Biodiversity and Heritage Conservation. Now, I hear that a new Biodiversity and Heritage Conservation Act is in circulation. A new
It seems that the two of them will be bundled together and submitted to the House of Assembly by the end of September and enacted into law later this year.
As a package, they will give sweeping powers and responsibilities to the government's Department of the Environment.
We want to know, will the many valuable heritage possessions presently in private ownership be given over to this Department?
Will private museums, and efforts by civil society to promote heritage and culture, be made redundant?
Will government now do it all for us? And, we know how efficient and reliable government services are.
Is it true that the Anguilla National Trust Council will be severely truncated? Is it the plan to remove the Anguilla Archaeological and Historical Society from representation on the Council?
It is difficult for us in
We do not have a Freedom of Information Act.
We do not have questions raised in parliament.
Other than the Dolphin case, we do not have public interest litigation.
We do not have transparent procurement practices in the public service.
We do not ask government to make available to us, the public, technical studies paid for by taxpayers.
We do not have committees of parliament investigating any issue.
We do not have commissions of inquiry.
We do not ask government to reveal how much public money is spent on fees for professional services.
Our voices are not raised against the curtailment of the people's right to information on how our money is being spent.
There is no wind of change blowing through the country.
National consciousness is not awakening. Civil society has not woken up from its slumbering.
There are no voices being raised in protest over any matter.
All this, just in comparison with the previous post on
I have tried to get copies of the above Bills. I have been rebuffed. It seems that they are secret state papers. I may even have their titles incorrect. Only government favourites have access to this type of information. No independent voices are welcome in official circles. Only after government has discussed the Bills, and made their minds up about what exactly they will pass into law, will the drafts be shown to us for comment. What use is it to invite public comment when the officials have already made their minds up?
I am the secretary of the Anguilla Archaeological and Historical Society. Do you think that, just maybe, the Society might want to see a copy of what will seriously affect them? And, just maybe, give some useful input? Might we not have a claim, even, to be entitled?
No wonder no one responds to invitations to comment on draft legislation, except to occasionally explode into public protest, as happened recently with the Planning Bill and the Labour Bill.
The whole process of policy development and legislation in