Procurement Head Dismissed

The Ministry of Finance has confirmed that Head of Procurement Gareth Spencer, who has been at the heart of the failed procurement of a new ferry, has been dismissed. This, some officials believe was to allow him to receive a severance package which would not have been due him if he’d resigned as many wanted.

Officials have been battling for the last few months to have Spencer removed as the poorly written tender documents for the procurement of a new ferry were believed to have contributed to the exorbitant proposals received. Several ministries also had a backlog of procurement matters which he had not been able to resolve in a timely fashion.

The government was unable to resolve contract negotiations with the Caribe Sun ferry operators by the final contract date of March 31, 2016. Since then, the island has been without a regular ferry service and local businesses have been severely affected by this.

According to the March 16 Economic and Financial Review by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank: “The economic performance of Montserrat weakened in the first three months of 2016 relative to the corresponding period of 2015. Among the main sectors contributing to the decline in performance were public administration and construction, moderated by an expansion in tourism activities. The consumer price index declined by 1.3 per cent, on an end of period basis. The merchandise trade deficit narrowed as the value of imports decreased. The overall balances on the fiscal accounts (after grants) worsened due principally to a decrease in current grant flows. In the banking system, total monetary liabilities and domestic credit increased, while net foreign assets contracted marginally. “

“Montserrat’s economy faces some headwinds for the remainder of 2016, with minimal growth projected based on a lower than expected first quarter performance and a less favourable outlook for key drivers of economic activity for the rest of the year. Improvements in value added by government services and construction may not be realized until the latter part of the year, as it remains contingent upon the resumption of a number of public sector infrastructural projects.”