Romeo’s suggested three phase approach to disburse EC$ 7.5 million Lockdown Stimulus
Don Romeo, MLA,
Feb 16, 2021
On February 11, 2021, with most businesses closed, Member of the Opposition and past Premier Donaldson Romeo wrote to HE Governor Pearce and Hon Taylor-Farrell proposing the People of Montserrat be given a Lockdown Stimulus of at least EC 7.5 million right away. He asserts that the Governments of Montserrat and the United Kingdom are in the unique position to help all Montserratians now to weather the on-going economic troubles. The latest lockdown edges the island closer to disaster. Help is needed now.
On February 15th, Hon Romeo presented a second letter detailing a three-step approach.
- Immediate disbursement of EC $550 for food and cooking gas to each citizen or resident (man, woman and child). This is easiest done as a cash grant or voucher. Providing EC $550 to each resident and citizen avoids delays in processing that hampered financial packages in the April- June 2020 lockdowns. It guarantees that this time the needs of children are addressed up front. Giving each person the same EC 550 also makes disbursement easier. It injects cash into the economy which helps everyone. Nobody in Montserrat is left behind.
2, EC$ 4.5 million, must follow soon after the first disbursement, to support households for food, rent or mortgage and essential utilities (water, electricity, telephone and internet service). The monies provided for essential utilities will be paid directly to the providers. Depending on assessed needs, this second step will provide varying levels of support to the majority of households on Montserrat. The second payment would consider one’s age, employment (whether Public Servant of Private Sector employee), retirement status, whether one receives welfare or not, and ongoing income sources, etc,.
- The remaining EC $500,000 dollars should start a food security programme for Montserrat by providing shovel-ready jobs to the unemployed. Activities should include land clearing, preparation, fencing, providing storage and irrigation equipment and other infrastructure development for our commercial farmers and fishers. Crop production control, pesticide management, cost control to ensure quality, affordability and year-long local production and availability, as well as a subsidized water meter programme should be initially addressed.
Mr Romeo acknowledges that “the three phased distribution of this EC $7.5 million (£2.0 million sterling) package will not erase the impact the multiple lockdowns faced over past year, but it will significantly ease the immediate economic pressure.” He believes this stimulus will help businesses retain their staff. This swift action provides immediate relief. Mr. Romeo hopes that this approach “gives the GoM additional time to initiate a comprehensive relief, stimulus and job creating plan.”