Montserrat's Premier, Reuben T Meade, yesterday delivered his 2012 closing Ministerial Address. During the address Meade spoke mainly about the many blessings that the island he leads can attest to, and the need for these blessings to count towards moving the island forward. Additionally, he proceeded to list those items which he sees to be his government's achievements over the course of the year and extensively too, their time in office thus far.
The success of the Little Bay project finally moving forward, the completion of the delayed road surfacing from St Johns to Salem, the agreement to build a new hospital, the completion fo government office buildings; these are but some of the items listed by Premier Meade as things that Montserrat can be proud of.
During the statement, whilst talking about sand mining, the Premier sought to take a dig at Montserrat born calypsonian De Bear, for his 2012 hit song entitled 'All Ah Dem Ah Get' by stating that contrary to insinuations in the very popular song, Meade stated, "me nar get none."
A funny moment but it serves to highlight what David Rudder stated about the power of calypsonian, in telling the mood of the nation, so as to 'make a politician cringe.'
For the full text of Premier Meade's 2012 Ministerial Statement see below:
PREMIER's MINISTERIAL STATEMENT
Made in the Legislative Assembly
18th December 2012
We are an island blessed in so many ways. Many of us know the song "I am blessed,
every day of my life i am blessed. I would suggest that we as a people must use that
song as our prayer and theme song because everyday we are blessed. Let us also
examine the song by Morgan Heritage - "you ain't got nutting to smile bout" a very
negative song. Put this against a statement which so many persons use to start a
speech - "in these difficult economic times". Negative. How many times have we
started an observation with negative views as against the number of times, even when
things look the most challenging, that we start out instead seeing the positives and all of
the blessings that god has bestowed on us. Focus on my prayer and theme song "I am
blessed, every day of my life I am blessed".
The point which I am seeking to make is simply that if we think positive thoughts, try to
make the best of what we have, and stop being negative, we can get this country
moving. Let us look at the opportunities that are available.
I will at this juncture show the reason why we are blessed and why we can say to
Morgan Heritage, we can find plenty to smile bout here in Montserrat.
1. Our children in the secondary school all have a laptop computer for use in their
educational development. They are truly blessed and they learn a life lesson in the
process. Nothing in this life is free with hard work you can achieve and indeed
2. The seniors and mentally challenged are taken care of in a truly honorable way. Not
only the small monthly stipend of $600 per month but access to adequate health
care. A hot meal is provided for them as well through the meals and wheels
program, if they so desire. Community groups, church organizations and private
individuals to include some family members pitch in and help as well. They are truly
blessed, every day of their life and we give god thanks for that.
3. The fisheries sheds at Carr's Bay have been relocated to decent facilities at Little
Bay with plans for a jetty and other facilities in Little Bay. Improvement in their
surroundings. Plans are in place to provide a fish cleaning facility in the market at
Little Bay so that the fish cleaners can make clean fish available. This creates a
small business from more sanitary facilities to include freezers for preservation of the
cleaned fish. They are Blessed. We must stop resisting positive change here in
Montserrat and recognize that we as a people have something to smile bout.
4. We have privatized cleaning services in government. This now allows a group of
women, in excess of 35 in number to be self employed within their own cooperative.
They have the base for self development. They can expand into other related
business. They can shop cooperatively and so reduce their cost of living through
wholesale purchase. It is a positive change to develop the private sector and I am
confident that they will succeed and grow. They are blessed. They control their
destiny. They are truly blessed. This is people centered development.
5. We have privatized the school bus service. A private business has been created
which allows for the creation of private sector jobs for at least 9 persons and work for
other service providers such as mechanics.
6. We have privatized the school meals program with improved meals that are more
nutritionally sound. Job creation for at least 3 more persons in the private sector.
This program is based on a meal plan developed by the nutritionists to ensure that
children on the program are provided with a balanced meal subsidized by the
7. We will consider outsourcing the meals program at the hospital with consideration to
include the laundry services. More jobs opportunities created in the private sector.
The opportunities are being created so don't fight against the tide. Look at the
8. In 1991 we fought to develop a local chicken industry. The people were not ready
for it. Today we have a larger number of poultry farmers who now supply the bulk of
our whole chicken needs with fresh, good quality chicken. Backyard farmers and
school children are also involved. We are now supplying a larger quantity of pork of
good quality. We are now self sufficient in bananas and plantains. The production
of other crops is also increasing and will continue to increase. Some of the schools
and household have also started the program of small poultry systems and backyard
shade housing thereby contributing to reducing the cost of local food.
9. Over the past year government, it's agencies and private persons working along with
our mortgage finance institutions have participated in the construction of over 50
houses. Unlike what happened in the past, persons can proudly say, this is my
house, me and the bank. This includes 20 houses in Davy Hill funded jointly with the
Social Security fund and Bank of Montserrat along with Government. What does
this mean? Not only houses built but also work created in the construction industry.
This ranges from construction workers, equipment suppliers, truckers, block and
aggregate suppliers and general building supplies. The vendors selling food on the
construction sites have also found more customers in this way. We are so truly
blessed and can find things to smile about.
10.The market at Little Bay has been converted to provide not only improved market
facilities but also commercial space for 8 new businesses. Thanks to the Social
Security fund for financing the construction and leasing the facility back to the
11.We can see work progressing in Little Bay. Work for equipment operators and
truckers. We are not only talking about developing Little Bay, we are actually getting
the work done.
12.When you drive from St. John's to Salem, please be careful because the road
improvement can be tempting to drive fast on. Good main roads. Took a while to be
completed but how many persons and equipment operators got a job in the process.
How many merchants for hardware and blocks made sales. Can they find blessings
13.Preliminary works are ongoing in the Corkhill Richmond area as part of the
geothermal project. PWD workers and local contractors have been employed on
these initial works. Jobs in construction. We expect to have all of the preparation
works completed for the drill rig to start drilling in January. We expect to find a
resource we know should be there. Geothermal power to reduce the cost of your
electricity bill. Do you not feel blessed?
14.The Hospital project has now been approved after years of negotiations with our
funders. This is the single largest approved aid project since the airport project. The
construction program is designed in such a way that local contractors will be
engaged to build the hospital buildings. The project also looks at the development of
equipment, systems and staff to better provide health care for the people of
Montserrat. It is indeed a project which when completed will produce the prospects
for improved care to be provided in the communities on island. We will provide an
electronic patient data base to allow a doctor or nurse at a clinic to be able to track
patients and offer improved health care services.
15.The Government continues to finance higher education through the ACTS program.
Based on the list of training priorities, we have students being trained to provide a
higher quality of skilled personnel to service the Montserrat community.
16.The construction of the SS building is progressing well. This is again evidence of
local funds being used to rebuild the infrastructure and create jobs in Montserrat as
against being invested overseas. This is showing confidence in Montserrat and its
17.We have just received on island the equipment for the cigarette processing plant.
This project while two months behind schedule will soon employ a significant
number of workers. This is evidence that we are rebuilding our manufacturing base
to create private sector jobs.
18.The Office of the Premier to include the Cabinet Secretariat and the Ministry for
Finance and Economic Management have moved into new premises. This move will
allow the former offices to be used as transition facilities for the Customs and
Revenue Department along with the General Post Office. Once this is completed,
the temporary buildings they occupied will be demolished to make way for more
employee and customer friendly facilities. This also will create jobs in the
19.The Ministry for Communications and Works will soon move out of a house they
have been occupying for many years. They will move into their purpose built
facilities closer to the PWD workshop in Brades and closer to where their clients can
more readily access their office.
20.The Ministry for Agriculture, Lands, Housing and the Environment will soon get a
new building as well. The project is currently out to tender and will ,commence in
the new year. More jobs in the construction sector.
21.We have benefitted from the reports from reputable international organisations
reporting on the substantial Improvement in government performance based on
international best practices. We have therefore been rated by Standard and Poors
as having a triple B rating.
22.The Lookout Primary School will soon have expanded new facilities to include a
gymnasium and laboratories among other improvements. Not only jobs created but
also improving the aesthetic environment for our children to be their best.
23.We have passed legislation to protect children's rights and ensure that the word
illegitimate is no longer accepted on our birth certificates in Montserrat. All children
whether born in wedlock or out of wedlock are considered to have equal rights. The
long awaited labour code to include clarity on workers rights is now before us for its
third reading and passage into law.
24.We had promised a new port. We had to stop the old design and work on a new and
more appropriate one. we are now beyond the 60% Design stage. I have recently
returned from a visit to the EU headquarters in Brussels where we have been
advised that the drawdown of in excess 5million euros has been approved under
EDF 10 with a further 2million euros to be available for drawdown after June this
year. The local team led by the Territorial Authorizing Officer is working hard to
ensure we meet the required targets.
25.The sand miners, despite legal challenges from some of our visitors, have been
facilitated in exporting from the jetty in Plymouth. I can inform De Bear and the man
Romeo of De Bear's 2012 calypso that me nar get none, but local businesses are at
least making money from the resource which not only creates jobs but bolsters the
earnings of our own private sector.
26.As we celebrate festival 50, we can see the New and improved stage for festivals
compared to the wood and galvanize makeshift stage each year.
The list is not exhaustive. It simply shows a government at work delivering on the
development needs of the island. If we as a people continue to work together, we can
say to Morgan Heritage, in Montserrat we can find something to smile bout. We are
blessed every day of our lives we are truly blessed.
As we continue to welcome our family, friends and visitors to Montserrat for the season,
let us all remember the principal reason for the season. I therefore wish all in this
Honourable Assembly, their family and friends a most blessed Christmas and a God
filled New Year. This includes the Speaker, the Clerk, her staff and Sergeant at Arms
and their respective families. To the public servants and their families who continue to
deliver despite the challenges. To the ferry and airline operators for rising to the
challenge of getting us all home for Christmas. Let us pledge to continue with diligence
into 2013 and beyond. Finally to my colleagues at DfID, the EU, CDB, OECS and
CARICOM, UNDP, PAHO, UWI and open campus thanks and do have a blessed
Christmas and a successful 2013.
We have something to smile bout. Everyday of our lives we are truly blessed.