31 October, 2008


Public Service Integrity Board. My four-year stint as chairman of the Public Service Integrity Board has come to an end. Someone else will have to take over. I wish him or her every success. I was lucky in my colleagues. Pastor Cecil Richardson, Allister Richardson and I had a very cordial and cooperative relationship.

The Hon Stanley Reid's letter was very gracious.

I would like to thank you for your devoted and invaluable service. I believe that your task as a member has been demanding and possibly tedious at times but your commitment to serve has assisted in ensuring the smooth and proper functioning of the Anguilla Public Service.

The truth is that the task was neither demanding nor tedious. The work of the PSIB should not be too difficult for the new appointees. The job of the PSIB is a very simple one. The PSIB's functioning is prescribed by the Act of the House of Assembly that set it up. Its duties are limited to advising the Governor on those matters concerning alleged conflicts of interest of civil servants that the Governor chooses to send to the Board for its advice. Full stop. Period.

The PSIB does not deal with any real issues of integrity in the public service. No member of the public has the right to complain to the Board about a conflict of interest. No person may send the Board any allegation of lack of integrity discovered relating to any public servant. Members of the Board may not investigate any allegation that comes to its attention, except that it was sent by the Governor. In all those four years, there were only two that I can recall.

The result has been that the functions of the Board have been pretty mundane. The majority of the issues put to the Board for advice were comparatively trifling. A customs officer wants to help out his brother part-time, after working hours, in his supermarket. Will that be a conflict of interest? A secretary in the Ministry of Finance wants to do a part-time job in the evening as a manicurist in a hotel. Will that be a conflict of interest? Please communicate the views of the Board to His Excellency soonest.

What about the allegation that a driver of a public service vehicle is using it as a taxi? No, the Board has no concern with that.

What about the police officer who was caught red-handed shoplifting? No, the Board should not ask any questions about that.

What about the immigration officer caught taking sex and groceries in exchange for residence stamps? No, the Board would be out of its depth dealing with that.

What about the senior police officer forcing himself on the new women police constables in exchange for promises of promotion? No, the Board should leave those issues alone.

What about the teacher seducing the high school student? No, leave that to the proper authorities.

The problem is that in Anguilla the proper authorities have become experts in art of the cover-up. It is not in the interests of senior officers in any branch of the public service to prosecute or even to fire a junior officer committing crimes of immorality or dishonesty. That would stir up a can of worms. Much better to deal with the problem “administratively”. That has invariably meant shifting the offender to another job and closing the file as soon as can decently be done. No one is ever subjected to disciplinary proceedings, far less prosecuted.

The trouble is that the children are observing. The public are watching. The lesson being taught is that there are no consequences of wrong-doing. Once you are an Anguillian, there will always be someone looking out for you. When all discipline breaks down, when the young people enter the work force and demand to be paid without doing an honest day's work, what will happen? The growing numbers of them sitting listlessly under the trees in every village enjoying the stupifying effects of their ganja and crack are already there for all to see. The hypocrites in the churches and in the high echelons of society pretend shock and surprise.

We will all know that the rot started at the head.

The failure of Anguillians to demand the highest standards of those in authority and power over us will have been at the root of the problem.

If it is too late then, don't blame the PSIB.


  1. Mr.Mitchell, you are blaming the wrong people. No one in Anguilla has any authority to do anything about anyone in the civil service, only the Governor. Please stop trying to make it sound as if any minister of Government or any other person in anguilla has control over these matters.IT IS THE GOVERNOR WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CIVIL SERVICE.

  2. I disagree with "anonymous" in that itis up to all of us - Government included - to raise our voices and ask, no demand, that the Governor does something about these things. Maybe the Ministers do not have the ability to change things but they are on the radio every week and they can bring the public up-to-date on these issues and create such a stir that the Governor would have to do SOMETHING - anything...has he done anything at all in his time here so far?

  3. Has the Governor done anything at all in his time here? Yes, he's taken several holidays and hosted some lovely teas.

  4. I also agree with the previous posteer in that while the Govt and the people cannot do anything directly,they surely can petition the Governor into action.When we remain silent, whether it is out of fear or ignorance,we all suffer.If we raise our voices loud to enough to the Gov't and the Governor we might be albe to force them into actually looking into some of the alleged violation and/or crime committed by our civil servants.

  5. Theories about what government and the people "must do" are just so much noise.

    Government wants to make it appear that things are great and they are in control. The civil service also represents a large voting block. So they're the last people we can expect to hear criticizing the civil service.

    It's fine to say we must all raise our voices, blah blah, but the reality of living in a small community is that if you want to get ahead socially or economically you don't go around complaining about everything and acting like an obnoxious self-promoter or calling yourself "The Mayor." Of which we have two more than we need.

    That leaves the members of the opposition, whose job it is to make noise about things that aren't right. They actually get paid for making noise. Unfortunately, we have one who Hubert accurately called "a lazy boy who didn't know how to run a ministry and spent all his time frolicking at Herbert's" and another one whose fire gon out.

    So that leaves you, Mr. Mitchell.


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