Author: Jeevan A. Robinson - MNI Media | Date: 15 April 2019
There is a neo-colonial agenda that has been rooted on Montserrat these past years with limited open challenge being put towards it.
MNI Media is of the view that two of the three biggest travesties committed these past years when it comes to the progress of Montserrat as an island seeking to stamp its identity away from the trappings of sucking on Mother England’s teats, have been committed by Premier Donaldson Romeo and the former Governor of Montserrat Elizabeth Carriere.
These two individuals have placed Montserrat firmly back into the hands of British control, even more than former Premier Reuben T Meade did for 30 pieces of silver with his Quito Ecuador speech, and the hasty 2010 Constitution Order ratification. Romeo sat back and allowed Carriere to bedazzle him with grandeur talk of a “new relationship” and such politically romantic notions; essentially allowing for a locally elected Member of Parliament and the Leader of Montserrat no less, to have their authority usurped by the Governor of the day.
When the new Financial Secretary, Colin Owen, was announced for Montserrat in 2016, Romeo is known to have stated his pleasure, and felt that things would now begin to advance with haste as it regards the island’s development.
However, today here we are with Romeo about to be booted from Office, and the question must be asked of him, as to whether he is happy with Mr Colin Owen’s performance as Montserrat’s Financial Secretary?
Additionally, MNI would like to ask of FS Owen;
“With your contract coming up for renewal with its three year term about to be ended, why do you Sir deserve to continue as Montserrat’s Financial Secretary? Have you delivered for Montserrat, and if you feel you have, your deliverables should be placed on the record for the scrutiny of a public who should have felt the uplifting effects of your delivery as Financial Secretary for Montserrat.”
Mr Colin Owen as Financial Secretary is in play to receive a performance bonus in the region of around EC$30,000. An absolutely marvellous golden pot! Much more than the average struggling Montserratian nets per annum. Do you deserve the people’s money in this manner Mr Owen, and if so, do tell us why?
Speaking on the matter of Mr Owen’s performance bonus, when he was appointed in 2016, then Governor Carriere is on record as having stated; “…. a substantial amount of the salary is tied to achieving on an annual basis a set of criteria and very, very specific ones.” Stated Carriere.
She went on to say; “So you might call it a bonus, but it is a performance based percentage of the salary will be tied to achieving specific indicators or goals or objectives.”
The then Governor Carriere even went as far to have said at that time; “that there has been no determination what these performance indicators were, only that “they will be significant ones and what one would expect a financial secretary to achieve.” She said
Carriere also mentioned; “So I think this is a really good thing because we are going with the best candidate – because we want that candidate to be delivering; the candidate recognises that that’s what they’re here to do and we have an arrangement where the salary will be geared towards that delivery.”
At best, Carriere, not knowing what these performance indicators were, was dismissive and quite frankly bereft of proper accountability for the bonus Owen was to expect to receive.
But this is what happens when on Montserrat a Premier sat back and allowed The Financial Secretary who should report to him, instead reporting to the Governor who the FS does not work directly with on a day to day basis. Does the FS not each day work with, and under the pleasure of the Premier, yet Romeo sat on his hands and allowed this insult, and this dark travesty to unfold for nearly 3 long years.
How could the Premier’s Chief Policy Advisor/Officer, who determines the allocation of funding for programmes and the likes, not report to the Minister of Finance? Is this progressive?
MNI has been looking into the matter of the FS - his role and functions for some time now - and what we have been made to understand from very reliable sources is that even within Montserrat, there are some local sons and daughters of the soil who seemingly are progressing the FS/British agenda and enabling his control as it stands presently.
The Financial Secretary needs to answer to the people of Montserrat why yet again the budget is not being delivered on time. The people can accept maybe once. But yet again, and with no proper public explanation, this further delay should be deemed as unacceptable.
On the issue of performance bonus and the renewal of his contract to serve as Financial Secretary on Montserrat, FS Owen may very well point to the success of the EDF-11 Funding for Montserrat.
But if the facts on how that funding was approved came to light, can FS Owen say with all honestly that it was he who truly delivered that for Montserrat? Can be come on the record and say he delivered the EDF funding all by himself?
MNI has the facts on this matter, and we will see how FS Owen responds before we illuminate the issue further, backed by specific points of reference from Brussels. (we’ve done our research – THOROUGHLY)
Let us move on to look at the Economic Growth Strategy (EGS) for Montserrat? To justify his bonus and his contract renewal, can FS Owen say that it was him who delivered this document for Montserrat?
Again, we seek to know his response to this before we illuminate the facts of the matter.
Another key area was the loss of the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) arrangement for Montserrat. When this was taken away in 2017 by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) based on CDB’s assessment that Montserrat’s GDP did not require the island eligible for BNTF funding anymore, MNI has it on good authority that FS Owen was unsure of his footing on this matter, and wondered openly if anything could have been done to restore this BNTF programme for Montserrat.
The BNTF Funding was eventually restored, but can FS Owen claim in all manner of honesty that it was him who played the lead role in this?
MNI Media supposes former Governor Carriere was correct to be vague in what FS Owen’s performance indicators were to be, as frankly the island is clueless as to what work the FS has truly done to deliver for Montserrat that could show he deserves this bonus, and also to have his contract renewed.
But more so, what MNI will be looking to see is whether Romeo will sanction the renewal of this FS’ contract, who it must be questioned whether he is working in Montserrat’s interest or that of the Department for International Development (DFID).
Jeevan A. Robinson is Editor-in-Chief of Marketing, News & Information Media - MNI Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org