Books about Anguilla


Wednesday, 25 April 2012


Mr. Victor F. Banks - Leader of the Anguilla United Front
Let me take this opportunity to congratulate the members of the New Testament Church of God for the exceptional display of support and respect they showed for their Leader, Pastor Bernard C. Joseph as he celebrated his Fiftieth Birthday at their Church at Chandeliers last Sunday, April 15, 2012. Looks can be deceiving. But it was evident, from the nature of the celebration, that Pastor Joseph is loved, by his entire congregation because of his service and Ministry. Pastor Joseph was showered with praises, tributes and gifts. But to “crown it all” he was lifted up with a most stirring sermon from young and animated Bro. Daniel Rogers of South Hill. The entire event was a real surprise for the young Pastor and his wife Linda who were frequently overwhelmed with tears of joy as the afternoon unfolded. It was both emotional and inspirational for all who were in attendance. And it demonstrated that there are still many people who understand the importance of displaying gratitude rather than taking their blessings for granted.

As I sat in the sanctuary I could not help but reflect on the tendency in Anguilla to gravitate towards negative information and gossip rather than facts and things that are praiseworthy. Why is it that some Anguillians seem so anxious to speak ill of others simply because they perceive that doing so will advance their own interests? Why is it that some Anguillians do not really care if the whole country suffers once they can destroy someone who they dislike or oppose? Why is it that some Anguillians prefer to listen to irresponsible rhetoric on a Talk Show than to read the actual facts for themselves in a book, document or newspaper? These and other questions came to mind as the positive messages in the presentations rang through in song; dance; skits; and the spoken word! The emphasis was on adoration; good leadership; good works and thanksgiving. But the source was always the written word! The truth as recorded in the Bible! I believe that Pastor Joseph’s accolades are well deserved having succeeded in fifteen years to build a fellowship of believers who understand and appreciate his leadership. Congratulations are certainly in order.

This brings me to my topic of discussion this week, namely, leadership and truth. For more than two years the people of Anguilla have been listening to a message of lies and deception that has been perpetrated by a leader who usurped power by empty promises; false hopes; and character assassination. We were promised that as the “self-proclaimed champion of the voiceless” in our society, he would look out for the interests of all the people of Anguilla, in particular the working class and the smaller entrepreneurs. The mantra of his campaign was that the past Government would tax Anguillians out of existence and he would ensure that there would be no new taxes. His exact words: “I would never support taxing a dead economy”. To “crown it all” he said that Anguillians need not worry --- he would turn the economy around in a short time because he had a plan that he would only reveal after elections.

Unfortunately, a number of Anguillians seem to have embraced this “invisible plan”. Unlike the leader we described earlier that denounces the power of the devil to destroy or obstruct his plans for his congregation --- this leader create his own “demons”, namely, the Governor, the British and the past AUF Government who he claims have the power to destroy and obstruct the fulfilment of his plans for the people of Anguilla. And even further he claims that he is helpless to prevent them! In other words, he is acting like a leader without faith in his own ability and without knowledge of his own strength.

On the issue of truth and honesty --- rather than take responsibility for his actions and the actions of his Government this Leader claims that the tax measures we face are not his and he has no way of amending them. If the Anguilla Constitution can be considered, at the risk of being heretical, our “Bible” of Governance then our Leader is a “false prophet” because he is not truthful in the statements that he preaches. The Anguilla Constitution places the power to enact; implement; amend; and appeal legislation squarely in the hands of the elected government of which he is the “Leader”. To quote: Section 47 of the Anguilla Constitution, it provides that “subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Assembly, may make laws for the peace, order and good government of Anguilla”. This means that the Anguilla Legislature has full powers to introduce and make laws for Anguilla. The act of making laws also includes the act of repealing laws.

Section 55 (1) provides that “subject to the provisions of this Constitution and the rules of procedure of the Assembly, any Member may introduce any Bill or propose any motion for debate in, or may present any petition to, the Assembly, and the same shall be debated and disposed of according to the rules of procedure of the Assembly.” This is self-explanatory. Any Member may introduce a Motion. Any member may also introduce a Bill.

Section 57 provides that the Bill shall become law upon assent by the Governor. It becomes law immediately upon the Governor’s assent, but the Secretary of State has power to disallow the Bill later if he has good reason to do so. The importance of this point is that unlike the Chief Minister’s statement this means and demonstrates that the Secretary of State is not involved in the Legislative process from the introduction of the Bill to its assent by the Governor. It means that the Chief Minister is misled and as a consequence is apportioning authority to the Secretary of State that the Secretary does not have. The Secretary of State cannot prevent any motion from going to the House neither does he have the authority to initiate the process of any enactment or repeal of any Act in the Anguilla House of Assembly except by Order in Council.

Returning to my analogy of the Anguilla Constitution as our “Bible” of Governance I believe that I have established the point that the Chief Minister is a “false prophet” and secondly that he is acting as if he has no faith or knowledge of his own capability. Is this the truth or is this a contrivance to compensate for his inability to deliver on his promises to the people of Anguilla? At this juncture the answer to that question is of no consequence. It appears that the people of Anguilla have already come to realize that things are falling apart. There is no good news from most of the most important projects on Anguilla and by his own admission the Chief Minister said in the last House of Assembly meeting that “Anguilla is in crisis”. The Anguilla Chamber of Commerce is lamenting the tendency to continue to tax the economy rather than create conditions for growth and expansion in the business sector. And Anguillians from all walks of life are facing financial hardships. It is time for leadership and truth in Governance rather than lies and excuses.

For the past fifteen months at least, the Anguilla United Front (AUF) in various media (print and broadcast) and on several platforms and forums have been addressing the issues related to the Government’s Interim Stabilization Levy (The Levy). We have dubbed it a “bad tax” and have remained firm in our conviction that it should be repealed. We conducted petition exercises, but despite the fact that many Anguillians expressed outrage few of them believed us that they would be directly affected. In the early period of our campaign against the Levy we were able to force some amendments from Government, for example, a floor of two thousand dollars; the removal of the tax on service charge; a higher ceiling at the top; and more public consultations. Nevertheless, the tax was imposed, with the Chief Minister all the while claiming that it is not his tax --- it is a British tax. 

Mr. Fritz Smith - Chairman of the
Anguilla United Front 
Late last year a number of persons and groups in the community (including the Churches) came to the rude awakening that they were in breach of the regulations governing the filing of returns under the Levy Ordinance and were therefore liable to penalties as high as seventeen thousand dollars. These solid citizens anxious not to run afoul of the law, ran in and took advantage of an extended “grace period” and paid ten percent of the assessed penalties without consideration of the validity of that clause of the Act. Our party still aggrieved at the unfairness of the Act declared that notwithstanding the fact that persons had complied with the reduced penalties we would consider filing a class action against the Government for the unfair penalties being imposed. Accordingly, the Chairman of our Party, Mr. Fritz Smith and others, having been served notice by the Inland Revenue Department that they would be charged late filing fees on earnings below the statutory minimum, secured legal counsel, who after the relevant legal arguments made the following statement to the Comptroller: “Our client is of the view, and is fortified by law, that this Section 10 of the Act is unconstitutional and invalid. Accordingly, our client is seeking the reversal of any penalties on his account within your department. We look forward to your response to the matters contained herein, particularly:- 1.) To confirm that our client’s charges on account will be reversed. 2.) The actions you intend to take with respect to repealing all unconstitutional and invalid sections of the Act.”

The good news is that Mr. Smith and the other complainants have received similar letters from the Inland Revenue Department as follows: “As instructed by the Attorney General’s Chambers, the late filing penalties in the amount of EC$2,000.00 have been expunged from your client’s account. A refund is being processed for the said amount and your Chambers will be notified when it is completed. Yours Sincerely.”

Obviously, there are many other persons who have behaved like good citizens and simply accepted the penalties imposed by the Inland Revenue Department. They too are eligible for similar refunds under the law. But the purpose of my column is not to cause the Government to repay needed funds that have already been collected but simply to point out that the Levy continues to be a “bad law” which if not properly amended should be repealed. And furthermore that it was and still is within the competence of Chief Minister and his Government to do so.

If the AUF Chairman had not taken the initiative to enjoin other affected taxpayers along with himself, to contest the unfair penalties meted out to them --- this matter would not have been exposed and the Chief Minister and his colleagues would have continued in the lie that only the Governor can fix it! Well! The AUF Chairman caused it to be fixed --- and he is not even elected. And Mr. Chief Minister, up to now we have not organized a march on the Governor’s Office to achieve this. It only goes to show that Good Governance is not a Parade! It is about Leadership and Truth!

By: Victor F. Banks
Victor Banks is a former Finance, Economics, Commerce and Tourism Minister on Anguilla. He is presently the leader of the Oposition Anguilla United Front Party, writer and author of a weekly political article for The Anguillian News Paper, lyricist, and a self-employed entrepreneur.

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