Archive | Man from Baker Hill

NATIONALISM:  A Corollary of Taxation

by Man from Baker Hill

I am not concerned about the dictionary meaning of the word…nationalism.

For me, nationalism is about understanding how to build a nation called Montserrat on fairness and equity; it is to want every Montserratians to stand out… to do well. Nationalism is that each of us must pay his fair share of income tax to Montserrat.

Nationalism is to enhance our environment so that each of us can act out his or her role on Montserrat in goodness, safety and love. It is also about Montserrat… character building, understanding, education, partnerships and leadership.

Nationalism is more about understanding the purpose of living on Montserrat… than to seek to get from Montserrat the most of the means to live. In other words we must not confuse having plenty money with the purpose of living.

Montserratians must love and believe in goodness, the law of God; so that in carrying out their adopted or agreed-to roles, goodness would seem to flow from their words and actions. They must engage one another in conversations about character building, partnerships and how to prepare the next generation to pay income tax in order to guarantee their future. This too seriously, is nationalism!

Yes, by example, we must stand tall in the classroom named Montserrat and be able to educate, motivate one another so as create a culture of cleverness in each one of us; i.e., we must show willingness to pay and tell of the usefulness to pay income tax.

Nationalism is also to preach and teach what makes a nation a nation. It is to understand how to create and build a nation. It is to understand the means from which a nation is built. It is to know that one of the means to build a nation is money and that a nation’s money in modern times can only arrive on the ships and planes of taxation, ours or some other nation.  Yes taxation!

Opponents of Nationalism, if there are any, must understand that taxation is the essence of nation building and its preservation. They must be reminded, at all times, that it is through a system of tax laws that Montserrat will grow, maintain itself, develop and take its place on earth.

It is not my intention in this article to explain the meaning of a system of tax laws…

But let it be understood that it … the system of tax laws… also  includes royalties from sand mining and geothermal energy, fees, fines, the sale of postage stamps, a portion of the revenues from the Port Authority and the utility company MUL.

It is therefore imperative that Montserratian men and women understand their country’s system of tax laws and they must obey it in word and deed. They must teach it by example so that Montserratians will become a respectful people, each of us paying no less than his fair share of taxes.

A few ‘good men and women’ is all it takes to carry our nation away from passive or vacant ignorance and the ridicule of onlookers. Our behaviour must not allow onlookers to laugh at Montserrat.  No, they must never think that we sit vacantly, rocking under the money tree waiting for lady bird Britain to send us their tax dollars to prop us up through Montserrat Development Corporation (MDC)

I am a nationalist. I want to see Montserrat and every Montserratian stand out and do well; but I expect each of us to pay our fair share of income tax, every time.

Presently I am looking at the MDC Little Bay Project supported by DFID with many pieces of equipment being engaged on the project.  Maybe $25 million will be spent on this project. And I wonder how much income tax will be deducted from payments to these equipment owners. We must not forget the embarrassment of our TAX ARREARS situation. Certainly, not less than 20% should be deducted from every payment; and if not, then our system of tax laws needs revising.

Consider this, what nation that needs to drag itself upwards and outwards could afford to say to its citizens…you must put at least $15,000.00 in your pockets each year before you make a direct contribution to the nation’s healthcare, or your school children education, or police protection, or the maintenance of the roads we walk and drive on? Nationalism… must provide the answer to that question!

Again, I am a nationalist. I want Montserrat to stand out, to do for self as much as it can. And I believe that the only way we can begin to achieve that…is to have our own money. I believe that money is a means to achieve the ultimate purpose of a nation. And I believe that a nation’s money must be gotten mostly from taxation. I also believe that taxation is the most important source of every nation’s money and that taxation is the essence of nation building. We must collect our taxes!

But in the meantime, men and women of Montserrat must seek to understand goodness, the law of nature and God; … and they must lead by example; boldly paying income tax while carrying the torch of nationalism.

It is Nationalism and taxation, belief in our ability to do for self, motivation and faith in the law of goodness that will work miracles for Montserrat.

Clearly, Montserratians must begin to think seriously about our Laws of Taxation. We must seek to understand and to participate fully in these necessary laws. We must also live by example; so that our experiences will be virtual classrooms, especially in the area of income tax. This too is nationalism.



Posted in Local, Man from Baker Hill, News1 Comment

The Battle for Montserrat: Post Election 2014

by Man from Baker Hill

If I were writing a short story about our 19 year fight with the volcano, I would write that Montserrat won the battle. I might even write that the people of Montserrat are NOW prosperous; and that the elections made us confident, wealthy and wise. And if this were a short story I might write too, that we are now a united people willing to live happily on Montserrat until the next elections.

But no! This is not a short story. This is not even a story; this is reality, Montserrat.

Less than 90 days after the elections we are losing the battle for Montserrat. The British are back!  It seems as if we voted the British into office. And Montserrat legislators are in for some sad times ahead.

Since the elections we are being led down a path of confusion. The political warriors and especially the victors seemed not to have had a clear picture of the goals for Montserrat. And as politicians they should have known where and what the goal is, so that victory could be determined. Truly, no one can win a battle if he does not know what or where victory is.

Additionally, the victors, the newly elected legislators, should have been aware of, and thoroughly understood the systems and procedures that will ensure a mood of continuous victory for the electorate. Unfortunately, they understood neither goals nor victory.

So the truth must be told; and told boldly, too. What has happened at MDC and generally on Montserrat over the last week could not have happened under the watch of David Brandt, the people’s chief. Yet, I shall blame David Brandt for what is happening.  Because about one year ago he teased the electorate; and in response the Montserrat Reporter in an article titled ‘Political Mentorification’ begged him to mentor the prospective politicians; but he did not. And now we are losing Montserrat; all because the legislators lack understanding.

The situation is a political embarrassment for Montserratians. No one should seek the power of office or position above his level of competence and or above their understanding. For example, without proper knowledge and understanding, the personal desire to become ministers of government or the desire of political party supporters to be placed on this or that board of directors is the main ingredient for post election national disaster.

Carefully consider this. Despite victory at the polls, the battle for Montserrat will be lost if political understanding is absent, even if there is competence. And although it is almost too late to slow down the arrival of ‘absolute UK political management by coercion’, ‘The Montserrat Reporter’ and I shall attempt to stimulate and influence.

Firstly, with utter haste, the victorious legislators need to understand the purpose for the nation called Montserrat and also to understand what is required to rebuild Montserrat.

Secondly, immediately, position aspirants need to understand what role ‘offices and positions’ play in the battle for Montserrat. ‘Positionists’ need to understand this basic requirement before he or she seeks to be a board member in order to act out their desired roles on this Montserrat battlefield.

Thirdly, we need to be aware of the benefits of good manners.

We, but legislators especially, must respect one another and be fair and supportive to one another, within the bounds of reason of course; even if we are on different sides of the legislative or political table.

And finally, if we want to fight and win the battle for Montserrat, we must first change our mindsets. Yes, the battle must be fought and won in our minds.

But we must begin with the man in the mirror. So here is my story.

Prior to the elections, I told you that I will not vote; now I shall tell you how I will participate in the politically new Montserrat.

Since the elections I have been asked several times how and where I would like to participate in the new Montserrat. And I have made it quite clear that I do not want to serve on any board or committee.

I have also made it even clearer that I shall serve Montserrat in the area of TAXATION, only. But before I serve, the Government of Montserrat must have a modern taxation philosophy that goes beyond the usual Caribbean taxation policies and practices. I shall serve on the battlefield of Montserrat under UK Government supervised tax reform, only then. And in the meantime I will keep ‘wondarin’.

I wonder if the politicians understand that there is an ongoing battle for Montserrat. And I wonder too, if they understand their roles on the battlefield; because if they lack the understanding, as it seems, we will lose the battle for Montserrat before Christmas day 2014.


Posted in Local, Man from Baker Hill, News1 Comment

Legistimate Expectation vs The Montserrat Social Security Precedent has been set!

By Man from Baker Hill

The case of Denzil Edgecombe against the Premier and the Government of Montserrat (Attorney General) sets the stage for individuals to successfully achieve their legitimate pension rights against the Montserrat Social Security in the courts of Montserrat.

So through this Article and The Montserrat Reporter, I serve notice on the members of the Board of the Montserrat Social Security of the intention of a class of Montserratians to recover their full pension rights. Montserratians born between January 1, 1950 and December 31, 1952 were cheated of their rights to the legitimate Social Security pensions for which they contributed.

When the Social Security Fund started in 1986, our class was assured of a minimum 30% pension as long as we contributed for ten years. But after 24 years of contributions to the SSF, on January 1, 2010, The Reuben Meade MCAP government passed a law b into effect on Montserrat that reduced expected pension benefits for our class from 30% to 20% of the insured amount. None of us were aware of the change in benefits; not even at the time when we applied for the pension. It is a horrible thing to have happened to our class; some members have lived lives of financial desperation ever since.

The consequence of that Law was that a person born January 1, 1950, went to bed New Year’s Eve December 31, 2009 expecting a social security pension of $900 but woke up New Year’s Day to a pension of $600. The law did not affect persons born before January 1, 1950; and as a result a special group of privileged civil servants have reaped the rewards of our contributions.

I appeal to the Board of the SSF to seek to understand the effect of that Law.

Here is an illustration. Bobo was born January 1, 1950. Bobo’s wife was born December 31, 1949. Both Bobo and his wife made the same number of contributions and in the exact same amounts to the Social Security Fund; but Bobo received a social security pension of $600 while his wife received $900.

And there is more; Port Worker John received a SSF pension of $600. He contributed fully to the Social Security Fund (SSF) from its inception in 1986 to his retirement on February 1, 2010. He never missed a contribution; in fact he over contributed to the fund and received a small refund. Imagine the distress of John when he realised that Lukiesha the civil servant, who was born February 1, 1948 and never made one dollar contribution to the SSF, received a SSF pension of $900 and a lump sum back payment of $10,000.

Precedent! Legitimate Expectation!

However, there is no need for the CARROT and stick legal approach to redress this impropriety. And the pun is intended! The Board of the Social Security is hereby advised to seek legal advice and to redress this matter before January 1, 2015.

And that is not all. It is no secret that many civil servants who received their full SSF pension rights never contributed one red cent to the SSF. Yet some received back payments of $50,000 and more. It is also no secret that the UK government recently paid into the SSF more than $15 million to compensate for the massive pay-out to the ‘did not contribute’ civil servants.

This matter will not go away. It has been a burning ulcer for the class of Montserratians who have been asking me to look into the matter for them. In fact, I have taken my personal case to the SSF and have always hinted that legal action will follow.

But when I tried to discuss the matter with the consultant he told me the reduction is only 10%. He did not consider that ten from thirty left only 20%; neither did he realize that 10% is half of 20%. In other words, $900 minus $600 is $300; and the pension short- fall of $300 means that our class legitimately expected 50% more than what we get.

The situation brought on a certain chronic effect, it is a health hazard; volcano emigrants Suedette, Suzannah, Joy and Sadiah have developed ulcerous conditions due to failed expectations of their legitimate pensions.

Here is another story of a member of our class. Joy, Sadiah’s sister in Christ, told me that the clerks at the SSF laughed at her and told her that she was lucky to be born in 1948. Joy had gone to the SSF office to enquire about Sadiah’s assumed short payment in her SSF pension check. Sadiah was born in 1950. I can relate stories of painful after- shock experienced by members of our class; but our time has now come. And we expect justice without lengthy Carrot Like litigation. No pun is intended!

Montserratians, please take note, ‘Legitimate Expectation’ as used in this article is not to be taken as a political issue. But it is a POLITICAL matter!

Precedent has been set. And if the present government believes that its political party can promise all sorts of stupidnis in their manifesto or on the campaign trail, then a stern warning is in order.

And in conclusion, on behalf of this class of cheated Montserratian, ‘The Montserrat Reporter’ and I serve notice on the Board of the Montserrat Social Security of the intention to seek comfort in the Courts of Montserrat that our Legitimate Expectation for the SSF pension will be achieved.

Legitimate Expectation, Wow! A precedent has been set. That’s all.


Posted in Features, Local, Man from Baker Hill, News3 Comments

Sports complex - Considered to be unsightly by many - DSC_0024


Sports complex - Considered to be unsightly by many - DSC_0024

Sports complex – Considered to be unsightly by many

by Man from Baker Hill

Sports complex - upclose DSC_0017

Sports complex up-close

Should right thinking Montserratians be BEATEN with many strikes, simply because we have not done nearly enough to question the building of the dessert tent at Little Bay? Maybe! In fact, some of us should be flogged for being silent on the matter.

Where did that thing come from? Who is responsible for the sports complex? Who designed it? Why place it at Little Bay? Little Bay, the virgin landscape on which Britain spent $50 million so that Montserratians could build the most modern city in the West Indies; now look what we have built there, a mere dessert tent, and on the best site in the town. Oh we built Marine Village which is supposed to wait for the influx of tourists for them to be serviceable and of course the elephant strip which is obviously costing far more than expected and not done yet.

What an insult to the many young Montserratians who, since the volcanic eruption, have gone abroad to study architecture and engineering. What a disgrace to Montserrations past who tolerated plywood city in Salem and tent city at Gerald’s with great expectation for a city at Little Bay with buildings of glass and marble. What a shame for Montserratians present who held on, expecting to see three-storey glass clad buildings dotting the Little Bay landscape. What an embarrassment to Montserratians’ future who will … just wonder what went wrong.

So I shout, flog us! Bring back the Cat-O-Nine; and I will be the first in line to be beaten. I should have protested the dessert sports complex tent before. Give me nine strokes. I am the self professed social critic. I should have thrown critical stones at the foundation stage, not now!

There were so many consultations and designs for Little Bay, paid by the British Government. But somehow we never wanted to move from Brades Road Town. And you know what? The destruction of Little Bay started with the cricket grounds, a long time ago. How could there be cricket grounds without car park and pavilions?

Sometimes I just keep wondering. And today I wonder if the British should have left the development of Little Bay up to Montserratians. The British had excellent plans for volcano Montserrat. In fact I have in front of me, right now, one of the first plans for the proposed new capital Little Bay and Cars Bay drawn up by a firm of architects, Landbase International Ltd. I wonder how many active politicians have seen those architectural plans for the proposed and the one just before it for the new capital at Little Bay and Cars Bay And, oh! The one before included Rendezvous Bay. It had everything that is expected in a capital city. It was futuristic!

I also have in my possession another architectural design by GIBB Ltd for a Gerald’s Park Sports Complex. That design dazzles the mind. It makes allowance for cricket and football grounds, car parks and pavilions, technical college and a 400 meter running tract. It was modern! How did Montserrat manage to turn it down?

So what went wrong with the plans that the British had for volcano Montserrat? Hey, if you are like me, just keep wondering.

In the mean time, let us put aside this Cat-O- Nine thing for the time being. Let us be serious. What happened to our dreams for rebuilding Montserrat? Are Montserratians capable of rebuilding a modern day Montserrat? Have we begun to doubt ourselves? Or are we still afraid of the volcano?

Personally, I do not believe that we are afraid of the volcano. But we are afraid of something! For sure, it must be fear that causes Montserrat to bungle all over itself at every opportunity to surge ahead. It might be fear of not getting enough, or as much as the other guy, or fear of losing just a little of what we think we have. Fear, just Fear! But fear of who or what else?

Fear is a terrible thing; it is the forerunner of many negative outcomes. It causes people to be locked into desire and selfishness, so much so that they will blind themselves to sincere help given to them by others. For example, the $75 million infrastructure at Little Bay is a sincere gift given to Montserrat by Britain; and if today’s ‘supposed to be right thinking’ Montserratians cannot appreciate that gift from Great Britain, then, we should admit it. And rather than make the place nasty, we should ask Britain to safe keep Little Bay for tomorrow’s Montserratians. We are obliged to give the youths the chance to design their town. Montserrat will never need a dessert tent, and certainly, not in the capital. Is this Dessert Tent the White Golden Elephant curse of Claire Short?

By the way, just in case you got lost along the way, this article is about the disrespect for little Bay, the $100 million gift from Britain. We seem to be hell bent on destroying everything that Little Bay is all about. But Little Bay is about a futuristic capital, social and commercial, for the people of Montserrat. And we are making ‘record speed losing our way’ by constructing a Dessert Tent on a choice lot suitable only for the signature Parliament Building befitting a real capital.

Clearly, it is time to boldly address Little Bay, its architecture, its land use and its purpose for Montserrat’s future before it is too late or before ‘de kinpan sumbady assagofeelum’ for sheepishly disrupting de white man’s plans.

And that’s why I write to forewarn today’s and yesterday’s that tomorrow’s political leaders will seek jail term plus the Cat-O-Nine tails for the destruction of Little Bay, the British Government’s futuristic capital for the people of Montserrat.








Posted in Local, Man from Baker Hill, News3 Comments

Write it Boy … JUST AS YOU SEE IT!

By Man from Baker Hill

If you write it as you see it, there is always someone who will disagree with you. But you must still write it. Here is a new lesson that I have taken out of life’s pages; and I must write about it.

All coconuts fall to the ground, eventually. No matter how big or juicy the coconut looks, or how tall the tree, the coconut will fall. Sometimes we pick it from the tree to drink or eat it. Sometimes a wee little mangy rat would climb the tree, drink the water, pee all over the nut, cut it loose and cause it to fall to the ground. But most times it stays on the tree until it becomes ripe or old and then it falls to the ground. The coconut must come down.

Similarly, all breadfruit will fall to the ground too. We may pick and eat some before they fall; but most fall from the tree and make a real mess on the ground. All juicy mangoes must fall to the ground too. Just as the juicy fruit will fall to the ground, so will all politicians surely fall to the ground and beyond.

The real lesson that I learned is this. Things change! Nothing remains the same; and sooner or later what goes up will come down. Change is inevitable. That should be a stark political lesson for politicians and their supporting cohorts. And especially for those candidates who were successful in the 2014 general elections. I shall write it as I see it.

And I have written it as I saw it. Leading up to the recent general elections, as far back as September 2013, I wrote a number of articles to stimulate political discussions and debate; and I know that they did. These articles are Political Mentor…ification, Political Mindfulness, Safe Hands, Paid Political Statement and Conscientious Objection. And I even publicly endorsed one candidate during the election campaign. Of course, many did not agree with me; but I wrote it as I saw it. These articles were my contributions to the 2014 general elections.

I wrote it as I saw it; because I wanted my political opinions to be archived for 100 years. And I sincerely wish that the current group of politicians would recognize the usefulness of the written word; but more importantly, I want them to understand the real value of The Montserrat Reporter to their political career. They too must write it; but not only what they want others to believe.

But if they do not write or all they do is talk, talk, and more talk; they must be careful what they say and do or allow others to do in their names. Read this very carefully. No matter how great the desire is to achieve a political goal, political groups must be mindful of their actions. It was brought to my attention that at one of the political meetings a very distasteful display of caricature lynching was carried out at Cudjoe Head. I say, no! Not again! Cudjoe Head is historically renowned for the beheading of Captain Cudjoe. Some incidents must remain in the history books.

Finally, for the records and for the benefit of the new government, I will write it as I see it.

And here I go again…. the problems facing Montserrat can be solved; but you have to know the problems before you can solve them. Remember, all juicy fruits fall to the ground; but politicians fall to the ground and beyond. Good luck!

Posted in Local, Man from Baker Hill, News8 Comments


 Man from Baker Hill

I cannot vote! I have objected to the inclusion of my name on the 2014 voters list.

But three cheers for Montserrat, Hip, hip hooray! This election-day there will be about 3000 registered voters, 31 candidates of which 13 are independents; and maybe 20,000 votes cast.

What has happened to politics in Montserrat? Has it lost its essence? Should every candidate be an entire party? Is political representation something to joke about? I am almost sure that historians have begun to consider Montserrat elections as just another eruption for thunderous Caribbean laughter. And collectively, from captain to cook, we are responsible.

Since the volcanic eruptions the average population on Montserrat has been around 5,000 persons; but an aggregate of 100 candidates have sought to become parliamentarians. Since the eruptions began in 1995, an aggregate of 10 political parties and 30 independent candidates have contested the elections.

Comparatively, Antigua and St. Kitts each has populations numbering tens of thousands, but two political parties each. Jamaica and Trinidad each has two political parties to represent their millions.

Believe me; I have had enough of Montserrat politics and elections. And I shall record my boycott of the 2014 elections, now.

So for this election 2014, I shall not vote! I will be a conscientious objector.

I feel very strongly about political representation. I would be insulting you if I were to ask you to vote for me in an election for the position supervisor of elections. I have neither training nor experience to represent the people of Montserrat at that position.

Consider this; I have never been associated with a political party, never. I have been to the Legislative Assembly less than six times in my entire life. I would therefore consider myself rude and obnoxious, if I were to ask Montserratians to vote for me in an election so that I might become the next Premier of Montserrat or leader of the opposition. I would not know where to begin to serve or represent Montserrat.

And if I were to ask you to vote for me to be the next chairman of the Christian Council, I expect that Montserratians would laugh at me; and the entire Christian world would laugh at you too for even considering my request. Because I do not belong to any church; and I have never shown interest in matters pertaining to affairs of the Christian Council. I cannot represent the Christian Council.

Please know this; I have already requested that the Electoral Office remove my name from the voters list. I am a conscientious objector. I cannot vote.

Here is my story. In 1978, shortly after I returned to Montserrat, I asked my father not to offer himself again as a candidate for the North-Western electoral constituency. I also asked my sister to speak to our father on the matter; she did. We felt that our father could not offer Montserrat the kind of representation which it deserved for the 1980’s and beyond. We however encouraged our father to continue to support his chosen political party. And he did. He continued to campaign for his party five days a week, twelve months a year; he did, year after year until his death. Our father was intelligent and courageous; and he loved politics. He aroused my interest in politics.

I believe in good political representation. And as a result I never voted until 1991 when there was a viable alternative to the incumbent PLM candidate in the North-Western constituency.

Also, I never seriously thought of being a candidate for political office. However, immediately after the 2009 elections I felt very badly that I did not offer myself to represent the people of Montserrat. And I cried. Yes, I shed tears. Soon I began to feel a pull to become a parliamentarian. I wanted to represent Montserrat as a politician. So I begged and was granted permission to be included in the training being given to the new members of the Legislative Assembly. Shortly thereafter I began to attend Legislative Assembly meetings. But before long, I lost the passion to be a parliamentarian and decided to return to my preferred role as a social and political critic.

I am happy to contribute to Montserrat as a social and political critic. Historically I am not even a voter; you would be amazed at the tactics I devised to avoid voting. As mentioned above, I never voted before the 1991 general elections; but since 2001 I have not been able to vote intelligently. I constantly had to juggle my X’s among family, friends and foe; some of whom are not suitable to represent me or Montserrat politically.

Now look what they have done to me! I am now a Conscientious Objector. I had to beg my best friend to please object to my name being included on the voters list. And he did; he sent an objection to the Electoral Office.

So far, that’s my story. But please do not misunderstand me. I am a political critic; but I am constructive. I am man of good character; I am helpful, truthful and peaceful; I am kind, courteous and courageous. I am knowledgeable; I am a chartered insurance practitioner; and I am a trained accountant too. I studied law, taxation and economics too. I have managed and I have lead; I was a director of the Montserrat Chamber of Commerce, the Montserrat National Trust and the Bank of Montserrat too. I am trustworthy and honest. I managed the local branch of an insurance company; and during my employment with the company I processed and paid over $50 million in insurance claims without accepting $1.00 in bribes. I am the son of R. Cook (Smoothie) Allen, the courageous politician from Baker Hill. I am of, by, with and from political pedigree. I learned politics at our dinner table. I could represent Montserrat politically; but I am not a politician.

As mentioned above, In 1978 I influenced my father to consider his suitability to represent Montserrat politically. But this year 2014, I will not attempt to ask any candidate to question his or her ability and suitability with regards to political representation for Montserrat in the 21st century.

Nevertheless, I will passionately examine each candidate with respect to representation. And if I believe that a candidate cannot represent me, I should tell him. I should tell him that I do not want him to represent me. I should be able to ask him to remove himself from in front of me and do not insult me. But I will not do any of those things. No, I will not judge any candidate by my standards.

Instead, I declare this. I am a conscientious objector. I protest against the state of politics and political representation in Montserrat 2014. I shall not vote!

And through this article, for the third time, I humbly beg the Electoral Office to remove my name from the 2014 voters list. Because I shall not vote!

 And I believe there are others, e.g. like my boss!


I am, sincerely


Your Conscientious Objector.



Posted in Man from Baker Hill, News, Opinions6 Comments


By Man from Baker Hill

You know what I mean —

I was tired; but not sleeping. My partner and I had just returned from our walk one evening last week. As customary, during our walk and among our chatter we talk politics; this time she mentioned that she encountered members of a political party doing house to house campaign in Baker Hill. So when I heard the knock at my door, I assumed that some of them timed my return; and I was not pleased.

Nevertheless, I came to the door but did not open it. I heard a shuffling sound and two politicians materialised behind me in the kitchen. They were ‘William H’ and ‘John Alfred’, both deceased Chief Ministers of Montserrat. I cannot describe what they looked like or what they wore; I just knew who they were. You know what I mean.

They, both Willie and John, came to talk with me. They had a political statement to share with Montserratians. They spoke; to be honest I cannot explain how they spoke. I just understood. You know what I mean.

“The report from both hell and heaven”, William H said, “is that politics on Montserrat have become a kind of joke”. Sixty years ago, I was part of a political party that developed sustainable economic, educational and social programs for Montserrat. And as Montserrat’s first Chief Minister, I took the island on a journey to political respectability and economic maturity. I listened to the wise and developed an economic journey for Montserrat second to none in the Caribbean.”

“Now resting in my peaceful grave,” William said, “I am humiliated by the sounds of men and women ‘of ashy feat’ clamoring to be the next Premier. Men and Women without political training or experience who are unwise to the meaning of fiscal or economic programs for sustainable nationhood; men and women whose aspiration is to spend UK taxpayer’s money.”

“Every nation must find a way to pull itself up”, he continued. “Sixty years ago we used the natural resource, the land, to create the residential tourism business which was the pillar of Montserrat’s economy for more than fifty years. We even tried the tomato paste manufacturing business. Of course there is devastation caused by the volcano, but it brought ‘sand’ a natural resource. And the so called political candidates have not realized the potential of volcanic ash and an integrated sand and quarry industry. Not one of them seems to be aware of the usefulness of the Mining Act and its impact to the economy of Montserrat. “

I wanted to ask him to simplify his statements, but I could not get the words out. You know what I mean.

Just then, as if to keep me attentive, John Alfred began to speak, he said “Baker Hill Man, I did not say much to you when I was alive, but I had to accompany Mr. Bramble to talk with you. Although my political party created years of good times, I never understood the importance of taxation to nationhood. And under my leadership I made sure that the very wealthy Montserratians did not pay their fair share of income tax compared to the poor civil servants. I also turned my back on tax compliance and caused the tax arrears situation. I truly regret that! But if had the chance to do it over again, I would make taxation, tax compliance and tax reform the major political platform issue.”

I wanted to ask them to make a much shorter political statement. I kept thinking about Bennett my Editor; you know how he is with…; but I could not speak back to them. However, they knew what I was thinking, so ‘William H’ and ‘John Alfred’, Montserrat’s two deceased political leaders, gave me the following ‘paid for political statement’.

‘Our political party has nine candidates of stature and courage who can represent Montserrat.

We will ensure that future candidates are chosen from the members of the party and that they are fit and proper to represent Montserrat.

We will ensure effective political succession planning conditional on candidates’ basic knowledge and understanding of government business, basic knowledge of administrative procedures and awareness of legislative practices.’

‘Our party will pass the Mining Act. We will nationalize the volcanic sand and ash in Plymouth, Belham and Trants. We will ask the UK government to set up an integrated mining and quarry industry to provide meaningful sustainable contribution to the economy of Montserrat.’

‘Our party will give unconditional forgiveness on all income tax arrears due on earned income up to year 2013 and assessment year 2014.

We will give an income tax free year for all income earned in year 2015.

We will ask the UK government to legislate and implement a modern system of income tax laws to take effect from January 2016.’

Our party will legislate for succession planning in all government departments, statutory institutions and private sector companies, especially the financial service industry.

We will legislate an apprenticeship program for all trades especially in the building and motor mechanics trades.

We will pay to contractors and employers the additional costs for participating in the apprenticeship program.

They, William and John, assured me that the Montserrat Reporter will get paid, in kind; and dematerialised.

You know what I mean.






Posted in Local, Man from Baker Hill, News3 Comments

Safe Hands

by Man from Baker Hill

Your God, whatever you conceive God to be, allows volcanoes, destructive hurricanes and politicians to impact the lives of Montserratians. God allows plane crashes and wars; and he will allow war of words among Montserrat politicians for this election campaign. So do not worry, be patient with one another; Montserrat is in Safe Hands with God, the God of Truth and Love.

God has always allowed twenty or more candidates to contest our ‘ni-nex’ system of electioneering; and God will cause nine persons to win the election in September 2014. So whether you are a candidate or a voter, don’t worry! Do your thing; and enjoy yourself. Election-day results have been fore-ordained. Everything has already been approved by your God.

God approves politics… and politicians too! After all, God made all politicians, good or evil, in his own image. And when politicians are no longer necessary to manage earthly affairs, God will allow something different. In the meantime, be merry, vote for the candidates of your choice. But please know this…. There is no need to worry, for indeed Your God has ‘Safe Hands’ and He knows the most suitable candidates for his program at this time in Montserrat’s history.

Know this; all things wise and wonderful, or not so wise or wonderful God made them all. God chose David the shepherd boy from the pasture to kill Goliath. God raised Samson and then allowed Delilah to trick him even to his death. God allowed Satan the snake to deceive Eve and Cain to kill his brother. God allowed the sons of Jacob to sell their brother Joseph into slavery. God chose the murderer Moses to lead his people away from Pharaoh. Your God always has a plan. And for sure he will allow Montserratians to have their leader, as always. So don’t worry, it will work itself out in perfect accordance with the requirements for your God’s Safe Hands.

Do not debate what God allows. The recent political history of Montserrat will show that God allowed politicians to pay back to Montserratians their ‘Provided Fund’ contributions before they reached the age of retirement. And God allowed politicians to set up a pension scheme for themselves, so that they could have more money after they lose an election or leave political office. In fact God always allow politicians to set their own rules for their own benefit, such as very high salaries and allowances, tax free pensions and health insurance for life. And, remember this; do not try to understand what God allows.

In the past Montserrat chose Willie, Austin, and John to lead; Bene, who is now called Goliath, Bert, Dave, who was called the people’s chief or Samson the heavy roller, and Lowell called the doc were allowed their time to lead as well. God allowed them all to lead; but He kept Montserrat Safe in His Hands. Do not worry! The combined actions of Montserrat past leaders over the last 60 years could not compare with the activity caused in one night by Hurricane Hugo. Don’t worry about the outcome of the elections; because no matter who becomes the new leader, the next five years will be like a walk in the park. Five years with the next leader will not impact Montserratians very much when compared with the impact the volcano will have had in twenty two years.

Montserratians, there is still much to smile about! Be of good cheer; and enjoy this election campaign. The leader for Montserrat has already been approved… and your God allowed it. Believe it or not, Montserrat will be in Safe Hands with your God. Seek the pathway of Truth for your short life on earth; do good deeds, love One Another and Give Thanks!

This has been a paid political statement!

Posted in Local, Man from Baker Hill, News1 Comment

THE AGENDA: Taxation Montserrat

by Man from Baker Hill

There must be some cause for concern with our system of tax laws.  That must be the reason why the British Prime Minister summons our Premier to the UK to talk tax transparency. Something must be unsatisfactory with our tax system.  In fact … the Montserrat Reporter had warned about this very thing. But you know what? Let’s cut the crap and small talk.  Read the real thing right here and now!

Yes, we got some inside scoop on the discussions. We heard that something is coming; and it ‘aint de nex e lecshun’. It is an agenda, a tax agenda. We know exactly what have been discussed between the Premier and the UK Prime Minister.  These ‘fellas’ are going to introduce a new range of taxes.  It is called the agenda. The agenda on one hand covered the introduction of taxation on every service on which Montserratians are spending too much money; and on the other hand introduced taxation that will stimulate population growth, productivity and enterprise.

In other words, the new tax system will penalize Montserrations for allowing their natural resources to be underutilized. It will also seek to curb the urge to spend money on some extraneous services.

Here are a few of the new taxes that came out of the meeting with the UK Prime Minister and the Montserrat Premier.  Under the category of underutilization: Holders of diplomas and degrees will be charged a special tax based on a percentage of their potential earnings.  There will be a tax on childless people between the ages of 25 to 40. A penalty tax will be charged on unsold newspapers. It is expected that there will be a 25% tax on church collections. It has not been fully decided whether this last item is to be under the category of extraneous services or under-productivity. All businesses will be charged an advertisement and marketing tax which will be paid to The Montserrat Reporter. This tax is very crucial in the process of stimulating economic growth.  It was believed that consumers are unaware of the goods and services that are available to them and that forced advertisement must become a law on the books of Montserrat.

In order to raise awareness of the island’s lack of productivity, a host of new taxes will be unleashed on Montserratians.  There will be a heavy tax on persons who allow their produce to be eaten by iguanas and agouti. Persons with properties that have fruit trees on them will be charged a tax on fruits that have not been collected and taken to a collection point to be processed and preserved.

The Prime Minister and our Premier discussed and considered that a tax should be collected on local produce bought; this is in order to compensate for the loss of import duties that used to be paid by the Dominica boat. As a consequence there will be a moderate tax on locally grown tomatoes, string beans, carrots and other vegetables and greens.   To encourage the support of an integrated meat and fish industry it was agreed to charge a tax on every pound of fish, goat meat, lamb and pork sold from the backs of pick up trucks and cars.  It was also agreed that this tax will be used to train butchers and meat industry workers, as well as to establish a modern fresh and frozen fish shop.

And there is much more! Bar tenders will have to save bottles from the drinks sold because a tax will be charged on the number of bottles counted. There will be a stock verification with the merchant’s invoices to ensure compliance. This tax will recreate the lucrative bottle collection system of the late seventies.

Tax will be charged on the number of cats and dogs in each household. Tax on owners of flower and vegetable gardens that attract roaming goats will be charged also.

There will be a tax on owners of cell phones and cell phone top-ups. Tax on owners of parked or laid up vehicles at the road side will be very heavy. So too will be the tax on underused lands over three acres.  If I am not mistaken, I believe that there will be a tax on the owners of beautiful gates and gardens. There will be a special tax on persons holding positions as directors of boards and members of certain committees, especially those brought about by the new Constitution. Exercise clubs and their patrons will now have to pay tax based on the number of members (and their weight).  Persons found walking in the afternoon before 5.00pm will be taxed too. Walkers cause too much distraction during the rush hour. There will be surtax on all personal income tax to employ special tax collectors to police the new tax system.

We know that these new taxes seem ridiculous; but this is the situation in which Montserrat finds itself. In fact, the Premier agreed that things must get worse in order for persons residing on Montserrat to appreciate the true value of a fair tax collection system.

Lastly, the Agenda strongly recommended that a new political party be founded just for young people; and that the mission and vision statements of this new party must contain the word ‘TAXATION’.  It was unanimously agreed that DFID will finance the new political party.

To be forewarned is to be forearmed; so says ‘The Montserrat Reporter’!



Posted in Local, Man from Baker Hill1 Comment

MONTSERRAT plus DFID Aid: Equals Noght

by Man from Baker Hill

If you were to apply simple arithmetic to arrive at the progress that Montserrat should have derived from the economic aid through DFID, economically Montserrat seems to have retrogressed to Zero.

There is an old Montserrat proverb that says, ‘always add to legacy received, do not waste it’.

But it is as if we take from ourselves or abuse what is given to us for our own good.

Montserrat has spent money. But the population has not grown. There is never a sustained vibrancy in the economy.  There is no sense of excitement o r expectation that things will be different in the future.

That bothers me; and it should. After all, even the best intentioned benefactor will get tired of helping. So where do we go from zero? Changes of course! Change the way we do some things.

There must be other tried and tested methods to stimulate a small island economy than the methods we are using.  Is it reality that Montserrat’s population has not grown by 100 persons since the year 2000? Not even by one Mulato despite 25 years of DFID’s presence? No aggression!  My God! This is failure on all fronts.  With such a cold blooded population, how can the economy become vibrant?

But there is one change that is very easy to make; it is only a mindset change, the change in the methods of population growth. But it will add up; because in this scenario Montserrat plus DFIDians will equal to more than one… certainly not zero. There you have it. Demographically, Montserrat has fared worse despite hundreds DFIDians socialising among us. AUC students did better; they left a little Ching with us! That is social change!

The changes need not be about money except who spend the money or how the money is spent.

Money has been showered into Montserrat since 1995.  The truth is, the British Government has showered over $1 billion into Montserrat since the volcano.  The British cash is second only to volcanic ash in the showering business.  The ash is still with us but with respect to the cash… the only thing I want to shout about is the Look Out Development.

Let us get serious now. The real change will be about ideas.  Ideas are the forerunner to all success.

Ideas! I wish somebody had better ideas than to give the A1 Road to Public works. I just wonder- just wondering, really.

Ideas! I wish somebody have real good ideas about the hospital construction project and which construction engineering firm will be awarded the contract.

Ideas!  I wish the British would split Montserrat into two parts, take some and leave the balance with Montserratians.   Let Marse Sir have the cliffs and the mountains; and I am sure that there will be changes in the economic vibrancy of Montserrat. I am sure that Marse Sir will create an economic paradise with our ocean facing cliff side lands surpassing any thing that St. Martin contains.  I am sure Marse Sir will recreate our mountains into a food basket.

Last week end my friend Docs… ‘Yow, Fool’ returned from St. Martin via Antigua.  He brought me a gift of three ordinary tomatoes which he purchased from a vendor in Antigua at $2 a pound.  Docs returned with ideas.  One of his ideas was that we must bring people into Montserrat who will farm our hills and mountains. He is confident that the population will grow and the price of food will become cheaper.

Docs had ideas, another of which was: DFID should finance a project to bring 50 Haitians to Montserrat to farm our mountains.  Ideas! Imagine DFID’s presence has been on Montserrat for more that 15 years and not even one dozen Mulatoes. Ideas plus Montserrat plus DFID adds up economically, socially and demographically. Then Montserrat plus DFID will equal 500 and growing!


Posted in Features, General, Local, Man from Baker Hill3 Comments

Grand Opening - M&D's Green Market



A Moment with the Registrar of Lands