A newsletter published three times weekly for E mail subscribers by the Emergency Department, Governor's Office.
THE VOLCANIC EXPLANATRION:
The activity at the Soufriere Hills Volcano remains at a very low level. There have been no volcano tectonic earthquakes at all for the latter part of this week.
Last night there was some rockfall / small pyroclastic flow activity into the Tar River Valley but this was thought to be due to slight crumbling of the dome.
Dust levels are generally quite low but some heavy winds today (Fri) are blowing some dust around.
C.M. PRESENTS HIS BUDGET:
Last evening the Hon. Chief Minister Mr David S. Brandt presented his first budget to a specially called meeting of LEGCO at Mc Chesney's.
The budget is one of over EC$130 million for recurrent, emergency and development expenditure - the largest amount ever presented.
The main initiatives of the budget are:
(1) A clear fiscal policy regime with defined economic objectives
(2) Companies and individuals who invest in commercial facilities between now and the year 2002 will be allowed to write off over a period of ten years, the annualised cost of new commercial buildings in computing profits before tax.
(3) Investors in the construction of new commercial facilities between now and the year 2002 will also be allowed a 50% reduction in property tax on these facilities for a period of 5 years.
(4) Port charges will be reduced by as much as 60% in some cases, as a means of reducing the cost of doing business in Montserrat.
(5) The basic allowance for personal income tax will be increased from $13,000 to $15,000 and the income bands will be adjusted to take account of inflation over the past 3 years.
(6) Computers and ancillary items will be imported free of duty and consumption tax as a step towards a policy of providing concessions on the importation of essential items of business equipment.
(7) The rate of property tax applied to properties in the central (buffer) zone will be reduced by 25% where home owners have heeded the advice to move out of that zone.
(8) Properties in the exclusion zone will be exempted from the payment of property tax except for any commercial establishments which will continue to operate there.
(9) Concessions which were announced in last year's budget with respect to the payment of penalties and interest on tax arrears continue to apply until 31, October 1998.
The budget will be debated on Monday April 27th at 10 am.
CDERA STAFF VISIT:
CDERA deputy co-ordinator, Audrey Mullins was in Montserrat earlier this week to update Government on the progress of the CARICOM village.
The 30 units for the village are to arrive in Montserrat shortly from Cuba and Jamaica. Work Units from the Jamaica and Guyana Defence Forces will assemble the units at Look Out.
MORE CASH PRESENTED:
This afternoon (Fri) at the Governor's Office a cheque for US$100,000 will be presented by H.E. The Governor, Mr Tony Abbott to Dr Howard Fergus, Chairman of the Volcano Relief Fund.
Following the return of ex-Governor Mr David Taylor from his recent visit to Montserrat, the Music for Montserrat Committee agreed to support the Volcano Relief Fund in its efforts aimed at helping those persons most in need.
This is the third cheque presented by the Governor in the last 4 weeks, US$50,000 went to the St Augustine's School and US$30,000 to the Red Cross for the Golden Years Home.
Sir George & Lady Martin send their best wishes to Montserrrat and hope to visit the island later this year.
EVACUATION EXERCISE AT SCHOOL:
The Emergency Department in conjunction with staff of the St Augustine School in Woodlands this morning carried out an evacuation drill for students and staff of the school.
The drill is part of the contingency planning in the face of the ongoing volcano. The school is just inside zone 2 on the island's risk map and evacuation plans call for students and staff to be moved further north in case of an increase in volcanic activity.
The exercise took 20 minutes from the alarm being raised to the students arriving safe and sound at the reporting point at Brades School some 4 miles away. Altogether, about 100 persons were involved in the exercise.
More information next week...................................
Published by the Education & Information Unit, Emergency Dept St John's Village, Montserrat, Leeward Islands, West Indies. Tel: 664 491 7166 Fax: 664 491 2474 E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Richard Aspin, Unit co-ordinator.