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Previous MDC Board Responds to Task Force Review and Closure

LITTLE BAY – The previous board of the Montserrat Development Corporation (MDC) which was led by Chairman John Ryan, has released a statement on the recent Task Force Review and decision by the government to close the company.

Ryan and the other members of the board were dismissed in November 2014 with Julian Daniel selected as the new chairman. The Honourable Premier Donaldson Romeo announced on April 2, 2015 that following the review, which found irregularities in the governance and management structure, they would close the MDC with plans to reopen under a new arrangement.

The statement claims that the decision to fire the board and now the impending closure were done to keep a campaign promise as less than one month before their firing, the DFID Audit Review had found no financial irregularities and recommended enhanced governance systems.

The following is the full statement from the former board as received:

montserrat-development-corporation-logo.jpg“The lack of “Value for Money”, the catch phrase used in justifying the shutdown of the MDC, according to the summary published by MNI Alive, clearly linked those concerns with the MDC’s operation 2007 to 2012. Additionally Dr Sila Sahin’s report on the MDC of July 2014,  on the subject of value for money, stated  “DFID’s support to the MDC has transformed what was an under performing and ineffective arm of GOM into a much more capable and mission-driven organisation at the forefront of Montserrat’s efforts to facilitate private sector investment and Development.”

We set out in bullet form the accomplishments of the MDC under our stewardship, when we spent approximately EC$11m on the build out of the approved Master Plan of Little Bay / Carr’s Bay.

  • Previous board took over in mid 2012 with a new mandate agreed by GoM and DFID led by John E Ryan as Executive Chairman.
  • Chief Executive appointed July 2013.
  • Public Beach facility at Little Bay.
  • Four award winning bars/restaurants at Little Bay completed at lower cost and faster than if done by private contractors.
  • Refurbishment of three private operations.
  • Construction of ferry Terminal in 14 weeks.
  • Completion of Sports Centre in time for LIBA tournament when many said it could not be done.
  • Completed filling and compaction of Pipers Pond with local resources.
  • Began preparation of hotel site.
  • Cut trace road up Potato Hill to allow potential investors to visit site.
  • Successfully transplanted Pipers Pond mangrove swamp from polluted site to new healthy site and plants flourishing.
  • Set up One Stop Shop and assisted a number of businesses.
  • Through Business Facilitation Fund assisted a number of local micro businesses.
  • Ran a number of workshops for local businesses.
  • Produced new high quality printed material for all investment opportunities in Little Bay Estate.
  • Gave presentations to diaspora audiences in Birmingham and Leicester on the development.
  • Gave presentation to local populace on development.
  • Attended International Investment and Trade Fair in China.
  • Hosted Dubai and China investment visits to Montserrat.
  • Accompanied Premier on investment visit to Dubai. Potential investment of US$8 million attracted but investor did not go through with project following election.
  • Attracted US$62.5 million in investment that did not materialize as UK Government would not go along with Citizen by Investment  Programme.
  • Comprehensive work done on Plymouth Tour and Air Studios re. high standard tourism product development.
  • Attracted Windstar Cruises to make Montserrat a port of call. 13 weekly calls scheduled for  this winter season.
  • Held discussions with major cruise lines and generated much interest in Montserrat as a port of call pending upgrade of port facilities.
  • Conducted media events in Miami, New York, Chicago and Boston to raise profile of Montserrat for investment purposes.
  • Ongoing discussions with investor re. micro brewery investment.
  • Completed feasibility study on Montserrat Investment Fund and prepared prospectus. License application submitted April 2013 held up by FSC.
  • Over 200 jobs created in construction industry.
  • All appropriate tender processes followed.
  • Surplus of EC$1.8 million accumulated through prudent fiscal management to move corporation towards required 50% self sufficiency by 2016.
  • These ‘saved’ funds used to construct Ferry Terminal pending reimbursement by Government not DFID operational funds as stated in Task Force report. Ministry of Finance invoiced June 2014.
  • Independent DFID review undertaken in July 2014 of first year of management of business case gave MDC an A grading.
  • DFID Audit Review of October 2014 found no financial irregularity but some need for enhanced governance. Report still not shared with Board or MDC management.

“What went wrong between October 2014 and November 2014 when the board was summarily dismissed? Clearly a political move and the Task Force review is simply a hatchet job to tarnish the reputation of the corporation to provide the excuse for closure to honour a campaign promise.”

The closure and transition of staff from the corporation is being handled by Mrs Camille Gerald, Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Premier.