31 January, 2007
Why are we not considering a complaints procedure in Anguilla? If we are mistreated by a government department who do we complain to? Can we appeal to anyone if injustice is served out to us by a public servant?
Falkland Islands is doing something about it. See the article in the Falkland Islands News Network. It is a summary of what was discussed in their Executive Council on 29 January 2007. I am reading it today, 30 January. That is the day following their Executive Council meeting!
Why do we not get told even a week later what was discussed in our Executive Council? Why is everything so secret? What are they ashamed about? Why can we not have a little transparency in our government? It is not a legal requirement that Executive Council minutes be kept secret. It is only a bad habit that we have grown accustomed to.
It is not as if we do not have the resources to be more transparent. Our Chief Minister has a Special Assistant PRO, Curtis Richardson. He has also recruited Wycliffe Richardson to hold Curtis’ hand. What are the two of them doing? Why do we not hear from either of them what the government is saying and doing on our behalf?
Then, there is the government website. See if you can find anything interesting on it. It has got to be one of the most boring government websites in the entire West Indies. The Chief Minister could change all that by ordering a summary of every Executive Council meeting to be published on the website immediately after every meeting.
30 January, 2007
Blondell was an unsuccessful candidate in the 1999 elections. She was a candidate for ANA and ran against Victor Banks. She is the Special Assistant in the Ministry of Social Development, whose Minister is Neil Rogers. She has filled that post since the year 1999. The Chief Minister explained her and the other Special Assistant appointments at a press briefing given shortly after the last elections. She occupies an office in a section of the
Prior to getting involved in
29 January, 2007
Donna may be described as the next senior special assistant to Eric Reid. She has played the role longest, having been around since the last administration. She has now been promoted to be a nominated member of the House of Assembly. She is virtually a Senator or member of our House of Lords, so to say.
We saw her performing her dual role recently in the House of Assembly when she chipped in with her views on the subject of Cap Juluca Hotel. She has an office in the Ministry of Finance. She advises the Minister of Tourism, Victor Banks, on tourism and tourist related projects. She is highly trained in tourism marketing and brings this knowledge and experience to government. She carries the ball for Victor with tourism. He cannot be everywhere and do everything his Ministries expect.
With Amelia Vanterpool Kubish as Director of Tourism there is some overlapping of duties.
28 January, 2007
The Government Says.
If you too would like to know every time a
27 January, 2007
Eric Reid OBE.
Eric is called “Senior Adviser to Government”. He retired from active politics at the last general elections for health reasons. He did not stand for election, but when the ruling party was returned to power, he was given this appointment.
He has been given an office next to the Chief Minister, with a direct door giving him instant access at any time. He sits in on every meeting held by the Chief. His main concern appears to be applications for Aliens Landholding Licences. He does many of the interviews that would otherwise be done by the Chief Minister. He also attempts to advise government on matters relating to social development. I am told that his complaint is that they do not listen to him.
He is universally recognised to be a good person to have around. He brings stability to the government, and is a wise and trustworthy gentleman.
25 January, 2007
What Are They?
The Chief Minister has, in the last two administrations, appointed a number of Special Assistants, sometimes called Political Advisers. They assist particular Ministers. Most of them have offices in government buildings. They are not public servants, being political appointees, though they are paid from public funds. They are very powerful, as they have the ear of the minister. They even sit in on Cabinet Meetings chaired by the Chief Minister every Wednesday afternoon. These meetings, among other things, plan strategy for the Executive Council meetings chaired by the Governor on Thursdays.
There are conflicting views on the value of these appointments. There are even more conflicting views on whether these appointments are proper. On the one hand, there are those who argue that they provide vital services to the community. With only four ministers of government, there is a need for them to be supported by persons they can trust politically. On the other hand, there are those who argue that their appointments are questionable. First, some of them are patronage appointments: persons who are not expected to do much, just to be grateful for a warm seat and a safe harbour against the sharp barbs and pricks of the real world. These have no clear duties or responsibilities. They are paid from public funds but do not provide value for money. Second, and this applies to all of them, their roles conflict with that of the public service officials who are paid to advise and help the Ministers. As such, they do more harm than good. Third, it raises suspicions and eyebrows when persons who have served as public servants cannot go home and enjoy retirement. If
Chief Minister Osborne Fleming has given his views on their role and function in an article published in The Anguillian Newspaper on 18 March 2005. The present Special Assistants that I have been able to identify are: Eric Reid OBE, Hon Donna Banks MLA, Blondell Rodgiers, Othlyn Vanterpool, Ashton Bradley, Kenswick Richardson, Curtis Richardson, Marcel Fahie, Claire Wilson and Seymour Hodge. I am going to be considering each of them in a series of posts over the next few days. Let me have your thoughts.
24 January, 2007
Constitutional Reform in the British Overseas Territories.
The following question and answer appeared in Hansard on 9 January. It shows us the state of play of constitutional reform in the
as of January. Of the 12 Territories worldwide, only Anguilla, BVI, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, and British Overseas Territories Montserrat still have to complete their review process. Only Anguilla and the Falkland Islands have not yet begun discussions with the British Government. We are falling behind.
This is what the question and answer looked like: [The illustrations are entirely mine!]
Written answers in Parliament
Tuesday, 9 January2007
British Overseas Territories
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what stage has been reached in proposed constitutional reform in each of the
The present situation in the constitutional review process in each of the Overseas Territories is as follows:
A Constitutional and Electoral Reform Commission was appointed in early 2006. It formally presented draft recommendations in August 2006. It is for the Government of Anguilla to decide on the next stage in the process.
Three rounds of talks were held in 2006 and a proposed final round is planned for February 2007 in
Exploratory talks were held in the
The constitutional review process with
Formal talks were held in
It is likely that a further round of talks will be held in spring 2007, before a proposed final round in
In a consultative poll in May 2005, St. Helenians rejected a draft constitution negotiated between representatives of
The constitutional review process with the
TCFs new constitution came into force on 9 August 2006.
That is the end of the question and answer.
My comment is as follows. The Anguilla Consititutional and Electoral Reform Commission presented its Report and recommendations for amending our Constitution since August 2006. That is six months ago. Since then there has been no discussion by government. It has not come up in Executive Council, that we have heard of. It has not come up in the House of Assembly. What is our government doing about the Report? Having spent the public monies on this exercise, they owe it to us the public to tell us what they are thinking.
23 January, 2007
“What a Crime!”.
When are we going to get serious about crime on this island? Some get involved in criminal activity out of need, others out of greed. Certainly, there should be no “need” on this island at present. We have managed to create more jobs than the number of people available. Criminals involved in stealing should be severely punished for their willfulness.
With respect to other heinous crimes, we have several issues that need to be addressed urgently. Firstly, we have to investigate and identify the causes behind young people turning to violence and crime, and follow up with social reconstruction.
Secondly, there must always be strong deterrent to discourage crime. To begin with, we must strengthen our ability to solve crime and to apprehend the perpetrators. Then, the punishment must be appropriate to the offence. Obviously, we have limited police resources. But, when police turn up two weeks later to investigate a shooting incident, that is also a crime.
When we see our cops so enthusiastic after traffic offenders whilst our criminals are on the loose, enjoying immunity, we are entitled to be concerned. Every effort and resource should be put behind solving our serious crime, eg, murder. If not, we will soon earn the title of being the “place to get away with murder”. We don’t need a “police band”. We can have others do that. We need real cops! We need police who are well trained, and capable of investigating adequately, and of solving crime. They must be committed to this cause, and when they fail, they should be replaced with ones who are committed and capable.
Prevention and solving of crime is not a problem only for the cops. It is a problem that the entire society needs to be involved with. The community’s assurance that there is confidentiality with respect to the reporting of evidence needs to be developed rapidly. Internal investigations to weed out corrupt cops cannot be done soon enough. Our cops should not be allowed to work extra hours outside the force. We should try to occupy them within the force if they deserve extra hours of duty. We have extra work to do! There are a lot of unsolved serious crimes.
We must impose a no-tolerance policy on our foreign criminals. One strike and you’re out. Why do we incarcerate, feed and spend money on foreign criminals in our prisons? They should be charged and deported to their homelands never to return to our shores.
Let us get serious about eradicating this scourge and put the necessary resources into this problem. Enough lip service, time for real action in order to prevent future remarks such as, “What a crime!”
21 January, 2007
I am doing research on the role of the Political Adviser in Anguilla. They are also called Special Assistants. Who are they? What do they do? How much are they paid? How do they interact with the public service? Should they be regulated?
Please do not post your comments on this Blog. Instead, send them to me at the email address at the top of the page. Thank you.
1. Let me thank those who have telephoned with support or have emailed useful suggestions or posted comments.
2. Let me thank especially those who sent supporting evidence.
3. Remember, send copies, keep your originals.
4. Audio files, photos, and Word documents are all useful.
19 January, 2007
This would be all well and good, if we were all paying on a level playing field. When our government gives away our assets of land and tax concessions to billionaire investors, and can in the same breath ask the local people to pay extra for basic needs, then I call, “Foul!”
When the Social Security Scheme takes away 5% of the workers’ salaries, and has enough money to spend on basketball courts, money to send people overseas to watch cricket, and money to support many other frivolous activities, while there are no health benefits attached to the Scheme and only 60% employment benefit, then again I call, “Foul!”
If there is enough money in the Scheme to support all of these non-health issues, I think the Scheme needs to be re-engineered to ensure that the contributors benefit maximally, before the Board of Directors can have access to dispose of the workers’ hard-earned monies for frivolous activities.
These excess funds should be channeled into the National Health Fund.
This should be done before we are asked to pay more. The investors that are creating job-demands that outstrip our local population should be made to pay their own way! That is, not only should they be made to pay to secure the health needs of all the imported workers for their projects, but, they should pay customs duties like all other local businesses, rather than we the locals be made to pay our way and theirs as well. If they are made to pay for public lands given to them, even 50% of what they are getting for those lands from their customers, then there would be lots more money available for the National Health Fund.
So, when our government ministers could preside over the systematic divestment of the island’s land resources and tax assets, and Social Security could spend our precious funds on non-health issues, and our ministers still have the nerve to announce in the House of Assembly that we must pay our way, then I have no choice but to cry, “Foul!”
17 January, 2007
I was trolling through Hansard this morning and came across a question in Parliament asked of the Secretary of State. The question was what Orders in Council he planned to bring forward during 2007, and if he would specify the purpose and the overseas territory concerned in each case.
To my astonishment, Geoff Hoon, the Minister of State Europe, Foreign & Commonwealth Office replied in writing yesterday as follows. “There is no annual calendar of planned Orders in Council for the
I had no idea we had asked for any constitutional amendments to deal with the police. No constitutional amendments have been publicly discussed. None of our Ministers has mentioned the word “police” in public for years. The Governor is the minister for the police. He has not mentioned once in public in recent years any need to amend the Constitution to deal with the police. It would be fair to say that the Anguillian public has no knowledge of any proposal to amend the Constitution to deal with the police or any other matter. There was a mention in the Gazette recently of a proposal to create a Police Service Commission. But, we have no idea what amendments are now being proposed for our Constitution.
The Constitutional and Electoral Reform Commission has made several recommendations for constitutional amendments concerning the police. See in particular, paragraphs 60-63 of the Report presented to government on 25 August 2006. One of these recommendations is for a Police Service Commission. The Constitutional Commissioners were quite specific about the type of Police Service Commission that was desirable for
Are the proposed amendments consistent with the proposals made by the Anguillian public through the recommendations of the Commission? Are they in conflict with the recommendations? What is the exact wording of the proposed amendments? Does anyone know what the proposed amendments are? Am I the only one being kept in the dark, and this is something everyone else knows about?
If I am wrong, will someone please let me know.
And, I give notice that if the proposed amendment is not consistent with the wishes of the Anguillian public, as expressed in the Report of the Commissioners, I shall campaign relentlessly against it. When it is passed as an Order in Council, I shall argue that it is unconstitutional and illegal, and unenforceable. I shall urge that no Anguillian should be so traitorous as to agree to serve on it. I will change my mind only if I can be persuaded that the amendment has in fact been subject to thorough public scrutiny and discussion prior to its being brought into effect. That is the only way that our Constitution can be validly amended.
16 January, 2007
The cost of corruption
By Dennis Chung
Friday, December 29, 2006
On Christmas Eve, Sunday, December 24th, the Gleaner published an article confirming what many of us have known for a long time. The report, entitled "Confession of a corrupt cop", told of the ways the police corruptly made money by protecting criminals and making evidence disappear.
It went on to speak about the silent code of not informing on a colleague, as this is seen as support. In my mind this is no different from the same "informer culture" that the police so publicly chastise inner-city citizens about, and in the latter case it is more a means of survival rather than protecting wrongdoing.
The 2006 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index showed
Many commentators have been saying for sometime that corruption in the police force, and the political support given to it by way of denial over the years, is a fundamental reason why
The fact is that if one were doing business in the war-torn area of the
This is one of the primary reasons why I have always said that
When a politician awards a contract because of political affiliation it means that the best person may not get the contract, and because it is not awarded on a competitive bid then what results is mediocre work. The contractor knows that irrespective of the quality of the work performed that he/she will still be paid, and more often than not the price escalates.
When a police officer turns his back when confronted with an illegal situation it creates an unfair competitive advantage for the criminal whose only purpose of starting a business is to launder money, rather than create a productive organisation. When a member of parliament wins an election because his/her cronies stuff ballot boxes, it means that there is no drive to improve people's lives, as whether people vote or not then he/she will be returned to power.
These examples illustrate clearly that corruption has a significant cost as it prevents markets from working in an efficient manner, and this in turn makes countries uncompetitive. It is this sort of culture that kills entrepreneurialism more than anything else.
Need for rules
In order for companies or countries to grow, there need to be rules or processes by which they act. For example, at one extreme if there was no justice system then what results is anarchy. In this case, if someone has a commercial dispute, then instead of resolving it in the courts they may seek to do so by strong-arm tactics and what's worse is that the winner may be the incorrect one.
If a company does not have guidelines for how they invest, then investments could happen because of friendship or the emotional decision of one person. In both cases, we see that the most efficient solution would not be arrived at, resulting in a corrupt business environment in the first case and possibly significant losses in the latter.
Similarly, corruption has the effect of removing predictability from business decisions. We have, for example, heard of the high cost of doing business in
Whatever we may say about the
Companies also compromise their development in this way. The administrative assistant who knows how to befriend the boss, or the person who runs personal errands, ends up getting the promotion and the most favour.
This sort of behaviour makes a company inefficient, uncompetitive, and only with luck will it survive at the bottom of the food chain. If we look at multinationals, or companies that remain on top for the long term, what they do is establish rules of performance and a system of accountability. Without this, companies such as Wal-Mart, Microsoft, IBM, and even our very own GraceKennedy could not remain at the top. On the other hand, companies such as ENRON and WorldCom sought to bend the rules and we all know what happened.
This "Confession of a corrupt cop" should therefore not be glossed over. This is at the heart of our economic and social issues and needs to be given the prominence it deserves. Unless we solve this issue of corruption in the police force then we will not be able to see the type of reduction in crime levels that we so desperately need, and the cost to
15 January, 2007
Accommodation tax is the bed tax paid by all hotel guests in Anguilla. It is presently the subject of much discussion in the tourist industry. Some argue that it is unfair. Others that it is unevenly imposed. Supposedly, some of the tourism resorts do not pay their fair share. Some renters do not collect the tax. Others collect it but do not pay it over to the Inland Revenue. Perhaps even more controversial is the marketing levy recently imposed on all hotel guests. We will look at that at another time when I have more information.
I am presently doing research on the state of the Accommodation Tax in Anguilla. Is it a fair tax? Is it evenly imposed? Is it paid by the hotels to government on time and without cheating? Is there any enforcement of its collection? Are the penalties for defaulters imposed by the statutes ever enforced? I would like to hear from you if you have any information or views.
Please do not post your responses as comments to this Blog. Instead, email them to me at the above email address.
14 January, 2007
“Public Debt”. Our local banks seem not to be in tune with what’s going to be important to our local indigenous people with respect to long-term financial survival and viability. Their main focus seems to be more putting cars on the roads and into the hands of some who don’t really need them. And in addition there are quite a few who can’t really afford to have these vehicles. All told, this is not an asset that our people are being encouraged to invest in, but rather a liability. In addition, now with the Christmas Season, we are also being encouraged to spend on consumer goods, most of which are not necessities, but wants. In my opinion, it would be much more important for the locals to invest in real estate: complete unfinished houses; build-out upstairs on existing flat roofs; build bungalows; invest in affordable land for future development. Presently, there is a housing shortage, and we should be making efforts to rectify and take advantage of this potential. The country’s real estate assets are being rapidly sold and given away to expatriate companies, and we are in danger of losing that all-time important fundamental, ie, owing our land and country. It is of paramount importance that we make every effort to retain as much land assets as possible, and to maximize the potential of our real estate assets.
Our local banks should be giving special attention to the promotion of real estate investments and borrowing. Real assets for local people, not further burdens and liabilities. Our governments have all failed in promoting local interests. They have missed the boat big-time. They have failed to foresee today when we are short of houses for expatriate workers. They have failed to encourage local investment in real estate. They have not supported the concept of maximizing the potential of our real estate assets while at the same time retaining them for future generations, eg, by leasing as opposed to selling.
The long-term viability of our local banks will depend on the solvency of the local customers and shareholders. The banking authorities should be mindful not to encourage short-term and easy gains by putting people in financial jeopardy, and losing out in the long term by creating a large pool of bankrupt customers.
Presently, our banks are not in tune with what’s important to us in the long term, and therefore I think we should “Dial again!”