Categorized | Local, News

Dr. Lowell Lewis: ‘DFID Means to Encourage Us’

Reprint: April 18, 2001

It is not the first time, as exactly 10 years ago, Montserrat was told it was time to stand on their own two feet. There is nothing at all wrong with the suggestion, or the encouragement, the reasons being given, but ten years later an examination and a review would have been in order.

That may well have been done, but without the results communicated to the people who were told once again, ‘you must learn to stand on your own two feet.’

Let’s read the following article carefully and when we would have examined the ten years, we may be better able to put into perspective where this new Governor’s assertions and desires are at this time still trying to climb out of, and over the edge of a crisis.

In that issue of the newspaper is the report of  Governor Longrigg’s swearing as Governor of Montserrat: Newspaper online issue: April 18, 2001

By Helena Durand

Dr. Lowell Lewis, Deputy Leader of the NPLM and Minister for Communications and Works, responded this week to DFID’s call for Montserrat to be “more in control of their own affairs” therefore standing on their own feet.

Dr. Lewis said: “Yes, DFID is giving us a push to manage our own business and sustain ourselves. It might be too much of a push in that we might need additional help, but we are certainly going to try to solve our problems and pull Montserrat out of the economic problems which we’re about to face.”

He told the Montserrat Reporter that it had been expected for some time that the level of aid from Britain would dwindle, “but not until after we had the replacement of the infrastructure which we need to be an economically viable island.”

He said Montserratians have been forced to take special initiatives and attempt to become self-sustaining. He noted, however, that “Although we are told that we are going to be given £55 million and that’s it, I would like to think that we would make a good effort, and that they would assist additionally if they think that it is unavoidable.”

Dr. Lewis said while taxes are an important form of raising revenue, they are not the solution at the moment. An increase in taxes would undoubtedly mean an increase in the cost of living, which should be compensated for by an increase in income; “and there is no indication that we (government) will be in a position to provide an increased income for public servants or even people of the general public,” he said.

When the Montserrat Reporter spoke to former Chief Minister Mr. David Brandt, he said, “It is not a matter of standing on our own two feet. We have always done that and are always willing to do that. A great tragedy has been inflicted upon us and overwhelmed us and we need a period of time in order to rebuild.”

He also said that the answer is not in more taxation, but rather in the expansion of the economy. He said he had applied to DFID while in government and they, sent some consultants here who met with the Private Sector, Government and Labour.

“Some terms of reference were agreed,” Mr. Brandt said. “Among them, the fact that they would assist local businesses to do what they do better. Those who needed an injection of capital would be given soft terms, those who needed expertise would be provided with help, and they would find new businesses to come to Montserrat. They were not only to write a project with recommendations, but to implement the recommendations.”

He believes that DFID should implement the consultancy and give the businesses “a chance by virtue of the promise. Bringing in new businesses is consistent with the terms of the consultants.”

In a letter to Mr. Brandt in February, Mr. Mike Wood had advised that bids for what is known as the “PSD consultancy” had been “evaluated” and that details would have been sent shortly. That letter was over three months ago.

The ex-chief minister also referred to DFID’s call for increased taxes as “Contrary to every known principle of economics” in that an economy that is already weighed down by economic depression should not have increased taxes “imposed upon it.”

In that same letter from Mike Wood to the chief minister, dated February 6, which has only now come to our knowledge, the author threatens: “I am content for the Water III Development Project documentation to be progressed. “However we will not approve this activity until we are clear that a further tariff rise has been agreed by Government.”

“If they are really our partners” Mr. Brandt noted, “they should try to get us back on our feet and when we are back, then we can talk about the issues; only then we can talk about those issues that Mr. Kavanagh is talking about in the Montserrat Reporter.”

Mr. Barry Kavanagh, head of DFID, said in response to both Dr. Lewis and Mr. Brandt, that DFID would expect Montserrat to make better progress by the time the level of aid had dropped. “It is not like it’s going to be stopped tomorrow” he said, “this is going to be done over a period of five years on a gradual scale.”

As to the Private Sector projects, Mr. Kavanagh said, “ There is a private sector project about to come on stream.” He said funds for the Small Enterprises Rehabilitation programme have been secured with the National Development Foundation of Montserrat. Director of the NDFM Mrs. Roslyn Cassell-Sealy told the Montserrat Reporter the programme is into its third phase. “It’s an initiative which was planned in 1996, but came on stream in 1998. Basically, it allows us to lend money for business purposes and also to provide training and technical assistance, whether in skills or management improvement.”

The funds, she said, also help to support NDF administrative costs.  Mrs. Cassell-Sealy said the NDF is awaiting another draw-down of funds. DFID has granted EC$4.7 million so far, from which NDF has made 179 loan disbursements. They have lent out EC$5.9 million.

She said that does not mean they have loaned out more than they have received.  “It is just that as we collect, as people pay back, we lend out again.”  The NDF, she said, is now on a fact-finding mission to determine what the business sector needs are, and how to go about assisting.

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

Reprint: April 18, 2001

It is not the first time, as exactly 10 years ago, Montserrat was told it was time to stand on their own two feet. There is nothing at all wrong with the suggestion, or the encouragement, the reasons being given, but ten years later an examination and a review would have been in order.

That may well have been done, but without the results communicated to the people who were told once again, ‘you must learn to stand on your own two feet.’

Insert Ads Here

Let’s read the following article carefully and when we would have examined the ten years, we may be better able to put into perspective where this new Governor’s assertions and desires are at this time still trying to climb out of, and over the edge of a crisis.

In that issue of the newspaper is the report of  Governor Longrigg’s swearing as Governor of Montserrat: Newspaper online issue: April 18, 2001

By Helena Durand

Dr. Lowell Lewis, Deputy Leader of the NPLM and Minister for Communications and Works, responded this week to DFID’s call for Montserrat to be “more in control of their own affairs” therefore standing on their own feet.

Dr. Lewis said: “Yes, DFID is giving us a push to manage our own business and sustain ourselves. It might be too much of a push in that we might need additional help, but we are certainly going to try to solve our problems and pull Montserrat out of the economic problems which we’re about to face.”

He told the Montserrat Reporter that it had been expected for some time that the level of aid from Britain would dwindle, “but not until after we had the replacement of the infrastructure which we need to be an economically viable island.”

He said Montserratians have been forced to take special initiatives and attempt to become self-sustaining. He noted, however, that “Although we are told that we are going to be given £55 million and that’s it, I would like to think that we would make a good effort, and that they would assist additionally if they think that it is unavoidable.”

Dr. Lewis said while taxes are an important form of raising revenue, they are not the solution at the moment. An increase in taxes would undoubtedly mean an increase in the cost of living, which should be compensated for by an increase in income; “and there is no indication that we (government) will be in a position to provide an increased income for public servants or even people of the general public,” he said.

When the Montserrat Reporter spoke to former Chief Minister Mr. David Brandt, he said, “It is not a matter of standing on our own two feet. We have always done that and are always willing to do that. A great tragedy has been inflicted upon us and overwhelmed us and we need a period of time in order to rebuild.”

He also said that the answer is not in more taxation, but rather in the expansion of the economy. He said he had applied to DFID while in government and they, sent some consultants here who met with the Private Sector, Government and Labour.

“Some terms of reference were agreed,” Mr. Brandt said. “Among them, the fact that they would assist local businesses to do what they do better. Those who needed an injection of capital would be given soft terms, those who needed expertise would be provided with help, and they would find new businesses to come to Montserrat. They were not only to write a project with recommendations, but to implement the recommendations.”

He believes that DFID should implement the consultancy and give the businesses “a chance by virtue of the promise. Bringing in new businesses is consistent with the terms of the consultants.”

In a letter to Mr. Brandt in February, Mr. Mike Wood had advised that bids for what is known as the “PSD consultancy” had been “evaluated” and that details would have been sent shortly. That letter was over three months ago.

The ex-chief minister also referred to DFID’s call for increased taxes as “Contrary to every known principle of economics” in that an economy that is already weighed down by economic depression should not have increased taxes “imposed upon it.”

In that same letter from Mike Wood to the chief minister, dated February 6, which has only now come to our knowledge, the author threatens: “I am content for the Water III Development Project documentation to be progressed. “However we will not approve this activity until we are clear that a further tariff rise has been agreed by Government.”

“If they are really our partners” Mr. Brandt noted, “they should try to get us back on our feet and when we are back, then we can talk about the issues; only then we can talk about those issues that Mr. Kavanagh is talking about in the Montserrat Reporter.”

Mr. Barry Kavanagh, head of DFID, said in response to both Dr. Lewis and Mr. Brandt, that DFID would expect Montserrat to make better progress by the time the level of aid had dropped. “It is not like it’s going to be stopped tomorrow” he said, “this is going to be done over a period of five years on a gradual scale.”

As to the Private Sector projects, Mr. Kavanagh said, “ There is a private sector project about to come on stream.” He said funds for the Small Enterprises Rehabilitation programme have been secured with the National Development Foundation of Montserrat. Director of the NDFM Mrs. Roslyn Cassell-Sealy told the Montserrat Reporter the programme is into its third phase. “It’s an initiative which was planned in 1996, but came on stream in 1998. Basically, it allows us to lend money for business purposes and also to provide training and technical assistance, whether in skills or management improvement.”

The funds, she said, also help to support NDF administrative costs.  Mrs. Cassell-Sealy said the NDF is awaiting another draw-down of funds. DFID has granted EC$4.7 million so far, from which NDF has made 179 loan disbursements. They have lent out EC$5.9 million.

She said that does not mean they have loaned out more than they have received.  “It is just that as we collect, as people pay back, we lend out again.”  The NDF, she said, is now on a fact-finding mission to determine what the business sector needs are, and how to go about assisting.