Saturday, 11 December 2010
The talk on the streets of Anguilla these days is the very slow economic situation, and how it is impacting the mood of the country, everyone is anticipation a soon return to the days of plenty. Every government since 1967 has embraced the enormous task of building the Anguilla economy. We have seen productive years of steady growth, and thought we had created the stability for a strong and healthy economy; unfortunately the situation on the island is still very volatile. But clearly, Anguilla is much better off today. We must be grateful even in the given situation, our streets are amazingly still very busy and people are still being employed, including a noticeably large foreign, regional population on the island. Indeed, the island is not performing how we have come t o expect some years ago.
Our effort to structure a robust, vibrant economy has proven to be an unimaginable task for all governments of the past. From an Institutional stand point Government must base its decisions on intellectual and professional advice which have always come with a hefty price for the country because of the professional nature of these people. In most cases much of the advice given are actually basic in nature and does not differ a lot from the average opinion. We started to build our economy since 1967 from a very simple perspective. The island had no electricity, no telephone, no paved roads, no running water and none of the commodities we have come to appreciate today. We’ve reached some distance in the world of progress for an island like Anguilla, after a very sad period in our history. Fundamentally, our progress is still very basic in the requirements for building a strong and reliable economy that would take us securely into the future. It appears that the kind of economy we have come to know is one hyped for a given period, then drops to its lowest ebb. So in most cases the island is either doing very well or doing so badly that people are disenchanted and are inclined to leave. We must answer the question, where are we going wrong? I left Anguilla to live on St. Martin some years now. I did not venture very far, after calculating that it is quite easy to live on both islands satisfactorily. But I lived on St. Martin since it was at a very undeveloped state, the days of killing live stock and cattle and selling the meat on the bay front was pretty much the economy, but what they always had was a (Great Bay) or Philipsburg and Marigot, a central commerce concentration on both sides, always active, even if it were by their own people, but certainly the neighboring islands as well.
Endeavoring to develop a viable economy for Anguilla was always seen as a unique enterprise, we’ve always tried to be different, which I have often questioned. We have promoted our beaches above our town and often while taxi drivers are driving through the valley (town) to Shoal Bay, they are asked by their passengers, would we be driving through town to get to our destination? Our major hotels were left to develop without criterion and with unlimited latitude, without discretion for the broader economy, in fact, to this day a major hotel project coming to the island with its impressive presentations, so impacts our government that such a project is often viewed as “the economy” therefore it acquires the right to import all of its building materials, all of its furnishings and qualified labor, then our policy of incentives kicks in with duty free concession. As I envision it from a business perspective, building an economy is principally a subdivision of building-blocks resulting in a major national conglomerate similar to a large cooperation on a magnified scale. We have never invested in the development of a structured economy where the various sectors hold up their end on a viable basis contributing to the larger interest, because we continually isolate many of those blocks that are most viable to stabilize the structure. I could very well remember when we use to bring our chickens, our fowls, sheep and goats and our fish to St Martin to sell, so we know that trade and commerce go hand in hand and was the alternative to us raising our live stock and eating the meat ourselves, or our cultivation being stored in our own back yard shed. We sort to build a one sided economy that did not make provision for a fair exchange of goods and services in a commercial setting that needed a master plan and great incentives to develop. Today, we still have not recognized the need to inhabit or invigorate our disorganized and disengaged commercial town and continue our disproportionate spending on St. Maarten, St. Martin mostly for the lack of an attractive and composed city, we there by ignore any potential the Valley may have to mobilize trade and commerce, as another viable option together with tourism.
So with the anticipation of another active tourism season, nothing will be done to maximize our benefits in exploiting the casual buying power of our tourists and containing that exploit here in our commercial sector. It is true that most of the acquired professional advice have always recommended that Anguilla remains undeveloped, dormant and inactive for people who want to do nothing but visit, and be careful not to develop as St Marten/ St. Martin, in particular. That advice was obviously followed; we built some of the best hotels in the region and promoted our upscale tourism plan, then used our purchasing power on St. Maarten / St. Martin building up their commercial strength which today is actually preeminent and a major pivot in the strength of their economy. Our economic model probably works well for the government revenue intake and the exclusive properties we have, they focus on absorbing the entire concentration, their guests can buy apparel, gold or decent gift at their location. Our model is a great disadvantage to our own people who must continue to travel and spend much more than their disposable income on St. Maarten / St.Martin. Whereas “The Valley” our commercial town, is unable to attract neither their guests, nor our very own to spend with any significance there, this is because the setting is not well geared from the supply and demand side, a total neglect from an economic stand point.
Posted by Realist Spikenice at 23:11