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Saturday, 1 September 2012



Anguilla's Chief  Minister, The Hon. Hubert B. Hughes
It is exactly two and a half years since the Anguilla United Movement ascended to office as the duly elected Government of Anguilla. This means that they are now at the halfway point of their term. They were swept into office on a platform of lies; the promise of openness, transparency, good governance, integrity; and the pledge that they could turn the economy around in three months with what may now be characterized as “an invisible plan”. Their supporters were overjoyed by the victory and genuinely felt they now had a change that would improve their lot and put Anguilla on a path to stability, progress and prosperity.

As the party then in opposition, the Anguilla United Front (AUF) pledged that we would give the new Government the opportunity to govern --- but that we would not be “muzzled” from rising to the defense of our supporters and the people of Anguilla as a whole --- if and when it became necessary. One such occasion arose just a few weeks after the AUM came into office, when it was discovered that its new Anguilla Social Security Board was considering moving the Fund’s deposits from the two indigenous banks to the international commercial banks on the island. As the AUF Leader, I addressed the matter in a press release and later through articles in the Anguillian Newspaper. The attention that I brought to that issue is believed to have caused the new Social Security Board not to pursue its decision and that success strengthened my resolve to use the print media as a means of registering my views on Government’s decisions and actions. I could have chosen other platforms, like the “blogs” and the other social media to do so --- but I decided that as a matter of principle I would continue to do what I have done in politics all my life: “Speak the truth and be fair in the statements I make!” I would not descend to using the cloak of social media, where many people post irresponsible statements and lies in a very cowardly and dishonest manner. Anything I have written in the Anguillian Newspaper is under my own name; I am fully responsible for what I have written --- and I remain prepared to stand fully behind the statements I have made. However, if unwittingly, I misrepresent the truth and anyone --- I am fully aware of the recourse to legal action that is available to them!

I soon realized, however, that the “platform of lies” that catapulted the AUM to office had become a “best practice” strategy for them as a new Government and in particular for the Chief Minister. I was therefore forced to point out a wide range of conflicting and incongruous statements that he has been using to consolidate his support and that also became “talking points” for his key supporters and some of his more callous advisors. For example, he said”
  • … that no one could force him to introduce taxation yet he commissioned a revenue study and proceeded to claim that the taxes imposed were not his --- but rather British taxes.
  • … that the AUF was giving away revenue to investors by MOAs but he did not mention the new streams of revenue over the longer term that were also a part of these same MOAs .
  • … that the AUF left his Government in deficit but he did not mention that they had built up total reserves of over $62 million while at the same time building some of the best roads and seaport facilities in the region.
  • … that he found the government almost $200 million in debt but he did not point out that it is the lowest in the region (of course Montserrat excluded) and there was a plan on the table to manage it.
  • … that the AUF Government was seeking permission to borrow to meet recurrent requirements --- which is the exactly what his Government has been doing since it came into office.”
  •  … that the Governor controls Executive Council yet he was able to extract EC$40,000 for himself without the Governor’s support for a questionable telephone bill that was incurred some 12 years ago.
I have built up a well-documented file of relevant issues over the last two and a half years through my articles. And as a result I can now refer to them as things unfold and show that they have been factual, analytical and even prophetic. Sadly though, I have receive much criticism for my writing because it appears that there is either a genuine lack of understanding of the meaning of “freedom of expression” or a warped belief that “freedom expression” is the unique privilege belonging to diehard AUM supporters.

I strive in my weekly commentaries to present a balanced account of the Government’s performance over its term and they illustrate how that they have been stumbling from crisis to crisis over that period. I want to remind you of a few such occurrences: -
  • The Government orchestrated a “hostile takeover” of ANGLEC with the new Social Security Board by trying to politicize the Board of Directors, apparently, so as to put forward the party agenda without following proper governance procedures.
  • The Government allowed its junior members, namely, the Parliamentary Secretary and the Elected Member for East End, to negotiate a new MOU with Cap Juluca, which had the effect of giving the Developer back pond lands, beachfront resources, and other national assets belonging to the GOA and people of Anguilla.
  • The Chief Minister allowed the Parliamentary Secretary alone to negotiate an MOU with Starwood Capital Group on the purchase of the Viceroy Resort. The Parl. Sec. did so and had the Chief Minister sign it on Starwood stationery without Executive Council authorization.
  • The Chief Minister with the assistance of the Parliamentary Secretary stirred up civilian protests by claiming that the Governor had asked him to resign immediately and call fresh elections. He then proceeded to establish the groundwork for a movement for independence.
  • The Chief Minister signed a document authorizing the Social Security Board to borrow US $200 million from a relatively unknown financial institution and secured the loan against present and future Social Security Funds. All of this without Executive Council approval and the required authorization of the House of Assembly.
  • The Chief Minister’s inability to make the case for more time to balance the budget and come up with sound proposals as to how he intended to retire the deficit and restore fiscal and economic stability, led to a bitter budgetary dispute. During which period he took no responsibility for the new tax measures.
  • The Chief Minister encouraged workers from Cap Juluca to march to the Governor’s Office to petition the Governor in support of Mr. Hickox. He is now in dispute with the same Mr. Hickox who he convinced the workers to be the most qualified person to take over the project.
While these examples may not be exhaustive, they illustrate the pointless battles, which continue to obstruct “real progress” … as well as the Chief Minister’s blatant disregard for good governance. The fact is that while we hear many of his supporters making the claim that “we need Hubert to deal with the British” --- the record and history have proven irrefutably, that Mr. Hughes has never, I repeat never, gotten anything positive out of the British with his approach --- except of course his own political demise. On the other hand the record of our Government in terms of its relationship with the British has been one of mutual respect and partnership in the governance process and that led to many positive and constructive outcomes.

So while the last two and a half years have full of criticisms of the past Government and its management of the economy --- actually the present Government must thank the Anguilla United Front for the visionary initiatives from which it has benefitted up to today --- two and a half years later. Let me name a few: -
  • The AUF created a vibrant economy as a result of a deliberate plan to attract private sector investment, which created thousands of jobs and business opportunities leading to the building up of a substantial Social Security Fund. The present Government has used this fund 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 when it came to Office. They literally “milked” the Social Security Fund.
  • 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 not have been able to satisfy its borrowing needs and reduce its debt service.
  • The AUF established a separate Inland Revenue Department along with appropriate IT support systems to create more effective revenue collection. Without this integrated tax collection system the present Government would not 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 had 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 this already struggling economy. Those funds are still been used today on several projects.
  • 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. That property can now accommodate 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 part of its tourism access strategy to improve the pier facilities at the Blowing Point, as a result even as we await a more modern terminal building the facility provides an entrance for more than sixty percent of all passenger arrivals to Anguilla. Without the improvements to the pier facilities the impact of the decision of our main carriers 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. Now even in the midst of the recession, we have been recording weekly private jet landings into Anguilla of up to some fifty movements a day. 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.
The truth is 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 Anguilla United Front are proud of the contribution of our Government because even as we speak it is assisting the present Government to survive this challenging period.

But in the midst of all of this the Government led by the Chief Minister continues to construct a series of conspiracy theories so as to take no responsibility for anything that has gone wrong since he ascended Office. He paints a deliberate picture of a pattern of sabotage being directed against him by successive British Governments and seems to have no problem rewriting history to prove it.

The arrangements/agreements between the Government and the Temenos and the Viceroy Projects have been the subject of island wide discussion. If the transparency with which this Government purports to cloak itself were “disrobed” a number of matters may well justify further examination. For example, the question has been raised to me as to why it is that the Chief Minister’s sons appear to be receiving an inordinate share of the limited opportunities in the construction sector? Or what is the story on the land leased by Government to one of the CM’s tenants to build a shopping mall in the Spring Path area? Who is the actual owner of that shopping mall? Who is building and/or financing it? I will not comment on the validity of these statements and queries but I can say that they warrant investigation.

The United Front Government granted concessions so as to attract investment in the economy at a time when we were in a recession. And in keeping with the AUF’s support of good governance principles all of those concessions were approved in EXCO after negotiations with the Tourism Investment Committee (TIC). They were not negotiated in a corner at Da’vida’s and signed by our CM without authorization from Executive Council. The seriousness of those actions by the AUF Government officials cry out for some form if inquiry --- according to Minister Walcott there seems a “stench” coming from the head of the fountain.

What I have been constructing is a pattern of style, approach and attitude that is not delivering the goods of the people of Anguilla during this period of global financial crisis. And I wish to point out that the situation does not have to be so! According to our 2012 Calypso Monarch, “Shea Shea”: “We can do better than that!” The Chief Minister and his Government have failed in their responsibility to the people they were elected to represent. In fact they appear clueless as to how to fix the present situation. They seem to take comfort in being able to blame everyone else. They seem to believe that confrontation and incivility is a mark of good leadership. They seem to believe that lies, half-truths and innuendoes is a “best practice” to consolidate their authority and their right to govern. But this is neither what the people of Anguilla voted for nor deserve!

The Government needs to stop acting like “little cry babies”. Whenever the Chief Minister receives a letter from the British Government or the Governor he runs on the radio complaining: “look wah di Governor do we!”.

It is time for Chief Minister to “man up!” Take the issues by the horns! The British Government has its opinion --- you are entitled to yours. And since we all know what everyone’s objective must be, namely, to restore stability. Show us your plan! And stop being a crybaby!

The unique circumstances of Anguilla must be made clear to FCO officials. Britain is a modern country with all the social and financial “safety nets” to provide for the indigent; the unemployed; bankrupt businesses; and struggling financial institutions. On the other hand, Anguilla is an open economy heavily impacted by issues of external origin and we depend on the strength of the markets outside of Anguilla to which we sell our products and services. There are serious limits to the amount of trimming of expenditure and increases in tax revenues we can absorb. These are points that need to be made strongly to the British authorities in an atmosphere of mutual respect. Not cussing! As a Government the AUF faced the same challenges and we found this approach most effective. I am sure that the senior technicians in the public service are making these points --- but they must also be coming from our elected officials.

But what is further lacking in this Government’s strategy is an awareness that the private and the public sector must work hand in hand, especially in times like these. The AUM came to office with an adversarial approach to most developers (local and expatriate) because they never seemed to understand that the investments that these developers are making create jobs and business opportunities. And since our competition is regional and even international --- as a Government we must make it worthwhile for investors to participate in our country’s development. Companies invest in a country because they see it as a good business opportunity --- not for philanthropy but for profit. As a Government we have to help them to be profitable so as to increase economic activity. Such activity creates more taxable income and as a consequence more Government revenues.

Since the Government came to office all we have been hearing about is taxation and expenditure controls. Taxation and expenditure management are only two sides of the development equation. That equation has many sides. And one of the most important is private sector investment --- be it local investment or foreign direct investment both are critical. It is time for the Government to direct the FCO’s attention away from “taxing a dead economy”. We should be asking the FCO to direct us to their Department of Trade and Commerce so as to help us to design programs to attract qualified British and European investors for a number of our failed projects or provide financing for qualified local projects.

Our Government just before we demitted office put in place legislation to assist Anguillian families with large landholdings to hold on to their undivided property and place it in corporate entities that can empower them to participate equitably in major development ventures. That is a Government taking charge! And guess what? This Government sought to frustrate the local beneficiaries of this critical assistance that we secured for them. It took a legal challenge to uphold it.

Before this economic downturn our Government was able to deliver EC$ 70 million in road construction; 9 million in school construction; 13 million in seaport development; 50 million in training; 20 million in land acquisition for the future; 70 million in airport expansion and relocation; and 65 million in reserves just to name a few areas. That is a total of almost EC$300 million in direct public sector development. But in addition, we were able to attract almost a billion US dollars in foreign direct investment. All this was not achieved by accident --- it was by a studied approach designed to make our island the best that it could be with the resources with which God has blessed us. As well as the industry, ingenuity, civility and pride that has brought us respect as a people at home and abroad over the years.

But the crux of my address here today is to question whether the Government will continue in this second part of its term in the same vein as in the first. Will we continue to hear the blame game being played out? Will they still not take responsibility for their actions? Will they continue to destroy the investment climate with loose talk from the Leader of Government business? Will we continue to be told that Independence is the panacea for all the challenges we face? Can we survive another two and a half years of this style, attitude and approach? And the key question: “Are you my people satisfied with the performance of the Government over the past two and a half years?”

In the light of these present circumstances our party is being called upon to begin an assertive campaign. I have been elected as the Political Leader and my record in part includes that of the past administration. It is a record of which I am extremely proud. I have served as district 4 representative for 25 yrs in the Anguilla House of Assembly, 16 years of which period I was the Minister of Finance. This was only possible through the support of the people of Valley South, for which I am eternally grateful. During this period of time Mr Hughes was relentless in his demonization of me. He characterised me as corrupt and accused me of misconduct and criminal wrong doing. These accusations grew to an all time high during the last election campaign and continued until this day by both Mr. Hughes, his colleagues in government and some of their supporters. The destruction of my character no doubt played a key role in my defeat during the last election and led to the passionate chant among a number of “innocent bystanders” that: “You got to get rid of Victor!”. In coming to Office they continue their abuse using the shelter of “parliamentary privilege” to do so.

On reflection, I admit that I am in part to blame for allowing these false accusations to take root in the minds of Anguillians, to the point that the accusations were believed to be true. I take some blame because I never sought to defend myself or respond to these accusations aggessively. I mis-judged my people because after Mr. Hughes publicly apologized to myself and my colleague Osbourne in 1999 and also paid our legal costs. I did not believe that anyone would give Mr. Hughes any credibility for these false statements after his apology over Radio Anguilla and in the Anguillian Newspaper.

I must draw to your attention the fact that Mr Hughes and his Government were in power for two and a half years now. We must therefore accept that the members of the elected government and their advisers would have gone through all their records in great detail. We must also accept that if any evidence was found to exist to prove me guilty of any of these baseless accusations they would have been happy to have me arrested and charged by this time. Be that as it may I am still here ready, willing and competent to serve.

I have long accepted my defeat at the polls, and I am proud that democracy is alive and well in Anguilla. I bear no malice to anyone who I was unable to convince to give me their support --- indeed I never have and never will. Democracy allows for trial and error --- it is nothing to be ashamed of. My party has called upon me to lead them and I today declare my intention to contest the seat in Valley South as the Anguilla United Front Candidate in the next General Election --- God willing! May God bless you all! And may God bless Anguilla

I thank you for your kind attention.

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.


  1. Both parties are in their own way corrupt and it is time that Anguilla had new, uncorrupted and sincere parties who truly want what is good for Anguilla and is not running because they want fame, money or power.

  2. Why the misleading picture of a smiling Chief Minister and malnourished children?


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