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UK, DFID, M’rat, ICAI Confusion?

l-r - Davy Hill, Market, town area, Potato Hill, entire Little BayBackgroud

In February this year, The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI), visited Montserrat, their mission, “to review the aid that the Department for International Development (DFID) provides to Montserrat.” They said their review of the DFID aid to Montserrat, will look, “particularly around some of the recent and on-going capital projects.”

Initially, mention was made of five, but following are the six that they did review:

Gerald’s Park airport (£8.8 million): a development to replace the airport. ■ Water supply development (£3.1 million across two phases): a project to improve the capacity and reliability of water storage and distribution systems. ■ Education infrastructure (£2.5 million): the construction of two additional buildings for one of the two government primary schools. ■ Road reinstatement (£5.8 million): rehabilitation of the island’s main road with improved drainage. ■ Geothermal energy development (£8.6 million): exploratory drilling to establish whether there is a potential source of

geothermal energy on Montserrat. ■ Diesel power station (£5.3 million):24 the purchase of a new diesel power plant with associated civil works.

They also explained, “We focus on maximising the effectiveness of the UK aid budget for intended beneficiaries and on delivering value for money for UK taxpayers. We carry out independent reviews of aid programmes and of issues affecting the delivery of UK aid.”

Following this, they said further, that at the end of their investigation, they issue, “a transparent, impartial and objective report provides evidence and clear recommendations to support UK Government decision-making and to strengthen the accountability of the aid programme.”

See: http://www.themontserratreporter.com/dfid-aid-impact-review-on-montserrat/

and http://www.themontserratreporter.com/aid-impact-review-can-teach-plenty-and-should-benefit/

The Visit
At the time the media (with TMR in the lead) sought to meet with the investigators David Sharif and David Parish from UK KMPG particularly when plans,”to talk with senior staff from the Chamber of Commerce to discuss the impact of aid on Montserrat,” had failed.John A Osborne airport - aerial view

The efforts to meet with the team, even after discourse with Manager John Lester in the UK, proved futile. Then, on Tuesday this week, my mail inbox became crowded with the ICAI’s report on DFID’s aid programme to Montserrat. We discovered then, how they carried out their work.

Their report stated: “Interviews were conducted in London with Government of Montserrat officials, the FCO and DFID staff. Further consultations were carried out in Montserrat with ■ officials of the Government of Montserrat, the FCO, DFID, technical advisers and other development partners; and

■ intended beneficiaries including small business owners, police officers, airport staff, staff at the

volcano observatory, restaurant and shop owners and employees and winter residents.”

In the report, one of the recommendations tells a recurring story of DFID and GoM for lack of communication with the people of Montserrat. “DFID should work with the Government of Montserrat to increase the engagement of the people of Montserrat in its projects. This is both to understand their perspective and to manage their expectations.”

The Report

The report said at the outset, rating DFID’s as performing “relatively poorly overall”. It said that, “While continuing to meet basic needs, DFID’s approach in Montserrat has changed to include a greater focus on -economic development. Positive impact on beneficiaries has been achieved.” Then, “DFID does not yet, however, have a firm view on what Montserrat’s reasonable needs are nor what self-sufficiency means for the island; how best to improve it strategically over the long-term and what is affordable to the taxpayers of the UK and Montserrat.”

This did not bode to well with DFID who immediately issued a press release locally claiming that the report was inconsistent. While they also applaud at the beginning, they then expressed disappointment. “We welcome the report’s endorsement of our case-by-case approach to their (Montserrat)  reasonable assistance needs,” they stated in the release, noting also that the report also says, “we should establish a clearer sense of reasonable assistance in a strategic plan.”

DFID then said: “We find these two statements inconsistent,” expressing further their “disappointment  that ICAI has failed to recognise the steps the UK Government has taken to develop a long-term plan to help Montserrat move towards self-sufficiency.”

ICAI recognises that Montserrat has been devastated by volcanic eruptions since 1995, following devastation of 90% of its houses in 1989 by Hurricane Hugo and said that DFID and the island’s citizens had “achieved much” to avert the need for a complete evacuation. However it goes on that even officials here say that the background information in some cases are “inaccurate,” and seem misunderstood in some instances, asking, “where did they get their information?”

Microsoft PowerPoint - Montserrat 90% as deliverd 06032013 EnvThey cited as an example the comments about the airport and the strategic growth plans for the new town, Little Bay and the port. DFID for their part also in their release referred to the Strategic Plan they have for Montserrat.

The report sets out the findings on the programme DFID has for Montserrat but says it does not deliver a “firm view” of the island’s needs and decisions on funding were made on a “piecemeal” basis,  as written by The Daily Telegraph in the UK.

ICAI says: “We found that DFID has worked closely and successfully with the Government of Montserrat to help the island make the transition from the immediate post-disaster emergency to a stable normality…DFID has not yet developed a coherent strategic view of self-sufficiency…”

According to the Belfast Daily Telegraph, it quotes Graham Ward, ICAI chief commissioner as saying: “Although we saw evidence of good and necessary assistance to fund basic investment on Montserrat, we found that DfID needs to support the government of Montserrat to develop a longer-term plan for the island to move towards economic, financially justifiable self-sufficiency.”

This represents close to what DFID ministers tell Montserrat, but local government officials while not acknowledging arguments that GoM does not put up the right arguments, say that the word ‘reasonable’ is not clear.

GoM has not commented publicly on the report, but a leading public official while agreeing that some DFID’s actions are reasonable, says he is confused that he saw the report the same time as everyone else, and that it was not even communicated directly, the fact that this was not a Government study, but an independent one not withstanding. GoM of Montserrat did not get an opportunity to see or comment on the report.

 

Other officials find favour in many ways with the report while still others say it exposes not only DFID’s attitude to Montserrat’s development but also GoM’s indifference, still others say, ”unfairly,” suggesting confusion.

The Findings (http://www.themontserratreporter.com/icai-findings-conclusions-and-recommendations/)

The findings continued to be critical of DFID as though sympathetic to the Montserrat’s cause, the Premier having expressed his frustration with the many requirements and delays. Gom must find favour with the following: “As a result, DfID has not managed the expectations of beneficiaries regarding what is realistic and achievable. We found also that DfID reacts in a piecemeal fashion to the government of Montserrat’s bids for DfID’s funding.”

On the airport issue the report said: “DfID decided to invest in a new airport and to end ferry and helicopter subsidies. Instead of improving access, this led to a further decline in tourism: the ferry subsidies had to be reinstated and the airline services are also now subsidised. In addition, the airport makes a loss each year.”

The conclusions (http://www.themontserratreporter.com/icai-findings-conclusions-and-recommendations/)

Following is one the general conclusions put forward by ICAI: “Over the longer term, the UK Government has a

clear willingness, in principle, to provide capital investment through DFID to reduce Montserrat’s dependence on the UK and achieve self-sufficiency if possible. We found, however, that DFID does not have a detailed view on what self-sufficiency for Montserrat means. For example, we would expect DFID to have economic targets for Montserrat that take into account the attributes and resources of Montserrat when compared to neighbouring Caribbean islands.”

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l-r - Davy Hill, Market, town area, Potato Hill, entire Little BayBackgroud

In February this year, The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI), visited Montserrat, their mission, “to review the aid that the Department for International Development (DFID) provides to Montserrat.” They said their review of the DFID aid to Montserrat, will look, “particularly around some of the recent and on-going capital projects.”

Initially, mention was made of five, but following are the six that they did review:

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Gerald’s Park airport (£8.8 million): a development to replace the airport. ■ Water supply development (£3.1 million across two phases): a project to improve the capacity and reliability of water storage and distribution systems. ■ Education infrastructure (£2.5 million): the construction of two additional buildings for one of the two government primary schools. ■ Road reinstatement (£5.8 million): rehabilitation of the island’s main road with improved drainage. ■ Geothermal energy development (£8.6 million): exploratory drilling to establish whether there is a potential source of

geothermal energy on Montserrat. ■ Diesel power station (£5.3 million):24 the purchase of a new diesel power plant with associated civil works.

They also explained, “We focus on maximising the effectiveness of the UK aid budget for intended beneficiaries and on delivering value for money for UK taxpayers. We carry out independent reviews of aid programmes and of issues affecting the delivery of UK aid.”

Following this, they said further, that at the end of their investigation, they issue, “a transparent, impartial and objective report provides evidence and clear recommendations to support UK Government decision-making and to strengthen the accountability of the aid programme.”

See: http://www.themontserratreporter.com/dfid-aid-impact-review-on-montserrat/

and http://www.themontserratreporter.com/aid-impact-review-can-teach-plenty-and-should-benefit/

The Visit
At the time the media (with TMR in the lead) sought to meet with the investigators David Sharif and David Parish from UK KMPG particularly when plans,”to talk with senior staff from the Chamber of Commerce to discuss the impact of aid on Montserrat,” had failed.John A Osborne airport - aerial view

The efforts to meet with the team, even after discourse with Manager John Lester in the UK, proved futile. Then, on Tuesday this week, my mail inbox became crowded with the ICAI’s report on DFID’s aid programme to Montserrat. We discovered then, how they carried out their work.

Their report stated: “Interviews were conducted in London with Government of Montserrat officials, the FCO and DFID staff. Further consultations were carried out in Montserrat with ■ officials of the Government of Montserrat, the FCO, DFID, technical advisers and other development partners; and

■ intended beneficiaries including small business owners, police officers, airport staff, staff at the

volcano observatory, restaurant and shop owners and employees and winter residents.”

In the report, one of the recommendations tells a recurring story of DFID and GoM for lack of communication with the people of Montserrat. “DFID should work with the Government of Montserrat to increase the engagement of the people of Montserrat in its projects. This is both to understand their perspective and to manage their expectations.”

The Report

The report said at the outset, rating DFID’s as performing “relatively poorly overall”. It said that, “While continuing to meet basic needs, DFID’s approach in Montserrat has changed to include a greater focus on -economic development. Positive impact on beneficiaries has been achieved.” Then, “DFID does not yet, however, have a firm view on what Montserrat’s reasonable needs are nor what self-sufficiency means for the island; how best to improve it strategically over the long-term and what is affordable to the taxpayers of the UK and Montserrat.”

This did not bode to well with DFID who immediately issued a press release locally claiming that the report was inconsistent. While they also applaud at the beginning, they then expressed disappointment. “We welcome the report’s endorsement of our case-by-case approach to their (Montserrat)  reasonable assistance needs,” they stated in the release, noting also that the report also says, “we should establish a clearer sense of reasonable assistance in a strategic plan.”

DFID then said: “We find these two statements inconsistent,” expressing further their “disappointment  that ICAI has failed to recognise the steps the UK Government has taken to develop a long-term plan to help Montserrat move towards self-sufficiency.”

ICAI recognises that Montserrat has been devastated by volcanic eruptions since 1995, following devastation of 90% of its houses in 1989 by Hurricane Hugo and said that DFID and the island’s citizens had “achieved much” to avert the need for a complete evacuation. However it goes on that even officials here say that the background information in some cases are “inaccurate,” and seem misunderstood in some instances, asking, “where did they get their information?”

Microsoft PowerPoint - Montserrat 90% as deliverd 06032013 EnvThey cited as an example the comments about the airport and the strategic growth plans for the new town, Little Bay and the port. DFID for their part also in their release referred to the Strategic Plan they have for Montserrat.

The report sets out the findings on the programme DFID has for Montserrat but says it does not deliver a “firm view” of the island’s needs and decisions on funding were made on a “piecemeal” basis,  as written by The Daily Telegraph in the UK.

ICAI says: “We found that DFID has worked closely and successfully with the Government of Montserrat to help the island make the transition from the immediate post-disaster emergency to a stable normality…DFID has not yet developed a coherent strategic view of self-sufficiency…”

According to the Belfast Daily Telegraph, it quotes Graham Ward, ICAI chief commissioner as saying: “Although we saw evidence of good and necessary assistance to fund basic investment on Montserrat, we found that DfID needs to support the government of Montserrat to develop a longer-term plan for the island to move towards economic, financially justifiable self-sufficiency.”

This represents close to what DFID ministers tell Montserrat, but local government officials while not acknowledging arguments that GoM does not put up the right arguments, say that the word ‘reasonable’ is not clear.

GoM has not commented publicly on the report, but a leading public official while agreeing that some DFID’s actions are reasonable, says he is confused that he saw the report the same time as everyone else, and that it was not even communicated directly, the fact that this was not a Government study, but an independent one not withstanding. GoM of Montserrat did not get an opportunity to see or comment on the report.

 

Other officials find favour in many ways with the report while still others say it exposes not only DFID’s attitude to Montserrat’s development but also GoM’s indifference, still others say, ”unfairly,” suggesting confusion.

The Findings (http://www.themontserratreporter.com/icai-findings-conclusions-and-recommendations/)

The findings continued to be critical of DFID as though sympathetic to the Montserrat’s cause, the Premier having expressed his frustration with the many requirements and delays. Gom must find favour with the following: “As a result, DfID has not managed the expectations of beneficiaries regarding what is realistic and achievable. We found also that DfID reacts in a piecemeal fashion to the government of Montserrat’s bids for DfID’s funding.”

On the airport issue the report said: “DfID decided to invest in a new airport and to end ferry and helicopter subsidies. Instead of improving access, this led to a further decline in tourism: the ferry subsidies had to be reinstated and the airline services are also now subsidised. In addition, the airport makes a loss each year.”

The conclusions (http://www.themontserratreporter.com/icai-findings-conclusions-and-recommendations/)

Following is one the general conclusions put forward by ICAI: “Over the longer term, the UK Government has a

clear willingness, in principle, to provide capital investment through DFID to reduce Montserrat’s dependence on the UK and achieve self-sufficiency if possible. We found, however, that DFID does not have a detailed view on what self-sufficiency for Montserrat means. For example, we would expect DFID to have economic targets for Montserrat that take into account the attributes and resources of Montserrat when compared to neighbouring Caribbean islands.”