Books about Anguilla


Thursday, 12 January 2012


Hon. McNiel Rogers, Leader of Opposition and the Chairman
of the Public Accounts Committee on Anguilla

Fellow Anguillians, 

as the Leader of Opposition and the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee I must express my deep concern over the Minutes of the Executive Council Meeting held December 29, 2011, where all the Ministers were present, and which under the caption,“Reimbursement of Telephone Bills to Chief Minister, reads as follows: “Council agreed that the Hon. Hubert Hughes, Chief Minister should be reimbursed EC$40,000.00 for telephone bills incurred during the period November 1997 to March 2000.”

The time frame within which these phone bills were incurred dates back to between twelve and fifteen (15) years ago, during the Chief Minister’s first term in that lofty position. I am aware that Mr. Hughes first presented these phone bills during the time that the United Front party was in Government. At that time, these bills were not approved for payment based on the fact that: (1) Mr. Hughes presented no supporting evidence (other than the phone bills themselves) to show that these calls were in fact calls made for Government business and (2) Mr. Hughes presented no evidence to show the nature of the government business and who the calls were made to in order to justify the payment of these bills. In that context, Executive Council’s decision to now reimburse Mr. Hughes for phone bills he “ran up” so long ago, must as a consequence at this “late hour” raise a number of questions. For example:

1) Why is the amount of this bill a round figure of EC$40,000 and not a specific figure based on a summation of all of the telephone charges charged by the telephone company?

2) Why were all these calls on behalf of the Government of Anguilla made from the Chief Minister’s residence?

3) Why did the Chief Minister incur all these charges on his home phone over a period of twenty-eight months without reconciling them?

4) Did the Chief Minister not receive a telephone allowance at that time?

5) Why does the Chief Minister find it necessary to pursue reimbursement now that his Government is once again in Office and during the midst of an economic downturn worldwide which has affected all of us in Anguilla?

In my capacity as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, I feel duty bound on the basis of such questions raised in the wider community, to pursue this matter officially. So as to determine the validity of the claim and the grounds on which the decision was taken by Executive Council on the matter. Such action is further demanded because I am concerned as to whether due diligence was in fact conducted in order to ascertain the nature of these telephone calls before it went to Executive Council. This apparently unsubstantiated claim have caused numerous persons in the community to express outrage at the approval of these monies by EXCO, at least at this point in time.

While I have a duty as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee to deal mainly with the propriety of the claim, there also exists the question of the morality and the timing of this decision. This puts the matter into the context of Anguilla today and as consequence a number of the following additional issues begin to emerge which need to be addressed:

• It appears that our Chief Minister has aggressively pursued his personal financial interests while he is reluctant to address similar interests in the wider public service.

• It appears that our Chief Minister is not prepared to honour agreements made by the former Government on behalf of public servants without retaining a private lawyer --- yet he readily puts forward his claim without any formal agreement or policy precedent.

• That our Chief Minister, in this time of hardship, has resurrected his demand for payment on a bill that was already turned down for lack of proper accounting and justification under the AUF administration.

Fellow Anguillians, it is my view that even if this is a legitimate one, a man such as our Chief Minister, Mr. Hughes who has claimed that he has never gone to the Bank to take a loan, ought to have known that right now, when his AUM Government has increased taxes and imposed new taxes on the people of Anguilla, when our fellow Anguillians are home without work and without electricity, and when our fellow Anguillians cannot send their children to school because they cannot provide food for their children, is NOT the right time to seek reimbursement on telephone bills from 15 years ago.

But perhaps the most ironic part of the whole issue is the fact that the Chief Minister was able to get approval for payment of his telephone bills through the same Executive Council that he continues to claim is being run by the Governor. It only goes to show us that the Chief Minister can in fact pass things through Executive Council when they are in his personal economic interest to do so. However, issues like the repeal or the amendment of the “Levy” or the reduction of the draconian penalties that the Levy Act contains, our Chief Minister claims that he cannot pass these measures in the interest of the people of Anguilla --- because it is the Governor that runs Executive Council. This decision is most revealing in that regard.

Hon. Hubert B. Hughes: "I'm clean clean... whiter than snow...
dem lil boi dem aint gah a ting on me!"
It is clear that the Chief Minister is inconsistent in his conduct. The Chief Minister’s philosophy that “the rules apply to everyone else but him” is evident in every aspect of this decision. If anyone else in the former Government had made a similar request, the investigative journalists of the AUM Talk Shows and the Chief Minister himself would have had the airwaves inundated with cries of corruption. But as Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, I intend to make sure that this matter is appropriately addressed and is in keeping with the same principle and procedures which the Chief Minister claims to uphold, as well as the rules of good governance and the legal process to which we all must be held accountable.

Thank you all very much, and may God bless you and God Bless Anguilla.

By: Evans McNiel Rogers - Leader of Opposition on Anguilla.

1 comment:

  1. yes because ppl still think anguilla ppl living in darkness and ignorantcy


“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity” – MLK.