Categorized | Editorial

We need a DISCUSSION, some answers and information might start it

For well over two years now the reality has been hitting home that Montserrat needs to have a DISCUSSION. A discussion that must span several months and possibly years because there is so much to discuss, to learn and appreciate.

Many have come and visit in different categories. Some bring money, revenue to the island, fewer take money away in all forms and fashion. One thing they all, or at least nearly all say, Montserrat is a great place to visit. And, nearly all pay a departure tax, even though some do take away more than and in cases much more than the tax they pay.

So, is that worth a discussion? That is tiny compared to the many other topics that are waiting for consideration.

Sadly, there is this great fear of speaking one’s mind much less the truth, this fear that discussions will bring information to the front and there are those who do not wish that information and for that matter anyone to be educated about anything, not even what they need to exist. Knowledge is power and those who have power do not want anyone else to have it.

Do our English masters and civil servants have power.  No discussion is needed to figure that out. Has Montserrat been discussing what kind of Constitution it would like to, or ought to have? Who was and is responsible for that? Fear, greed and selfishness brought the island into a rather chaotic state.

But what is the single most pressing issue for Montserrat today? It all surrounds the very existence and livelihoods of the people, the economy. Not the Constitution, the consultation broke down when fear and the rest took over allowing other important matters to take over the minds.

A couple weeks ago when the worse was evident, Chief Minister Meade volunteered a statement in the Legislature and told that the Department for International Development (DFID) had been giving ‘trivial’ reasons for withholding project funding. That should have sparked a serious discussion, since the Chief Minister was making that statement fully aware of the many sayings and conversations that have been emanating from the suffering and the threatened, and even those comfortable ones.

The CM would have encouraged a discussion had he had told what the trivial reasons were. It may well be he didn’t want that discussion but may well have thought as usual it was enough to make the statement to ward off any offensive. The CM and his 700 plus ‘public servants’ must do better than what has become more than the norm and be more forthcoming with information, especially that which impacts every one.

The DFID lady Sue Wardell in her first visit in 2009 when she spoke to the press raised some issues when she spoke about the aid that Montserrat receives from the UK. The subject of her discourse was sad enough, but when she said, “If I’m losing my job and I’m losing my house, why are you giving money to other countries?” She was referring to tax payers in the UK, but she did not say those words as if this was a country that had the responsibility to do just that. Everything else she said surrounding that statement should have sparked much discussion and action.

She was speaking in context of the ‘world’s economic downturn’ and what it meant for Montserrat. “…you find a lot of countries that are dependent on British aid are coming and saying please help us with more, please give us more,” she lamented.

She then said what that meant for Montserrat. “Well, we actually provide a significant amount of the budget support of the budget in Montserrat…,” and speaking about the currency exchange, “you’ve actually seen a 30% reduction to this and actually the amount of money you were expecting in terms of the purchasing power of sterling…I explained to them that this isn’t just an issue for Montserrat.  It’s for all of the Overseas Territories where we provide assistance but for many other countries across the world.”
The problem with that was that our leaders just went away and cried and said and did nothing. Oh for some honest and holistic representation.

She had said at the time also that DFID had its shortcomings in delivering aid to Montserrat and she admitted that again this year February, but declared that a change was coming in that regard. In addition, she urged that we wait and see how our public servants who she thought showed in her discussions with them the potential for ‘capacity’, would react in getting projects on stream and completed. She had said all the right things and looked forward to ‘good’ things from the new government, in power for five months, but had not held a press conference to that day.

She did say, “You know we have to get certain standards enforced.” Did we really know what she was speaking about? What has changed since Sue Wardell left in February with a promise that DFID would boost up its method of delivery? Projects were enumerated. Little Bay project in doubt! Public servants do little or nothing to help, that is not their style, but the CM after calling on the private sector to shape up or ship out, reverts to the public sector who must now set the example, which they have all failed to deliver on especially since 1998.

There has been an unusual chumminess in some quarters, and it seems now it is all much of the same. Let us see who will be willing to provide some answers and some information that may well spark the discussion that is so needed in this place.

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

For well over two years now the reality has been hitting home that Montserrat needs to have a DISCUSSION. A discussion that must span several months and possibly years because there is so much to discuss, to learn and appreciate.

Many have come and visit in different categories. Some bring money, revenue to the island, fewer take money away in all forms and fashion. One thing they all, or at least nearly all say, Montserrat is a great place to visit. And, nearly all pay a departure tax, even though some do take away more than and in cases much more than the tax they pay.

So, is that worth a discussion? That is tiny compared to the many other topics that are waiting for consideration.

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Sadly, there is this great fear of speaking one’s mind much less the truth, this fear that discussions will bring information to the front and there are those who do not wish that information and for that matter anyone to be educated about anything, not even what they need to exist. Knowledge is power and those who have power do not want anyone else to have it.

Do our English masters and civil servants have power.  No discussion is needed to figure that out. Has Montserrat been discussing what kind of Constitution it would like to, or ought to have? Who was and is responsible for that? Fear, greed and selfishness brought the island into a rather chaotic state.

But what is the single most pressing issue for Montserrat today? It all surrounds the very existence and livelihoods of the people, the economy. Not the Constitution, the consultation broke down when fear and the rest took over allowing other important matters to take over the minds.

A couple weeks ago when the worse was evident, Chief Minister Meade volunteered a statement in the Legislature and told that the Department for International Development (DFID) had been giving ‘trivial’ reasons for withholding project funding. That should have sparked a serious discussion, since the Chief Minister was making that statement fully aware of the many sayings and conversations that have been emanating from the suffering and the threatened, and even those comfortable ones.

The CM would have encouraged a discussion had he had told what the trivial reasons were. It may well be he didn’t want that discussion but may well have thought as usual it was enough to make the statement to ward off any offensive. The CM and his 700 plus ‘public servants’ must do better than what has become more than the norm and be more forthcoming with information, especially that which impacts every one.

The DFID lady Sue Wardell in her first visit in 2009 when she spoke to the press raised some issues when she spoke about the aid that Montserrat receives from the UK. The subject of her discourse was sad enough, but when she said, “If I’m losing my job and I’m losing my house, why are you giving money to other countries?” She was referring to tax payers in the UK, but she did not say those words as if this was a country that had the responsibility to do just that. Everything else she said surrounding that statement should have sparked much discussion and action.

She was speaking in context of the ‘world’s economic downturn’ and what it meant for Montserrat. “…you find a lot of countries that are dependent on British aid are coming and saying please help us with more, please give us more,” she lamented.

She then said what that meant for Montserrat. “Well, we actually provide a significant amount of the budget support of the budget in Montserrat…,” and speaking about the currency exchange, “you’ve actually seen a 30% reduction to this and actually the amount of money you were expecting in terms of the purchasing power of sterling…I explained to them that this isn’t just an issue for Montserrat.  It’s for all of the Overseas Territories where we provide assistance but for many other countries across the world.”
The problem with that was that our leaders just went away and cried and said and did nothing. Oh for some honest and holistic representation.

She had said at the time also that DFID had its shortcomings in delivering aid to Montserrat and she admitted that again this year February, but declared that a change was coming in that regard. In addition, she urged that we wait and see how our public servants who she thought showed in her discussions with them the potential for ‘capacity’, would react in getting projects on stream and completed. She had said all the right things and looked forward to ‘good’ things from the new government, in power for five months, but had not held a press conference to that day.

She did say, “You know we have to get certain standards enforced.” Did we really know what she was speaking about? What has changed since Sue Wardell left in February with a promise that DFID would boost up its method of delivery? Projects were enumerated. Little Bay project in doubt! Public servants do little or nothing to help, that is not their style, but the CM after calling on the private sector to shape up or ship out, reverts to the public sector who must now set the example, which they have all failed to deliver on especially since 1998.

There has been an unusual chumminess in some quarters, and it seems now it is all much of the same. Let us see who will be willing to provide some answers and some information that may well spark the discussion that is so needed in this place.