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Thursday, 30 December 2010


This is my last article for 2010 and it has been a great opportunity, indeed a great privilege, for me to present my views and comments on a number of important national issues during the past year. As with everything in life there will be those who will like what you do and those who won’t. It was never my intention, indeed not even my wish, to please everyone --- that in and of itself is an improbable task. However, being the eternal optimist that I am --- you will notice that I did not say an “impossible” task. To be quite truthful, the way I view it, even the fact that someone takes the time to read my rather long and often arduous articles is adequate satisfaction for me. And I am indeed flattered that there exists a diverse and loyal readership that looks forward to my weekly columns. I thank you all equally for your kudos as well as for your criticisms. This is, believe it or not, my thirty-eighth article since April 16, 2010.

This year as a politician I experienced my second defeat at the polls in thirty years of active politics. As on the previous occasion, more than twenty-five years ago, I have not considered my defeat a reason to abandon my service to Anguilla --- but an opportunity to serve my country from another platform --- another vantage point. I have therefore chosen to write and share my thoughts with those who are willing to read them. And I rebuke the Chief Minister’s oft-quoted statement that “if you want to hide anything from an Anguillian --- just put it in a book!” For him to repeat this as often as he does is as unpatriotic as his readiness to charge Anguilla with Angola’s indiscretions. In 1984, Anguilla did not have a viable newspaper --- so we used leaflets and pamphlets to circulate our articles. On most occasions the writings were posted anonymously. This was not a good thing! But it occurred during a period when politics in Anguilla did not yet enjoy the comforts of expression we have today. Radio Anguilla at that time was the only established broadcast media and if you were in Opposition you had very limited access.

Today in the wake of “Talk Your Mind” we are all privileged to have more than five radio stations; two television stations; various talk shows; interview programs, and; The Anguillian and The Light, our two local newspapers. My column for the most part is intended to keep the Government on “its toes” and to do so under my own name --- not anonymously or cowardly using the blogs and the shelter of “parliamentary privilege”. Anything that I write in my column I stand by as the truth --- without fear of being sued for libel or slander. I challenge those persons who stand up in the House of Assembly and continue to use lies, misinformation and innuendos --- to show the courage of their conviction and say those same things in the print and broadcast media. It is high time that such persons be exposed for what they are --- plain liars and/or cowards. Let me thank the Management and Staff at the Anguillian for bearing with me every week.

Over the last three weeks I listened to a few segments of the Anguilla House of Assembly with both interest and disgust. The Chief Minister and Leader of Government Business continues to believe that his personal attacks on me hiding under the protective “petticoats” of the House and its privileges --- can change things in Anguilla. He spent the entire ten months since his ascension to Government blaming the AUF Government, blaming the UK Government, blaming the Governor and blaming me for Anguilla’s plight --- and did nothing over that entire period to positively improve our lot. The result has been that ten months later he now finds himself in a situation where he either needs to impose drastic and austere measures on the people he was elected to serve or come up with a plan/proposal to satisfy the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) that Anguilla will be able to meet its commitments without exposing the British Government to any contingent liabilities. To put it simply, after the Government of Anguilla has made certain decisions the British Government does not want to be forced to come in later and bail us out with its taxpayer’s money. Perhaps this can be the time for the Chief Minister to unveil the elusive plan that he boasted about during the recent general election campaign fooling many Anguillians that he could turn Anguilla around in a matter of weeks.

The Leader of the Opposition, the Honourable Evans McNiel Rogers and his colleague the Honourable Othlyn Vanterpool must be commended highly for the professional manner with which they dispensed with much of the “nonsense” which categorized statements made by the Chief Minister and some of his colleagues during the recent sessions. Fortunately, other members of the House including the Elected Member for Road North, the Honourable Edison Baird made excellent contributions as well. The Parliamentary Secretary, however, got up in defense of his father’s strategy and suggested that if the British Government could borrow up to the high limits that have been reported in the international media --- they had no moral authority to prevent Anguilla from borrowing. The naivety of this rationale from the Parliamentary Secretary lies in comparing Anguilla to the United Kingdom.

While I totally agree with the Parliamentary Secretary and his father that we need to borrow --- the fact that we expect the British Government to meet our shortfalls also requires that we must present a case that meets their approval. The British Government continues to increase taxation on its citizens; to reduce the size of its public service; to cut back on the delivery of critical services to its people, and; to claw back on concessions to its private sector. However, while the U.K. is borrowing it is making its own citizens pay for that borrowing as well. The Chief Minister since he allowed himself to fall into this position, as a result of his preoccupation with things irrelevant to “fixing the economy” --- he must now make a credible case to the British Government. He cannot simply bury his head in the sand like an ostrich as if to shut out impending threats; or stomp his foot into the ground and charge forward like a “raging bull” impetuously and recklessly into the steady sword of the skilful matador.

The Chief Minister must settle down and explain the differences in the Anguilla situation and outline to the British Government the negative impacts of its recommendation on a small and extremely vulnerable state like Anguilla. But most importantly he must also be able to present a sound proposal as to how he intends to retire the deficit and restore fiscal and economic stability over the next three years. Such a proposal may even suggest that four rather than three years would be more feasible for returning to a balanced budget position. There needs to be dialogue rather than defiance --- reasoning rather than posturing. And while it may be late I strongly suggest that a defensible case can still be made.

Many persons have asked me whether I believe that the British Government will authorize the budget. My response has been that “I would hope so!” And my main reason for expressing such a hope is that if that does not happen I fear that the Chief Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary will once again return to their comfort zone by attacking the British and calling for Independence. I also need to make the point that if the FCO does not authorize the budget promptly the Government can still proceed for another four months without having passed one for 2011. This allows us a further opportunity for dialogue and reasoning. Will the Chief Minister seize this opportunity or will he once again provoke panic, alarm, subversion and diversion on the streets and in the prison cells of Anguilla?

All these things must concern us as we move into a New Year. We cannot afford another period of ineptitude in Government in 2011. Will the Chief Minister take the time to consider the admonition of the Leader of the Opposition and adjust his “style, approach and attitude” in dealing with the British Government, with the Governor and with the Public Service? For while we hear many of his supporters making the claim that “we need Hubert to deal with the British” --- the record and history has proven irrefutably, that Hubert Hughes has never gotten anything out of the British with his approach --- except of course his own political demise. On the other hand the record of the past Government in terms of its relationship with the British has been one of mutual respect and partnership in the governance process that has led to many positive and constructive outcomes.

So while this year was replete with criticisms of the past Government and its management of the economy --- the present Government must thank the Anguilla United Front for the visionary initiatives from which it has benefitted over the last ten months. Let me name a few:-

• The AUF created a vibrant economy as a result of a deliberate plan to incentivize private sector investment which created thousands of jobs and business opportunities leading to the building up of substantial Social Security Fund which the present Government has used as a source of financing for its budgetary shortfalls. Without this facility the Government would have been hard-pressed to meet many of its commitments over the last months.

• The AUF initiated the Policy Based Loan (PBL) from the Caribbean Development Bank that has enabled the present Government to consolidate its loans and manage its debt obligations with more sustainable arrangements. Without this loan the Government would have been unable to satisfy its borrowing needs and reduce its debt service.

• The AUF established a separate Inland Revenue Department along with appropriate IT systems to create more effective revenue collection. Without this integrated tax collection system the present Government would have been unable to get accurate data on the performance of the economy and make informed fiscal decisions.

• The AUF signed on to the Caribbean Catastrophic Risk Insurance Fund (CCRIF) to ensure that Anguilla has a facility that can provide a source of guaranteed assistance in the event of a natural disaster. Without this assistance in the amount of 4.3 million US dollars, Hurricane Earl would have placed considerably more stress on an already struggling economy.

• The AUF, despite some objection from the present Chief Minister while in Opposition, provided ways and means to facilitate the timely completion of the Viceroy Resort. The AUF also insisted that there was need for more than one major project to allow for more certainty in the delivery of new jobs and business opportunities in the operational phase. This week the property has over six hundred guests and almost as many employees. Without the Viceroy Resort, the failure of the Flag would have had a more disastrous effect on our economy.

• The AUF decided as a component of its access strategy to improve the pier facilities at the Blowing Point Ferry Terminal as a result even as we await a more modern terminal building the facility provides a gateway for more than sixty percent of all passenger arrivals to Anguilla. Without the improvements at the pier facilities the impact of the decisions of our major international carrier to reduce flights to Anguilla would have been devastating to our tourism industry.

• The AUF decided to expand the Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport (formerly Wallblake Airport) to facilitate larger commercial carriers and more direct private jet arrivals into Anguilla. This week in particular, even in the midst of the recession, we have record private jet landings into Anguilla up to some fifty movements a day. Lloyd’s Aviation Services are doing an incredible job keeping up with demand. Without this expansion Anguilla would not have been able to facilitate this new trend in air travel and the upper end Tourists that visit our island. And we would still have been waiting for Hubert’s “pie-in-the sky” Airport in Brimegin.

This list is not intended to be exhaustive but rather to illustrate that the Chief Minister and his colleagues have not brought any new ideas to the table for “fixing” this economy. We the members of the AUF are proud of the contribution our Government made such that even today it is assisting the present government to survive this challenging period.

So even as we wind down the Old Year and usher in 2011 we will not be deterred by the “blame game”; we will not be fooled by the circus acts; we will not cry foul because of the lies; we will not take things personally --- we will rally on to the higher cause of moving Anguilla forward. And despite the bitterness that can grow within us in the words of the ageless song by the eighteenth century Scottish Poet, Robert Burns for this season: “We’ll take a cup of kindness yet! …. for auld lang syne!”

Victor F. Banks
Sachasses Estate
December 28, 2010

1 comment:

  1. The Anguillain people are some of the greatest people in the world. It is a very young nations, but for the most part has had and still has good leadership. The past minsters has taken a small island and positioned it as one of the top vacation places in the world. Had the world economy not gone bad Anguilla would be in glory at the top of the pack. The new government will have to lead Anguilla in a down economy. But must be open and honest with the people. The people of Anguilla must work with them, and in many cases show them the way. God bless all of the leadership of this great country, both past and present. Happy New Year to all Anguillians and those who love Anguilla!


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