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Premier Romeo presents first budget $170.8 million

IMG_3170Premier the Hon. Donaldson Romeo, but in his capacity as Minister of Finance and economic management on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 presented his first budget for Montserrat following his People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) into power in General Elections last September.

He made his presentation on the theme: Revive, Rebuild, Restore, Destiny calls, Let us arise.

But in the debate which began on today Friday, March 27, the Opposition Leader former Premier in the Movement for Change and Prosperity (MCAP) government booted out on September 12 last year, called the Budget and “nothing budget”. Immediately following the budget presentation the other opposition member Hon. Easton Farrell reserved comment, while others around him declared the budget to be ‘flat and lacking’.

The Hon. Minister in his presentation said his government’s “economic objective is to revive our economy and put Montserrat back on a path for sustainable re-development and future growth. This will be achieved through a new approach to Economic Management and Development. This new approach has three policy components, which are:

  • The creation of a modern and diversified economy, where the active promotion of inward investment and targeted foreign direct investment is the foundation. Additionally, we will leverage Montserrat’s particular mix of natural resources setting a clear path for sustainable re-development that will not be reliant on any one sector;
  • The development of strong fiscal, economic and environmental policies and processes needed to under-pin the development of a sustainable economy; and
  • Government’s role will be to facilitate a conducive business environment that encourages the efficient working of the private sector.

In presenting the 2015-16 budget, representing a total $170.8 million of which includes recurrent expenditure of $127.4 million a 5.2 per cent increase from 2014-15. The government boasts monies not received for the past five years. Approximately $5 million for housing and education sees increase after what some called ‘indiscriminate’ reductions in recent times and spend in the health sector.

The Finance and Economic management Minister says, “there is the need to create a modern and diversified economy that utilizes and adds value to our current resources, and therefore, is not reliant on any one sector.”

He gave an outline of “seven key sectors Government shall focus on.” namely: Financial and Professional Services, Luxury Tourism, Light Manufacturing, Renewable Energy, Agriculture, Arts & Media, and Construction.

The presentation informs that the 2015/16 capital programme continues to focus on the rebuilding of Montserrat’s economy after the devastating volcanic destruction in 1995. Strategic interventions will support economic growth and the needs of the growing population. The minister says that the government “plans to implement a number of critical infrastructure projects which will stimulate some much needed private and public sector activity for long term sustainability with a budget of $43.4 million in the Development Fund.”

The budget debate began on Friday morning and the opposition leader at his turn after lunch, began by informing the Assembly, that having shared a bottle of wine “with Hon. Willock,” …whatever I say this afternoon, one must recognize that it might be tainted somewhat by the quality of the wine and the quality of the lunch.” That was the beginning, but almost throughout of his contribution he continuously called Hon Gregory Willock, a different name other than Hon. Willock, such as, “Mr. or Hon. Saga, sorry, not Saga.” Again, “…Mr. Saga, sorry, not Saga. What your name is again? Hon. Willock…” And one more example this time referencing the alcolism trait, “so that as Saga say…. Sorry, not Saga; hon.   I so accustomed to call him Saga….hon. parliamentary secretary Willock. It’s the wine that both of us were drinking. So you mind if I call him Saga?”

On one other occasion the Hon R T Meade made reference to his state of alcohol consumption as he has on several previous occasions in the house and during presentations otherwise. He was referring to the Minister of Health at a DFID meeting, and while making reference to the Premier’s participation in the meeting, he said, “I don’t know if he was at the meeting. Unlike me, he don’t drink so I can’t say he was drunk but maybe he was sleeping…”

Speaking directly to the budget, the Opposition Leader referred to it repeatedly as an ‘N’ budget which he will not support. His colleague, Hon Easton Farrell had said that his leader would address the budget regarding the figures in depth. “I must admit that I will have a difficulty supporting this ‘N’ budget and I shall explain: ‘N’, nothing new; no impact on the economy, no positive impact on the people…No positive impact on investment, no improvement, no excuse for the lack of vision, lack of competence and comprehension that the budget needs to display,” he offered.

He later said, “Do you wish for me to recall what the ‘N’ budget is, Madam Speaker? Nothing happening, nothing good, nothing, nothing, nothing; that what the ‘N’ budget is.”

However, other than claiming that his administration had obtained approval of more money than the current one, there was little mention of figures in his presentation, perhaps to prove his point. “$182.8 million. That’s 2013-2014 of which capital, was $68.3 million. In 2014/15, the approved estimates totalled $173.2 million with capital approved of $66.3 million; approved,” said, confusing the figures somewhat as he continued: “As we get close to the end of the financial year 2014/15, although they say me tek up and use all de money—2014/15 estimated outturn, based on the estimates, $198.3 million, of which, capital expenditure of $75.7 million. And I just use those two years as an indication of our ability to raise funds.”

He mentioned the MDC on matters budgetary unrelated, but questions about the closure and finally, “I noticed that there’s $2 million allocated to MDC but I not sure whether government have the testicular fortitude or the intestinal fortitude—Can I use another phrase, Madam Speaker, so that they can understand fully. (Speaker: I think we get the point.) And the Spanish will call them cahonas or something of that nature—to be in a position to say to the DFID man who want to close down MDC that no; MDC has served a useful purpose. It was set up on the advice of DFID and massa tell them they might close it down and they shut up their mouth and say, yes massa,” he said.

He also questioned the issue of the increments promised to public servants in the budget. “They claimed that we didn’t know how to negotiate for budgetary aid. They have allocated just around $400,000 for increments. I want the hon. premier in his rebuttal to answer one question: Are these automatic increments as we know them historically, or are they performance-based as postulated by the governor some many months ago? And I think we need a very clear and precise response to that,” he concluded.

After hearing Hon. Reuben Meade’s budget presentations for the past five years, there were comments about the presentation by Hon. Romeo as flat and saying nothing. But one former legislator from the MCAP party has said that Romeo’s budget presentation is better than any MCAP’s budget over the years. The legislator noted being able to obtain money for housing, health and education and giving public servants back their increments, were moves better than anything MCAP achieved.

The government spokespersons have promised to show their difference in their final presentation on Monday.

Following the adjournment on Friday evening, the budget debate continues on Monday, March 30, when the government is expected to rebut the oppositions pronouncements.

 

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

IMG_3170Premier the Hon. Donaldson Romeo, but in his capacity as Minister of Finance and economic management on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 presented his first budget for Montserrat following his People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) into power in General Elections last September.

He made his presentation on the theme: Revive, Rebuild, Restore, Destiny calls, Let us arise.

But in the debate which began on today Friday, March 27, the Opposition Leader former Premier in the Movement for Change and Prosperity (MCAP) government booted out on September 12 last year, called the Budget and “nothing budget”. Immediately following the budget presentation the other opposition member Hon. Easton Farrell reserved comment, while others around him declared the budget to be ‘flat and lacking’.

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The Hon. Minister in his presentation said his government’s “economic objective is to revive our economy and put Montserrat back on a path for sustainable re-development and future growth. This will be achieved through a new approach to Economic Management and Development. This new approach has three policy components, which are:

In presenting the 2015-16 budget, representing a total $170.8 million of which includes recurrent expenditure of $127.4 million a 5.2 per cent increase from 2014-15. The government boasts monies not received for the past five years. Approximately $5 million for housing and education sees increase after what some called ‘indiscriminate’ reductions in recent times and spend in the health sector.

The Finance and Economic management Minister says, “there is the need to create a modern and diversified economy that utilizes and adds value to our current resources, and therefore, is not reliant on any one sector.”

He gave an outline of “seven key sectors Government shall focus on.” namely: Financial and Professional Services, Luxury Tourism, Light Manufacturing, Renewable Energy, Agriculture, Arts & Media, and Construction.

The presentation informs that the 2015/16 capital programme continues to focus on the rebuilding of Montserrat’s economy after the devastating volcanic destruction in 1995. Strategic interventions will support economic growth and the needs of the growing population. The minister says that the government “plans to implement a number of critical infrastructure projects which will stimulate some much needed private and public sector activity for long term sustainability with a budget of $43.4 million in the Development Fund.”

The budget debate began on Friday morning and the opposition leader at his turn after lunch, began by informing the Assembly, that having shared a bottle of wine “with Hon. Willock,” …whatever I say this afternoon, one must recognize that it might be tainted somewhat by the quality of the wine and the quality of the lunch.” That was the beginning, but almost throughout of his contribution he continuously called Hon Gregory Willock, a different name other than Hon. Willock, such as, “Mr. or Hon. Saga, sorry, not Saga.” Again, “…Mr. Saga, sorry, not Saga. What your name is again? Hon. Willock…” And one more example this time referencing the alcolism trait, “so that as Saga say…. Sorry, not Saga; hon.   I so accustomed to call him Saga….hon. parliamentary secretary Willock. It’s the wine that both of us were drinking. So you mind if I call him Saga?”

On one other occasion the Hon R T Meade made reference to his state of alcohol consumption as he has on several previous occasions in the house and during presentations otherwise. He was referring to the Minister of Health at a DFID meeting, and while making reference to the Premier’s participation in the meeting, he said, “I don’t know if he was at the meeting. Unlike me, he don’t drink so I can’t say he was drunk but maybe he was sleeping…”

Speaking directly to the budget, the Opposition Leader referred to it repeatedly as an ‘N’ budget which he will not support. His colleague, Hon Easton Farrell had said that his leader would address the budget regarding the figures in depth. “I must admit that I will have a difficulty supporting this ‘N’ budget and I shall explain: ‘N’, nothing new; no impact on the economy, no positive impact on the people…No positive impact on investment, no improvement, no excuse for the lack of vision, lack of competence and comprehension that the budget needs to display,” he offered.

He later said, “Do you wish for me to recall what the ‘N’ budget is, Madam Speaker? Nothing happening, nothing good, nothing, nothing, nothing; that what the ‘N’ budget is.”

However, other than claiming that his administration had obtained approval of more money than the current one, there was little mention of figures in his presentation, perhaps to prove his point. “$182.8 million. That’s 2013-2014 of which capital, was $68.3 million. In 2014/15, the approved estimates totalled $173.2 million with capital approved of $66.3 million; approved,” said, confusing the figures somewhat as he continued: “As we get close to the end of the financial year 2014/15, although they say me tek up and use all de money—2014/15 estimated outturn, based on the estimates, $198.3 million, of which, capital expenditure of $75.7 million. And I just use those two years as an indication of our ability to raise funds.”

He mentioned the MDC on matters budgetary unrelated, but questions about the closure and finally, “I noticed that there’s $2 million allocated to MDC but I not sure whether government have the testicular fortitude or the intestinal fortitude—Can I use another phrase, Madam Speaker, so that they can understand fully. (Speaker: I think we get the point.) And the Spanish will call them cahonas or something of that nature—to be in a position to say to the DFID man who want to close down MDC that no; MDC has served a useful purpose. It was set up on the advice of DFID and massa tell them they might close it down and they shut up their mouth and say, yes massa,” he said.

He also questioned the issue of the increments promised to public servants in the budget. “They claimed that we didn’t know how to negotiate for budgetary aid. They have allocated just around $400,000 for increments. I want the hon. premier in his rebuttal to answer one question: Are these automatic increments as we know them historically, or are they performance-based as postulated by the governor some many months ago? And I think we need a very clear and precise response to that,” he concluded.

After hearing Hon. Reuben Meade’s budget presentations for the past five years, there were comments about the presentation by Hon. Romeo as flat and saying nothing. But one former legislator from the MCAP party has said that Romeo’s budget presentation is better than any MCAP’s budget over the years. The legislator noted being able to obtain money for housing, health and education and giving public servants back their increments, were moves better than anything MCAP achieved.

The government spokespersons have promised to show their difference in their final presentation on Monday.

Following the adjournment on Friday evening, the budget debate continues on Monday, March 30, when the government is expected to rebut the oppositions pronouncements.

 

pics