15 March, 2008

Good Governance

Integrity Legislation Does not Work by Itself. It is axiomatic that anti-corruption legislation is only effective when the public have had a major say in proposing and designing the solution.

“The framework must provide for the involvement of a wide range of people and interests in the formulation of prevention policies and their execution. In this way, various stakeholders become involved in the prevention process, and their own institutions — both within government and the private sector – can be mobilized in support of the (Anti–Corruption) Agency’s efforts.” (J. Pope. TI Source Book 2000 — Confronting Corruption: The Elements of a National Integrity System, Transparency International, 2000, p. 99).

Anguillians are crying out for a system that promotes good governance. Our present style of government is based on “who you know”. Who gets a scholarship, who gets free medical treatment, who gets to build too close to his boundary, who gets to vote, who gets a construction line, is determined by who you know. We do not have a culture of integrity and good governance in Anguilla. It has often been said that you can do anything you want to do in Anguilla, so long as you have the right “god father”.

We are not satisfied with that state of affairs. All Anguillians cry out that we want to see an anti-corruption culture institutionalized. We want our decision makers to be made accountable. We dream of the day when any transaction involving public money or public property will be able to withstand public scrutiny. We want all our public projects to reflect value for money. Where it does not, we want a system to quantify what value or benefit was illicitly gained and the person made to repay it to the public.

Given our limited human and financial resources, we are not asking for anything elaborate. We just want a simple, strong, transparent system that offers a guarantee of honesty and integrity in our representatives and their officials.

Any solution to our present problem should be acceptable to the society at large. No solution will work unless it can be implemented by members of the public taking action.

As a start to this process, there is the Register of Interests Bill. Our Speaker and the Members of the House of Assembly are presently looking at it. They have had a draft prepared by the Attorney-General. They have it under consideration. They may accept what the A-G drafted, or they may request changes. They are doing their best to come up with a law that will contribute to the public confidence in the behaviour of our elected representatives. Both the draft and the process they are following remain confidential. They are not shared with the public. Not surprisingly, we the public have questions about content, process and legitimacy.

The Members of the House do not seem to realise that without involving us the public at an early stage, whatever law they adopt is likely to lack legitimacy. If they do not share their work with us, the public, it will be viewed as essentially a futile piece of ineffective nation building.

By continuing to treat the draft Bill as a State secret, they are begging for allegations of indulging in window-dressing.

Will someone please publish the Bill so that we can comment on it?


  1. The 2005 United Front Manifesto promised us transparent, accountable, open government. This seems not to apply to decision making.

  2. Secrecy undermines democracy.

  3. workin' on a forklift, in the nightshift..........workin' in the nightshift, with a forklift.....

  4. ALL draft legislation in Anguilla is published in the official gazette BEFORE it goes to the House of Assembly for debate. It is usually published at least three months in advance so that "feed back" can be obtained from the public including the bar association, retired judges, would be politicians and other knowledgeable and concerned persons.
    This has always been the practice. Stop trying to make Anguilla sound like a Banana Rebublic! We do not even grow Bananas! Anguilla is a British Overseas Territority and is well regulated. Give the Anti-Anguillian /Anti-government vitriol a break!

  5. Annoyed misses the point in the plea that is contained in this post. Publishing a Bill for the Register of Interests in the Official Gazette three months before it is passed is not acceptable. It is too late for members of the public to influence the wording. By that stage, parliamentarians’ minds will have been made up and firm and irreversible positions taken. Publication at that stage does not meet the test proposed by Transparency International: “the involvement of a wide range of people and interests in the formulation of prevention policies”.

    In any event, it would be a revealing process if someone who gets the Gazette regularly could make a careful check and tell us how many of the last ten Acts were published in the Official Gazette for discussion by the public three months before passage in the House of Assembly, or at all. I suspect the total would be no more than one or two. I get the Gazette. It seems to me that it has been months since any Bill was published, yet I have seen several Acts appear out of nowhere. Publication of Bills in the Gazette is not a matter of course. It is rather the exception.


  6. And to pretend that publishing something in the Gazette is adequate and effective public notice is foolishness. If they truly wanted such publication to reach the most people, they would change the law allowing publication in a newspaper of general circulation, have the Governor certify which newspaper meets that criteria, and condemn the Gazette to death. They could use the money they saved for a civil service training course in How to Smile.

    If they can't be bothered doing that, they could post the Gazette online. Much of government operates like we were still in the ink and quill days.


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