Government of Montserrat

Hon Premier Donaldson Romeo’s Opening Remarks Financial Aid Mission 2019-2020

Your Excellency, fellow Ministers, Members of FAM Team, Senior and supporting public servants, members of the media, ladies and gentlemen:

This year is this Government’s 5th year in an almost 24 year journey since the volcanic eruptions began in July 1995. It is clearer than ever that another several decades of recurrent budget aid, directly funded by the British and local tax payers is not in anyone’s best interest. In Montserrat, we have learned the hard way.  We are very aware, (and I am sure that all in this room would agree) that to be effective, aid must be both adequate and timely.

Therefore, as budget negotiations move forward in the days ahead, let us work together in good faith to deliver on our policy goal “to change the development focus from post-volcano mode to developing and implementing plans focused on sustainable self-sufficiency…’

A unity of purpose and action, above and beyond our differences in points of view will be vital to the success of these negotiations where the people of Montserrat as well as the British tax payers will win. Only when we as politicians and public servants work together do they win.  Only when we work together do we, politicians and public servants, win as well.

It is that very spirit of unity that underpinned discussions with Lord Ahmad and Lord Bates regarding support for long-term capital programmes. At present we are working through the details on the £30 million-plus programme supporting infrastructure; infrastructure that is both basic and transformational.

I look forward to fruitful and impactful discussions this week with the DfID team including the new team Leader, Laurin Janes who is the Economic Adviser and Senior Responsible Owner for Financial Aid. I am sure that the four days will be filled with intense discussions covering a number of important and key discussion areas including:

  • 2019/2020 draft budget and New spend requests and savings
  • Economic Growth Strategy
  • Ferry and air access future plans & status of access strategy
  • Safe Guarding issues
  • Maintenance Strategy

In closing, I would like to repeat something I said in my New Year speech. The key strategic move for 2019 and beyond is to turn our breakthroughs into a breakout that moves us beyond dependency and lingering impacts of the volcano disaster to self-sustaining, inclusive growth and development.  The sea port, the undersea fibre optic cable, geothermal and solar energy development, the pending hospital, the EU funding, the new growth strategy, a five-year capital programme and several investment opportunities are now open before us. With these key infrastructure and projects coming in place, 2019 is indeed the year for us to all work together.

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 fulfill our national vision of a friendly, vibrant, healthy, wholesome, prosperous, creative, entrepreneurial and peaceful, God-fearing, God-blessed community.

May God bless you all and God bless Montserrat.