Categorized | Editorial, Local, News

The MDC Debacle requires Investigation or Commission of Inquiry

Editorial – April 10. 2015

It was a debacle in the making from the time there was a refusal on the part of Premier Meade, DfID rep Kato Kimbugwe and Governor Davis, to recognise that they could not allow the flouting of the new Procurement Rules, thereby breaking their very own laws that governed the MDC. See these related TMR stories at: http://www.themontserratreporter.com/mou-and-sgp-pressure-on-government/; http://www.themontserratreporter.com/premier-misfires-on-procurement-gom-loses-appeal-in-court/;

http://www.themontserratreporter.com/opposition-leader-romeo-questions-mdc-procurement-practises/; http://www.themontserratreporter.com/procurement-2012-rules-repealed-why/; http://www.themontserratreporter.com/selsi-limited-takes-stand-with-government-on-the-procurement-procedures/; http://www.themontserratreporter.com/government-reviewing-procurement-practices/.

A read of these will give some background to a problem which became worse very quickly, while the Governor and the DFID rep misinformed or sought to give the impression that actions were merely out of ‘carelessness’ or mistakes. All must have sounded good to some ears. Montserrat had the cover of a DFID representative who would soon fall into the unpleasant notice of his bosses in East Kilbride. By February 2014, Premier Meade after several previous letters from DFID’s Minister of State Duncan, giving him time to make good his commitments, required to move the SGP forward, knew his ‘ambitious fantasies’ which were to his special interests, were in shambles, as it effectively killed the fantasy master plan from 2011.

In May 2013, a year after the dubious May 1 2012 MOU, DFID and FCO wrote to Meade, “

your team assessed that it was highly unlikely that you would be able to meet the requirement to secure the simultaneous binding commitment of the private sector to develop tourism facilities at Little Bay within the agreed timetable (which we extended to July 2013 for the initial “in principle”, but not binding, commitment).” Note well.

“In your more recent conversations with FCO and DFID officials, however, you noted that a potential investor has come forward and a letter of intent is being drafted for a substantial investment of around US$84million in a hotel in Little Bay and villas on Potato Hill – so perhaps the extended 31 July 2013 time limit may still be achievable if an interested yachting marina investor can be found. Separately, you also asked for time to carefully consider public private partnerships (PPPs) in the development of a port / breakwater at Carr’s Bay which may bring with it hotel and villa developments. We therefore propose the following way forward.”

This time the procurement problems were being reported as the articles above will indicate.

In the meantime, it was obvious that as the Task Force Review report indicates, continuing mismanagement, irregularities, and misappropriations, ignoring the laws, were flourishing; no one paying attention or probably aware things were being noticed on radar.

http://www.themontserratreporter.com/governor-davis-impressed-with-little-bay-developments-kimbugwe-concurs/ – Posted on 02 October 2013 – but we didn’t know then of the new arrangement, “to Strengthening the Montserrat Development Corporation to Attract Private Sector Investment 2013/14 – 2016/17”.

We recall attention to the dubiousness in the MOU which both governments signed on May 1, 2012, preceded by the reinstatement of the MDC as shown by the Task Force, then followed by the first Business Case and funding. This SGP was pretensively taking off. The warning signs began coming in review letters from Duncan, September 2012.

But in May 2013 the letter above must have been encouraging except as noted. Four months later there was the MOU shown above. That 2013 MOU Agreement which we obtained recently was never publicised. When we highlighted it at the Governor’s press conference, both him and Dawson seemed not to know what we spoke about, but he mentioned in the Review report. There was the accompanying Business Case where the MDC would get $19.4 million dollars from 2013/14 -2015/16. Seemingly, in spite of our exposures of the wrong doings particularly surrounding procurements which by the way were not only related to MDC but also throughout the Government, everything was okay, even matters were running through the courts. DFID was on board and supporting MDC.

When the Fraud Investigation report of July 2014, there was a review by DFID same time, which gave the MDC achievements A, B and Cs. We received a release, the first, from the CEO who boasted, but it never mentioned the comments and recommendations which were warnings that things were not okay after all. We had by this time been exposing some his own wrong doings and had not seen the Review report yet, but there was a smell and we couldn’t figure that DFID was assessing itself. However, their helpful representative was due to wind up his tour of duty on Montserrat, having become too ‘native’. The smell became a stench soon, when we discovered the July 2014 Fraud Investigation report and Annual Review.

That September 2013 MOU, which incorporated the May 2012 MOU, in Clauses 13 and 18 laid out the grounds upon which DFID and the GoM can bring a halt the activities at the MDC.

13 If DFID considers that –

  1. a) There has been a failure to fulfil the commitments of this MOU

OR

  1. b) To fulfil the commitments made under this Arrangement by the Government of Montserrat

OR

  1. c) If any changes occur which in the opinion of DFID impair significantly the development value of the project/programme, then DFID may take any of the following actions
  • signal a possible future response
  • change the way DFID delivers aid
  • delay all or part of a specific aid disbursement to the Partner Government
  • reduce, suspend or stop aid under this Arrangement or terminate this Arrangement under paragraph 18 of this MOU.
  • 18.This Arrangement including this MOU can be terminated by three months’ written notice by either Government. It is accepted nonetheless that any decision of either Government regarding termination of this Arrangement will first be subject to discussion, but any other step under paragraph 13 of this MOU may be taken meantime by DFID.

This foregoing immediately sprang into action following the Fraud report, the Review, which we were told last Wednesday, April 8 was never really official and nothing should have been boasted about it. In fact, considering the comments and recommendations, then finally that still secret October (Investigative/Audit) report, everything that followed including the present GoM taking responsibility for the actions which, note well, began in December were well in the making since Augsut and most probably October 2014.

Remember, the February 2014 letter shutting off the funding of the Carrs Bay port, but supporting the Little Bay port, it effectively killed the master plan of Little Bay. This was followed by the most damning Aide Memoire Meade received in three years.

It is popular belief that the outcome of the elections stalled what many thought would be similar to a TCI in 2009 takeover. That fateful August day, the UK took over day-to-day control of the Turks and Caicos islands amid ongoing allegations of widespread corruption in the British overseas territory, the Foreign Office said tonight.

The TCI Governor said then: “Our goal is to make a clean break from the mistakes of the past by establishing a durable path towards good governance, sound financial management and sustainable development.”

The Task Force review in spite of any shortcomings, biases, cover-up and otherwise, does leave us with the view that the MDC should not be abandoned, but some people should be held accountable, investigated and processed. There should be dismissals, a shake-up and removal of the unneeded and people installed who will truly have Montserrat’s development as priority and follow the rules and laws that govern the processes.

Could we still hear the words of Governor Wetherall in TCI 2009? An investigation may clear up the misappropriations, the mismanagement of accountability and authority regarding public finances.

We do not agree with the abandonment of the MDC, because someone believes that it was not fit for purpose. What then is the agenda?

Governor Davis does not think that an inquiry or investigations is any longer necessary. With his head obviously buried in the sands, he is continuing his protective mode, or maybe concerned about the fall-out and the reach such can have.

 

 

 

 

 

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

Editorial – April 10. 2015

It was a debacle in the making from the time there was a refusal on the part of Premier Meade, DfID rep Kato Kimbugwe and Governor Davis, to recognise that they could not allow the flouting of the new Procurement Rules, thereby breaking their very own laws that governed the MDC. See these related TMR stories at: http://www.themontserratreporter.com/mou-and-sgp-pressure-on-government/; http://www.themontserratreporter.com/premier-misfires-on-procurement-gom-loses-appeal-in-court/;

http://www.themontserratreporter.com/opposition-leader-romeo-questions-mdc-procurement-practises/; http://www.themontserratreporter.com/procurement-2012-rules-repealed-why/; http://www.themontserratreporter.com/selsi-limited-takes-stand-with-government-on-the-procurement-procedures/; http://www.themontserratreporter.com/government-reviewing-procurement-practices/.

Insert Ads Here

A read of these will give some background to a problem which became worse very quickly, while the Governor and the DFID rep misinformed or sought to give the impression that actions were merely out of ‘carelessness’ or mistakes. All must have sounded good to some ears. Montserrat had the cover of a DFID representative who would soon fall into the unpleasant notice of his bosses in East Kilbride. By February 2014, Premier Meade after several previous letters from DFID’s Minister of State Duncan, giving him time to make good his commitments, required to move the SGP forward, knew his ‘ambitious fantasies’ which were to his special interests, were in shambles, as it effectively killed the fantasy master plan from 2011.

In May 2013, a year after the dubious May 1 2012 MOU, DFID and FCO wrote to Meade, “

your team assessed that it was highly unlikely that you would be able to meet the requirement to secure the simultaneous binding commitment of the private sector to develop tourism facilities at Little Bay within the agreed timetable (which we extended to July 2013 for the initial “in principle”, but not binding, commitment).” Note well.

“In your more recent conversations with FCO and DFID officials, however, you noted that a potential investor has come forward and a letter of intent is being drafted for a substantial investment of around US$84million in a hotel in Little Bay and villas on Potato Hill – so perhaps the extended 31 July 2013 time limit may still be achievable if an interested yachting marina investor can be found. Separately, you also asked for time to carefully consider public private partnerships (PPPs) in the development of a port / breakwater at Carr’s Bay which may bring with it hotel and villa developments. We therefore propose the following way forward.”

This time the procurement problems were being reported as the articles above will indicate.

In the meantime, it was obvious that as the Task Force Review report indicates, continuing mismanagement, irregularities, and misappropriations, ignoring the laws, were flourishing; no one paying attention or probably aware things were being noticed on radar.

http://www.themontserratreporter.com/governor-davis-impressed-with-little-bay-developments-kimbugwe-concurs/ – Posted on 02 October 2013 – but we didn’t know then of the new arrangement, “to Strengthening the Montserrat Development Corporation to Attract Private Sector Investment 2013/14 – 2016/17”.

We recall attention to the dubiousness in the MOU which both governments signed on May 1, 2012, preceded by the reinstatement of the MDC as shown by the Task Force, then followed by the first Business Case and funding. This SGP was pretensively taking off. The warning signs began coming in review letters from Duncan, September 2012.

But in May 2013 the letter above must have been encouraging except as noted. Four months later there was the MOU shown above. That 2013 MOU Agreement which we obtained recently was never publicised. When we highlighted it at the Governor’s press conference, both him and Dawson seemed not to know what we spoke about, but he mentioned in the Review report. There was the accompanying Business Case where the MDC would get $19.4 million dollars from 2013/14 -2015/16. Seemingly, in spite of our exposures of the wrong doings particularly surrounding procurements which by the way were not only related to MDC but also throughout the Government, everything was okay, even matters were running through the courts. DFID was on board and supporting MDC.

When the Fraud Investigation report of July 2014, there was a review by DFID same time, which gave the MDC achievements A, B and Cs. We received a release, the first, from the CEO who boasted, but it never mentioned the comments and recommendations which were warnings that things were not okay after all. We had by this time been exposing some his own wrong doings and had not seen the Review report yet, but there was a smell and we couldn’t figure that DFID was assessing itself. However, their helpful representative was due to wind up his tour of duty on Montserrat, having become too ‘native’. The smell became a stench soon, when we discovered the July 2014 Fraud Investigation report and Annual Review.

That September 2013 MOU, which incorporated the May 2012 MOU, in Clauses 13 and 18 laid out the grounds upon which DFID and the GoM can bring a halt the activities at the MDC.

13 If DFID considers that –

  1. a) There has been a failure to fulfil the commitments of this MOU

OR

  1. b) To fulfil the commitments made under this Arrangement by the Government of Montserrat

OR

  1. c) If any changes occur which in the opinion of DFID impair significantly the development value of the project/programme, then DFID may take any of the following actions

This foregoing immediately sprang into action following the Fraud report, the Review, which we were told last Wednesday, April 8 was never really official and nothing should have been boasted about it. In fact, considering the comments and recommendations, then finally that still secret October (Investigative/Audit) report, everything that followed including the present GoM taking responsibility for the actions which, note well, began in December were well in the making since Augsut and most probably October 2014.

Remember, the February 2014 letter shutting off the funding of the Carrs Bay port, but supporting the Little Bay port, it effectively killed the master plan of Little Bay. This was followed by the most damning Aide Memoire Meade received in three years.

It is popular belief that the outcome of the elections stalled what many thought would be similar to a TCI in 2009 takeover. That fateful August day, the UK took over day-to-day control of the Turks and Caicos islands amid ongoing allegations of widespread corruption in the British overseas territory, the Foreign Office said tonight.

The TCI Governor said then: “Our goal is to make a clean break from the mistakes of the past by establishing a durable path towards good governance, sound financial management and sustainable development.”

The Task Force review in spite of any shortcomings, biases, cover-up and otherwise, does leave us with the view that the MDC should not be abandoned, but some people should be held accountable, investigated and processed. There should be dismissals, a shake-up and removal of the unneeded and people installed who will truly have Montserrat’s development as priority and follow the rules and laws that govern the processes.

Could we still hear the words of Governor Wetherall in TCI 2009? An investigation may clear up the misappropriations, the mismanagement of accountability and authority regarding public finances.

We do not agree with the abandonment of the MDC, because someone believes that it was not fit for purpose. What then is the agenda?

Governor Davis does not think that an inquiry or investigations is any longer necessary. With his head obviously buried in the sands, he is continuing his protective mode, or maybe concerned about the fall-out and the reach such can have.