In Today’s News Headlines:
> Fruitful discussions on education between the Minister and the OECS Director General.
> The probability of a Soufriere Hill Dome Collapse rendered small.
> Montserrat’s official ‘Happy’ video will not only promote Montserrat but has the potential to change the image of the Emerald Isle.
These and more stories in today’s national news Broadcast with Viona Alexander Smith…
Click the mediaplayer below to listen.
In Today’s News Headlines:
…The OECS Director General pays courtesy call on the new PDM Administration…
…Government pledges budgetary support to the successful operation of the Davy Hill Community Resource Centre
Preliminary Statement by the Montserrat Scientific Advisory Committee on status of Soufriere Hills volcano
September 25th, 2014
During the past year Soufriere Hills volcano showed no significant changes in its behaviour. While the major part of the lava dome remains stable and rockfall activity continues to decline, the dome has still the potential to become unstable. Temperatures of volcanic gases that escape through fractures and fumaroles have remained high with the hottest fumaroles maintaining 600C over the 54 months since the last major activity.
Measurements by the MVO show a steady rate of sulphur dioxide emission of about 300t/day over the 54 months. Seismicity overall has declined to a low level except for occasional short bursts of volcano tectonic events that occur, sometimes accompanied by elevated degassing. Measurements of ground deformation indicate a slow but continuous lengthening trend over the island, interpreted as due to inflation of the volcano. In the past, this has been taken as a sign of continuing replenishment of a deep magma reservoir. When these observations and measurements are taken together we conclude that the volcano remains in a state in which lava extrusion is still possible at short notice; however, there is no indication that this is imminent.
We interpret the absence of pyroclastic flows or major rockfalls in the last year as an indication that the lava dome continues to stabilise. While the hazard from pyroclastic flows and surges into the lower Belham Valley and Plymouth remains we estimate the chance that such an event occurs within the next year is now less likely than one year ago. However, the volcano remains a source of hazards, some of which could occur at any time with little or no warning, and consequently could pose a threat to people working in or visiting Zone V.
The stable outlook reflects our expectation for continued budgetary and institutional support from the U.K. and the EU to rebuild the island’s infrastructure.
We also expect the PDM government will continue the macroeconomic policies of the predecessor administration, oriented toward fostering capital and private investment in Montserrat.
An upgrade would most likely reflect significant private-sector investment and development on the island, which would increase the size and resiliency of Montserrat’s private economy, broadening the tax base.
Construction of the port and new town center would contribute to sustainable private-sector growth (especially in tourism and other export sectors), raising Montserrat’ income per capita and reducing the narrow economic concentration in government services.
Expansion of the private economy and immigration to build the requisite labor force would increase imports. To be sustainable, this would be financed chiefly through export growth and foreign direct investment, limiting the increase of net external borrowing from the society’s large external financing needs.
We would most likely lower the ratings if DFID financial support to Montserrat wanes before the domestic economy reaches self-sufficiency, increasing the external liquidity risks arising from Montserrat’s significant gross external financing needs. Under this scenario, we expect the loss of a significant portion (up to two-thirds) of government revenue would contribute to large government deficits and deterioration of Montserrat’s fiscal position.
Read the full report here:
Standard and Poors Montserrat Rating Stable Outlook
With protocols established, I am delighted to share this moment with all of you. This is an incredible and well deserving celebration! 100 years of community service, 100 years of thriving and overcoming, 100 years of leadership and achievements is a very long time. This organization has a lot to be thankful for, and much praise to offer both to God, its founders and current leaders, whose vision still rings true today as when you first began. It must have taken every ounce of sight, insight, hindsight and foresight to keep this organization growing from strength to strength.
I want to say a special thanks to those who invited me, and many thanks to others who supported the PDM’s mission of a prosperous and self-sufficient Montserrat. Having won our recent national elections with a landslide victory, we are now working intelligently and innovatively to rebuild our homeland. I want to address three parallel priorities that our new government is pursuing. These are: A shift in Mindset, Collective Engagement and Repopulation.
I believe that although Montserrat is small in size it is big in aspiration. If we think big, we will achieve extraordinary outcomes. If we believe that excellence is within us, then we will begin to value each other and search for homegrown solutions. The truth is this: Our collective gifts and talents are amazingly available for positive nation building. But each of us must be united around a common goal. This goal is captured by the question, what am I willing to do to make Montserrat one of the most wholesome, healthy, prosperous, peaceful and vibrant places on earth, in which to live?
If every one of us asks and answers this question, we will discover that by pooling our intellectual might and by joining our professional forces and by integrating our practical experiences into a collective engagement process, we will advance more than we could ever imagine. I know that we don’t have gold and oil but we have each other. Yes, I agree that all that glitters is not gold but I have lived long enough to realize that all gold glitters.
That is why our new government is clear that to achieve greatness, we must be passionate, aim high, work wisely and hard. We can never allow square mileage to determine the scope of our possibility or the significance of our ambition. I am encouraged that organizations like yours, and opportunities that living in Diaspora can afford, could very well lead to excited open doors. All of you gathered here tonight can organize yourselves into pressure groups, investment hunters, networking associations and powerful lobbyists for the purpose of advancing Montserrat. By that I mean that YOU ARE a source of resources. Think for a moment how you are indeed a source of resources. Think how through a simple conversation, a simple act of networking, a single commitment to doing something marvellous for your homeland, how an army of ideas and creative initiatives can be released and resurrected—so that Montserrat can rise again.
In addition to working together for the improvement of our own lives and the betterment of our beloved Emerald Isle, I envision that we use our goodwill and willpower to rebuild and to repopulate Montserrat. I agree that we are living amidst the information wave and that trading and finances can be done through the push of a button. But small populations have grave economic and social challenges. In this case, Montserrat needs more Montserratians and friends of Montserrat working together to build a modern and vibrant economy to which many can return to happily live and work in our homeland. We have a shortage of potential wives and husbands. We need more children running around and energizing the place. We need more hands on deck.
It is for this reason that the PDM government has decided to engage Britain on new negotiation terms—we intend, where reasonable, to be treated as citizens of England with the rights and privileges that are accorded those that live on mainland England.
This strategy is both powerful and sensible. It will help us better identify funding streams from DifD to support a national redevelopment plan where our ecological, social, moral, economic and human capital can be integrated around the practice of good governance. Although good governance where fairness, transparency and accountability are necessary as leadership functions, we need a flourishing economy. This can only be driven by a private sector-led agenda that cares for the vulnerable, that provides opportunities for wealth creation from one generation to the next, and that inspires the quest for responsible nation building.
The United Negro College Fund’s motto rings true, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” I submit that a nation is an awful thing to squander but a bold and adventurous people are a powerful force to contend with. Let’s change our mindset, work together to build a prosperous nation, repopulate Montserrat and celebrate tonight this wonderful tribute of 100 Birthday with an aim of making the good better, and the better, best. May God bless each of you, may God bless Montserrat and may each of you have a safe journey to your homes, with a renewed commitment for Montserrat to rise again.
A profile of the new government of Montserrat following the general election held on Thursday September 11th 2014.
The Cabinet was sworn-in on Tuesday September 16th.
The ruling People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) led by Mr Donaldson Romeo won seven of the nine seats in the Montserrat Legislative Assembly. The other two were retained by the two members of the erstwhile ruling Movement for Change and Prosperity in the persons of former Premier Reuben Meade and former Minister of Agriculture, Housing, Lands and Environment, Easton Taylor-Farrell.
The new cabinet/government is comprised as profiled below:
Donaldson Romeo: Premier, Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism
Mr Romeo first won his seat in the then Montserrat Legislative Council in 2009 as an independent.
Prior to the 2014 election, he was the Opposition Leader since 2011, and achieved the historic first of an Office for Opposition Representatives.
Mr Romeo is also a highly regarded and qualified professional portrait artist.
Delmaude Ryan, Minister for Education, Health and Social Services – and Deputy Premier:
She has spent 16 years public service with the Government of Montserrat; has facilitated youth and adult learning programmes at the Montserrat Secondary School, Montserrat Community College, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank Small Business Development programme, HYPE and through her own business establishment, Cassidy, Strategic Business Services.
She has held several senior positions such as: Head, Public Sector Reform Unit; Director (Resp), Performance Management and Development; and Director, Organizational Development. She graduated from the University of the West Indies with a BSc in Public Sector Management, also has an MA in International Development, Public Policy and Management from the University of Manchester in the UK and holds certificates in executive training in public management from York University. She has also been active in the community serving in various church, school and community organizations
Paul Lewis: Minister of Communications, Works, Energy and Labour:
He has been Senior Electrical Inspector with the Government of Montserrat.
(Up to his ministerial appointment) was the President of the Montserrat Civil Service Association.
He served as President of the Caribbean Public Service Association and over the last 10 years has also served as a board director on the Montserrat Utilities Ltd., Social Security, Labour Advisory boards and Chaired the Accident Investigation Board. Paul is a community organizer, and a successful calypso writer, judge and commentator.
Claude Hogan: Minister of Agriculture, Lands, Housing and Environment
Mr Hogan is an avid sportsman, economist, global consultant and regional integrationist. His academic achievements include: first class honors at Kean University, New Jersey, International Diplomacy studies at Harvard, and a Masters in Trade and Economic Law at the University of London.
He has done post-graduate work at the International Development Bank and the World Trade Organization. Claude has over 25 years of professional experience working with DFID, FCO, EU and the United Nations System.
He has worked in a variety of high profile positions: Caricom Diplomat, Project Manager, University Lecturer, and as a previously Member of the Legislative Assembly and Minister of Government.
Gregory Willock: Parliamentary Secretary responsible for Sports and Culture:
He has worked with the Government of Montserrat for 24 years – 14 as a Customs Officer, and 10 as a Computer Technician. He is the Owner/Managing Director of Officetech Ltd. and Founder of Punch and Get Out Productions, a non-profit organisation and charity.
He has also been the Leeward Island’s Cricket Committee Chairman, WICB acting Director, and a member of the WICB Cricket Development Committee.
Mr Willock co-founded the Sir Howard Fergus Scholarship Fund, is a former Chairman of Montserrat Festival Committee, organised the 2012 Living Healthy 50-Strong Challenge and planned the visit of the famous FIFA World Cup Trophy in 2013 on its World Tour to Brazil.