Categorized | Opinions

Others Will Act When We Refuse

By Claude Gerald

The full force raid by Customs of a container consigned to the man-mainly business of a deceased entertainment strongman is auspicious for revenue collection efforts in any weather.

Decked in light blue ‘Customs’ emblazoned overalls,  revenue collecting officers carefully attended to two  40 ft receptacles of assorted imported goods.  They were patently under orders and overseen by the new Comptroller of Customs of English origin.

The actions netted a huge fine reportedly. In this cash strapped economy, late is never too late although a much earlier strike on suspicious actions generally, would probably have placed national revenues in a better light.

Significantly it was carried out at the Port Little Bay, a noted departure from the post volcanic eruption norm of having containers taken to that business site for inspection, an action that intrigued many in privacy and comfort.  Any other way would have been sacrilegious given the social power of the parties involved and the way our society has grown to sense waywardness but yet allow or even pardon the actions of the well connected.

The regulations highlight the procedure and custom officers, no matter their rank in society, who practice indiscriminate interpretations of the laws, regarding importation and duties, must be hauled over the coals. They are agents of the state and must function in its interest, meaning our interest.

It is a matter of fact that heads of Government Departments cannot escape responsibility for shortcomings under their watch. Customs fall under Ministry of Finance and the indigenous eyes of the Honourable Financial Secretary John Skerritt, CBE. His portfolio is vast by public service standards.

But after 10 years in office this Montserratian public servant, should be keen to distinguish himself as an officer of worth and significance, in the area of staff management and tough but prudent decision making to enhance operational growth under his watch. He has no excuse if, by this time, he has not acquired the guts and gumption to retool by engaging a higher gear in another model. This ought not to be a giant character changing tack in mid career.

The Honourable Financial Secretary cannot afford to allow the height of his powers to escape him, by seeming to remain the placid bureaucrat, content with seemingly back-seating yet appearing to enjoy himself, in preference to the dynamic leadership expected of a person so positioned.

One does not advocate a might is right philosophy.  But for heaven’s sake, here is a home-grown boy of rural origin with a meteoric rise to the top of the public service ladder; who holds the lordly honour of CBE, a touch down from a Knighthood in the scheme of things; and who may well get it if he continues to play safe, nest cover and remain connected while things slide and glide. Yet pleased to just occupy, without clearly demonstrating the propensity to be innovative in the public’s interest.

This serving Financial Secretary owes it to the spirits of the departed stalwarts like T.E.A. Perkins and J. D. Lewis to make every effort to put right the ship of his portfolio and to make a name consistent with people-empowering service. Right across the whole spectrum of his administration, there seems to be a crying need for telling performances that make for impressive differences in the mindset of his subordinates.

And of what value is integrity and godliness, when worn on the sleeve, in the pulpit only?  Gratuitous titles of Bishop, Reverend, or even Doctor given to men of straw, cannot magically turn to golden service, the collection of revenue at Customs; though perhaps in the corridors of churches prophesying God.

Many who advocate that Montserratians must come first better think again. Must we not regard highly positioned officers, like our Financial Secretary as the flagship, which justifies and legitimizes a Montserratian first-policy, in selecting and appointing functionaries to public office?

Our Gerald’s  Bottom cultured, highly travelled member of the Executive Council, can demonstrate with absolute clarity, that if he operated in the private sector, where accountability and stewardship is a seasoned priority, he could not have been an extinguished statistic, not fit for much thereafter.

Those who are inclined to over-value the ‘nice guy’ image need to heed the finding of an American University professor: ‘those who are too easy to get along with should never be promoted to high moral sections of society. When they do so, they occupy positions of which they are unworthy.’

Until we put service before self and embrace that service as the best work of life, Montserrat will continue to flounder.

Our revenue base will be perilous and the resort to importing managers to guide and guard our self destructing institutions, must of necessity continue, as we fail incessantly to productively manage UK taxpayers gifts to us.

After all, the UK’s interest must be protected against delinquency, in this regressive mother-child relationship.

Claude Gerald is a social commentator, living on Montserrat. Ceegee15@hotmail.com

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

By Claude Gerald

The full force raid by Customs of a container consigned to the man-mainly business of a deceased entertainment strongman is auspicious for revenue collection efforts in any weather.

Decked in light blue ‘Customs’ emblazoned overalls,  revenue collecting officers carefully attended to two  40 ft receptacles of assorted imported goods.  They were patently under orders and overseen by the new Comptroller of Customs of English origin.

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The actions netted a huge fine reportedly. In this cash strapped economy, late is never too late although a much earlier strike on suspicious actions generally, would probably have placed national revenues in a better light.

Significantly it was carried out at the Port Little Bay, a noted departure from the post volcanic eruption norm of having containers taken to that business site for inspection, an action that intrigued many in privacy and comfort.  Any other way would have been sacrilegious given the social power of the parties involved and the way our society has grown to sense waywardness but yet allow or even pardon the actions of the well connected.

The regulations highlight the procedure and custom officers, no matter their rank in society, who practice indiscriminate interpretations of the laws, regarding importation and duties, must be hauled over the coals. They are agents of the state and must function in its interest, meaning our interest.

It is a matter of fact that heads of Government Departments cannot escape responsibility for shortcomings under their watch. Customs fall under Ministry of Finance and the indigenous eyes of the Honourable Financial Secretary John Skerritt, CBE. His portfolio is vast by public service standards.

But after 10 years in office this Montserratian public servant, should be keen to distinguish himself as an officer of worth and significance, in the area of staff management and tough but prudent decision making to enhance operational growth under his watch. He has no excuse if, by this time, he has not acquired the guts and gumption to retool by engaging a higher gear in another model. This ought not to be a giant character changing tack in mid career.

The Honourable Financial Secretary cannot afford to allow the height of his powers to escape him, by seeming to remain the placid bureaucrat, content with seemingly back-seating yet appearing to enjoy himself, in preference to the dynamic leadership expected of a person so positioned.

One does not advocate a might is right philosophy.  But for heaven’s sake, here is a home-grown boy of rural origin with a meteoric rise to the top of the public service ladder; who holds the lordly honour of CBE, a touch down from a Knighthood in the scheme of things; and who may well get it if he continues to play safe, nest cover and remain connected while things slide and glide. Yet pleased to just occupy, without clearly demonstrating the propensity to be innovative in the public’s interest.

This serving Financial Secretary owes it to the spirits of the departed stalwarts like T.E.A. Perkins and J. D. Lewis to make every effort to put right the ship of his portfolio and to make a name consistent with people-empowering service. Right across the whole spectrum of his administration, there seems to be a crying need for telling performances that make for impressive differences in the mindset of his subordinates.

And of what value is integrity and godliness, when worn on the sleeve, in the pulpit only?  Gratuitous titles of Bishop, Reverend, or even Doctor given to men of straw, cannot magically turn to golden service, the collection of revenue at Customs; though perhaps in the corridors of churches prophesying God.

Many who advocate that Montserratians must come first better think again. Must we not regard highly positioned officers, like our Financial Secretary as the flagship, which justifies and legitimizes a Montserratian first-policy, in selecting and appointing functionaries to public office?

Our Gerald’s  Bottom cultured, highly travelled member of the Executive Council, can demonstrate with absolute clarity, that if he operated in the private sector, where accountability and stewardship is a seasoned priority, he could not have been an extinguished statistic, not fit for much thereafter.

Those who are inclined to over-value the ‘nice guy’ image need to heed the finding of an American University professor: ‘those who are too easy to get along with should never be promoted to high moral sections of society. When they do so, they occupy positions of which they are unworthy.’

Until we put service before self and embrace that service as the best work of life, Montserrat will continue to flounder.

Our revenue base will be perilous and the resort to importing managers to guide and guard our self destructing institutions, must of necessity continue, as we fail incessantly to productively manage UK taxpayers gifts to us.

After all, the UK’s interest must be protected against delinquency, in this regressive mother-child relationship.

Claude Gerald is a social commentator, living on Montserrat. Ceegee15@hotmail.com