January 14, 2014
No instructions to refuse relief supplies for NDP – Huggins

Fitzgerald Huggins, this country’s Consul General in Toronto has denied that he gave instructions that relief supplies being shipped to St Vincent and the Grenadines should only be received on behalf of the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO).{{more}}

Huggins called in on the New Democratic Party’s (NDP) interactive radio programme New Times yesterday, to refute claims that KLC Shippers in Canada, were instructed by him to refuse supplies being sent to the NDP.

This allegation was made on the programme by President of the NDP and Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace, who said he received calls from Canada on Sunday, indicating that relief supplies earmarked for the NDP had been left behind.

“I was told that some persons have gone to KLC with shipments to be made to the New Democratic Party, and the ship was to leave last Friday.

“The person was told that they could only send things to NEMO, and therefore they were not able to ship those things they had already collected for the New Democratic Party.

“I am quite sure that I heard Mr Huggins here from the mission in Toronto saying on this radio, that that firm is generous and committed to assisting in that process. I called a number of people in Canada to find out last night exactly what was happening and I have confirmation that, in fact, materials coming to us did not make the shipment, and that they were told they could not send to NDP; the things would have to go to NEMO, and I think they are making other arrangements to ship now.”

The political leader said that he objected to the developments, since materials that had been collected by his party were not distributed along political lines, but rather to all members of the communities that the party had visited in this time of need.

Eustace said that since his party had been excluded from the national effort, the decision was taken to create its own effort, and this too was being hampered.

Ha called for an end to what he described as a stumbling block.

“We are all aware of the scope of the disaster and the damage to many homes… we wish to play our part…. We have people at the headquarters now receiving material to send out… we sent out material twice last week to various constituencies, including to areas where the ULP is strong….

“We do not operate like that. Our country cannot afford to have us operate like that, deal with one side, deal with one part of the people.

“We distribute our materials in such a manner that we give general help to the population, whether they are NDP or ULP….”

Huggins, responding to Eustace’s allegations, said he gave no such directive to Ken Chitole, the owner of KLC Shipping.

He said that following the December rains and flooding, a meeting was held at the consulate in Toronto, where the decision was made that any relief supplies sent through his office would go to the St Vincent and the Grenadines Red Cross or NEMO.

“The consulate has to conform to government policies, and the policy of the government, they have assigned NEMO and/or the Red Cross as the agencies responsible for the relief efforts, so that was made clear at the meeting….

“I then called KLC Shippers and I made an arrangement that NEMO and the Red Cross is where the goods should be consigned for the relief efforts.

“I asked if he can kindly assist us with free shipping for the relief; he said sure, once its for St Vincent and the relief, it’s fine.

“Now that does not stop anyone else, even within the group, to make another arrangement for the DRP, the PMC, the NDP, whatever group… to go to Ken and say that we represent this interest group and we would like you to assist us with free shipping as well for this group.”

He said he was not aware if this had been done by any other agency wishing to ship relief materials to St Vincent.

Huggins said that he would not be able to approve any concessions for any individual or agency on behalf of KLC Shipping, which is an independent entity.(JJ)