Categorized | Local, News, Opinions, Politics

Statement by Hon. Donaldson Romeo

Brades, Montserrat, March 20, 2014 –

Donalson  Romeo

Donaldson Romeo

Fellow citizens, residents and friends of Montserrat:

One of the duties of elected Opposition representatives is to hold the ruling Government accountable to the goals of good government and to promote transparency in Government.  So, let us now sit down together and see how well our current Government has delivered on its policy commitments to be transparent and to involve the people of Montserrat in making key decisions that will affect us today as well as the many generations to come.

For instance, since 2009 our MCAP-led Government has in fact set out a good list of goals for government in Montserrat.  They did so in in an open letter to the people signed to by our Hon Premier and MCAP’s party leader in 2009.  The letter can be found on the Internet by googling ‘MCAP Manifesto 2009’.  The letter lists eight commitments which are as follows:

Our commitment to you is that we will:

  1.  restore the dignity and self-confidence of our people,
  2.  give focus and direction to the society,
  3.  restore our shattered environment,
  4.  provide sound economic management,
  5.  encourage investments that create jobs,
  6. provide housing,
  7. address the special issues confronting our youth and,
  8.  build a new prosperity in which all would share.

Eight seemingly good goals which we can all agree to, but the question that needs to be asked is has our government delivered on these eight goals?

The letter then goes on to criticise previous governments which were in power before 2009:

The policies, programs and technologies that have been attempted over the past ten years have failed to respond to the economic and social challenges that confront Montserrat today.

All I will say in response to this, is to ask: have the “policies, programs and technologies that have been attempted over the past four and a half years” since September 2009 done better?

In that same open letter to the people of Montserrat, our ruling Government promised to bring “a new spirit of inclusion to the governance of our affairs; in which all have a stake and a say”?  Has this happened?

Has our government also kept its commitment to “reconnect Government to the people” or “restore that spirit of trust, which binds a Government to the people” as promised in the 2009 letter? Has our government fulfilled its commitment to “ensure that no one is excluded from the opportunity [to] build the economy and to benefit from renewed growth”?

I think it is only fair to say, no.

I am sure that most will agree that our government has not lived up to these commitments and promises in this open  letter, especially the commitment to ensure that no one is excluded and the commitment to work with the people of Montserrat to make change and fashion a prosperity in which everyone is guaranteed to share.

As I write (right now), serious decisions are being made behind closed doors that will affect us and our children to come; major decisions that we are not involved in, nor do we have a good idea of the issues, concerns and options or what is at stake regarding benefits and impacts today and tomorrow.  For example, today, there is a report in the hands of the Government which would tell us the results of the geothermal exploration recently done in the Cork Hill/Delvins area.  This report was due to be released in October last year, then in January, then in February.  It is now in the hands of the Government and the question that must be asked is why has this report not been publicly released to the people.  Instead, we are hearing bits and pieces of information, not anything of substance.  Then we are hearing of a further report to come out in July.  More and more delays.

In the same way, we the people are picking up a reliable report that our Government is having problems in their negotiations with DfID on the port design for Carrs Bay that was developed after the “Charette” that was held in November 2011.

I am reliably informed that DfID has rejected the Carrs Bay proposal and insists that of several designs considered the only economically feasible design is one in Little Bay.  But at the same time our government and the Montserrat Development Corporation (MDC) continue to tell us that a hotel in Little Bay should not be looking out on a port.   All of this means, that the whole design for the port and the new town – first promised by Hon Mr Foulkes, the DfID Minister who represented Claire Shorte in 1997 — is again up in the air and in confusion; 17 years after the new port was to be developed under the first Sustainable Development Plan adopted in 1998.

And this is happening after much of Gun Hill has already been knocked down and most have not even seen the finalised design for the proposed Carrs Bay port.  The vast majority of the Montserrat public have no idea of what the Carrs Bay port design presented to DfID looks like nor are they aware that it was rejected, or why.   Is this inclusive, transparent, carefully considered government decision-making in the interests of prosperity for all?   Obviously, sadly, not.

What is the design, and why is the Carrs Bay port proposal suddenly being viewed as not being economically justifiable when compared to Little Bay?  Has some new issue suddenly come up that has not been known over the past two years since the “Charette”? Where is the six-star hotel to go now – back to Rendezvous bay?  Surely our government intends to let us know exactly what is going on between our Hon Premier and the Minister for DfID, Hon Allan Duncan.  We the people need to know the content of the letters between them.

If there had been a disaster in the UK that wiped out major air and sea ports, hospitals, schools and cities, there would have been an immediate and major effort to rebuild.  Such a disaster happened here on Montserrat and unfortunately the promised rebuilding has lingered since 1997.  Seventeen years later, and after three successive Sustainable development plans we are back to the drawing board again with the long promised new port.  And we must not forget that the very same Minister Duncan when he visited us in 2011, apologised for and agreed to reverse a decade of “neglect.”

HMG agrees, GoM agrees, the people of Montserrat near and far agree: the time for “neglect” is over.

I am confident that if the tax paying people of Britain knew the facts they too would agree as they did in 1997 when the international media reported on HMG’s and the GoM’s neglect that resulted in the unnecessary loss of life, property, family, society, population and economy.  I have no doubt that Claire Shorte and the international media who recorded HMG’s bold 1997 promises would be both shocked and disappointed that we are again right back to where we started.

Just one final note: When Disney considered investing in the Port, I am told that they pointed to the need for a better airport, and when I recently spoke with a huge international and potential developer they also pointed to the need for a reasonable airport if Montserrat is to build a viable economy.  So we must not make a similar mistake to the one we made ten years ago: building a too small airport in the wrong place.  In fact, we not only need to build a proper sea port, we also need to correct the costly airport mistake.

It is time for a new beginning, time to do government right.

Donaldson Romeo
Opposition Leader, MLA

 

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

Brades, Montserrat, March 20, 2014 –

Donalson  Romeo

Donaldson Romeo

Fellow citizens, residents and friends of Montserrat:

One of the duties of elected Opposition representatives is to hold the ruling Government accountable to the goals of good government and to promote transparency in Government.  So, let us now sit down together and see how well our current Government has delivered on its policy commitments to be transparent and to involve the people of Montserrat in making key decisions that will affect us today as well as the many generations to come.

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For instance, since 2009 our MCAP-led Government has in fact set out a good list of goals for government in Montserrat.  They did so in in an open letter to the people signed to by our Hon Premier and MCAP’s party leader in 2009.  The letter can be found on the Internet by googling ‘MCAP Manifesto 2009’.  The letter lists eight commitments which are as follows:

Our commitment to you is that we will:

  1.  restore the dignity and self-confidence of our people,
  2.  give focus and direction to the society,
  3.  restore our shattered environment,
  4.  provide sound economic management,
  5.  encourage investments that create jobs,
  6. provide housing,
  7. address the special issues confronting our youth and,
  8.  build a new prosperity in which all would share.

Eight seemingly good goals which we can all agree to, but the question that needs to be asked is has our government delivered on these eight goals?

The letter then goes on to criticise previous governments which were in power before 2009:

The policies, programs and technologies that have been attempted over the past ten years have failed to respond to the economic and social challenges that confront Montserrat today.

All I will say in response to this, is to ask: have the “policies, programs and technologies that have been attempted over the past four and a half years” since September 2009 done better?

In that same open letter to the people of Montserrat, our ruling Government promised to bring “a new spirit of inclusion to the governance of our affairs; in which all have a stake and a say”?  Has this happened?

Has our government also kept its commitment to “reconnect Government to the people” or “restore that spirit of trust, which binds a Government to the people” as promised in the 2009 letter? Has our government fulfilled its commitment to “ensure that no one is excluded from the opportunity [to] build the economy and to benefit from renewed growth”?

I think it is only fair to say, no.

I am sure that most will agree that our government has not lived up to these commitments and promises in this open  letter, especially the commitment to ensure that no one is excluded and the commitment to work with the people of Montserrat to make change and fashion a prosperity in which everyone is guaranteed to share.

As I write (right now), serious decisions are being made behind closed doors that will affect us and our children to come; major decisions that we are not involved in, nor do we have a good idea of the issues, concerns and options or what is at stake regarding benefits and impacts today and tomorrow.  For example, today, there is a report in the hands of the Government which would tell us the results of the geothermal exploration recently done in the Cork Hill/Delvins area.  This report was due to be released in October last year, then in January, then in February.  It is now in the hands of the Government and the question that must be asked is why has this report not been publicly released to the people.  Instead, we are hearing bits and pieces of information, not anything of substance.  Then we are hearing of a further report to come out in July.  More and more delays.

In the same way, we the people are picking up a reliable report that our Government is having problems in their negotiations with DfID on the port design for Carrs Bay that was developed after the “Charette” that was held in November 2011.

I am reliably informed that DfID has rejected the Carrs Bay proposal and insists that of several designs considered the only economically feasible design is one in Little Bay.  But at the same time our government and the Montserrat Development Corporation (MDC) continue to tell us that a hotel in Little Bay should not be looking out on a port.   All of this means, that the whole design for the port and the new town – first promised by Hon Mr Foulkes, the DfID Minister who represented Claire Shorte in 1997 — is again up in the air and in confusion; 17 years after the new port was to be developed under the first Sustainable Development Plan adopted in 1998.

And this is happening after much of Gun Hill has already been knocked down and most have not even seen the finalised design for the proposed Carrs Bay port.  The vast majority of the Montserrat public have no idea of what the Carrs Bay port design presented to DfID looks like nor are they aware that it was rejected, or why.   Is this inclusive, transparent, carefully considered government decision-making in the interests of prosperity for all?   Obviously, sadly, not.

What is the design, and why is the Carrs Bay port proposal suddenly being viewed as not being economically justifiable when compared to Little Bay?  Has some new issue suddenly come up that has not been known over the past two years since the “Charette”? Where is the six-star hotel to go now – back to Rendezvous bay?  Surely our government intends to let us know exactly what is going on between our Hon Premier and the Minister for DfID, Hon Allan Duncan.  We the people need to know the content of the letters between them.

If there had been a disaster in the UK that wiped out major air and sea ports, hospitals, schools and cities, there would have been an immediate and major effort to rebuild.  Such a disaster happened here on Montserrat and unfortunately the promised rebuilding has lingered since 1997.  Seventeen years later, and after three successive Sustainable development plans we are back to the drawing board again with the long promised new port.  And we must not forget that the very same Minister Duncan when he visited us in 2011, apologised for and agreed to reverse a decade of “neglect.”

HMG agrees, GoM agrees, the people of Montserrat near and far agree: the time for “neglect” is over.

I am confident that if the tax paying people of Britain knew the facts they too would agree as they did in 1997 when the international media reported on HMG’s and the GoM’s neglect that resulted in the unnecessary loss of life, property, family, society, population and economy.  I have no doubt that Claire Shorte and the international media who recorded HMG’s bold 1997 promises would be both shocked and disappointed that we are again right back to where we started.

Just one final note: When Disney considered investing in the Port, I am told that they pointed to the need for a better airport, and when I recently spoke with a huge international and potential developer they also pointed to the need for a reasonable airport if Montserrat is to build a viable economy.  So we must not make a similar mistake to the one we made ten years ago: building a too small airport in the wrong place.  In fact, we not only need to build a proper sea port, we also need to correct the costly airport mistake.

It is time for a new beginning, time to do government right.

Donaldson Romeo
Opposition Leader, MLA