Fellow Citizens, Residents and Friends of Montserrat,
On Thursday last week a referendum took place in the UK in which the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. Under the Lisbon Treaty Article 50, leaving the EU may take two to four years.
The Pound has since fallen to its lowest level since 1985. However, the Governor of the Bank of England has given assurances that the UK will provide liquidity to support the Pound and keep it strong. Also, the Government of Montserrat has already been discussing with DFID about how the exchange rate of the Pound could affect our budget aid. We will negotiate for the best terms possible.
Likewise, while the Brexit vote may mean changes to EU Aid Policy in coming years, Montserrat has an aid agreement directly with the EU, which will be in place until 2020.
In the past few days, there has been a wide range of views and much concern and uncertainty here in Montserrat and in the wider Caribbean. That is why we must continue to put our own house in order so that we could be in the strongest possible position to cope with whatever unfolds. That is why our Government will continue to focus on good governance reform and fixing procurement, project and financial management. By doing this we ensure that contracts are fairly awarded, projects are properly overseen and there is confidence in how Government manages money. That will put us in a position to be properly funded and supported in key projects like the Hospital, port, geothermal, fibre optic cable, housing, etc . These projects will help to kick-start growth and development and will help us meet the urgent needs of our people.
At this time it is vital for us as citizens, residents and friends of Montserrat, at home and abroad, to unite and do all in our power to rebuild our land.
We recognise and respect the historic democratic vote by the people of the UK. We express appreciation for the way in which the British Government and people have continued to support Montserrat through the period of crisis and even now in our post volcano re-development phase. We affirm our commitment to working in Partnership with Her Majesty’s Government.
We also stand by the UK’s policy position towards Montserrat, as stated in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office 2012 White Paper, which is based on International law. This is why “… [the] reasonable assistance needs of the Territories are a first call on the UK’s international development budget.”
Plainly, such commitments simply do not depend on whether or not the UK is a member of the EU. Our policy going forward is therefore simple and clear: we stand with Britain as Britain stands with us in partnership; so we will continue to work together to re-build our nation.
God bless the UK, and God bless Montserrat.