Government of Montserrat

PREMIER EASTON TAYLOR-FARRELL DELIVERS REMARKS AT FAM OPENING CEREMONY

Premier, Honourable Easton Taylor-Farrell delivered the following remarks at the Opening Ceremony for the Financial Aid Mission (FAM) at the Montserrat Cultural Centre on Monday January 13, 2020.
 

Your Excellency Governor, Mr. Andrew Pearce, Colleague Ministers, Deputy Governor, Mrs. Lyndell Simpson, Deputy Director and head of the Caribbean and Southern Oceans department overseas Territories Directorates, Mr. Adam Pile, Deputy head overseas Territories Department Mr. Indranil Chakrabarti and the rest of the Financial Aid Mission Team, Government of Montserrat Core Team, Senior Public Servants and members of the press core.
 

It is my distinct pleasure to welcome all of you to the opening of the 2020/21 Financial Aid discussion, and in particular I wish to welcome the DFID core team to what is supposed to be the last round of discussion on the Financial Aid package for the 2020/21 budget cycle.
 

I am aware that these talks are mainly about the recurrent budget and while these funds are vital for the delivery of every day essential services to the people of Monserrat and to pay the salaries of persons who deliver these services, I wish to thank the United Kingdom for the support it has given to Montserrat over the years.
As Minister of Finance and Economic Development, it would have been even more exciting for me, if for any reason a new tranche of development funds could have been included in this round of talks.
 

I note that DFID has agreed to a capital package for Montserrat extending over five years, of which one year has already been spent on administrative matters, and with the exception of the Fiber Optic Project, the remaining projects are still in the infancy stage. It is the intention of my government to work with the various agencies that are responsible for the implementation of these projects to have them rolled out expeditiously. And we will also work with DFID and the Overseas Territories department to remove any stumbling block, which will prevent the timely implementation of these projects.
 

These vital infrastructural projects under the Capital Investment Programme for Resilient and Economic Growth (CIPREG) are crucial for the development of Montserrat. We must retain and grow our population, and the delivery of high quality health care is one means of achieving that.
 

Presently, there is uncertainty among the travelling public with regards to access in and out of Montserrat, especially during periods of rough seas, as during these times the ferry may not be able to operate. If it rains within the vicinity of the airport during those periods, air travel is also impeded until the run way surface is dried—this is not good for business. This brings me to the resurfacing of the runway, another project under CIPREG: This project must be expeditiously implemented so as not to seriously affect access in and out of Montserrat.
 

The development of our tourism sector, although not an area under the CIPREG Programme, is a critical component for economic growth and we will continue to work with all of our funding partners including the European Union, to build the sector to the point where it becomes a meaningful contributor to Montserrat’s economic growth.
Aligned to the tourism sector, is the Little Bay Port Project, another piece of Montserrat’s vital infrastructure , partly funded by UKCIF and the EU, every effort must be made to have it completed and in use, within a few years.
 

This facility is crucial to the long term development both to the tourism sector and for importation of goods and services resulting in private sector growth.
The question you might ask, is ‘what are my government priorities?’
 

My government is relatively new in office, but we are very clear where we want to take Montserrat over the next five years and beyond.
 

We will be embarking on three key pillars to help to get us out of dependency and place the country on a path to sustainable development:
These three pillars are:-
 

• Tourism
 
• Trade
 
• Investment
 

1. As a government, we want to enter into a partnership agreement with The FCO, DFID which will further lay that foundation for sustainable development.
 
2. It is our aim to take Montserrat out of granting aid by at least 2035.
 
3. We are conscious that we will never achieve financial independence by depending solely on grant funding.
 
4. My government is about focusing on building a strong private sector. To this end, we wish to develop a robust plan for private sector investment, one which will attract local and foreign investors.
 
5. We will explore the possibility of redirecting some of our domestic trade away from the United States to the U. K: To this end we will be seeking funding from DFID for a trade representative in the UK/ Montserrat Office, to assist us in carrying this project forward.
After all the United Kingdom has been the mainstay of our country’s economy over the years and with your help we will encourage our local private sector to look for new suppliers in the UK as trading partners.
 
6. The United Kingdom is on the verge of exiting the EU, and as a British Overseas Territory and a member of both The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States(OECS) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) with an accumulative population of over six million, we can see the UK and Montserrat both benefiting from some form of trade and manufacturing arrangement.
With this in mind we will be targeting some UK manufacturing firms encouraging them to set up satellites plants in Montserrat, with access to a Caribbean market.
 

It is my hope that very soon a road map can be established between the Government of Montserrat and the UK (DFID & FCO) to help Montserrat to realise its financial independence. This my government’s aim and we trust and hope we can work together to advance our goals and objectives.
 

Thank you.