Government of Montserrat

Financial Aid Mission (FAM) 2016: Speech By The Honourable Priemer, Donaldson Romeo


Dec 5, 2017
Opening based on JMC Update Nov 1:
Building Montserrat’s Future


Your Excellency, Fellow Ministers and Members, Hon Deputy Governor, Members of FAM Team, Permanent Secretaries, Senior Government Officials and staff, ladies and gentlemen:
With the destructive volcanic eruptions fading into the past, now is the time to move Montserrat forward. Another several decades of recurrent budget aid, directly funded by the British tax payers is not in anyone’s best interest. The choice at this economic crossroad is clear; strategic capital investments, that is transformational projects, to return Montserrat to self-sufficiency or continued annual Aid for generations to come. Redevelopment and the hoped for economic self-sufficiency will clearly not happen overnight, but we can and should speed up the rebuilding process; starting today.
Generations of dependence is obviously unacceptable so now we must forge a strategic development partnership that delivers on our policy goal “to change the development focus from post-volcano mode to developing and implementing plans focused on sustainable self-sufficiency that capture the spirit of Montserrat’s past and preserve Montserrat’s culture including enhancing relationships within the region and with key development partners.”
So, as our economy recovers, as key infrastructure are put in place, jobs will be created, new businesses will be formed, and our economy will grow so that hundreds of Montserratians who have been forced to leave Montserrat can begin to come home. For this to happen “transformational” projects will need to be moved forward on the ground.
While these larger transformational projects are being prepared we must not allow the horse to starve while the grass is growing. So we will need to start right now – financial year 2017/18 – with kick-start projects that will stimulate our economy which will create employment and lay a foundation for the transformational projects to come. Towards this end, we have learned lessons from mistakes of the past, and as proof of our commitment, over the past year and more, we have been working to put in place some key, foundational policy initiatives:
• we are strengthening and improving the budget process, including a new capital appraisal process, to better evaluate capital projects and ensure value for money;

• A Programme Management Office is being set up to host and expedite our priority development projects; on a set timeline. This will support the Capital Appraisal process and deliver value for money business cases, project and programme governance, transparency, and risk management. Such measures will help us improve our ability to effectively implement a sound Transformation Programme;

• We have put a new Energy Policy in place, as an updated framework for development of a sustainable energy economy that attracts investors for tourism, industry and agriculture.

• The long awaited Housing Bill was passed into law October 25th, 2016 and it will help us move forward to continue with emergency, social and affordable housing initiatives for our people.

• We are creating a Child Protection Unit (CPU), to address child safeguarding matters through a centre of excellence.

• A Children (Care and Adoption) Bill was just passed into law and will provide much of the required framework for the CPU.

• We have developed a Tourism policy and Action plan to take us to the next phase in building our Tourism product.

• We have fully embraced and supported the Public Sector Reform Programme, Phase 2, which has put in place foundational structures for transformation of governance under phase 3.

• Reforming public finance and good governance are at the heart of these changes.
However, we face challenges.
After 20 years we still need a new hospital and adequate healthcare provision. We still need a safe harbor, and after having made a significant investment in drilling for geo-thermal we need the generation stage to be progressed.
If we are to achieve these goals and deliver value for money we must, as I have repeatedly stated, have a strong development partnership not only with DFID but with the FCO and all our HMG partners and others such as the EU. To help us put the required partnership in place, we need to negotiate a new Development Partnership Memorandum of Understanding with HMG. The MoU should have a list of agreed transformational projects with committed funds and a timeline that will help to guide us in working together to rebuild and redevelop Montserrat.

So, this week, as we go through the details of the recurrent budget and those of the capital budget, let us bear in mind the big picture and let us work together to lay a foundation for the economic transformation to come and fulfil our national vision of a friendly, vibrant, healthy, wholesome, prosperous, entrepreneurial and peaceful, God-fearing, God-blessed community.

Hon. Premier at FAM 2016