Is Mr Romeo the Premier “who asked for more”?

Part 6/2019 (Contribution)

Does Montserrat have a right to ask for “more”? (If not, why is Article 73 having an impact?)

BRADES, Montserrat, June 3, 2019 –  In Charles Dickens’ famous novel Oliver Twist, after three months of thin gruel in the Parish workhouse, nine-year-old Oliver Twist dared to ask for more:

Please, sir, I want some more”

“ . . . he was desperate with hunger, and reckless with misery. He rose from the table; and advancing to the master, basin and spoon in hand, said: somewhat alarmed at his own temerity:

‘Please, sir, I want some more.’

The master was a fat, healthy man; but he turned very pale. He gazed in stupefied astonishment on the small rebel for some seconds, and then clung for support to the copper. The assistants were paralysed with wonder; the boys with fear.

‘What!’ said the master at length, in a faint voice.

‘Please, sir,’ replied Oliver, ‘I want some more.’

The master aimed a blow at Oliver’s head with the ladle; pinioned him in his arm; and shrieked aloud for the beadle.”[1]

Soon, the matter was taken to the Board (but of course poor Oliver was not permitted to be there, to answer the charge and speak up for himself):

“The board were sitting in solemn conclave, when Mr. Bumble rushed into the room in great excitement, and addressing the gentleman in the high chair, said,

‘Mr. Limbkins, I beg your pardon, sir! Oliver Twist has asked for more!’

There was a general start. Horror was depicted on every countenance . . .”

Thus did Charles Dickens decisively skewer the half-hearted provision for relief of the poor in his day and the way in which those who cared for the needy too often fattened themselves at their expense. And while we have moved on beyond such low meanness today, sometimes we still need a reminder.

That is what, it seems, Premier Romeo has done.

For years, he pointed to the UN Charter, Article 73:  the UK is legally bound to “ensure . . . advancement” and again to “promote constructive measures of development.” He highlighted the 2012 FCO White Paper on Overseas Territories: “reasonable assistance needs of the Territories are a first call on the UK’s international development budget.” He has been consistently dismissed, publicly mocked, even humiliated.

However, it seems the 2018 UN General Assembly has taken a very different view than many local pundits and politicians. For, as Premier Romeo quoted in his budget reply on May 28th, on December 7, 2018 over 180 UN member states (out of 193) passed a Resolution on Montserrat.[2] Let us now quote it and highlight key points:

Noting the statement made by the Premier of Montserrat at the 2018 Pacific regional seminar, in which he expressed the view that the previous request made for the removal of Montserrat from the agenda of the Special Committee should be reversed,

Noting also the information provided by the Premier that Montserrat could not achieve its development goals if its economic dependency continued, compounded by ongoing financial challenges, and that securing funding for rebuilding key infrastructure lost and helping evacuees from the 1995 volcanic crisis required an intervention from the Special Committee as a neutral partner,

Noting further the request made by the Premier for a visiting mission of the Special Committee to the Territory, which could also include meetings with evacuees in Antigua and Barbuda, the United Kingdom and the United States of America . . . .

Recalling the importance of improving the infrastructure and accessibility of Montserrat, as conveyed by the Premier of Montserrat to the Chair of the Special Committee in their meeting on 11 May 2015 . . . .

1. Reaffirms the inalienable right of the people of Montserrat to self-determination, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations and with General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) . . . .

8. Calls upon the administering Power, the specialized agencies and other  organizations of the United Nations system, as well as regional and other organizations, to continue to provide assistance to the Territory in alleviating the consequences of the volcanic eruption . . . .

10. Calls upon the administering Power to participate in and cooperate fully with the work of the Special Committee in order to implement the provisions of Article 73 e of the Charter and the Declaration and in order to advise the Committee on the implementation of the provisions under Article 73 b of the Charter on efforts to promote self-government in Montserrat, and encourages the administering Power to facilitate visiting and special missions to the Territory;

11. Stresses the importance of the invitation extended by the territorial Government for a visiting mission by the Special Committee, calls upon the administering Power to facilitate such a mission, and requests the Chair of the Special Committee to take all the steps necessary to that end;

12. Reaffirms the responsibility of the administering Power under the Charter to promote the economic and social development and to preserve the cultural identity of the Territory, and requests the administering Power to take steps to enlist and make effective use of all possible assistance, on both a bilateral and a multilateral basis, in the strengthening of the economy of the Territory . . .

In short, the overwhelming verdict of the world community is in, and Premier Romeo stands decisively vindicated.

An Article 73 visit is expected, the UK must facilitate our self-determination and self-government. And, the UK has been specifically, firmly reminded of its  “responsibility . . . under the Charter to promote the economic and social development and to preserve the cultural identity of the Territory [of Montserrat].”

That’s the obvious context for the recent Launch of the Breakwater and Berth project and for the Fibre Optic Cable project, Airport improvements, hospital, school upgrading and more, all of which are in the 2019/20 budget. It is the base for the 30 million CIPREG capital development programme. However – while key breakthrough projects have actually begun to roll out – we still hear voices demanding to know where the £500 millions of DfID-funded aid over the past twenty-four years have gone (other than straight into Consultants’ pockets). 

In all fairness, while results are mixed and it has taken far too long for us to reach a stage where economy-transforming projects are beginning to roll out, the long-suffering UK taxpayer is due more thanks than that. If the 60% of our recurrent budget that comes from the UK taxpayer were to be withdrawn, Montserrat would instantly collapse. Even more of our capital budget has come from the UK taxpayer. So the truth is, we can see where a lot of that aid has gone: dividing £500 millions by 24 gives £20.8 million per year as an average support figure – one  that is fairly close to our annual aid package. So, our problem has not been that we have received “nothing,” but instead that “more” – actually, “enough” – was and is needed to help us get back up on our own feet after the devastation caused by the volcano. 

Halcrow’s Carrs Bay port drawings at 60% and 90%

For example, in his recent Budget Reply, Premier Romeo publicly showed that in February 2014, the UK Government questioned whether the  the Carrs Bay port option was viable, and therefore offered to fund a less costly Little Bay option.  In short, given former Premier Meade’s rejection of the Little Bay option and his difficulties in getting private investors, the Carr’s Bay Port Project was at deadlock by the date of Hon Allen Duncan’s letter to Premier Meade: Feb 14, 2014.

The government changed in September 2014 and we took a £14.4 million slice we got from UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s £300 million UKCIF program [3] and topped it up with £7.1 millions in EU aid funds, to provide much the same breakwater and berth as we could have had four or five years ago. (By the way, can anyone tell us when the Halcrow 100% design for the Carrs Bay port option was presented to the public, and what it would have cost. Where are the drawings? The 60% or 90% stages[4] are not good enough.)

PPerhaps, we can now come together and decide that from now on, we will make good use of our UN Charter, Article 73 rights. END


[1]Oliver Twist, Ch. 2.

[2] UNGA A/RES/73/114  https://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/73/114

[3] See CDB: https://www.caribank.org/our-work/programmes/united-kingdom-caribbean-infrastructure-partnership-fund-ukcif

[4] See TMR, https://www.themontserratreporter.com/12472/

Leave a Reply

Please Support The Montserrat Reporter

This is bottom line for us! Unless we receive your support, our effort will not be able to continue. Whatever and however you can, please support The Montserrat Reporter in whatever amount you can (and whatever frequency) – and it only takes a minute.
Thank you

TMR print pages

Flow: (MON) Handset Upgrade

Know about your Land Transactions

Newsletter

Archives

Flow: Handset offer – Upgrade

https://indd.adobe.com/embed/2b4deb22-cf03-4509-9bbd-938c7e8ecc7d

Part 6/2019 (Contribution)

Does Montserrat have a right to ask for “more”? (If not, why is Article 73 having an impact?)

BRADES, Montserrat, June 3, 2019 –  In Charles Dickens’ famous novel Oliver Twist, after three months of thin gruel in the Parish workhouse, nine-year-old Oliver Twist dared to ask for more:

Insert Ads Here
Please, sir, I want some more”

“ . . . he was desperate with hunger, and reckless with misery. He rose from the table; and advancing to the master, basin and spoon in hand, said: somewhat alarmed at his own temerity:

‘Please, sir, I want some more.’

The master was a fat, healthy man; but he turned very pale. He gazed in stupefied astonishment on the small rebel for some seconds, and then clung for support to the copper. The assistants were paralysed with wonder; the boys with fear.

‘What!’ said the master at length, in a faint voice.

‘Please, sir,’ replied Oliver, ‘I want some more.’

The master aimed a blow at Oliver’s head with the ladle; pinioned him in his arm; and shrieked aloud for the beadle.”[1]

Soon, the matter was taken to the Board (but of course poor Oliver was not permitted to be there, to answer the charge and speak up for himself):

“The board were sitting in solemn conclave, when Mr. Bumble rushed into the room in great excitement, and addressing the gentleman in the high chair, said,

‘Mr. Limbkins, I beg your pardon, sir! Oliver Twist has asked for more!’

There was a general start. Horror was depicted on every countenance . . .”

Thus did Charles Dickens decisively skewer the half-hearted provision for relief of the poor in his day and the way in which those who cared for the needy too often fattened themselves at their expense. And while we have moved on beyond such low meanness today, sometimes we still need a reminder.

That is what, it seems, Premier Romeo has done.

For years, he pointed to the UN Charter, Article 73:  the UK is legally bound to “ensure . . . advancement” and again to “promote constructive measures of development.” He highlighted the 2012 FCO White Paper on Overseas Territories: “reasonable assistance needs of the Territories are a first call on the UK’s international development budget.” He has been consistently dismissed, publicly mocked, even humiliated.

However, it seems the 2018 UN General Assembly has taken a very different view than many local pundits and politicians. For, as Premier Romeo quoted in his budget reply on May 28th, on December 7, 2018 over 180 UN member states (out of 193) passed a Resolution on Montserrat.[2] Let us now quote it and highlight key points:

Noting the statement made by the Premier of Montserrat at the 2018 Pacific regional seminar, in which he expressed the view that the previous request made for the removal of Montserrat from the agenda of the Special Committee should be reversed,

Noting also the information provided by the Premier that Montserrat could not achieve its development goals if its economic dependency continued, compounded by ongoing financial challenges, and that securing funding for rebuilding key infrastructure lost and helping evacuees from the 1995 volcanic crisis required an intervention from the Special Committee as a neutral partner,

Noting further the request made by the Premier for a visiting mission of the Special Committee to the Territory, which could also include meetings with evacuees in Antigua and Barbuda, the United Kingdom and the United States of America . . . .

Recalling the importance of improving the infrastructure and accessibility of Montserrat, as conveyed by the Premier of Montserrat to the Chair of the Special Committee in their meeting on 11 May 2015 . . . .

1. Reaffirms the inalienable right of the people of Montserrat to self-determination, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations and with General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) . . . .

8. Calls upon the administering Power, the specialized agencies and other  organizations of the United Nations system, as well as regional and other organizations, to continue to provide assistance to the Territory in alleviating the consequences of the volcanic eruption . . . .

10. Calls upon the administering Power to participate in and cooperate fully with the work of the Special Committee in order to implement the provisions of Article 73 e of the Charter and the Declaration and in order to advise the Committee on the implementation of the provisions under Article 73 b of the Charter on efforts to promote self-government in Montserrat, and encourages the administering Power to facilitate visiting and special missions to the Territory;

11. Stresses the importance of the invitation extended by the territorial Government for a visiting mission by the Special Committee, calls upon the administering Power to facilitate such a mission, and requests the Chair of the Special Committee to take all the steps necessary to that end;

12. Reaffirms the responsibility of the administering Power under the Charter to promote the economic and social development and to preserve the cultural identity of the Territory, and requests the administering Power to take steps to enlist and make effective use of all possible assistance, on both a bilateral and a multilateral basis, in the strengthening of the economy of the Territory . . .

In short, the overwhelming verdict of the world community is in, and Premier Romeo stands decisively vindicated.

An Article 73 visit is expected, the UK must facilitate our self-determination and self-government. And, the UK has been specifically, firmly reminded of its  “responsibility . . . under the Charter to promote the economic and social development and to preserve the cultural identity of the Territory [of Montserrat].”

That’s the obvious context for the recent Launch of the Breakwater and Berth project and for the Fibre Optic Cable project, Airport improvements, hospital, school upgrading and more, all of which are in the 2019/20 budget. It is the base for the 30 million CIPREG capital development programme. However – while key breakthrough projects have actually begun to roll out – we still hear voices demanding to know where the £500 millions of DfID-funded aid over the past twenty-four years have gone (other than straight into Consultants’ pockets). 

In all fairness, while results are mixed and it has taken far too long for us to reach a stage where economy-transforming projects are beginning to roll out, the long-suffering UK taxpayer is due more thanks than that. If the 60% of our recurrent budget that comes from the UK taxpayer were to be withdrawn, Montserrat would instantly collapse. Even more of our capital budget has come from the UK taxpayer. So the truth is, we can see where a lot of that aid has gone: dividing £500 millions by 24 gives £20.8 million per year as an average support figure – one  that is fairly close to our annual aid package. So, our problem has not been that we have received “nothing,” but instead that “more” – actually, “enough” – was and is needed to help us get back up on our own feet after the devastation caused by the volcano. 

Halcrow’s Carrs Bay port drawings at 60% and 90%

For example, in his recent Budget Reply, Premier Romeo publicly showed that in February 2014, the UK Government questioned whether the  the Carrs Bay port option was viable, and therefore offered to fund a less costly Little Bay option.  In short, given former Premier Meade’s rejection of the Little Bay option and his difficulties in getting private investors, the Carr’s Bay Port Project was at deadlock by the date of Hon Allen Duncan’s letter to Premier Meade: Feb 14, 2014.

The government changed in September 2014 and we took a £14.4 million slice we got from UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s £300 million UKCIF program [3] and topped it up with £7.1 millions in EU aid funds, to provide much the same breakwater and berth as we could have had four or five years ago. (By the way, can anyone tell us when the Halcrow 100% design for the Carrs Bay port option was presented to the public, and what it would have cost. Where are the drawings? The 60% or 90% stages[4] are not good enough.)

PPerhaps, we can now come together and decide that from now on, we will make good use of our UN Charter, Article 73 rights. END


[1]Oliver Twist, Ch. 2.

[2] UNGA A/RES/73/114  https://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/73/114

[3] See CDB: https://www.caribank.org/our-work/programmes/united-kingdom-caribbean-infrastructure-partnership-fund-ukcif

[4] See TMR, https://www.themontserratreporter.com/12472/