UK OTs directors urge spending of monies well…


by Bennette Roach

The Foreign and Commonwealth (FCO) Overseas Territories (OTs) and Department for International Development (DFID) (OTs) Directors concluded a two day visit to Montserrat, their final stop speaking with the local media at the Governor’s office on Thursday, May 23, 2019.

The Interview turned out to be too short, as it is most time even though it lasted just about an hour. The two were on a familiarisation tour of the Caribbean and we never got to ask how many and which islands they had visited before coming to Montserrat and after they leave Montserrat.

Premier Romeo
H E Governor Pearce

They were joined by the Hon. Premier Romeo and H E Governor Pearce with Miss Moira Marshall the DFID local representative sitting in the back of the room.

Both gentlemen were making their first visit to Montserrat with the FCO director William Gelling being in post for just of a year while John Gordon DFID director in position for just under three years, neither of them familiar enough to be articulate about conditions regarding Montserrat going back of 2016.

William Gelling

Gelling expressed joy to have visited. “I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to get here,” he said adding that it (Montserrat) is “really remarkable!” as he looked over Plymouth from Garibaldi Hill, “and over the destruction that was wrought over two decades ago and I think a tribute to Montserrat and its resilience…”

As Gordon said speaking after Gelling, after the Governor opened the briefing, he said, “I align myself with all of his comments, I share all of that. It’s really great to be here, we’re really grateful for all the people that made time to meet with us.” Gelling had gone on to say in his introduction, “I think Montserrat can be proud of what it’s done over the last 20 years to pick it up after that really shocking and tragic event. I’ve also been really struck by the warmth of Montserrat and Montserratians and the beauty of the place.”

Gelling having said the above, I would raise later with him, continued though not similar reminded me of then DFID Minister Alan Duncan in December 2011, when he said that ‘no where that Britain has responsibility, has ever suffered what Montserrat has gone through from the volcanic activity.’

Gelling said, “I think Montserrat can be proud of what it’s done over the last 20 years to pick it up after that really shocking and tragic event. I’ve also been really struck by the warmth of Montserrat and Montserratians and the beauty of the place. I don’t think there’s many places I’ve been where you arrive to this enormously verdant scenery, and the level of biodiversity.”

The Governor and the Premier both joined in expressing satisfaction at how the meetings have turned out. The two OTs directors shared a common view, Gordon saying: “We’ve had really productive discussion with the premier and with his team. We met civil society. We met opposition politicians. We’ve talked to a range of people. And that presented a very good picture of Montserrat – This is been a good couple of days. A bit of a whistle-stop visit. But you can do quite a lot in two days, as we found. We didn’t really stop from morning till night, so. Thanks to all those that that helped us to get a clearer picture…”

Gelling had said: “I do feel that we’ve really built a level of trust that I hope will make things going forward, more straight forward, more productive, and I hope will allow all of us to see more results…”

In addition they also said they met with, and, “…we’ve talked to a whole range of people, public servants. And we met with a group of private sector representatives yesterday to talk about what their views are on what they need to happen to enable them to sort of invest more in Montserrat.”

John Gordon

There was a recurring theme from particularly the DFID director regarding the delayed approval of the development funds of £30 million. Repeatedly referring to the funds as substantial, Gordon said: “we approved 30 million pounds which is a substantial amount of money…For a country of moderate size and the size of a public service and its capacity – we think that’s the right amount of money.”

Following discussion on that he concluded: “We have a history in this country of investing in infrastructure and things generally take longer than we expected them to. But that happens in many countries, not just Montserrat. Because infrastructure projects generally aren’t easy to implement.”

Responding to a question as to should those funds get drawn sooner within the five years, will there be a supplement, he said: “My objective and the premier’s objective is to move forward as quickly as possible to deliver effect through that investment.”

“So,” he continued: “I’m not gonna think now about what happens when all the money’s exhausted or if there’s another phase of this. We’ve only just approved this. This is a couple of months in so we’d rather just focus on spending the money and spending the money well, rather than thinking about what more might be down the road.”

The discussion and questions continued, while Gordon concluded: “So let’s just focus on spending the money and if they spend it in 18 months, let’s confront that problem when it arrives.”

Oversight of the funds spent on behalf of and in Montserrat followed and this report will continue…

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by Bennette Roach

The Foreign and Commonwealth (FCO) Overseas Territories (OTs) and Department for International Development (DFID) (OTs) Directors concluded a two day visit to Montserrat, their final stop speaking with the local media at the Governor’s office on Thursday, May 23, 2019.

The Interview turned out to be too short, as it is most time even though it lasted just about an hour. The two were on a familiarisation tour of the Caribbean and we never got to ask how many and which islands they had visited before coming to Montserrat and after they leave Montserrat.

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Premier Romeo
H E Governor Pearce

They were joined by the Hon. Premier Romeo and H E Governor Pearce with Miss Moira Marshall the DFID local representative sitting in the back of the room.

Both gentlemen were making their first visit to Montserrat with the FCO director William Gelling being in post for just of a year while John Gordon DFID director in position for just under three years, neither of them familiar enough to be articulate about conditions regarding Montserrat going back of 2016.

William Gelling

Gelling expressed joy to have visited. “I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to get here,” he said adding that it (Montserrat) is “really remarkable!” as he looked over Plymouth from Garibaldi Hill, “and over the destruction that was wrought over two decades ago and I think a tribute to Montserrat and its resilience…”

As Gordon said speaking after Gelling, after the Governor opened the briefing, he said, “I align myself with all of his comments, I share all of that. It’s really great to be here, we’re really grateful for all the people that made time to meet with us.” Gelling had gone on to say in his introduction, “I think Montserrat can be proud of what it’s done over the last 20 years to pick it up after that really shocking and tragic event. I’ve also been really struck by the warmth of Montserrat and Montserratians and the beauty of the place.”

Gelling having said the above, I would raise later with him, continued though not similar reminded me of then DFID Minister Alan Duncan in December 2011, when he said that ‘no where that Britain has responsibility, has ever suffered what Montserrat has gone through from the volcanic activity.’

Gelling said, “I think Montserrat can be proud of what it’s done over the last 20 years to pick it up after that really shocking and tragic event. I’ve also been really struck by the warmth of Montserrat and Montserratians and the beauty of the place. I don’t think there’s many places I’ve been where you arrive to this enormously verdant scenery, and the level of biodiversity.”

The Governor and the Premier both joined in expressing satisfaction at how the meetings have turned out. The two OTs directors shared a common view, Gordon saying: “We’ve had really productive discussion with the premier and with his team. We met civil society. We met opposition politicians. We’ve talked to a range of people. And that presented a very good picture of Montserrat – This is been a good couple of days. A bit of a whistle-stop visit. But you can do quite a lot in two days, as we found. We didn’t really stop from morning till night, so. Thanks to all those that that helped us to get a clearer picture…”

Gelling had said: “I do feel that we’ve really built a level of trust that I hope will make things going forward, more straight forward, more productive, and I hope will allow all of us to see more results…”

In addition they also said they met with, and, “…we’ve talked to a whole range of people, public servants. And we met with a group of private sector representatives yesterday to talk about what their views are on what they need to happen to enable them to sort of invest more in Montserrat.”

John Gordon

There was a recurring theme from particularly the DFID director regarding the delayed approval of the development funds of £30 million. Repeatedly referring to the funds as substantial, Gordon said: “we approved 30 million pounds which is a substantial amount of money…For a country of moderate size and the size of a public service and its capacity – we think that’s the right amount of money.”

Following discussion on that he concluded: “We have a history in this country of investing in infrastructure and things generally take longer than we expected them to. But that happens in many countries, not just Montserrat. Because infrastructure projects generally aren’t easy to implement.”

Responding to a question as to should those funds get drawn sooner within the five years, will there be a supplement, he said: “My objective and the premier’s objective is to move forward as quickly as possible to deliver effect through that investment.”

“So,” he continued: “I’m not gonna think now about what happens when all the money’s exhausted or if there’s another phase of this. We’ve only just approved this. This is a couple of months in so we’d rather just focus on spending the money and spending the money well, rather than thinking about what more might be down the road.”

The discussion and questions continued, while Gordon concluded: “So let’s just focus on spending the money and if they spend it in 18 months, let’s confront that problem when it arrives.”

Oversight of the funds spent on behalf of and in Montserrat followed and this report will continue…