A sad day for the British Overseas Territories. It is a sad day for all of us when the
The Minister wrote in part:
I wish to inform the House that on 16 March 2009 the Governor of the
The Commissioner states that the written information obtained in the first six months of the Commission’s inquiries, when coupled with the evidence in the public hearings in TCI earlier this year, have provided information in abundance pointing to a high probability of systemic corruption or serious dishonesty. In his view this, together with “clear signs of political amorality and immaturity and of general administrative incompetence, have demonstrated a need for urgent suspension in whole or in part of the constitution and for other legislative and administrative reforms”, and change in other related matters.
In light of the accumulation of evidence in relation to TCI in the last year or so, and fortified by the Commissioner’s interim report, the Government have formed the view that parts of the constitution will need to be suspended and have decided to take steps to enable it to do so. I am today making available on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website a draft Order in Council prepared by the FCO which would suspend parts of the constitution, including those relating to ministerial Government and the House of Assembly, initially for two years, although this period could be extended or shortened. The draft order will be submitted to Her Majesty in Council at a meeting on 18 March. If made, the order will be laid before Parliament on 25 March. Unless the Commissioner’s final report significantly changes our current assessment of the situation, the order will be brought into force after the final report is received. However, the order could be brought into force sooner if circumstances arose in the territory prior to that date which justified suspending relevant parts of the constitution. This intervention is for an interim period only.
What is it, by comparison, if our Ministers occasionally overrule the Planning Department and permit a favoured individual to build a restaurant or a beach bar on the public beach? They overrule the Planning Department for favourites in much more fundamental ways every week. They call it “being sensitive to the needs of the poor Anguillians”, and they get away with it in the eyes of trusting and gullible Anguillians.
What if the Minister is charmed by the young, attractive Dominicana into writing a personal letter addressed to one of the more vulnerable restaurateurs on the island, requesting him to give her a job without the work permit she so obviously requires? That is the Minister being sympathetic to the needs of poor Anguillians, isn’t it? Although, as one restaurant owner complained to me, “Why is it he never sends me young men, only young girls?” Anyway, as one Immigration official told me, “We stopped him doing that.”
What if the Ministers pad out the Boards of statutory corporations with political supporters and hangers on? They all need a job, don’t they? This is being sensitive to the needs of poor Anguillians. As if turning the Board of the Health Authority of Anguilla into a virtual sub-committee of the local Masonic Lodge is somehow a shining example of transparency and accountability! In my opinion, it is exactly the opposite to being sensitive to the needs of poor Anguillians.
So what if there is no binding Code of Conduct for Ministers. They had one in the TCI, and, as it was purely voluntary, it did not help one bit.
So what if we in
So what if the Chief Auditor has given our public accounts a failing grade year after year? Not even the Opposition in the House of Assembly has ever asked a single question about the misspending revealed.
Inappropriate interference in and by-passing of statutory regulatory bodies has, over the years, become the norm. The granting of exemptions, waivers and discounts in the areas of aliens landholding licence fees, customs duties, Environmental Impact Assessments, permanent residence certificates, and belongerships, are counted by all politicians in Anguilla as essential perquisites of power. The unconstrained freedom, without reference to any principle or policy, to decide when to grant and when to revoke work permits, licences, public works contracts, and franchises and monopoly concessions, adds the icing to the cake. As my Dominican friend likes to tell me, “In Anguilla, once you have the right godfather, you can do anything.”
No party when in opposition wants to change the political culture. They only want to be the ones enjoying the privileges and perks of power. No one cares that all this is equally evidence of our political amorality and immaturity, and of our general administrative incompetence.
So long as our people permit our leaders to continue to exercise power over us, with no checks or balances other than the vote every five years, things can only go from bad to worse.