2003: THE YEAR IN REVIEW
CM SAYS PROVISIONS IN PLACE FOR CONTINUATION OF CAPITAL PROJECTS
Although the 2003 budget has not yet been approved, provisions are in place for the
continuation of capital projects, according to Chief Minister and Minister of
Finance the Honourable Ralph T. O’Neal. Speaking during his press conference on
Monday, his first for the year, he discounted criticisms of the government for not
yet presenting the year-end fiscal package.
BERNICE FARRINGTON REMEMBERED
The family, many friends, former co-workers and those persons with whom she laboured
are remembering the life of a very special lady Bernice Sesilee Farrington. Mrs.
Farrington, born on February 23rd 1937, passed away December 31st, 2002 after a bout
of illness. A thanksgiving service was held at the Road Town Methodist Church on
Saturday January 11th, followed by interment at the church cemetery.
BVI BAR ASSOCIATION HONOURS PAST PRESIDENTS
The BVI Bar Association held a dinner at The Moorings last Friday evening (January
17th) in honour of its past presidents.
NDP RE-LAUNCHES MICHEAL THOMAS IN 3RD ELECTORAL DISTRICT
The opposition National Democratic Party (NDP) on Saturday night (January 18th)
officially launched young businessman Micheal Thomas as another candidate to contest
the 2003 general elections. Mr. Thomas, who will contest the 3rd District seat, was
presented during a party rally held at the Valerie O. Thomas Community Centre in Sea
Cow's Bay. This will be his second attempt to enter the Legislative Council, having
lost in 1999 to incumbent Honourable Julian Fraser, Deputy Chief Minister and
Minister of Communications and Works.
COPPERMINE TO BE HANDED OVER AS NATIONAL PARK
The Coppermine Ruins on Virgin Gorda will be officially handed over to the National
Parks Trust during a ceremony being organized for Friday March 28th, 2003. Minister
for Natural Resources and Labour the Honourable Reeial George recalled that
Executive Council, in 1998, approved that the site be declared a National Park. The
area measures 31.93 acres and will become the 20th national park in the British
ELEVEN CASES LISTED FOR MARCH CRIMINAL ASSIZES
Her Lordship Justice Suzie D’Auvergne is presiding over the March Criminal Assizes,
which opened here Tuesday. Among the eleven cases down for hearing was that for
American Michael Spicer, who is charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of
justice in relation to the McMillen murder trial. The crown successfully requested
that the matter be traversed to the October assizes, since a decision for a related
case is now being awaited from the Privy Council.
24-HOUR CHRISTIAN RADIO STATION OPENS IN THE BVI
Station owner of ZKING, Mr. Alric Corea, has been commended by the government for
taking this “bold and courageous step” in opening up the new 24-hour Christian radio
station. The station, which has been in its testing stage since late last year, was
officially commissioned on Friday February 28th.
HON. ALVIN CHRISTOPHER ACCEPTED AS NDP MEMBER
Another historic day in the political life of the Virgin Islands on Thursday March
27th, 2003 as the opposition National Democratic Party (NDP) accepts into its
membership the Honourable J. Alvin Christopher, Representative for District 2, whose
appointment as Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Communications and Works was
revoked in May 2002.
SEWERAGE PROBLEMS IN EAST END/LONG LOOK & ROAD TOWN BEING REMEDIED
Work on the sewerage systems in East End/Long Look and Road Town will begin shortly,
following government’s signing of a $1,168,767 contract with Berger-CBE (BVI)
limited on April 4th.
WILLIAM LABRADOR WALKS FREE
William Labrador, 39, of Southampton, New York, USA, walked out of Her Majesty’s
Prison at Balsam Ghut, Tortola Monday evening (April 7th, 2003) a free man, after
spending 1179 days in confinement. Labrador was convicted in May 2001 of the murder
of Lois Livingstone McMillen, a 34-year-old artist from Middlebury, Connecticut,
USA, whose body washed ashore along the Drake’s Highway in West End on January 15th,
2003 BUDGET PASSED ON APRIL 11TH
Debate on the merits and principles of the Bill entitled Appropriation Act 2003 took
two days, April 10th-11th, but at the end of the day, despite the six nay votes from
the opposition, the budget was passed in the Legislative Council.
MARGARET PENN WINS WRONGFUL DISMISSAL CASE AGAINST PORTS
Former Managing Director of the BVI Ports Authority Mrs. Margaret Penn has won her
wrongful dismissal case against the Authority, in a judgment that by far exceeds any
such damages ever awarded to an employee in the BVI. The trial took place at the
Court House in Road Town, Tortola during November 2002, when judgment was reserved
until it was delivered last month. High Court Judge The Honourable Madame Justice
Suzie d’Auvergne handed down judgment in her favour in a sum of $208,027.93 damages,
reduced by $35,732.47 which the Authority had already paid, making a net sum of
$172,295.46 damages, plus legal costs of $34,844.32, resulting in a judgment for
JUNE 16TH IS THE DATE FOR GENERAL ELECTIONS IN THE BVI
His Excellency the Governor Thomas Macan, after consultation with the Chief Minister
and the Supervisor of Elections and mindful of the need to meet the timetable laid
down in the Elections Act, has announced the date of Monday June 16th for the
staging of general elections in the British Virgin Islands.
QUEEN ELIZABETH BRIDGE TO BE DEMOLISHED
After 37 years and a quarter years, the old Queen Elizabeth II Bridge linking
Tortola and Beef Island is coming down. The bridge was declared open with pomp and
ceremony by Her Majesty the Queen during her first visit to the territory on
February 23rd, 1966 and operated until last year when a new bridge was commissioned.
A $115, 000 contract to demolish the bridge was signed between the government and
Triple L Heavy Equipment and Sewerage Disposal Services Ltd. during a ceremony
Wednesday afternoon (May 21st).
CITCO LAYS OFF 15 EMPLOYEES
Citco BVI on Friday (May 23rd) laid off 15 workers, citing declining world economic
JEAN MICHEL COUSTEAU NAMED BVI AMBASSADOR
In a historic moment for the BVI last Thursday May 22nd, Chief Minister and Minister
responsible for Tourism Honourable Ralph T. O’Neal signed a partnership agreement
with marine advocate and founder of Ocean Futures Society Jean-Michel Cousteau, son
of the legendary Jacques Cousteau.
33 CANDIDATES TO CONTEST 2003 GENERAL ELECTIONS
A total of 33 candidates have officially been nominated to contest the June 16th,
2003 general elections in the BVI. Nomination Day was Monday June 2nd.
MINISTER SIGNS 2003 FISHERIES REGULATIONS INTO EFFECT
Minister for Natural Resources and Labour the Honourable Reeial George on Friday
June 6th, 2003 signed the 2003 Fisheries Regulations into effect.
It was in 1997 that the landmark Fisheries Act No. 4 was passed by the Legislative
Council of the Virgin Islands. The Act revised the Fisheries Ordinance (Cap 54) and
made provision in a comprehensive way for the promotion, management and conservation
of fisheries and fisheries resources and other matters connected therewith.
UPDATE ON ANEGADA LANDS
A number of persons on Anegada received titles for lands during a presentation
ceremony on June 5th.
BANCO POPULAR BREAKS GROUND FOR NEW BUILDING
By October of next year, customers of Banco Popular should be doing business in
spanking new facilities on Wichkam's Cay 1 in Road Town. The bank held a
groundbreaking ceremony for its new Tortola branch and central office facilities
last Friday June 13th.
NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY SWORN IN AS NEW BVI GOVERNMENT
It was a ceremony with a difference as the new Ministers for the 15th Legislative
Council of the Virgin Islands were sworn in during a ceremony at the Central
Administration complex on Tuesday (June 17th) around 4:30pm. As per the programme of
the day, the Governor administered the oaths of allegiance by the various Ministers
Chief Minister Dr. Hon. D. Orlando Smith, Deputy Chief Minister Hon. Ronnie W.
Skelton, Minister for Communications and Works Hon. Paul P. Wattley, Minister for
Education and Culture Hon. Lloyd Black and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour
Hon. J. Alvin Christopher. The backbenchers will be Hon. Eileene Lucia Parsons, Dr.
the Hon. Kedrick Pickering and Hon. Delores Christopher, while the Members of Her
Majesty’s Loyal Opposition will be Hon. Ralph T. O’Neal, Hon. Julian Fraser, Hon.
Mark Vanterpool, Hon. Omar Hodge and Hon. Andrew Fahie.
99 GRADUATE FROM HLSCC IN 2003
The President’s award for the full time student with the highest cumulative grade
point average for 2003 went to Ethlyn Lawrence, while the award for the part time
student went to Adel Karen Clyne. Kareem Hull received the award for outstanding
performance in general studies, Bernicia M. Herbert - the business administration
award and Telisa Ishakara Lynch received the award for outstanding performance in
natural sciences. These were some of the top performances honoured on June 12th as
the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College held its 10th graduation exercises at the
Paraquita Bay campus.
ELECTIONS SUPERVISOR EXPLAINS BALLOT COUNTING DISCREPANCIES
Adjustments made to the counting sheets do not affect the overall final standings of
the candidates in the June 16th general elections, it was announced here last Friday
(June 20th), according to Supervisor of Elections Ms. Juliette Penn. In a press
release, she reported that it was drawn to her attention on 19th June by the
Chairman of the Virgin Islands Party Mr. Carvin Malone, that there appeared to be
certain discrepancies in the reported figures for the Territorial balloting in the
3rd and 5th districts, where the overall total of votes cast was higher than
possible given the number of ballots recorded.
NEW GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES REBRANDING OF FINANCIAL SERVICES SECTOR
The new National Democratic Party (NDP) government has emphasized the importance of
the financial services sector and the contribution it makes to the British Virgin
Islands. Speaking in his first official function as Chief Minister, Dr. the
Honourable D. Orlando Smith pointed out that the financial services industry is
crucial to the BVI economy, representing over 50% of government revenues.
MRS. EDRIS O’NEAL GETS OBE
Her Majesty The Queen has appointed Director of the BVI Red Cross Mrs. Edris O’Neal
to the rank of Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire or OBE, for
her services to the community. The announcement was made by BVI Governor His
Excellency Thomas Macan on Saturday June 14th, as the BVI observed the Queen’s
birthday with a parade at the A. O. Shirley Recreation Grounds.
C&W AMBASSADOR COURTNEY WALSH VISITS THE BVI
“Developing a Winning Attitude” was the subject for discussion during this month’s
(June 25th) monthly general luncheon meeting hosted by the BVI Chamber of Commerce
and Hotel Association (BVICCHA). And who better to talk about that than Mr.
Courtney Walsh of Jamaica, the world’s leading test wicket taker. Walsh retired
from West Indies cricket April 23rd, 2001, after bowling 5,004.1 overs, taking 519
wickets in 132 Tests at an average of 24.45 with a best of 7-37.
BVI HIGH GRADUATES 161
With the usual pomp and circumstance, the BVI High School graduated 161 students
during a ceremony at the Sir Rupert Briercliffe Hall on Thursday June 26th.
ATTORNEY GENERAL DENIES VIP DEMAND FOR RECOUNT OF TERRITORIAL BALLOTS
Attorney General Honourable Cherno Jallow said Tuesday (July 1st) he has found no
sound basis for mounting a petition before the High Court for a recount of the
Territorial ballots from the June 16th, 2003 general elections. He was responding to
a request by the Virgin Islands Party Territorial candidates, Mrs. Irene
Penn-O’Neal, Mr. Reeial George, Mr. Roy Pickering and Mr. Elvis Harrigan, who wrote
to the Attorney General in a letter dated June 26th, asking that he “immediately act
in the best interest of the public by demanding a legal and timely recount…thus
ensuring the issuance of a true and correct ‘Final Report’ of the results of the
Territorial At Large constituency”.
BVI GETS FIRST FEMALE SPEAKER AND DEPUTY SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE
History was made in more ways than one in the BVI on Thursday July 10th, 2003, when
the 15th Legislative Council appointed the territory’s first female Speaker in Mrs.
Vivian Inez Archibald. Members also appointed Territorial At Large Representative
the Honourable Eileene L. Parsons as the first female Deputy Speaker.
GOV. MACAN DELIVERS THRONE SPEECH AT 1ST SITTING OF 15TH LEGCO
The Legislative agenda for the new National Democratic Party (NDP) government is an
ambitious one, but with God’s grace and the support of the people, it would be
brought to fruition. Those words from His Excellency Governor Thomas Macan as he
delivered the Speech from the Throne on Thursday July 10th at the Sir Rupert
Briercliffe Hall, during the 1st sitting of the 1st session of the 15th Legislative
Council of the Virgin Islands.
VIP RECOUNT CASE BEGINS
Preliminary arguments began on Thursday afternoon in the opposition Virgin Islands
Party’s recount case. The case came up for hearing in the High Court Tuesday
morning (July 15th).
9TH DISTRICT REP. PAYS TRIBUTE TO THE LATE CAPT. IRA SMITH
The late Captain Ira Smith of Anegada was laid to rest Friday (July 25th), one week
after he passed away at the age of 92 years.
CHINESE IMMIGRANTS DENIED ASYLUM
In a landmark case here in the BVI, government has decided not to grant asylum to
two illegal Chinese immigrants who have been living here for the past three years.
Chen Yijun and Wu Hui Fung arrived in the territory from China around the 28th of
September 2000. They were among a group reportedly fleeing to the United States
Virgin Islands, when their boat ran into problems and they were left on the island
of Great Camanoe. The couple applied for refugee status in the BVI and after some
months, they were officially served with separate documents, Wu on July 9th and Chen
on the 11th, informing them that their applications were denied.
JUDGE DECIDES IN VIP RECOUNT CASE
Justice Hugh Rawlins kept a promise Wednesday (July 23rd) to hand down a decision in
the High Court case where the opposition Virgin Islands Party is demanding a recount
of the Territorial and 5th District ballots from the June 16th, 2003 general
elections. Justice Rawlins agreed that failure to comply with the provision to offer
security on behalf of every petitioner is fatal and sufficient ground to strike out
the petition. He also stated that according to law, a vote is only valid if it’s
made with a cross; he agreed that the Returning Officer should be joined as a
respondent if his conduct is in question and since this was not done what remains of
the petition he said cannot stand and he agreed that the petition on its face must
disclose reasonable cause of action against some respondent, which this didn’t,
hence he declared the petition a nullity. In terms of the isolated votes contested,
Justice Rawlins declared that they were not valid under the statute and regarding
the spoilt ballots, he said the only one in question would not change the result of
the election in District 5. On these grounds, he dismissed the claim of Ethlyn
Smith against Delores Christopher.
And on the claim of Irene Penn-O’Neal and Reeial George against Paul Wattley and
Eileene Parsons, Justice Rawlins agreed that it is required that a single petition
should be instituted against every member whose election is challenged. This was
not done in this instance and on this ground, he said the VIP’s claim also fails.
GOVERNMENT DISCUSSES PLANS FOR CONSTRUCTION OF HOSPITAL
The National Democratic Party government said Monday (July 28th) that work on the
hospital annex should begin within 4-8 weeks and be completed within 12-15 months.
“Quality health care service in the BVI is of top priority for my government (and)
as such, the construction of a new hospital is a paramount project,” said Chief
Minister Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith during his first press conference since
his party was elected to office June 16th, 2003.
BVI FESTIVAL 2003
The calypso king, Professor Melody, retained his crown and there’s a new calypso
queen in Glama Gurl and a new Ms. BVI in Dian Sanderson.
NEW FISHERIES LEGISLATION IN EFFECT
Minister of Natural Resources and Labour the Honourable J. Alvin Christopher has
signed the instrument bringing into force new fisheries regulations here in the BVI,
effective August 15th, 2003. The legislation was gazetted one day prior.
Chief Conservation and Fisheries Officer Mr. Bertrand Lettsome says the BVI now has
the legal instrument that will facilitate the proper management and development of
our fishing industry.
MEETING WITH REPRESENTATIVES OF USVI SPORTS FISHERMEN
On Friday 1st August 2003, Minister of Natural Resources and Labour Honourable J.
Alvin Christopher held a meeting with a delegation from the USVI, led by Mr. George
Goodwin of the Governor’s Office. “The main concern of the USVI delegation was
continued access to the BVI Fishing Grounds by USVI Sport and Please fishermen,”
reported Minister Christopher to the Legislative Council. “Issues raised included
access to information on the new fisheries regulations, licensing and registration
procedures, USVI based tournament fishing in BVI waters and customs clearance in and
out of the BVI for fishing vessels.”
He said his delegation outlined government’s policy and licensing and registration
procedures. They presented the USVI delegation with copies of the 1997 Fisheries Act
and the 2003 Fisheries Regulations. In addition, copies of a synopsis of the
licensing and registration procedures and fees were also presented.
JANICE GEORGE CREQUE SWORN IN AS EC SUPREME COURT JUDGE
On Wednesday September 3rd, 2003, Mrs., Janice George-Creque was sworn in as a Judge
of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court. This is the first time in local history
that a BV Islander has been appointed to such a significant and prestigious position
in the region. Members of the Legislative Council used the opportunity during the
August 28th Legislative Council to pay tribute to Mrs. George-Creque, her parents
and extended family who hail from the island of Virgin Gorda.
LOCAL ATTORNEY IS NEW CLERK OF LEGCO
BV Islander Mr. Deniston Fraser was assigned to the post of Clerk of the Legislative
Council of the Virgin Islands effective September 1st, 2003. Speaker of the House,
Honourable V. Inez Archibald announced that there would be a new Clerk during the
last LegCo sitting held August 28th, as she paid tribute to Acting Clerk Mrs.
Oleanvine Maynard for her contribution to Council over the years.
EXECUTIVE COUNCIL RESCINDS “RASTA LAW”
The controversial “Rasta law” is no more. The new National Democratic Party (NDP)
government removed the prohibition during the Executive Council meeting of Wednesday
August 27th, 2003, according to Chief Minister Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith.
On October 1st, 1999, a resolution was debated and passed in favour of revocation of
Section 23 (1) of the Immigration and Passport Order. That section prohibited the
class of persons commonly known as Rastafarians and hippies from entering the
territory. “I’m pleased to report Madam Speaker that Executive Council took the
decision yesterday to revoke Section 23 (1) of the…Order, thereby lifting the ban on
the entry of Rastafarians and hippies into the territory without receiving prior
special permission,” he told the House.
POLICE INVESTIGATE ANOTHER ARMED ROBBERY
Police are investigating yet another armed robbery that occurred on September 5th in
Purcell Estate. The complainant reported that the men pushed him down onto his bed
and tied his hands and feet with a piece of rope and then reached into his pants
pocket and removed his wallet, which contained $1500, ransacked the room and left.
Police are appealing to the community to bring forth any information they may have
regarding this crime. Should you have information, please contact the Crime Stoppers
Hotline at 468-0911.
OCTOBER CRIMINAL ASSIZES UNDERWAY
November 3rd has been set as the trial date for the airport telecommunications
contract case implicating three former government employees and two businessmen.
The date was set on Tuesday 7th at the opening of the October criminal assizes in
the High Court of Justice, being presided over by His Lordship Justice Hugh A.
Rawlins. Seventeen persons were arraigned on a total of 28 charges. They all
pleaded not guilty.
ST. GEORGE’S EPISCOPAL (ANGLICAN) CHURCH REDEDICATED
The St. George’s Episcopal (Anglican) Church held its rededication thanksgiving
service at the newly renovated sanctuary on Main Street on Sunday October 5th, 2003.
The ceremony was officiated by The Most Rev. and Hon. Orland Lindsay, OJ, DD,
Archbishop of the West Indies (retired). Among the many members and guests were
Members of the Legislative Council and Ministers of Religion from other
CHIEF MINISTER REVIEWS NDP’S FIRST 100 DAYS
Thirteen young BV Islanders to receive training in health care, a salary increase
for public servants, the signing of a contract for the completion of the airport
runway, the development of the beach at Brandywine Bay, the development of a new
national agricultural policy and the appointment of an Economic Recovery Committee.
These were some of the features of an address to the territory on Sunday October 5th
by Chief Minister Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith. The address, simulcast on
radio and television, reviewed the first 100 days (September 24th) of service by his
National Democratic Party (NDP), which was swept to power 8-5 versus the Virgin
Islands Party in June 16th, 2003 general elections.
GUANA ISLAND SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH PROGRAMME
An international team of scientists, led by Dr. James Lazell, President of the Rhode
Island USA based Conservation Agency, has completed a month of research on Guana
Island. Every year in October, Guana Island hosts a scientific research programme.
Scientists are invited to the island to conduct their studies in the areas of
natural history, ecology, conservation biology, systematics and biogeography. Their
results are relevant to natural resource preservation and species conservation in
MAN KILLED IN MIDNIGHT SHOOTING
20 October: police rush to Frenchman’s Cay. A man is met lying in blood on the road
at the bridge. The dead man is later identified as 29-year-old Dion Woods of St.
AIRPORT CONSPIRACY TRIAL OPENED
The airport conspiracy trial began on Tuesday (November 4th) with legal arguments
from defense and prosecution lawyers.
9TH CARIBBEAN RASTAFARI CONFERENCE IN BVI
The BVI Rastafari Turtle Dove Deliverance Organization is hosting the 9th Caribbean
Rastafari Organization (CRO) conference at the East End/Long Look Community Centre
November 1-8, 2003.
LEGISLATOR BEING INVESTIGATED FOR ALLEGED MONEY LAUNDERING
Former Minister of Education and Culture, now opposition Member of the Legislative
Council Honourable Andrew Fahie has denied any wrongdoing in connection with
allegations that he is being investigated for money laundering with respect to the
airport telecommunications contract conspiracy trial. He spoke to reporters during
a break at the November 6th sitting of the Legislative Council. A report published
in the international finance newsletter Offshore Alert (issue 81 released October
31st, 2003), published by KYC News, Inc., Miami Florida, said a United States
federal court has granted a request for judicial assistance regarding a criminal
investigation into Mr. Fahie, 33, and his banking officer wife Sheila, 36. “The
Fahies are suspected of helping to launder tens of thousands of dollars gained
through theft and fraud involving a government contract to build a new terminal and
lengthen the runway at the renamed Terrance B. Lettsome Airport at Beef Island,”
according to an MLAT request at the U.S District Court for the Western District of
MINISTER OF NR&L DISCUSS WAY FORWARD FOR ANEGADA LANDS ISSUE
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour is now closer to taking to Executive
Council a reworked proposal for a compensation package for Anegadians. For years,
the Ministry has tried to resolve the many lad issues on Anegada using several
approaches. The two main outstanding issues are the compensation for walls in the
airport and a development plan for the island.
“With these two concerns in mind, on Monday October 13th, I took with me members of
my staff from the Ministry and the Survey department to discuss with Anegadians how
they wanted the government to approach the development of the island as well as to
advise them of the decision taken by Executive Council on 4th June concerning
compensation for the walls,” Minister the Honourable J. Alvin Christopher said at
the November 6th sitting of the Legislative Council.
Anegadians from as far as New York attended the meeting and they raised a number of
concerns and made several suggestions.
BERTON SMITH TRIAL IN THE HIGH COURT
The trial against former Head of the government’s Telephone Services Management Unit
Mr. Berton Smith is underway in the High Court. The trial opened Monday morning
(November 10th) before Mr. Justice Hugh Rawlins and a mixed 9-member jury. Smith is
facing a five-count indictment of 1 count of conspiracy to extort by a public
officer and 4 counts procuring the execution of a valuable security by deception.
NAIL BAY DEVELOPERS URGED TO COMPLY WITH RECOMMENDATIONS
The National Democratic Party (NDP) government has a keen interest in ensuring that
development projects in the territory are executed in a just and fair manner and in
accordance with the full requirements of the laws, it has been announced here.
Minister of Natural Resources the Honourable J. Alvin Christopher made the statement
on Thursday November 6th during the 7th sitting of the Legislative Council.
TROPICAL DISTURBANCE CAUSES MAJOR FLOODING IN THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
The government of the BVI continues to assess the damage from the persistent heavy
rains that plagued the territory since November 8th. Inclement weather disrupted
life in the territory as a strong tropical disturbance affected the islands,
bringing heavy persistent rains daily, clearing some only early this week. The
Department of Disaster Management reported 6.1 inches of rain up to Sunday. Several
roads, including the main road into Ballast Bay/Cane Garden Bay, Belle Vue and
Paraquita Bay were blocked with mud, debris and fallen trees for some time, causing
traffic to back up for hours as residents tried to get home after work last Friday
(November 14th). Some roads were also undermined and motorists are asked to continue
to exercise caution. Severe flooding occurred in the Pasea Estate area in the
vicinity of Riteway supermarket and also around the Wickham's Cay roundabout, adding
to the traffic congestion and causing significant damage to several Main Street
businesses. Water levels rose to the bonnet level of vehicles in these areas,
stalling some cars as they tried to drive through the flood. Crews from the Public
Works Department, with help from many private individuals, worked tirelessly to
clear blocked ghuts and drains throughout the territory and by late Friday evening,
much of the roads were cleared. Schools throughout the territory were also affected
and classes had to be called off for over a week. Particularly hard hit was the BVI
High School, which reported over saturated grounds. A number of events were also
postponed due to the inclement weather, including the BUY BVI trade Show, scheduled
for November 14th and 15th. The venue, the Sir Rupert Briercliffe Hall, was
reported to be flooded rendering it unusable. Chief Minister Dr. the Honourable D.
Orlando Smith said he and his Ministers had surveyed the damage, put a damage
assessment team together and they were scheduled to report on the initial damage
this week. Leader of the Opposition the Honourable Ralph T. O’Neal also commended
have the opposition’s support in the restoration effort.
According to the Police Information Office, on November 20, 2003, Pathologist Dr.
Francisco Landron of Puerto Rico conducted a post mortem examination on the
decomposed body that was found in the Horse Path area on November 19, 2003. The
post mortem revealed that death was due to stab wounds to the stomach and chest
area. It is confirmed that the body is that of Clara Natasha Jno-Baptiste who was
reported missing on November 9, 2003.
DARWIN INITIATIVE BIODIVERSITY PROJECT ON ANEGADA
The first week in December has seen the launch of an exciting new project to assess
the biodiversity of Anegada. The main focus of the project will be the mapping of
the distribution of the many special plants, birds and sea turtles that call Anegada
BVI STAMP CATALOGUE WINS 2nd INTERNATIONAL GOLD MEDAL
The Specialised Stamp Catalogue of the BVI edited by Dr. Giorgio Migliavacca wins a
gold medal award at the International Philatelic Literature Expo Temex held in
Buenos Aires (9-13 Dec.) This is the first time in philatelic history that a
publication from the English-speaking Caribbean has won two International Gold
Medals. Prior to Temex the Catalogue had won a gold medal at StampShow, (Atlantic
City, 2002); at Bangkok 2003 the Catalogue received a Vermeil Medal.
FORMER CHIEF LIBRARIANS HONOURED
Four former Chief Librarians and the founder of the BVI Public Library were honoured
7 December, at a commemorative luncheon. The event was part of this year's
celebrations of the 60th anniversary of Library Services in the Territory. Keynote
speaker, Deputy Governor Elton Georges reminisced about the Library in the 1950s and
1960s. He also spoke of his first visit to the Library when he was an 11 year old
student, and Miss Yvonne McKetney's professional and kind assistance and
encouragement made a lasting impression on him. He also had words of praise for her
successors, Mrs. Verna Penn-Moll (1965-1986), Mr. Peter Moll (1986-88), Mrs.
Bernadine Louis (1988-1999) and encouraged the entire community to support its
CHIEF MINISTER ADDRESSES STAFF OF THE CENTRAL ADMINISTRATION COMPLEX
Government has pledged to implement immediate steps to address growing concerns
about the air quality in the Central Administration Complex and the potential health
risks to employees working in the building. Chief Minister Dr. the Honourable D.
Orlando Smith and three of his Ministers, Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for
Finance, Health and Welfare Hon. Ronnie W. Skelton; Minister of Communications and
Works Hon. Paul P. Wattley and Minister of Education and Culture Hon. Lloyd K.
Black, met with the workers on Tuesday, December 16, 2003.
NEW GOVERNMENT PRESENTS $198m BUDGET FOR 2004
The 6-month old National Democratic Party (NDP) government presented a $198,443,000
budget for 2004 on December 22, 2003. Minister of Finance and Economic Development
the Honourable Ronnie W. Skelton delivered the address, during the 8th Sitting of
the 1st Session of the 15th Legislative Council, held at the Sir Rupert Briercliffe
Hall. The draft budget estimates put expenditure to cover the recurrent operations
for the government for 2004 at $186,562,500, with a recurrent surplus therefore of
$11,880,500. With respect to the fiscal situation for 2003, the Finance Minister
pointed out that revenue collection has been less than anticipated across just about
all revenue heads. “Despite this shortfall, it is estimated that on the last day of
business in 2003, government would have collected $180,600,000 in revenue and
expended $174,900,000, for a provisional surplus on its operations of $5,700,000,”
he declared. The Standing Finance Committee is scheduled to meet January 5th, 2004
to begin the process of examining the estimates. A date for debating the budget
will be announced shortly.
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