Author: MNI Alive | Date: 19 October 2020
Leader of the Opposition on Montserrat, Hon Paul J. Lewis, has made a statement calling on the Premier of Montserrat to begin to show Leadership towards easing the hardships placed on the people of Montserrat by the ruling MCAP Administration.
Hon Lewis highlighted in his presentation that the MCAP lead government recently turned away US$15 million of investment funds from a private investor; funds that would have helped to get Montserrat's economy back on track.
Will Premier Easton Taylor-Farrell publicly come out and give an explanation as to why he refused this much needed investment for the people of Montserrat?
Listen to Hon Lewis' statement as published below:
Full Text of the Speech Below:
Hon Premier it is out of great concern I address you about issues critical to our future. Your MCAP administration made several statements that turn out not to be true that jeopardize our future. Why would you mis lead or lie to the public?
You told the public the government will make savings if it stop the services of the ferry and you would use the savings to do other things. Mr Premier after stopping the ferry you then said no savings were made.
Really Mr Premier after all that talk about making savings from a parked ferry now you admit that no savings were made as the money will go to the airlines and cargo boat. Cargo by ferry is now more expensive than cargo by ferry. Your cargo boat now adds the cost of brokerage times 2 plus export warrants and tariff charges on everything from Antigua. Why have you surrendered the savings for the people of Montserrat to have controlling shares in Fly Montserrat, Mr Premier?
How much will government raise in revenue with this arrangement? Zero.
At least with the ferry on signing the contract government of Montserrat received $1.2 million as local revenue which the island is so desperate for but you have thrown that $1.2 mllion away plus surrendered the economic activity valued at $10million per month because you refuse to wait and manage the ferry services on behalf of the marginalized people of Montserrat. Why Mr Premier?
Passengers are now traveling by air and are paying more even with your controlling subsidy than they were paying by ferry. And we now know for sure that yachts and ships haven't stop coming to Antigua, but you told the nation, there were no protocols for ferry in Antigua.
Mr Premier because of your decision small businesses are paying more for freight which increase their overhead cost at a difficult time like this. You needed to manage the ferry Mr Premier, not fire it.
It mean increasing cost of goods increase inflation on the people of Montserrat and less sales for small businesses, not to mention the increase difficulty in the process of getting cargo on board.
Why is your MCAP administration trying so hard to kill small businesses?
Will the government provide subsidy on freight to reduce the burden it place on businesses?
Mr Premier you said there is no protocols in Antigua to allow passengers by ferry and giving the impression that the Antigua government was not keen on facilitating passengers by ferry.
Mr Premier according to a travel advisory issued by the government of Antigua on the 9th of August the sea port is open for ferry services once port protocols are followed.
If you Mr Premier was in discussion with the Prime minister of Antigua then how come the MCAP administration was not aware of these protocols or plans of this updated travel advisory.
Hon Premier you and your deputy insist there will be no budget cuts as you gave the public your word and insisted negotiations to make up the budget shortfall are favourable.
Mr Premier you then went against your own words and made some $18 million budget cuts and said you only got approximately $3.5 million from DFID now called FCDO.
Is this what you call favourable negotiations? Do you consider 16% or $3.5 out of 100% favourable? That’s less than 20% and you gave up a ferry costing $5million. So you have lost again, another $2million.
Mr Premier do you realize the implications of going back on your word and making those large cuts halfway in the financial year?
Your government after issuing contracts from maintenance budgets have now ask contractors not to complete the jobs because there is no money to pay them.
Mr Premier when you were asked about your representation to the British government for stimulus and relief package you kept saying the British have their own problems and are borrowing money.
Mr Premier are you aware the British is still giving grants to countries around the world? Barbuda recently receive $10 million in grant funds from the same British government.
The British recently announced a new stimulus package to help the Uk economy through the winter months.
Mr Premier why do you fail to represent Montserrat why are you so reluctant to represent? What did the people of Montserrat not do for you?
They vote your party into government. Why are you punishing the people.
Small businesses are losing sales and customers , unemployment is high many construction workers can’t find work. People in general can’t find work. Workers are being placed on a reduced work week; Rents and bills are outstanding because there's no money to pay and to add insult to injury you are not taking on any new applicants at social services department for assistance. Your government refuses to help in time of need.
The MCAP boast of being able to get investors to Montserrat. Is that the reason why you are reluctant to negotiate with the British for a stimulus package for Montserrat ?
Mr Premier where are these investors ? Are they still in isolation from Covid 19? Or is it true that your MCAP administration recently turned down US$15 million worth of potential investments? If so why did you turn down that investment after promising investments in Montserrat? And why have you not consulted the people of Montserrat? Who died and left you Pharoah of Montserrat, Mr Premier?
Mr Premier your government promised savings when you stop the ferry and then said you made no savings.
You said no protocols In place for passengers by ferry. Now Antigua announce protocols are in place for passengers by ferry.
You promised same ticket cost and freight cost.
Now air tickets cost will cost more for the rest of our lives. Do you realize a subsidy cannot save back what was a gift to the people of Montserrat from the UK government? You have lost our transportation life savings Mr Premier.
You said negotiations to make up $22 million budget short fall is favourable but you only got $3.5million.
You said you will not make budget cuts..
Then you make over $18million budget cuts.
You said you would look out for frontline workers but you did not.
Mr Premier what must the people do to get the truth out of this MCAP administration?
What will happen to our future and the future of our children if you maintain this level of degrading our people, removing all benefits and savings for the next 4 years. We are concerned Mr Premier. Very concerned. Wake up Mr Premier the yoke is getting harder and the future is looking dim from your calculated losses to our economy to date. Please bring our nation together Mr Premier before our savings run out.