I accept the Protocol already established.
I stand here today before you to express my delight at the historic launch of Ring Centre, Montserrat’s very first International Contact Centre. The launch of Ring Centre provides for Montserrat a showing of hope and optimism for the private sector.
I am certain that many of you here today will join with me in praying that this showing of confidence in Montserrat will act as a catalyst that would inspire others with great ideas to see our island as a place where they can do business with the international community, right here from the comfort of this island paradise. Ring Centre’s operations will provide services beyond the scope of your typical call centre.
The potential for local employment is a venture we all welcome. I must tell you that setting up a service such as Ring Centre here in Montserrat has been an objective of mine for quite some time. The closest I came towards making this vision a reality, was going to be via the establishment of a 50-seat call centre in Montserrat. However, the dreaded global pandemic COVID-19 struck, and we lost out on that great opportunity.
As the saying goes, “fortune favours the brave” and with tenacity and determination as my guide, today’s launch of Ring Centre shows us all that nothing happens before its appointed time.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have a vision. My vision is to see the private sector be the engine that boosts the economy of Montserrat to provide a host of opportunities for locals, and to attract others to consider Montserrat as a place of residence. It takes once small step. With the launch of Ring Centre, we have begun to move in the right direction.
I have been following the Business Process Outsourcing industry for the last 12 years. During my stint as Minister, in 2019, I finally engaged with an institution to provide the pre-requisite training and certification in Business Processing Outsourcing for 100 persons in our work force in preparation for our readiness for the operation of the Business Processing Industry operating in Montserrat. But alas, the 2019 General Elections was called and obviously we all went into the election mode, so that training programme was shelved.
Determination sits at the heart of the efforts I put forward towards seeing Montserrat rise. Thus, I continued, even whilst sitting on the Opposition bench, to see this type of business established here, as it was always obvious to me that this was a realistic and achievable goal. Today, you are at this launch to witness this goal achieved.
Furthermore, today I stand here proudly to state that whilst I have been pursuing investors to invest in this area over the years, our very first investor is one of our very own – a Montserratian and his family!
The scope and potential for growth in this sector is huge for Montserrat. We only need a small percentage of this multi-billion-dollar Business Processing Outsourcing industry to make a significant financial impact on our local economy.
Today’s launch of Ring Centre will create immediate benefits such as 30 jobs within its first year and half the startup phase. Further benefits to be derived will be rental income for the use of the business space Ring Centre will occupy; paying of utility bills; insurance payments; income tax for our treasury; social security payments and most importantly salaries to the workers who will be employed at Ring Centre.
Ring Centre will provide much needed employment at a time when employment opportunities are clearly limited in Montserrat.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this launch represents a ray of hope; a positive intervention - proving that there are Montserratians locally and abroad who, whenever we work together, can help to move this island forward.
Let us show our appreciation by giving the owners of Ring Centre a rousing round of applause.
I spoke earlier about a vision, and it is true that we all have a vision for Montserrat’s progress. But allow me to share with you further, more of my vision - particularly in this specific area. Establishing several contact centres in Montserrat is just what we need currently, as the customers are international, and the customer base is much bigger and sourced from within more vibrant economies that are performing much better than we are presently. These customers are in the business of outsourcing many of their business processes so that they can focus on their other core business operations.
The establishment of Ring Centre is a strategic move. This Call Centre is not relying on a customer base from within our local ailing economy. This industry is a multi-billion-dollar global industry. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Business Processing Outsourcing industry will help to play a positive role in the private sector once again becoming the largest employer in Montserrat. This will breathe some life into the Montserrat Private sector.
For those who do not quite get the full understanding of the impact this industry can have on the economy of a country, permit me to share some data with you. Close to home, within the Caribbean, over 70 call centers currently operate in Jamaica employing over 50,000 workers and their target is to employ around 300,000 by 2030.
Further afield in the call centre capital of the world, 1.44 million workers are employed; with the amount injected into the Philippines Economy in the first half of 2022 amounting to US$29.1 billion.
With these examples, I am hoping you can now understand why I am determined for Montserrat to receive even a small piece of this multi-billion-dollar pie.
For Montserrat to truly maximize its revenue base and compete with the rest of the world for jobs, it will require a collaborative effort from both Private Sector entities and some Government entities in streamlining our processes and systems.
It’s time for a one-stop portal for persons and companies who wish to invest in Montserrat to be able to apply online; upload the relevant documentation; have all the compliance checks done; open accounts and view available concessions. This type of business set-up process is usually completed within a few days in other countries. Thus, we must seek to create a more attractive investor climate in Montserrat where we do not have untimely delays which can be a turnoff for many investors.
While 30% is paid on company taxes in Montserrat, only 10 and 5% is paid in the other countries. Those are the countries that are attracting the most investments.
I must highlight that there is an existing facility for investors to apply to government for tax breaks and other concessions. This, however, is an area within which we must seek to be even more competitive. Investors would prefer if these incentives were not only competitive but approved ahead of time and established on a portal such as an Invest in Montserrat online presence.
Another area of concern is the large amount of taxes charged on overtime pay. These and others are areas where we must push for improvement, and I trust we will address them soonest at the highest levels.
In closing, I must use this opportunity to commend the owners of Ring Centre for pioneering the Business Process Outsourcing operation on Montserrat. Before we can have several, there must be a first.
This launch today is evidence of the confidence placed in the Montserrat workforce to deliver to international standards. I can proudly say that we are making further inroads in showing that we can be true and able participants in the International Community of Standards.
The owners have obviously considered all the challenges and have built in their own resilience and contingencies into the operational realities of doing business in Montserrat.
Once again, please join me in saying thanks to Ring Centre for contributing towards our pursuit of achieving the dreams and aspirations for the growth and development of our beautiful island. Thank you!