Books about Anguilla


Monday, 10 March 2014


Cora Richardson-Hodge - general Secretary of the
Anguilla United Front (AUF), and District-2 
Fellow Anguillians.

As General Secretary of the Anguilla United Front Party and Candidate for District 2 for the AUF, I have been given the privilege, on behalf of my party of addressing the nation on this milestone, namely, the last four years of this AUM Government’s term of office.

On February 19th 2014 the AUM Government reported on its stewardship in a public meeting at the Highway Tyre Shop. The presentations of the AUM platform Speakers on this occasion seemed a desperate effort to put a spin on the Government’s failure to achieve anything tangible as well as a desperate attempt to make the case for another five years in office.

Let us review some brief highlights of our AUM Government’s performance over the past 4 years. During our Government’s first year in office, our Ministers of Government imposed taxes such as a 7% fuel tax, a (7%) communications tax, a 6% payroll tax which the government has dubbed an “interim stabilization levy”, and a 150% increase in property tax. All of this in spite of our Chief Minister’s words that you “cannot tax a dead economy”. The AUM party has now manufactured excuses as to why these taxes had to be imposed. However, let us not forget the reason why the AUM was elected in the first place – the people of Anguilla were told that Mr. Hughes and his team could fix the economy and that they would do so without increasing taxes.

The AUM party in 2010 campaigned on the basis that they were fully aware of the condition of the treasury at the time, but that they had a secret plan in order to get Anguilla back on its feet which did not include taxes. It is now 2014, however, and we are yet to see that plan.

Let us talk about the Interim Stabilization Levy in particular. Our members of Government, in explaining why they imposed the Interim Stabilization Levy, have neglected to inform us of one critical point, that our Government, in a letter dated 19th January 2011, told the British that they would balance the budget in only three (3) years. This short time frame created undue stress on the Government and in turn, the people of Anguilla, to find funds needed to balance the budget. This is how the Levy came into being. It works like this: 

Each employer is obligated to pay 3% on the salary of each employee, regardless of whether that employer’s business is making a profit or has the ability to do so. If the Levy is not paid, then the employer is subjected to serious penalties, which could potentially sink the business altogether. This Levy has been crippling businesses in Anguilla since it was imposed by this Government. When the Levy was passed in 2011, our Government assured us that it would last for only two years.

In addition to this Levy being an unfair tax, the manner in which the tax was imposed damaged businesses that were barely keeping their heads above water. Entities such as Brownhill and Malliouhana Hotel closed almost immediately upon the imposition of this tax. Many smaller businesses are still suffering greatly as a result of the Levy and some have had to reduce the number of employees in order to survive.

Our AUM Government also says that the Levy is paying pensions and civil servants, but if this is in fact the case, then it means that our Government’s promise to roll over the Levy into the National Health Fund could not be true. In fact, on 23rd January 2014, the Ministers of Government in Executive Council agreed to suspend the Health Fund Board until our Government figures out when they will implement the National Health Fund. The Minutes for this Executive Council decision can be found on the Government of Anguilla website.

The question you must ask, fellow Anguillians, is whether the suspension of the Health Fund Board means that our Government will not be creating a National Health Fund in the foreseeable future, and that the Interim Stabilization Levy will remain as an income tax. In fact, in January 2014, our Government cut the Health Authority subvention by $43,000.00. This means that our Princess Alexandria Hospital now has less money available to provide critical care to residents and visitors alike. This further shows that we will not be seeing a National Health Fund anytime soon.

In 2010, the Government also allowed its junior members, namely, the Parliamentary Secretary and the Elected Member for Sandy Hill, to negotiate a new MOU with Cap Juluca, which had the effect of giving to the Developer pond lands, seven acres of beach land and other national assets belonging to the people of Anguilla. Our Government also removed from the previous MOA the opportunity for Anguillians to own 20% in the hotel. The developer was given unlimited use of the pond and was given permission to take out the coral from the sea. The Chief Minister also allowed the Parliamentary Secretary alone to negotiate an MOU with Starwood Capital Group on the purchase of the Viceroy Resort. This negotiation caused the Government of Anguilla to lose $18 Million Dollars in taxes. For some reason, our Government did not make this MOU public and Anguillians were therefore not made fully aware of the extent to which our Government gave up monies which could have been used to assist in decreasing the amount of taxes which were imposed on us since 2010.

Fellow Anguillians, many bills have come to the House of Assembly for approval since 2010, but at the last minute were pulled back by the Chief Minister because our Ministers of Government (those who pass the laws that affect each and every one of us) did not understand the contents of the bills. For instance, in 2012, Ministers of Government approved the Property Tax Amendment Bill in Executive Council. It was sent out for the public to review on 19th October 2012 and taken to the House of Assembly just a few days later. In the House, however, our Chief Minister pulled back the Bill and stated the following: it “could create contribution to hardship in Anguilla and also to stalling general progress for the people in Anguilla; could impact our very culture as to how we accomplish certain things, especially in property development.” And so, the Bill was removed from the agenda in order to go for public consultation.

Now, these are just the highlights of our Government at work these past four years. What I can tell you is that for the past four years, our AUM Government has been consistent in creating and keeping a dark cloud over our island. Even though they promised that they would turn things around in six weeks, our Government has repeatedly given the following reasons as to why they have not been able to get things done: 

• The Public Service is corrupt and therefore they are holding Anguilla’s development ransom.
• The Opposition is obstructing the AUM Government’s ability to get things done for the country.
• Our AUM Government’s hands are tied because we are not independent. If we were independent we could get everything done.
• The Governor is sabotaging their efforts.
• The British Government wants to keep the people of Anguilla under suppression and is not cooperating with the AUM Government.
• Victor Banks writes a weekly column in the Anguillian Newspaper and is preventing our Government from doing their job.

But you may have noticed that despite all of these excuses, neither the Governor; the British Government; the Opposition; the FCO; the Foreign Investors; the Public Service nor the Constitution:

• Could stop the Chief Minister (in the midst of serious economic troubles in Anguilla) from getting a refund on his twelve-year old telephone bill in the amount of $40,000.00.
• Could stop the AUM Government from lowering import duties on vehicles at the time family vehicles were being brought into Anguilla.
• Could stop the lease of Government lands to supporters of the Government to build shopping centers and guesthouses.
• Could stop the Chief Minister from travelling all over the region and the world.
• Could stop the Government Ministers from holding up critical legislation for the Education Department.
• Could stop the hiring of additional Tourism consultants who have special “friends” in Government.
• Could stop the construction of wharves in St Maarten, the overall cost of which still have not been fully disclosed.
• Could stop the changing of MOAs to MOUs yet all the while giving more favourable concessions than the previous AUF Administration gave.
• Could stop one or two family members of the Chief Minister from controlling a significant amount of work on the island.

Fellow Anguillians, as you have seen, many significant events have occurred in Anguilla over the past four years. However, the degree of transparency and accountability that the AUM Party promised during the 2010 campaign has not been delivered.

Take for instance the ECCB takeover of the indigenous Banks. The Chief Minister agreed for the ECCB to come into Anguilla and take over our banks. In doing so, however, the Chief Minister failed to ask critical questions before assessing whether this was the best approach for the banks, their shareholders and Anguillians in general. The Chief Minister failed to obtain clear and precise information about the process:

1. What are the stages of the process?
2. How long will it take?
3. What factors would cause the process to be extended?
4. How to deal with the public relations aspect of the process in order 
to ensure that investment and confidence in Anguilla are not 
5. How will the performance of the incoming officials to the Bank be 
6. Who do the incoming officials account to?
7. Who do we complain to if there are personal and personality issues 
arising from persons involved in the takeover?
8. And so on…

We know that ECCB in recent weeks issued a press release stating that they needed more time, but as of now the people of Anguilla have not been given any real information, and we do not know how long ECCB will be in control of the banks or what is to happen to properties where Anguillians are in arrears at the bank. Anguillians run the risk of not only losing their investment in the two local banks, but they also run the risk of losing their property, their inheritance and in some cases their livelihood. And yet our Government cannot give us any answers.

Fellow Anguillians, these are indeed difficult times. While our members of Government are flying around the world enjoying life and being paid by your tax dollars to take off two days during the week to campaign in their Districts, our people are suffering. Many of us are home without jobs; our children have graduated from High School and are home because they also cannot find a job. The cost of basic food items like eggs, tomatoes and water have increased and people are reduced to buying just the bare necessities. Some people are unable to feed their children, put food in the fridge, or buy clothes and shoes to wear. Electricity is being cut in many homes, and an alarming amount of homes are on the auction block because people cannot afford to pay their loans.

So, in the midst of all of this bad news, in the midst of a stand-still, ineffective Government how can we move forward as a country, for the benefit of ourselves and for the benefit of future generations?

Well, we as Anguillians have to pull together and help each other as much as possible. If our neighbor needs a cup of rice and we have it to give, we must give it. It is good that many Anguillians have taken up agriculture again, planting food for themselves and others which eases our burden a little.

On an island wide level, we have to challenge our Ministers of Government to create a stable investment climate so that investors do not shy away from our shores as a result of what could be viewed as fractured, unstable leadership in our country. Creating a stable environment will not only benefit would-be investors, but would move the country in the right direction. This will assist in more job creation, getting our people back out to work, training our young people to take on positions in the private sector, decreasing the escalating rate of crime and violence and generally getting Anguilla back on the road to the prosperity.

Our Government has congratulated themselves for signing a number of MOUs over the past four years, but how many of these MOUs have translated into actual jobs for Anguillians? How many of these MOUs have translated to putting Anguillians back to work and enabling them to support their families once again?

The question that we must ask ourselves fellow Anguillians is whether our existing AUM Government has the ability to lead us out of the wilderness where we have been for the past four (4) years.

To date, our Government has shown us a lack of transparency, nepotism and cronyism in favouring their family and friends, allegations of corruption, conflict of interest, increase in taxes and lack of good governance, all within a four (4) year period. The 2015 election campaign has already started and our AUM Government is seeking another five (5) years in office, a total of ten (10) years. Are we as Anguillians prepared to accept our fate with a Hubert Hughes dynasty for another five (5) years? This is what we have to consider, as we go into the 2015 General Elections.

It is time that we recognize that there is hope for Anguilla. The last election has taught us that our choices on election day impacts all of us for at least five (5) full years. There is no doubt that the AUM Party has been unable to lead our country forward.

The Anguilla United Front Party, fellow Anguillians, is presenting to you in these 2015 general elections, a team of candidates qualified, ready and prepared to bring Anguilla back from the poor social, economic and financial position that it is in currently. Our AUF Party, with our dynamic mix of experience, qualifications and youth, and under the leadership of the most proficient person to lead Anguilla in these times, Mr. Victor Banks, stands ready to move forward. We are more than capable of charting a new and exciting future for Anguilla.

Stay tuned over the next few months, Fellow Anguillians, as the Anguilla United Front presents to you a party that will lead our country back to prosperity and a leader that will guide us to stability, renewed economic activity and much needed civility.

Thank you, God Bless You and God Bless Anguilla.

Cora Richardson-Hodge
Attorney at Law/Politician

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