Categorized | Editorial, Local, News

Editorial – November 25, 2016

How informed are the people of Montserrat, public and private sectors?

May 20, 2016

November 25, 2016

This week the question was posed: “What is your opinion with the influx TCOs to Montserrat?” Surprised, much thought had to be given particularly because of the source whence the question, that reasoned information should have been known, and the opinion would have been obvious. The response was forthcoming but it was interrupted.

There had been some issues surrounding the issue of TCOs but not of concern as to whether Montserrat needed them or not.

Firstly, let us direct our people’s attention to the Race Relations Act which says under Discrimination against applicants and employees

  1. (1) Subject to the provisions of this Act, no person shall, with respect to any employment at an establishment in Montserrat, discriminate against another—
    (a) in the arrangements made for the purpose of determining who should be offered that employment; or (b) in the terms in which the offer of employment is made; or (c) by refusing or deliberately omitting to offer that employment to a particular person.

(2) No employer shall discriminate against an employee in relation to— (a) the terms of employment of that employee; (b) the employee’s access to opportunities for promotion, transfer or training, or to any other benefits, facilities or services; (c) acts of dismissal, or disciplinary acts or any other act of the employer which is to the detriment of the employee.

The public servants are entitled, unlike the private sector, to the services i.e. advice and the interpretations of the Attorney General’s Chambers. Some understanding of the above alone might tell them on what grounds they stand.

Then following are some extracts that speak directly to, or provide useful information for the concerns of our questioner. These are from Aide Memoires as noted.

Aide Memoire of 2013: the following explains –

Delivery of Key Public Services in 2012/13

  1. GoM suffers critical capacity gaps. In 2012/13 DFID provided funds for both longer term skills development and to satisfy immediate and critical needs. Whilst uptake of the Annual Country Training Scheme (ACTS) has been good, with the allocation brought into the recurrent budget in 2012/13 and fully utilised, GoM has not taken good advantage of the short term (STTC) and long term technical cooperation (LTTC) programmes, utilising around 30% of the support available. Although delays can be justified to some extent by fulfilling time-consuming recruitment protocols, GoM should consider where efficiencies could be made to enhance use of the support available.
  2. The continuing lack of socio-economic data continues to hamper evidence on social development indicators, including poverty levels, undermining policy analysis, planning and prioritisation. DFID agrees with GoM that a Statistics Director is a priority LTTC post… and welcomes the recruitment of a Senior Social Policy Planner.  Further analysis of the 2011 Census data is anticipated this year.
  3. DFID welcomes GoM’s release of the 2009 CDB funded Comprehensive Poverty Assessment (CPA) though is concerned to note that 36% of the population was classified as poor, a third of whom are under 15 years of age, and a further 3% classified as extremely poor[1]. The primary causes of poverty in Montserrat are economic – low wages, continually rising prices and lack of employment opportunities.  Neither public sector pay nor social welfare has increased since 2006.  Meanwhile, inflation from 2006 to the present time is around 25%. DFID looks forward to seeing issues further analysed in the much delayed social welfare review, anticipated to start shortly, and also in the minimum wage analysis planned by GoM under the new Labour Code (2012). Meanwhile, DFID intends to actively follow-up on the much delayed technical support agreed to address child safeguarding concerns.

Aide Memoire – dated February, 2014 – very much an MCAP government killer

Capacity and Technical Cooperation

The 2013 review of the SDP[2] highlights lack of human capacity in critical areas as a continuing development constraint with implications for effective delivery of public services. DFID will continue its support for longer term skills development through ACTS, with 13 new awards allocated in 2013/14 bringing the total of existing scholarships to 20.  Priorities for 2014/15 were due to be confirmed by Cabinet following the budget mission and discussions with DFID.  GoM is attempting to align ACTs with identified skills gaps in Montserrat though this is constrained by the need to complete a Labour Market Strategy (LMS). MCWL have revised ToRs for this work and anticipate completion by August 2014.[3]  By September 2014 it is expected that work to improve the education curriculum will be linked with the LMS to improve labour market planning.  

DFID will continue to support GoM to address critical line-post gaps through LTTC. HRMU is in the process of identifying new requirements for 2014/15 as well as continuing recruitment efforts for agreed posts in 2013/14. Once GoM’s finalised requests for 2014/15 have been approved by DFID, the agreed amount will be reflected in GoM’s recurrent budget.  STTC, which is a one year project set up in 2013/14 to fund urgent social and economic development priorities, will have a project completion review (PCR) carried out by the end of this month. DFID is currently reviewing the funding arrangements for STTC next year, drawing on the lessons from the PCR and GoM requests for 2014/15.

Challenges remain in TC recruitment, although this situation has improved over 2013/14. Of 12 critical LTTC posts identified in 2013/14, four remain unfilled, with a further new post recently added. Serious delays have occurred in the recruitment of a Chief Economist, Chief Statistician, Crown Counsel, Child Safeguarding Specialist, a Senior Social Worker and Community Mental Health Officer. GoM and DFID will work together to agree an alternative strategy (for example, more effective advertising, reviewing the use of recruitment agencies and benchmarking of salaries) to improve the utilisation of TC.

DFID will continue to support GoM to address critical line-post gaps through LTTC. HRMU is in the process of identifying new requirements for 2014/15 as well as continuing recruitment efforts for agreed posts in 2013/14. Once GoM’s finalised requests for 2014/15 have been approved by DFID, the agreed amount will be reflected in GoM’s recurrent budget.  STTC, which is a one year project set up in 2013/14 to fund urgent social and economic development priorities, will have a project completion review (PCR) carried out by the end of this month. DFID is currently reviewing the funding arrangements for STTC next year, drawing on the lessons from the PCR and GoM requests for 2014/15.

Every Ministry and department of GoM should have access to these documents before and since. Any ignorance of these or misunderstanding, there must be, testifies to the sad state of affairs we have heard or often known surrounding the public servants. The Human Resource Unit, in particular should be asked for a report, that is if they acknowledge their state, now and then; and suspecting that such a report has been forthcoming, it should be made public.

We suspect there would be no surprise that the current government because of their own incompetence, assuming knowledge, which if there is not, indicts them further rather than excuse them.

  1. Challenges remain in TC recruitment, although this situation has improved over 2013/14. Of 12 critical LTTC posts identified in 2013/14, four remain unfilled, with a further new post recently added. Serious delays have occurred in the recruitment of a Chief Economist, Chief Statistician, Crown Counsel, Child Safeguarding Specialist, a Senior Social Worker and Community Mental Health Officer. GoM and DFID will work together to agree an alternative strategy (for example, more effective advertising, reviewing the use of recruitment agencies and benchmarking of salaries) to improve the utilisation of TC.

The following should also be noted and kept in mind at all times. This would be found in many Business Cases for the various projects.

The UK’s responsibilities to Montserrat (and all the aided Overseas Territories) are:

  • meeting the reasonable needs of aid-dependent OTs;
  • accelerating towards self-sufficiency where possible; and

managing the risk of contingent liability and ensuring OTs meet international commitments

Again, every public servant should know what the foregoing entails and live up to their side and make demands as required to achieve a common goal.

 [2] GoM, July 2013 Review Report for Medium Term Development Strategy, 2008-2012.

[3] The Labour Market Strategy is both an SGP and an EU indicator.

 

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

How informed are the people of Montserrat, public and private sectors?

May 20, 2016

November 25, 2016

This week the question was posed: “What is your opinion with the influx TCOs to Montserrat?” Surprised, much thought had to be given particularly because of the source whence the question, that reasoned information should have been known, and the opinion would have been obvious. The response was forthcoming but it was interrupted.

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There had been some issues surrounding the issue of TCOs but not of concern as to whether Montserrat needed them or not.

Firstly, let us direct our people’s attention to the Race Relations Act which says under Discrimination against applicants and employees

  1. (1) Subject to the provisions of this Act, no person shall, with respect to any employment at an establishment in Montserrat, discriminate against another—
    (a) in the arrangements made for the purpose of determining who should be offered that employment; or (b) in the terms in which the offer of employment is made; or (c) by refusing or deliberately omitting to offer that employment to a particular person.

(2) No employer shall discriminate against an employee in relation to— (a) the terms of employment of that employee; (b) the employee’s access to opportunities for promotion, transfer or training, or to any other benefits, facilities or services; (c) acts of dismissal, or disciplinary acts or any other act of the employer which is to the detriment of the employee.

The public servants are entitled, unlike the private sector, to the services i.e. advice and the interpretations of the Attorney General’s Chambers. Some understanding of the above alone might tell them on what grounds they stand.

Then following are some extracts that speak directly to, or provide useful information for the concerns of our questioner. These are from Aide Memoires as noted.

Aide Memoire of 2013: the following explains –

Delivery of Key Public Services in 2012/13

  1. GoM suffers critical capacity gaps. In 2012/13 DFID provided funds for both longer term skills development and to satisfy immediate and critical needs. Whilst uptake of the Annual Country Training Scheme (ACTS) has been good, with the allocation brought into the recurrent budget in 2012/13 and fully utilised, GoM has not taken good advantage of the short term (STTC) and long term technical cooperation (LTTC) programmes, utilising around 30% of the support available. Although delays can be justified to some extent by fulfilling time-consuming recruitment protocols, GoM should consider where efficiencies could be made to enhance use of the support available.
  2. The continuing lack of socio-economic data continues to hamper evidence on social development indicators, including poverty levels, undermining policy analysis, planning and prioritisation. DFID agrees with GoM that a Statistics Director is a priority LTTC post… and welcomes the recruitment of a Senior Social Policy Planner.  Further analysis of the 2011 Census data is anticipated this year.
  3. DFID welcomes GoM’s release of the 2009 CDB funded Comprehensive Poverty Assessment (CPA) though is concerned to note that 36% of the population was classified as poor, a third of whom are under 15 years of age, and a further 3% classified as extremely poor[1]. The primary causes of poverty in Montserrat are economic – low wages, continually rising prices and lack of employment opportunities.  Neither public sector pay nor social welfare has increased since 2006.  Meanwhile, inflation from 2006 to the present time is around 25%. DFID looks forward to seeing issues further analysed in the much delayed social welfare review, anticipated to start shortly, and also in the minimum wage analysis planned by GoM under the new Labour Code (2012). Meanwhile, DFID intends to actively follow-up on the much delayed technical support agreed to address child safeguarding concerns.

Aide Memoire – dated February, 2014 – very much an MCAP government killer

Capacity and Technical Cooperation

The 2013 review of the SDP[2] highlights lack of human capacity in critical areas as a continuing development constraint with implications for effective delivery of public services. DFID will continue its support for longer term skills development through ACTS, with 13 new awards allocated in 2013/14 bringing the total of existing scholarships to 20.  Priorities for 2014/15 were due to be confirmed by Cabinet following the budget mission and discussions with DFID.  GoM is attempting to align ACTs with identified skills gaps in Montserrat though this is constrained by the need to complete a Labour Market Strategy (LMS). MCWL have revised ToRs for this work and anticipate completion by August 2014.[3]  By September 2014 it is expected that work to improve the education curriculum will be linked with the LMS to improve labour market planning.  

DFID will continue to support GoM to address critical line-post gaps through LTTC. HRMU is in the process of identifying new requirements for 2014/15 as well as continuing recruitment efforts for agreed posts in 2013/14. Once GoM’s finalised requests for 2014/15 have been approved by DFID, the agreed amount will be reflected in GoM’s recurrent budget.  STTC, which is a one year project set up in 2013/14 to fund urgent social and economic development priorities, will have a project completion review (PCR) carried out by the end of this month. DFID is currently reviewing the funding arrangements for STTC next year, drawing on the lessons from the PCR and GoM requests for 2014/15.

Challenges remain in TC recruitment, although this situation has improved over 2013/14. Of 12 critical LTTC posts identified in 2013/14, four remain unfilled, with a further new post recently added. Serious delays have occurred in the recruitment of a Chief Economist, Chief Statistician, Crown Counsel, Child Safeguarding Specialist, a Senior Social Worker and Community Mental Health Officer. GoM and DFID will work together to agree an alternative strategy (for example, more effective advertising, reviewing the use of recruitment agencies and benchmarking of salaries) to improve the utilisation of TC.

DFID will continue to support GoM to address critical line-post gaps through LTTC. HRMU is in the process of identifying new requirements for 2014/15 as well as continuing recruitment efforts for agreed posts in 2013/14. Once GoM’s finalised requests for 2014/15 have been approved by DFID, the agreed amount will be reflected in GoM’s recurrent budget.  STTC, which is a one year project set up in 2013/14 to fund urgent social and economic development priorities, will have a project completion review (PCR) carried out by the end of this month. DFID is currently reviewing the funding arrangements for STTC next year, drawing on the lessons from the PCR and GoM requests for 2014/15.

Every Ministry and department of GoM should have access to these documents before and since. Any ignorance of these or misunderstanding, there must be, testifies to the sad state of affairs we have heard or often known surrounding the public servants. The Human Resource Unit, in particular should be asked for a report, that is if they acknowledge their state, now and then; and suspecting that such a report has been forthcoming, it should be made public.

We suspect there would be no surprise that the current government because of their own incompetence, assuming knowledge, which if there is not, indicts them further rather than excuse them.

  1. Challenges remain in TC recruitment, although this situation has improved over 2013/14. Of 12 critical LTTC posts identified in 2013/14, four remain unfilled, with a further new post recently added. Serious delays have occurred in the recruitment of a Chief Economist, Chief Statistician, Crown Counsel, Child Safeguarding Specialist, a Senior Social Worker and Community Mental Health Officer. GoM and DFID will work together to agree an alternative strategy (for example, more effective advertising, reviewing the use of recruitment agencies and benchmarking of salaries) to improve the utilisation of TC.

The following should also be noted and kept in mind at all times. This would be found in many Business Cases for the various projects.

The UK’s responsibilities to Montserrat (and all the aided Overseas Territories) are:

managing the risk of contingent liability and ensuring OTs meet international commitments

Again, every public servant should know what the foregoing entails and live up to their side and make demands as required to achieve a common goal.

 [2] GoM, July 2013 Review Report for Medium Term Development Strategy, 2008-2012.

[3] The Labour Market Strategy is both an SGP and an EU indicator.