Categorized | Editorial

“Transitioning to a more efficient, responsive and affordable public service”

We have heard the Chief Minister frequently accuse the public service to be generally ineffective and inefficient, but he has declined to be specific. Instead, he said that there are a few who are very dedicated and provide good service. We should have asked him go give a percentage. He has also threatened that some may have to go, especially if they do not perform; and he has promised that letting go public servants would be an absolute last resort. That did not prevent public servants from being scared and afraid.

What could one have expected with this caption as the theme of the 2011 Budget Statement of Chief Minister Reuben Meade which he delivered as Minister of Finance on Thursday, March 24. Our first reaction was one of ‘shame’ that at a time when the words on all Montserrat lips are ‘economy,  jobs and development. Everyone thought that these words were on the lips of government as HMG has recently been talking the same words.

We expected this budget to be very direct with plans and specifics as to how the government intends to be the catalyst for the economic and development of Montserrat as promised in a memorandum of agreement between HMG and government almost thirteen (13) years ago. This, especially as he has mentioned in the said budget: “Her Majesty’s Government has indicated its willingness to provide continued assistance to Montserrat to balance its recurrent budget…amounts to approximately 54% of our recurrent budget. The current agreement is that budgetary aid must decline over time as we develop our private sector’s contribution to economic activity. At the same time, HMG has indicated its willingness to provide funding for strategic and targeted investments that will lead to the overall sustainability of the island. This means that the opportunity is there to obtain greater levels of targeted development aid.”

The Chief Minister on almost every occasion he mentioned the private sector spoke only in terms of hopes and beliefs but nothing in terms of any tangible plans that gives even hope to the people. After saying it is “the sector that pays the taxes that fund what we do in the public sector,” He talks of” placing emphasis on” development of the economic infrastructure of the island – port facilities, road infrastructure and energy; The transfer of certain public sector services to the private sector. The latter of course is how he hopes to keep the ‘laid-off’ civil servants employed. Still taking care of the public servants. But, where is the sound of new jobs? Will these activities improve the lot of the already starving workers in the private sector?

Emphasis is also being placed on: Focus on investments and other institutional developments in key sectors – Tourism, mining, construction, ICT.  Control and targeting of public expenditure to obtain greater efficiency and value for money.

Some quick questions, “where is the beef in the budget speech to boost the private sector?” One answer is that there is no ability, they do not know any better! There is the accusation that there is no leadership. But, Chief Minister as he refers to the need for: “Strong and effective leadership including the governance of the institutions of government and the private sectors;” and, “Developing a robust private sector development strategy.”

The CM said there will be no new taxes, but he plans to put measures in place at the Revenue Departments, Customs and Inland Revenue that will result in “local revenues either increasing marginally, or in some cases declining.” All of these measures we should note are not of our own doing but coming from HMG. Some of these measures are already on stream , and the others are well on the way.

Maybe the government is making up for the failure of the failed service of Governor Waterworth, who got mere mention in this budget that he has left. It’s many years now. The public service’s performance should have peeked by now, with his own ‘spouting’. Instead, we have his convenient buddy still concentrating on how to fix ‘it’ before it can challenge the problems and poverty that is being experienced by most.

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

We have heard the Chief Minister frequently accuse the public service to be generally ineffective and inefficient, but he has declined to be specific. Instead, he said that there are a few who are very dedicated and provide good service. We should have asked him go give a percentage. He has also threatened that some may have to go, especially if they do not perform; and he has promised that letting go public servants would be an absolute last resort. That did not prevent public servants from being scared and afraid.

What could one have expected with this caption as the theme of the 2011 Budget Statement of Chief Minister Reuben Meade which he delivered as Minister of Finance on Thursday, March 24. Our first reaction was one of ‘shame’ that at a time when the words on all Montserrat lips are ‘economy,  jobs and development. Everyone thought that these words were on the lips of government as HMG has recently been talking the same words.

We expected this budget to be very direct with plans and specifics as to how the government intends to be the catalyst for the economic and development of Montserrat as promised in a memorandum of agreement between HMG and government almost thirteen (13) years ago. This, especially as he has mentioned in the said budget: “Her Majesty’s Government has indicated its willingness to provide continued assistance to Montserrat to balance its recurrent budget…amounts to approximately 54% of our recurrent budget. The current agreement is that budgetary aid must decline over time as we develop our private sector’s contribution to economic activity. At the same time, HMG has indicated its willingness to provide funding for strategic and targeted investments that will lead to the overall sustainability of the island. This means that the opportunity is there to obtain greater levels of targeted development aid.”

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The Chief Minister on almost every occasion he mentioned the private sector spoke only in terms of hopes and beliefs but nothing in terms of any tangible plans that gives even hope to the people. After saying it is “the sector that pays the taxes that fund what we do in the public sector,” He talks of” placing emphasis on” development of the economic infrastructure of the island – port facilities, road infrastructure and energy; The transfer of certain public sector services to the private sector. The latter of course is how he hopes to keep the ‘laid-off’ civil servants employed. Still taking care of the public servants. But, where is the sound of new jobs? Will these activities improve the lot of the already starving workers in the private sector?

Emphasis is also being placed on: Focus on investments and other institutional developments in key sectors – Tourism, mining, construction, ICT.  Control and targeting of public expenditure to obtain greater efficiency and value for money.

Some quick questions, “where is the beef in the budget speech to boost the private sector?” One answer is that there is no ability, they do not know any better! There is the accusation that there is no leadership. But, Chief Minister as he refers to the need for: “Strong and effective leadership including the governance of the institutions of government and the private sectors;” and, “Developing a robust private sector development strategy.”

The CM said there will be no new taxes, but he plans to put measures in place at the Revenue Departments, Customs and Inland Revenue that will result in “local revenues either increasing marginally, or in some cases declining.” All of these measures we should note are not of our own doing but coming from HMG. Some of these measures are already on stream , and the others are well on the way.

Maybe the government is making up for the failure of the failed service of Governor Waterworth, who got mere mention in this budget that he has left. It’s many years now. The public service’s performance should have peeked by now, with his own ‘spouting’. Instead, we have his convenient buddy still concentrating on how to fix ‘it’ before it can challenge the problems and poverty that is being experienced by most.