Robelto Hector – Communications Minister
October 13, 2011
The Nevis Island Assembly passed The Nevis Cable Communications Corporation Repeal Ordinance 2011 at Hamilton House Chambers on Monday. The Repeal Ordinance was brought to the legislature by Minister of Communications, Hon. Robelto Hector.
The Nevis Cable Communications Corporation Repeal Ordinance, 2011, repealed the law that had previously acquired the Caribbean Cable Communications (CCC) in 2009, in an attempt to pave the way for the historic geothermal project.
In giving a brief history of the acquisition of Nevis Cable Communications, the Hon. Joseph Parry said that in 2007, the Nevis Island Administration objected to an increase in cable rates while the island was faced with a global recession and the closure of the Four Seasons Resort.
The Premier stated, “In 2003, a rate increase took place during the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM/) led Administration. The then Premier, Hon. Vance Amory said at the Villa Grounds of the Charlestown Secondary School that the people of Nevis can pay, but he will not pay! What an interesting position for the leader of the country to take, because basically if you have 12,000 people in the country and they are paying increased rates, as the cable company owner, I would not fight the head of the country.
I will give him free, while everyone else is paying. Now, that is not what I can call representation,” said the Premier.
The Premier maintained that the actions by the NIA were provoked after CCC unilaterally increased rates without the necessary consultation and approval with and by the appropriate regulatory bodies. “The island of Nevis has had its own government since 1983 and yet there was never a Public Utility Commission until the Nevis Reformation Party led Administration set up one in 2007.” According to the Premier, the Public Utility Commission did have discussions with CCC but they broke down.
When the Nevis Island Administration realized that the matter was getting out of control and that the CCC were determined to increase the rates, the NRP-led Nevis Island Administration took what it felt was the right decision and sought to acquire the Cable Company by going to the Assembly in 2009.
“The Opposition party of the CCM got into the mix and instead of supporting the government they supported Caribbean Cable Communications. I even understand that a member of the party who is a lawyer even got involved as the company’s legal advisor, can you imagine that,” asked the Premier?
During the sitting of the House the Premier asked the gallery, “Can you understand that someone that wants to lead the country, someone that has supporters in this country would go against those same supporters to simply tarnish the reputation of the NRP led government and at the expense of those supporters,” said the Hon. Joseph Parry.
The Premier noted that the Government never sought to confiscate, seize or steal CCC. It was the plan of the NIA to pay the Cable Company for their business once a mutual agreement could be met.
Meanwhile, the NIA who was developing geothermal energy on Nevis at the time and seeking funds from the US Treasury came up against a wall when the CCM and the Caribbean Cable Communications joined together to bring the development of geothermal on Nevis to a halt.
The Premier added that representation was made by the Opposition and the Cable Company to Congress in the United States, the U.S Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados and EX-IM Bank, in an attempt to block Foreign Direct Investment into Nevis.
He noted that the U.S Embassy in Bridgetown and other U.S entities told him to settle the matter otherwise Nevis will not get financial backing needed for development of the natural energy source, which would reduce electricity bills by 40 percent.
In light of the matter and ensuring that the Nevis geothermal project gets the financial backing needed, the Administration decided to renegotiate the Cable matter in an attempt to resolve any dispute that acquisition may have caused.
“The government has made a mature decision,” the Premier said. He went on to say that the Ordinance is being repealed not because it is bad or wrong, but because according to the Premier, “In the long run, Nevis will have geothermal energy in this country and it must be done sooner, rather than later.”