Categorized | Columns, De Ole Dawg

De Ole Dawg – Part 16:The “Good Governance” challenge

Why   does the FCO  say that its  “fundamental responsibility and objective” for OT’s  is “to ensure the security and good governance of the Territories and their peoples”?

BRADES, Montserrat, September 23, 2018 –  In the landmark June 2012 FCO White Paper on Overseas Territories, the UK Government states that security and good governance are its chief priority for Montserrat and other OT’s. So, Exhibit 1:

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.” [p.13 with added emphases. Cf. the actual wording of The UN Charter, Article 73.[1]] (See: https://www.un.org/en/sections/un-charter/chapter-xi/index.html)

The grammarians say, “and joins equals,” though in a list, typically “first comes first.” On either view,  “good governance” for Montserrat and other OT’s is extraordinarily important to the FCO and to the wider UK Government. Logically, if we are to find a better way forward than we have seen for twenty-three years now, we must seriously and credibly address sound governance.

(NB: Given some ever so sensitive egos, let us note “FYI” to senior civil servants, politicians and other power brokers or “men of renown” [cf. Num. 16:2] who may feel affronted that TMR does not “know its place” and is “trying to dictate” to them: this is analysis in the public interest on facts in public evidence, not usurpation. FYFI, the independent media and the transparency they provide are part of good governance. Where, FYSFI the newspaper is the people’s college duty-bound to soundly educate and inform our public on matters of national importance.)

Exhibit 2: DfID – the other UKG Department we routinely deal with – wrote in its May 2012 report on its work with OT’s[2] on how governance issues (including financial management) are pivotal: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/67426/DFID-work-overseas-territories.pdf

“We have a particular duty to show that we are achieving full value for money through our programmes, demonstrating results and observing principles of value for money, transparency and accountability.  Aid is only ever a means to an end, never an end in itself.  It  is  wealth  creation  and  sustainable  growth  that  will  help  people  to  lift themselves out of poverty.” [Introduction, p. 1. Emphases added. Note, the International Development Act, 2002, Section 2,[3] specifically exempts OT’s from the poverty relief criterion in Section 1. See below.]

DfID is also emphasising good governance. This is why they went on:

“DFID  manages  the  British  Government’s  long-standing  responsibility  to  meet  the reasonable  needs  of  those  Territories  that  require  assistance.    The  International Development  Secretary  has  made  clear  that  the  Government  remains  firmly committed  to  this  responsibility,  as  a  first  call  on  the  aid  budget.  But  where  the conditions  are  right,  we  have  also  been  clear  that  we  will  deliver  strategic investments in the aided Territories. These investments, such as the construction of an  airport  in  St  Helena,  are  designed  to  facilitate  private  sector  driven  economic growth  and  deliver  a  real  prospect  of  both  self-sufficiency  and  savings  for  the  UK Government through elimination of long-term dependence on aid. 

This is part of a bargain. In return for these investments, we expect these Territories, for their part, to undertake the necessary reforms to ensure an enabling environment for growth and develop their financial management capacity so that they can meet their budgetary obligations.” [p. 1.Emphasis added. Of course, the St Helena project ran into trouble over turbulent winds; though they have now managed to get regular airline services by using more suitable aircraft than the Boeing 737. That means, DfID is likely to tighten its scrutiny of projects.]

Yes, again, it is clear that good governance reforms (including financial management reforms) are part of the bargain to be struck if we are to obtain UKG sponsorship for “catalytic” or “breakthrough” infrastructure projects.  Equally clear is the “first call” principle, that too many here have mockingly dismissed.

Of course, there is also a problem: given the legally binding obligation to “ensure . . . advancement” and that to “promote constructive measures of development” in the UN Charter, Article 73, there is no legally justifiable border drawn between “assistance” and economically transformational “investments.” In short: if conditions are “[not] right” here in Montserrat or in other OT’s, that simply means that capacity development and linked sound governance reforms are necessary first or “parallel priority” stages in the development aid programme.

So, the obvious lack of emphasis on good governance is utterly revealing on what has gone wrong here in Montserrat. Frankly, it was astonishing to see how, in answer to Questions[4] on July 31st, Premier Romeo had to concede that efforts toward a Charter of Good Governance and toward a linked Development Partnership MoU did not get far. Smoking Gun.

But, what is “governance,” what is “GOOD governance,” what are our challenges to achieve such “good governance”?

First, governance is perhaps best summed up: how the big decisions get made and how they are made to stick. That can be through formal structures and systems, or it can be through informal influence and power or even cultural traditions. This applies at all levels: families, villages, the nation, businesses, Government Departments, Cabinets, projects and programmes etc.

For such governance to be “good” – or, “sound” – it needs to have certain characteristics. For instance, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the South Pacific (UNESCAP) lists[5] eight factors:

  • Transparent
  • Participatory
  • Accountable
  • Responsive
  • Equitable and Inclusive
  • Effective and Efficient
  • Follows the rule of [just] law
  • Consensus-oriented

This simple act of listing already points to deep-rooted challenges that we face. Complaints about unaccountable decisions behind closed doors, lack of effective participation by marginalised stakeholders, unresponsiveness to needs, unfairness, ineffectiveness, inefficiency, want of adequate capability and more are regrettably commonplace. Too often, for cause.  For example, for a year now TMR has pointed out how a Programme Management Office was set up to bring our programme and project management and governance up to international standards (which would significantly enhance the credibility of our proposed projects). Then, only a few months later, the Director was suddenly frog marched out of Government


[1] See: https://www.un.org/en/sections/un-charter/chapter-xi/index.html

[2] See:

2 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/67426/DFID-work-overseas-territories.pdf

[3] See: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2002/1/part/1

[4]  See: https://montserratradioecho.wordpress.com/2018/07/31/tuesday-july-31-2018-a-sitting-of-the-legislative-assembly-of-montserrat/

[5] See: https://www.unescap.org/sites/default/files/good-governance.pdf

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Why   does the FCO  say that its  “fundamental responsibility and objective” for OT’s  is “to ensure the security and good governance of the Territories and their peoples”?

BRADES, Montserrat, September 23, 2018 –  In the landmark June 2012 FCO White Paper on Overseas Territories, the UK Government states that security and good governance are its chief priority for Montserrat and other OT’s. So, Exhibit 1:

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.” [p.13 with added emphases. Cf. the actual wording of The UN Charter, Article 73.[1]] (See: https://www.un.org/en/sections/un-charter/chapter-xi/index.html)

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The grammarians say, “and joins equals,” though in a list, typically “first comes first.” On either view,  “good governance” for Montserrat and other OT’s is extraordinarily important to the FCO and to the wider UK Government. Logically, if we are to find a better way forward than we have seen for twenty-three years now, we must seriously and credibly address sound governance.

(NB: Given some ever so sensitive egos, let us note “FYI” to senior civil servants, politicians and other power brokers or “men of renown” [cf. Num. 16:2] who may feel affronted that TMR does not “know its place” and is “trying to dictate” to them: this is analysis in the public interest on facts in public evidence, not usurpation. FYFI, the independent media and the transparency they provide are part of good governance. Where, FYSFI the newspaper is the people’s college duty-bound to soundly educate and inform our public on matters of national importance.)

Exhibit 2: DfID – the other UKG Department we routinely deal with – wrote in its May 2012 report on its work with OT’s[2] on how governance issues (including financial management) are pivotal: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/67426/DFID-work-overseas-territories.pdf

“We have a particular duty to show that we are achieving full value for money through our programmes, demonstrating results and observing principles of value for money, transparency and accountability.  Aid is only ever a means to an end, never an end in itself.  It  is  wealth  creation  and  sustainable  growth  that  will  help  people  to  lift themselves out of poverty.” [Introduction, p. 1. Emphases added. Note, the International Development Act, 2002, Section 2,[3] specifically exempts OT’s from the poverty relief criterion in Section 1. See below.]

DfID is also emphasising good governance. This is why they went on:

“DFID  manages  the  British  Government’s  long-standing  responsibility  to  meet  the reasonable  needs  of  those  Territories  that  require  assistance.    The  International Development  Secretary  has  made  clear  that  the  Government  remains  firmly committed  to  this  responsibility,  as  a  first  call  on  the  aid  budget.  But  where  the conditions  are  right,  we  have  also  been  clear  that  we  will  deliver  strategic investments in the aided Territories. These investments, such as the construction of an  airport  in  St  Helena,  are  designed  to  facilitate  private  sector  driven  economic growth  and  deliver  a  real  prospect  of  both  self-sufficiency  and  savings  for  the  UK Government through elimination of long-term dependence on aid. 

This is part of a bargain. In return for these investments, we expect these Territories, for their part, to undertake the necessary reforms to ensure an enabling environment for growth and develop their financial management capacity so that they can meet their budgetary obligations.” [p. 1.Emphasis added. Of course, the St Helena project ran into trouble over turbulent winds; though they have now managed to get regular airline services by using more suitable aircraft than the Boeing 737. That means, DfID is likely to tighten its scrutiny of projects.]

Yes, again, it is clear that good governance reforms (including financial management reforms) are part of the bargain to be struck if we are to obtain UKG sponsorship for “catalytic” or “breakthrough” infrastructure projects.  Equally clear is the “first call” principle, that too many here have mockingly dismissed.

Of course, there is also a problem: given the legally binding obligation to “ensure . . . advancement” and that to “promote constructive measures of development” in the UN Charter, Article 73, there is no legally justifiable border drawn between “assistance” and economically transformational “investments.” In short: if conditions are “[not] right” here in Montserrat or in other OT’s, that simply means that capacity development and linked sound governance reforms are necessary first or “parallel priority” stages in the development aid programme.

So, the obvious lack of emphasis on good governance is utterly revealing on what has gone wrong here in Montserrat. Frankly, it was astonishing to see how, in answer to Questions[4] on July 31st, Premier Romeo had to concede that efforts toward a Charter of Good Governance and toward a linked Development Partnership MoU did not get far. Smoking Gun.

But, what is “governance,” what is “GOOD governance,” what are our challenges to achieve such “good governance”?

First, governance is perhaps best summed up: how the big decisions get made and how they are made to stick. That can be through formal structures and systems, or it can be through informal influence and power or even cultural traditions. This applies at all levels: families, villages, the nation, businesses, Government Departments, Cabinets, projects and programmes etc.

For such governance to be “good” – or, “sound” – it needs to have certain characteristics. For instance, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the South Pacific (UNESCAP) lists[5] eight factors:

This simple act of listing already points to deep-rooted challenges that we face. Complaints about unaccountable decisions behind closed doors, lack of effective participation by marginalised stakeholders, unresponsiveness to needs, unfairness, ineffectiveness, inefficiency, want of adequate capability and more are regrettably commonplace. Too often, for cause.  For example, for a year now TMR has pointed out how a Programme Management Office was set up to bring our programme and project management and governance up to international standards (which would significantly enhance the credibility of our proposed projects). Then, only a few months later, the Director was suddenly frog marched out of Government


[1] See: https://www.un.org/en/sections/un-charter/chapter-xi/index.html

[2] See:

2 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/67426/DFID-work-overseas-territories.pdf

[3] See: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2002/1/part/1

[4]  See: https://montserratradioecho.wordpress.com/2018/07/31/tuesday-july-31-2018-a-sitting-of-the-legislative-assembly-of-montserrat/

[5] See: https://www.unescap.org/sites/default/files/good-governance.pdf