Categorized | Local, News, Opinions

The Montserrat Community need to help themselves

by Keima Allen 

Keima Allen

The Government of Montserrat hosted its second Diaspora Consultation event in Montserrat on 21 December 2011. The Premier Minister, Reuben Meade who spent many years outside of Montserrat, acknowledged in his opening speech that it was important that the diaspora Community contribute to the development of the island.

I agree; the people of the Diaspora possess the skills-set and expertise needed to contribute to the economic growth of Montserrat. However, we need to work together in order for our overall objectives to be met. The discussion at the conference mainly concentrated on an inward–looking Montserrat. That is, and although with good intent, what Montserrat can do for the diaspora (such as providing housing incentives for returning Montserratians). In addition, what should have been included is what the diaspora is capable of initiating or implementing in an attempt to stimulate economic growth from both inside and outside sources. There are numerous “diasporans” who for one reason or another are unable to simply relocate to Montserrat at short notice. These individuals on the other hand would be eager to generate income by selling products produced locally in Montserrat to global markets. In this way there is a regular inflow of invaluable foreign exchange from both the diaspora and local entrepreneurs within Montserrat.

Dr. Barnes was spot on in articulating the concept of ‘Brand Montserrat’. Using Montserrat’s cultural vibrancy its food, its fine arts and craft, literature, the Diaspora could have sampled and consulted on products that would shape the Montserrat brand.

Instead at the Diaspora Conference there was a presentation from DFID’s Advisor, Dr. Kato Kimbugwe who spoke about introducing a skilled-base database.  Do DFID need to invest in a Skills Bank? There are already established Montserrat associations in the UK, Canada and USA who could been mobilised at little or no cost into setting up such an initiative.  It would certainly have probably been more comprehensive and cost-effective had a member of staff in the Montserrat Office contacted them to accumulate this information. I note too that there were no discussions about the business case and subsequent tendering process for this project. Montserrat has been dependant on DFID for economic expertise for far too long. The continual reliance on DFID’s aid is unsustainable; notwithstanding development aid generally has conditions attached to it.  Take for instance, the DFID’s project to provide reliable access to and from Montserrat, after 16 years following the volcanic eruption this has still not come to fruition.   In any event transparency is paramount and proper procedures need to be implemented before contracts are to be signed off.

The consultation could have generated much needed debate on one of Montserrat’s natural resources – geothermal energy. Tapping into this energy generates electricity which could contribute to the island economic growth, if managed effectively. There have been numerous companies that have done initial detailed geo physical exploration and submitted reports to various bodies in Montserrat already.  Further information on this would have been welcomed by members of the diaspora.

As the Consultation is in its second stage I see room for improvement and I particularly call for better communication and engagement with the people of the Montserrat Diaspora. I take from the event a wealth of information to digest – particularly though, that the Montserrat Community both locally and those abroad need to come together to help themselves and to build a better Montserrat.

Keima Allen Bsc MA CIPD

Keima Allen is a Political Activist, Employment Specialist and Founder of The Montserrat Society UK.

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

by Keima Allen 

Keima Allen

The Government of Montserrat hosted its second Diaspora Consultation event in Montserrat on 21 December 2011. The Premier Minister, Reuben Meade who spent many years outside of Montserrat, acknowledged in his opening speech that it was important that the diaspora Community contribute to the development of the island.

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I agree; the people of the Diaspora possess the skills-set and expertise needed to contribute to the economic growth of Montserrat. However, we need to work together in order for our overall objectives to be met. The discussion at the conference mainly concentrated on an inward–looking Montserrat. That is, and although with good intent, what Montserrat can do for the diaspora (such as providing housing incentives for returning Montserratians). In addition, what should have been included is what the diaspora is capable of initiating or implementing in an attempt to stimulate economic growth from both inside and outside sources. There are numerous “diasporans” who for one reason or another are unable to simply relocate to Montserrat at short notice. These individuals on the other hand would be eager to generate income by selling products produced locally in Montserrat to global markets. In this way there is a regular inflow of invaluable foreign exchange from both the diaspora and local entrepreneurs within Montserrat.

Dr. Barnes was spot on in articulating the concept of ‘Brand Montserrat’. Using Montserrat’s cultural vibrancy its food, its fine arts and craft, literature, the Diaspora could have sampled and consulted on products that would shape the Montserrat brand.

Instead at the Diaspora Conference there was a presentation from DFID’s Advisor, Dr. Kato Kimbugwe who spoke about introducing a skilled-base database.  Do DFID need to invest in a Skills Bank? There are already established Montserrat associations in the UK, Canada and USA who could been mobilised at little or no cost into setting up such an initiative.  It would certainly have probably been more comprehensive and cost-effective had a member of staff in the Montserrat Office contacted them to accumulate this information. I note too that there were no discussions about the business case and subsequent tendering process for this project. Montserrat has been dependant on DFID for economic expertise for far too long. The continual reliance on DFID’s aid is unsustainable; notwithstanding development aid generally has conditions attached to it.  Take for instance, the DFID’s project to provide reliable access to and from Montserrat, after 16 years following the volcanic eruption this has still not come to fruition.   In any event transparency is paramount and proper procedures need to be implemented before contracts are to be signed off.

The consultation could have generated much needed debate on one of Montserrat’s natural resources – geothermal energy. Tapping into this energy generates electricity which could contribute to the island economic growth, if managed effectively. There have been numerous companies that have done initial detailed geo physical exploration and submitted reports to various bodies in Montserrat already.  Further information on this would have been welcomed by members of the diaspora.

As the Consultation is in its second stage I see room for improvement and I particularly call for better communication and engagement with the people of the Montserrat Diaspora. I take from the event a wealth of information to digest – particularly though, that the Montserrat Community both locally and those abroad need to come together to help themselves and to build a better Montserrat.

Keima Allen Bsc MA CIPD

Keima Allen is a Political Activist, Employment Specialist and Founder of The Montserrat Society UK.