Archive | Editorial

May 3, 2019

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

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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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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. 


Posted in Editorial, International, Local, Regional0 Comments

"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.

Posted in Editorial0 Comments

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