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Canadian government demands answers about reverse osmosis project

As Barbados’ water woes continue to mount, a Canadian government official is demanding to know if Government has abandoned plans for the construction of a $40 million reverse osmosis project to improve the island’s dwindling supply of potable water.

Marc Parisien, head of the commercial section at the Canadian High Commission in Bridgetown, said the plant was earmarked to be built at the Belle pumping station with loan financing from Canadian agencies.

Marc Parisien

Marc Parisien

The solution was first examined by the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) in 2008 with the objective of ensuring dilution and reduction of contaminants in local water. At a 2012 media conference, officials reported that in some areas of the island, nitrate levels were approaching the threshold of ten milligrammes per litre set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

At the time, Minister of Water Resources Management Dr David Estwick had expressed concern about the levels of contaminants that threatened the island’s water supply as he announced Government’s intention to construct the facility.

Taking part in yesterday’s Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) business luncheon at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Parisien expressed disappointment that the project had not yet started. He also warned that the funding, which was being provided at a “very low” interest rate, would not be available forever.

“There is issue with climate change now; there is less rain in general, but basically we have been discussing for a long time about the Belle reverse osmosis project with Barbados and this is a $40 million project,” Parisien disclosed, addiing that only about 30 per cent of the island’s water was drinkable.

“But the level of pollution is rising rapidly as you are aware. Now it is still under what you call the World Health Organization standards, but if it reaches that standard . . . it means that suddenly 30 per cent of people in Barbados wouldn’t have water to drink. This could be a real disaster and this could be also [a disaster] for the tourism sector, and all that,” Parisien added.

“So we have put together a package to help Barbados actually to do the project. Basically, we sent a letter even to Prime Minister [Freundel] Stuart, I think to Minister Estwick also and it was approved by Parliament to our knowledge, but when it goes to the Ministry of Finance for the funding to do the project, it gets stuck. 

“The issue is that we have a package together now. We work with Canadian Commercial Corporation, we work with Export Development Canada and we have a very, very low interest rate average for Barbados to do that now, but we cannot hold this package forever because otherwise they may want to go to other islands with these types of projects also,” he cautioned.

Directing his question to Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler, Parisien said while he understood Government was currently struggling with its fiscal and debt challenges, he wanted to know if the project was still important for the country, “because we just feel like if it is not done, we would like to know why”.

“Certainly the pollution level is too high and the people [in Canada] are asking what is the Barbados Government doing about it,” he said. “So we just want to know what is the position of Government and is it still important for the Government? . . . . But we expect that this would be approved and we can start the project as soon as possible, so you don’t get a surprise in six months, a year or two with this big issue in Barbados.”

Sinckler opted, however, not to respond to the matter.

“Unfortunately, I am incapable of responding to that question in this forum. I actually think it is not the type of question you ought to have asked in this forum and therefore I am not going to [respond],” he said.

“I have a very perfect response to what you are saying but it is not for this occasion and therefore I am going to do, unlike our compatriots on the West Indies team, I am going to let that ball pass outside the off stump and go to the wicket keeper,” he stressed.

11 Responses to Stalled!

  1. Aneta October 6, 2016 at 1:23 am

    Lol and the minister refuses to answer a direct question. Such a critical issue. A bunch of idiots running this country right into the ground. Not another vote from this once supporter.

  2. Brien King
    Brien King October 6, 2016 at 2:17 am

    If we do the project and take your loan for 40 million dollars, would S&P and Moody and the likes effect the loan by raising the interest every time they do their foolishness ?
    Can you wait for at least 7 years before you get your first payment for the loan with out any interest added ?
    If yes then I say that project can start tomorrow but if no then what do you expect a country with external financial issues to do ?
    You all really got Barbados as a cash cow, despite knowing our woes, you still want the country to go into more debt to prove that we really stupid over here right?
    The Mof was in his rights to not answer you there but I am sure that if you did ask other folks here outside of a national meeting, that you would have been privileged to some bajan explicits .

    • Leroy October 6, 2016 at 3:29 am

      Project conceptualized in 2008 and estimated at 40mil, since then they built a new building and refused to repair the mains, they could have build the reverse osmosis plant, although I wouldnt be drinking any of that water and secured a loan one time for mains upgrades.
      Brien King, we know gov cash strapped but since you so smart, explain to us why they spent $ they didnt have on a new headquarters when their water distribution architecture rotted away?

  3. Hal Austin October 6, 2016 at 5:00 am

    Why ar Canadians interfering with our internal affairs. Are we a Canadian colony? The Foreign Minister should invite the high commissioner in for a good talking to.
    These people disrespect us – of all people Canadians.

    • Donild Trimp October 8, 2016 at 12:48 pm

      Hal, for an intelligent person, you surprised me with your comment.

      Would you prefer to deal in monkey business where kickbacks are the order of the day.

      The only reason why this $40 million project is not off the ground is because the leaches cannot figure out how deal with CCC and EDC and still get the cutbacks which is the norm in Barbados.

      • Olutoye Walrond October 9, 2016 at 11:25 am

        You offer to help a developing country maintain the safety of its water and that is interfering in its internal affairs.
        Wow. We must be the most intelligent people on earth.

  4. jrsmith October 6, 2016 at 6:01 am

    Day after day the people of our Barbados is seeing the display of the ignorance and the non functioning behaviour from our non productive government…What our clowns fail to understand we are open to the world everything ,which happens or said goes global. In certain governments around the world politicians like our lot would have been sacked..

    Everything is a failure the politicians didn’t like this (Canadian ) gentleman asking question that bajans frighten to ask of the politicians , thats why they are upset because nobody should ask the politicians any question as they do what they like…

    Our country can recover and do a lot better, but we must rid the country of this lot of (wan,,,,s ) our politicians are the ones who is preventing our island from moving forward and prospering. They are destroying our island what ever they touch is failure its time we stop paying them.
    See how they behave the biscuit , rum and cornered beef mentality still running through they veins.

    My take its going to take a bunch of white people to save our island from disaster…. but they did before way back in (1650,s)….

  5. Tony Webster October 6, 2016 at 6:33 am

    F.G.I. (for general information): The Canadian Government, and though its executing arm, C.I.D.A., has over the last 40-50 years, funded the building of components of our infrastructure , both here and in the wider Caribbean. Just check out the numerous schools, airports, fishing -markets etc, which C.I.D.A. has created. There should be no rocks thrown at such fine folks…unless you have just recently arrived from Mars.

    Yes, they do not like to be involved in “funny-business”, which so often accompanies large building contracts. So one might see the main contract go to a Canadain contractor of proven capacity to deliver on-time, and within budget, and good local sub-contractors also getting a bite at the cherry. Bottom line: we taxpayers get value for loans/grants received.

    Rather than the rubbish here associated with pure ignorance,
    knowledgeable commenters should support the need for our own “Relevant Authorities”, to answer the question raised by the diplomat. Whenever I am in Canada, and turn on a tap, water comes out; ditto throwing a light-switch, or turning on central heating.
    Canada works, plain and simple; they are trusted and consistent friends.

  6. F.A.Rudder October 6, 2016 at 10:28 am

    A very important matter I should say regarding the Barbados water quality and national health. We are in the process of producing more produce and farming; this requirement introduces a rise in nitrate leaching into our aquifers. The B W A has a responsibility to daily monitor our potable water and record bio-hazards and heavy metals if existent. Location of these reports will give analysis as to types of fertilizers and concentration of formulas being used on our agricultural lands. Farmers must invest in mulching machines and propagate this process which keeps the natural minerals of the soils from being leached by solar penetration!

  7. David G. Brooks October 6, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    The Canadian Govt has done a lot for Barbados over the years and usually without much fanfare … E.W. Barrow kept a very close relation with them but as someone said today on Brass Tacks (and a confessed DLP supporter at that) the party is no longer anything like what it was or represented years ago.

    Is just goes to show how arrogant some have become if all they can complain about or be concerned is the loan, the interest based on S&P/Moody ‘foolishness’ – when it was reported that this project “we (Canadians) have a very, very low interest rate average for Barbados to do that now” and MORE important NONE of the Govt defenders here had anything to say about the potential health issues regarding the “nitrate levels were approaching the threshold of ten milligrammes per litre set by the World Health Organization (WHO)”, not to mention all the money spent on the new HQ and what is happening in the country parishes or not happening with regard water supply. Wunna should hang your heads in shame along with the MoF as you seem to be more concerned about the Govt than the people. The MoF was obviously embarrassed and put on the spot – if he can’t take the heat then get out the kitchen.

  8. Richard Hughes October 13, 2016 at 9:55 pm

    Dumbfounded and ashamed of a Minister of our Government’s answer, or non-answer to be accurate, at a meeting of our business chamber. Why was the MoF unwilling (hopefully not unable) to answer the question? The concern as to why a long-approved project that is clearly needed as our water contamination level for nitrates approach the unacceptable, toxic world standard seems a valid reason to ask these questions. Why has this vital-to-our-population’s-health project not been started by this administration despite favorable loan interest rate and other conditions and despite it being approved by our Cabinet years ago? Is there some hidden reason that is obstructing the realization of this project that we should be apprised of?


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