Premier and Minister of Finance Joseph Farrell has expressed gratitude to the Foreign & Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) for increasing their financial support by almost £8m in the wake of recent fluctuations of the British pound. The funds are to include the purchase of a new 2MW medium speed generator for MUL, a CT scan and mammography machine.
A joint statement from the governments of Montserrat and the United Kingdom said and agreement has been reached to cover the shortfall in the recurrent and capital budget for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends March 2023.
“This comprises of a protection against exchange rate fluctuations for the UK’s contribution to Montserrat’s annual recurrent budget, and new capital investments for essential equipment,” the statement read.
“The recent fluctuations in exchange rate and continued pressure on the cost of living has meant a reduction in real terms to the cash value of the UK’s support for Montserrat’s recurrent budget. In recognition of this, the UK Government has agreed to an uplift of up to £4.72m to ensure that Montserrat is protected for the rest of this budget year from currency exchange impacts; to enable continued delivery of public services for the people of Montserrat. This will enable the delivery of essential services which otherwise would have been at risk,” the statement continued. “However, there was still a need to prioritise spending in what are challenging economic times.”
Governor Sarah Tucker thanked the FCDO and UK Government “for offering this much needed additional support to Montserrat during these exceptional times.”
“On behalf of the government and people of Montserrat I wish to express my sincere thanks to the FCDO and the United Kingdom Government for providing the additional funds towards our 2022/23 financial aid package, these monies will allow the government to continue providing essential services to the people on island,” added Premier Farrell.
On the capital budget side, the UK Government has agreed to provide an additional £3 million in funding for essential equipment.
“Specifically, this money will provide a foam fire engine for the airport, a new two-megawatt generator to provide greater resilience to the Montserrat Utilities Limited’s (MUL) energy provision across Montserrat, and additional health service support including a CT scanner, 3D mammography unit, oxygen generator, emergency room and incubator equipment, and a medical incinerator. Procurement work will be completed by the end of this financial year,” according to the release.
“This new additional support will enable a more resilient power source, whilst we continue to develop greener energy alternatives, ensure our fire officers have the equipment they need to keep us safe, and, very importantly, bring forward the ability to offer CT scans and mammography here in Montserrat, enabling faster diagnosis and therefore faster more effective care,” added Governor Tucker.
Deputy Director of the Overseas Territories Directorate, Adam Pile, said: “This additional funding demonstrates the UK Government’s continued commitment to Montserrat, I am delighted that additional support has been provided for capital equipment and that we are able to protect Montserrat from the exchange rate volatility this year. Credit is due to the Financial Secretary and her team for all of their continued hard work and support.”
Montserrat and the UK Government will begin negotiations for budgetary support for the coming three years at the end of November, with the annual Financial Aid Mission.