“It’s time to break the box,” says Montserrat’s chief minister
BRADES, Montserrat – Rather than living outside the box, it’s time to “break the box,” Chief Minister Reuben T. Meade said on the ZJB Breakfast Show with Basil Chambers.
The chief minister called into the popular morning radio show to respond to statements he made earlier in the week, that government revenue is down and wages to public servants could be paid late this month end. He explained that part of the shortfall is due to government inefficiencies in how revenue is collected. The blame he said is not on the “private sector who doesn’t want to pay or can’t pay, it’s that when they come to pay we tell them we are not open yet, come back in half an hour. We have to be willing to provide the service that people are expecting.”
The tech-savvy leader of government is also calling for a greater use of technology to improve revenue collection and generating new income streams for both the public and private sector. He commended the radio personality for his initiative in organizing several key events including the candlelight vigil and the motorcade to honor the passing of soca legend Arrow. The chief minister that level of initiative, planning and marketing skills is what it will take to turn the island around. He used the air time to encourage creative individuals to develop new concepts for business that can attract people to Montserrat and help boost the economy.
Chief Minister Meade encouraged persons who have outstanding payments to pay even in part, rather than not at all, which will alleviate the burden on the tax payer but also lowers the final balance with the Treasury. Minister Meade said there is a need for everyone on island both public servants and private to look at a new way of doing business and functioning within the society. He said many of the systems that are within government are decades old and no longer fit the needs of the world today. “We must also be willing to ask for help and engage the skills of others who want to help us build Montserrat. We have to stop thinking that it’s only us who can do this. We need the help of others.”
A tax negotiator has been hired to encourage persons owing taxes to work out payment plans that can help to bring in the $22 million in monies owed to the government treasury.
Chief Minister Meade is also calling for the annual festival celebrations to be renamed the Arrow Festival, in memory and tribute to the legacy of the Soca King of the World who passed away in September. Minister Meade believes hosting the first Arrow festival in December 2010 can set the stage for the 50th year celebrations of the island’s annual cultural celebrations in 2012, which can bring a significant economic boost to Montserrat.
The Breakfast Show with Basil Chambers is aired from 6:30am to 10am Monday to Friday, on the national station ZJB Radio Montserrat or www.zjb.gov.ms.