If I was to give my opinions on today’s parliament I think Montserrat is in, and will go deeper into some serious problems. This is not intended to bash the government, but rather to point out gaping holes in their current system in an attempt to improve their response to this crisis.
Let’s look at this objectively; from what has been said up to this point, we can safely say a few things about the current situation:
- There’s no solid, shareable, and referenceable plan to recover from this pandemic.
- There’s no plan to make a plan.
- The money from Britain doesn’t have any innate restrictions other than that for MOU’s which I’m not entirely sure about the conditions as I don’t think it was adequately explained (I could be wrong).
- The government has put restrictions on the money, which in itself isn’t bad, but considering Montserrat’s economy and social structure is a bit too stringent.
- The support money currently being offered is not enough for the average family and is also not flexible enough for the variety of living conditions we have.
- Not enough serious consideration has been given to the opinions of the youth.
- There’s tension between the government and opposition; way too many back and fourths for us being in a crisis.
1 & 2;
Why is there no plan? Two months later, and we’ve heard on multiple occasions that there is no intention from the government to develop and release a COVID-19 recovery strategy. A document, speech, or something we can reference to know whether or not we’re on track to opening up locally at the very least. This is the only instance I know of where there is no plan, and no intention to make one, unless we’re talking about Brazil, but that’s a much more drastic case.
A plan would solve most problems the people have with the current way things are being done. No one knows when anything will be open, when things will return to normal and what precautions and restrictions we will have in the different phases of this recovery. It is simple, effective and would only serve to make the handling of this pandemic more organized and better for the government.
3 & 4;
Montserrat is not the UK, America, Colombia, St Lucia, Guadeloupe, Brazil or even Antigua. Montserrat is Montserrat. We are a unique case from any other country in this world, and while you can reference other country’s strategies, we must make our own. The way we distribute the money must be accountable but lenient. We aren’t begging for money here; we NEED money to survive. Why are we the people painted as the bad guys? Like we’re just a bunch of beggars who want more money to mooch of the government? We’re locked in our house in conditions that are on average worse, to much worse than the ones in parliament right now. It’s not like our parliamentarians are unfamiliar to the struggle, as much of them I believe came from hard situations. So just imagine that, plus being on pretty much 24/7 lockdown with no way of making money for yourself.
Our current system doesn’t enforce things like paying social security, doing proper taxes, etc. We also have a lot of informal work that goes on which isn’t accounted for; that’s the current status quo. Why are we punishing people for merely following this status quo that’s been a part of how we are for so long? What I’m saying is that you can’t punish people for not doing what no government since the crisis has taken seriously. If we want to truly be accountable, then we should have had those systems long before this pandemic. The people need money NOW. Don’t put pressure on the people and businesses when they are already under so much stress. Create a system for those business owners who haven’t paid social security to still be able to pay their workers, but in turn make sure they are more accountable for paying their social security, taxes, etc. when this pandemic is over. You’ll now know how much money the government has been losing from the non-pay of taxes, help the people who genuinely need help and are integral to our economy and ensure no one gets left behind. That’s one of the main goals of government, is it not?
We all know government neva hab no money. But imagine, if the government no has no money, then how do we expect the people to have money? How do we expect the people to survive another wave of lockdown and social distancing when the money currently being provided is sorely lacking? If I were living on my own, I literally wouldn’t be able to survive, and there’s currently many people who are living on edge because this is their reality. They’re doing what they can, but a lot of people and families are burning through their savings to survive this pandemic, and if they don’t have any savings? I can only imagine. We need to do more than just survive this crisis; we need to THRIVE. Montserrat needs to THRIVE and take this opportunity to boost ourselves further.
I don’t know how much consideration has been given into the opinions of youth, but for me as someone who has been vocal in the Montserrat community, I thought I’d be contacted if the opinions of the youth were a priority of our current government. Maybe I’m just thinking too highly of myself, but I haven’t heard any consideration that has been given to the youth on any serious degree. I still recall during the Youth parliament panel discussions when our now honorable minister of education and youth said that the youth should essentially fend for themselves, is that the case now? Are the opinions of the future of Montserrat being taken into account? Do we have the right to speak to you, voice our concerns problems in an honest manner that will be taken seriously? So, what happens when we do try to do something for ourselves and we’re ignored? Is it still our fault?
This is my problem. I have been trying to pitch one simple idea that will help with the agriculture department immensely in its road to recovery for over a month now. Emails get ignored, promises that end up nowhere and just a lot of struggling for no reason. Why do you think young people have to leave? If I were to go to pretty much any other country with an idea that could change Montserrat so much, banks would be throwing money at me once I present a respectable business plan. So why are we giving the youth such a hard time? I really don’t know, but something needs to be done. Too much time has been wasted already.
Why was there so much back and forth in the parliament? Why are the leaders of our country trying to get one-ups over each other? Especially the government side, so many small remarks, little backchat, etc. that wasn’t being taken on by the speaker. What really got to me was the comment made by the premier when Hon. Hogan asked about the people who had to walk from Salem to Brades or further to get their business done because there is no transport. Did you really not only not answer the question that was asked, but told him that he should put down his window and pick them up when there is a ban from your own government that restricts that? Is that really your answer to a serious question? People out here are trying their hardest to survive this pandemic and you think this is a joke? We’re playing with people’s lives and livelihoods. People are burning through money just to survive and walking miles to get their business done and there’s nothing you can say but make a quick jab at your cousin? So many questions went unanswered in today’s session and I don’t feel like we’re any better off now than how we were before this parliamentary session.
We need to do better. This is both a crisis and an opportunity. All I ask for is a plan. Something I can read and reference. Some assurity that this lockdown won’t extend indefinitely. I want to know how we will recover the economy, and even more, how we will thrive because of this crisis. There’s so much to do and so little time. We need to stay ahead of the curve and not get caught up in petty politics and making decisions on the fly. We’re running a country not playing politics. We can leave that for the youth parliament.
I’d love to hear whether or not I’m overreacting. I just want Montserrat to do better because I know we can. So much potential, let’s not waste it.