Categorized | Features, Man from Baker Hill

Fit for Purpose

By Man from Baker Hill

Fit for purpose, the caption for this article is taken for Her Excellency Elizabeth’s Christmas Epistle to Montserratians, and published in the Montserrat Reporter 2015 Christmas Edition. It is line one-o-one of the message.

Mmm; it was a very interesting observation by Her Majesty Elizabeth’s representative to Montserrat. Very apt! Worthy expression! It is demanding of comment too.

Seriously, is Montserrat fit for purpose? If so, then why is it that I cannot get one once of ripe banana to purchase in the shops? Hmm; any day of the year a shopper can purchase a pound of ripe bananas in Helsinki or Moscow, in Iceland or Japan, in St. Kitts or Anguilla … but not here on tropical island paradise Montserrat. Certainly, the Honorable Parson whose ministry is responsible for banning this necessary and important food item from the ports of Montserrat is not fit for purpose. If he had allowed a few pounds into Port Little Bay, it might have prevented the ‘ole thief’ from cutting my bunch of bananas at Manjack on Christmas –eve.  Arrh ya yaeye, Montserrat!

Your Excellency Elizabeth, I am truly interested in your thoughts about this fitness of purpose thing; but I humbly suggest that you seek to unravel the mindset of Montserratians before you single out any segment of the public service.  In fact, the attitude of our security personnel and the entire public service is the manifestation of the collective mindset of Montserratians that was objectified by the last general elections.  We are in our state of consciousness.

So if you really want to deal with the matter, then start at the leadership level. Yes the level of the politicians, start up there. Their purpose is skewed towards salary and pension(especially so within the last 15 years); and they are very fit about that too.  Consider this. The first Premier’s last significant act was to engineer legislation to ensure that he will receive additional pension benefits based on his house allowance. And not to be outdone, the first significant act of the present Premier was to increase his house allowance.

Therefore if the Premier vacates office next month he will receive annually, salary based pension of $77,000 plus housing allowance pension of $45,000.00. This means that over the next 22 years, if he lives, he will receive non-contributory salary based pension of almost $2 million plus $1 million tax free housing allowance pension from Her Majesty’s treasury. That is fitness of purpose Your Excellency! And you are aware, of course, that UK Parliamentarians will not receive any pension on their housing allowances and they must contribute over 7% of their salary towards their pension. But that is not so on Montserrat eh. Hmm!

Your Excellency, please be very careful with this ‘fit for purpose’ thing. Montserrat is special. Our state of consciousness, our unwritten motto is ‘conservative individualism’, for want of a better term, if I may use that term to encapsulate our beliefs and desires. And if expressed another way, it is this. ‘When it comes to contributing fairly to the running of Montserrat we are very unfit for purpose, individually’.

Deliberately, Your Excellency, I am taking you on a tour of the tax corridor now; I hope that your belt is fastened. A few years ago Her Majesty’s Government approved a project called, for want of a better expression, ‘tax negotiation’. It was not a success. And I am almost certain that those taxpayers who benefitted most from that project are now eight (8) years behind with their tax compliance.  Now hear this. Montserrat is fit and ready again, for the purpose of more tax write-offs. This is ‘fit for purpose’ Montserrat style.

Your Excellency, I believe your purpose here is to ensure that Her Majesty’s government receives a fair ‘Return on Investment’ (ROI). Then it must be heart breaking for you to see the $200 million investment at Little Bay used as a boat trailer park.  And worst, the sore eye, as one leaves the port area he is welcomed with a display of dried coconut stalks. Yea, this is another glaring specimen for you to investigate the fitness of purpose with respect to the tourism product. Yes, $200 million of Her Majesty’s taxes in investment and not one dollar collected in revenue as a return on that investment.

This brings me to the investment in the abattoir. The Parson, the Minister of Lands proclaimed that it is an investment of over $3 million. A modest return on that investment should yield not less that 3%. But will the abattoir be subsidized by Her Majesty’s tax dollars again? It should not be; because it can be a very profitable enterprise. Believe this; over the past five years more than 7,500 animals were taken from the unsafe zone and slaughtered. Yes, 7,500 animals or more have been taken; an average of 30 sheep, goats, pigs and cattle each week will total more than that in five years. And there are many more animals in the exclusion zone, therefore the abattoir should be a fit for purpose endeavor; but will it be?

The unsafe zone which is teeming with wild animals should be incorporated into the activities of the abattoir to create a viable enterprise. And if managed properly such an enterprise could create employment for about 100 persons. There can be catchers of the animals who will bring them to holding areas. There can be feeders and transporters.  Then there will be butchers and refrigeration mechanics, and still employment for clerical and management staff. And most importantly Montserrat should be exporting every week (organic fed) hundreds of pounds of ground beef, pork and mutton to the islands.

Here is some advice that can create a successful ‘fit for purpose’ enterprise. The running of the abattoir should be outsourced as a statutory body. Similarly, though in hindsight, the cleaners and the school bus operations should have been managed as statutory corporations. The statutory types of organizations have proven their worth on Montserrat. They allow for capacity building, growth and sustainable employment; consider the success of Montserrat Electricity Services, the Port Authority, Social Security and the Stamp Bureau. They are great training ground for board directors.

And the final word:  Your Excellency, it is the collective thoughts or mindset of Montserratians that determines our fitness for purpose; and our collective thoughts are objectified in the quality of the political leadership. I beg you therefore to extend your purpose beyond that of administrative management. Of course, Montserrat will present you with peculiar challenges, for a country that prevents its people from eating the humble ripe banana… is really not fit for purpose. We are indeed in our state of consciousness, Montserrat style.

Thank you Ma’am!  You have read this article to here, you are fit; and you will reach there. In fact you are already there; the contents of your Christmas message and your subsequent press conference have absolved you of any unfitness for purpose.

Best wishes Your Excellency! Best wishes. And welcome!

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

By Man from Baker Hill

Fit for purpose, the caption for this article is taken for Her Excellency Elizabeth’s Christmas Epistle to Montserratians, and published in the Montserrat Reporter 2015 Christmas Edition. It is line one-o-one of the message.

Mmm; it was a very interesting observation by Her Majesty Elizabeth’s representative to Montserrat. Very apt! Worthy expression! It is demanding of comment too.

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Seriously, is Montserrat fit for purpose? If so, then why is it that I cannot get one once of ripe banana to purchase in the shops? Hmm; any day of the year a shopper can purchase a pound of ripe bananas in Helsinki or Moscow, in Iceland or Japan, in St. Kitts or Anguilla … but not here on tropical island paradise Montserrat. Certainly, the Honorable Parson whose ministry is responsible for banning this necessary and important food item from the ports of Montserrat is not fit for purpose. If he had allowed a few pounds into Port Little Bay, it might have prevented the ‘ole thief’ from cutting my bunch of bananas at Manjack on Christmas –eve.  Arrh ya yaeye, Montserrat!

Your Excellency Elizabeth, I am truly interested in your thoughts about this fitness of purpose thing; but I humbly suggest that you seek to unravel the mindset of Montserratians before you single out any segment of the public service.  In fact, the attitude of our security personnel and the entire public service is the manifestation of the collective mindset of Montserratians that was objectified by the last general elections.  We are in our state of consciousness.

So if you really want to deal with the matter, then start at the leadership level. Yes the level of the politicians, start up there. Their purpose is skewed towards salary and pension(especially so within the last 15 years); and they are very fit about that too.  Consider this. The first Premier’s last significant act was to engineer legislation to ensure that he will receive additional pension benefits based on his house allowance. And not to be outdone, the first significant act of the present Premier was to increase his house allowance.

Therefore if the Premier vacates office next month he will receive annually, salary based pension of $77,000 plus housing allowance pension of $45,000.00. This means that over the next 22 years, if he lives, he will receive non-contributory salary based pension of almost $2 million plus $1 million tax free housing allowance pension from Her Majesty’s treasury. That is fitness of purpose Your Excellency! And you are aware, of course, that UK Parliamentarians will not receive any pension on their housing allowances and they must contribute over 7% of their salary towards their pension. But that is not so on Montserrat eh. Hmm!

Your Excellency, please be very careful with this ‘fit for purpose’ thing. Montserrat is special. Our state of consciousness, our unwritten motto is ‘conservative individualism’, for want of a better term, if I may use that term to encapsulate our beliefs and desires. And if expressed another way, it is this. ‘When it comes to contributing fairly to the running of Montserrat we are very unfit for purpose, individually’.

Deliberately, Your Excellency, I am taking you on a tour of the tax corridor now; I hope that your belt is fastened. A few years ago Her Majesty’s Government approved a project called, for want of a better expression, ‘tax negotiation’. It was not a success. And I am almost certain that those taxpayers who benefitted most from that project are now eight (8) years behind with their tax compliance.  Now hear this. Montserrat is fit and ready again, for the purpose of more tax write-offs. This is ‘fit for purpose’ Montserrat style.

Your Excellency, I believe your purpose here is to ensure that Her Majesty’s government receives a fair ‘Return on Investment’ (ROI). Then it must be heart breaking for you to see the $200 million investment at Little Bay used as a boat trailer park.  And worst, the sore eye, as one leaves the port area he is welcomed with a display of dried coconut stalks. Yea, this is another glaring specimen for you to investigate the fitness of purpose with respect to the tourism product. Yes, $200 million of Her Majesty’s taxes in investment and not one dollar collected in revenue as a return on that investment.

This brings me to the investment in the abattoir. The Parson, the Minister of Lands proclaimed that it is an investment of over $3 million. A modest return on that investment should yield not less that 3%. But will the abattoir be subsidized by Her Majesty’s tax dollars again? It should not be; because it can be a very profitable enterprise. Believe this; over the past five years more than 7,500 animals were taken from the unsafe zone and slaughtered. Yes, 7,500 animals or more have been taken; an average of 30 sheep, goats, pigs and cattle each week will total more than that in five years. And there are many more animals in the exclusion zone, therefore the abattoir should be a fit for purpose endeavor; but will it be?

The unsafe zone which is teeming with wild animals should be incorporated into the activities of the abattoir to create a viable enterprise. And if managed properly such an enterprise could create employment for about 100 persons. There can be catchers of the animals who will bring them to holding areas. There can be feeders and transporters.  Then there will be butchers and refrigeration mechanics, and still employment for clerical and management staff. And most importantly Montserrat should be exporting every week (organic fed) hundreds of pounds of ground beef, pork and mutton to the islands.

Here is some advice that can create a successful ‘fit for purpose’ enterprise. The running of the abattoir should be outsourced as a statutory body. Similarly, though in hindsight, the cleaners and the school bus operations should have been managed as statutory corporations. The statutory types of organizations have proven their worth on Montserrat. They allow for capacity building, growth and sustainable employment; consider the success of Montserrat Electricity Services, the Port Authority, Social Security and the Stamp Bureau. They are great training ground for board directors.

And the final word:  Your Excellency, it is the collective thoughts or mindset of Montserratians that determines our fitness for purpose; and our collective thoughts are objectified in the quality of the political leadership. I beg you therefore to extend your purpose beyond that of administrative management. Of course, Montserrat will present you with peculiar challenges, for a country that prevents its people from eating the humble ripe banana… is really not fit for purpose. We are indeed in our state of consciousness, Montserrat style.

Thank you Ma’am!  You have read this article to here, you are fit; and you will reach there. In fact you are already there; the contents of your Christmas message and your subsequent press conference have absolved you of any unfitness for purpose.

Best wishes Your Excellency! Best wishes. And welcome!