Archive | Editorial

Has Montserrat put its house in order?

Has Montserrat put its house in order?

 

The JMC (Joint Ministerial Council) meetings have been taking place for over 10 years now. It may have been before, but we became aware when Chief Minister Dr. Lowel Lewis returned from one of them and we received a communique on the meeting. It was then we noticed that the Chief Ministers or the British Overseas Territories (BOTs) were required to sign an agreement that the government would not interfere in judicial matters.

December 8, 2017

At the time we questioned the Chief Minister whether he had signed the agreement, as Montserrat government officials as a rule were not known to interfere in such matters. But we later recalled that many years before that a minister reportedly showed up at Police Headquarters in Plymouth and demanded the release of his son in dramatic fashion. The question that never got answered is whether a BOT had to sign whether or not the situation was relevant to it. There has been fall out since.

Now, in more recent years special attention had been given to the Communique that comes out. What is difficult to recall ‘off the cuff’, is what specific positions had been raised or communicated within the last ten years on the poor response Montserrat had experienced in the aftermath of the volcanic demolition that still makes commentators and critics claim Montserrat to be a beggar going with open hands to HMG.

The Premier at this last JMC a couple weeks ago led the charge in highlighting the Territories that had been so badly shaken/broken by hurricanes Irma and Maria three months ago and reminding or pointing out that over 20 years and Montserrat has little to show as to a recovery, back to anything near sustainable economic develepment to take it into the foreseeable future.

A report on his involvement during the visit referred: “The three affected territories the Turks and Caicos Islands, the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla were each represented by their respective political leaders and benefited from their governors also being present during much of the event.”

At the beginning of the annual event for which the BOTs had been well prepared, British Prime Minister Theresa May held a preliminary meeting with the BOT leaders at Number 10 Downing Street in which she set out her government’s desire to cement the enduring partnership that existed between the U.K. and the Overseas Territories and the U. K’s ambition to support their diverse economies and natural heritage.

We’ve seen some of his presentations, but have been left somewhat feeling that the Montserrat case has not been adequately taken care of, while more attention and focus was on the other territories. At the time, that may have been the prudent thing to do, but also important, we feel that an opportunity was missed to incisively highlight the predicament Montserrat faces, at this point that Montserrat must lead the discussion to remind HMG of its international and other obligations to those who especially must rely on AID to build itself. That last might have brought stronger arguments on the pitfalls to be avoided.

We expect and hope to see communication that upon his return the Premier would have immediately followed up with direct communication to the Prime Minister and other relevant Ministers regarding the current situation about HMG keeping their obligation and responsibility to Montserrat’s recovery firstly and serious moves to develop the island economically, socially and intellectually.

After the niceties and importantly, an acknowledgement of Montserrat’s own shortcomings, mild and gross; then moving straight into the disgust, calling for investigations, we think critical and necessary to correct immediately the insulting behavior after promises and commitments to bring Montserrat, originally planned for by 2020 to self-sustainability, at least. Those shortcomings were what was referred to when ‘the’ government delegation was told, ‘go put your house in order.’ Do we understand even now?

Montserrat also has obligation, especially as all our leaders love to refer to ‘partnership’. That as we have noted time and again, makes no sense to be constantly speaking all about what has not been done, when investigations will at least show that is not the whole truth. That will put you back Mr. Premier, right at the beginning, which is probably where you are now, ignoring the right moves, now or in the immediate. Let us hope that this is not too late. Even so time to get on with it.

 

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We need done, that which is right, not chaotic discourse

We need done, that which is right, not chaotic discourse

November 17, 2017

In May this year an Editorial out of Anguilla caught our attention. The caption read: Realising Anguilla’s needs and wants – what will it take? It appeared to have been a guest editorial, but it did not state that. Only bylined ‘By anguillian’.

It outlined: “It is obvious from the comments, observations and assertions of Anguillians, that Anguillians want the best and expect the best in all aspects of life on Anguilla. This results in a very extensive shopping list for the consideration of Anguilla’s leaders as they contemplate how best to utilise Anguilla’s limited financial resources. The development of a national plan is considered essential, by many, to guide our leaders in the decision-making process, as they seek to prioritise their response to the many needs and wants of Anguilla’s populace.”

Does this sound any different for Montserrat? You may disagree but in ways it does. What was called for as it said: “…neither the development of a national plan, nor the subsequent adherence to a national plan, will be easy without significant cooperation and collaboration among the various sectors of Anguilla, which invariably compete for limited resources.”

“We might feel that as Anguillians we will see the bigger picture and therefore do what is required for the benefit of Anguilla.” To that we say the same, having been thrown right back at least nearly ten years at least, forgetting that we have been trying since 1996 when the UK committed to building a new Montserrat with life centered in the northern half of the island.

So they came up with a shopping list which must have been exasperated and became much longer following the passage of hurricane Irma which devastated the island perhaps worse that Hugo did Montserrat in 1989. Of course, for Montserrat, nothing can compare to Soufriere Hill’s volcanic extreme decimation. We note that Anguilla and the other OTs particular BVI Tortola etc. have referenced the shameful position Montserrat is in the UK’s response up to date as to their expectation for UK’s assistance.

The shopping list referred to the improvement and needs, specifically mentioning: Education,

Health, Sports, Theatre Arts, Air & Sea Access, Road Development, Government Office Accommodation.

So how is Montserrat doing having come up with a Development plan from 2008 – 2020, an Strategic Growth Plan out of that in 2012? And if we take from the shopping list above, we can take a mark of zero.

Why and how in the circumstances of the few major things on the list being undertaken Montserrat is being told – go look for private partnerships (PPP) on projects already agreed and/or approved?

We draw attention to Air & Sea Access, Government Office Accommodation from the list above, and add, infrastructural development (such as fibre optic cable) health (hospital and medical schools).

On Government office accommodation: vital for building a national consciousness, Parliament building, Court House, and a Premier’s state house. All these do not need the question of justification. It is a disgrace – and whoever should take a bow in admission should lift it high and say ‘forward on’ here we go.

 

We know where the weaknesses and stumbling blocks are! Much of it among us from and by our own, but disgrace to the HMG for knowing and using it to block the progress it is obligated to and actually promised.

 

It is why old and especially new politicians obviously do not care or do not understand the hurdle that must be overcome rather saying that we look to the wrong places. That change as much as it may be the eventual route will not come overnight, and without the fight to have done, what is right.

 

We would warn that the hood winked approach at only the sea access importance is a very limited look at the progress of tourism building in Montserrat. It is a mistake and recent tourism strategy from 2012 will show this.

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How can an Editorial of (check) be so apt today

How can an Editorial of (check) be so apt today

November 3, 2017

We present the following Editorial written some time prior, bears relevance to this time. We have removed a couple dates to test the few who may remember and be willing to tell us when it was written. Do let us know whether if the contents seem relevant today.

It may be mere speculation now, but it can become real in a very short time, when we see a more positive approach by the British Government to ensure that their aid money is spent in the manner they planned.

The Honorable Reuben Meade in his position as Chief Minister, which he enjoys up to xxx, “the MVO, EOC and the entire emergency operation where money is concerned, decisions, important and critical decisions which are required, we need to have it in a position where these guys (elections candidates) can’t put their hands on the money and do things indiscriminately.”

While it is believed in high government circles that the C M is misinterpreting the moves to centralize some financial management and the positioning of British Officials in the administration, it is still believed that there will be further moves should the government take a particular shape following the elections.

There is no doubt that Montserrat will suffer a set back in any quest that we may have envisaged for independence in the immediate future. And while we were almost certain we would not hear any talk of independence in the campaign, as the number of candidates reach its record high, xxxxxxx, a strong promoter of independence has arrived on island and confirmed his intention to contest the elections on an independence platform. It is doubtful that he will muster much support among other candidates on the subject, for indeed some who had previously promoted, expressed lack of confidence in our very existence in Montserrat at all at this time.

Montserrat needs more than ever to look forward and we must discourage moves to more deeply colonize us. More and more the danger exists, that as we move deeper into the volcanic crisis and our dependency upon the British Government and other donor agencies increases, we should not forget or even ignore the need to stay focus. If we are not careful to use this as one of the criteria in electing our next leaders, there will be many more who will go/run away, not from the volcano, but from life in Montserrat.

This week, as the number of candidates announcing their intentions to contest elections grow to near unprecedented numbers, the more it is being grumbled that there should be a run off between candidates to at least two to contest a seat. What is happening is that the possibility is ever present that a candidate can be elected to represent a constituency with as few as 20% of the available votes in that constituency. Does that make sense and what will it mean, if each of the seven seats were won in similar fashion?

I believe it is clear and there is no apology from this medium when we keep insisting and beseeching that the electorate make certain demands on these candidates, many of whose motives could be questionable, to tell us just how they intend to take this country forward and out of the unfortunate position in which we find ourselves.

Every grant that the Government and people of Montserrat has received in the past and might continue to receive in the future comes from tax payers and voters in somebody else’s country. Why should these tax payers and voters be comfortable with supporting the people of Montserrat when our candidates hold their elected officials up to ridicule?

And where in the World will all this free money come from when we allow our candidates to continue to insult our Benevolent Funders?

We must not allow ourselves to be fooled by the slick and glib tongues of some candidates. Grant Funds are not out there for the taking.

Finally, we need to assess our candidates on trust and loyalty.

 

 

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December 8, 2017

The backwardness of Governance is worse than imaginable

It was our intention to follow-up on the sink of Governance on Montserrat which highlighted itself following, in fact before the advent of three hurricanes, Irma, Jose and Maria, which even now Montserrat can still count its blessings enjoyed perhaps because its people are still yet to overcome the deaths, spiritually, physical and otherwise experienced since 1989, seriously aggravated from mid-1995.

October 20, 2017

We recall, in case those responsible have not comprehended its importance, that heralding in the ‘agreement’ that was supposed to document and cement the partnership in May 2012, that ‘governance’ was an integral and important component.

That was pushed time and time again in just about every document involving aid and assistance for any reason. Look at this from 2015/16 Budget Aid Business Case – the project supports the provision of public services to meet the reasonable assistance needs of the population of Montserrat, including health, education and securing air and sea access. See this: “Improving Montserrat’s governance is also an important part of achieving greater self-sufficiency over time.”

The 2012 White Paper[1] sets out a vision for Territories to be vibrant and flourishing, proudly retaining aspects of their British identity and generating wider opportunities for their people. In It has three main strands: (1) to strengthen the engagement and interaction between the UK and the OTs; (2) to work with OTs to strengthen good governance arrangements, public financial management and economic planning; and (3) to improve the quality and range of support available.

In November last year (two years already late) The Premier reported: A Programme Management Office is being set up under the Ministry of Finance, to host and expedite our priority development projects; on a set timeline. This will improve our value for money business cases, project and programme governance, transparency, and risk management. Such measures will help us improve our ability to effectively implement a sound development programme. This was the culmination of months of planning which began since March 2015.

Why are we at this juncture complaining that our governance which has been the centre of all the discussions and activities for the last six years at least have now hit an all-time low while FCO and DFID particularly basically reneging on their responsibilities at the slightest opportunity. GoM to ensure that its communication efforts continue to focus on the practical impact of MoU reforms.

Good governance has some basic characteristics. It is participatory, consensus oriented, accountable, transparent, responsive, effective and efficient, equitable and inclusive, and follows the rule of law. Good governance is responsive to the present and future needs of the organization, exercises prudence in policy-setting and decision-making, and that the best interests of all stakeholders are taken into account. Proper and responsible communication in its various forms is essential.

Government, Governor, Deputy Governor, Ministers, public servants, there is no room for deceit and those other corruptible things such as ignorance, grandstanding, selfishness, and greed. Any takers that many would say, ‘Ignorance is no excuse to the ‘law”.

Good governance means that the processes implemented by the organization to produce favorable results, meet the needs of its stakeholders, while making the best use of resources – human, technological, financial, natural and environmental – at its disposal.

Accountability is a key tenet of good governance. The Constitution takes care of these requirements. What we refer to when we call on the Governor to apologise, will expose her understanding of this. By making the strange appearances on radio to do otherwise doing what we see as being selective and not acknowledging her own responsibility in this regard is sinking governance even lower.

Please get beyond the shallow attempts having spoken to the lessons learned, which ought to have been learnt long before now. A week after arriving in Montserrat in 2015, some observations made which should have been all the lessons needed.

 

[1] FCO, 2012.The Overseas Territories: Security, Success and Sustainability..

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Governance hitting a real low, which arm of government?

Governance hitting a real low, which arm of government?

October 6, 2017

We believe this chaos of governance began long ago since HMG seemed to have lost their own focus of good governance and back when Montserrat governments began asking for involvement in the selection and appointment of Governors for the island. We were probably appeased on that matter, we then unknowingly somehow thought, when in mid-late 2000s, Government could propose and select a Deputy Governor.

Perhaps just like how he was recalled functioning as Hon. Speaker from time to time since he retired, he should have been the first substantive Deputy Governor for about a year at least while training. The truth on that however is that we have kept turning away, persons we considered to be suitable for the position. We have had two Deputy Governors with a third acting and in training, within the ten years.

All our Governors, or most of them for many years now have come to us with little or no experience or training through the Foreign Commonwealth office. That has been a burden and more and more, a weakness in our governance. In recent times we have suffered because either we had an experienced political head, taking advantage, or, one who is taken advantage of. We stand ready to hear the full truth of a Governor, who after all the earlier rhetoric, we believe has been recalled posing the problem of having to wait six months before she can be replaced. If we had a substantive Deputy Governor that situation would have been different.

Since hurricanes Irma and Maria there have been some developments, some we’ve reported on, others prior, such as the Gomersall’s firing. We have discovered that all of these as we suggested had a level of corruption that shows that the people involved in making the decisions did so either deliberately in an effort to slow down, ridicule our political leader or worse, ignorantly or otherwise thwarting the progress of the island.

A Montserrat by the way, which has not lost its uniqueness in its need for rebuild and redevelopment, nor is the responsibility and obligation that HMG has lessened in any way, compared to the disasters that some of the other Overseas Territories have experienced; lets add Barbuda and Dominica.

We will find that both Anguilla and BVI are already reporting signs of recovery. Montserrat had been there, and that was our experience. Only that a little less than six years after Hugo, we were to experience an extinction from which 22 years later Montserrat has not yet recovered, not to mention a return to that place in a lifetime perhaps for the person born before 1995.

How is it we landed a Governor who after two years did not understand her roles under her responsibilities, (not power!! As have so long been referred); and her accountability and to whom? Why could she feel she should dare to ridicule, belittle, upstage the Premier on his duty to speak and report to his people and to OECS and CARICOM; worst yet she under her own responsibility had fallen short in reporting on such matters. Just as she admitted in the press conference, which she abruptly ended, after she questioned about being harassed.

It is that corruptible desire, in the face of their own shortcomings and the hearts of others that brought about the circumstances that Her Excellency could not explain her error in boastfully she had signed a declaration for a ‘period of emergency’ under “Your Constitution which you voted for”. That we learnt came in the presence of some 15-20 ENDPRAC meeting participants. Then there was the claim of ‘confidentiality’.  

The Governor’s report on the passage of hurricanes was brief and on brief questions later found wanting but pointing out the shoddiness of the preparation. She promised during her walkout to go into more details at later meets.

Just a quick word on the shocking news, when one listens to or reads about UK parliamentarian Boris Johnson, Theresa May, and DFID’s Priti Patel, it is not only shocking but disgraceful the position that Patel’s Deputy Head brought to Montserrat, when they are urgently talking about making their Territories resilient to be telling Montserrat they will have firstly co-fund the installation of the fibre-optic cable ‘economic’ game changer for Montserrat, something that would be economically beneficial even to the ‘motherland’. This after they have signed off years ago and have put in motion the funding.

Governor Carrier could have used the shortage of time during her press conference for not answering about her knowledge or even involvement in this, but may reconsider for future as the current DFID rep should be prepared to answer as to her knowledge or involvement in that outcome.

See articles in this issue of matters mentioned above

https://www.themontserratreporter.com/fibre-optic-cable-shocker/

https://www.themontserratreporter.com/governor-carriere-claims-harassment-ends-press-conference/

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Destructive Hurricanes and other kinds of destruction attend us

Destructive Hurricanes and other kinds of destruction attend us

September 22, 2017

Throughout, The Montserrat Reporter in print but mostly on line through the small opportunities available, we’ve tried to record the passage of three of the most destructive and expensive hurricanes in history, certainly since Hugo in the case of Montserrat and others after it.

Montserrat, since it had lost the most productive part of the island from St. Peters to the extreme tip of the south (east to west) to include the capital, to the erupting volcano which began in July, 1995, has not suffered loss that set it back at any time. So much so that eyebrows raised when emergency helicopters landed at the airport with British soldiers, supposedly brought in to help reconstruction after Maria. At whose request?

Barbuda, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, St. Maarten after Irma and recently Dominica have been ‘flattened’ and destroyed. It will be years to come back to normalcy, but amidst what we deem ‘unreasonable’ claims of not speedy enough aid and support mainly from the UK, the fact is then it is that aid that will matter.

Dominica who was wrecked mostly with water by Erica two years ago had rebounded to a point they were offering immediate aid to the Irma sufferers, just before Maria came to silence that and reverse them to asking for immediate help from the world. Such has been the devastation, decimation of Hurricane Maria, which continued into Puerto Rico. That has been the general cry of these two hurricanes which followed Harvey that water mainly destroyed parts of Florida and Texas.

We remember all the time all the help that came our way in the many if not every area of life and living in Montserrat, and pray that our Caribbean neighbours will learn from any short comings we may have developed or experienced as they move into the future. Montserrat must continue to pray for itself, dearly, and for the rest.

But, Montserrat while it has not as much to complain about, able to aid in whatever small way the island has had some turmoil, administratively, politically and economically that will set it back after three years of waiting, longing, disunity and really corruptible attitudes and behavior.

Things really came to a head with a firing late in July, the announcement of the early departure/removal of Governor Carriere and before that the firing of a most endeared public officer in Carl Gomersall and then during the hurricane disturbances the dismissal of Minister Claude Hogan, heralded by many, it had been late in coming.

Hogan’s firing came shortly after a ‘strange’ trip to the Governor claiming they had lost or no confidence in their PDM leader Donaldson Romeo, after which he sought to explain: “Of course, you have to have these discussions. I don’t want the people to see it like we are trying to overthrow or remove anybody…The Premier can fire each and every one of us, I want to make that very clear…” he said on a show on Radio Montserrat.

Parliamentary Secretary Gregory Willock one of those who had joined him in the trip to the Governor, was also on radio, and he said: “Unless we don’t care about the people and we just gonna continue and ignore their concerns. We have to stop and say look, check, what are we doing wrong? How can we readjust?”

Premier Romeo claimed he had to act after these activities, of which there were more, dismissing Minister Hogan and replacing him with David Osborne, also one of those who had joined in the trip to the Governor. Some of these have reportedly not been attending the Party’s caucus and planning meetings; have not up to now contributed to the party’s debt for their outstanding campaign that beleaguered the island.

Then came the information that the Governor at the beginning of an ENDPRAC meeting co-chaired by Governor and Premier, (so it is supposed to be) informed she was or Period of public emergency by virtue of the powers of “…your own Constitution, she had informed.

Here again and even worse than the Gomersall situation the Premier was taken by surprise as were others when they learnt he was not consulted. However as at the time of writing this, there was no news that the Proclamation had been published.

Gomersall’s firing is disgraceful and the facts surrounding it though still not clear or not being revealed are known enough to know that the firing which is about to end up in Court, is despicable and so corruptible.

Unbiased observers will see this as a serious setback for the beginning of what would have been the first step in a good future. When the facts get known it will be seen as an adulterated corruption. The question that will need to be answered, all who were involved in it and were all the corrupted goals the same?

See related stories in this issue.

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October 20,  2017

Knowledge is power, but useless to the corruptible

August 25, 2017

The Montserrat Reporter was to learn within the last week of a conversation reportedly taking place in Montserrat, that does more to exacerbate the ignorance exhibited by those responsible for the future of Montserrat, let’s say from all sides.

The conversation given in rough terms is that Montserrat should dump or separate from the UK.

Anyone can say anything but should be able to explain and offer some plan no matter how rough to achieve this.

Whatever the thought is behind that conversation, one thing is certain, if that reaches our ears, it reaches others and in particular HMG, DFID and related. At first there was little interest in the source of the conversation, but it sounds little less than some of the expressions we’ve head coming from would be or even leaders in our community, whatever they are hoping to be.

When we flashed back last week there was so much more to recall. The Montserrat dilemma is really a simple one. But the UK stiff upper lip syndrome is quite a big problem, which when understood and realised cannot be that difficult to overcome or deal with. It is obvious we do not deal with that very well. We can get current with what has gone on since 2009, 2012, aggravated two years later and other than what Ms Marshall can take responsibility for, Aide Memoire 2014, a simple study of that period, bring to focus the status quo prior to 1995, all HMG expressions since the crisis began, the 1999 White Paper which was claimed to come about because of Montserrat, these people who cannot explain themselves as to how and where they plan to take Montserrat, should be shunned.

Talk is nothing more than talk until the political leaders can be ‘honestly’ engaged. What kind of challenge is that? Waiting for two more years is backwardness as we suggested last week. Knowledge is power.

If what exists is not a preponderance of ignorance then let honesty and less corruptible conversations take place. We ask again. How did the plan for 2008 – 2020 fall by the wayside. Twenty-four months had gone by and when the Premier in December announced at the Financial Aid Mission (FAM) held two months earlier than usual, the final aid settlement which was to be agreed by early February, 2017.

It was then the Premier announced, “the most important results from this FAM relate to the Capital/Development Programme. GoM will submit a five-year Capital Programme on priority capital projects and the timeline for these projects.

Those included: “The Breakwater and the land side development for the port will be developed in stages, Geothermal energy, The Fibre Optic cable project;” and he concluded, “we have to worked together to lay a foundation for the economic transformation to come and to fulfil our national vision of a friendly, vibrant, healthy, wholesome, prosperous, entrepreneurial and peaceful, God-fearing, God-blessed community.”

So much from this report in February 2014 – a simple study of what has happened since then will turn heads if the corruptible can get a change of heart. “The meetings will also review the ho 2014/2015 budget estimates including domestic revenue projections and policy objectives, discuss an approach to multi-year recurrent budget settlement, performance of the capital projects portfolio, as well as agree a model and content for Sustainable Group Plan MOU Phase 11.”

Discussions will also focus on the review of retention issues, establishment and non-establishment numbers, Government of Montserrat public sector reforms and reviews, and pensions.

Who is paying attention. Any feedback?

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There is much more to go around for the ensuing failure

There is much more to go around for the ensuing failure

August 18, 2017

There are those including Her Excellency the Governor who may be surprised at expressions, opinions, which suggest that she along with others including of course the rest of the Government she chairs in Cabinet, have been accused of not doing enough to advance Montserrat’s cause towards development much more towards self-sufficiency.

Let’s flash back: “More and more the arguments will soon rush to a head when the real stories, though confusing in their own way, because of the information and evidence that exist, will show that DFID and of course some apathy, incompetence, lethargy and of course ignorance on the part of Government and its public service are all guilty of the state of affairs in Montserrat, not only financially but overall.” You will remember this from earlier this year. Let us add to the melee.

While we may not share or agree with some of those opinions and expressions, there is more than enough blame to go around. A big part of the problem is obviously the disunity that is like that which the Premier hinted at during his closing address on St Patrick’s Day this year. Then to crown that we have an ‘opposition team’ that seems more inclined to take Montserrat ‘politics’ backward, rather than building on the efforts of the former opposition group of Romeo, Lewis and James, joined later by David Osborne. That is, doing nothing, waiting for their turn. Oh no, that is proof you have no interest in ‘Montserrat’, or perhaps you do not know the difference!

What is being suggested is that it is obvious to the perceptive observer the general state of things generally in Montserrat, but merely being critical and asking questions, waiting for the chance to take over the reins of government, why don’t they do what the Government is failing to do and come up with their own suggestions on a way forward. But they can’t do so without learning how that is done. And, from the way they behave there is much to learn, as much as we say, it is not difficult. There is a word we use quite a lot that we would apply to these.

In the works somewhere, is another would be group discussing and hoping to form themselves into some form of political grouping. That too, sounds like just more of the same, and that is shameful.

Besides the complaint over any and everything, how much do these people demonstrate they know why and how the plan for 2008 – 2020 fell by the wayside. Twenty-four months had gone by and when the Premier in December announced at the Financial Aid Mission (FAM) held two months earlier than usual, the final aid settlement which was to be agreed by early February, 2017.

It was then the Premier announced, “the most important results from this FAM relate to the Capital/Development Programme. GoM will submit a five-year Capital Programme on priority capital projects and the timeline for these projects.

Those included: “The Breakwater and the land side development for the port will be developed in stages, Geothermal energy, The Fibre Optic cable project;” and he concluded, “we have to worked together to lay a foundation for the economic transformation to come and to fulfil our national vision of a friendly, vibrant, healthy, wholesome, prosperous, entrepreneurial and peaceful, God-fearing, God-blessed community.”

Where were those, all of whom we mentioned above, who knew that the ‘unity’ that they all continue to work to bury was non-existent, to at least pursue the Premier to hold him to the belated plan? We challenged the parties ignoring the 2011/12 Strategic Growth Plan and the method being used to take the issues forward. Months would necessarily pass before these forward going plans would even be agreed. But who can imagine the leader of the opposition asking the question in the Legislative Assembly about the Little Bay development thirty-two months later? There is a word for all of what is going on all sides.

At that FAM talks public servants grumbled and ridiculed at the questions and the presentations preceding them. DFID and FCO representatives stuttered in their own responses. They were and are always aware of the state of affairs not just now and the lethargy of this Government, but in fact have been contributing to it. That is where our accusation comes from.

The question now, Governor Carriere is giving up, but Moira Marshal returns, very well experienced about the state of affairs referenced. Should we look forward with expectation, or will the other untried option for Montserrat’s continued existence, be sought after?

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Governor Carriere and Martin Dawson leave doubtful impressions

Governor Carriere and Martin Dawson leave doubtful impressions

August 11, 2017

The news a week ago coming out of Government House was for many quarters surprising. That was so because there were those who believed that Governor Carriere was serious and at times seemed aggressively pursuing a course of doing something meaningful before she leaves next year, if indeed she would.

There are also those who recall the departure of Dr. Kato Kimbugwe whom every-one will quickly say, the on-island DFID representative worked hard and for the most part with good intentions. So much so that some of us refrained from recounting his work while here, knowing that there were efforts on his part to leave a legacy of very positive change behind.

Two things that were major for him was geothermal and fibre optics, both key to the future development of economic growth to include tourism. He had seriously hoped that tourism would have been well underway along with the development at Carrs Bay and Little Bay pretty much in keeping with the Master Plan, which fed the SGP that he had ‘master minded’.

But for Kimbugwe things did not pan out so well come February and onward to his departure and since for his tenure. It was almost like he was never in Montserrat. There was the rush to break ground for the new power plant which still never came to fruition until recently even though the jury may still be out as whether that was a successful project, with the difficulties experienced of syncing it with the old and tired temporary generators that have continued to fail.

Governor Carriere arrived seemingly with a fairly good knowledge of what may have been lacking in the end with the tenure of her predecessor Anthony Davis who was too defeated or deflated to hold a final press conference which would have given him a chance to lay better grounds for her to step onto.

So, she too walked in to meet a totally green government, politically to some extent and administratively. She found a government who came into power from the disappointment of a frustrated and dissatisfied people who really had almost a single hope of better treatment rather than concern about economic development both of which had to go hand in hand.

She came almost the same time with or just after a new DFID rep arrived in Montserrat to meet the same circumstances she was likely aware of.

While focussing on her and the rather odd and surprising announcement of her departure, this came at the same time Martin Dawson the DFID rep was coming to the end of a not so fruitful tenure of three years which was extended for a year just about the time there were discussions and even a rumour over whether he would have continued to serve in his position to the end of 2016.

It was during both their tenure that we wrote a quote from Jean H. Charles about corruption. He said: “Corruption has been designated as the number one hindrance to a country’s development.”

Do I see some eyebrows going up or some eyes rolling? In that editorial you will find: “Does ignorance play a part in this? Dishonesty, secrecy and the lack of goodness are soft terms but all support the culture of corruption, which all help to retard the progress of any country.” Perhaps this will open some eyes and ears.

One of our well-known communication specialists wrote seriously in a medium, social though it is, that both HE Governor and Martin Dawson had to account for the lack of positive progress and development of the island for past few years, but also joined the government also in his criticisms.

“In my view, these two British appointees must be surely be held at least partly responsible and accountable for the moribund and stagnated state of Montserrat’s post-eruption rebuilding. They have presided over this dilemma, regrettably aided and cluelessly abetted by the present government of Montserrat under the leadership of Mr Donaldson Romeo,” he wrote.

The Governor gave a positive review of success over Dawson’s tenure on the island. That was in the face of him struggling at her press conference to give any real and meaningful suggestions of his achievement while serving here. In fact, there was also one comment which suggested that he blamed the government squarely for him not having much to say in that regard. “Martin Dawson, responding to questions by Nerissa Golden (Gov’s press conf) laid the blame squarely at the feet of Mr Romeo and his government, when he said: “Our role has been to help the government to develop these strategies but ultimately the decision is theirs to move to the next phase.”

He has over the past few weeks struggled to articulate what he has done “to help the government develop…” As a matter of fact, the suggestion is that he has not only not done so, but has attempted to or thwarted progress.

The Governor’s announcement of her early break of her tour of duty here and Dawson’s departure, which some probably mistakenly or mischievously say was also under a cloud of being asked not to continue, do raise some questions. The Governor has promised to say more about her surprise announcement and it will surely be interesting to learn how she views her performance to date and what she believes will happen to her ‘efforts’ during her next few months and after she leaves.

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Emancipation Day - liberate from poor work attitudes, laziness, corruption, disrespect…

Emancipation Day – liberate from poor work attitudes, laziness, corruption, disrespect…

August 4, 2017

Back in 2012, August 3, we published: “Every year for some years now Montserrat observes Emancipation Day, August 1. It does so like many other countries in the Caribbean, but barely, on an annual basis in observance of the abolition of slavery.

Montserrat’s author and poet, Professor Sir Howard Fergus seemed to lament the lack of celebration in a direct and organised way.

… “We need to celebrate this day as our folks did, ordinary folk sang first of August come again, Hoorah for Nincum Riley, they were celebrating the literate slaves who reportedly read the emancipation edict, and they were celebrating the measure of independence and freedom that emancipation brought. We must never rest on our laurels, indeed there are not many laurels, because although legally we were emancipated in 1834 or 1838, there continued to be signs of bondage from which some of our people worked hard to liberate us. There are signs that there are certain elements of authoritarianism creeping in and being exercised, which are contrary to the spirit of liberation and emancipation, which the 1st of August suggest.”

We raise this issue of Montserrat and Emancipation, the abolishing of Slavery. And we ask the question as the caption for the foregoing: “Was slavery ever abolished in Montserrat?

The first Monday of August is observed each year, called for some time now Cudjoe Head Day, (celebrating a slave Cudjoe) but we seldom, many of us anyhow, know or wonder why the day is a holiday. It is sometimes the day Emancipation Day is celebrated in Montserrat, while other Caribbean islands observe August 1, but not necessarily as a holiday.

This brings to mind the questions that continue to surface regarding the St. Patrick’s Day celebration. As we said before there needs to be a continuing conversation about how they will celebrate or observe 250 years from 1768; and now we also recommend how they can include the conversation of Emancipation Day observation. Events falling 70 years apart.

In the Caribbean this week, several CARICOM states observed Emancipation Day and the theme and sentiments all round were similar. The call for Britain and Europe to pay reparation, with a reminder: “At the time of emancipation of slaves in 1834, Britain £20 million to British planters in the Caribbean, the equivalent of some £200 billion ($315 billion) today…reparations must “bear a close relationship to what was illegally or wrongly extracted and exploited … from the Caribbean by the European colonialists, including the compensation paid to the slave owners at the time of the abolition of slavery.”

Jamaica’s PM – “We cannot cede one inch of emancipated Jamaica to any force that would impinge on our freedom. No community in Jamaica today, 179 years after Full Free of 1838, should be under the control of any criminals who dictate people’s movement,” he said in a message to mark the occasion…We are not a people who can be kept down forever. Freedom is in our DNA. Ours is a heritage of incredible self-sacrifice, courage, resilience and hope. Today we need to reaffirm these values.”

Trinidad President Anthony Carmona: “…Trinidad and Tobago should support the efforts of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) governments in seeking reparation for the Atlantic slave trade. Great Britain and Europe “were the beneficiaries of enrichment from the enslavement of African people, the genocide of the indigenous communities and the deceptive breach of contract and trust in respect of East Indians and other Asians brought to the plantations under indenture, have a case to answer in respect of reparatory justice.” “Emancipation Day must therefore, be a moment of regeneration, to renew in our lives a purposefulness to lead a life of quality, of sustainable ambition, independence, personal self-worth and vision.”

PM Rowley: “The stories of our past should not condemn us to the turmoil of acrimony; but rather they should show us a path for achieving the positive and prosperous development of our country now and for the generations to come…We’re currently writing new pages in our history. We need to ask ourselves, are we facilitating new prejudices and divisions in our society? Are we perpetuating a mind-set of entitlement – claiming rights where instead we should accept personal responsibility? Are we committed to working together in the best interest of our country? Can we look past the ‘me’ and ‘my group’ to the bigger picture of nationhood?”

Antigua PM Gaston Browne: “Our emancipation is therefore ongoing, as our people continue to explore new strategies and mechanisms designed to make life and living better for all our citizens. It is the task of each one of us to think big, aim high and strive for greater productivity in our blessed state of Antigua and Barbuda.”

He told citizens that over the past 182 years, “we have risen from the ‘ruin and rubble of colonialism and political subjugation’ to independence, economic and social transformation.

But here is a quote that grabbed us in the context of Montserrat for Emancipation Day: “Therefore the celebration of Emancipation must also be seen in the broader context of liberating our societies of poor work attitudes, laziness, corruption, disrespect and violent crime.”

 

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The Montserrat Reporter - August 18, 2017

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