Closing Remarks By The Financial Secretary – Power Project Launch

3rd October, 2011

Closing Remarks By The Financial Secretary, John Skerritt CBE at
the launch of the Montserrat Utilities Company (MUL) on 30th
September, 2011

I wish to start by thanking all those who are here today to witness the launch
of the Montserrat Power Project:

The Honourable Charles Kirnon, Deputy Premier & Minister
with responsibility for Energy

Minister of Education, Health & Community Services
Minister of Agriculture, Lands, Housing & the Environment
Leader of the Opposition & other members of the Opposition
Honourable Deputy Governor
Honourable Attorney General
Mr. Phillip Chambers, Permanent Secretary,
Ministry of Communication and Works and Chairman, Board of Directors, MUL

Other Members of the Board
Allisson Davis, CDB
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen

I feel honoured to be asked to make the closing remarks but at the same time, in speaking last I fear that there is not much more that I can add.  I therefore, crave your indulgence should I repeat anything said before.  In fact, I would like you to think that it was repeated merely for emphasis.

I don’t know about anyone else but I have faith that this project will be one of the key infrastructure projects that will underpin our development buttressed by the development of Geothermal energy.  You see electricity inspires faith – we can’t see it but every day we walk over to the switch and flick it with the utmost faith and confidence that by some phenomenon, the light will come on.

This project gives me hope.  And I need that given my current electricity bills. I am hopeful because I am reminded of Thomas Edison who said, “I shall make electricity so cheap that only the rich can afford to burn candles.”  Clearly, this is what we would like this project to deliver but some people may say that this is wishful thinking.

They may very well be right but cost savings begin at every stage of the project.  You cannot procure an engine that is expensive to operate and expect to pay less for electricity, you cannot purchase inappropriate materials for construction of the workshop and expect low maintenance cost and you surely cannot manage the project poorly and not have cost over-runs and surely if we had to borrow more, we will all pay not just the loan but also the interest.  Today therefore, all of us who are involved or may become involved in the project have a responsibility to make electricity cheaper even if it cannot be less expensive than burning candles.

It is clear that this is a project that requires multi-agency coordination. Please let us work together so that the synergies accrue to our people.  The project has timelines that must be met; go the extra mile to complete the various tasks on time.  Individually, we may appear to win in the short term but sometimes we lose far more in the longer term.  This is our project.  Deliver it with vigor, enthusiasm and with a sense of national pride.

The Ministry of Finance is keen to ensure that this project is delivered on time and within budget.  This means a tight management of the finances, frequent and useful reports to inform timely decision making, compliance with the various regulations to ensure equity, transparency and most importantly, we need good value for each dollar spent.

There are a number terms and conditions associated with this project; management is advised to ensure that these are brought to the attention of all concerned and that they are met.

This is a project that has been in gestation for a long time.  Having said that, I know we would have preferred the project to have a gestation period of a cat instead of one of an elephant.  But we are about to see the birth of this project and we are thankful.  I want to wish all those who will become involved in shaping this project into something really magnificent, best wishes and God’s blessing. May it be perfect in all its parts and pleasing to its builder and ultimately owner, that is, the people of Montserrat.  The Ministry of Finance is proud to be associated with this project and stands ready to provide any support we can to ensure the smooth implementation of this project.

It is fitting at this point to thank HMG for the tangible and intangible support they have provided.  As I reflect on this journey, the CDB staff must be given special recognition considering the frustrations and delays in getting this project off the ground but as good regional public servants they remained ever steadfast in their support to us.

As the last speaker and a member of the board, let me take this opportunity to thank all those who have participated in this opening ceremony especially those at the Head Table.

Let me end by saying that many problems that arise may be blamed on capacity, to this I will draw your attention to the words of Euripides who said, “Ten soldiers wisely led will beat a hundred without a head.” In all you do therefore, manage wisely.

Thank you..