Is this what “doing the right thing” calls for? Is it possible it can be done, soon?

When the UK DFID Minister of State Alan Duncan visited Montserrat late last year, he brought good words of promise to Montserrat.

Montserrat was in the process of preparing to present its next year’s budget to DFID and one must wonder if they either didn’t take the Minister’s words seriously, misunderstood, or they were carried away by them leading them perhaps into complacency.

The Premier, while the DFID budgetary talks team was briefing the press, was telling the country, “…the net effect is we’re not giving you anymore money, we’re not recommending giving you any more money,” referring to what his government was told by the DFID team.

Meanwhile the DFID team was explaining to the press, their statement of non-committal, “on the basis governments revised projections.”

We have reported in brief terms what the team had reported, but here now when they were questioned on the reason for what we considered historic (leaving without agreeing the budgetary support), we received the following explanations.

“We have had a series of long and detailed discussions with the government of Montserrat about the expenditure projections and revenue projections for this financial year. We have noted that their current fiscal position is unsustainable and will require serious decisions prioritization by cabinet and by the line ministries to balance their budget. Government of Montserrat has already identified a number of areas where we agree they can make significant cost savings during the next financial year,” they said.

They said that the cost savings include, a revision of our efforts to review the civil service pension scheme. “A actuary review of the civil service pension scheme will be conducted in the very near future and the recommendations will need to be implemented from this review to mitigate short and long term exposure.”

GoM have also made a series of commitments on outsourcing of various government activities to the private sector; and, “we are also recommending that they look further at their membership and payments to regional bodies and initiatives to ensure that these are essential and that they represent good value for money.”

The team said their recommendations to GoM, “is that any savings that they realize during this set of reforms these sets of initiatives, should be reallocated during the financial year to their spending priorities.”

Further they said: “Given the evidence we have received from the government of Montserrat it seems that some of the areas they might want to consider for these savings should be in the areas of social sector in particular, housing, social welfare, education, and health,” adding, “we are also clear that maintenance is another area which deserve prioritization during the coming year.”

The state of affairs regarding the uncertainty of the budget, despite what the Premier who is Minister of Finance, told his colleagues that  the UK government has shown confidence in them, because, he said, “we’re not getting a decline in budgetary support speaks well of the confidence  which they have in the government,” leaves us to figure, that either we do not understand what the DFID team was saying, or others didn’t remember what they said or heard. There isn’t the truth somewhere.

Minister Duncan and now the DFID team said pretty much the same thing they told Cayman Islands as they insisted on fiscal responsibility from the Cayman Islands. The status quo is no more, but it doesn’t make us beggars, nor do we have expect doom. Montserrat simply must do the right thing and get the support it needs to change the lives of its people, without everyone leaving to go to Britain.

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

When the UK DFID Minister of State Alan Duncan visited Montserrat late last year, he brought good words of promise to Montserrat.

Montserrat was in the process of preparing to present its next year’s budget to DFID and one must wonder if they either didn’t take the Minister’s words seriously, misunderstood, or they were carried away by them leading them perhaps into complacency.

The Premier, while the DFID budgetary talks team was briefing the press, was telling the country, “…the net effect is we’re not giving you anymore money, we’re not recommending giving you any more money,” referring to what his government was told by the DFID team.

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Meanwhile the DFID team was explaining to the press, their statement of non-committal, “on the basis governments revised projections.”

We have reported in brief terms what the team had reported, but here now when they were questioned on the reason for what we considered historic (leaving without agreeing the budgetary support), we received the following explanations.

“We have had a series of long and detailed discussions with the government of Montserrat about the expenditure projections and revenue projections for this financial year. We have noted that their current fiscal position is unsustainable and will require serious decisions prioritization by cabinet and by the line ministries to balance their budget. Government of Montserrat has already identified a number of areas where we agree they can make significant cost savings during the next financial year,” they said.

They said that the cost savings include, a revision of our efforts to review the civil service pension scheme. “A actuary review of the civil service pension scheme will be conducted in the very near future and the recommendations will need to be implemented from this review to mitigate short and long term exposure.”

GoM have also made a series of commitments on outsourcing of various government activities to the private sector; and, “we are also recommending that they look further at their membership and payments to regional bodies and initiatives to ensure that these are essential and that they represent good value for money.”

The team said their recommendations to GoM, “is that any savings that they realize during this set of reforms these sets of initiatives, should be reallocated during the financial year to their spending priorities.”

Further they said: “Given the evidence we have received from the government of Montserrat it seems that some of the areas they might want to consider for these savings should be in the areas of social sector in particular, housing, social welfare, education, and health,” adding, “we are also clear that maintenance is another area which deserve prioritization during the coming year.”

The state of affairs regarding the uncertainty of the budget, despite what the Premier who is Minister of Finance, told his colleagues that  the UK government has shown confidence in them, because, he said, “we’re not getting a decline in budgetary support speaks well of the confidence  which they have in the government,” leaves us to figure, that either we do not understand what the DFID team was saying, or others didn’t remember what they said or heard. There isn’t the truth somewhere.

Minister Duncan and now the DFID team said pretty much the same thing they told Cayman Islands as they insisted on fiscal responsibility from the Cayman Islands. The status quo is no more, but it doesn’t make us beggars, nor do we have expect doom. Montserrat simply must do the right thing and get the support it needs to change the lives of its people, without everyone leaving to go to Britain.