Isn't it about time the Governor directed the Public Administration Department to come up with a course specifically for new Ministers designed to explain and teach best practices for Ministers?
22 July, 2010
What is the function of a Minister in the Government of
Anguilla? The proper answer, I suppose, is that it is exactly the same as the function of a Minister in any other West Indian country.
And, what is that? you ask. The answer is that the main function of a Minister is to oversee the operations of his Ministry, and to ensure that his public service officers carry out the policy decisions of the Executive Council/Cabinet. The persons charged with making the government work are the public servants. They carry out the day to day activities of the Ministry under the direction of the Permanent Secretary. Subsidiary to this role is the important function of giving advice to the Minister on technical aspects of the work of the Ministry. This permits the Minister to take the advice to Cabinet and get a sensible policy decision made.
What should clearly not be within the remit of a Minister is for him to go out on the road and personally direct operations related to his Ministry. He should not hire people to carry out work. He should not order materials and services to be paid for by his Ministry. He is the policy maker, not the technician. He is the director of the play, not the actor on the stage.
And, how does a Minister learn his role? you ask. The answer is that in bigger countries, such as the
, there is a National School of Government. They hold workshops and conferences for new Ministers. They go through the Ministers’ Code of Ethics, pointing out each of the duties and responsibilities of Ministers of Government. They train a politician how to be a responsible Minister. They teach how corruption comes in many forms. United Kingdom
It can take the shape of cronyism, when friends are appointed to Boards and given contracts. That is a form of corruption.
Ministers need to be taught how to look out for conflicts of interest, and how to deal with them. This is not something that comes naturally to many of us.
The British have long had an independent Appointments’ Board answerable only to Parliament. When a Minister wants to appoint a new person to a Board, the proposed appointee must be vetted to ensure that person is properly qualified and able to contribute to the work of the Board. No one is given an appointment solely as a juicy plumb for political support.
They do not let a Minister go about ordering replacement parts for fire engines.
They do not tolerate a Minister going down onto a project and participating in an industrial dispute.
They would not contemplate a Cabinet meeting discussing the overturning of a Public Service Board’s decision in carrying out its duties.
But, those things happen every day in
Anguilla. They always have. We consider it normal.