Premier Joseph Farrell expressed confidence that 2023 will be positive for Montserrat despite the challenges of the past year. He outlined upcoming construction projects as having the potential for major economic impact as well as a renewed focus on improving access to the island.
In his New Year’s Message, he acknowledged that “2022 was a difficult year for many of our people and I am also mindful of the worsening situation brought about by the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia, which has significantly impacted global food and fuel supplies, resulting in increased cost to consumers, a reminder of how exposed we are to international shock.
“As Montserrat joins the rest of the region in seeking to reduce its food import bill by 25% by 2025, it is my hope that our farmers would rise to the challenge and increase domestic food supply,” Farrell added.
The leader of government said they will continue to “further develop and expand” Montserrat’s renewable energy resources to make the islands less dependent on fossil fuel.
“Notwithstanding the harsh realities in 2022, your government stayed the course and got on with the job done providing the services to its people without any serious disruption.”
He acknowledged and thanked the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) for providing $9 million dollars to purchase medical equipment, improve energy supply and the island’s emergency response capabilities.
The premier said that the government kept its promise to support the Social Security Fund and improve its sustainability. Amendments have been made to the Social Security Legislation and $1.8 million has been injected into the fund. “… be assured that my administration will continue to support the fund to ensure it remains viable,” Farrell stated.
Other achievements in 2022 include:
- The installation of a modern Sewage system in Drummond’s community, allowing for improved air quality to the residents.
- Improvement work on the Davy Hill Sewage Plant.
- Grants and loans through the Enterprise Development Scheme and Relief Support to the business sector.
- A second staging of Produced in Montserrat Expo (PRIME) which put the spotlight on locally created goods and services. This empowered businesses to market their products, fuel and expand revenue and sales opportunities.
- Completion of phase 1 of the roll-out of high-speed internet services connecting homes and businesses.
“As we build on the successes of 2022, we can look forward with some measure of optimism in 2023,” the premier stated.
Major work on the new port development project is expected to get underway in the first quarter of the year.
“Significant work has already been done in preparation for the new hospital. While we await the completion of the detail design for the new hospital. Work is expected to commence on retrofitting Margetson Memorial Home which will be used to temporarily house the main office, pharmacy, kitchen, lab, and laundry during the construction phase. Once these are relocated, demolition of the existing buildings will follow paving the way for the construction phase of the hospital to begin.
Work is also expected to commence this year on:
- Restoration of the facility which was once Salem Primary School.
- Construction of the Volcano Interpretation Centre (VIC).
- Construction of a basketball court in Davy Hill.
“These projects will provide significant employment, thereby generating economic activity in the private sector as we have witnessed already in the run up to the port project,” added the premier.
Farrell said the government presented two additional spending priorities to the FCDO team during the financial aid mission in December. These were improved connectivity to the island and a salary increase for civil servants.
As traveler confidence increases, Farrell said it his government’s “intention to improve connectivity to the island through the reintroduction of ferry service.” The Access Division is currently working on plans for St Patrick’s Festival 2023 even as they work on a long-term solution for the 2023-24 fiscal year.
“Residents, 2022 is behind us, let us look to the future with confidence, I am very optimistic that 2023 will be a better year for all of us. My government will work to ensure that the named projects are rolled out thus creating jobs and contributing to private sector growth.”