of comfort and perks.
Come, reconsider, don’t condemn
Your bumping from the queue,
Be grateful there’s a ferry
To serve the likes of you,
In short, you must appreciate
Your betters and their due,
O tidings of comfort and perks, comfort and perks,
O tidings of comfort and perks.

(To be sung to the tune of "Deck the Halls")

Deck the halls with ash and pumice, 
Fa la la la la, la la la la; 
‘Tis the season full of promise, 
Fa la la la la, la la la la; 
Raise we now our broom and shovel, 
Fa la la la la, la la la la; 
Let’s restore life to this hovel, 
Fa la la la la, la la la la. 
See the task that lies before us, 
Fa la la la la, la la la la; 
Grab a spade and join the chorus, 
Fa la la la la, la la la la; 
Join our energetic measure 
Fa la la la la, la la la la; 
No one promised it’s a pleasure, 
Fa la la la la, la la la la. 
Fast away the fourth year passes, 
Fa la la la la, la la la la; 
Come volcano lads and lasses, 
Fa la la la la, la la la la; 
To relax we can’t afford, 
Fa la la la la, la la la la; 
Till the Emerald Isle’s restored, 
Fa la la la la, la la la la. 

Health and Happiness

It's a Question of Love

Why does he love me?

Fools Rush In

Regardless of the physical nature of our sex drives, sooner or later the heart gets entangled. An old saying is "Men use love to get sex, women use sex to get love." So are we now saying that men use sex to get love, too? Have we found some common ground here? In our survey, a 22-year-old graduate student makes a good point about how, for most men, their relationship with a woman provides the only closeness they have.

"Most of us men go through the day very isolated," he observes. "So when we get home or get alone with our partners, we have an entire day's worth of emotional and physical intimacy that we haven't gotten or shared yet."

Just because our drive is so physical, so seemingly detached from our brains, does not mean that our egos aren't on the line. We get nervous.

We get embarrassed. And we spend a lot of energy trying to reconcile the contradictions inside ourselves.

In fact, it's interesting to see a man when he falls in love, how he acts so tragic about it, as though he's stepped in a pile of dog crap or wrecked his mother's car. But there is probably some truth in the theory that men love women more utterly than women love men. We love women so blindly, a little ungracefully, almost like we've gone temporarily insane.

And when the craziness passes and we realize that what's happened isn't so bad, we are often much better at love than are women--more patient, more tolerant, easier in a way that women may never be.

Sure, it could be that men and women aren't so different after all. But then what fun would life be if the devils inside us didn't keep the ladies guessing?

Why Does He Do That?

Why does she love me?

Differences Run Deep

Women love men not for the ways we are like them, but for the ways that we are not. According to one woman we know, she loves the way her husband remembers to do the things she always forgets, like check the fire extinguishers and clean the chimney once a year. Her guy lifts heavy things. And just when she thinks he's stopped listening, he'll come home with the poetry anthology she's been trying to find for a decade.

D. H. Lawrence said that between men and women there would always be a gulf, even in the closest kiss, the dearest touch. He said the gulf would be complete, not in spite of its smallness, but because of it...because it is so nearly nonexistent…because the closer we move to true understanding between the sexes, the more clearly we see the chasm we cannot jump across. It is inside this gulf, inside this place of difference, where men and women complete each other, it's the place we show each other what we are and what we are not. So, really, this difference is something to be celebrated, marveled at.

The difference is why we never get tired of the same old songs. It's why we can't resist movies with the same old happy endings. It's why we dedicate more time and energy to these intricate dance steps than any of us are willing to admit out loud. It's how she knows that an auto-parts store is a magical place, even though the magic isn't as apparent to her as it is to us. It's why we break each other's hearts, why we drive each other crazy, why we drag ourselves back out on the dance floor time after time, why before we even know it, we've fallen in love again.

Sure, it could be that women and men aren't so different after all. But since some days that gulf feels more like an ocean, it's enough to keep us guys guessing.

Excerpted from Why Women Love Men by Pam Houston.


VOLCANO LIMERICKS

Holding Pattern

In the CPP sessions they fretted

How to tell that priorities vetted

Enforced some delay

On the airport; let’s say,

"Inconvenience is deeply regretted."

Life’s Little Bumps

No one prefers a snail’s pace

Going to some distant place.

So the ‘copter’s preferred,

But too many have heard,

"Sorry, my friend, there’s no space."


JUS WONDERIN

 


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Brown & Root

UNITED KINGDOM GOVERNMENT’S

(DEPARTMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT)

IMMEDIATE HOUSING PROJECT

By Brown & Root

Reference was made in our last News Bulletin of November 6th to certain unavoidable delays with Phase 3 of the Look Out Housing Project. Brown & Root is now pleased to announce that the project is back on track with two very important developments:

  1. Windows have arrived from Puerto Rico and the contractors are forging ahead smoothly with the installation work and other contingent finishing tasks.
  2. Eighteen (18) containers of the Modular housing components arrived from Australia and are at the Look Out holding yard.

The suspended floor section for 22 of the modular units are not yet on Island, but this will not embarrass the immediate progress of the Force 10 section of the project.

To date three local contractors have responded to the invitation to tender for 26 modular houses issued by B & R. It is expected that construction work will start early in December 1998 after B & R management in the UK officially signs the contract.

In the meantime another local builder has been given a contract to put down a two-foot concrete strip around each of the Phase II block work houses at Look Out which are already occupied. Hard surfacing the roads will take a while longer, as Brown & Root has been relieved of any further involvement with the roads and PWD will now take up this matter.

Brown & Root will continue to work very closely with the building contractors and other individuals and agencies associated with Phase 3 of the United Kingdom Government’s Immediate Housing Project, to ensure that the design specifications are scrupulously adhered to and that all other contractual undertakings are satisfied, so that the project keeps within the budget.

Brown & Root remains committed to providing innovative project Management so that the eventual owners/ occupants of the new homes can have the long-term benefits of high quality work in very attractive affordable houses.

The public is also asked to note that Brown & Root will be holding its first visitor’s day at Phase 3 of the Housing Project at Look Out on Friday December 18th from 3:00 to 5:00 pm. Please consider this an invitation to all interested persons to come to Look Out and have a first hand look at finished Modular and Block work houses. Your local contractors, B & R technical staff and the Force 10 team will be on hand to answer your questions and facilitate your visit.


C & W Notice

Cable & Wireless is in the process of upgrading its telephone network to introduce new services to Montserrat.

As a result, customers will now find it easier to use Magic Touch features like:

All Magic Touch customers will receive an instruction leaflet in the mail with details of the new way to apply each feature.

For more information, call our Customer Services Department, Toll Free 115.


Cable & Wireless/ FCO Cambridge Scholarships October 1999

In collaboration with Cable & Wireless and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust offers four scholarships annually to enable graduates of outstanding academic merit to pursue one-year taught postgraduate courses of study at the University of Cambridge in Development Studies, Economics, Economics & Development, Engineering, Environment and Development, Finance, International Relations, Law or Management Studies.

The Scholarships are open to citizens (Normally aged between 20 and 35 years) of the following countries:

Anguilla Cayman Islands St Kitts-Nevis

Antigua & Barbuda Dominica St Lucia

Barbados Grenada St Vincent

Bermuda Jamaica Trinidad & Tobago

British Virgin Is Montserrat Turks & Caicos Is

Candidates must already have, or expect to obtain before October 1999, a first class or high second class honours degree or its equivalent from a recognised university and at least two years post-university experience. Candidates must undertake to return to their home country at the end of the course of study at Cambridge.

The Scholarships, tenable for one academic year, will cover the University Composition Fee at the overseas rate, approved College fees, a maintenance allowance sufficient for a single student and a contribution towards a return economy airfare by the cheapest available route.

All applicants must complete a Preliminary Application Form which can be obtained from local Cable & Wireless offices, British High Commissions, the University of the West Indies and its Extra Mural Departments or, in case of difficulty, from the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust, P.O.Box 252, Cambridge CB2 1TZ, England. Completed Preliminary Application Forms must be returned to the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust, P.O.Box 252, Cambridge CB2 1TZ,England by 31 December 1998.

By submitting one Preliminary Application Form, applicants will automatically be considered for all the Trust’s awards for which they are eligible.


PRINCIPAL COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT OFFICER

MINISTRY OF HEALTH, MONTSERRAT

Applications are invited from suitably qualified persons for the post of Principal Community Development Officer, Ministry of Health, Montserrat.

QUALIFICATIONS FOR APPOINTMENT AND /OR TRAINING REQUIRED

B.Sc. degree in Social Work; or

Degree in related field and suitable post-graduate training and at least 5 years experience in social work or related field, with 3 years at management level.

DUTIES

SALARY

Salary is the scale M11-7, that is, $46,572 - $51,756 per annum.

Applications for the post of Principal Community Development Officer, Ministry of Health, should be addressed to the Permanent Secretary, Administration, Palm Loop, Montserrat, to reach her no later than 15 January, 1999.


Forward all Questions, Comments and Suggestions to: roachb@candw.ag


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