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montgomery daniel
Minister of Agriculture Montgomery Daniel (Internet photo).

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Embattled Minister of Agriculture Montgomery Daniel is expected to tell Parliament today, whether he intends to relinquish his ministerial duties because of his ministry’s mishandling of the black sigatoka disease here.

According to the Order Paper for today’s meeting of the House of Assembly, Member of Parliament (MP) for the Northern Grenadines Dr. Godwin Friday is slated to ask Daniel “have you considered resigning as Minister of Agriculture so that someone else may provide leadership in the industry and a fresh start for farmers; and if not, why not”

Friday’s question is among 20 on the Order Paper.

In the other part of the question, Friday is slated to ask Daniel, “What have you done or intend to do to try to assure the farmers of this country that you and the Ministry of Agriculture will do what is required to combat the black sigatoka disease and improve the quality of the country’s bananas?”

In the preamble to the question, Friday is expected to speak about “the disastrous situation in the banana industry resulting from your Ministry’s failure to spray banana fields in a timely manner against the black sigatoka disease”.

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He is also expected to say that “a large quantity of our bananas have been rejected in the U.K. because of poor quality resulting from the effects of the black sigatoka disease”.

Daniel and his ministry has come in for much criticism and calls for him to resign because his ministry failed to spray against the disease, which has ravaged banana cultivation here and contributed to low quality scoring on fruits exported to the United Kingdom.

And lawmakers are expected to hear the extent of effects of the disease when MP for North Leeward, the shadow minister of agriculture Roland ‘Patel’ Matthews, asks Daniel what percentage of bananas exported to the U.K. between from load week 25 to 45 has been rejected and the reason for the rejection.

godwin friday
Member of Parliament for the Northern Grenadines is slated to ask Agriculture Minister Montgomery Daniel if he plans to resign (Internet photo)

Winfresh, which markets this country’s bananas in the U.K., recently proposed that exports of the fruit from this country be suspended until quality improves.

Bernard Cornibert, chief executive officer of Winfresh, recently told I-Witness News that bananas from this country had had to be dumped or sold at very low prices, causing the company significant losses.

Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace will also ask Daniel to “indicate the precise action to be taken by the Ministry of Agriculture for the next nine months with respect to spraying for black sigatoka and other diseases affecting the banana and plantain crops”.

Among the other question of national importance on the order paper, will be the fiscal outturn for the government for January to Oct. 31 as compared with the same period last year.

Eustace will ask this question of Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr. Ralph Gonsalves

He is also slated to ask Gonsalves to indicate how many firms have shown interest in taking over the life insurance portfolio of the failed British American Insurance Company.

Friday, who is also the shadow minister of tourism, will ask Tourism Minister Saboto Caesar “what is being done now to address effectively the problem of illegal yacht break-ins in Admiralty Bay and to reassure members of the yachting community that the government is taking their security and welfare seriously”.

Government officials have recently met with tourism stakeholders on Bequia to discuss the problem and Friday will ask Caesar to say “why no regular water patrol was instituted in Admiralty Bay in light of a yacht burglaries there”.

The issue of a secondary school in Canouan will also be raised in Parliament.

Terrance Ollivierre, MP for the Southern Grenadines and shadow minister of education, is expected to cite the Unity Labour Party’s 2010 Election Manifesto promise and to ask “what mechanisms have been put in place to ensure the successful introduction of secondary education in Canouan; and how soon can the residents and students start benefitting from secondary education on the island”.

MP for Central Kingstown St. Clair Leacock will ask Gonsalves for a status update on 21 capital projects in Kingstown and its environs that were approved in the 2010 budget and reappeared in this year’s budget, for which EC $40.6 million was allocated.

Nigel Stephenson, MP for South Leeward will ask Works Minister Sen. Julian Francis “whether strong support for the ULP is a prerequisite for repairing roads in St. Vincent and the Grenadines”.

Three bills — the Tax Information Exchange Agreements Bill, the Insurance Amendment Bill, and the Immigration (Restriction) (Amendment) Bill, will have their first reading.

The select Committee Report on the Financial Services Authority Bill will be tabled, while the contentious Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill will be sent to Select Committee.

Today’s meeting, which begins at 10 a.m., will also hear motions on the Cocoa Support Programme, and on private sector development as well as a resolution designating 2012 as the “International Year of Cooperatives”.

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