22 June, 2009


Government announces civil service salary cuts as part of austerity measures. This circular letter from the Department of Public Administration to all public servants has just been sent to me for comment. I have not checked with anyone to make sure it is authentic. I take it on trust as the source is dependable. I have read it.

Department of Public Administration

The James Ronald Webster Building

The Valley

REF: EST/5/10


TO: Permanent Secretaries

Hon. Attorney General

Department Heads

All Public Officers

H E, The Governor (for information)

Ministers of Government (for information)


Anguilla and by extension the Budget of the Government of Anguilla continue to be impacted by the sharp slow down in global economic activity. The Government of Anguilla has been adopting certain austerity measures in response to the global financial crisis. The current difficulty being experienced in meeting monthly expenditure has necessitated further austerity measures by Government.

On Wednesday June 3, 2009 Executive Council agreed to the following for a period of six months in the first instance, effective July 1, 2009, to sharply reduce expenditure:-

(i) the figures for travel allowance categories A to E will be as follows:-

($225.00, $175.00, $125.00, $75.00, $62.50 respectively);

Council further agreed that travel allowance categories should be continuously reviewed to ensure that officers are placed in the correct categories.

(ii) telephone allowance will remain at the current reduced level;

(iii) salary payments be reduced by the amounts set out below:-

a) Hon Deputy Governor, Hon Attorney

General and Public Officers in grades A-F - 10%

Public Officers in grades G-M - 5%

Public Officers in grades A-F who did not receive the 25% salary increase in September 2008 should have the increase actually received reduced using the following formula to determine the percentage reduction (10 ÷ 25 x % increase in salary actually received in September 2008 = % amount current salary to be reduced by). This is proposed exceptionally on moral grounds particularly as persons would have made financial commitments based on their prior salary. This exception must not be construed as giving affected persons any rights or benefits that they would not have otherwise accrued.

b) All elected Members of HoA - 15% (of ministerial and HoA allowances)

Speaker and Nominated Members - 5%

Special Assistants/Advisers/

Specialist Worker - 10%

Wage Workers - 5%

(iv) pensioners will not be affected by any reductions;

(v) officers retiring during the temporary salary suspension period will be afforded their retirement benefits (gratuity and pension) based on their current salary and not at the reduced salary;

(vi) all officers including “contract” officers will be subject to the temporary suspension of benefits;

(vii) the GoA will communicate with financial institutions to request that civil servants who require their loans to be refinanced be granted that service at no cost;

Council noted that the GoA cannot commit to giving back the suspended funds at this time but undertakes that if the situation changes positively and significantly, consideration will be given to either partial or full reimbursement of the suspended funds.

Public Administration acknowledges the historic nature of these measures and the personal sacrifice officers will be required to make. However, it is hoped that public officers will recognize the seriousness of the situation and understand that the measures being instituted come after considerable deliberation.

Public Administration continues to urge officers, especially at this time, to remain vigilant in the collection of government revenues, be professional in the performance of designated duties and practice sound work ethics.


Lana Horsford-Harrigan

Director Human Resource Management

Public Administration

Copy – Honourable Deputy Governor

Here are my comments.

First, let me say that everyone in Anguilla would expect that in time of financial crisis and falling revenue deep cuts must be made, including cuts in salaries and allowances. But, it is elementary that such cuts can only to be made by consent, not by force.

The memorandum makes it clear, if only by inference, that the proposed reduction was determined on by the Executive Council without discussion with either the public service or their representatives. There is no question of seeking to obtain the consent of the civil servants whose salaries will be affected. They are being told of a decision that has been made. The decision is “effective July 1”, by which I understand that salaries will be cut from July 2009. The lack of consultation and the failure even to try to secure prior agreement is unbelievably inconsiderate and unacceptable if true. Tell me which employer in Anguilla could get away with informing his employees, without any prior discussion, that their salaries were about to be cut?

The third paragraph from the bottom, with the words “commit to giving back the suspended funds”, etc, makes it clear that the Executive Council believes that it has the right to take away the proposed salary cuts permanently. This is not guaranteed to be a temporary suspension, it is to be a possibly permanent cut in salary. That is contrary to section 7 of the Constitution of Anguilla. This letter infringes the “property rights” section of the Constitution, and as such is illegal.

One thing that is guaranteed to get me really vexed is when I see government not bothering to take legal advice on a matter of great importance and obvious contention such as this. This proposal is the wholesale cutting of salaries. That is a matter of great importance of obvious contention. There are civil servants who are already living at the limit of their means. There are house mortgages, car loans, university loans, vacation loans, and personal loans for furniture, all expected to be paid on time. Any reduction will call for civil servants to have to begin negotiations with creditors and other persons to whom there are obligations.

That is why I would contend that no competent department of public administration could possibly have circulated this memorandum without first having sought legal advice. And, I would go further and state that no lawyer in a West Indian Attorney-General’s Chambers could possibly have o-kayed it. Both contentions cannot be right. One must be wrong. The conclusion is that either the department took a risk, or the A-G’s Chambers was careless.

I know it is a long time ago, but government must retain files. About the year 1982 Verna Fahie was a young civil servant. She was sent by government on a Canadian scholarship to Barbados. After about a year, government wrote her a letter. They had just realized that she was getting a stipend from the Canadians. That was in addition to her Anguilla public service salary. That was considered too good for her. She was informed that after she came back to Anguilla they would begin deducting her salary until she had paid back the government of Anguilla the amount of the Canadian stipend. She protested that they were the ones that had organized the scholarship, and they should have known about the stipend from the beginning. She did not agree to any deduction from her salary. They went ahead and made the deductions anyway. She took the matter to the High Court. The judge’s decision was that salary is property as much as land is. Just as government is not allowed to confiscate your land without payment of full compensation, so they are not allowed to confiscate any part of your salary. They had to pay her back the salary that had been cut and pay her legal costs as well.

In what way is the proposed new cut any different from what was done to Verna Fahie?

Come on, public admin, get their consent first.


  1. This letter comes from Public Administration, but when there has been a salary increase, the letter came from the Executive Council, as reported in The Anguillian last year:

  2. While this move is arguably necessary and justified, the way our elected leaders have handled this is cowardly and dishonest. Real men don't hold up a woman in front of them to take the fire.

  3. why don't they just send the special assistants home for the six months. That should cover a fair amount of the teacher's salaries. I would expect they could then re-assign their staff or send them home too. I have never seen a report or anything else for that matter. What do these people do all day? Maybe the special assistants could cover for teachers when they are out or hold detention for the students. or patrol the grounds or RWP. I am sure there is lots of work for them at the schools. Especially in large classes, or in the classes with SEN students who really need an assistant to help them get through the class.

  4. Less revenue equals less spending.
    Government salaries had to be reduced as part of cost cutting. All over the world salaries are being reduced or eliminated in some instances, States and countries are going broke, banks are failing, unemployment is rising etc, etc. Thank goodness that so far it is only a small reduction in salaries for our government employees and so far no firings.

  5. I would guess the silence of the public service can be construed as its consent to the proposed cuts.

  6. Perhaps the GOA could do as British Airways have done and ask the GOA employees to work without pay for one month to help the GOA to survive. I wonder how many of them would be willing to sacrifice a months pay?

  7. Don, while this could possibly have been handled differently, why can't an employer (GOA) cut salaries for FUTURE work for non-contract employees? It does not seem the same to me at all as the Verna Fahie example you used (which involved changing the terms retroactively and unilaterally taking from her salary without adjudication). Cutting future salaries or hourly pay rates is done all the time by employers if financial conditions necessitate. An employee can always leave and try to find another job if they don't find the reduced salary acceptable.

    In this case, the cuts will not be imposed until July 1, 2009 and will apply to work done after that date. Nobody is confiscating anything!

    Infringes on property rights? Give us a break - I'm not an attorney, but I think your so-called legal analysis was WAY off base.

  8. The GOA should consider early retirement packages for persons who have contributed at least twenty five years to the service. A number of these positions could where necessary be made redundant thus relieving the tax payers of this additional burden of paying these exorbiant salaries. The public service should definitely be downsized.

  9. Cutting the gov't workforce is always a catch-22, whether in personnel elimination or per capita payroll reduction. Take the U.S. for example. If the current administration decides to cut the military budget in half (more than many countries GDP), hundreds of thousands of people are immediately without jobs. In my opinion, it is a necessary action that needs to be looked into. In the aftermath however, where do all those that formerly held cushy (read do-little) jobs go for employment? Oh yeah, on the dole. Save here, pay there. - Scotty

  10. "Anonymous at 8:42a.m"

    You are quite wrong, and Mr. Mitchell is quite right with respect to the Section 7 property issue.

    Some alert Public Servant will soon go seek Legal Advice from a competent Lawyer, and the proverbial Cat will be set amongst the pigeons.

    Tjhe fundamental principle which Mr. Mitchell advocates in order that the cut-backs are lawful, is consultation. This action on the part of the Government is arbitrary and unilateral.

    They have presented no factual grid upon which the cuts are based. Who is to say that the relative percentages are equitable, or indeed necessary?

    There is more to this than is yet in the Public domain: the Health Authority "Brass" have informed workers that they the workers will be cut 8% effective August 1, while the management will be cut only 5%, as "Managers need incentives so we had to cut them less..". This a decision by the very "Management and Managers".
    They, the "management", also removed the travelling allowance for travelling employees. These are people who use their personal vehicles at their expense to do their daily jobs, like going out into the districts to visit and tend to elderly and other immobile ill patients. What happens as of August 1st.? Are those employees expected to use their personal vehicles at their own expense to do so, especially in the face of the additional loss of 8% of their regular salary? I suspect that there will be no more travelling by these officers come August 1st.

    The Government have put themselves into a bind.

  11. It is quite obvious to me that he who giveth can take away as well. This has only jut started, wait until the next pay cut or redundancies begin. Why don't the government employees make some suggestions on how to reduce expenditure, i am sure they see waste first hand and could really come up with some cost cutting ideas.

  12. "Jobs" are not property. They are contracts. Contracts can be negotiated, re-negotiated -- and broken. It happens in business all the time.

    In finance ("economics" being finance with a force-monopolist's gun to its head...) there is only wealth and income. All the rest is inane cargo-cult political pandering.

    Thinking about "jobs" as if they were tangible assets, much less tangible assets in permanently fixed supply, takes speciousness and double-talk to exoatmospheric heights of gall.

    Finally, incessant statist yammering about "public" sector "jobs" is where financial logic does indeed go to die. Every "job" in the "public" sector takes the confiscated wealth and income of seven or eight people engaged in profitable commerce to support it. (You do the math: divide the payroll cost of the average business by the cumulative governmental impact on that business' net income.)

    Fatal parasitism is the closest approximation to what will happen to the Anguillian business climate if its government doesn't retrench, and immediately.

    "A 'prince' is a bandit who doesn't move." -- Mancur Olsen, 'Power and Prosperity'

    "Princes, like fleas and camels, are everywhere." -- Persian Proverb

  13. That musing was a Pulitzer worthy rampage! Don's blog attract's many intelligent persons, and you are no exception sir/maam. - Scotty

  14. >a Pulitzer worthy rampage

    We endeavour to give satisfaction. :-)


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.