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 United Kingdom, 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.  
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.
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?

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  1. If "They do not let...", "They do not tolerate...", "They would not contemplate...", how do "those things happen every day in Anguilla"? Why was it ever allowed to become "normal"?

  2. These things are normal because when we elect people who can barely read without moving their lips, and who have never worn a tie except in a church or graveyard, we cannot expect these men to sit in offices and read papers, like girls.

  3. Real men are out on the road doing the real work, and proving they're not gay. The irrational and obsessive fear that others may think a man is gay motivates a lot of strange behavior in Anguilla.

  4. The most wasting Ministerial diseases are embarrassment and fear. They would rather drown than admit to being out of their

  5. If they did NOT go out on the road and manage the details of giving work to their friends and supporters and doing the "you rub my back & I will rub yours" work, how would they get re-elected. Isn't that the lesson that has been learned from watching how the US does business in a democracy? We have all watched the corruption in US politics. Obviously, that is "the way it is done." [Sarcasm intended]

  6. And the British appointed Attorney General?

    You would think that a key figure in good government would be a competent Attorney General.

    No wonder places such as TCI are rudderless. A good Attorney General should act as a sort of rudder.

    Wednesday, 21 July 2010

    A busy schedule and a weighty portfolio hasn’t kept Premier Ralph O’Neal from moving forward with a new plan that calls for all contracts to pass across his desk before they are put into action. Ministers and district representatives were ordered to adhere to the premier’s directive on July 7, shortly after receiving a memo announcing the move, according to Devon Osborne, press secretary in the Premier’s Office.
    The next day, Mr. O’Neal would announce the move at a public meeting in East End.

    Never in recent memory has a government leader ordered such a mandate, which asks that “no matter what size,” a contract funded by government first cross the premier’s desk for approval, Mr. Osborne added.

    “The ministry will have to explain to him why they are giving the contract to this entity or this company, so on those grounds he can find out why it is needed,” the press secretary said, adding that the directive is designed “to reduce expenditure and increase revenue by cutting projects.”

    But the move isn’t without its critics.

    Opposition Leader Dr. Orlando Smith questioned the mandate’s feasibility.

    Asked this week about the initiative, Dr. Smith said he believes the task may be too large for the premier to handle, and would significantly slow legislative work.


    Obviously there are those who disagree with you, and quite rightly too.

    Ministers of government need to keep an eye on everything happening in these small countries, and need to cut expense.

    What Public Service Board?
    Stanley's manikin?

  8. A very good article Wish others would follow you and devote their time wisely. It would be so good if you could take some time and enlighten the public on the topic about the functions of boards and committees. The board members fiduciary duties and the problems with micromanagement by board members. Micromanagement is very dangerous to organizations/institutions as these board/committee members should devote their time to issues like strategy and policy. The board/committee should leave the staff do their work effectively and efficiently once they have put in place proper (tools)guidelines and policies at the workplaces

  9. Anonymous at 1:45 : The US is not a democracy. It is a republic. - Scotty

  10. Correction, Scotty: The US hasn't been a republic since the abolition of state-appointed Senators http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seventeenth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution . At the moment the US a kleptocracy masquerading as a "social democracy" (but I repeat myself...) masquerading as a republic -- well on its way to becoming a failed nation-state.

  11. Excellent article. But why do I keep picturing Anguilla as a large pie, with a handful of powerful families carving it up and handing it to clearly inferior, unquaified people?

  12. It is about time you write a sensible article I could agree on! Excellent points!

  13. In Canada, on the day of being sworn into Cabinet the new minister tenders an undated letter of resignation to the Prime Minister. If or when s/he screws up, the PM simply hauls this letter out of the archives and ….. presto, s/he a goner.

    As for ineffective governance by the PM himself, just witness how Deputy PM Julia Gillard recently brought down PM Kevin Rudd in Australia.

    So, we have no such mechanisms on the Rock?


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