Why does Montserrat need a “breakthrough”?

Contribution – Part 2/2019

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Why has it taken so long for economy transforming projects to begin to roll out?

BRADES, Montserrat, January 17, 2019 –  In his New Year’s message, Premier Romeo announced a list of “breakthrough” projects.[1] As TMR announced,[2] within days, we then saw a rush of activities on the ground.

For example, just after the New year, the “cab” for the new air traffic control tower was trailered up from the port via Davy Hill and the tunnel to the airport. Yes, it got stuck in the tunnel, but that was just a hiccup. The main point is that with a new control tower and proper lighting, the airport can open at night. That improves access for tourism and for medical evacuations by night. Tourism is our biggest hope for economic growth.

If we go down by the MCWL building, we will see solar PV panels being installed for the new 250 kW – 250,000 Watt – power plant, about 10% of our peak electrical load. Ministry officials tell us that a 750 kW plant is to follow shortly. These plants will improve resiliency and provide diversity for our power grid. Officials also informed the public that announcements on geothermal power plant development are to follow shortly. As there may be up to 100 MW – a hundred million Watts – of geothermal energy, we will be able to replace fossil fuel fired electricity, perhaps reducing prices to the consumer (including fuel surcharge) by 50% and opening up room for economic growth and high quality jobs.

Likewise, Stantec of Canada and Barbados is already doing stakeholder and environmental consultations and in coming months is to work with Government to oversee design and construction of the new breakwater and berthing facility for the sea port.

A subsea fibre optic cable is to be laid in coming months also.

Each of these initiatives has good potential to help move our economy on a growth path. That’s not the issue. The problem is, why did it take so long? What are the barriers, obstacles, roadblocks, undermining etc that have been hindering growth? What can we do to make sure barriers go away permanently and do not kill our key development projects?

A good example is a concern that is now making the rounds on the street. It is credibly said that the TC Canadian Economist who helped to push through our Economic Growth Strategy and who has helped us make key connections that opened up possibilities is being pushed out despite the many contributions he obviously could continue to make. This follows the case where an Engineer and Project Management expert who was already setting up a system for training and certifying world class capability for project management here (as well as introducing the famous PRINCE2 practical Project Management system) was frog marched out of Government headquarters, on a “no cause clause” dismissal. Of course, ever since, the Project Management Office has been put in the freezer, undermining our credibility to manage and properly govern projects and programmes. Indeed, a January 2017 Cabinet instruction to proceed with radical reform of the Premier’s Office has also been delayed, roadblocked, stalled for two years now.

Oh is Don fault, ‘e too soft an’ incompetent!

No, such things should never happen, regardless of who is or is not Premier.

We should not “need” a strong man with raised hand holding a whip over us for us to do our work properly and promptly. Slavery was abolished 150 years ago.

Just so, we should not be found undermining, slandering and pushing out people who are helping us by beginning to deliver results. Similarly, we should not throw out the baby with the bath water and we should not kill the goose that is laying the golden eggs.

It is not for nothing that Scripture warns that where we find envy and selfish ambition there will we find disorder and every evil work. It again counsels, let him who is without fault throw the first stone. As a third counsel, it informs us that we should take out the plank in our own eyes then we will see clearly enough to help our brother down in the saw-pit with the sawdust that got in his eyes.

Once we get our spiritual attitude right, we will then able to act wisely enough to come together with godly teamwork and build a sound future for Montserrat.

Where, clearly – even astonishingly, Premier Romeo and his colleagues have in fact begun to deliver on some key, economy transforming initiatives that have been roadblocked for twenty years.  For all their faults – real and imagined – they have to be getting something right. So, it is time for a balanced look to learn lessons going forward.

Perhaps, we can notice: every one of the key projects that are moving forward is externally managed. A clue. The sea port, CDB and Stantec. The Fibre Optic Cable will be laid by a specialist ship. The Control tower “cab” is prefabricated. SALT Energy is building our solar PV plants. DfID has taken over geothermal development. The subtle signal being sent is that we have to drastically improve project governance and project cycle management capability and credibility. That’s why PRINCE2 would have been making a big difference. We must go right back to where we were in July 2017. That includes, fixing the Premier’s Office – including putting in place a capable Chief Executive Officer he is comfortable working with.

Likewise, after hurricanes Irma and Maria gave us two close calls in two weeks, resiliency moved to first priority. Suddenly power brokers in the UN, the UK and other OT’s hit by the hurricanes were listening keenly as Premier Romeo called attention to the acknowledged legal force of the UN Charter’s Article 73 . The UK is legally bound to “ensure . . . advancement”: socially, educationally, politically and economically. It is to “promote constructive measures of development.” Then the Premier  [a] withdrew Premier Meade’s request to take us off the UN’s list of territories that Article 73 applies to AND [b] invited a UN delegation to visit us. That has to go through the UK. Not too long thereafter, we are getting movement on ever so many long-stalled projects. Each of these projects also has a resiliency component. 

Last, but not least: it’s obviously time to stop scoffing at the “first call” principle and to instead use it as a strong negotiating point.


[1] See, TMR https://www.themontserratreporter.com/honourable-premier-donaldson-romeo-2019-new-year-statement/

[2] See TMR, addr

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Contribution – Part 2/2019

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Why has it taken so long for economy transforming projects to begin to roll out?

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BRADES, Montserrat, January 17, 2019 –  In his New Year’s message, Premier Romeo announced a list of “breakthrough” projects.[1] As TMR announced,[2] within days, we then saw a rush of activities on the ground.

For example, just after the New year, the “cab” for the new air traffic control tower was trailered up from the port via Davy Hill and the tunnel to the airport. Yes, it got stuck in the tunnel, but that was just a hiccup. The main point is that with a new control tower and proper lighting, the airport can open at night. That improves access for tourism and for medical evacuations by night. Tourism is our biggest hope for economic growth.

If we go down by the MCWL building, we will see solar PV panels being installed for the new 250 kW – 250,000 Watt – power plant, about 10% of our peak electrical load. Ministry officials tell us that a 750 kW plant is to follow shortly. These plants will improve resiliency and provide diversity for our power grid. Officials also informed the public that announcements on geothermal power plant development are to follow shortly. As there may be up to 100 MW – a hundred million Watts – of geothermal energy, we will be able to replace fossil fuel fired electricity, perhaps reducing prices to the consumer (including fuel surcharge) by 50% and opening up room for economic growth and high quality jobs.

Likewise, Stantec of Canada and Barbados is already doing stakeholder and environmental consultations and in coming months is to work with Government to oversee design and construction of the new breakwater and berthing facility for the sea port.

A subsea fibre optic cable is to be laid in coming months also.

Each of these initiatives has good potential to help move our economy on a growth path. That’s not the issue. The problem is, why did it take so long? What are the barriers, obstacles, roadblocks, undermining etc that have been hindering growth? What can we do to make sure barriers go away permanently and do not kill our key development projects?

A good example is a concern that is now making the rounds on the street. It is credibly said that the TC Canadian Economist who helped to push through our Economic Growth Strategy and who has helped us make key connections that opened up possibilities is being pushed out despite the many contributions he obviously could continue to make. This follows the case where an Engineer and Project Management expert who was already setting up a system for training and certifying world class capability for project management here (as well as introducing the famous PRINCE2 practical Project Management system) was frog marched out of Government headquarters, on a “no cause clause” dismissal. Of course, ever since, the Project Management Office has been put in the freezer, undermining our credibility to manage and properly govern projects and programmes. Indeed, a January 2017 Cabinet instruction to proceed with radical reform of the Premier’s Office has also been delayed, roadblocked, stalled for two years now.

Oh is Don fault, ‘e too soft an’ incompetent!

No, such things should never happen, regardless of who is or is not Premier.

We should not “need” a strong man with raised hand holding a whip over us for us to do our work properly and promptly. Slavery was abolished 150 years ago.

Just so, we should not be found undermining, slandering and pushing out people who are helping us by beginning to deliver results. Similarly, we should not throw out the baby with the bath water and we should not kill the goose that is laying the golden eggs.

It is not for nothing that Scripture warns that where we find envy and selfish ambition there will we find disorder and every evil work. It again counsels, let him who is without fault throw the first stone. As a third counsel, it informs us that we should take out the plank in our own eyes then we will see clearly enough to help our brother down in the saw-pit with the sawdust that got in his eyes.

Once we get our spiritual attitude right, we will then able to act wisely enough to come together with godly teamwork and build a sound future for Montserrat.

Where, clearly – even astonishingly, Premier Romeo and his colleagues have in fact begun to deliver on some key, economy transforming initiatives that have been roadblocked for twenty years.  For all their faults – real and imagined – they have to be getting something right. So, it is time for a balanced look to learn lessons going forward.

Perhaps, we can notice: every one of the key projects that are moving forward is externally managed. A clue. The sea port, CDB and Stantec. The Fibre Optic Cable will be laid by a specialist ship. The Control tower “cab” is prefabricated. SALT Energy is building our solar PV plants. DfID has taken over geothermal development. The subtle signal being sent is that we have to drastically improve project governance and project cycle management capability and credibility. That’s why PRINCE2 would have been making a big difference. We must go right back to where we were in July 2017. That includes, fixing the Premier’s Office – including putting in place a capable Chief Executive Officer he is comfortable working with.

Likewise, after hurricanes Irma and Maria gave us two close calls in two weeks, resiliency moved to first priority. Suddenly power brokers in the UN, the UK and other OT’s hit by the hurricanes were listening keenly as Premier Romeo called attention to the acknowledged legal force of the UN Charter’s Article 73 . The UK is legally bound to “ensure . . . advancement”: socially, educationally, politically and economically. It is to “promote constructive measures of development.” Then the Premier  [a] withdrew Premier Meade’s request to take us off the UN’s list of territories that Article 73 applies to AND [b] invited a UN delegation to visit us. That has to go through the UK. Not too long thereafter, we are getting movement on ever so many long-stalled projects. Each of these projects also has a resiliency component. 

Last, but not least: it’s obviously time to stop scoffing at the “first call” principle and to instead use it as a strong negotiating point.


[1] See, TMR https://www.themontserratreporter.com/honourable-premier-donaldson-romeo-2019-new-year-statement/

[2] See TMR, addr

Please support The Montserrat Reporter –