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size of govt

How big should our “tax” rates be?

Part 5/2019 (Contribution)

What is the right size for our Government?

BRADES, Montserrat, May 23, 2019 –  As a part of our “fresh, serious, public-spirited conversation” we are currently debating a “transformational” budget, which has a focus on key projects intended to spark private sector-led growth: a breakwater and berth for tourism and a fibre optic cable for the digital and technology sector. According to our Economic Growth Strategy, the target is to sustain a rate of 5% GDP growth for enough time to move beyond dependency. However, that is not the whole story, we also need to think about the right balance of government size and tax rates for our economy over the long haul. For instance, that’s part of why DfID regularly pressures us to reduce the size of our Civil Service. (Hint: It’s not because they are being simply tight-fisted.) So, we need to think about how much government and “taxes” are “just right.”

Now, with no “taxes” there is obviously no government.

No defense, no policing or other services. Pirates, bands of robbers and the like would pop up and make it very hard to operate a successful business unless one has his own private army or navy. Government therefore enforces justice and enables the civil peace, allowing business to thrive. Such government requires “taxes” to pay for it, and for its support for roads, schools, courts, regulation of weights and measures, public health, sanitation etc. That improves the climate for business.

For just one example, there is a very good reason why the Caribbean is now a world-famed region of tropical beach paradises rather than a set of disease-riddled tropical death traps. Yes, that’s where our tourist industry came from: over a century of government-driven, tax-funded public health and sanitation efforts.

But beyond a certain point, too high a “tax” rate and/or too big a government will burden the economy, will discourage investors and will drive away creative, inventive people. That’s why, in the 1970’s Arthur Laffer argued that reducing “tax” rates from such overly high levels may actually increase revenues across time due to improved investment, innovation and faster economic growth. Similarly, Richard Rahn argued that growth rates peak at an even lower point, so that governments should target better long run growth rates rather than the “tax” revenue peak. Laffer’s basic logic is hard to deny, and Rahn also makes good sense.

Now too, “tax” is in quote-marks because taxes can come in various fairly invisible forms. Voters often resist high direct taxes, but higher “taxes” can be hidden by using duties and the like that are embedded in the prices we pay. Governments can borrow money, leading to debt burdens and crowding out investors. Likewise, by “printing” excess money in the short term the economy gets a boost but the purchasing power of money falls. Prices then rise and excess demand for foreign exchange will dry up reserves. Pressure to devalue and panic over possible or actual devaluation naturally follow.  In our region, that is more or less how the Jamaican, Guyanese and Trinidad dollars have fallen to where they now are. The Barbados dollar has been under pressure for years now too. Only the Eastern Caribbean dollar – a regionally managed currency issued by the ECCB – has remained fairly stable.

Another question is, where are the Laffer and Rahn peaks? That has led to various statistical studies and then to onward debates as to how to do such studies and apply the results. On balance, though some studies suggested the peak growth rate happens when Government is 30 – 40% of GDP, it is more often argued that the growth peak is 15 – 25%, possibly lower.  Others suggest, it varies with time and varies from one country to another, though most results fall within the given range.

Also, in the 1890’s Adolph Wagner documented that government size tends to grow faster than the economy, which is well supported statistically.

For, as Governments became more democratic and as economies became more prosperous, they could afford the wider range of government services that people desire and will vote for. Also, as a result of the Great Depression of the 1930’s, it was felt that a larger, more active government helps to stabilise the economy and to make life better for the ordinary man and the vulnerable. That’s why all major economies are now welfare states. However, recent evidence suggests that in more developed economies that tendency for government to grow faster than GDP tapers off (likely, due to voters insisting on curbing government growth).

On balance, at first larger government increases economic growth rates and improves living conditions for ordinary people but after reaching maybe 20 – 25% of GDP, it becomes a drag on growth.

Another challenge is, GDP and its growth rates are not familiar numbers to us, so we tend to underestimate the importance of long-term growth for improving prosperity and standards of living in an economy. But, obviously if there is a bigger GDP-pie to go around, we can all get a bigger share – “inclusive growth.” So, let us pause to look at how different growth rates gradually lead to very different sizes of pie:

What $1.00 becomes after 40 years, at various rates of interest

0.5%
1.0% 1.5% 2.0% 3.0% 4.0% 5.0%
7.0%
$1.22 $1.49 $1.81 $2.20 $3.26 $4.80 $7.04 $14.97

Clearly, faster growth makes a big difference across time. However, in recent years, the Caribbean has struggled to get even 1 – 2% growth, and it usually takes major structural changes and big investments that bring in new high growth sectors to get to the highly desirable 5 – 7% range that former ECCB Governor, the late Sir Dwight Venner was talking about some years ago.  Where also, economic growth varies from year to year around a trend-line, and there is a well known business cycle of 8 – 11 years in which booms and recessions – or even “busts” – come along on a fairly regular basis. Some argue for a longer term, 40 – 70 year generation length cycle led by major technology breakthroughs, termed the Kondratiev cycle. 

In recent years, from 2007 – 9, there was a great global recession at about the same time as a financial crisis and a surge in oil prices that went as high as US$ 145 per barrel then hovered near US$100 for years. Likely, such high energy prices have been a drag on the world economy, which naturally leads to lower tourism etc. So, it is unsurprising that in our region and around the world alike, many economies have been struggling ever since to break through to faster growth rates in the 3 – 5% range, much less 5 – 7%. Our local economy’s planners hope to attain 3.2 – 3.5% this year, apparently due to projects that are coming in. Onward, 5% is possible, if we can get the catalytic projects through and follow up by pulling in serious investments in the tourism, digital and technology sectors.

In Montserrat’s case, we were hard hit by a volcano crisis from 1995 on and lost key infrastructure as well as assets that had been built up over decades from the 1960’s – 90’s. As a result, we depend on a UK-funded grant for about 60% of our recurrent budget and for much more of our capital budget. The Civil Service is our biggest employer and the government sector drives the economy.  Such is not a healthy pattern.

On the other hand, until we have a buoyant, growing private sector, sharp cuts in the Civil Service will only feed further economic stagnation, frustration and depopulation as people flee to the UK. Instead, a balanced policy will first prioritise putting in place catalytic infrastructure that can get our economy moving.

That’s why it is such good news to see that the sea port breakwater and berth, the fibre optic project, solar PV power plant are moving forward.  They will help to fertilise tourism, the digital sector, financial services and the like, and until they are clearly coming through, efforts to attract high quality investors will predictably fail.  It is as our private, productive sector grows that our economy can strike a healthier balance between the public and private sectors.

At the same time, we have to be very careful to remember that the UK’s grant support to our economy is temporary. So, as we seek to improve health, education and social services, we have to bear in mind that one day we will have to pay for such services from our own economy’s sustainable tax base.

As always, prudence and balance leading to well judged timing will be the keys to success. END

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, De Ole Dawg, International, Local, Regional0 Comments

Dupigny DSC_7248web

New Port development launched

Concept design – Full to be available by August

The Government of Montserrat through the Ministry of Communication and Works on Friday, May 17, 2019, conducted the Montserrat Port Development Project Launch which has been seriously undertaken when Premier Romeo announced in February last year, that the funds had been sourced for the project.

The event was hosted at the Montserrat Port Authority – Ferry Terminal Building, with an overflow of persons who were outside of the small available space, but with the apparent intention to afford guests the opportunity to tour the site and to ask pertinent questions, especially that there is not yet a design for the actual port.

Port Authority manager Joseph O’Garro chaired the proceedings which began with the singing of the Territorial song and a prayer led by Fr. Carlisle Vyphius of the Anglican church.

Following, were welcome and opening remarks by the port manager, referred to as the Chief Executive Officer – Montserrat Port Authority on the program; H.E. Governor Pearce, CDB Representative Andrew Dupigny, Head of Infrastructure Partnerships, Hon. Paul Lewis, Minister of MCWEL, a feature address by Premier Donaldson Romeo and finally a vote of thanks by MCWEL Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Beverley Mendes.

Seated in the front row l-r, Governor, Premier, Minister, Dupigny and PS with CDB officials in the back row

Mr. O’Garro briefly in his opening and welcome outlined what most or all of the remarks noted, that the project will provide safe, secure and modern port facility for Montserrat, that will provide critical access and reduce down-time especially in times of poor weather.

He, again like others, in addressing the down time noted that about 12% of the vessels calling at Little Bay had not come into, or leave or port.

CEO O’Garro and Governor Pearce

The Governor said about the project. “It works with the grain of our small island community and it sort of aligns with the niche nature of our economy,” preceding that with the observation. “Size is not everything, quality and balance are key – it matches the scale of little Montserrat – we aren’t going to get and we don’t want almost 4000 berth cruise ships, hopefully smaller ones – we can host graciously…

CDB’s Andrew Dupigny, who has been with the project from early 2017, in his remarks, noted that, “…On completion it is expected that the new facility will provide direct and positive impact on the  economy with the potential that would increase employment, improved productivity and overall improvements in the business environment.

Andrew Dupigny

Sounding like coming straight out of a business case, he continued to say: “Over the long term the provision of a reliable access and connectivity to the island, the movement of people goods and services would increase its creativity potential which would ultimately positively impact growth – improve the efficiency effectiveness and resilience of the port facility to provide safety and accessibility.” –

When we say that this project goes way, 12 years, further than the Premier would later recall, Dupigny noted “This actually dovetails very well with the government of Montserrat’s ongoing activities to restore access and connectivity to the island,” which he said, “…was articulated in the Hon Premiers presentation of the budget address in 2017 when he declared ‘access is perhaps our single biggest challenge to growth.’”

He connected this to: “CDB’s strategic plan for the period 2015 to 19 similarly recognises, the positive relationship between infrastructure economic growth and poverty reduction.”

 He offered, “Good transportation is one of the main elements that supports national development. A Key success of any project especially a project such as this which will impact every community across Montserrat is the participation of stakeholders.”

“We are therefore extremely pleased to see the enthusiasm evidenced by your numbers here this morning as well as a high level of participation in the workshop that took place over the past few days.”

This was a workshop that this long-standing stakeholder in all Montserrat progress media house was excluded and knew nothing about. Such could very well be to the detriment to any project, except for dishonest follow-ups which in the end will as we say be detrimental to Montserrat.

Minister Lewis was firm in his presentation as he set out the history of loss and difficulties with a port that far than less served the required needs of Montserrat, but finally, “a solution.”

He spoke to how, “with unreliable sea access for the last 23 years Montserrat lost opportunities for economic growth, our country’s people suffered other losses, including vessels running aground and the destruction of cargo vessels; loss of fishing vessels and yachts unable to come into port; cost of goods have increased after additional charges were placed on shipping given the uncertainty of docking on arrival in Montserrat and having to wait, perhaps even leave before returning a second time to off load,” referring to unsuccessful attempts as they try to dock in rough waters, having to return to Antigua – the road to a solution has not been without challenges.

He spoke of the benefits to be gained as the project progresses, as well as the revealing that, “The project will also provide employment for 72-100 workers over 18 months to two years.

With all other requirements in place and September this year, for a design and build contractor will take place, thereafter, the successful company will be mobilizing to start work by the end of the year

Funding for this project, after a £23 million offer by the UK was turned down (technically) in early 2014, came with a £14.4 million grant to GoM from the UK government via the United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund (UKCIF), augmented by another £7 million budgetary support from the European Union.

With the (CDB) making an initial allocation for the project, advised to GoM in July 2016, an application for the grant made in March 2017, the agreement between the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Government of Montserrat for £14,400,000 was signed by Premier Romeo on Wednesday, April 11, 2018.

Premier Romeo and Minister Lewis

The Premier was set to deliver the feature address for the event. He, following what took his Government nearly three years to get to this point, recently accessing the needed additional funds, he was relieved probably more than excited.

“Today, marks one of the first, breakthrough step towards the fulfillment of a twenty four-year old hope for Montserrat; a protected sea port here in the safe zone.  Yes, the first safe harbour in Montserrat’s history,” he began.

He continued by recalling as many of the arguments that had no doubt, like Dupigny recalled, made in the business case that had to be presented for the port. He quoted DFID: “The principal barrier to economic growth and development on the island is poor physical access.. . . Without the development of Little Bay and Carr’s Bay, improved access, and reduced costs of doing business, Montserrat will remain uncompetitive in attracting [Foreign Direct Investment].”

So he told an appreciable number of many of whom were invited for the event. “The port development project is therefore one of the strategic keys for unlocking growth and building Montserrat’s future.” 

Concurring that this key we will open up the door for local and foreign investment and for self-sustaining, private sector led growth, he added: “It will create jobs during the construction phase, and it will provide more reliable docking for Cruise ships and for cargo vessels.”

Like other speakers he pointed out that “due to rough seas…out of a total of 478 calls, vessels were unable to berth 58 times…one vessel out of every eight had to turn back. “Yes, that is not sustainable. We had to fix the problem,” he said

That’s why a safe harbour “is of vital importance in providing connectivity to the island of Montserrat and for supporting economic activity.”

He reminded of earlier attempts at building a port, that the Government of the day had envisioned a sea port development in Carrs Bay, and it had actually knocked down part of Gun Hill to facilitate the project.

With no design yet in place for the current project, he noted that in the previous case, a design was made and developed, being presented to the public at 60% and 90% points. “But, alas, it was very costly and suitable private sector partners were hard to secure,” but giving no details of the contrasts.  

He recalled also a statement made by former Chief Minister John Osborne, deceased, in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo on July 30, 1990: “With assistance in developing its infrastructure, including a proper airport and a safe harbour, Montserrat could develop a viable economy and opt for independence.”

Before closing his address, the Premier gave an insight as to how the project will move from this launch. “First, through presentations and workshops that have been going on for a few days, we look at preliminary designs, then adjust towards a preferred option. The preferred option will then be fully developed as a technical design, starting in August. Then, once that design is completed and accepted, construction will begin.

He revealed that “Construction will take considerable time, over a year,” with a caution. “However, we must always recognise that we are dealing with the sea, which has its own power, its own ways and its own voice; which can force changes to our proposed schedules.”

He concludes after thanking several key authorities, Minister Lewis, UK govt and other key personel, and then: “Let us see, how we can work together as a people as we put in place one of the foundation stones for building our future.”

Discussing the possible design

The P:S gave a fairly descriptive and comprehensive vote of thanks, praising the Ministry and staff for the work done so far on the project and hosting the morning’s event which ended with people looking at and discussing the site from the concept drawing.

Related: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/planning-to-begin-for-a-breakwater-facility-at-little-bay/

https://youtu.be/jhkzwryf-2w

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1-cZXxLq1fMwTeH0q5kA4vBcaQdyCsAbz?usp=sharing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhkzwryf-2w&feature=youtu.be

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Environment, Featured, International, Local, News, TOURISM, Videos0 Comments

Expert warns of Caribbean heat season

Expert warns of Caribbean heat season

By Kenton X. Chance

PHILLIPSBURG, St. Maarten, May 24, CMC —  A Caribbean climatologist says that while the Caribbean is best known for having wet, dry and hurricane seasons, a little known fact is that the region also has a distinct heat season.

Cédric Van Meerbeeck, climatologist at the Barbados-based Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) says that since about 1995, the Caribbean has had a distinct heat season which lasts from about May to October and is forecast to be more intense this year that the last two years.

“But the heat season is something that didn’t happen in the past. Yes, people feel more comfortable and sometimes even cold around Christmas time and you know that it gets hotter towards September. But it’s not really common knowledge that there is a six-month period that noticeably warmer than the other part of the year and that is May to October….

“And during that heat season, you find that the levels of heat discomfort and heat stress [increases] so that’s impacting your health, also the health of some animals,” Van Meerbeeck said, adding this has implication for comfort levels as well as major sectors in the region, such as tourism and agriculture.

He told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) on the side-line of the Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum (CariCOF) that while the heat season peaks in September, the region has its most heat waves between August and October.

“Heat waves might not look as extreme as they are in some desert areas or some part of the United States and other regions. However, they do impact us because mostly that’s also the time of the year when the humidity is high,” Van Meerbeeck explained.

“When humidity is high, your body doesn’t cool as effectively as when the air is quite dry and so you feel more heat stress even though the temperature does not increase immensely,” Van Meerbeeck said, urging people to stay as cool as possible, especially from August onward.

The climatologist said that for the first half of the heat season, the air is still relatively dry, therefore, the temperatures are not necessarily so uncomfortable.

“But it is really that second part of the heat season that we want to warn against. Keep cool; don’t go in the sun in the middle of the day; seek shade, seek ventilation in your homes.

“If you have an AC, make sure you run the AC while you sleep so that your brain and your body can recover better and that you can function normal in the face of the heat,” the climatologist advised.

“Last year, we were quite fortunate that there were not many heat waves. It was not that brutal. A comparable season would have been 2016 when we really had a lot of heat between August and October.”

Van Meerbeeck said the cause of the higher temperature is the rising temperatures of the ocean, which releases heat into the atmosphere during the heat season.

“It doesn’t change the weather much from day to day, but over longer periods of time, it does affect the amount of energy that is in the atmosphere and therefore that is the temperature that you feel,” the climatologist said, adding this is definitely linked to climate change.

“And this is one of the clearest links that we observe in the Caribbean beside sea level rise. The increasing temperature now means that even though we didn’t have a heat season outside of maybe August to October in the past, now you find that heat waves actually occur for a longer period of time every year in the warmer years particularly.

“But now, in the cooler years, you now have heat waves. That didn’t used to be the case up until about 1995. It’s really something recent, where the trend of temperate going up with climate change is really affecting the heat level that we have in the season.”

He said this has implication for agriculture and fisheries, especially the livestock subsector and fish, especially in the northern Caribbean, that are sensitive to the heating of the sea surface.

“But for livestock, it’s important to also provide cooling for them. For us that is important. Maybe ethically that’s one thing but also in terms of our food security, our protein stock really comes from chicken and chicken are amongst the most sensitive animals to excessive heat especially broilers.”

Van Meerbeeck said it is a good practice to keep poultry birds cool “so you can to make sure that your chicken stock does not reduce and does not experience that heat stress which leads to less protein being available at a reasonable cost for us”.

As regard tourism, the climatologist said that heat is not that much of a problem as long as awareness is built with tourists.

“But they should really do their best to keep cool whenever they can, stay hydrated, seek the shade, seek well-ventilated places; if you go in the sun, don’t go in the middle of the day,” Van Meerbeeck said, adding that hotels should also remind tourists to stay cool.

Posted in CARICOM, Climate/Weather, Environment, Local, OECS, Regional, Science/Technology0 Comments

Montserrat unique DSC_2268

Montserrat has a Tourism Strategy

Participants at the strategy workshop

Tourism Intelligence International Inc. completed a Tourism Strategy for Montserrat.

Following a comprehensive tour, by the consultants who completed many one on one sessions, facilitated a stakeholders’ workshop in February, they submitted a draft to which comments were sought to be used to create the best path forward for Montserrat Tourism. A strategy was written and approved in early April after a deadline for submission of comments by March 11, 2019.

Here is a brief report of how the workshop in February progressed.

Dr. Auliana Poon

In the course of the February 14, 2019 Montserrat Tourism Strategy Workshop, Dr. Auliana Poon raised the questions, Montserrat’s vision 2050 and Montserrat’s uniqueness. Participants were invited to write on small strips of paper which were then posted on wall charts.

In trying to summarise Montserrat’s uniqueness, participants suggested:

  • Hassle free living
  • Strangers paradise
  • The Montserrat Oriole and Galliwasp
  • The active/living beautiful volcano
  • The volcano experience
  • Buried city
  • Clean, reliable water
  • Nature lovers’ paradise
  • Traditions
  • Safety/negligible or low crime rate
  • Lowest crime rate regionally
  • Dark skies at night for stargasing
  • Our collective experience in our specific environment (thus, history, culture, volcano impact)
  • It is the way the Caribbean used to be
  • Friendly people
  • Close-knit
  • Tradition
  • Peaceful
  • 50 shades of green
  • Pristine
  • Very easygoing lives
  • Getting here is an achievement
  • Tranquil
  • Culture and festival diverse
  • No traffic (issues)
  • Natural spring water
  • Exclusive black sand

The gist of these themes suggests that our key tourism and development assets are tied to our natural and cultural heritage, with particular reference to tranquility, peacefulness, friendliness greenness and the spiciness of a drive-in active volcano experience. At the same time, it was clear that it was a struggle for some participants to see the volcano as a value driver. Perhaps, also, we need to ponder to what extent we suffer from post-traumatic stress disorders, even in the midst of celebrating resilience.

In this context, Dr Poon’s other question on where we hope to be in just thirty-one years’ time, opens up another window on ourselves. In other words, if we now are how the Caribbean used to be, where do we want to go in the next generation?

Participants suggested:

  • Innovative
  • Pristine
  • Vibrant
  • The way the Caribbean used to be
  • Green, tranquil, inclusive and safe
  • Clean, green connected and beautiful
  • Clean, green and self-sustaining
  • Water, black sand, friendly people
  • Alive
  • Sustainable 100%
  • Carbon neutral
  • Crime free
  • Developed
  • Viable
  • Booming
  • Family friendly
  • Connected, green, thriving
  • Dynamic tourism industry
  • Competitively involved
  • Fulfill the National Vision (buoyant, inclusive, prosperous, God-fearing)
  • Wholesome, sustainable
  • Crime-free, God-fearing
  • Sustainably developed
  • Efficient
  • Economically efficient
  • Green, evolving and receptive
  • Highly valued

Here, we may see that there is a desire to keep the best of what we have and to gain self-sustaining prosperity in a green, wholesome, beautiful, God-fearing way.

Now see the completed strategy here:

http://www.gov.ms/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/2019-03-29-Montserrat-Tourism-Strategy-2019-2022.pdf?

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, International, Local, News, Regional, TOURISM0 Comments

budget address5

2019 Budget Highlights new era of Transformation


Premier and Minister of Finance Don Romeo

The Hon Donaldson Romeo, Premier and Minister of Finance of Montserrat, for four years and seven months on Wednesday,  May 15, 2019, presented his fifth and largest budget of $202.2 million in a BUDGET SPEECH, under the theme, “A New Era of Transformation: A Platform for Progress”,  during a meeting of the Legislative Assembly at the Montserrat Cultural Centre where he outlined the spending and revenue expectations for this financial year.

No surprise that the budget focused as it did representing the largest sum of moneys over the time of the PDM government, which is represented in a modest increase of nearly 5% over  last year and substantial capital budgeted sums.

It was that capital injection that delayed the budget as the Premier noted when he was moved to address the matter through special interviews with the media.

The Premier stated “this budget which marks a milestone in the long journey to build strong and sustainable foundations for a better Montserrat, and in our development partnership with the UK.  Given the significance of the transformational projects in the budget, we now stand on the threshold of an era of growth and progress towards a robust future.  We have strengthened our governance framework, with financial management systems and controls that improve the trust and confidence in public spending.  In that context, we are now seeing key infrastructure investments and interest by local and international investors that could open up further opportunities for a new Montserrat economy”. 

The Premier highlighted that “the upcoming Little Bay breakwater and berth will bring better tourism and trade opportunities. The upcoming Fibre Optic Cable Project opens up room for a digitally based sector.  The new 250 kiloWatt Solar PV power plant points to a greener energy future.  The new tourism strategy and economic growth strategy lay out a ten-year road-map to take advantage of these opportunities.  That’s why projected growth in our economy for the year ahead is 3.2 – 3.5%.  We are on the way to the growth targets outlined in our economic strategy”.

The Premier continued to discuss the actual sums involved stating “We have moved to a much more credible budget which was critical to implementing the programs you the people have charged us to deliver.  Estimates of recurrent Revenue and Expenditure for 2019/20 provide for a total of $137.77 million dollars. This is a 4.81% increase over the previous year.  On the capital side there is EC$ 64.40 million to finance several key infrastructure projects that will open the doorway for faster, self-sustaining growth of our economy in years to come”.

Go here to find the speech and estimates:

http://www.gov.ms/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Budget-Speech-2019-20.pdf

http://Budget Estimates- http://www.gov.ms/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Budget-Estimates-2019-20.pdf

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Featured, Government Notices, Local, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

Representatives of the Fisheries and Ocean Resources Unit in Montserrat receive a copy of the EAF toolkit

Anguilla and Montserrat strengthen capacity to mainstream climate change adaptation in their fisheries sectors

CANARI Media Release

commonly known in Montserrat as ‘jacks’

Port of Spain, Trinidad With the start of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season mere weeks away, many Caribbean islands are already bracing for the possibility of being hit by a tropical storm or hurricane.

One sector which has been particularly hard hit is the fisheries sector. Damage to important fisheries infrastructure and assets such as jetties, boats, and fishing gear can cost Caribbean countries millions of dollars in recovery and lost revenue.

These damages also have a substantial impact on the livelihoods of those who depend on fishing as a main source of income and could be a driving force behind increasing poverty in fishing communities. Other climate related effects such as warming oceans and rising sea levels also have negative impacts on the sector, including loss of important fisheries habitats.

Ensuring that countries integrate climate change adaption and disaster risk management into the policies and plans for their fisheries sectors is therefore vital for protecting important fisheries ecosystems, securing livelihoods and food production and reducing poverty.


Participants at the workshop held in Anguilla, January 22-25, 2019

In January 2019, the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) and the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies of the University of the West Indies (UWICERMES) hosted training workshops in Anguilla and Montserrat with policy makers, fisheries managers, fisherfolk and other key stakeholders to demonstrate how climate change adaption and disaster risk management can be practically incorporated into fisheries management plans. A total of 69 participants from both islands, attended the four-day workshops.

The training workshops used the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF) toolbox to help participants decide what practical solutions they could apply given their particular circumstances and resources. Overall, participants found the toolkit easy to use. Participants in particular found the section of the toolkit on communication to be very useful, with one participant in Anguilla noting that “communication and the means in which it is carried out among stakeholder groups is critical in fisheries planning.” 


Representatives of the Fisheries and Ocean Resources Unit in Montserrat receive a copy of the EAF toolkit

As a follow-up to the workshops, both Anguilla and Montserrat will take steps to update their fisheries management plans to mainstream climate change adaption and disaster risk management using an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries. Part of the training also specifically targeted fisherfolk in an effort to get them more involved in stewardship actions that would help protect and conserve the marine habitats upon which they depend, and reduce their vulnerability to climate change impacts. A small grants call was sent out in March 2019 to fisherfolk organisations in both islands for proposals on projects to address climate change adaptation and disaster risk management through stewardship and innovative solutions. The selected projects will launch in June 2019 and end in December 2019.

For further information, please contact: Ainka Granderson, Senior Technical Officer, CANARI at ainka@canari.org or +1-868-638-6062.

About the project:

The training workshops and small grant programme are both key activities under the 3-year Climate change adaptation in the fisheries of Anguilla and Montserrat project (April 2017- March 2020). This project is being is being implemented by the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) in partnership with the Department of Fisheries and Marine Resources – Anguilla, Fisheries and Ocean Resources Unit – Montserrat and the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies of the University of the West Indies (UWI-CERMES). The project is funded by the Government of the United Kingdom from the Darwin Plus: Overseas Territories Environment and Climate Fund under the Darwin Initiative. See here for more information on the project:

Climate Change Adaptation In The Fisheries Of Anguilla And Montserrat (April 2017-March 2020)

About CANARI:

The Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) is a regional technical non-profit organisation which has been working in the islands of the Caribbean for 30 years. Our mission is to promote equitable participation and effective collaboration in managing natural resources critical to development. Our programmes focus on capacity building, policy planning and development, research, sharing and dissemination of lessons learned, and fostering regional partnerships.

Ocean Governance and Fisheries

The Caribbean region is ranked among one of the most biodiverse regions of the world.  In the OECS increasing awareness is being placed on marine areas which hold an abundance of natural resources including rich biodiversity, living resources both marine and terrestrial and nonliving resources in the form of mineral and natural products. In comparison to the land area the OECS has many times more marine area as prescribed under the United Nations Framework Convention on Law of the Sea.

While, the OECS has exercised jurisdiction by legislation over the water column and the accompanying living and non-living resources, the benefits to be derived are not fully maximized but nonetheless many resources are utilized. However, many decades of use and exploitation of the marine environment with inadequate resource management programmes has left a growing evidence of degradation of its critical and vulnerable ecosystems. Some of the drivers of this degradation are those activities associated with poorly-planned coastal and urban development, unsustainable tourism, land based and marine sources of pollution, over-exploitation of living resources, removal of keystone species and the proliferation of invasive species.  Notwithstanding, the economic potential of some marine resources remains unassessed or underutilized. These latter resources include, but are not limited to, non-living resources such as petroleum products, marine renewable energy sources, and mineable resources.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Local, News, OECS, Regional, Youth0 Comments

David Arkley

Montserrat represented at 2019 Hurricane Conference

Major Alvin Ryan
David Arkley

David Arkley is the UK Policy Adviser to the Governor and Head of the Governor’s office. He and Major Alvin Ryan, Director of the Disaster Management Coordination Agency (DMCA) are attending the annual UK Caribbean Overseas Territories and Bermuda Disaster Managers conference in Miami, Florida.
The three-day conference which ends today Friday, May 17th, 2019, commonly referred to as the annual Hurricane conference is organized by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in conjunction with the Disaster Management Advisor for the OTs Jon Snell, who is stationed in Miami.
A release today from the Government Information Unit (GIU), informs that the meeting brings together Disaster Managers and Heads of Governors Offices from the various Caribbean Overseas Territories and Bermuda, UK Defence officials, Officers from Royal Fleet Auxiliary RFA Mounts Bay and representatives from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for International Development, the British Red Cross and the private sector.
The meeting is discussing lessons learnt from the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane season, hurricane preparedness for the upcoming season which officially begins on June 1st and other important matters related to disaster preparedness in the Caribbean OTs and Bermuda.
It also provides an opportunity for invited companies to showcase their products and emerging disaster management technologies.

Posted in Announcements/Greetings, Climate/Weather, Hurricane, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

We need a new politics of truth, soundness and national consensus

We need a new politics of truth, soundness and national consensus

Part 4/2019 (Contribution)

Can we move beyond the politics of bitterness, slander, half-truths and insincere promises?

BRADES, Montserrat, May 11, 2019 –  In this election year we have just seen two elected members of our assembly suspended for unbecoming behaviour in the Assembly. Behaviour, of a degree that has been unprecedented for eighty-two years. At the same time, we have had to spend time looking at the FAC’s intent to impose “same-sex marriage” on us, and we saw how a Chief Justice in Cayman, to promote the same homosexualisation, tried to rewrite Cayman’s Constitution from the judicial bench. These unfortunate developments are a wake-up call, a sign that we need a better politics, one capable of handling far more ticklish, potentially explosive issues, and handling them soundly and soberly. 

In short, we need “a fresh, serious, public-spirited conversation on how we will govern ourselves as a nation over the next six years.” (Yes, six years, as we must not waste this year’s opportunities.) A great place to begin that conversation is with our official, national vision statement:

A healthy and wholesome Montserrat,
founded upon a thriving modern economy
with a friendly, vibrant community,
in which all our people
through enterprise and initiative,
can fulfill their hopes
in a truly democratic and God-fearing society

It would be hard to object to this.  So, then, why is there so much bitterness, disrespect, untruth, slander, misleading half-truth and insincerity in our politics?

If you doubt me, consider the case of the local commenter who recently claimed on radio that the UK has done “nothing” for Montserrat over the past twenty-five years. Likewise, think about the one who suggested that in awarding a three percent salary increase (after ten years of no increases at all), the government then took it all back through taxes. As a third, ponder the persistent gap between manifesto promises and what our elected governments do in office. Not once, not twice, again and again.

Obviously, long-suffering British taxpayers have cause to object to such an attitude.  For they pay for 60% of our recurrent budget – which is being debated this coming week (after two delays), typically pay for much more of our capital budget and have paid perhaps £500 millions in support to Montserrat since the volcano crisis began. Added up, that’s about EC$  350,000 for each resident of Montserrat, the cost of a good house.

So, as a first step, if we are to build an improved onward development partnership with the UK, we would be well advised to form a more balanced view of what has been contributed and what has been achieved thus far. Yes, results have been very mixed, but without the £500 millions of support to date, Montserrat would have long since completely collapsed.

Likewise, given a progressive tax structure and that someone else is paying 60% of our recurrent budget (someone, who is not getting big tax cuts), it will be very hard for any future local government to cut local income tax rates significantly until we are paying our own way and are collecting enough to cover cuts from other forms of revenue.  The horse pulls the cart, not the other way around.

Also, let us remember: increased consumption is not at all the same as increased investment.

As sustainable economic growth must come from fresh business investment, our national priority must be the “catalytic” infrastructure that opens the door for private sector investment led growth. Then, we can argue that new business investments hire people and buy services from other businesses, starting with construction. We can then use our longstanding tax incentives to help fertilise new investments.  Tourism and the digital sector are obvious priority sectors. Significantly, government just hired a regional person – do we dare say the now dirtied word: “TC”? – to help us move tourism forward. The good news is, it seems the breakwater and berth and the new fibre optic cable – at last, after at least a decade of too often questionable delays and roadblocks – are on the move.

We can also notice that key infrastructure projects are now clearly moving ahead: the sea port, the fibre optic cable project, the 250 kW solar photo voltaic electricity plant, even the new air traffic control tower for the airport. These projects will open opportunities for investment, and while we remain concerned about long delayed geothermal energy development after learning that the drilling equipment was deteriorated and had to be removed even as DfID closed the project, good news is indeed good news. 

So, we must ask pointed questions of those who act as though good news for Montserrat is bad news for them, while bad news for Montserrat is good news for them.  Instead, a fair-minded critic will be balanced and constructive (not bitterly destructive).

Another concern, is that we must find ways to improve administration and project management so that we actually spend out our budgets. Especially, capital budgets. It’s a good thing that we have a new head of the Programme Management Office.

Again, while, yes the EU money came late (November) it is not good that we were only able to expend 27% of the already small capital programme for the 2018-19 budget by the end of March. Obviously, it does no good to be habitually rolling over capital projects into the next year. This, again, points to the urgent need to continue restoring the Programme Management Office now that a new head is in place. Let us use it to build up capacity to manage, govern and execute projects on time, to international standards such as PRINCE2.

Likewise, we need to ask our politicians and pundits some very hard questions about what a local government beholden to DfID for 60% of recurrent budget and for most of our capital budget can realistically achieve.

It is very clear that when Lord Ahmad announced £30 millions for CIPREG, he admitted the need was more like £50 millions. Premier Romeo seems to think £70 millions is more like it. We must take manifestos far more seriously, thinking hard about what it means to lightly break promises to the voting public. Then, when it comes to spreading nasty stories about politicians etc or when we act disrespectfully in the Assembly, are we simply acting out of disregard for truth, disrespect, delight in damaging reputation, habitual gossip or worse?

Jeremiah has some choice words for us:

Jeremiah 9:4 Let everyone beware of his neighbor,
and put no trust in any brother,
for every brother is a deceiver,
and every neighbor goes about as a slanderer.
5 Everyone deceives his neighbor,
and no one speaks the truth;
they have taught their tongue to speak lies;
they weary themselves committing iniquity. [ESV]

Plainly, we cannot build a sound future through lies and liars. Where, a loaded, misleading half truth is a full lie. (TMR noted for the last election, to lie is to speak with disregard to truth, in the hope of profiting from what is said or suggested being taken as true.)

Let us turn from “advantage,” gossip, slander, disrespect etc. – the politics of bitterness and deception.

Turn, to what?

Perhaps, the five principal goals in our seemingly forgotten 2008 – 2020 Sustainable Development Plan:

I.        Prudent Economic Management

II.      Sound Human Development

III.    Robust Environmental Management and Disaster Mitigation

IV.     Good Governance

V.      A Sustainable Population

Okay, let the “fresh, serious, public-spirited conversation” begin.

Budget Speech- http://www.gov.ms/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Budget-Speech-2019-20.pdf Budget Estimates- http://www.gov.ms/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Budget-Estimates-2019-20.pdf

Budget Speech- http://www.gov.ms/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Budget-Speech-2019-20.pdf
Budget Estimates- http://www.gov.ms/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Budget-Estimates-2019-20.pdf

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, De Ole Dawg, General, International, Local, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

William Gelling

John Gordon and Will Gelling directors for OTS to visit Montserrat

William Gelling, Deputy Director, OTS at FCO, UK

John Gordon is the Deputy Director for the OTs and the Caribbean at DFID, along with Will Gelling, Deputy Director for the OTs at the FCO, will visit Montserrat from  Monday, for two days next week during a familiarisation visit to the Caribbean.

While on island, they are expected to meet with Premier and other ministers and senior officials in the Government of Montserrat. They will discuss a fair range of critical issues including disaster resilience and security, transport, environment, health, education and tourism polices and challenges.

They will also meet with key members of the business and political communities.

According to information from the Governor’s office, in between these discussions, both officials will visit the hospital, port and breakwater, airport, Montserrat Secondary School and the Davy Hill and Look Out communities. They will also view the volcanic exclusion zone.

The visit will end with a press briefing at the Governor’s Office in Brades.

Posted in Announcements/Greetings, Business/Economy/Banking, Environment, International, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

DSC_6962a

Margaret ‘Annie’ Dyer-Howe gets elegant homegoing celebration

Rt. Hon. Mary ‘Annie’ Dyer Howe

From related posts – adapted by Bennette Roach

The Right Hon. Margaret Annie Dyer-Howe OE, MBA was finally laid to rest at the Lookout Cemetery following a fitting state-sponsored ‘Service of Celebration…’ for her life at the St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church. She was born on November 18, 1941, and died on the night of April 6, 2019, after a long illness at the age of 77 years.

She was honored for her tireless crusade to elevate women, protect children and uplift the underprivileged. She was remembered for her calm and measured demeanor, generous spirit and quiet dignity. She was celebrated through words, song and even the steel pan.

“She took her beloved country under her wing. And now she flies with the angels.”

The Right Honourable Margaret Mary “Annie” Dyer-Howe O.E. received a bright homegoing Friday at the Roman Catholic Church in Lookout. Following the two-hour-plus service, a procession led by the Montserrat Defense Force, with marching band in tow, made a one-mile trek to the Lookout Public Cemetery. Mrs. Dyer-Howe received a gun salute and was laid to rest as family members, friends and dignitaries sang hymns.

Mrs. Dyer-Howe’s casket was regal as the woman herself, white with gold trim and a hint of the Montserrat madras, draped with the Montserrat flag.

“Miss Annie’s homegoing service was one that truly summed up the woman she was,” says Rose Willock, Dyer-Howe’s longtime friend and a broadcasting legend in Montserrat. “Outgoing, community-spirited in every way and dedicated to her homeland.”

“She empowered women at every level,” added Willock

“She was an ordinary woman who produced extraordinary outcomes,” said Hon. Donaldson Romeo, Premier of Montserrat.

“I have chosen simply to focus on an aspect of her personality that no one who knew her for any length of time could ignore: in all she did, this formidable professional and passionate champion of women’s rights, had a calm, unshakable dignity about her that set her apart,” he said.

He recounted like many others in tribute and recollection: “Mrs. Howe accomplished much as a Minister of Government, but she obviously did not need political office to motivate her forquality service to her island. During the years 1987 to 2001, a gap in her political career, she not only managed the Montserrat Water Authority with distinction, but also co-founded the very successful Howe’s Enterprise and established the Small Business Association. She thus used what was apparent loss, to shift her focus to another area on which to stamp her authenticity and to demonstrate excellence.  Giving to her community and country was always her overriding interest. Mrs. Howe has left much for us to emulate as a nation.”

Mrs. Dyer-Howe influenced just about every sector of Montserrat. Principled, pragmatic and devoutly Roman Catholic, she helped enact social change during a time when women were mostly excluded from prominent positions in society. Due to her efforts, the protocol for acceptance into the Montserrat Secondary School was changed to allow non-affluent students a fairer chance. Mrs. Dyer-Howe argued that students from wealthy families had an unfair advantage because their parents could afford private tutoring.

The Hon Speaker Shirley Osborne while delivering a really powerful tribute, said among so much more, “… there was really never any one name that captured everything she was, everything she represented, everything she brought into this world…

Former Chief Minister Dr. Lowel Lewis, said in tribute: “She also made her mark as Minister of Agriculture, Lands and Housing.

“Mrs Dyer Howe was a lady of dignity.  She knew how to recognize true loyalty and support.  Just a smile and a thank you.  Nothing else was required from her.  And she never expected anything from anybody she helped or was kind to.”

More expressions of her exemplary character as Dr. Lewis also recalls, “She never once said a word to me about the fact that I cut short her last term as a Minister of Government, when I changed to a coalition government with MCAP in 2008.  She understood the reason for that decision.”

Paying tribute on behalf of the St. Patrick’s community. Bennette Roach with Shirley Spycalla, sang in Latin the simple prayer, Pie Jesu (Blessed Jesus, grant her thine eternal rest and peace…). He preceded that with a few words speaking to the special character that she had passed on to her St. Patrick’s community, back in 1983-4 when she promised to correct the wrongs (perceived or otherwise) of the PLM party and strive for better and progress…

Mrs. Dyer-Howe, who was profiled in the book Gallery Montserrat by Sir Howard Fergus, was born Margaret Corbett on November 18, 1941 and grew up in St. Patrick’s in southern Montserrat. She was heavily influenced by her grandmother, who was a district midwife. She attended the St. Augustine School, which was then on George Street in Plymouth, and later taught at the school before migrating to the United States for secretarial training. In 1964, she married businessman and politician Michael Dyer. It was during that union that her political aspirations took shape, spending 16-17 years in that service.

In 1974, Michael Dyer passed away. In 1979, Mrs. Dyer-Howe competed in a by-election in the Southern district for the seat of the late Joe Taylor. She won, essentially reclaiming the seat lost years earlier by her husband. In 1983 she was re-elected and assigned the Ministry of Education, Health, Community Services, Women’s Affairs, Culture and Sports. She became only the second woman (of three elected up to that time) in Montserrat to hold a ministry, following Mary Rose Tuitt in 1970. She married Robert Howe in 1984.

“Miss Annie’s home-going service was one that truly summed up the woman she was.”

Fergus, a longtime friend, was among the luminaries paying tribute Friday. Speaking about Mrs. Dyer-Howe helping to break the female barrier in parliament, he said: “She was No. 2 to wear the toga of a minister, and she did more than warm the bench. She did more than any of her generation to elevate women in skills and consciousness.”

In 2018 she was presented with the Order of Excellence during the Montserrat National Awards for her exemplary contributions to the country.

It was again, Hon. Speaker of the House Shirley Osborne who perhaps summed up Mrs. Dyer-Howe’s legacy best during Friday’s service. “Many of the building blocks of Montserrat were put up, leveled out and cemented in place by this woman.

“So, Montserrat is Annie’s house.”

Mrs. Dyer-Howe is survived by her husband Robert, step-daughter Joycelyn Howe, brother Neville Corbett (aka Dick Martin) and many other family members.

The Right Hon. Margaret Annie Dyer-Howe OE, MBA was finally laid to rest at the Lookout Cemetery following a fitting state sponsored ‘Service of Celebration…’ for her life at the St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church. She was born on November 18, 1941 and died on the night of April 6, 2019 after a long illness at the age of 77 years.

She was honored for her tireless crusade to elevate women, protect children and uplift the underprivileged. She was remembered for her calm and measured demeanor, generous spirit and quiet dignity. She was celebrated through words, song and even the steel pan.

“She took her beloved country under her wing. And now she flies with the angels.”

The Right Honourable Margaret Mary “Annie” Dyer-Howe O.E. received a bright homegoing Friday at the Roman Catholic Church in Lookout. Following the two-hour-plus service, a procession led by the Montserrat Defense Force, with marching band in tow, made a one-mile trek to the Lookout Public Cemetery. Mrs. Dyer-Howe received a gun salute and was laid to rest as family members, friends and dignitaries sang hymns.

Mrs. Dyer-Howe’s casket was regal as the woman herself, white with gold trim and a hint of the Montserrat madras, draped with the Montserrat flag.

“Miss Annie’s homegoing service was one that truly summed up the woman she was,” says Rose Willock, Dyer-Howe’s longtime friend and a broadcasting legend in Montserrat. “Outgoing, community-spirited in every way and dedicated to her homeland.”

“She empowered women at every level,” added Willock

“She was an ordinary woman who produced extraordinary outcomes,” said Hon. Donaldson Romeo, Premier of Montserrat.

“I have chosen simply to focus on an aspect of her personality that no one who knew her for any length of time could ignore: in all she did, this formidable professional and passionate champion of women’s rights, had a calm, unshakable dignity about her that set her apart,” he said.

He recounted like many others in tribute and recollection: “Mrs. Howe accomplished much as a Minister of Government, but she obviously did not need political office to motivate her forquality service to her island. During the years 1987 to 2001, a gap in her political career, she not only managed the Montserrat Water Authority with distinction, but also co-founded the very successful Howe’s Enterprise and established the Small Business Association. She thus used what was apparent loss, to shift her focus to another area on which to stamp her authenticity and to demonstrate excellence.  Giving to her community and country was always her overriding interest. Mrs. Howe has left much for us to emulate as a nation.”

Mrs. Dyer-Howe influenced just about every sector of Montserrat. Principled, pragmatic and devoutly Roman Catholic, she helped enact social change during a time when women were mostly excluded from prominent positions in society. Due to her efforts, the protocol for acceptance into the Montserrat Secondary School was changed to allow non-affluent students a fairer chance. Mrs. Dyer-Howe argued that students from wealthy families had an unfair advantage because their parents could afford private tutoring.

The Hon Speaker Shirley Osborne while delivering a really powerful tribute, said among so much more, “… there was really never any one name that captured everything she was, everything she represented, everything she brought into this world…

Former Chief Minister Dr. Lowel Lewis, said in tribute: “She also made her mark as Minister of Agriculture, Lands and Housing.

“Mrs Dyer Howe was a lady of dignity.  She knew how to recognize true loyalty and support.  Just a smile and a thank you.  Nothing else was required from her.  And she never expected anything from anybody she helped or was kind to.”

More expressions of her exemplary character as Dr. Lewis also recalls, “She never once said a word to me about the fact that I cut short her last term as a Minister of Government, when I changed to a coalition government with MCAP in 2008.  She understood the reason for that decision.”

Paying tribute on behalf of the St. Patrick’s community. Bennette Roach with Shirley Spycalla, sang in Latin the simple prayer, Pie Jesu (Blessed Jesus, grant her thine eternal rest and peace…). He preceded that with a few words speaking to the special character that she had passed on to her St. Patrick’s community , back in 1983-4 when she promised to correct the wrongs (perceived or otherwise) of the PLM party and strive for better and progress…

Mrs. Dyer-Howe, who was profiled in the book Gallery Montserrat by Sir Howard Fergus, was born Margaret Corbett on November 18, 1941 and grew up in St. Patrick’s in southern Montserrat. She was heavily influenced by her grandmother, who was a district midwife. She attended the St. Augustine School, which was then on George Street in Plymouth, and later taught at the school before migrating to the United States for secretarial training. In 1964, she married businessman and politician Michael Dyer. It was during that union that her political aspirations took shape, spending 16-17 years in that service.

In 1974, Michael Dyer passed away. In 1979, Mrs. Dyer-Howe competed in a by-election in the Southern district for the seat of the late Joe Taylor. She won, essentially reclaiming the seat lost years earlier by her husband. In 1983 she was re-elected and assigned the Ministry of Education, Health, Community Services, Women’s Affairs, Culture and Sports. She became only the second woman (of three elected up to that time) in Montserrat to hold a ministry, following Mary Rose Tuitt in 1970. She married Robert Howe in 1984.

“Miss Annie’s home-going service was one that truly summed up the woman she was.”

Fergus, a longtime friend, was among the luminaries paying tribute Friday. Speaking about Mrs. Dyer-Howe helping to break the female barrier in parliament, he said: “She was No. 2 to wear the toga of a minister, and she did more than warm the bench. She did more than any of her generation to elevate women in skills and consciousness.”

In 2018 she was presented with the Order of Excellence during the Montserrat National Awards for her exemplary contributions to the country.

It was again, Hon. Speaker of the House Shirley Osborne who perhaps summed up Mrs. Dyer-Howe’s legacy best during Friday’s service. “Many of the building blocks of Montserrat were put up, leveled out and cemented in place by this woman.

“So, Montserrat is Annie’s house.”

Mrs. Dyer-Howe is survived by her husband Robert, step-daughter Joycelyn Howe, brother Neville Corbett (aka Dick Martin) and many other family members.

The casket of Margaret “Annie” Dyer-Howe is prepared for burial at the Lookout Public Cemetery in Montserrat.

She was honored for her tireless crusade to elevate women, protect children and uplift the underprivileged. She was remembered for her calm and measured demeanor, generous spirit and quiet dignity. She was celebrated through words, song and even the steel pan.

“She took her beloved country under her wing. And now she flies with the angels.”


The casket of Margaret “Annie” Dyer-Howe is prepared for burial at the Lookout Public Cemetery in Montserrat.

The Right Honourable Margaret Mary “Annie” Dyer-Howe O.E. received a bright homegoing Friday at the Roman Catholic Church in Lookout. Following the two-hour-plus service, a procession led by the Montserrat Defense Force, with marching band in tow, made a one-mile trek to the Lookout Public Cemetery. Mrs. Dyer-Howe received a gun salute and was laid to rest as family members, friends and dignitaries sang hymns.

Mrs. Dyer-Howe’s casket was regal as the woman herself, white with gold trim and a hint of the Montserrat madras, draped with the Montserrat flag.

“Miss Annie’s homegoing service was one that truly summed up the woman she was,” says Rose Willock, Dyer-Howe’s longtime friend and a broadcasting legend in Montserrat. “Outgoing, community-spirited in every way and dedicated to her homeland.”

“She was an ordinary woman who produced extraordinary outcomes,” said Hon. Donaldson Romeo, Premier of Montserrat.

He recounted like many others in tribute and recollection: “Mrs. Howe accomplished much as a Minister of Government, but she obviously did not need political office to motivate her for quality service to her island. During the years 1987 to 2001, a gap in her political career, she not only managed the Montserrat Water Authority with distinction, but also co-founded the very successful Howe’s Enterprise and established the Small Business Association. She thus used what was apparent loss, to shift her focus to another area on which to stamp her authenticity and to demonstrate excellence.  Giving to her community and country was always her overriding interest.

Dr. Lowel Lewis
Florence Griffith
Hon Speaker Shirley

“I have chosen simply to focus on an aspect of her personality that no one who knew her for any length of time could ignore: in all she did, this formidable professional and passionate champion of women’s rights  had a calm, unshakable dignity about her that set her apart.

 “Giving to her community and country was always her overriding interest. Mrs. Howe has left much for us to emulate as a nation.”

Mrs. Dyer-Howe influenced just about every sector of Montserrat. Principled, pragmatic and devoutly Roman Catholic, she helped enact social change during a time when women were mostly excluded from prominent positions in society. Due to her efforts, the protocol for acceptance into the Montserrat Secondary School was changed to allow non-affluent students a fairer chance. Mrs. Dyer-Howe argued that students from wealthy families had an unfair advantage because their parents could afford private tutoring.

Jackie Dangler
Wejahna Weekes

The Hon Speaker Shirley Osborne while delivering a really powerful tribute, said among so much more, “… there was really never any one name that captured everything she was, everything she represented, everything she brought into this world…

Former Chief Minister Dr. Lowel Lewis, said in tribute: “She also made her mark as Minister of Agriculture, Lands and Housing.

Easton Taylor Farrell
Premier Romeo

“Mrs Dyer Howe was a lady of dignity.  She knew how to recognize true loyalty and support.  Just a smile and a thank you.  Nothing else was required from her.  And she never expected anything from anybody she helped or was kind to.”

More expressions of her exemplary character as Dr. Lewis also recalls, “She never once said a word to me about the fact that I cut short her last term as a Minister of Government, when I changed to a coalition government with MCAP in 2008.  She understood the reason for that decision.”

Shirley and Bennette
Sir Professor Howard Fergus

Paying tribute on behalf of the St. Patrick’s community. Bennette Roach with Shirley Spycalla sang in Latin the simple prayer, Pie Jesu (Blessed Jesus, grant her thine eternal rest and peace…). He preceded that with a few words speaking to the special character that she had passed on to her St. Patrick’s community, when she promised to correct the wrongs (perceived or otherwise) of her PLM party and strive for better and progress…

Mrs. Dyer-Howe, who was profiled in the book Gallery Montserrat by Sir Howard Fergus, was born Margaret Corbett on November 18, 1941 and grew up in St. Patrick’s in southern Montserrat. She was heavily influenced by her grandmother, who was a district midwife. She attended the St. Augustine School, which was then on George Street in Plymouth, and later taught at the school before migrating to the United States for secretarial training. In 1964, she married businessman and politician Michael Dyer. It was during that union that her political aspirations took shape.

Mrs. Dyer-Howe, who was profiled in the book Gallery Montserrat by Sir Howard Fergus, grew up in St. Patrick’s in southern Montserrat. She was heavily influenced by her grandmother, who was a district midwife. She attended the St. Augustine School, which was then on George Street in Plymouth, and later taught at the school before migrating to the United States for secretarial training. In 1964, she married businessman and politician Michael Dyer. It was during that union that her political aspirations took shape, spending 16-17 years in that service.

In 1974, Michael Dyer passed away. In 1979, Mrs. Dyer-Howe competed in a by-election in the Southern district for the seat of the late Joe Taylor. She won, essentially reclaiming the seat lost years earlier by her husband. In 1983 she was re-elected and assigned the Ministry of Education, Health, Community Services, Women’s Affairs, Culture and Sports. She became only the second woman (of three elected up to that time) in Montserrat to hold a ministry, following Mary Rose Tuitt in 1970. She married Robert Howe in 1984.

“Miss Annie’s home-going service was one that truly summed up the woman she was.”

In 1974, Michael Dyer passed away. In 1979, Mrs. Dyer-Howe competed in a by-election in the Southern district for the seat of the late Joe Taylor. She won, essentially reclaiming the seat lost years earlier by her husband. In 1983 she was re-elected and assigned the Ministry of Education, Health, Community Services, Women’s Affairs, Culture and Sports. She became only the second woman in Montserrat to hold a ministry, following Mary Rose Tuitt in 1970. She married Robert Howe in 1984.

Fergus, a longtime friend, was among the luminaries paying tribute Friday. Speaking about Mrs. Dyer-Howe helping to break the female barrier in parliament, he said: “She was No. 2 to wear the toga of a minister, and she did more than warm the bench. She did more than any of her generation to elevate women in skills and consciousness.”

In 2018 she was presented with the Order of Excellence during the Montserrat National Awards for her exemplary contributions to the country.

Hon. Speaker of the House Shirley Osborne perhaps summed up Mrs. Dyer-Howe’s legacy best during Friday’s service. “Many of the building blocks of Montserrat were put up, leveled out and cemented in place by this woman.

“So Montserrat is Annie’s house.”

Mrs. Dyer-Howe is survived by her husband Robert, step-daughter Joycelyn Howe, brother Neville Corbett (aka Dick Martin) and many other family members.

Keith  Howe
Fr. Mark Schram

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Featured, Local, News, Obituaries, Politics, Regional0 Comments

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