Categorized | Editorial

Rebuilding Montserrat will not lead to economic progress

It is time to change the mind-set of the island. That idea began to change since April 1996, and certified 1997-98. 1997 when people lost their lives to the volcano and later when St. Patrick’s was wiped away completely, after the Galway’s wall disappeared exposing the belly of the volcano. The one big problem however, it was never cemented into the minds of people, and today the island still grapple with the idea of coming to terms with progress and development, economically, psychologically and spiritually.

The mind-set referred to here is that reference continually made about the ‘rebuilding’ of Montserrat. Montserrat is not rebuilding anything. The notion must be, “building a new Montserrat”. Any talk about recreating (rebuilding) Montserrat is backward thinking. We have said here before, any new project or building that is not better than anything that existed in Plymouth or indeed the island, is not progressive.

The new build idea was in slow gear when just after June, 1997 our leader stated that the belief/hope was “we would return to Plymouth.” That was in the face of scientists stating categorically that Plymouth (South Montserrat) would be destroyed. All thoughts of rebuilding should have been changed then and now to “building new, Montserrat”. At that time the scientists at the very beginning, encouragingly warned, that even if the activity were to enter any immediate pause, it would eventually run its course. They warned any lengthy pause would only provide the time to begin the new build in the north of Montserrat.

It was that advice that caused a doubting British Minister, Sir Nicholas Bonsor, to say at the end of his visit: “I have a very much better view of what’s happening here and I’ve had a chance to have a good look at it.”

He expressed his government’s policy of going on the scientific evidence which he said: “…has been rather uncertain for long periods…but it is crystallizing and I think we can now base our future plans for what happens with a greater deal of certainty than we were able to do before.”

He concluded: “…it (the volcano) is unlikely to pose any threat to the North…it is on this basis that HMG have put our priorities…to ensure provisions of the basic safe facilities in the North and secondly through the provision of the United Kingdom Development Aid to help the government of Montserrat establish long-term private investment, which will in turn secure employment and prosperity for all the people of Montserrat…we need to decentralize things because even if the eruptions end it would not go back to the resting state that it was in,” expressing an understanding which our leaders at the time in July 1997 seemingly pretended to know nothing about.

Sir Nicholas had also warned that we were short of the necessary skills (capacity) then to do all that would be necessary to “build the new Montserrat”. Today we still grapple with the problem and because the people are reluctant to acknowledge that even after the population lost 75 to 80 percent of the people after Sir Nicholas’ comment, the capacity build has never taken place. The result Montserrat still has barely scratched the surface and in some instances, lost it altogether.

So now we hear it said, “they are saying the right things.” The conversation on this is well overdue.  This is not ‘nay saying’. The topics are many and there is a need for action on that, for without the understanding of how far behind we are, there is no moving forward. Just saying the right things are not even plans. Anyone who says, “The people are better-off today,” should call the half dozen or so names of whom they refer.

In 2001, Montserrat met 50% of its recurrent budget, and the UK government got the Chief Minister then, to say Montserrat will seek to stand on its own two feet. When we (TMR) asked him how, he recanted. Ten years later, in February 2011, Minister Andrew Mitchell told Montserrat, to stand on their own two feet. “It would be the wrong approach to be like a new born bird waiting in the nest for the mother bird to bring nourishment,” he had said at a press briefing.

In the budget speech last week Premier Meade boasted of expected growth and unexpected ‘growth’, but he will only be able to supply 44.48% to meet the recurrent expenditure, expecting Britain to pay the other 55.52%. The need for the conversation is dire. The facts or the lack of them, need to be discussed and the information spread far and wide. It has to be about building the new Montserrat, not rebuilding.

 

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

It is time to change the mind-set of the island. That idea began to change since April 1996, and certified 1997-98. 1997 when people lost their lives to the volcano and later when St. Patrick’s was wiped away completely, after the Galway’s wall disappeared exposing the belly of the volcano. The one big problem however, it was never cemented into the minds of people, and today the island still grapple with the idea of coming to terms with progress and development, economically, psychologically and spiritually.

The mind-set referred to here is that reference continually made about the ‘rebuilding’ of Montserrat. Montserrat is not rebuilding anything. The notion must be, “building a new Montserrat”. Any talk about recreating (rebuilding) Montserrat is backward thinking. We have said here before, any new project or building that is not better than anything that existed in Plymouth or indeed the island, is not progressive.

The new build idea was in slow gear when just after June, 1997 our leader stated that the belief/hope was “we would return to Plymouth.” That was in the face of scientists stating categorically that Plymouth (South Montserrat) would be destroyed. All thoughts of rebuilding should have been changed then and now to “building new, Montserrat”. At that time the scientists at the very beginning, encouragingly warned, that even if the activity were to enter any immediate pause, it would eventually run its course. They warned any lengthy pause would only provide the time to begin the new build in the north of Montserrat.

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It was that advice that caused a doubting British Minister, Sir Nicholas Bonsor, to say at the end of his visit: “I have a very much better view of what’s happening here and I’ve had a chance to have a good look at it.”

He expressed his government’s policy of going on the scientific evidence which he said: “…has been rather uncertain for long periods…but it is crystallizing and I think we can now base our future plans for what happens with a greater deal of certainty than we were able to do before.”

He concluded: “…it (the volcano) is unlikely to pose any threat to the North…it is on this basis that HMG have put our priorities…to ensure provisions of the basic safe facilities in the North and secondly through the provision of the United Kingdom Development Aid to help the government of Montserrat establish long-term private investment, which will in turn secure employment and prosperity for all the people of Montserrat…we need to decentralize things because even if the eruptions end it would not go back to the resting state that it was in,” expressing an understanding which our leaders at the time in July 1997 seemingly pretended to know nothing about.

Sir Nicholas had also warned that we were short of the necessary skills (capacity) then to do all that would be necessary to “build the new Montserrat”. Today we still grapple with the problem and because the people are reluctant to acknowledge that even after the population lost 75 to 80 percent of the people after Sir Nicholas’ comment, the capacity build has never taken place. The result Montserrat still has barely scratched the surface and in some instances, lost it altogether.

So now we hear it said, “they are saying the right things.” The conversation on this is well overdue.  This is not ‘nay saying’. The topics are many and there is a need for action on that, for without the understanding of how far behind we are, there is no moving forward. Just saying the right things are not even plans. Anyone who says, “The people are better-off today,” should call the half dozen or so names of whom they refer.

In 2001, Montserrat met 50% of its recurrent budget, and the UK government got the Chief Minister then, to say Montserrat will seek to stand on its own two feet. When we (TMR) asked him how, he recanted. Ten years later, in February 2011, Minister Andrew Mitchell told Montserrat, to stand on their own two feet. “It would be the wrong approach to be like a new born bird waiting in the nest for the mother bird to bring nourishment,” he had said at a press briefing.

In the budget speech last week Premier Meade boasted of expected growth and unexpected ‘growth’, but he will only be able to supply 44.48% to meet the recurrent expenditure, expecting Britain to pay the other 55.52%. The need for the conversation is dire. The facts or the lack of them, need to be discussed and the information spread far and wide. It has to be about building the new Montserrat, not rebuilding.