Amongst the citizens of Montserrat, there has often been talk of our own not loving, or supporting their own in various circles, and fields of endeavour. Perhaps it is true in some instances, and in others not so applicable. I have, however, always believed that the key to reversing some of the social and economic dilemmas Montserrat faces, is to have leadership that not just leads by name, but leads by inspiration and execution towards making a people believe in the vision that leader is selling; but in addition, making citizens believe in themselves too.
It is hard when a society is struggling to re-assert itself after massive losses. What is even more damaging to the psyche of those citizens is when their Leader does not display faith and confidence in them, and their abilities to lead the charge for development that is required to move the country forward.
Such is the case that we have presently on the Caribbean island of Montserrat, where the Leadership of Premier Donaldson Romeo has left little inspiration in the hearts of many who are seeking to know how can the country move forward after being stalled under Romeo for so long.
I am speaking specifically today on the socio-economic status of Montserrat currently.
The Premier of Montserrat has by his very own action, and in some ways inaction too, overseen a reversal of progress on Montserrat that will be stagnating for the country if something is not done soon to reverse what Romeo is up to.
We have been hearing much anger, over recent months, being expressed at the introduction of Technical Co-operation Officers (TCs) to Montserrat. The anger in many aspects has been rightly justified, as the TCs are seen by many as a slap in the face of every progressive Montserratian who can do the job that these TCs are being brought in to do.
Last year, MNI Alive Media conducted an interview with the Governor of Montserrat, Her Excellency Governor Carriere. MNI Alive questioned HE on the TCs situation, seeking to know why she felt the need to bring such a massive infiltration of Technical Co-operation Officers to Montserrat.
The Governor gave answers that spoke to the benefit to Montserrat of TCs, and how in effect, TCs will help to improve efficiency in the island's civil service.
"Bullocks!" I thought at the time, admittedly. For what I saw was a sidelining of our very own people in favour of others who were non-familiar with our culture, and were being paid much higher salaries than our locally trained and professional people.
MNI Alive Media has, however, for the past months been on an exercise to determine who really thought it was a good idea to bring the TCs to Montserrat. What has been uncovered makes me realise that I was looking all along at the TCs matter from the wrong angle. This is so, for in fact, it was NOT Governor Carriere who introduced the idea of TCs to Montserrat on her entrance to the island's shores.
What MNI Alive Media can factually report today after several months of this issue being on the national agenda, is that it was our very own elected Premier of Montserrat, Hon Donaldson Romeo, who himself single-handedly requested that TCs be brought to Montserrat.
These are the facts.
When Premier Donaldson Romeo attended his very first Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) meeting as Premier, with the Department for International Development (DFID) and British officials present, in December of 2014 – three months after he came to office – Premier Romeo himself requested of these high ranking officials that he desires TCs to be sent to Montserrat, specifically in the areas of Development, Finance, Policy & Planning, Project Management.
If one recalls, it was Governor Adrian Davis who was Governor when Premier Romeo came to office, and not Governor Carriere. Thus, Governor Carriere came, and was only executing what was already in motion, as requested by Montserrat's very own Premier.
This is very significant at this juncture, because what this goes to illustrate is that these very areas where Romeo requested external people, were the areas that involved the works that were being done by the Montserrat Development Corporation (MDC) and the Project Implementation Unit (PIU)! Those two bodies, despite the recommendations towards a corporate restructuring that was also on the table, Premier Romeo chose to shut down!
These are also institutions that he is now seeking to re-open under a different name, but being manned significantly by his specially requested TCs.
The message Premier Romeo took to London in December 2014 to Montserrat's benefactors – a message that is now killing the country to get project approvals - is of Romeo’s own doing. Premier Romeo took a message to London, to these high-level British officials, that Montserratians are so corrupt and incompetent, that he requires outsiders so that he can get anything done development-wise for the country.
Now what did Premier Romeo expect when he sold out his own people’s development, by wholesale casting them all into a bucket of being inept?
If ever an act of causing economic stagnation was committed on Montserrat, it is this Premier Romeo who himself single-handedly has destroyed and stagnated the economy of Montserrat. That is why Montserrat has had no project approvals for the past three years. It is all Romeo’s very own words to the British that have come back to haunt Montserrat.
The thinking Romeo and his advisors employed, is one, that if the British, via the TCs, had their own people in charge, then they would be more willing to give monies to Montserrat. This over-reliance on first call that was injected into Premier Romeo’s brain has been the royal screw-up for the forward movement of development execution on Montserrat.
Who was it that advised the Premier to go down this road is the next stage of this fact checking mission.
A few years ago via an editorial, I once asked of former Premier Reuben T Meade, when he removed Montserrat from the U.N Decolonisation list, why did he sell out Montserrat for 30 pieces of silver?
However, today, what Romeo has done to his own people goes above that, and I must ask Premier Romeo, what Sir beseeched you to sell out your own people, and show no confidence in their abilities, in favour of TCs to carry out the island’s development work?
Are Montserratians not good enough in your eyes Mr Premier, to work and to earn the excellent salaries and perks that the TCs are now getting?
What about people first Mr Premier – Montserratians first?
So here we are that things are stalled on Montserrat, and DFID/British Government are at pains to approve capital projects et al on the island until their people are in certain key positions.
This is so because Premier Donaldson Romeo travelled to London and sold a message that our people are corrupt and incompetent.