29 September, 2009


I heard a lie on the Chief Minister’s press conference today.  He said that the only way our two local banks can compete on the regional scene is if they amalgamate.  The local banks he was talking about are the National Bank of Anguilla and the Caribbean Commercial Bank.  The suggestion from the Hon Chief Minister (and, by the way, active Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Caribbean Commercial Bank) was that there is a need for the NBA and the CCB to come together.  We should get rid of the NBA and CCB as separate entities.  Somehow, this coming together of these two sprats will make them big mackerels and more capable of resisting the present financial crisis. 

In my opinion, there is nothing that is further from the truth.  Would our two small fry together be bigger than the American giants that failed and went bankrupt this year?  Absolutely not!  Size is no guarantee.  Competition and carefulness wins out every day.  The integrity and caution of the Boards in dealing with all the wonderful-sounding applications coming forward from the loans committees was what counted.  I want to know, what is the Chief Minister/Chairman of the Board hiding from us ignorant little people?

What we know for certain is that the CCB and the NBA working separately over the past 25 years have done wonders for the Anguillian people.  Competition has been good for the Anguillian consumer.  We have done well having these two banks competing with each other.  The consumers have been the ones to benefit.  That is you and me.  The two banks themselves have stayed lean and mean.  That was good for their shareholders.

Have you travelled by air recently?  Since Stanford’s airline went under and was bought by LIAT?  Service by the remaining monopoly provider sucks.  Prices have risen astronomically, and service has dropped precipitately.  There is no doubt that the absence of competition in the local airline service has been hard on the consumer, that is, you and me.  It will always be the same whatever the service industry.

God help us all in Anguilla if NBA and CCB should amalgamate.  The consumer, ie, you and me, will be the victim.  We will be at the mercy of avaricious, dangerous monopoly.  The shareholders of the strong will buy out the losses of the weak.  Naught times one always equals naught.

I kid you not!

Is the truth that one of the two local banks made too many bad loans?  Is one of them about to go under?  Well, so be it.  What is left after the bankruptcy will have to be bought out by someone.  Fire the Chairman and the Board of Directors of the bankrupt company.  But, no amalgamation between a failed bank and a successful one should be allowed while pretending it is a joining of equals, please.  Just my opinion.


At last, there is an explanation for why Anguillians are so ornery!  Anyone interested in Anguilla’s history for this or any other reason may access the 18-chapter “Anguilla from the Archives” at “Selected Readings” on the Anguilla Archaeological and Historical Society website: http://www.aahsanguilla.com/readings.html

It is one observer’s view on the subject of why Anguillians are the way they are.

Comments welcome.

The definitive history is yet to be written.

27 September, 2009

Income Tax

The Foreign Office is reportedly demanding that Cayman Islands and Anguilla impose

income tax on its citizens in return for permission to increase borrowing to meet October’s public service salaries.  I was interested when a correspondent sent me a link to a recent Guardian Newspaper article by Nick Mathiason.  He reports that the income tax stand-off is the main stumbling block in the way of both island-countries being granted permission to borrow.  And, borrow they must if public service salaries are to be paid in October.  The Treasury coffers are empty.  In the case of Cayman Islands, public school-building projects are already being shut down for lack of payment for work done.  Anguilla cannot be far behind in defaulting on obligations to contractors and other creditors. 

The British are apparently playing hard-ball and refusing permission to borrow unless income tax is introduced.  I say ‘apparently’ because our government has kept us completely in the dark as to the details of the negotiations with the FCO, and the reason for lack of any sign of progress to date.  We do not know what conditions the British have laid down to agree to more borrowing by the Government of Anguilla.

I well recall that in the year 1978 the GoA was studying options for increasing employment opportunities and revenue streams.  The then Chief Minister set up a small committee to consider the international financial services industry.  The committee strongly recommended that government should support the development of the industry. 

Government was also at the time studying the option of income tax.  That option was rejected.  Instead, that same year, the Income Tax Act which had lain dormant since the Anguilla Revolution of 1967 was amended by an Act of the House of Assembly to permanently suspend the collection of income tax in Anguilla.  I seem to recall that the Income Tax Act was subsequently repealed, though don’t quote me on that.

The economics were simple to work out.  With a population of some 6,000 persons, there were at that time probably a total of 1,000 employees on the island.  Most of them were government public servants.  It did not make sense to set up a government Income Tax Department to collect income taxes from mainly government workers.  That would be like taking money from one pocket to put it in another.

Government at that time made a deliberate decision instead to impose indirect taxes as a low-cost method of raising revenue, rather than go for the expensive and unwieldy mechanisms that would be required to police and collect taxes on income. 

Now, thirty-plus years later, a great deal has changed.  In particular, we probably now have a population of 12,000 souls, at least 2,000 of whom are employees receiving a pay-cheque from both government and private employers.  There are probably another 1,000 self-employed accountants, building contractors, carpenters, fishermen, lawyers, and shopkeepers.  

No one at present pays one penny in direct taxation.  Anguillians instead pay a host of duties, licences and fees on such a wide range of goods that Anguilla is one of the most expensive places in the West Indies to live in.  All we are missing is a tax on services.

Has the conclusion made in 1978 about the cost/benefit ratio changed in any significant degree? 

In other words, would government receive any real revenue if it were to impose an income tax on Anguillian employees? 

Would our Inland Revenue Department be able to impose and police an effective income tax on self-employed persons without a massive investment in new personnel and equipment? 

What would be the likely impact on Anguilla’s already fragile economy as residents begin to take both avoidance and evasion measures?

What would be the political fall-out when Anguillians wake up to find that all the major players in the local economy have been granted 20-year income tax holidays, while the common man is caught in the tax net?

I don’t suppose the British could care less. But, our politicians certainly do.

This time they are right to resist British pressure, even if for the wrong reasons.  It would help us all to be more confident if they would release the appropriate studies they must have had done on the ineffectiveness of introducing income tax.  They must have made such a presentation to the FCO in the last few months.  It would be the easiest thing to publish the data.  Why keep it all so secret?

They do not have the option of borrowing from the local banks without FCO permission.  The result of such an action would be an immediate falling away of public confidence in the integrity of the local banks, and a run on them that would make the run on Stanford’s bank in Antigua a couple of months ago look like a trickle.

Not that I am worried.  I rely on the Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank to speak firmly to the Chairman of the Caribbean Commercial Bank and the General Manager of the National Bank of Anguilla.  I rely also on the external auditors of all three to speak even more firmly to each of them.  Then, there are the two Boards of Directors.  There must be someone with backbone and integrity among all those prominent entities.

Related Posts:

25 September, 2009

High School

The Anguilla Comprehensive Education Report is Published.  Perhaps it has been on the news.  Perhaps it has not.  I have not heard anything about it.  It was purely by chance that I opened the government website.  There it was, a link to the long-awaited Report on Comprehensive Education in Anguilla.

Read it for yourself:

Or, you can read a summary of the Report and its recommendations published separately at:


I liked the bit at page 109 which reads:

8. The Review Team has been advised that there is a weekly press conference where the Chief Minister and other Ministers address issues and respond to questions.  There is rarely any talk about education. It is recommended that ‘education should be a weekly part of this press conference.  Either the Minister of Education or a “Guest Speaker” (e.g. the Permanent Secretary) can make some comments and answer questions from the Press.  This would enhance Public Relations. It will keep education in peoples minds.

It would certainly make the Chief Minister’s weekly press conference have a bit of substance, instead of the nonsense about “arranged marriages” that we have had to put up with the past few weeks.

Then, at page 69 I found this interesting bit of data:

Table 6.1: Investment in Education as a % of GDP 1996-2008
1996    1997    1998    1999    2000    2001    2002    2003    2004    2005    2006    2007    2008
5.5       5.2       6.0       6.3       7.6       5.8       5.5       5.4       4.2       4.2       4.0       4.2       3.5

Table 6.2: Budgetary Expenditure on Education as a % of Total Budget 1996-2008
1996    1997    1998    1999    2000    2001    2002    2003    2004    2005    2006    2007    2008
15        14        16        17        18        12        10        11        11        11        11        11        11

I confess to inadequacies in maths.  Do those figures not say that we are spending a smaller and smaller percentage of GDP, and of the total budget, on education?  Does that fact not suggest that the education of Anguilla’s children is considered to be of decreasing importance?

On balance, I consider the Report to be a bland and boring piece of bureaucratese.  What few recommendations for improvement of the education system it contains are well hidden among a mass of detail and trivia, quotations and observations.  I forecast that few will read them, and none of the recommendations will be implemented.  

I was particularly disappointed by the inadequacies and incompleteness of Section 3, “Observations on the Comprehensive Education System in Anguilla.”  Reading the Report one gathers that all-in-all the system is working quite well! 

Either that, or the team agreed to cut out a lot of recommendations that someone considered objectionable.  I am speculating, but that could be the cause of such a noticeable hole in the middle of the Report.

23 September, 2009

Green Light

Anguilla still waits for the green light to increase borrowing.  A collective sigh of relief
went through the civil service today.  Salaries were paid.  At last week's press conference the Hon Chief Minister had mentioned that there was some doubt that government would be able to meet salaries unless the British FCO permitted the Ministry of Finance to increase borrowing.  However, salaries were paid today. 

We will all recall that Anguilla is at the maximum permitted limit of its borrowing.  We need permission from the FCO to borrow more.  Osborne Fleming, speaking in his capacity as Chief Minister, assured us last week that he was certain that the local banks would not have any problem in lending to his government, regardless of whether or not the British approved the borrowing.  Of course, as active, serving Chairman of the Board of Directors of Anguilla’s oldest indigenous bank, the Caribbean Commercial Bank, he should know.

It was back in the month of July when the Chief Minister took a high-powered delegation to London to try to persuade the British to permit him to borrow more than was allowed.  He did not tell us what he put in his presentation to the British.  It was all highly classified.  No one in the public domain in Anguilla has ever seen the application to borrow.  Most importantly, we do not know what proposals he made to assure the British that we would be able to raise the additional revenue to repay the extra borrowing.

In the event, the British refused to permit the borrowing on the basis of the application presented to them.  As Hubert Hughes, senior opposition member of the Anguilla House of Assembly, pointed out, the reason the British refused our application to borrow more was that government had no plan for repayment.  We cannot be sure as neither the local government nor the British have published what it was they responded to the Anguillian government.

The likelihood is that they are not objecting to Anguilla borrowing.  There is not likely to be any suggestion that Anguilla is not entitled to borrow.  The British are probably only asking the reasonable question, “Show us how you propose to pay back the borrowing.”  It is noticeable that the government of Anguilla has singularly failed to show us the application they made to the British to permit the extension in Anguillla’s borrowing powers.  Nor have they shown us the British response asking for more information.  They ask us to believe that the British are being unreasonable.  Sorry, I do not accept such a request for blind allegiance.  I consider it more likely that the British are being very sensible and cautious.  “Show us how you intend to reduce expenditure, and to increase revenue to repay the increased borrowing, and you will have our permission.”  That is all it is likely to be about.

It was only in April of last year that the Anguillian Newspaper warned that we must be careful how we borrow. 

There is however reason for caution. The fact that Britain has responsibility for Anguilla serves as a safeguard for money lenders in addition to the island’s own financial resources, but there is always the danger of over-extending one’s capacity to the extent that difficulties could arise if due care is not taken. Anguilla must avoid ever finding itself in a debt-ridden situation where, although the economy is buoyant, there is still a heavy burden on the national purse to meet the requirements of the Government’s loan commitments with ease.

So, when earlier this month, the Minister of Finance proposed in the House of Assembly a motion to approve the borrowing that had been rejected by the British, all ears were open to hear what his answer to the British was.  Would he announce how he was going to reduce expenditure in this election year?  Was he going to explain how he proposed to increase government revenue by increasing taxation in this pre-election year?  Well, we were all disappointed.  To this date he has not published one word on what the British are asking him to do, nor one syllable of his answer to them on what he will do to ensure that Anguilla is able to repay the increased borrowing.  Government ministers, being a majority of the House of Assembly, easily approved the motion to borrow.  This motion was rushed to London with a renewed application to increase borrowing.  London’s response, if any, has been concealed from us.

We are a short six months maximum from the next general elections.

What is the betting there will be no budget as usual in December of this year?  The explanation will be that it is not appropriate for the outgoing government to tie the hands of the government that will take office in March or April of next year.  As an apparent act of generosity and fairness, it will be left to the new government to decide on their budget. 

The reality is that Victor will not dare to publish to the Anguillian public what it was that the British were demanding of him, nor will he dare to publish what exactly were the new taxes he proposed to collect to pay off the borrowing.

It is a matter of local politics.  It is nothing to do with British incalcitrance and unreasonableness.  It is simply a matter of unwillingness to publish and admit the need for new taxes in the run-up to the general elections.

Two questions arise:

Have the British responded to government's request for an increase in borrowing?

And, if the British have approved the borrowing, how long will it take for Victor to tell us what undertakings he gave the British to secure their approval.  We have a right to know.  After all, it will have been a promise to increase our taxes.

That is the only way he is going to get their approval.    

21 September, 2009


I heard part of the Chief Minister’s weekly press conference on TV last night.  And, my stomach turned with nausea.  I have not witnessed such a sick performance in a long time.  He went on and on about how concerned we must all be about ‘marriages of convenience’.  Listening to him you would you would have got the impression that permanent liaisons between Anguillian women and Indian contract labour at Viceroy is the biggest challenge to Anguilla’s integrity and destiny that we face at this time.  He made it sound like a major crisis was on us.  Worse than an epidemic of swine flu.

The nausea is aggravated by the memory of his shameful speeches in the House of Assembly when he has accused Pam Webster of permitting herself to be the victim of a ‘marriage of convenience’.  Over the past year, with the connivance of an accommodating Speaker, he has shamelessly abused the privilege of the House to smear and denigrate Pam and her husband with this baseless and disgusting allegation.  When she wins the Island Harbour seat in the upcoming general elections, I hope she will have a few remarks to make in the House of Assembly about one or two so-called Christian Anguillian men I can think about and their hypocritical treatment of their long-suffering wives.

Did he think he could issue work permits for several hundred single men, and not one of them would stay?

No one takes him seriously any longer.

And, Jerome Roberts will easily take his seat in East End.

Hopefully we will now get our first genuine Indian Restaurant.  That would be a relief after all these Chinese Restaurants selling chicken and chips.

Related Posts:


20 September, 2009


How many doctors, plumbers, carpenters, teachers and lawyers have this type of

bogus qualification?  I keep getting this unsolicited e-mail in my in box.  LIME must have changed their settings.  Normally, their filters remove such obvious invitations to fraud from the server long before Outlook Express downloads them to my computer.   

I have been patiently deleting the messages.  But, they are getting more frequent, and annoying.  The last one read:


Is your lack of a degree holding you back from career advancement?

Are you having difficulty finding employment in your field of interest because you don’t have the paper to back it up – even though you are qualified?

If you are looking for a fast and effective solution, we can help!

Call us right now for your customized diploma: Inside U.SA.: 1-718-989-5746 Outside U.S.A.: +1-718-989-5746.

Just leave your NAME & TEL. PHONE # (with country-code) on the voicemail and one of our staff members will get back to you promptly!

You have got to wonder.  How many frustrated, ambitious but unqualified, persons fall victim to this fraudulent invitation.  It sounds so clean and above board.  The reality is just the opposite.  It is an invitation for the unqualified to put money into these tricksters’ pockets.  In exchange for the fee you get a bogus degree to add to your name.  The hope is that you might be able to fool your employer into accepting, and paying you a higher salary than you would otherwise be entitled.  In the USA or Europe there are agencies we can use to quickly find out who has a real qualification from who has gone to one of these diploma mills for a worthless certificate. 

But, here in the West Indies who is our consumer watchdog?  Who is our standard setter? 

We do not even measure the amount of gasoline coming out of the pumps.  Never in the history of Anguilla has any shop’s scales been tested by the non-existent Weights and Measures Officer.

There is no one, of course.  Take no qualifications at their face value.  You better check everything for yourself.  There is no one you can rely on to do it for you.

Meanwhile, I have taken my own steps to block this unwanted invitation from showing up in my in box again.

Related posts:

19 September, 2009


It is amazing what you can meet when you go walking in Anguilla. I have been away in St Kitts for a few days. Today I resumed my walking regime and went to explore the Brimegin area. I came upon what appeared to be an abandoned hotel project. I never knew there was such a project on that coast. There was no “No Trespassing” sign. The entrance was open. Each room was open to the elements. No doors or windows were installed. There was not a speck of building materials left on the site. It was so clean, you could eat off it (if you ignored the goat droppings in the pool area). There was no sign indicating who the owners were. There was no sign indicating who the architects or contractors were.

The project as seen from Albert Lake's quarry

I wondered who started building it.

The back entrance?

I wondered why it stopped. Did the money run out? Or, had there been a health issue?

Approaching up the rear entrance

What dashed hopes and plans does this abandoned property represent?

The rear of the back row of buildings

Is it going to be restarted, or is it closed down for good, eventually to go back to bush?

The front row of buildings from the rear

Did the contractors and local suppliers get paid?

The pool, bar and restaurant from the front

Was there a Memorandum of Agreement with government relating to this project too? And, was it honoured, by both parties?

The pool deck and the buildings beyond

Or, is it locally owned, and there was nothing for government to give away?

From the windows to the pool deck looking back to the rear row of buildings

Was there an Aliens Landholding Licence that government ministers could give away so that no fees or taxes need be paid to the people of Anguilla for the next 125 years?

The rear view of the front row of buildings

Or, did it stop because the owners want to have a Cap Juluca type MoA too, and government was not sufficiently accommodating?

The front view of the back row of buildings

The buildings just sit there, enigmatic, clueless, but not giving away any information either.

Rock fill at the entrance

What an amazing amount of rock used in this construction! The most expensive finishing touches are yet to be done: The wiring, the plumbing, the furnishing and equipping.

Datura bush

Leaving the site, I noticed the largest datura bush I have seen in a while. I wonder how many Anguillians know about the ritual use of the crushed seed. Thugeeism, after all, is not a common topic of conversation in the West Indies. How many of us would be aware of the use of its psychotropic qualities in drugging the sacrificial victims murdered in honour of the goddess Kali, the goddess of death and destruction?

14 September, 2009


Opposition members call on Government of Anguilla to resign: This is not the first, nor will it be the last, time that opposition members, scenting blood, call on the government to resign. The matter came up recently in Trinidad on Caribbean Talk. This post resonated with me. Krishna Narinedath, in response to a previous post objecting to the demand that government resign, wrote:

"It is unrealistic not to mention unfair, for anyone to call for the resignation of anyone or for anyone to step aside to facilitate the career prospects of anyone. In democratic war, whoever wants leadership must go to the people and get their support and so derive legitimacy."

Well, finally, people are coming to our position on this issue. Like I have been saying - don't be naive and stupid to ask for someone to resign or walk away so you will then get the support of the people.... that is not how it is in politics. You want to be leader? You want to win? Then go to the people. If you win over the support of the people then you are leader.

But don't be a whiner and loser and ask people to leave so you and your party will get the so-called 'base', like vultures feeding off the people. Realism sets in, of course, when you go out there and meet the people and try to get their support. The math is PNM vs divided Opposition will result in PNM victory; PNM v united Opposition will result in PNM loss. If you can't win single-handedly against the PNM then you have to get together. When you come to the table do so with humility and realism; be realistic of what you have and your strength - no free lunch. These are the basic concepts in T&T politics.

Krishna S Narinedath

Replace ‘PNM’ with ‘Anguilla United Front’, and ‘T&T’ with ‘Anguilla’, and your have our situation exactly.

The scent of politics is in the air. The sharp, acrid smell of the cordite of criticism is now facing the outdated black powder of the threatened lawsuits of tired old men.

And, we are just warming up.

07 September, 2009


Am I being too sensitive? It was a very small thing. In London or New York it would be laughably unremarkable. In Anguilla it is evidence that the Last Days are upon us. On page 23 of The Anguillian Newspaper for September 4th there was this small ad. Normally I would have missed it. But, it was strategically located in the dead centre of the small-ad page. The language was, for Anguilla, coquettish in the extreme. So suggestive, I had to go back to read it a second time before I was sure of what I was seeing.

Normally, I would suggest an undercover operation. But, then, the entire male contingent of the Royal Anguilla Police Force would become their best customers!

I want to suggest that one of you disinterested gentlemen call for an appointment. You in the back, stop jumping up and down with both hands in the air!

Seriously, so this is what Anguilla has come to. In their early days of their administration, the boast was that no work permits would be given to overseas workers to do any job that could be filled by a local. Now, in the closing days of the United Front government we have even outsourced ‘massages’ to Oriental masseurs?

There are questions that must be answered.

Are no beautiful young Anguillian ladies qualified for the position?

Do these young ladies have work permits?

Were they approved by our Christian Minister of Labour?

Who holds the shares in the company?

05 September, 2009


Accountability. I have obtained a copy of the Airport Project financial report presented earlier this week by the Hon Victor Banks, Minister of Finance, to Members of the House of Assembly at the request of the Hon Edison Baird. I read it and had an immediate allergic reaction. I realise I could comment on it in temperate language. Intemperate language, I find, is the best antihystamine.

We will all remember that Mr Baird had complained approximately one year ago in the House of Assembly that there were rumours that some proprietors of land taken by government for the airport extension project had received many more times the value of compensation that other equally deserving proprietors had received. He demanded a list of the value of the compensation paid to each proprietor so that he could determine if there was any truth to that rumour. The Minister of Finance denied that anyone had been singled out for special compensation. He promised to produce a complete accounting, listing the amount of value in land, money or whatever, that each proprietor received so that everyone could see how transparent and accountable this government was.

The document that Mr Banks has now produced is 8 pages long. He said at the time he distributed it that it was incomplete. Some information had not yet been received. Some transactions are incomplete. But, you would expect that, for those transactions that are complete, all the information is in the report. You would be wrong.

I have scanned the document into my computer. I can let anybody who wants to receive a copy of the complete document have it by email, if you send me a request.

I publish below a cropped version of page 1 only. The six columns show the name of the proprietor, the property taken by government, a description of any property given in exchange by government, and the total acreage/payout to the proprietor. I have cropped two columns of irrelevant information.

The first thing you notice when you read the entire document is that it omits the most expensive piece of property acquired. I cannot find Dame Bernice Lake’s family land mentioned on the list of names at all. There is no reason why that acquisition should have been omitted from the accounting on the Airport Project. It was an intrinsic part of the airport extension project. I do not know the value of the land acquired but it was several acres. At a guess it is probably worth as much as all the land and property listed. It may not yet have been paid for, but it has to be paid for in due course, and government must have had it valued and knows what it expects to pay.

In other words, the accounting that Mr Banks has produced may not cover one half of the property acquired. That is woefully inadequate. He gave no reason for his omission to give any amount of compensation already paid to the Lake family, and any estimate of what the government expects to pay in all for the property.

The second thing you notice is that in the sixth column, ‘Acreage/payout’, only the area of land and any money paid in cash is listed. There is no estimate of the value of the property given by the proprietor, or the value of the property given by government. There must have been some attempt by the Land Valuation Department to value the individual properties being acquired. Mr Baird was entitled to know that any particular property being acquired was valued at a particular amount. Similarly, there must have been a value put to the land that was being offered in exchange.

Then there are the replacement homes. In some cases, in addition to an exchange of land together with a cash amount, there was a replacement home built by government. A perusal of the document reveals that a total of eighteen (18) replacement homes were part of the compensation packages paid to proprietors. That must have been a significant cost. There is no attempt to account for this money paid by government to construct the replacement homes.

If, say, in exchange for a house on a quarter of an acre of land altogether worth $500,000.00, government gave the proprietor (i) a half an acre of land worth, say, $100,000.00, (ii) cash of $20,000.00, and (iii) a replacement house that cost $480,000.00 to build, then, if the list contains only the first two items, it will have accounted for only 20% of the total amount of compensation actually paid. And, we will not know how close to or far away from the value of the property taken was the total amount of compensation paid. This is information that government already has. It has already taken one year to produce this account.

There is no reason I can discern why the Ministry of Finance cannot instantly put its hands on the figures for the cost of building each replacement home. Don’t tell me that no account was kept of it, house by house. They had to know that they had agreed to build for a particular proprietor a three-bedroom house costing, say, $500,000.

There would have been agreements with the proprietors. There would have been tenders and contracts with the building contractors. There would have been Ministry of Infrastructure supervisors ensuring that what was contracted was built. There would have been Ministry of Finance officers keeping a check on cost overruns and other financial information.

We will recall that, in relation to the proposed 500 ft extension to the east of the airport, PS Larry Franklin assured us just a scant few days ago that:

4. There are already procurement guidelines for the Government of Anguilla. There will be project oversight by the permanent secretaries in Finance, Economic Development and Infrastructure. There is a functioning Internal Audit Department and I expect the Internal Audit Department to audit the project both during and after the execution stages. I also expect the external auditors to audit the project.

5. [Your comments on procurement as a source of graft] maybe true and I appreciate your concerns on this matter. However, there are policies, standards and procedures in place. The project has to conform to those policies, standards and procedures. The Department of Infrastructure has managed significant roads projects before including the Rev. CL Carty Road, the Jeremiah Gumbs Road, and the road around Island Harbour. There have been no major accountability issues with the management of the construction of those roads.

It is my opinion that the Minister has short-changed Mr Baird in supplying such inadequate, incomplete and misleading information to him. He was required by the rules of parliamentary procedure not to give an incomplete and misleading answer to a request for such vital information.

To summarise, the minimum information that Mr Baird was entitled to receive was (i) the value of the property acquired from each proprietor; and (ii) the value of the total compensation paid to or estimated to be due to each proprietor. Even accepting that some of the transactions are not yet complete, and the final figures not known, the vast majority of transactions are complete, yet the figures for these is not given.

This document does not begin to demonstrate that government is prepared to publish and reveal the true amounts paid or due to be paid to all the proprietors. Whatever the alleged policies, standards and procedures alluded to by Mr Franklin are, they are clearly ineffective to permit an audit of the airport project. I would hate to think what waste and worse there has been on other projects managed by the Department of Infrastructure in such a lax way as this one obviously was.

If this is the best government could do, then, in my opinion the document is evidence that our government departments lack the capacity to manage and supervise any major public works project satisfactorily or at all.

God help us all when the additional airport extension is built later this year!

Related Posts:

Airport – 23 August 2009