Categorized | Features, General

De Ole Dawg – Part 11:2017 -DfID, GoM and the crooked yardstick vs the plumb-line

Why do we need a plumb-line to test our approach to development?

BRADES, Montserrat, May 11, 2017 – When we go to a shop to buy cloth, sometimes there is a yardstick screwed down to the top of the counter that guides the shop-clerk as to how much cloth to measure out before cutting. But, what would happen if the yardstick was somehow crooked and inaccurate? Or, what if a house-wall was being built out-of- true and out- of- plumb?

That is where a plumb-line can be very helpful, as Amos the prophet of old saw:

Amos 7:7 . . .  behold, the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand. 8 And the Lord said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said,“Behold, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel . . .” [ESV]

No crooked wall or crooked yardstick can stand up to a plumb-line!

But, what if we were to make a crooked yardstick our standard of judgement instead?

 Clearly, what is true and right cannot fit with the crooked yardstick. For, what is true and right already fits to reality. That is why it cannot fit to what is crooked and false. So, if we judge by a crooked yardstick, it will lead us to reject what is true and right, what is sound. That is why we need a plumb-line, to test our yardstick.

That is what comes to mind, when we hear suggestions like, no really good technical person would be coming to Montserrat. Or, mocking of the idea that it is longstanding UK policy that the reasonable assistance needs of Overseas Territories have “a first call” on the UK Aid budget.  Even more troubling is this, from a March 10, 2017 DfID Business Environment Reform Facility (BERF) online article[1] by Miss Audrey Wong:

“BERF has helped the Government of Montserrat develop a strategic and institutional framework for improving the business-enabling environment in Montserrat  . . . . The Government itself has attempted to address Business Environment Reform such as through developing an investment promotion strategy. The strategy was designed in 2012 to “promote private sector investment in Montserrat” . . . .  [An] investment promotion agency was to be established as an operating arm of the Montserrat Development Corporation. However, the MDC was terminated following poor performance and concerns over management of money, as evidenced by the findings and recommendations of a Task Force review of the Montserrat Development Corporation in March 2015.”

Yes,  DfID is publicly saying that “. . . MDC was terminated following poor performance and concerns over management of money.” Unfortunately, that is now our reputation, a reputation we will have to fix.  Which, brings us right back to the 2012 “yardstick” article by DfID which we have looked at a few times in this series:

 

 

 

Yes, five years ago this month, DfID told us pretty directly, that we need to fix governance, sort out financial management and make a good business case to move forward on the key, “catalytic” investment projects that we need to move our economy forward to development. And yes, DfID did tell us in so many words, that “DFID manages the British Government’s long-standing responsibility to meet the reasonable needs of those Territories that require assistance.”

Why is that so?

The next month, FCO answered, in their June 2012 White Paper on UK Overseas Territories[2]:

“The UK Government’s fundamental responsibility and objective is to ensure the security and good governance of the Territories and their peoples. This responsibility flows from international law including the Charter of the United Nations. It also flows from our shared history and political commitment to the wellbeing of all British nationals. This requires us, among other things, to promote the political, economic, social and educational advancement of the people of the Territories, to ensure their just treatment and their protection against abuses, and to develop self-government and free political institutions in the Territories. The reasonable assistance needs of the Territories are a first call on the UK’s international development budget.” [Page 13, and on p. 17 it says “DFID works in partnership with those Territories that need support to provide assistance with the aim of helping them achieve sustainable, inclusive growth and reducing their financial dependence on the UK wherever this is possible.”]

And yes, the FCO accepts that the UN Charter, Article 73 binds the UK with force of law.  That means that the UK is duty-bound to “ensure, with due respect for the culture of the peoples concerned . . . political, economic, social, and educational advancement.

So, what has been holding us up for twenty years and no less than six governments of Montserrat?

The answer is not pretty, but truth must be our plum-line.  Some of it is our fault, some, DfID’s. MDC should not have failed, especially in a way that led DfID to conclude that its performance was poor and its financial management, questionable. For years, we have heard the cry: transparency, accountability, good governance. We have had serious gaps in capacity. On DfID’s side, we have a leading development agency with obvious capability, whose budget doubled between 2005 and 2014, even as other UK Government budgets were being cut.  There is just no way that, twenty years after the volcano crisis hit its horrific peak, we should be where we are today. But, here we are.

The plumb-line is there, and it does not lie. Let us face it together, let us learn some hard lessons, and let us make a decision that we must all do better. A lot better. END

[1]           http://www.businessenvironmentreform.co.uk/2017/03/building-capacity-for-improving-the-business-environment-in-montserrat/

[2]              https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/32952/ot-wp-0612.pdf

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Why do we need a plumb-line to test our approach to development?

BRADES, Montserrat, May 11, 2017 – When we go to a shop to buy cloth, sometimes there is a yardstick screwed down to the top of the counter that guides the shop-clerk as to how much cloth to measure out before cutting. But, what would happen if the yardstick was somehow crooked and inaccurate? Or, what if a house-wall was being built out-of- true and out- of- plumb?

That is where a plumb-line can be very helpful, as Amos the prophet of old saw:

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Amos 7:7 . . .  behold, the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand. 8 And the Lord said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said,“Behold, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel . . .” [ESV]

No crooked wall or crooked yardstick can stand up to a plumb-line!

But, what if we were to make a crooked yardstick our standard of judgement instead?

 Clearly, what is true and right cannot fit with the crooked yardstick. For, what is true and right already fits to reality. That is why it cannot fit to what is crooked and false. So, if we judge by a crooked yardstick, it will lead us to reject what is true and right, what is sound. That is why we need a plumb-line, to test our yardstick.

That is what comes to mind, when we hear suggestions like, no really good technical person would be coming to Montserrat. Or, mocking of the idea that it is longstanding UK policy that the reasonable assistance needs of Overseas Territories have “a first call” on the UK Aid budget.  Even more troubling is this, from a March 10, 2017 DfID Business Environment Reform Facility (BERF) online article[1] by Miss Audrey Wong:

“BERF has helped the Government of Montserrat develop a strategic and institutional framework for improving the business-enabling environment in Montserrat  . . . . The Government itself has attempted to address Business Environment Reform such as through developing an investment promotion strategy. The strategy was designed in 2012 to “promote private sector investment in Montserrat” . . . .  [An] investment promotion agency was to be established as an operating arm of the Montserrat Development Corporation. However, the MDC was terminated following poor performance and concerns over management of money, as evidenced by the findings and recommendations of a Task Force review of the Montserrat Development Corporation in March 2015.”

Yes,  DfID is publicly saying that “. . . MDC was terminated following poor performance and concerns over management of money.” Unfortunately, that is now our reputation, a reputation we will have to fix.  Which, brings us right back to the 2012 “yardstick” article by DfID which we have looked at a few times in this series:

 

 

 

Yes, five years ago this month, DfID told us pretty directly, that we need to fix governance, sort out financial management and make a good business case to move forward on the key, “catalytic” investment projects that we need to move our economy forward to development. And yes, DfID did tell us in so many words, that “DFID manages the British Government’s long-standing responsibility to meet the reasonable needs of those Territories that require assistance.”

Why is that so?

The next month, FCO answered, in their June 2012 White Paper on UK Overseas Territories[2]:

“The UK Government’s fundamental responsibility and objective is to ensure the security and good governance of the Territories and their peoples. This responsibility flows from international law including the Charter of the United Nations. It also flows from our shared history and political commitment to the wellbeing of all British nationals. This requires us, among other things, to promote the political, economic, social and educational advancement of the people of the Territories, to ensure their just treatment and their protection against abuses, and to develop self-government and free political institutions in the Territories. The reasonable assistance needs of the Territories are a first call on the UK’s international development budget.” [Page 13, and on p. 17 it says “DFID works in partnership with those Territories that need support to provide assistance with the aim of helping them achieve sustainable, inclusive growth and reducing their financial dependence on the UK wherever this is possible.”]

And yes, the FCO accepts that the UN Charter, Article 73 binds the UK with force of law.  That means that the UK is duty-bound to “ensure, with due respect for the culture of the peoples concerned . . . political, economic, social, and educational advancement.

So, what has been holding us up for twenty years and no less than six governments of Montserrat?

The answer is not pretty, but truth must be our plum-line.  Some of it is our fault, some, DfID’s. MDC should not have failed, especially in a way that led DfID to conclude that its performance was poor and its financial management, questionable. For years, we have heard the cry: transparency, accountability, good governance. We have had serious gaps in capacity. On DfID’s side, we have a leading development agency with obvious capability, whose budget doubled between 2005 and 2014, even as other UK Government budgets were being cut.  There is just no way that, twenty years after the volcano crisis hit its horrific peak, we should be where we are today. But, here we are.

The plumb-line is there, and it does not lie. Let us face it together, let us learn some hard lessons, and let us make a decision that we must all do better. A lot better. END

[1]           http://www.businessenvironmentreform.co.uk/2017/03/building-capacity-for-improving-the-business-environment-in-montserrat/

[2]              https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/32952/ot-wp-0612.pdf