BRADES, Montserrat (GIU) -- A team from Britain's Department for International Development (DFID) is in Montserrat to assess whether the government has met its six-month milestones in the strategic growth programme.
Back in May, Premier Reuben Meade signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the UK government that linked future development aid to a series of reforms that the government would have to undertake, to make the island more prepared for inward investment and improved service delivery.
The DFID team consists of Tom Kelly, Eric Arnold, Kato Kimbugwe and Alan Clarkin. Montserrat’s core team includes Meade, Financial Secretary John Skerritt, Cabinet Secretary Angela Greenaway, and Director of Policy and Planning Angela Estwick.
Kelly said at the opening session, which was also attended by members of the opposition, including leader Don Romeo and Victor James, that the week-long visit will build on the monthly video conference sessions to review the timetables and assess how Montserrat is doing with meeting its targets.
“DFID is very keen that the reform process is taken as seriously as any other investment. The new Secretary of State in charge of DFID Justine Greening is very keen on value for money,” Kelly noted.
On Tuesday morning, presentations were made by representatives of the Montserrat Development Corporation (MDC) on the status of plans for building a new town in Little Bay; the government’s investment policy was discussed with the financial secretary and his team.
Sessions on Wednesday will deal with immigration and tax policy in the morning and environmental management in the afternoon. Tourism’s demand and supply constraints, along with access, are on programme to be reviewed on Thursday.
Some of the reform commitments outlined in the MOU are: a streamlined tax administration system to increase tax collection and compliance; implementing the eGovernment Strategy and the introduction of online payments for public services; a revamped immigration and land acquisition policy; appropriate legislature for environmental management; policies to increase private sector participation in the economy; and the outsourcing of several government services.