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Governor’s Christmas Message

A CHRISTMAS MESSAGE from His Excellency the Governor Adrian Davis

I’m proud and delighted to be giving my first Christmas message.  Since April, my wife and I have met many of you in the community. We have had the opportunity to celebrate the 100th birthday of Miss Jemmie Duberry and the 107th  birthday of Mrs Catherine Francis. We have sought to learn from your experiences and your thoughts and aspirations for the future. Sujue has worked actively to promote the interests of the Red Cross as its patron, and has been involved in many community fund raising activities. We have both endeavoured to open up Government House to the public to a greater extent than has been done in the recent past.

Governor Adrian Davis, his wife SuJue, and family

The lasting effects of the combination of hurricane Hugo and then the eruption of Soufriere would have tested any community to the limit. We have been impressed by the enormous determination and stoicism that you have shown. The volcano is currently in its longest pause  since the first eruption. We have been able to reduce the hazard warning level to 2, enabling access to Zone C for the first time in almost 5 years. But we must continue to be vigilant.

Economic times are tough. Montserrat has been affected by the same cold economic climate as in the US, the UK, the Eurozone and many of our Caribbean neighbours. We need to work through these tough times and adapt as best we can. Both Premier Meade and I see the economic growth and development of Montserrat as our number one priority.

I know from talking to many of you that ambitious plans exist to take advantage of economic opportunities as they arise.  I applaud those. I want businesses to flourish as effectively as possible, with regulation confined to the need to ensure all legal requirements are met. I think the Diaspora conference is a good initiative, starting preparations for what I am sure will be a very successful 50th anniversary of the Festival next year. The Little Bay Charette, involving international and local investors, has been an important milestone in the development of Little Bay and Carr’s Bay. The international investors were impressed by what they saw. They recognised the potential. We need to build on this interest as the realisation of private foreign investment could have a major positive impact on the Montserrat economy.

For the first time, the Cabinet has discussions with all Government departments over their spending plans. This will give us greater appreciation of where priorities should be set so that the limited funds at our disposal can have the maximum impact. We are also looking at new revenues. For example, we will, for the first time, be imposing fees on the helicopter over-flights by tourists coming from Antigua to look at the volcano.

The DFID Minister of State visited a few days ago. He emphasised the commitment that the Coalition Government felt towards the overseas territories. This had been shown particularly by the decision to go ahead with the building of an airport in St Helena. As a matter of interest, the population of St Helena is virtually identical to that of Montserrat. The UK is committed to a similar strategic growth package here. It revolves around geothermal energy, effective and reliable access, and developments at Little Bay. On his visit, the Minister announced an in principle decision to go ahead with public funding of the initial production phase of geothermal energy. Initial conclusions are that we are talking about an output that would cover Montserrat’s domestic energy requirements, but not leave room for export. He also wanted to make a final check on whether the private sector would be interested in a scheme. He announced an immediate contribution of up to £4.2 million to meet Government arrears to the Social Security Fund. This will enable some 170 pensioners who have their pensions frozen to receive their full entitlements. Subsequent to the visit, DFID have also agreed to increase their allocation to the roads extension project by a further £1.45 million, to a total of around £6 million. This extra sum will enable the burying of utilities by the side of the road which will make it easier to sustain power during hurricanes. Finally, the FCO have agreed to allocate about £150,000 for a much needed security upgrade at the prison.

I am therefore optimistic that we are at the stage when, on both sides, we stop talking and start delivering. That’s what many of you have told me that we should be doing. I agree.  Delivery is the key word. Of course we must be realistic. Of course we must be proportionate. But we must be determined collectively to do all we can we move Montserrat back towards the path of increasing financial independence.

My wife and I are very happy that our family has joined us in Montserrat this Christmas. They are experiencing the same hospitable welcome as we did eight months ago. So I wish you all a very happy Christmas and a successful New Year. Remember, we are all in this together. We all want to see a re-invigorated Montserrat. Together we can make it happen.

God bless Montserrat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

A CHRISTMAS MESSAGE from His Excellency the Governor Adrian Davis

I’m proud and delighted to be giving my first Christmas message.  Since April, my wife and I have met many of you in the community. We have had the opportunity to celebrate the 100th birthday of Miss Jemmie Duberry and the 107th  birthday of Mrs Catherine Francis. We have sought to learn from your experiences and your thoughts and aspirations for the future. Sujue has worked actively to promote the interests of the Red Cross as its patron, and has been involved in many community fund raising activities. We have both endeavoured to open up Government House to the public to a greater extent than has been done in the recent past.

Governor Adrian Davis, his wife SuJue, and family

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The lasting effects of the combination of hurricane Hugo and then the eruption of Soufriere would have tested any community to the limit. We have been impressed by the enormous determination and stoicism that you have shown. The volcano is currently in its longest pause  since the first eruption. We have been able to reduce the hazard warning level to 2, enabling access to Zone C for the first time in almost 5 years. But we must continue to be vigilant.

Economic times are tough. Montserrat has been affected by the same cold economic climate as in the US, the UK, the Eurozone and many of our Caribbean neighbours. We need to work through these tough times and adapt as best we can. Both Premier Meade and I see the economic growth and development of Montserrat as our number one priority.

I know from talking to many of you that ambitious plans exist to take advantage of economic opportunities as they arise.  I applaud those. I want businesses to flourish as effectively as possible, with regulation confined to the need to ensure all legal requirements are met. I think the Diaspora conference is a good initiative, starting preparations for what I am sure will be a very successful 50th anniversary of the Festival next year. The Little Bay Charette, involving international and local investors, has been an important milestone in the development of Little Bay and Carr’s Bay. The international investors were impressed by what they saw. They recognised the potential. We need to build on this interest as the realisation of private foreign investment could have a major positive impact on the Montserrat economy.

For the first time, the Cabinet has discussions with all Government departments over their spending plans. This will give us greater appreciation of where priorities should be set so that the limited funds at our disposal can have the maximum impact. We are also looking at new revenues. For example, we will, for the first time, be imposing fees on the helicopter over-flights by tourists coming from Antigua to look at the volcano.

The DFID Minister of State visited a few days ago. He emphasised the commitment that the Coalition Government felt towards the overseas territories. This had been shown particularly by the decision to go ahead with the building of an airport in St Helena. As a matter of interest, the population of St Helena is virtually identical to that of Montserrat. The UK is committed to a similar strategic growth package here. It revolves around geothermal energy, effective and reliable access, and developments at Little Bay. On his visit, the Minister announced an in principle decision to go ahead with public funding of the initial production phase of geothermal energy. Initial conclusions are that we are talking about an output that would cover Montserrat’s domestic energy requirements, but not leave room for export. He also wanted to make a final check on whether the private sector would be interested in a scheme. He announced an immediate contribution of up to £4.2 million to meet Government arrears to the Social Security Fund. This will enable some 170 pensioners who have their pensions frozen to receive their full entitlements. Subsequent to the visit, DFID have also agreed to increase their allocation to the roads extension project by a further £1.45 million, to a total of around £6 million. This extra sum will enable the burying of utilities by the side of the road which will make it easier to sustain power during hurricanes. Finally, the FCO have agreed to allocate about £150,000 for a much needed security upgrade at the prison.

I am therefore optimistic that we are at the stage when, on both sides, we stop talking and start delivering. That’s what many of you have told me that we should be doing. I agree.  Delivery is the key word. Of course we must be realistic. Of course we must be proportionate. But we must be determined collectively to do all we can we move Montserrat back towards the path of increasing financial independence.

My wife and I are very happy that our family has joined us in Montserrat this Christmas. They are experiencing the same hospitable welcome as we did eight months ago. So I wish you all a very happy Christmas and a successful New Year. Remember, we are all in this together. We all want to see a re-invigorated Montserrat. Together we can make it happen.

God bless Montserrat.