Saturday, 16 June 2012 02:30
By caribarena news
Antigua St John's - With the Antigua & Barbuda body politic still assessing the fallout from the anti-climactic demise of opposition leader Lester Bird’s Motion of No-Confidence in Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer, it may well be an opportune moment to cast an eye on political developments in neighbouring Montserrat.
Opposition leader Donaldson Romeo, who heads the Montserrat Democratic Party, has filed a request for No Confidence in the administration of Premier Reuben Meade. An overview of the major reasons advanced by the opposition leader in support of his action provides a revealing contrast between the politics of our two islands.
The press release that follows outlines the issues that voters in Montserrat consider important enough to form the basis of an attempt to rescind Premier Meade’s mandate to govern. Readers are invited to compare these with the nature and gravity of the matters that might have provided the grist of the stillborn debate in the Parliament of Antigua & Barbuda. Cabinet Secretariat, Brades Montserrat
Honourable Leader of the Opposition Donaldson Romeo on Thursday filed a request for No Confidence in the administration of Honourable Premier Reuben Meade and is calling for public support in light of several recent decisions that may have negative implications for the political and economic future of Montserrat.
In a statement to the press Mr. Romeo said, “Recent controversial import tariff increases, the MoU signed with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the Premier’s May 30th declaration in Ecuador that Montserrat is no longer a colonised country all reflect a pattern of government decisions made behind closed doors, without adequate consultation with the people who have to live with the results of such decisions.”
The opposition leader said Premier Meade’s actions are counter to his party’s 2009 election manifesto which “promised to move beyond “one-manism”. The opposition said that it would facilitate “community level consultations as the preferred means of involving the citizens in decision-making and governance on all matters affecting their lives.”
Mr. Romeo also challenged the June 1 introduction of a new Customs Tariff which he says is “riddled with problems that need to be fixed, such as the rises in tax on medicines like Insulin for diabetics and antibiotics for people with bacterial infections.”
The revised tariff abolished the service tax, leaving only duty and a consumption tax on over 6000 items. The most commonly used items by the lower income groups were to attract a lower banding while luxury items such as some electronic goods attracted a higher banding, according to a release from the Ministry of Finance. However, the Honourable Opposition Leader said “chicken, school exercise books and cement are necessities, not luxuries.”
Premier Meade said last week on The People’s Show that the new tariff was a work in progress and people were to come forward with their concerns.
Romeo pointed out that “this attempt to fix the problem after the fact simply tells us that Mr. Meade failed to adequately consult with stakeholders before releasing the 90-page tariff. And while we are already feeling the pinch of the new tariffs, taking Montserrat off the list of overseas territories that the United Kingdom has to report to the United Nations year by year on progress may make it even harder for us to get the long promised aid support we need to recover from the volcano disaster. This is because Her Majesty’s Government itself acknowledges that it is due to its UN Charter obligations to report year by year that British Overseas Territories have “a first call” on Britain’s aid money.
The Opposition Leader, who is an elected member of the local legislature, pointed out that in Premier Meade’s May 30th Ecuador statement to the UN Committee on Decolonisation, he said that “he is certain that the UK supports our stance.”
But, at no time has he consulted with the elected representatives of the Montserrat people, nor has he done so with the Montserrat public; just as already happened with the import tariffs. That is why the Ecuador statement and the new tariffs have provoked such a strong feeling that the MCAP (Movement for Change And Prosperity) habit of government behind closed doors has now gone too far.”
Mr. Romeo is also asking “the public to support the Opposition when it raises these and related concerns through a motion of no confidence” in the next sitting of the Legislative Assembly scheduled for June 26, 2012.