Premier and Minister of Finance, Honourable Joseph E. Farrell is leading Montserrat’s delegation at the annual UK Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council (JMC), which commenced on Monday November 23 and will conclude on Thursday November 26, 2020.
This year’s meeting is being held virtually, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and is being chaired by Baroness Snugg CBE, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for the Overseas Territories and Sustainable Development) and Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Girls’ Education.
All UK Overseas Territories are being represented at the meeting and Montserrat’s delegation is comprised of a ‘core team’ made up of:
i. Hon Premier- Joseph E. Taylor-Farrell
ii. His Excellency, Governor Andrew Pearce
iii. Deputy Premier – Dr. The Hon Samuel Joseph
iv. Honourable Acting Financial Secretary – Mr. Philip Chambers
v. Montserrat UK Representative- Mrs. Janice Panton
vi. Director General of the Montserrat Customs & Revenue Services (MCRS)- Mr. Peter W. A. White
One priority area of concern during this year’s JMC is the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the response to the challenges arising from its impacts. The United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union (Brexit), economic shock and resilience, constitutional relationship between the UK and the OTs, international trade, and climate change and environmental protection are other significant topics being discussed by the leaders.
Along with Montserrat’s ‘core team’, representatives from the relevant agencies across Government of Montserrat have been invited to attend and where necessary to make presentation on their respective areas. These include representatives from our local border agencies, Ministry of Health, trade department, maritime agencies and policing and security agencies.
On Tuesday November 24, the Council received an address from the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, The Rt. Hon Boris Johnson MP during which he reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to support the OT’s and strengthen ties with them. The Prime Minister also provided an update on the COVID19 Vaccine which he said the UK will share with the OT’s.
All local Government Ministers and the Parliamentary Secretary were present for the address by UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.
On the matter of economic resilience, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) Chief Economist and Treasury Officials provided details on the economic impact of COVID-19 on the UK economy and the recovery process in the various sectors.
During his presentation to the Council, Premier Farrell likened the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic to the effects felt from natural disasters, which Montserrat has experienced in the past. The Premier added that the Government has developed a strategy, spearheaded by Public and Private Sector experts, that takes into account the immediate to long-term effects of COVID-19. He further noted that these experiences teach us lessons on how to evaluate our circumstances and rebuild even stronger than before.
In his address, the Premier highlighted several steps taken by the Government of Montserrat in response to COVID-19 as well as plans to stimulate the economy in spite of the challenges. “We must choose to see COVID-19 as we see any disaster and learn from it, and use it to rebuild our economies stronger, better and more resilient,” stated Hon. Farrell.
Premier Farrell also delivered remarks on the topic of the European Union Exit (Brexit) and the significant loss of EDF funding that we will experience. Hon. Premier gave an overview of recent EDF funded projects on Montserrat and expressed the hope that the UK will give a commitment to cover this lost funding.
Premier Farrell is also expected to deliver remarks during discussions on Economic Resilience and International Trade.
A further press update will be provided at the end of the JMC.