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