Archive | Editorial

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?

Posted in Editorial, Features, Local, News, Opinions, Regional0 Comments

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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Deal with the unnecessary fears, with understanding and knowledge

Deal with the unnecessary fears, with understanding and knowledge


Twenty two years ago to the day The Montserrat Reporter (TMR) published an editorial captioned, “Dealing with our fears in Disasters“. It was July 21, 1995 and it was the first news, sounds and evidence of the beginning of a new eruption of Soufriere Hills volcano.

Every year since then we have not ceased to remember and remind residents and Montserratians of the events at the start and following. And. If one were to listen to the Chief Minister of the time, the fear exhumed from the belief that the eruption is not yet done its phase. Unlike some others he offers solutions which still come out of the ‘fear’.

In that editorial we quoted from a previous editorial seven weeks before: “When one is disturbed by fear, then the heart is not in its right place. When one is involved in worries and anxi­eties, then the heart is not in its right place (and the mind has lost its balance). When the mind isn’t there, we look but do not see, listen but do not hear and eat but do not know the flavor of the food. In these situations, how can our lives be right?”

We now run some excerpted paragraphs: Perhaps this fear and panic that we sometimes experience have become more habitual since the visit of ‘Mr. Hugo’. Now we add, “since the volcanic crisis, still so alive!

“We should not have to rely on His Excellency and the Chief Minister, who for the most part can only pass on information given to them. There are trained people who should know how to gather and disseminate relative information to achieve a desired effect in times of disasters or threatening disasters. The obvious impasse during a news conference last night is totally uncalled for, unprofessional and even foolish.”

“We have developed serious problems in instilling and dealing with the fears of our people. It could be that these fears are not recognized. Not only should we discern and deal with them but we must know that there all types of fears.”

Anyone seriously interested in the affairs and state of Montserrat as it relates to moving forward ‘eventually’ towards real development, should understand the significance of the repetition of those but only few of the paragraphs from that editorial and many others since.

The biggest fear we hear expressed by Montserrat and seemingly the rest of the BOTs, we are really only concerned about Montserrat, is the UK’s eventual departure from being an active member in the European Union.

From the first day of the ‘Brexit’ announcement even before Cameron departed, he put the BOTs and other minds at ease by promising that their interest would be taken ‘on board’. What we need to realise that the UK parliament keeps its promise, but yes, it is up to those concerned to remind from time to time.

Montserrat in particular has had its future committed through the UK parliament over and over, but clearly none of those responsible to recognise and follow through seem to know what this is all about.

WE will provide the facts, but ask now that there be a straightening up and jump out of the fears that beseech us and put the right structures in place to allay the fears of all.

There are numerous UK government reports and especially DFID available for study. There alone Montserrat will see how mistakenly we have been for years now about where we should have been and where we are going. Fears can disappear and that culture dissipated.

Check: House of Commons International Development Committee – UK aid: allocation of resources – Seventh Report of Session 2016–17

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HMG handouts and humble acquiescence won't erase Foreclosures or Rebuild Lives

HMG handouts and humble acquiescence won’t erase Foreclosures or Rebuild Lives

Those of us who are more conscious of and share the responsibility for existence in Montserrat often get the question, “If your economy is so nearly dead and with all the related problems, why are you people still staying there?” It is a question when put in those terms that is not that easy to answer.

The foregoing is taken from 2001. Today, yesterday and many months, years before now the question arises with the very familiar words, words that when put in context may not tell the real story, “things hard, the economy dead.” But those words really belong to those who do not consider and understand that there are those who have never suffered as badly as others, who have been suffering throughout. (the crisis).

So let’s continue from 2001. We have used the heading just as then. The following is as was printed then in the Editorial, except for the obvious comments.

So aside from the belief — more a hope now — that things will get better and that life here is as safe if not safer than in many other countries, there is no clear plan that one can articulate as to the way forward.

The hard reality is that the only businesses that beneficially exist, although they both depend on the rest of us being here, are the civil service and the construction industry. Every other business and industry, except for a few, is being ground more and more into the ashes and cannot identify with those who promote rising out of the ashes.

When Secretary of State Clare Short said that no one in Montserrat must benefit (get rich) from the crisis aid that she would approve for Montserrat, we could only have been looking at it from the perspectives of her ministry’s undertaking, “which seeks to work with business, civil society and the research community to encourage progress which will help reduce poverty.”

It is why we continue to say that DFID is the wrong agency to have been working with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) when coming to our aid in this on-going crisis. Montserrat’s case is not just one of “progress and alleviating poverty.”

One huge, killing problem faced by many is that of having to repay a mortgage for a house or property, private or business, in the exclusion zone. The banks are reportedly taking people to court for non-payment of loans made for properties they hold as securities in the exclusion zone. Only if you are living in Montserrat is it a problem; if you now live overseas, don’t come back; or don’t let your bank or Inland Revenue know that you are on island, and you won’t risk being hauled before the court or prevented from leaving.

And who should be taking the lead? How can a civil servant exist, if he had a loan on a house in Plymouth or elsewhere, now submerged in volcanic material, irrecoverable, which he cannot pay off from insurance settlement? Having had to either build again or rent, how can he still pay that outstanding portion for a property he or his children will never see again?

It is the same for anyone else. Why and with what conscience HMG and local government continue to allow civil servants to have their funds deducted from their salaries. So they do not run the risk of going to jail, but they starve just the same or deny themselves some other basic necessities for healthy existence. There’s one reason why the same civil servants have difficulty when they see funds being paid to others, businesses or otherwise without really understanding that it is more often than not for services duly rendered or properly due.

So the banks say if the government is doing it, why shouldn’t we? And then we remember that government has majority shares in Bank of Montserrat Ltd. and to the best of our knowledge has no policy directives or suggestions for the banks or financial institutions, some who struggle to find enough funds help fellow Montserratians survive.

But getting back to the only guaranteed businesses on the island. Most of the construction being done in Montserrat involves capital projects and will include the building of much needed homes. But as Labour Speaks suggests, there are no real development projects. Dr. Lowell Lewis reduced himself to responding to issues outside of his own ministerial portfolio, seemingly the spokesman for his government on all issues, including his own, the controversial airport issue.

To remind the people that there will $20 million in circulation and that that will bring considerable revenue to the island is more than misleading, taking all circumstances on board. A few of those will reveal that in construction the view is taken that there is a 60-40 percent split between labour and materials on a given project.

Simple mathematics shows that $8 million will be spent outside Montserrat, since nearly all material except sand, stones and blocks is imported, and even some of that is imported. That leaves $12 million dollars to be paid to labourers, architects, contractors, etc.

Then we are told that almost 60 percent of the labour force are non-Montserratians who send about 60 percent or $7.2 million out of Montserrat to support their families overseas. That leaves $4.8 million dollars to be circulated in Montserrat between now and June, some of which will be spent shopping regularly in Antigua. Based on estimates, that suggests a further $270,000 over that period. That now leaves $4.53 million dollars, which translates to 22.65 percent of the $20 million, which is further reduced when Montserratians living here must also send sums overseas to support their own families abroad.

Now, of course, some if only a few of the situations described are no longer the same, while some have been exacerbated. But more than a few are representative of the latter.

Continue: Do we really know where we are and what has taken place over the last 15 years. Look out for more on this. Meantime, may we have some comments, your thoughts and ideas.

Meanwhile our leaders boast the desire to bring Montserrat out of grant-in-aid while refusing to seek the necessary support for revenue-bearing developmental projects, non-existent at worst and quite marginal at best, to encourage or support investment in the island.

There is also the complete lack of understanding about money coming into the country in currency or kind, as against money being spent outside of the island. There is a deplorable attitude of those responsible to understand the “spend local and buy local,” so very critical and necessary to support any island economy.

The lame promise to Montserratians in Antigua, “I am not here to tell you to come home, but to tell you that whenever you want to come home, Montserrat is yours and every door will remain open to you,” is hypocritical. What, when the John Osborne government has agreed to exclude relocated and evacuated Montserratians from benefiting from the new housing program of $10 million? People are interested in positive statements of directions and signs of progress.

To date government has managed to bring on the ground projects that were approved during the time of the previous administration. It is sad that they had to spend so much energy doing that while not in the meantime putting some real development strategies in place. Well, why don’t we know about them and why is it so easy to find every excuse? Why shouldn’t we, for example, have more offshore banks being registered in Montserrat? Are we waiting to figure out a way that a few individuals can cream the market before we get moving? That is only one of the several initiatives we can work on that do not require too much infrastructure. 

As long as we sit back and wait on the HMG for their handouts, while we cuddle with them in the blocks to our development, it will not be just the economy, but the population that will become extinct. 


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"Is it history being written"

“Is it history being written”

The Honourable Bertrand Osborne and his Government are to be commended for openly involving other members of the community in the process of finding solutions to keeping the 6000 people still in Montserrat as a viable community.

The Government had invited managers and chairmen of the financial institutions last Wednesday morning to discuss a response and action to the insurance calamity. They were to meet that (June 25) afternoon with members of the Chamber and Private Sector Association for the same purpose, but for the volcano which went berserk on the eastern villages.

On Sunday evening a hastily organised meeting was also called to discuss a position to present to the Baroness upon her arrival to Montserrat for a second visit in two weeks.

Both of these meetings called upon the government to take some strong and tough positions with the British Government and in the case of the insurers a similar stance. But the members of these groups have come away wondering whether this government have the ‘savvy’ to be aggressive.

Sources close to the British entourage on island trying to help us in our cause and protect the British interest at the same time have said: “Montserratians are too nice, instead of saying that things are rough but we are making out, they ought to be making a lot noise for better treatment.”

These people, some of them agree that the red tape is unbearable, but they have a job to do and they have guidelines.

So what do we do? What we need is a massive injection of cash and equipment to:

firstly, PROPERLY give people who need replacement housing, and;

secondly, CREATE an environment that could be sustainable to exist.

We are going to need food and basic necessities, because there are those of us who will no longer be able to buy it.

Our people have already been humbled, never mind that we are unable to put up with the shelters and temporary housing; it is humbling to go overseas and beg shelter and food. That is easier, because our next door neighbour doesn’t see, but it is the same thing, never mind how welcome we are at the beginning.

A year ago when Nicholas Bonsor visited, he stated that they were committed to build the north. Since then we have been hearing that it is up to us. Baroness Chaulker said so; Faint came and said so; the Governor says so all the time and now the Baroness Liz Symons has repeated it over and over.

It is clear that we have no more time now left for pussyfooting, by the Montserrat or British Governments, or else we will all have no jobs, including the ministers and the civil servants.

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Consultation and information are critical for good governance

Consultation and information are critical for good governance

On serious problem that developed from onset of volcanic activity is the total breakdown and loss of ‘civil society’ and the organisations that lead with dependence on the media to front. It has been a most important issue but one that has been almost completely ignored deliberately and also out of ignorance.

It is a matter for government under the leadership of the Governor’s office (Foreign Commonwealth Office, (FCO) and in the British system funded through DFID. This receives very high attention from the UK Government, since according to Priti Patel it is the backbone of the DFID theme to reduce poverty and aid development. Responding to questions on how the civil organisations are functioning and funded, in march this year, she said: “I take the view that we live and breathe the sustainable development goals… At  every  level,  our  focus is  poverty reduction and  delivering  the  global  goals.

The DFID PS Mark Lowcock who resigned recently also had much to say on the issue: Here he notes that there is also general funding regarding ‘civil societies’. “…Across the whole of Government funding of civil society, not just in the development sphere but more generally,…”

Here in Montserrat the question has been asked by, through this medium whether there is any concern at the lack of functioning civil societies organisations to include the near non-existence of say the Chamber of Commerce. The fact that the media which is the thread and as we say the front or the link for civil society, has been ignored into poverty and to an unfortunate few, irrelevance, treated often as they do not exist, is shameful.

This all comes under the general heading of Good Governance. It is critical that it exists. It is why for example efforts are made to encourage the government opposition to raise its ‘game’. At a recent CPA conference, the CPA Chairperson emphasised that, “if the Opposition plays a constructive and responsible role in the democratic process then the accountability of the government can be ensured.” That is why they get special funding and that is why the media public and private must also be well funded.

It is why astute politicians would tell their colleagues, ‘the media can ‘make’ or ‘break’ you’ encouraging them to stay close thereto.

But there is another issue with regards to the whole issue of good governance. This is where it is imperative that when the administration (government) is introducing policy and legislation, economic and otherwise, consultation is a must. So much that in order to benefit from funding for some projects from donor agencies, they must be satisfied that the matter has been discussed through consultation with the public and stakeholders.

The PDM captured this as one of their keys to delivering good governance in their Manifesto recognizing that it was lacking. “Ensure that new legislation, regulations and policies undergo a process of public consultation and transparency, so that the voice of the everyday person is heard.”

For some time, there has been much scarcity of consultation and discussion with the public, even ensuring that they are ‘fully’ informed. Just recently we reported on a workshop where discussions were being held on the formulation of a legal framework for child safeguarding and juvenile justice. Great! But the participants were the involved government agencies and Community Services workers. Where was the rest of society to inform the process and be educated as to their own role, or fate? However, they did say when the matters are completed they will ‘tell or talk’ with the public about it.

About the same time there was a workshop of which we were very familiarly uninformed, but seemed to have been one where only public servants were being taught in the formulation of policy.

We reserve further but say, there is an urgent need for those in authority to get serious about their obligation and responsibility to inform and enable all of civil society and the public which in turn will make more responsible citizens, public and private.

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It seems positive, but is its goal assured?

It seems positive, but is its goal assured?

It is fairly worthy of note that Premier Romeo presented today, a budget that was late in coming, which seemed from first appearance, having kept the substance of it almost as secret as he could, or should we say as is so often the norm, to have been received kindly, at least for now.

Compared with the several negative comments that dominated the delay in the budget presentation, it seemed that knowledge of the long-awaited salary increase for public servants was not much in the air. Is it pleasing to public servants, and will the politicians receive the three percent increase also? And will they all generally be satisfied with the increase beginning from April 1, 2017, rather than say January 2017? Will there be satisfaction and acceptance generally, especially perhaps at the method of the payment scale from three percent at the top in certain scales to 10.4 percent at the lower levels?

It is reasonable to think that the Premier did not go the route of a rollover budget earlier like St. Helena, as with the small increase, which no doubt is reflected in the $2.3 million increase in the support figure. He waited to be sure that he was able to offer the salary increase and knowing exactly the quantum of the capital budget he would receive.

A later comment will speak to whether or not the rest of workers will somehow be able to see an increase in their salaries and wages.

How soon will the capital spend be put into the economy to make that difference? There seemed little to address that other need, at last for the moment, that other than securing some ease for the complaining public servants, that did not spill outward to the private sector workers, some of whom have not seen an increase in their pay packets for over ten years.

Indeed, there are some business owners who have not been able to address a salary for themselves, existing for those who continue to believe it will change sometime.

The debate may bring this out. That if it does will show a side of the Assembly that we feel is seriously lacking, displaying the kind of ignorance unbecoming of what can be minimally expected.

There is the issue of the budget theme, “Moving Montserrat Forward

towards Self-Sustainability and Inclusive Economic Growth.”


For now, it is not clear that we are above the ground or are able to see a pinhole of light, as one leg is still behind the other! Stuck, relying, on old thoughts and beliefs, even though the sounds of visions are in the air. There is still so much to be done, beginning with simply changing the attitudes of many and doing the simple things to get the best of thoughts and ideas focused in the right way or the right direction. With all the professional help and skill, little will be the success if the wrong information is fed.

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There needs to be a different relationship or understanding with UK/DFID

There needs to be a different relationship or understanding with UK/DFID

Editorial – May 26, 2017

Somehow Montserrat for the past three years seemed to have gone through the phase where the strong willed still looks to tomorrow because today does not yet offer any real hope of change.

Wake up!

Ah! The dream. What do these things mean – Diplomacy, Critical philosophy – The necessary condition and the sufficient condition?

“The past must not dictate the future, (but must inform it).” Premier Romeo and his entire government may have completely forgotten the past but instead might be off in the future, without a vision. How many volcanic crises have there been? Does or did each event create another crisis?

May 26, 2017

Premier Romeo in announcing the budget settlement with DFID allowing him to prepare for a budget presentation which he says he will have on June 9, 2017 has somehow displayed an understanding that there has been some hurting reaching heights still unknown in recent times.

When he says, “that’s why it hurts when government does not spend money. I want to deliver a positive result to the ordinary man, the struggling single mother so they can feel tangible results in their pockets,” our question is how ready is his government, how soon will those tangible results become reality?

The time is upon his government to explain why the really hurting ones do not know how much longer before tangible results set in and how that $30 million will bring the results about. Of course, not everyone suffered or felt the hurt. Half of the working force continued to receive their wage/salary, claiming hurt because they have not received a raise so long. Never once did they complain that their relative not in the same boat as they are, do live in a leaky ship that has already sunk, or just about to sink.

Premier Romeo would only say that it is imperative that the capital projects which will be named in the Budget speech get off the ground during this fiscal year.

So now there is the economic team – to lead on the economic growth strategy – opening another area of explanation that needs to be covered to inform the future. Yes Mr. Premier, cabinet, and support workers, understand where you come from and where you are and are going…

Only some of us DFID can tell some seeming realities to invoke sympathy or by way of explanation. Someone tries to explain why the budgetagreement was not forthcoming in a timely manner:

“New Ministers are still getting up to speed with what DFID does and frankly, do not have a good grasp of the nuanced and complex approaches to development or the excellent work that DFID does on underlying root causes of poverty.”

Is this correct? Better not be or better not let the electorate know. That’s one Brexit area of problem.

The reasons flow – Excellent programmes, innovative, cutting edge, transformative and successful one, are from one week to the next, without warning, being stopped/closed and cut. The argument is that the results must be tangible, easy to measure and in line with the manifesto. Again, resulting in poor decisions.

All that said, should not have anything to do with budgetary aid. Capital aid etc, maybe! DFID budget is also under high demand from competing priorities. Nothing to do with the OTs. The OTs need to be removed from the categories described.

These explanations were among others supposed to convince that Montserrat will also feel the impact. That, “the decisions are not personal or specific to the current Montserrat situation.” They should not pertain to Montserrat at all.

So where does the ignorance lie? Does this need a discussion, an explanation or just a correction? Or does it simply lie in ‘good governance’! Which by the way includes those things the CEA speaks about mentioned above and includes ‘confidence’.

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Remove the scales from the eyes and lift heads from the sand

Remove the scales from the eyes and lift heads from the sand

May 19, 2017

The Hon Premier and Minister of Finance last week announced that the annual recurrent budget, usually required to be laid before parliament by March 31, each year, is ready to be laid on June 9, 2017 for this year. The Premier made the announcement on Friday pointing out that following agreement with DFID included in the budget will be $30 million dollars that Government is committed to spend the money within this fiscal year.

It could not have been surprising that the budget was scheduled for presentation originally on March 23, 2017 considering that budget talks took place early in December 2016 and surprisingly again earlier this year.

News in late March reported the Honourable Premier and Minister of Finance and Economic Management Donaldson Romeo is expected to present his 2017/2018 budget speech on April 13, following an earlier an originally scheduled presentation to have been delivered on Thursday, March 23.

At that time the reason! “The postponement is occasioned by the change in UK Ministerial responsibility, which has caused a delay in the approval of Montserrat’s Financial Aid Business Case by the UK Minister,” the statement said.

During this time, the critics, to include the opposition made game of the situation, but as we reported acted disappointingly ignorant to the entire matter. (See Editorials of April 7 and 21, 2017.) and

On the postponement, there was no problem with recurrent as the Finance Minister announced funds through the Consolidated Fund allowing, “government spending to continue until passage of the Appropriation Act in April”.

The question and the discussion surrounding the budget ought to have been whether Government should have been placed or how come they were in a position, having to wait or suffer any embarrassment. Could they support such a discussion? And all the discourse and view points, are little more than gibberish, not showing any serious understanding of ‘the state of affairs’, except of course, ‘things bad’ there is no ‘economy’. But when was there one? And if there should have been one, how do you qualify that?

The utterances coming from both sides teach little, except there is a smell of forward going in the air. And what do we hear?

The Ole Dawg has been presenting some understanding of the basics in different areas required to move towards to sustained thinking and positioning. But who among the hopefuls are showing any understanding and discussing anything to lift the minds and thinking of those they hope to hoodwink, not long from now.

The budget approval came even after UK parliamentarians had no more power. Ministers are just caretakers. They will not get away with what we do here in Montserrat. But the point anyway is that, the delays could not have anything to do with DFID being under scrutiny. It is not Ministers who work the ‘sums’ and ‘work the methods’ of budget of approval. That’s putting it simple.

Capital aid and other types of aid, but budgetary could be a problem. One only has to think of the budgets of 2012-14 and a little bit of research will satisfy. This idea that DFID is being scrutinized and thus forcing them to do what they ought to have been doing, makes them very culpable for the weaknesses that have multiplied, with the answers and solutions really quite simple.

However, if the good smell is to materialise, and the words being used by the new CEA and PMO head are not resented as they already have, but rather appreciated and understood, with a public service from head to toe, ready to step out of the poor culture that has gone now much too far, and too long, indeed there are bright times ahead. Then the worry about being completely overrun by strangers will disappear and it then won’t be long for scales too fall and heads lifted out of the sand.

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