MP says a Let­ter Writ­ten to him is not the same as a Let­ter Re­ceived!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

Prime Min­is­ter Allen Chas­tanet be­gan Tues­day's House ses­sion by in­tro­duc­ing the first mo­tion. His mis­sion: to seek par­lia­ment's ap­proval to bor­row from the Caribbean De­vel­op­ment Bank (CDB) US$11,228,000 for the pur­pose of fi­nanc­ing the Den­nery North wa­ter sup­ply rede­vel­op­ment project, ex­pected “to pro­vide a safe, re­li­able and cli­mate re­silient sup­ply of potable wa­ter to res­i­dents and busi­nesses in Den­nery North.”

Op­po­si­tion MP for Den­nery North, Shawn Ed­ward was first to speak on the mo­tion. “Mr. Speaker, I rise in sup­port of the mo­tion pre­sented by the hon­ourable prime min­is­ter. It is of par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est to me as the par­lia­men­tary rep for Den­nery North. I also hap­pen to be a res­i­dent of the con­stituency. It is an in­ter­ven­tion that will im­pact me per­son­ally but, more im­por­tantly, im­pact all the com­mu­ni­ties of Den­nery North. They have waited for decades to have this wa­ter prob­lem re­solved once and for all.”

Af­ter re­mind­ing the House that the project was ini­ti­ated by the Labour Party, the MP said some mem­bers of his con­stituency had been ap­peal­ing for long-over­due pay­ments to be made. “I can tell you that many per­sons have come to my of­fice ask­ing that we stage protests and demon­stra­tions be­cause when the project was first con­ceived, the idea that was be­ing tossed around was that we would've wiped out ev­ery­body's out­stand­ing wa­ter bills and, once the fresh sup­ply had got­ten to their homes, peo­ple would start pay­ing for the new wa­ter. But I had to tell them that in or­der to get the bet­ter qual­ity wa­ter, pay­ing the bills for the old wa­ter is some­thing that they have to do to en­sure that we move speed­ily to get­ting the clean wa­ter.”

Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture Ezechiel Joseph, who is also the min­is­ter re­spon­si­ble for the is­land's wa­ter com­pany WASCO, added his voice to the de­bate: "I heard the mem­ber for Den­nery North say that per­sons came to him and there was a com­mit­ment as it per­tains to the ar­rears of wa­ter bills, and that he had ad­vised them to pay the bills. I con­cluded that the mem­ber is not aware of what is hap­pen­ing in his con­stituency."

He said that on Oc­to­ber 8, 2017 the gov­ern­ment had ad­vised the man­age­ment of WASCO to seek to en­gage the Den­nery North MP to dis­cuss the mat­ter of ar­rears. But there had been no re­sponse from the MP. For his part, MP Ed­wards in­sisted he was un­aware of the ref­er­enced WASCO in­vi­ta­tion, which prompted his op­po­site to pro­duce the in­vi­ta­tion. The Den­nery North MP then claimed he never re­ceived the in­vite and would not de­bate whether or not the let­ter was writ­ten in the first place.

MP Ezechiel in­formed the House that a de­ci­sion was taken that from April 2018 wa­ter con­sumers would not be re­quired to pay ar­rears, “which meant WASCO has for­gone $3.1 mil­lion”. The mo­tion was passed with full sup­port of the House.

The day's sit­ting was pre­ma­turely ad­journed upon re­ceipt of news of a ve­hic­u­lar ac­ci­dent on the Bexon high­way that left three peo­ple dead. By then the House had ap­proved loans to­tal­ing some $140 mil­lion.

Den­nery-North MP Shawn Ed­ward at Tues­day's House meet­ing.

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