Categorized | Editorial

The MOU: should bring change, but is the process right for Montserrat?

Editorial – May 4, 2012

Last week’s Editorial mentioned the advent of what turned out to have been a long in coming Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), an Agreement, between the British Department of International Development (DFID) and the Government of Montserrat. This document as explained is the framework of a “strategic growth package for Montserrat”.

In a release announcing the signing of the MOU, packed with a matrix of requirements, goals and milestones, performances, it further described the package, saying: “It is expected that the successful implementation of the reform programme will put Montserrat on a clear path to faster economic growth and reduced dependence on UK budgetary support.”

DFID seemed to be the only one who thought the occasion was a grand one. After he signed the MOU on May 1 (see front-page story), the Premier seemed somehow subdued and refused speak about the MOU, although that was the reason we had gathered at the Governor’s conference room. He promised a press conference for next week. We had squeezed in one question about the “unfriendliness” mentioned in the MOU. He explained that this had to do with the slothfulness in the way public servants approached its relationship with the private sector. The word ‘unfriendly’ is perhaps a poor choice, since the word suggests hostility. He said that he has been “consistent” in speaking on the matter.

Governor Davis has been facing some pressure since last year about the way his/our public servants conducted their service. In February this year he reported to the media, that his office along with the Premier wanted the public servants to have, ”a recognition that their role, their mission is to help to get the economy growing…”

The Governor said the public servants, “Question about why should we doing this or why should we be doing that (to help the private sector to grow), we have not had any increments for years, our pay has not been increased.”

This has amazed everyone who has heard this, and the question they ask, ‘Has any heads rolled…?’ The statement by those public servants is very damning in many ways. The cards are very much on the table, and GoM must act speedily to change the terrible attitudes that have become burdensome. The Governor had said in February that he is giving his office six months to begin to see a difference.

While we do not agree with the way the MOU is sounding, not like the blackmail we were smelling, but rather Montserrat is being held to ransom and hostage in its crisis.

We thought that when Secretary of State Allan Duncan visited that his government was ready to put right the wrongs of the recent past, that this was the invitation Montserrat needed. We had expected the Premier to recognize the suggestion when this Editor noted to him in a ZJB discussion in December last year, that there is a misconception outside that Montserrat is well off from the amount of support it had received from Britain, that the record should be set right with a recap and accounting of that support.

Perhaps the term ‘budgetary support’, when broken down might be referring to the support needed to place us in at least the position Montserrat was in the late 80s and early 90s, prior to the volcanic disaster. Efforts should be made to have clarity on exactly what it is that both HMG and GoM need to agree on, what ought to be.

After the volcanic crisis set in before anyone accepted, maybe because there was no preparation, that volcanic activity would get worse and continue for as long as it has, both Governments went around in circles. HMG declared it did not know what to do having not experienced that before. Montserrat should never have had the elections in 1996. That, was a mistake as the wait for HMG action and inaction permeated.

Up to now, no one has put on the table what Montserrat lost in this crisis; and the island continues to lose. One problem however, we note our Premier’s lack of interest in that very important fact to help determine the kind of road map that we really need. It is no mystery it is taking this time to settle on it.

 

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

Editorial – May 4, 2012

Last week’s Editorial mentioned the advent of what turned out to have been a long in coming Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), an Agreement, between the British Department of International Development (DFID) and the Government of Montserrat. This document as explained is the framework of a “strategic growth package for Montserrat”.

In a release announcing the signing of the MOU, packed with a matrix of requirements, goals and milestones, performances, it further described the package, saying: “It is expected that the successful implementation of the reform programme will put Montserrat on a clear path to faster economic growth and reduced dependence on UK budgetary support.”

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DFID seemed to be the only one who thought the occasion was a grand one. After he signed the MOU on May 1 (see front-page story), the Premier seemed somehow subdued and refused speak about the MOU, although that was the reason we had gathered at the Governor’s conference room. He promised a press conference for next week. We had squeezed in one question about the “unfriendliness” mentioned in the MOU. He explained that this had to do with the slothfulness in the way public servants approached its relationship with the private sector. The word ‘unfriendly’ is perhaps a poor choice, since the word suggests hostility. He said that he has been “consistent” in speaking on the matter.

Governor Davis has been facing some pressure since last year about the way his/our public servants conducted their service. In February this year he reported to the media, that his office along with the Premier wanted the public servants to have, ”a recognition that their role, their mission is to help to get the economy growing…”

The Governor said the public servants, “Question about why should we doing this or why should we be doing that (to help the private sector to grow), we have not had any increments for years, our pay has not been increased.”

This has amazed everyone who has heard this, and the question they ask, ‘Has any heads rolled…?’ The statement by those public servants is very damning in many ways. The cards are very much on the table, and GoM must act speedily to change the terrible attitudes that have become burdensome. The Governor had said in February that he is giving his office six months to begin to see a difference.

While we do not agree with the way the MOU is sounding, not like the blackmail we were smelling, but rather Montserrat is being held to ransom and hostage in its crisis.

We thought that when Secretary of State Allan Duncan visited that his government was ready to put right the wrongs of the recent past, that this was the invitation Montserrat needed. We had expected the Premier to recognize the suggestion when this Editor noted to him in a ZJB discussion in December last year, that there is a misconception outside that Montserrat is well off from the amount of support it had received from Britain, that the record should be set right with a recap and accounting of that support.

Perhaps the term ‘budgetary support’, when broken down might be referring to the support needed to place us in at least the position Montserrat was in the late 80s and early 90s, prior to the volcanic disaster. Efforts should be made to have clarity on exactly what it is that both HMG and GoM need to agree on, what ought to be.

After the volcanic crisis set in before anyone accepted, maybe because there was no preparation, that volcanic activity would get worse and continue for as long as it has, both Governments went around in circles. HMG declared it did not know what to do having not experienced that before. Montserrat should never have had the elections in 1996. That, was a mistake as the wait for HMG action and inaction permeated.

Up to now, no one has put on the table what Montserrat lost in this crisis; and the island continues to lose. One problem however, we note our Premier’s lack of interest in that very important fact to help determine the kind of road map that we really need. It is no mystery it is taking this time to settle on it.