Clive Owen, the current Financial Secretary of the British dependency St Helena has been selected as the top candidate to be the new financial secretary for Montserrat.
Her Excellency the Governor Elizabeth Carriere confirmed this on Friday, stating Owen has not yet been appointed to the post. As with the other two local candidates who were in the running, he was notified this week of the decision.
The governor held the press conference in hopes of stalling further speculation around the appointment of a non-national to the post and disparaging remarks which sought to create further division along colour lines.
Hon. Opposition Leader Reuben Meade has been vocal about giving the high powered position to someone other than the current acting FS Lindorna Brade. This would be the first time that a non-Montserratian could be Financial Secretary.
Governor Carriere said she has the highest regard for Mrs Brade and they are discussing how to develop her further as she continues to serve within the government. The governor added that a decision as to whether she will continue as Deputy Financial Secretary had not yet been taken.
The process to select a new FS began under the previous governor Adrian Davis. Governor Carriere said 21 people originally applied for the post. Of the six shortlisted, three were nationals and three non-nationals. Three decided to remove themselves from the process, leaving Owen, Brade and one other who was not identified.
Using a competency assessment system, which the governor said is now the common practice of governments and private entities, the candidates were processed. Three nationals made up the selection committee.
“The constitution requires that I review with the premier,” Carriere told the press.
The governor added this was a departure from the practice of selecting someone without due process and hopes a more systematic approach to choosing top civil servants can be implemented. Governor Carriere said she liked the competency based approach which can help to remove the nepotism and favouritism that often plagues the government system.
She said the way Montserrat conducts public business sends a message internationally and she wants it to be one that speaks of good governance and best practices.
Her vision is for the Human Resources Management Unit (HRMU) to deploy mentorship and support in a systematic way to develop future financial secretaries and other senior civil servants. The governor added that the priority has to be delivering a high level of service. We do want to have positions filled by qualified locals but we also need to ensure that we are people who can influence and enabling environment in which to work, she explained.
The same process will be used in the selection of the deputy governor position which is now ongoing.