26 February, 2008


Master Plan for New Government of Anguilla Building. Like most of us in Anguilla I read with interest in this week’s Anguillian Newspaper of the consultative meeting that was held on 19 February. It discussed the planned new state-of-the-art government building. The meeting was led by architect Mark Raymond of Trinidad. The report is that the meeting involved six consultants and many heads of department and other senior public servants. Mr Raymond advised that there are four planned stages. The first is the consultation, which was the meeting in question. The second was an appraisal of the project and collection of information. The third will be a schematic presentation of options. The fourth will be the actual design work. You will notice that there was no mention of procurement of goods and services or of the construction itself. Yet, that is where most of our concerns lie. We are going to be spending a lot of money in the coming years on infrastructure development. This new building is not the biggest of government’s planned projects. The others include the new terminal and multi-purpose building at Blowing Point Harbour, the new road for the Valley, and the deep water harbour at Corito.

I was reading a speech of 15 February given by another Trinidadian. He is Victor Hart. Mr Hart is the Chairman of T&T’s Transparency International. His speech was to the Institute of Structural Engineers.

Mr Hart reminded the assembled engineers that procurement means the acquisition of goods and services. On construction projects it covers the entire process from needs assessment through the project preparation, design, budgeting, tender invitation, award of contracts, and execution of the contracts. We live in a time when coping with corruption is high on the agenda of all countries. It is therefore important that we take the opportunity to discuss transparency and accountability in procurement.

Much of Anguilla’s annual budget is spent through the construction industry. Our money goes on developing infrastructure, repairs and maintenance, in schools and hospitals, clinics and offices. Procurement offers the most attractive opportunities to those who wish to corrupt the process and illegally enrich themselves.

He reminded us that corruption damages our country by causing the undertaking of projects which are unnecessary, unreliable, dangerous and over-priced. This can lead to loss of life, misuse of funds, and resultant poverty, economic damage, and underdevelopment.

Corruption damages companies. It results in uncertainty and wasted tendering expenses. It increases project costs. It reduces project opportunities. It causes extortion and blackmail. It contributes to money laundering. It can result in criminal prosecutions, fines, blacklisting, reputation risk, and resultant job losses.

It damages individuals. It causes reduced morale, induces a sense of hopelessness in industry professionals. These face criminal prosecution, fines and imprisonment.

Transparency and accountability are the main antidotes for corruption. It takes our architects, engineers, quantity surveyors, building, plumbing and electrical contractors, and related professionals becoming conscious of the problem. We need them to come together to join the fight against corruption. As Mr Hart points out, the advantage for them is that they will not spend time dealing with the consequences of a playing field that is not level because of corruption in the procurement process. The result will be increased peace of mind, job satisfaction, and levels of productivity and profitability.

The building sector in Anguilla is essentially lawless and unregulated. The Building Code is a long-standing joke. It exists only in the minds of shameless members of the Building Board. There are no published standards or regulations. As with Barbados, the Code is applied depending on the whim of whichever functionary you are dealing with. My fear is that it might come to be so, also, with public procurement.

I trust that we are going to hear next of steps being taken to ensure that the procurement process for the new government building will be more transparent than it was in the airport extension project two years ago. From all reports, there are still unanswered questions connected with that project.


  1. Most excellent summation of what can happen when the foxes run the chicken coop.
    In Puerto Rico, the government procurement practices were run by a small, competent, dedicated group of public servants. Increasingly, it has changed to a large, uncoordinated, barely competent group of clock-punchers.
    Q-How can Anguilla avoid the pitfalls other countries have experienced?
    A-By establishing

    1- a public ethics law whereby public servants beyond a certain pay level must be bonded to try to insure their honesty. Best to have a review panel but not a permanent dept to administer transgressions.
    2- a proportionality rule whereby the number of gov't employees is limited (in P.R. one out of every 4 employed persons works directly for the gov't or a gov't agency)
    3- procurement regulations to include:
    1) publishing new bids every Monday morning on the internet,
    2) allowing off-island bidders, but giving locally-owned contractors a 10% (for comparative purposes only) advantage
    3) not allowing any closed bids, only required assistence in pre-bids to qualify
    4) qualifying bidders via a non-restrictive process, bid and performance bonds
    5) after any bidder is awarded a bid but renders unsatisfactory material or workmanship, applying a reasonable penalty and/or disqualifying the bidder from participating in future bids

    This is illustrative but not exhaustive.

  2. In your latest electronic missive, entitled Procurement, I read with some surprise the following:

    "The Building Code is a long-standing joke. It exists only in the minds of shameless members of the Building Board. There are no published standards or regulations."

    While I would agree that it is a long-standing joke, in that there is no enforcement of such a code, there is in fact an Anguilla Building Code. It is dated 24 June 2002. It describes itself as "Prepared by the Ministry of Infrastructure with the assistance of Alwyn T Wason, P.Eng". I was told I had to comply with it. Did you not know about this?

  3. Yes, I am familiar with the Building Code. Let us look at what it really is.

    There is a Building Act of Anguilla. It is cited as “The Building Act RSA c B65”. The section of the Act that enables a Building Code to be made is section 9. Section 9 says, “the Governor in Council may make regulations with regard to - . . . the construction, siting, layout, design, drainage, sanitation, and removal of buildings . . .” For a Building Code to be made it must comply with section 9, ie, be made by ExCo.

    There are present published Building Regulations made by ExCo. These Regulations are to be found in a ten page document. It is published in the Laws of Anguilla as the “Building Regulations R.R.A. B65-2”. That is the only legal Building Code in Anguilla. No one in authority will show it to you. When you read it, you realise how inadequate it is. That is why the 300-plus page Building Code that you are referring to was created. It is a proper Building Code. It was meant to replace the existing Building Regulations. For some reason, the government has not been able to agree on this new Building Code, the one you are referring to. So, it has never been made into law. To be made into law, it would have to be approved by “the Governor in Council” as we saw above in section 9. This has never been done.

    Once the draft Building Code is approved by ExCo, that still does not make it the law. To become a part of the law, it has to comply with the provisions of the Interpretation and General Clauses Act RSA c I25. This Act provides, at section 23, that generally speaking, the Code only comes into effect on the day it is published in the Official Gazette.

    So, to summarize, the draft Building Code that is sometimes referred to by various persons in the Ministry of Infrastructure, is not part of the law of Anguilla. One, it is only a draft. Two, it has not been approved by ExCo. Three, it has not been published in the Gazette. It is a purely imaginary regulation. In my opinion, its enforcement selectively, against persons who cannot stand up and defend themselves, while others are allowed to flout all its provisions, constitutes an abuse of process of the most egregious kind.


  4. I second the above mentioned and endorsed every word said thereof.

  5. A sounding reminder that where normally a picture says a thousand words; in law, a thousand words gives one picture.

  6. In Anguilla anything do, It is such a shame to see how some Anguillians have turned out to be. What is happening in this country.Everything is falling apart. From the civil service to every other aspect. The servants goes to work when they want, you can scarcely go to a government office and get servic spot on at 8am, long after servants strolling in with no hurr either but as though th customer is a bother.

  7. Mr Mitchell you are the only other forum, I turn to daily to see what ideas comes to the table, what I appreciate about this forum is the research and even if something was not clear and it was brough to your attentio, you readily let the people know the latter.

    Thanks Don, I know it must be difficult for you, because some people do not like openness and transparency.

  8. Anguillla and Anguillians should be actively involved in trying to better its state of affairs but instead it seems as if they are hell bent on destroying everything. Why we are so afraid to fight against curropt officials and practices is beyond me. Strict policies and strict adherence to them is the only way forward. Our people are too complacent and forgiving and as such are allowing the slow deterioration of our core values. Where are our social activist and propondents for justice, transparency and freedom? Who among us is willing to take up the mantle and lead us into the future with purpose.Where is our Barack Obama? Are there none in our midst capable and willing to take the helm? We are like a ship without a capable captain to guide us. Everyone has comments and objection but there is no oneness of purpose to rally behind those with new views and visions. New leadership allows the influx of fresh thinking which in turn bring new ideas to the political arena. We still have time to scrutinize the policies, statutes, and programms of other countries around us and create a roboust working model where we take only the benificial and positive pieces from their systems and customize it to suit our situation.

    However, before this can come about we need to educate the population about the pros and cons of such an undertaking. It is only with proper education can we achieve these objectives.


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