Categorized | Editorial, Local

Clean hands and a pure heart

Editorial – July 19, 2013

If you get it wrong at the beginning, there will hardly be be a right conclusion. That is an old saying heard in Montserrat often. We heard it used at a recent high court case hearing by the defense who said who referred to the old saying, “Wha gan bad a-marnin, can’t come good a-evenin.” What gone bad in the morning, cannot come good in the evening.”

This was borne out in the recent ICAI report on DFID’s aid (projects) to Montserrat covering the last seven or eight years.

The ICAI investigation  was announced and ‘confused’ invitation and messages were responded to by the somewhat dis-functioning Montserrat Chamber of Commerce (MCCI) to meet with the investigating team members same first name David, Sharif and Parish.

How accurate and complete can this report be, speaking only to public servants, GoM officials, FCO and DFiD officials and small business owners and their staff. The media cannot verify any of this. Our information that their visit was for some reason curtailed, and there was even a promise that someone would return. Did they? As much as there are differences of opinion and questions as to the accuracy to some of the information they reported, the question will always remain, how credible is the report?

One conscientious senior public official said that one thing that jumps out at them is the “seemingly obvious disconnect public servants and ministers, particularly in the UK, where the ministers say one thing, but the servants try hard to do something else.”

We do not know for the UK but in Montserrat, the ministers have a different story as they claim public servants do not act on directives or even policy but on perception.

What is justifiable and what is reasonable with DFID’s approach that for a great part has come in for strong criticism, good and bad, for the most part fair.

We believe we understand why these KPMG members did not meet with the media on a whole. It may well has to do with what they put in one of their recommendations that DFID and GoM need to be much more engaging with the people of Montserrat, Civil Society. We have been talking about this for some time now.

In the report might observe clues as to why Montserratians at home and abroad do not believe in the Strategic Growth Plans. They do not feel a part…and who are the beneficiaries? They were not as involved as they ought to be in the investigation. Not speaking to the media was critical to the shortcomings we find in the report.

If they had spoken to others who were interested in making imformative presentations, the truth would have been clear and some conclusions would have been different. E.g. the airport project. DFID admitted in 2008, the mistakes they had made. It is ridiculous to consider whether it was needed or not. Any consideration at that point to take Montserrat back in time was ridiculous and wicked and shows a terrible attitude. It is wrong to think that Montserrat needed anything less than an airport to take it forward. Not an airstrip, but the fact is at the time it was merely and emergency strip. We had warned what they were doing at the time would be a ‘black’ (the tar on the strip) elephant. Now ICAI calls it more appropriately a white elephant.

This issue however is very significant to the future of Montserrat. Today, it is causing much discussion, rumours, and could very well be a big talking campaign point for the elections due by September, next year.

Ultimately both GoM and UK were to blame. The order for an airport came from PM Tony Blair himself. There is one area that the public servants messed up. The facts are there, the records are there. It is interesting, to now learn of DFID’s planned results. However, looking at the report’s “Summary of DFID’s planned and actual results by project” with regards to the airport, the whole matter is seems somehow skewed, based on misinformation or the lack of it.

The Finding that says: “The impact on beneficiaries of the projects we reviewed is mixed,” would have been more accurate or different.

One of the deliveries of the investigation was supposed to deal with the following: “Is there good governance at all levels in Montserrat, with sound financial management and adequate steps being taken to avoid corruption in the management and delivery of capital development?” Given our most recent attention to this very matter, if there was any reference at all to this we missed it.

Indeed, while we believe we can now look forward to a change of approach, required are more sincerity and forthrightness from the UK and GoM and the engagement both DFID themselves and ICAI reports. To be fair, having listened and recorded what Allan Duncan told us in 2011, doubtful if he was to be honestly briefed he would be disappointed. In all of this, while Montserrat or ICAI, any other donor, or international agency may influence outcomes, Montserrat stands in position to be an outstanding success, an example for the UK and the region to be proud.

However, lets note well the hymn that prays, ‘O Lord who may enter into your Sanctuary to give your praise. The man with clean hands, and a pure heart, who is not vain and knows how to love.’ Taken on board, we find light and the answers to progress and success.

 

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

Editorial – July 19, 2013

If you get it wrong at the beginning, there will hardly be be a right conclusion. That is an old saying heard in Montserrat often. We heard it used at a recent high court case hearing by the defense who said who referred to the old saying, “Wha gan bad a-marnin, can’t come good a-evenin.” What gone bad in the morning, cannot come good in the evening.”

This was borne out in the recent ICAI report on DFID’s aid (projects) to Montserrat covering the last seven or eight years.

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The ICAI investigation  was announced and ‘confused’ invitation and messages were responded to by the somewhat dis-functioning Montserrat Chamber of Commerce (MCCI) to meet with the investigating team members same first name David, Sharif and Parish.

How accurate and complete can this report be, speaking only to public servants, GoM officials, FCO and DFiD officials and small business owners and their staff. The media cannot verify any of this. Our information that their visit was for some reason curtailed, and there was even a promise that someone would return. Did they? As much as there are differences of opinion and questions as to the accuracy to some of the information they reported, the question will always remain, how credible is the report?

One conscientious senior public official said that one thing that jumps out at them is the “seemingly obvious disconnect public servants and ministers, particularly in the UK, where the ministers say one thing, but the servants try hard to do something else.”

We do not know for the UK but in Montserrat, the ministers have a different story as they claim public servants do not act on directives or even policy but on perception.

What is justifiable and what is reasonable with DFID’s approach that for a great part has come in for strong criticism, good and bad, for the most part fair.

We believe we understand why these KPMG members did not meet with the media on a whole. It may well has to do with what they put in one of their recommendations that DFID and GoM need to be much more engaging with the people of Montserrat, Civil Society. We have been talking about this for some time now.

In the report might observe clues as to why Montserratians at home and abroad do not believe in the Strategic Growth Plans. They do not feel a part…and who are the beneficiaries? They were not as involved as they ought to be in the investigation. Not speaking to the media was critical to the shortcomings we find in the report.

If they had spoken to others who were interested in making imformative presentations, the truth would have been clear and some conclusions would have been different. E.g. the airport project. DFID admitted in 2008, the mistakes they had made. It is ridiculous to consider whether it was needed or not. Any consideration at that point to take Montserrat back in time was ridiculous and wicked and shows a terrible attitude. It is wrong to think that Montserrat needed anything less than an airport to take it forward. Not an airstrip, but the fact is at the time it was merely and emergency strip. We had warned what they were doing at the time would be a ‘black’ (the tar on the strip) elephant. Now ICAI calls it more appropriately a white elephant.

This issue however is very significant to the future of Montserrat. Today, it is causing much discussion, rumours, and could very well be a big talking campaign point for the elections due by September, next year.

Ultimately both GoM and UK were to blame. The order for an airport came from PM Tony Blair himself. There is one area that the public servants messed up. The facts are there, the records are there. It is interesting, to now learn of DFID’s planned results. However, looking at the report’s “Summary of DFID’s planned and actual results by project” with regards to the airport, the whole matter is seems somehow skewed, based on misinformation or the lack of it.

The Finding that says: “The impact on beneficiaries of the projects we reviewed is mixed,” would have been more accurate or different.

One of the deliveries of the investigation was supposed to deal with the following: “Is there good governance at all levels in Montserrat, with sound financial management and adequate steps being taken to avoid corruption in the management and delivery of capital development?” Given our most recent attention to this very matter, if there was any reference at all to this we missed it.

Indeed, while we believe we can now look forward to a change of approach, required are more sincerity and forthrightness from the UK and GoM and the engagement both DFID themselves and ICAI reports. To be fair, having listened and recorded what Allan Duncan told us in 2011, doubtful if he was to be honestly briefed he would be disappointed. In all of this, while Montserrat or ICAI, any other donor, or international agency may influence outcomes, Montserrat stands in position to be an outstanding success, an example for the UK and the region to be proud.

However, lets note well the hymn that prays, ‘O Lord who may enter into your Sanctuary to give your praise. The man with clean hands, and a pure heart, who is not vain and knows how to love.’ Taken on board, we find light and the answers to progress and success.