Archive | Editorial

There is no such thing as “Governor’s powers”

November 23, 2018

In our last couple or more editorials we have commented or drawn attention to what we can expect to see or hear what have been submitted in response to the Foreign Affairs Committee Inquiry as to “consider(ing) the resilience of the OTs, how effectively the FCO manages its responsibilities towards them, and how it envisages their future.”

The FCO explained: “As our place in the world changes, we need to think about the effect on them and whether the structure of our relationships still work.”

The Inquiry invoked all kinds of responses, submitted in different ways in terms of the approach, many straying away from the considerations of the Inquiry.

Here, several discussion sessions were set up where the public was invited to participate to air their thoughts, there were radio programs included.

At least fifteen submissions were made from Montserrat, government, organisations, and individuals here and the diaspora.

We have been concerned about what the contents and the quality, as well as the relevance of the submissions. Not surprisingly, several dealt with the subject of what, as we’ve noted before refer erroneously to the “governor’s powers”.

Let us state right here that there is just too much ignorance surrounding he topic, if not merely misunderstanding, misinterpretation, but perhaps a sensible presentative discussion on the issue might suffice. There is not that much to take into consideration to clear the eyes at the front of the minds. The most powerful person in an OT is the Premier, Chief Minister, Chief Islander, whatever the title.

We note that Montserrat is among the latest to have agreed a Constitution nine years ago from the UK. It remains disputed by many as having been rushed and in some areas inappropriate for Montserrat. One of the areas that occupied the discussions up to the UK submitting the final document for acceptance, was the matter of what was termed “governor’s powers”.

We noted that since the passage of the Constitution 2010 we heard no comment ascribed directly to governor’s powers from the first premier, while several others official and otherwise continued to refer to it, as it formed part of many of the discussions on the Inquiry.

A look at most of the OTs’ Constitutional Orders from the UK reveal the matter appearing in varying text, but mostly one does not find the reference strong in terms of powers, rather often as ‘responsibilities’ in the Montserrat Constitution. It follows that their submissions, if at all, dealt with the matter almost just in passing, while calling for a different approach to the management of the topic.

One submission refraining from speaking to the matter directly, instead like most of the more informed submissions, referred to: “the ultimate power of the administrative authority, the British government, to impose legislation by imperial decree on the OTs.”

Sadly, we saw the office of the Legislative Assembly, referencing, “…the heavy-handed imposition of laws from Great Britain combined with the excessively wide range of powers enjoyed by Governors.” There were at least two others who made similar references in even more direct terms.

 

There was also with one really disappointing, maybe not surprising entry which was brief, but spoke exclusively to the topic. Yet another, again not surprising, but one we thought would know better, who was not as direct, but referred to the policy of recruiting governors from the FCO staff – and the arrangement for selecting Governors.

To his credit we noted that the Premier’s submission excluded any such discussion, and so it is hoped that while we don’t claim to like the tone of it, that when he presents orally later, that he does not take on board any such discussion, but some of the submissive thoughts from some of the other responses, that address meaningfully the request from the FAC.

On another level, just like organisations such as FOTBOT (Friends of the British Overseas Territories), the OTs especially that there were many common responses should jointly make an exclusive submission as they have, and have had many established forums through which they can do this, knowing that some should and will enjoy special attention in the end.

That was always the case as it had been expressed time and time before. Ask Alan Duncan who is now very well associated with the Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) from whence came the Inquiry.

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Disastrous Submissions to the FAC Inquiry

For the past 10 days Montserrat and Montserratians lit up when an older British Lady’s submission became the highlight of discussions following the publication of the submissions written in to the UK Foreign Affairs Committee who sought considerations on “the resilience of the OTs, how effectively the FCO manages its responsibilities towards them, and how it envisages their future” with regards to The future of the UK Overseas Territories inquiry.

The Committee’s comment of their request came on the background’. “As our place in the world changes, we need to think about the effect on them and whether the structure of our relationships still works.”

We were concerned, listening to some of the discussions from the public consultations that there would be many extraneous matters returned to the Inquirers. It turned out that some 15 submissions were made from the Government, people from Montserrat, (Montserratians and organisations), lawyers also.

We were waiting to look at the submissions especially those from Montserrat and had no sooner downloaded a few, noting one from Shelley Harris, when there came a message of the first comment from very disgruntled Montserratians on the Harris submission. We have covered it fairly extensively in this issue as surprisingly, maybe not so much, at the reaction from some outspoken critics of the government and Montserrat generally.

As seen from the articles in this issue covering the Shelley matter, people were outraged at most of her 28-point submission, compounded by a submission from her husband who deceitfully tried to distance the airline company, if not himself from her submission; and then she submitted a further statement explaining her submission. That statement contrasted some of the things she said, but also denounced her comments because of the airline business operations and its darling treatment from the government.

She relegated and misrepresented The Montserrat Reporter (TMR) to a non-performing newspaper and ZJB Radio to being afraid to report the news, suggesting there is no free press, giving really, outrageous and disgusting comparisons to that state in Montserrat. How misinformed? We have two words for that beginning with the letter ‘d’!

We hope you file your Financials as required! We will check the truth that your tax write off in 2014 was close to $250,000.

What is the news that we do not cover? The efforts of the company you own/represent who uses every effort to stall the return of WINAIR to serve Montserrat? That FlyMontserrat which has invoked the ire of many travelers who complain time and again? That the boss seems to stop at nothing to keep the ferry service at bay from Montserrat and information that we receive that your major plan is to take over the access division and its services?

The discourse brought FlyMontserrat’s company and operations into sharp focus and although much has yet to be told of the benefits and the devious and damaging access activity in and out of our ports, coming from the Harris access to the powers that be, both here and in the UK and even in the industry on a whole for Montserrat.

That her unsubstantiated and even dishonest points were actually repeated as ‘evidence’ by Priti Patel displayed a kind of attitude that HMG (DFID and FCO) should be asked to clarify. We know that Shelley’s public pronouncements are not the first to have been submitted and that such have been considered and used against Montserrat in a manner we have been critical.

This behavioral attitude is something that should be in our response to FAC, explained in any oral evidence and set for discussion. Of course, live instances should be documented.

There must be documented evidence of how the Harris company has attempted, successfully at times to benefit as they have especially within the last nine years. The vein of the submission when looked at deeply will show the intent and the desire that drove her to be so open, although the suspicion is, she didn’t realise it would be in public domain.

As far as some of the other submissions, as suspected the question of the Constitution and the Governor’s ‘special’ responsibilities, still being referred to as powers, was the only topic surprisingly so, in at least one submission, but others. That matter is our opinion mute. We make the point that this may not be viewed as a general obsession, which was dealt with in the framing of the Constitution considering that the OTs relationship is such…

Of those we have looked at, admittedly not thoroughly yet, we will be highlighting those that suggested the whole concept that the OTs have been treated as ‘foreign’, the call for that to be immediately looked at and changes made, so that those other problems of the UK responsibilities will be more effectively carried out. And the question of the partnership be not generalised but set up uniquely as it should be in the case of Montserrat.

We have been questioning and saying this for over twenty years. Imagine, when DFID and FCO did not communicate, our sufferings, the setbacks in the efforts and pretense that existed in trying to rebuild Montserrat after Soufriere Hills showed its brilliance.

We believe that this is where any future relationship discussions should begin for people who are British citizens.

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Those looking to be masters of this country...

Those looking to be masters of this country…

need to be honest about serving

October 26, 2018

For some months we have been trying to get our leaders and people to understand the buy-in to what it really needs to take Montserrat forward, back to the place it once was and beyond; to the place where it was once able to balance its recurrent budget. What it needs to stop the UK DFID officials from simply being coy in their response to our sometimes-erroneous continuous demands.

Expected capital development and development generally had been planned –with a three-year development plan in place. There was a spanking new hospital, parliament building, port and more; additional school buildings, and very importantly an Indian donation of an agro-processing plant.

With all that and more in place at the beginning of 1995 there was already approval for the big upgrade to Blackburne airport, but the timing and the ignorance of the Wadge (volcanic) report of the 80s, the onset of volcanic activity brought pause and attention to nature. Montserrat now had to relook its understanding of what it would need to move into the next 300-400 years. Briefly that’s where Montserrat was, with a government that started out with a promising future in 1991, but with all the above was floundering into failure, brought to extinction in the 1996 elections and the UK’s promise to begin rebuilding Montserrat in the north.

Since then we have always said from here, since 1998, that unless the rebuild was as good and in fact better than anything that existed pre-1995, there was no seriousness in the effort, especially that all this was built on a plan called ‘Sustainable development”. We still believe that is a bad word phrase, yet we continue to hear it. So much so that when we hear the words today, we realise that the user should not be allowed anywhere near the leadership of planning for this island going forward.

Where is Montserrat since then? Listening to these people, and their behaviour for some time within the last two years at least, recent as last week, to the criticisms, utterances and performances of most, we maintain that if you can pick two from the lot and the names we hear ‘unofficially’ being published along with their pronouncements or lack thereof, there is much work to be desired and work to be done.

Well, our prayer is that people pay attention, spiritually and otherwise as there is much darkness around and there is really no light peeping through. If we look carefully, intelligently, we will see that the degrees, and more are not at all what it takes, but merely being sufficiently educated, which then is when intellect will show. Imagine we are well aware that these statements may stun some people thus exposing their ignorance and their lack of understanding and appreciation of the kind of leadership needed. Indeed, it is the kind so many call crazy, because these thoughts are usually out of reach of the ordinary, especially when corrupted with selfishness and greed.

We regret to note that the motion of no confidence and all relative to it has shown a kind of ignorance that are far not suited for this. Would these people after all of that week of time wasting when much work far more important business can be transacted, benefit from a few ‘educated’ if only critics, sit and break down the ignorance? The nothings that are being said, people posturising themselves with questions and statements that are damning only to themselves. There is sooo much to go around. Oh yes! There are problems, but they all hide in ignorance.

Since 2008 HMG (DFID) announced that they were ready or had begun to see Montserrat in a new light and that while mistakes had been made they admitted to the ‘one step forward and two backwards’ approach, the sustainable development farce, they were ready to tackle seriously Montserrat’s future development.

Dr. Lowell Lewis was chief minister in 2008 and to this day all he does is try to bring unity to a government that he believes and what others call for, some or most of them only within their closed quarters. The kind of unity the doctor speaks about, who himself only recently received a doctorate for his genius work in the medical field, getting mention for his political work, is one that bring the minds like his, to work for the beloved land and people of Montserrat. Bring to us testimonials against pomp, abuse, jealousy, selfishness and greed.

There are not many people here in Montserrat, who will understand the sad history of our politics, over let’s say the last 40 years. We cannot count those far away as the efforts so far to involve them have only been misguided if not misunderstood.

Then, there are those of course who we must just forego as not being fit anyway.

Maybe these few words might awake the sensibilities of our people to include all, about their ignorance, that an honest look at serving rather than being master will begin a move in the right direction as we begin to look towards a general election by the end of next year.

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October 26, 2018

We cringe at what the FAC submissions must look like

October 19, 2018

It’s been difficult to get information from Montserrat, as to the kind of or even the text of the submissions made in response to the Inquiry from the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC). One was sent to us and there came reaction and comments on it.

The committee said they wanted to “…consider the resilience of the OTs, how effectively the FCO manages its responsibilities towards them, and how it envisages their future.”

The Committee commented, “As our place in the world changes, we need to think about the effect on them and whether the structure of our relationships still work.”

We reviewed the request or the Inquiry as kind of ‘odd’ considering the 2012 White Paper and the many annual JMCs that took place since that. There were always a joint communique following these meetings. It was perceived that in each case their improvements and great understanding and that the relationships were improving all the time.

We were to understand that since 1997 when dialogue between the OTs and the UK became a regular occurrence that there have been regular reviews especially following the 1999 White Paper. Then we were told that one such review was due, and that only this time the OTs were being consulted.

It is known that since Brexit there have been grave concerns among the OTs on this side about its outcome and several meetings to learn what they (OTs) must expect.

We always thought the discussions fruitless and even unnecessary since without any prompting PM David Cameron had assured immediately after the Brexit vote that the OTs will always form a part or receive the necessary considerations.

This FAC request came very quickly after the uproar about the slowness and lack of response following hurricanes Irma and Maria, and of course to Montserrat still after 23 years have little to show by way of rebuilding into the future. Then came the ‘beneficial ownership’ problem and the UK forced position.

Listening to the debates and the discussions that took place in Montserrat were from our quarters disappointing and off target, making us very cringingly suspect as to what our submissions would look like, bearing in mind that we should have asked for more direct information as to even why this was required.

Except for Montserrat’s own complaints because of the peculiar circumstances from the volcanic activity which up to 2008 was really going nowhere in terms of the rebuild and necessary development, sustenance though it had and continues to receive, the matters we heard discussed showed more frivolity and ignorance than substance. That was expressed by one former very senior legislator.

We agreed that other than the Montserrat peculiar circumstance which could have been joined by others, the OTs should be going in response with one voice, noting the individual concerns.

Governor’s powers. These, as the current Governor pointed out, are no powers but rather, ‘responsibilities’ which can in fact be delegated. A good look and understanding, with historical background, would show that the Premier is the one with the power, and prior to now has been shown time and time again.

That power argument has been just an excuse or as we stated just a show of ignorance by those concerned with it.

From here we would have first sorted out what the OTs have to be. being classified or considered and dealt with under the Foreign and Commonwealth offices.

The FAC stated, “The Overseas Territories have a special place in our constitution. They are self-governing but part of the United Kingdom…” That is what when discussed agreed and understood is where the discussion should begin.

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This suppression of the ‘free press’ must end and be replaced

This suppression of the ‘free press’ must end and be replaced

August 17, 2018

Our pitch as we quote: “you don’t need formal censorship to strangle a supply of information.” This is more than relevant to us here in Montserrat, as the success to make The Montserrat Reporter ‘irrelevant’ continues to reign.

This past week the Editor – Caribbean News Now sent the following ‘To our regional media colleagues’:

Many of you will have noted the recent editorial-writing initiative by The Boston Globe that has enlisted scores of newspapers across America proposing a coordinated response under the theme “The dirty war on the free press must end” to President Trump’s escalating “enemy of the people” rhetoric.

“While we may not face the same rhetoric as US media, domestic regional news outlets in particular do face politically motivated attacks, ranging from threats of defamation lawsuits (including criminal libel in some jurisdictions) to economic pressure by the threatened or actual withdrawal of government advertising, all of which leads to self-censorship that is inimical to the concept of a free press enshrined in most if not all national constitutions.”

The Montserrat Reporter over the years have always reported at regional media conferences as noted in the preceding paragraph. But, we have been exposed to politically motivated attacks which came initially from Ministers in the UK Government, but the matter was dealt with and remedial response placed in the hands of local (GoM), for advice and proposals as to how to remedy and change the situation.

This editor observed how our top public servants under the hoodwinked eyes of the political leaders diverted the requests and even the actual attempts by the UKG to deliver as they knew only too well their obligation and responsibilities, especially taking into consideration the Montserrat situation. Gradually and with increasing subtly the lack of interest in providing information (via independent media) aided by the economic pressure as described above, TMR was unable to near adequately meet its self-devoted duties to Montserrat, the ignorance to the detriment of Montserrat’s progress.

That grew worse ten years ago as the political directorate with a public service that didn’t need the encouragement, deliberately set out to kill the only independent media, in even more direct and through legislative actions. (We will mention that through the years TMR remained ahead and was more aware, being the ones who encouraged government to move into the digital area, having been there since 1996.)

We are now at the position after noting the damage being done by starving local media from barely adequately playing its role on Montserrat, for Montserrat and its part of the wider region and the world. We are more than ever in a situation where we can say, that the country through its leaders has become more than guilty of preventing us from carrying out the solemn role of the press, quoting from authority, “to inform the public and serve as watchdogs over our governing bodies — exposing injustices, corruption and deceit before such behavior can destroy democracy.”

Believe it or not they have been led with blinkers, ignoring to their own detriment that, as one newspaper, , concurring with the many other newspapers, “the free press is more important than at any other period in our country’s history.” (See last week’s De Ole Dawg on newspapers – https://www.themontserratreporter.com/de-ole-dawg-part-11-a-good-newspaper-is-the-peoples-college/

It cites: “As dutiful citizens trying to stay informed, we are bombarded constantly by false and misleading reports posing as “news” on social media. The increasing inability of the populace to accurately decipher truth from fiction in this steady stream of content that almost seamlessly mixes truth and lies is less about the gullibility of the people and more about the sophistication with which purveyors of disinformation have finely tuned their craft.”

“We propose to publish an editorial on August 16 on the dangers of the administration’s assault on the press and ask others to commit to publishing their own editorials on the same date,” The Globe said in its pitch to fellow newspapers.

The idea as the Globe expected differing views from the editorials, “but the same sentiment: The importance of a free and independent press.”

We were late in meeting the 16th deadline but support Caribbean News Now who had promised to join this effort by publishing an editorial highlighting the different but equally important issues faced by regional media.

This was, “an in invite to regional publications to collaborate this respect,” CNN wrote.

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Redonda in the back ground - web

Magical Transformation – (Redonda)

Antigua Observer – August 4, 2018

EDITORIAL – Redonda

Redonda in the back ground rt (Montserrat)

Not too long ago, Redonda’s landscape could be described as being closer in appearance to the lunar surface than earth’s. The once heavily-forested rock, was being decimated by invasive species in the form of black rats and non-native goats.

Then came the Redonda Restoration Program, which was formed by the Antigua and Barbuda government and the Environmental Awareness Group (EAG), in collaboration with other earth-friendly organisations like Fauna & Flora International, British Mountaineering Council, Island Conservation and Wildlife Management International Ltd.

The mission was simple. Rid the island of the rats and the goats and allow Mother Nature to heal the flora and fauna that are native to the island. For those who do not know, the rock called Redonda is legally part of our bit of paradise. It is said that Columbus gave the island its name because of its shape.

In Latin languages such as Spanish and Portuguese, “redonda” is the female form of the adjective meaning “round.” While the island belongs to us, it is actually closer to Montserrat.

Redonda was a guano mine and operated as one from about the 1860’s up until just after the start of World War I – before the age of artificial fertilisers. There are still the remnants of a few buildings from that era on the rock. If you have visited Redonda, it is hard to believe that anyone could live there, but it is reported that the population was 120 in 1901 and the workers produced up to 7,000 tons of guano annually.

This is not intended to be a history lesson on Redonda, but it is nice to know something about this magnificent rock as we celebrate what has been described as a “magical transformation” by Fauna & Flora International (FFI) in just over one shortyear. Just reading of the successes made possible by the restoration programme is heartwarming and it is something of which the sponsors and the project and the participants should be quite proud. It is a clear demonstration that when we work together towards as common goal, we can achieve great things.

For example, it has been reported that Redonda’s ground dragon, which is a rare black lizard found nowhere else on the planet, has doubled its population. Not only that, the rare Redonda tree lizards have multiplied in the absence of the alien predators, and hundreds of new trees have sprung up. FFI reports that “land birds have increased tenfold, and the island’s globally important seabird colonies – including magnificent frigate birds and several booby species – are having their best breeding year on record.” How a tree lizard ever survived on an island that was near devoid of trees is amazing in its own right.

Interestingly, one of the invasive species, the goats, have been captured, and studies and tests are underway to see if a breeding program can be established to take advantage of their drought-resistant genes. So, aside from restoring Redonda to an environmental paradise, we may be able to make our local goats more resistant to droughts, and we all know, with the kind of weather that we are experiencing, that would be a good thing. All of these spectacular results seem like an “overnight” success, considering all that has been achieved in such a short period of time, but it has been a chore for the team that was – on the rock. From the capture of dozens of fleet-footed goats to the removal of 6,000 rats from the rugged terrain of Redonda – which included rappelling down cliff faces to set bait – the entire team deserves our praise. Redonda may be far away and out of our minds but this restoration project should not be. It demonstrates that with proper planning, support and execution, great things can be achieved for our environment. So, please join us in complimenting the government, the EAG and all the other contributing agencies, along with all the individuals who participated in the programme.

Their work is invisible to most but they have produced a “magical transformation” that can be used as a framework for future conservation projects. Well done!

 

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Put the seriously interested in Montserrat to work

Put the seriously interested in Montserrat to work

Within the last two weeks, information arrived that the UK Government Commons Select Committee announces inquiry on future of UK Overseas Territories.
The announcement was made July 20, 2018, but nothing reached us until a usually very reliable source drew our attention to this.
This came of course around the same time, we had privately though it can be gleaned from our pronouncements time and again being” pretty sick with the ignorance that surrounds us”, One reaction to this statement referred to the difficulties the Premier has in getting his ‘tough’, or more important ideas and decisions implemented.
But here we are, facing what can serve as a stall, brought upon ourselves if we do not know how to keep or step up the special position we had from latest 2008.
When Premier Romeo spoke about reversing the request, suggestion by former Premier Meade re ‘Decolonisation’, it signaled something that should really get those really serious about a Montserrat (present, intermediate or future) and its progress.
We soon had just around the time this announcement was made, former Premier Meade, doing what someone shared with us. Under caption, ‘RTM Confession: We suspected all along that with the rushed 2010 Constitution and the surprise Quito request to the UN Decolonisation Committee; RTM was selling out Montserrat for the promise of increased aid from the UK. Now years later we get a full verbal admission from Mr Meade, that this was indeed his goal; and embarrassingly he is claiming a meagre $10million worth of success.”
After making the statement to the UN Committee on Decolonisation, Meade said that “he is “certain that the UK supports our stance.” But as we pointed out back then, at no time has he consulted with the elected representatives of the Montserrat people, nor has he done so with the Montserrat public!
Then we had a response from the Premier which we find just confusing, considering all the other things that RTM had said in an hour-long discourse of a ‘Rookie Government’.
The UK Select Committee states: “How the Foreign Office manages its responsibility to ensure the security and stability of the UK’s 14 Overseas Territories is to be considered in a new inquiry by the Foreign Affairs Committee.”
“The Overseas Territories have a special place in our constitution. They are self-governing but part of the United Kingdom. As our place in the world changes, we need to think about the effect on them and whether the structure of our relationships still work. The Committee will look at these distant parts of our community and look at how we work to support all our communities.”
As we suggested earlier, the time is upon us again, as it is with several other matters for Government to put in place committees even if the same people serve more than one, because we are few and small, include those in the diaspora who have contributions to make, and they are few also, never mind the utterances many of which really adds nothing most times; then again every little bit counts and ensures nothing gets by.
This is a serious time and comes when history will be important and promises remembered and bad actions recounted. We will have to know ourselves.
No one will have to be left out, because regarding this inquiry coming up, anyone who doesn’t get his thoughts in locally, however he/she sees it, however he thinks it will be perceived will have the means to get them directly to the Committee. There are guideline how to do this.
There are some matters being placed on the table even as we speak that require urgent attention, and although this inquiry is imminent, these are matters that should be dealt with now.

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Get the facts and stop fooling the people about TCs

Get the facts and stop fooling the people about TCs

July 13, 2018

It is mind-boggling to address this topic of ‘TC’s’ having made some observations on the subject, time and time again. The uneducated, perhaps best uninformed rhetoric that continues, by some commentators, politicians, all either uninformed or are hypocritical to the realities and truths of the facts concerning the procurement of TCs and their need.

One of the statements made says, we have people here who can do the work. Please give some examples. Admittedly there may well be that possibility, but very few. And that there are Montserratians or lovers, and potential lovers of Montserrat out there, but who know nothing of this need.

From 2012 and maybe before we know there was a list of some 80 vacant posts that needed to be filled. Maybe this is the reason that public service reform has gone from bad to worse, and seemingly with the new empowerment project in train, there is complaint, there has been no improvement.

From the 2013/14 (April 2013) Aide Memoire, we find: 

“GoM suffers critical capacity gaps. In 2012/13 DFID provided funds for both longer term skills development and to satisfy immediate and critical needs.  Whilst uptake of the Annual Country Training Scheme (ACTS) has been good, with the allocation brought into the recurrent budget in 2012/13 and fully utilised, GoM has not taken good advantage of the short term (STTC) and long term technical cooperation (LTTC) programmes, utilising around 30% of the support available. Although delays can be justified to some extent by fulfilling time-consuming recruitment protocols, GoM should consider where efficiencies could be made to enhance use of the support available. (Our Comment. Note how DFID encourages, prompts – 30%? ACTS has been good but if that were good then, did it continue it’s now five years later)

“DFID agrees with GoM that a Statistics Director is a priority LTTC post and welcomes the recruitment of a Senior Social Policy Planner. (Comment: Has either of these posts been filled yet – when and who are they?)

“DFID provides LTTC – to support the recruitment of expertise for certain critical line posts which are currently vacant (these appear on GoM headcount and are not additional posts). 

“In addition to LTTC support, a STTC fund is also in place. This will continue to finance dedicated pieces of capacity development, work, advice, or research, over a finite period. This fund enables GoM and DFID to source and fund essential expertise in an efficient manner.  Funding for this does not sit on the recurrent budget but is retained by DFID and disbursed on the basis of requests submitted by GoM and in accordance with an agreed set of protocols.

Cabinet is considering the list of requests and related costs and will submit this to DFID.  The agreed amount should be reflected in GoM’s recurrent budget.

At April 2014

DFID complained and pointed out referring to outstanding debts and a sudden number of lost cases in court. “These include rising levels of litigation and a lack of clarity about legal aid responsibilities DFID provides LTTC – to support the recruitment of expertise for certain critical line posts which are currently vacant (these appear on GoM headcount and are not additional posts).

Then – ”Challenges remain in TC recruitment, although this situation has improved over 2013/14. Of 12 critical LTTC posts identified in 2013/14, four remain unfilled, with a further new post recently added. Serious delays have occurred in the recruitment of a Chief Economist, Chief Statistician, Crown Counsel, Child Safeguarding Specialist, a Senior Social Worker and Community Mental Health Officer. GoM and DFID will work together to agree an alternative strategy (for example, more effective advertising, reviewing the use of recruitment agencies and benchmarking of salaries) to improve the utilisation of TC. “

“STTC funds allocated in 2013/14 to Education have been severely under-utilised.

“DFID recommends that MoEYS (Ministry of Education Youth and Social Services) discusses TC requirements with HRMU, and with the DFID Education Adviser, to urgently re-prioritise TC needs.”

Does any of these people do any homework or any studies of the history of anything about the conduct and the running of Government for let’s say, from 2008 to now and that’s 10 years? You see, these facts are there, documented and will never be lost. But they are used against Montserrat when needed.

One thing is absolutely sure is the need for use of effective advertising. Yes, DFID has pointed that out times over and over, as well as proper communication. It is shocking to note the continuous refusal to use the one medium that will provide the universal reach necessary to reach the interested and the best available. Ignorance or hate! Jealousy or the TRUTH! And, there are of course other related matters, such as e.g. the recent matters of PMO firing, recent loss of the HRO, naming of the new Attorney General, appointing the CEO. All very important positions to the immediate and future development of this little gem. It is Montserrat that hurts people.

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There is detriment to misunderstanding the need for and use of information

There is detriment to misunderstanding the need for and use of information

June 15, 2018

Last week we highlighted that aspect of the destructive delay regarding a Cabinet decision dated January 30, 2017 which aimed at endorsing the development of Montserrat Transformation Programme (MTP); that the Office of the Deputy Governor should be responsible for the structural changes of the transformation.

The Deputy Governor (Ag) at the time, and Financial Secretary would consult with the Attorney General (Ag) to produce Implementation and Change Management Plans, by the end of February 2017. If staff support was required to carry out this ‘assignment’ the go ahead had already been approved.

We now have a Deputy Governor, but ‘jus wonderin’ if the Attorney General agreed on several months ago is already in place replacing the young woman who had been acting for 2-3 years. That ‘wonderin brings to mind a problem whereby in this island in recent times there has been rarely an announcement of new, or changes in appointments regarding heads of departments or top civil service positions. Only today we discovered we have a new, already six months, environmental director.

That goes well with the starvation of information, and the dire lack of understanding of the public, not just the selects but every last one, big, small or indifferent, all of their right and desire to know what is happening in Government and with Government, from DFID, FCO, Governor, Premier, Ministers, down through the public service to the least adult or child; and surprise! Even the animals who serve us in whatever form. And along with that the need to ensure that not just the information that they want to put out but ensuring that that resources to do so exist for the rightful watchdogs.

Since Lord Ahmad left Montserrat we were chided even ridiculed, that the media in Montserrat was not as forceful as our Montserratian counterpart Keith (stone) Greaves in Anguilla, who had interviewed the Minister. Without having heard the interview we immediately advised that Montserrat’s concerns would not be the same as Anguilla, so an interview might be quite different.

That being the case we (TMR) anyway were quite put out that even after complaining that half an hour as set for the Minister to speak with the press, that was eventually reduced to 15 minutes. If ever there was an unconcerned, misinformed lack of understanding of the importance of the Montserrat press to be able to speak to a UK Minister, that was a stark example.

Clearly, the politicians do not understand how important the issue of communication is for them, not to mention the need for the public to have the information necessary to understand the part they all  need to play in the growth of the country that they try to tout. There is a desire among some ministers, but they run into that lack of purpose from the people who serve them and us.

That problem, mind you, is not exclusive to the Government, it is the culture, but we do not believe that this is due to the smallness of the population and the island’s habitable space, and should not really have come out of the ‘small mindedness’ that is so prevalent among us.

Maybe therein lies the problem, that we need to acknowledge this, because it brings with it selfishness, which we have noted before is one of the attributes of corruption.

We heard last year, surprisingly to us, how unprepared and how poor our resiliency is to hurricanes, perhaps to the new levels of hurricanes which surpassed that of Hugo. But TMR is not aware of what the needs or what has been put forward to those responsible, aware that Montserrat has in some way taken the lead among the OTs in taking their case to the UKG. That may be so because of our experience 29 years ago and then 23 years later from the onset of ongoing volcanic activity. We will find that we may not fare to well in the blame game on that score, and that may be so because we have not learnt how to deal with such issues and the UKG. It is our opinion that we contribute significantly by not understand our own powers in looking after our destiny and how we have allowed, small mindedness and vindictiveness to take charge in so many spheres of being on Montserrat.

It doesn’t matter how broad one’s back is in dealing with his/her personal business, its another when you are dealing with you and yours for each individual, for a leader in any business or oganisation, not to mention adding that of the people you serve.

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What is delaying the implementation of the Montserrat Transformation Program?

What is delaying the implementation of the Montserrat Transformation Program?

June 1, 2018

It took all of two years until agreement and a Cabinet Paper regarding The office of the Premier (OoP) Functional Review.

That Cabinet decision was dated January 30, 2017 and agreed:

…to endorse the development of Montserrat Transformation Programme (MTP) by a cross-functional working group led by the Financial Secretary in the short-term, until the CEO of the Office of the Premier is recruited; and,

that the Office of the Deputy Governor should be responsible for the structural changes of the transformation.

Our information is that this idea or requirement began during the R T Meade government. Preliminary plans/changes had already been implemented or perhaps better described as ‘tried.’ We might recall there was a point when the Premier’s office did not function under a Permanent Secretary. Probably associated with the plan was the doing away with what was known as the Development Unit. We suspect that the MDC – Montserrat Development Corporation was all tied in there somehow.

Anyway, the MTP discussions began since March 2015, and that we also recall coincide with the announcement of the ‘mistaken’ closure and shut down of the MDC. But, it was agreed that Consideration should be given to the term ‘Montserrat Transformation Programme’ and recommendations made for more appropriate terminology.

The Deputy Governor (Ag) at the time, and Financial Secretary would consult with the Attorney General (Ag) to produce Implementation and Change Management Plans, by the end of February 2017. If staff support was required to carry out this ‘assignment’ approval was already on hand.

The public has never been informed about this very important move, but we remember well the Premier’s lament at the end of budget talks in December 2016 when he vowed that monies will be spent to budget from the next year. The Premier knew or believed that everything would be in place and his office would be appropriately staffed creating new strategic leadership function of the Office. ‘required for robust strategic oversight of the activities to be delivered under the MTP.’

Under the new plan there would be two (2) senior positions reporting to the Premier – one PS and one CEO. The scope of the role and functions of the Permanent Secretary whose primary function would be the strategic leadership of the Office of the Premier, and general Policy Advisor to the Premier; along with the recruitment of a CEO in the Office of the Premier who would have specific responsibilities.
It was around that same time that the Chief Economic Adviser (CEA) came on board and that was followed quickly with the creation of a Program Management Office and an officer who would have and had begun to change and transform the project performance of government.

But alas! What went wrong? The PMO was marched off the job as though he had committed some terrible crime and 15 months later there isn’t a CEO. What was supposed to be of obvious ‘paramount importance’, which entailed ‘working closely with the United Kingdom Government (UKG) as a whole to ensure the transformation actions planned through this Programme – a key feature of the Development Partnership that so much had been repeated time and again. If there is any wonder as to how much has not gone right, why progress is only something spoken of, much is at someone or some persons feet. It is time for those persons be held accountable.

 There is much more to this plan which would seriously bring transformation to the functioning of government on a whole, but if we can hear nothing more that its gone nowhere we must ask, was the capacity curse taken on board during the long discussions or is government still trying to find out if there is such a problem? Or is it that there is just no appreciation of the power and responsibility that is required for Montserrat to progress.

 

 

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