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Montserrat strategises again

Set back at least 8 years

Premier Donaldson Romeo

Premier the Hon. Donaldson Romeo at the end of early Financial Aid Mission (FAM) talks which normally takes place January-February in previous years, gave a somewhat comprehensive report on what he termed, “the takeaways” from the week’s ‘discussions’, our choice word in place of ‘negotiations’. According to the Premier, this was held two months earlier than usual, and the final aid settlement will be agreed by early February.

On the first day Dec 5, at a formal opening, per a copy of the Premier’s opening speech, he highlighted nothing new to a rhetoric of too many years now, with the exception perhaps the strange talk of ‘new’ partnership, later described as a ‘renewed’ partnership by Miss Moira Marshall.

The Premier then: “Generations of dependence is obviously unacceptable so now we must forge a strategic development partnership that delivers on our policy goal, “to change the development focus from post-volcano mode to developing and implementing plans focused on sustainable self-sufficiency that capture the spirit of Montserrat’s past and preserve Montserrat’s culture including enhancing relationships within the region and with key development partners.”

At that point he bulleted first, coming off what was described back in February as ‘improved budget talks and processes”, “we are strengthening and improving the budget process, including a new capital appraisal process, to better evaluate capital projects…”

Head of the Mission Moira Marshall, had said in February: “I have to say how impressed I, and my team have been with the Government of Montserrat’s preparation for these budget discussions.  They have come with a budget that’s been realistic, that’s been thought through, that’s thorough and detailed and very cost cutting.”

We were to learn that these ‘very cost cuttings’ had to do with the fact ‘expenditure did not meet expectations and monies were left unspent from the previous year’, something which had saddened the Premier, lamenting, invoking the promise it would not be repeated.

At that time however, she also said, declaring that the preparations showed realism with evidence, “that we can take back in support of the case for the Financial provision of aid to Montserrat…”

The Premier had said then, how particularly proud and pleased he was, “with the way discussions has gone over the week,” adding, “we’ve done allot of work on both sides… the local team have prepared and have engaged themselves in discussions with DFID… we have a better understanding of each other, what the requirements are, the pressures on DFID that are passed to us that we have to step up our game…”

That ought to have been the background with which this FAM was set, following the cuts and complete lack of development aid at that point.

This time, at the opening the Premier promised going into the talks which was also aimed at preparing for a development aid package. “A Programme Management Office is being set up to host and expedite our priority development projects; on a set timeline. This will support the Capital Appraisal process and deliver value for money business cases, project and programme governance, transparency, and risk management.”

That is seen as an announcement of a replacement for the failed Montserrat Development Corporation (MDC). This has been in the planning stages and is also supposed to replace or incorporate the shut-down Project Implementation Unit (PIU). (That unit under the former government was frequently referred to among other things as “Private Investment Unit” – “People I Use” – MDC – “More Direct Contracts”

 

Indeed, in July last year, the Office of the Premier confirmed that no decision had been taken to close down the Project Implementation Unit (PIU). They had informed that the PIU is part of a wider review designed to strengthen project management within the government.

 

The Premier announced Further plans either being developed or in place for which he would then be seeking financial aid.

  • We have developed a Tourism policy and Action plan to take us to the next phase in building our Tourism product.

 

  • We have fully embraced and supported the Public-Sector Reform Programme, Phase 2, which has put in place foundational structures for transformation of governance under phase 3.

 

  • Reforming public finance and good governance are at the heart of these changes.

These measures he said, “will help us improve our ability to effectively implement a sound Transformation Programme.”

Head of the Mission, Moira Marshall, head of the Overseas Territories (OTs) at DFID said at that opening: “I was very heartened to listen to both what Elizabeth and the Premier had to say about the efforts that you’re putting in place, the recognition of where you want to be and some of the challenges that you know that you have, your aspirations and how you want to do things, I think that’s very important. It’s about what Montserrat wants to do for Montserrat and we’re here to work in partnership with you to help you to achieve that. I think is probably worth just taking a quick look back over the years and I think it would be fair to say that it’s been a challenging year for both Government of Montserrat and for U.K. Government and DFID is part of that and we do have a saying that the relationship has been a bit strained over the year and like you we’re very keen to reset this relationship because we have to work in partnership, we should be working collectively and helping each other…So we want to work with you to seek that out and to make next year a better than we had this year hopefully.

Her Excellency the Governor, Miss Carriere sounded forceful in her remarks that the Government had been preparing, and ready. “When I say we get it, I mean that we have taken note of our own reviews and those reviews performed by DFID and others that show there are things we need to do and things we need to approve. We get it and I think you know we get it because you’ve been talking to us and you have seen us respond in that way, when I say we’re all over it I mean as well that we have identified the field of reforms and changes and work that we have to do.

“We know there’s work to do in Public Financial Management, we’ll be talking about that this week; we know that there is work to do in Project Management and you’ll see we have a way forward for that and we will be talking about that; we know that we have work to do in transformation of our human resources and our public service and we will be talking about that, when I say we own it I mean that all of these issues in the last year or so and going back for some time is that we are developing home grown ways of addressing these issues.”

No funding of new capital approved project yet on the ground following FAM talks

This government will probably not see funding for any capital project approved until they roll well into the fourth and fifth year of the five year term they asked to serve

Marshall at the closing was firm and clear: “set out what’s required to move forward both on understanding what Government of Montserrat wants to do and within that prioritizing those various projects and gain clarity from the DFID side about some of the dependencies that we would attach to each of the (various) capital projects going forward.

“We will be very clear there that we need to see evidence of improvements and ongoing improvements. “This is not to say that Government of Montserrat is starting from zero here – this is building on existing ones and go on to improve financial management and there have been improvements over the years, but there’s more to do… – We will expect evidence of improved procurement – we’re not leaving Government of Montserrat to do this, we’re working in partnership to do this.”

The DFID manager and the Premier, who in speaking about the “takeaways” at the end of the talks the Premier then reports, after sounding agreements and promises: “Perhaps the most important results form this FAM relate to the Capital/Development Programme.”

Here is a “list some highlights:”

  • GoM will submit a five year Capital Programme on priority capital projects and the timeline for these projects.
  • This will help us to prioritise and sequence the timeline for transformational projects this will give us a better idea when the new hospital, fiber optics and housing will be in place on the ground.
  • GoM will now have a number of senior responsible owners who will be the go to persons for each project
  • The Breakwater and the land side development for the port will be developed in stages, with UKCIF support. Timeline to use the 14.4 million is 2020. A review was carried out by expert during this week we expect a report to be ready for January 2017 which will inform the next steps to be taken.
  • As an important first step DFID will pay for an environmental impact assessment for the new hospital site to be undertaken soon, as an important step in moving this project forward.
  • Geothermal energy will move forward, based on a Business Case that is being written regarding generation phase.
  • The Fibre Optic cable project is at the procurement stage. Prequalification questionnaires already submitted.

Based on good achievements around power, water, roads and emergency shelters, additional funding is to be looked at, with a focus on Social Services, Health and Education infrastructure.

The Government’s recurrent budget secured, development goes on the waiting list.

Public servants showed resentment to the questions regarding the start or need of a ‘new’ partnership and why not just move on what was good from the 2012 Strategic Growth Plan and clean up or throw away that which was bad.

Regarding the ‘new’ or the ‘broken’ partnership Marshall responded: “: I think it would be misleading to say that it was broken, I think it’s been under strain – that is normal for any partnership. No partnership exists on every day. You have the sunshine here and generally it’s not always sunny because you face challenges.

“Most important is recognizing that and renewing your commitment to work together to resolve that, and I think we’ve got lots of examples where we have done that. Most important as well is taking the time to reflect on that this weekend to double our commitments to work together and collaborate…”

The Premier noted: “…why I speak of the imperative partnership and I’m going to be strong about that. There’s no more time for the blame game that has gone on before or for red tape or delays. We both acknowledge that and not to knock what happened before but we’re at a stage where we have to really make a major shift. DFID is under greater pressure than ever before and we have to take advantage of that make it a positive and not a negative.”

When questioned how it is we are now speaking about ‘a plan’ Marshall offered: “The plan we will have; I think we’ve talked in the past about a number of investments that are required and what was said would be helpful now as if we set that out in a five-year plan as part of the planning for that; and that we can look at sequencing that because there is a number of things in fact and I think that came out in our discussions as well with a number of the team.”

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

Set back at least 8 years

Premier Donaldson Romeo

Premier the Hon. Donaldson Romeo at the end of early Financial Aid Mission (FAM) talks which normally takes place January-February in previous years, gave a somewhat comprehensive report on what he termed, “the takeaways” from the week’s ‘discussions’, our choice word in place of ‘negotiations’. According to the Premier, this was held two months earlier than usual, and the final aid settlement will be agreed by early February.

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On the first day Dec 5, at a formal opening, per a copy of the Premier’s opening speech, he highlighted nothing new to a rhetoric of too many years now, with the exception perhaps the strange talk of ‘new’ partnership, later described as a ‘renewed’ partnership by Miss Moira Marshall.

The Premier then: “Generations of dependence is obviously unacceptable so now we must forge a strategic development partnership that delivers on our policy goal, “to change the development focus from post-volcano mode to developing and implementing plans focused on sustainable self-sufficiency that capture the spirit of Montserrat’s past and preserve Montserrat’s culture including enhancing relationships within the region and with key development partners.”

At that point he bulleted first, coming off what was described back in February as ‘improved budget talks and processes”, “we are strengthening and improving the budget process, including a new capital appraisal process, to better evaluate capital projects…”

Head of the Mission Moira Marshall, had said in February: “I have to say how impressed I, and my team have been with the Government of Montserrat’s preparation for these budget discussions.  They have come with a budget that’s been realistic, that’s been thought through, that’s thorough and detailed and very cost cutting.”

We were to learn that these ‘very cost cuttings’ had to do with the fact ‘expenditure did not meet expectations and monies were left unspent from the previous year’, something which had saddened the Premier, lamenting, invoking the promise it would not be repeated.

At that time however, she also said, declaring that the preparations showed realism with evidence, “that we can take back in support of the case for the Financial provision of aid to Montserrat…”

The Premier had said then, how particularly proud and pleased he was, “with the way discussions has gone over the week,” adding, “we’ve done allot of work on both sides… the local team have prepared and have engaged themselves in discussions with DFID… we have a better understanding of each other, what the requirements are, the pressures on DFID that are passed to us that we have to step up our game…”

That ought to have been the background with which this FAM was set, following the cuts and complete lack of development aid at that point.

This time, at the opening the Premier promised going into the talks which was also aimed at preparing for a development aid package. “A Programme Management Office is being set up to host and expedite our priority development projects; on a set timeline. This will support the Capital Appraisal process and deliver value for money business cases, project and programme governance, transparency, and risk management.”

That is seen as an announcement of a replacement for the failed Montserrat Development Corporation (MDC). This has been in the planning stages and is also supposed to replace or incorporate the shut-down Project Implementation Unit (PIU). (That unit under the former government was frequently referred to among other things as “Private Investment Unit” – “People I Use” – MDC – “More Direct Contracts”

 

Indeed, in July last year, the Office of the Premier confirmed that no decision had been taken to close down the Project Implementation Unit (PIU). They had informed that the PIU is part of a wider review designed to strengthen project management within the government.

 

The Premier announced Further plans either being developed or in place for which he would then be seeking financial aid.

 

 

These measures he said, “will help us improve our ability to effectively implement a sound Transformation Programme.”

Head of the Mission, Moira Marshall, head of the Overseas Territories (OTs) at DFID said at that opening: “I was very heartened to listen to both what Elizabeth and the Premier had to say about the efforts that you’re putting in place, the recognition of where you want to be and some of the challenges that you know that you have, your aspirations and how you want to do things, I think that’s very important. It’s about what Montserrat wants to do for Montserrat and we’re here to work in partnership with you to help you to achieve that. I think is probably worth just taking a quick look back over the years and I think it would be fair to say that it’s been a challenging year for both Government of Montserrat and for U.K. Government and DFID is part of that and we do have a saying that the relationship has been a bit strained over the year and like you we’re very keen to reset this relationship because we have to work in partnership, we should be working collectively and helping each other…So we want to work with you to seek that out and to make next year a better than we had this year hopefully.

Her Excellency the Governor, Miss Carriere sounded forceful in her remarks that the Government had been preparing, and ready. “When I say we get it, I mean that we have taken note of our own reviews and those reviews performed by DFID and others that show there are things we need to do and things we need to approve. We get it and I think you know we get it because you’ve been talking to us and you have seen us respond in that way, when I say we’re all over it I mean as well that we have identified the field of reforms and changes and work that we have to do.

“We know there’s work to do in Public Financial Management, we’ll be talking about that this week; we know that there is work to do in Project Management and you’ll see we have a way forward for that and we will be talking about that; we know that we have work to do in transformation of our human resources and our public service and we will be talking about that, when I say we own it I mean that all of these issues in the last year or so and going back for some time is that we are developing home grown ways of addressing these issues.”

No funding of new capital approved project yet on the ground following FAM talks

This government will probably not see funding for any capital project approved until they roll well into the fourth and fifth year of the five year term they asked to serve

Marshall at the closing was firm and clear: “set out what’s required to move forward both on understanding what Government of Montserrat wants to do and within that prioritizing those various projects and gain clarity from the DFID side about some of the dependencies that we would attach to each of the (various) capital projects going forward.

“We will be very clear there that we need to see evidence of improvements and ongoing improvements. “This is not to say that Government of Montserrat is starting from zero here – this is building on existing ones and go on to improve financial management and there have been improvements over the years, but there’s more to do… – We will expect evidence of improved procurement – we’re not leaving Government of Montserrat to do this, we’re working in partnership to do this.”

The DFID manager and the Premier, who in speaking about the “takeaways” at the end of the talks the Premier then reports, after sounding agreements and promises: “Perhaps the most important results form this FAM relate to the Capital/Development Programme.”

Here is a “list some highlights:”

Based on good achievements around power, water, roads and emergency shelters, additional funding is to be looked at, with a focus on Social Services, Health and Education infrastructure.

The Government’s recurrent budget secured, development goes on the waiting list.

Public servants showed resentment to the questions regarding the start or need of a ‘new’ partnership and why not just move on what was good from the 2012 Strategic Growth Plan and clean up or throw away that which was bad.

Regarding the ‘new’ or the ‘broken’ partnership Marshall responded: “: I think it would be misleading to say that it was broken, I think it’s been under strain – that is normal for any partnership. No partnership exists on every day. You have the sunshine here and generally it’s not always sunny because you face challenges.

“Most important is recognizing that and renewing your commitment to work together to resolve that, and I think we’ve got lots of examples where we have done that. Most important as well is taking the time to reflect on that this weekend to double our commitments to work together and collaborate…”

The Premier noted: “…why I speak of the imperative partnership and I’m going to be strong about that. There’s no more time for the blame game that has gone on before or for red tape or delays. We both acknowledge that and not to knock what happened before but we’re at a stage where we have to really make a major shift. DFID is under greater pressure than ever before and we have to take advantage of that make it a positive and not a negative.”

When questioned how it is we are now speaking about ‘a plan’ Marshall offered: “The plan we will have; I think we’ve talked in the past about a number of investments that are required and what was said would be helpful now as if we set that out in a five-year plan as part of the planning for that; and that we can look at sequencing that because there is a number of things in fact and I think that came out in our discussions as well with a number of the team.”