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How the MDC is no more!

The sense of it all – are they all acting out ignorance?

Untitled-1

(l to r) HE Governor Adrian Davis, Martin Dawson

Where is the Government of Montserrat in addressing the fall out of their role in the obvious mishandling of the economic affairs of Montserrat? How much do they understand the economic pains of the people of the island?

Department For International Development (DFID) on the ground representative Martin Dawson in Montserrat, while denying that the Task Force report which recommended the closure and winding up of the Montserrat Development Corporation (MDC) was a predestined outcome, admitted that the closure was in train even before the October DFID audit report which still remains secret.

The well placed pundits do say that it is well known that hardly anything which was not an issue during a political campaign can be counted upon to become policy by the winning party. Just recently one detractor sought to remind that the People’s Democratic Party (PDM) had said during the campaign thay they would shut down the MDC when (if) they won the elections.

But Martin Dawson the DFID head in Montserrat, seeks to contradict the suggestion that the shut down of the MDC was a foregone conclusion long before the recommendations made by him and what we will call ‘ill-advised and misinformed – inappropriately chosen few.

We suggested to both he and Governor Davis at the May 22, 2015 press conference that new arrangement the new monies that MDC had been spending which began in September 2013, whereby DFID had the right to suspend funds, delay funds, etc (see previous outline of those in last week’s editorial and previous issues) invoked the MDC shut-down last October.

“Not so against the M.O.U or with the M.O.U. in mind I think the issues that were raised by the concerns that the new government raise on M.D.C. and DFID subsequent internal audit report,” he said, referring to the October Audit report which we accuse as still being held as secret.

He acknowledged that it did set things in motion as he explained about the eventual review by the task force, suggesting that in fact began with the new Governments concern over MDC.

“Well those are the issues that the task force had looked at within the governance arrangements and policies and procedures within the M.D.C. So on the basis of that sort of chronology of the order of how events took place with government concerns, DFID’s internal audit, and decision made in December by DFID to suspend funding that was how it was done.

Elsewhere the Governor had stated that the decision to change the board came before the decision Dawson refers to in December. The Governor had also indicated that the Government had made the board change almost immediately after taking office, probably following the concerns Dawson refers to.

Dawson then suggests that it is after the decision to have the task force got to work the decision to close was made. “…and (then)we had then formed the task force now to look at the specific issues the government asked us to, on the basis of the other two bits of work to then look at it in more detail that the recommendation was then made to close.

Dawson then agreed as the following was put to him. “It would be correct to say that you were following the arrangements in that the context of that arrangement (Sep 2013 MOU) where if they (DFID) observe certain things, they suspend funding etc. etc. and eventually the government in discussion with the government because it was either the government or DFID who could do this, the government would then have a discussion with DFID and that basically is what brought the task force into being!”

“Yes,” he said, “the government after we had done the internal auditing process; then the government obviously raised initial concerns. The government said we’d like to look at this, can you look at this more closely and we formed a task force to do that and they said would you like to participate and I said yes.”

When we pressed for some knowledge about the October audit report, Martin offered: “Well I’ll identify the areas I’d just been talking around, governance and policies, and procedures, value for money. That was what was a big factor; that the governor also mentioned those are the areas highlighted of weaknesses and concerns and that’s sort of what the task force looked at.”

With the following in mind from our front page of January 23, it was obvious the full truth was not forthcoming or the Governor’s memory is failing as he claims he always read TMR.

Premier the Hon. (Don)aldson Romeo has confirmed in a brief interview with TMR Editor that upon his Government’s initial findings, faced with ‘fi res’ and emergencies upon taking office following General Elections in September last year, he acted immediately and collaborated with the UK Department for International Development (DFID) in halting or suspending operations/works (not the functioning) carried on by the Montserrat Development Corporation (MDC).

The Premier said that the eventual decision was made even more urgent following reports (audits) that showed that the MDC was operating in shambles where little or nothing seemed to have been conducted in a proper manner, negating the goals of the MDC as the engine of growth for Montserrat.

I again put it to Dawson that the report was a sham and reported the expected outcome. “Wasn’t it a foregone conclusion that the MDC would have been shut down?” I asked.

The Governor evading the question to some extent responded. “It produced four recommendations one of which was for the M.D.C. to be shut down. That was the preferred recommendation of the task force but it was up to the government and the Cabinet to decide whether they agreed with the recommendations – they were recommendations. And sorry those recommendations were set out in the Executive Summary which were made available.”

(The Executive Summary) “Which told the people of Montserrat nothing,” I responded, noting that having gone through the report, “I do not know how we could come to that conclusion to shut down.”

“Do you think Martin that what you guys reported in here (the report) support the actions that you all have taken, the eventual action?”

Dawson: responded, “Yes I do, I think that’s why we made the recommendation that we did. I mean and I’ve also highlighted in previous press conferences you know I think some of the the difficulties that the MDC face really from the start from its creation and many of the other issues and opportunities, we had to address some of the concerns over the last years that have been taken and I think the recommendation to actually stop it and start again and create something that should be created properly was the right way to do it.”

He added, “I think you could you can do as much sort of tinkering and probably make improvements as you like and that wasn’t,” (suggesting that there were recommendations before to modify the MDC operations). “You know they tried that in the past and they weren’t adopted for whatever reason so I think it’s better to just stop and start again anew.”

That I argued told us that there was nothing wrong with the MDC, as I reacted. “And believe you me, you have just told me exactly what I’m saying/ You know there’s not a thing wrong with M.D.C., nothing was wrong with M.D.C. even in your report, your report speaks to that not a thing was really wrong with M.D.C.”

It was pointed out to them. “People were doing things wrong in MDC, which is really what I’m getting up with the governor. People are doing things wrong not following the rules that’s what your report spoke about. I mean throughout is what it addressed.”

I accused and reemphasised further, “That’s why it wasn’t made public, I mean throughout it’s what it addressed.”

Governor Davis then repeated that erroneous view point which we saw only as an attempt at pure ignorance rather than serious fact. “I mean one of the issues which made it seem sensible to close down and restart was this absence of proper legislation and it wasn’t established in a proper way,” he said.

Then he added a consideration which was kept in the distance for the 10 years the MDC had been in the making. “As it turns out and that’s what we’re going to be doing in particular in the next few months to actually establish it as a statutory body formally or some other kind of vehicle.”

The DFID country rep then closed with the following: “The M.D.C. was set up under the Companies Act would with Bylaws. It should have been set up under the M.D.C. Act of 2008 with its own legislation, setting out very clearly what the organization could and should do and that wasn’t done.”

We believe it is safe to note as confirmed by legal authority there is no such Act in Montserrat as an ‘MDC Act of 2008’ as mentioned on more than one occasion now by these gentlemen.

It is then we once again told the Governor that the MDC was set up within the laws of the country, that he clearly did not know what he was talking about, having suggested earlier that they should bring their legal advisors to explain, what it is they are trying to tell the people of Montserrat.

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The sense of it all – are they all acting out ignorance?

Untitled-1

(l to r) HE Governor Adrian Davis, Martin Dawson

Where is the Government of Montserrat in addressing the fall out of their role in the obvious mishandling of the economic affairs of Montserrat? How much do they understand the economic pains of the people of the island?

Department For International Development (DFID) on the ground representative Martin Dawson in Montserrat, while denying that the Task Force report which recommended the closure and winding up of the Montserrat Development Corporation (MDC) was a predestined outcome, admitted that the closure was in train even before the October DFID audit report which still remains secret.

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The well placed pundits do say that it is well known that hardly anything which was not an issue during a political campaign can be counted upon to become policy by the winning party. Just recently one detractor sought to remind that the People’s Democratic Party (PDM) had said during the campaign thay they would shut down the MDC when (if) they won the elections.

But Martin Dawson the DFID head in Montserrat, seeks to contradict the suggestion that the shut down of the MDC was a foregone conclusion long before the recommendations made by him and what we will call ‘ill-advised and misinformed – inappropriately chosen few.

We suggested to both he and Governor Davis at the May 22, 2015 press conference that new arrangement the new monies that MDC had been spending which began in September 2013, whereby DFID had the right to suspend funds, delay funds, etc (see previous outline of those in last week’s editorial and previous issues) invoked the MDC shut-down last October.

“Not so against the M.O.U or with the M.O.U. in mind I think the issues that were raised by the concerns that the new government raise on M.D.C. and DFID subsequent internal audit report,” he said, referring to the October Audit report which we accuse as still being held as secret.

He acknowledged that it did set things in motion as he explained about the eventual review by the task force, suggesting that in fact began with the new Governments concern over MDC.

“Well those are the issues that the task force had looked at within the governance arrangements and policies and procedures within the M.D.C. So on the basis of that sort of chronology of the order of how events took place with government concerns, DFID’s internal audit, and decision made in December by DFID to suspend funding that was how it was done.

Elsewhere the Governor had stated that the decision to change the board came before the decision Dawson refers to in December. The Governor had also indicated that the Government had made the board change almost immediately after taking office, probably following the concerns Dawson refers to.

Dawson then suggests that it is after the decision to have the task force got to work the decision to close was made. “…and (then)we had then formed the task force now to look at the specific issues the government asked us to, on the basis of the other two bits of work to then look at it in more detail that the recommendation was then made to close.

Dawson then agreed as the following was put to him. “It would be correct to say that you were following the arrangements in that the context of that arrangement (Sep 2013 MOU) where if they (DFID) observe certain things, they suspend funding etc. etc. and eventually the government in discussion with the government because it was either the government or DFID who could do this, the government would then have a discussion with DFID and that basically is what brought the task force into being!”

“Yes,” he said, “the government after we had done the internal auditing process; then the government obviously raised initial concerns. The government said we’d like to look at this, can you look at this more closely and we formed a task force to do that and they said would you like to participate and I said yes.”

When we pressed for some knowledge about the October audit report, Martin offered: “Well I’ll identify the areas I’d just been talking around, governance and policies, and procedures, value for money. That was what was a big factor; that the governor also mentioned those are the areas highlighted of weaknesses and concerns and that’s sort of what the task force looked at.”

With the following in mind from our front page of January 23, it was obvious the full truth was not forthcoming or the Governor’s memory is failing as he claims he always read TMR.

Premier the Hon. (Don)aldson Romeo has confirmed in a brief interview with TMR Editor that upon his Government’s initial findings, faced with ‘fi res’ and emergencies upon taking office following General Elections in September last year, he acted immediately and collaborated with the UK Department for International Development (DFID) in halting or suspending operations/works (not the functioning) carried on by the Montserrat Development Corporation (MDC).

The Premier said that the eventual decision was made even more urgent following reports (audits) that showed that the MDC was operating in shambles where little or nothing seemed to have been conducted in a proper manner, negating the goals of the MDC as the engine of growth for Montserrat.

I again put it to Dawson that the report was a sham and reported the expected outcome. “Wasn’t it a foregone conclusion that the MDC would have been shut down?” I asked.

The Governor evading the question to some extent responded. “It produced four recommendations one of which was for the M.D.C. to be shut down. That was the preferred recommendation of the task force but it was up to the government and the Cabinet to decide whether they agreed with the recommendations – they were recommendations. And sorry those recommendations were set out in the Executive Summary which were made available.”

(The Executive Summary) “Which told the people of Montserrat nothing,” I responded, noting that having gone through the report, “I do not know how we could come to that conclusion to shut down.”

“Do you think Martin that what you guys reported in here (the report) support the actions that you all have taken, the eventual action?”

Dawson: responded, “Yes I do, I think that’s why we made the recommendation that we did. I mean and I’ve also highlighted in previous press conferences you know I think some of the the difficulties that the MDC face really from the start from its creation and many of the other issues and opportunities, we had to address some of the concerns over the last years that have been taken and I think the recommendation to actually stop it and start again and create something that should be created properly was the right way to do it.”

He added, “I think you could you can do as much sort of tinkering and probably make improvements as you like and that wasn’t,” (suggesting that there were recommendations before to modify the MDC operations). “You know they tried that in the past and they weren’t adopted for whatever reason so I think it’s better to just stop and start again anew.”

That I argued told us that there was nothing wrong with the MDC, as I reacted. “And believe you me, you have just told me exactly what I’m saying/ You know there’s not a thing wrong with M.D.C., nothing was wrong with M.D.C. even in your report, your report speaks to that not a thing was really wrong with M.D.C.”

It was pointed out to them. “People were doing things wrong in MDC, which is really what I’m getting up with the governor. People are doing things wrong not following the rules that’s what your report spoke about. I mean throughout is what it addressed.”

I accused and reemphasised further, “That’s why it wasn’t made public, I mean throughout it’s what it addressed.”

Governor Davis then repeated that erroneous view point which we saw only as an attempt at pure ignorance rather than serious fact. “I mean one of the issues which made it seem sensible to close down and restart was this absence of proper legislation and it wasn’t established in a proper way,” he said.

Then he added a consideration which was kept in the distance for the 10 years the MDC had been in the making. “As it turns out and that’s what we’re going to be doing in particular in the next few months to actually establish it as a statutory body formally or some other kind of vehicle.”

The DFID country rep then closed with the following: “The M.D.C. was set up under the Companies Act would with Bylaws. It should have been set up under the M.D.C. Act of 2008 with its own legislation, setting out very clearly what the organization could and should do and that wasn’t done.”

We believe it is safe to note as confirmed by legal authority there is no such Act in Montserrat as an ‘MDC Act of 2008’ as mentioned on more than one occasion now by these gentlemen.

It is then we once again told the Governor that the MDC was set up within the laws of the country, that he clearly did not know what he was talking about, having suggested earlier that they should bring their legal advisors to explain, what it is they are trying to tell the people of Montserrat.