28 August, 2009

Flag Revival

The villa owners are taking over? Word is that some of the villa owners at Flag are not waiting on the outcome of their law suits. Nor are they are waiting on the outcome of the negotiations between government and the lenders. Far less are they waiting for the outcome of the recent negotiations between Guish and George and the local government. The word is that they realise that if they do not immediately go into possession of their $12 million villas and stake out their claim, they will be in the equivalent of the Oklahoma land rush. So, they have hired Tony and company to finish off their villas. Then, they are going into possession and declaring they are in their residences. Their stance is, ‘Let us now see who can claim better possessory title after that!’ They expect to be in possession of seven of the villas completed and occupied by December of this year.

Meanwhile, Guish and George have returned to Anguilla. Are they really back from exile in St Kitts? They claim they are taking over Temenos. I do not know what happened to their big plans in St Kitts. Are they trying to keep a foot in both islands? Or, are they finished with St Kitts? Do you know?

I am told that they want to take over the golf course, the restaurant and ‘some of the villas’. Or, is it that they just want to help ‘finish’ some of the villas? The message is confused. They are said to be backed by one JB of Antil. Who he is, is not entirely clear. Is this just another stop-gap con-job? Or, is it something of substance? Only time will tell.

And, what is in it for the owners of Cap Juluca? Why should Aaron have agreed to take on the $200 thousand per month bill of keeping the golf course watered? There is no advantage for him and his investors that I can see.

Can you?

27 August, 2009


Fly infestation at the Corito garbage dump site. You are not safe walking even upwind from the garbage dump at Corito. It is unimaginably worse if you live downwind of it. The cause is an infestation of flies. There are flies everywhere. The swarming has been going on for two weeks now.

I spoke to Cuthwin Webster to find out if he knew about the problem. Knew about the problem? The man is so steamed up I could hardly make sense of what he was saying. He is mad as hell.

The problem results from a failure to deal with the garbage correctly. The rules for taking garbage to the dump are simple. For the purpose of this problem, they cannot be simpler. Domestic waste, stuff from the kitchen, goes to the left when you enter the dump. This area is covered daily with a layer of earth, to prevent smell and reduce flies. Construction waste goes to the right, where it is left exposed. It is clean and does not assault the nostrils if left uncovered.

The trucks which have the contracts to collect the construction waste know the rules. At the Corito main gate they announce to the gate keeper that they are bringing construction waste. They are directed to the right. It is only when they dumpster upends the cargo that the mass of rotting kitchen waste hidden in the bottom of the dumpster is revealed. Now, it lies on top of the construction waste, and is covered with maggots and flies. Little Harbour and George Hill lie just downwind.

The culprit is one of our biggest hotel developments. They do not make sure their staff put the kitchen waste in bags in the correct garbage bins as they are supposed to do. Their housekeeping staff stand accused of mixing the kitchen waste in with the construction waste. That is what is causing the problem.

Why, you ask, does not the dump just cover up the construction waste? The answer is that it is an expensive process digging up the marl, trucking it to the top of the waste, and spreading it around with backhoes. Cuthwin says he is paid by government to cover up the area for domestic waste. If he is to cover up the construction waste area as well as the domestic waste area, it will cost twice as much. Government is not prepared to pay for that.

I agree with Cuthwin. It would be a big help if the Environmental Health Unit could find a way to make the construction people obey the rules. It is a matter of the public health. We could have an epidemic of some sort on our hands if this continues.

Not to mention the inconvenience of spitting out flies every time you take a breath!

I know. I went walking from Corito to Tanglewood this morning.


It was so good to see Nat Hodge doing an editorial recently on the need for a Freedom of Information Act in Anguilla that I am spurred to add my two cents worth. The model that we have that we can follow is the Cayman Islands FOI. Their law passed in 2007 only came into effect in January of this year 2009. There is not much reporting on how it is working. What little has come out is very positive and encouraging.

It is important to realise that it is not sufficient just to pass a law. We also have to take steps to make sure that it works.

Introducing FOI in a traditional colonial, secretive administration involves a change of culture. That is arguably the tallest order. The mere passing of a law does nothing to accomplish this change. FOI does not function at all in some countries. The emphasis may have been mistakenly put on the legislative process and not enough on the practical meaning and its implementation.

FOI is only as good as government’s underlying record keeping practices. If the information is not recorded or preserved in the first place, then the right is meaningless. How good is record keeping in the Anguilla public service? Is it legally framed? Who has the power to authorize destruction of records? What are the checks and balances in this regard? How do you avoid public meddling? Who is actually accountable for records and information in the Anguilla Public Service?

The first step is a Public Records law. At least, there needs to be a serious update of the Standing Orders combined with an ongoing records management programme. There need to be standards, education, help and monitoring in relation to the management of public records. This is an absolute prerequisite for a successful FOI programme. This is usually a function of the national archives office, something that we have not even begun to think about in Anguilla.

How do you balance the right to access with the legitimate need to keep some things secret for the time being? Should the public interest override any or all exceptions? Should there be a right of appeal against decisions? What form should this take, and what powers should an appeal body have?

The Cayman law provided for the appointment of an “information manager” in each department and public authority. Two people were trained in each department to cover vacation and sick leave. These are the access points for the public.

Someone has to do a lot of preparatory work to make sure the system works. It is not only a matter of training the frontline people. There will be a need to hold special sessions for ministers, permanent secretaries, and other general staff. Some departments or public authorities may decide they need to hire new staff if they expect complicated requests for access. Some may actually hire a lawyer to be in charge of their record management/freedom of information units. Most will simply assign the dual duties to existing staff, revising their job descriptions and pay.

What do we do about personal information? What is ‘personal information’ in Anguilla? What is the state of privacy in Anguilla? How do you balance the general right to access with the legitimate expectation of privacy amongst government’s clients, staff and citizens alike?

The public and civil society should have a chance to provide input on each of these issues before a law is even drafted.

Writing the law is the easy part. Getting it to work is another matter.

But, even discussing it is a really important step if we are really serious about accountability and transparency in Anguilla in the future.

Related previous posts:

24 May 2009 - Airport News

21 May 2009 - Airport Costs

19 July 2008 - FOI Act

23 August, 2009


Who is going to get blamed over the airport report? The announcement from the Minister of Finance came like a thunderbolt out of a clear sky. He told us on Tuesday that Anguilla’s lone airport had been disqualified “with immediate effect” for use by 80% of the private jets presently using it. Many of our Sillermans and other up-market visitors arrive in their own or hired jets. Some of them have already been diverted to St Maarten, and made to commute to Anguilla like any common man on the street. They must all be very upset with us.

Then, I get an e-mail. It reads [after some minor amendments]:

This runway extension matter is a real crisis. Government knew about it five years ago, told the civil aviation people they'd take care of it, then did nothing. CAA or whatever it's called said OK, we'll waive the requirement for the extra 500 feet for now. (This affects 70% of the private jets that land here.)

Now CAA has come back and said you promised to fix the problem but you've done nothing, so we're enforcing the regulations starting with immediate effect. And GOA have somehow found $12 million to do the job. PWD will coordinate it. God help Anguilla.

So the geniuses at PWD are going to play "Project Engineer." It's a disaster waiting to happen.

So they are out looking for marl, a LOT of it. There is extremely little left at the crown land at Corito so one genius wants to truck it in from West End. The cost, dirt, dust, traffic and noise would be horrendous.

I read the e-mail with alarm. The real story in it is whether it is true that this emergency is not something unexpected, but something we were warned about years ago when the airport was being extended. If so, were we careless about complying with the relevant airport authority regulations? If so, who is to blame?

Another important implication is whether our leaders will now say that it is such an emergency that there is no time to go through the normal tendering process designed to ensure there is no graft. Would they then hand out contracts to friends and supporters, leaving out of the process the likes of Grieg Hughes?

My concern is that procurement remains one of the soft spots in any West Indian government’s vulnerable underbelly of transparency and integrity.

I have checked these questions with the Department of Infrastructure. They assure me that the Department will follow GoA policies and procedures for the procurement of services, labour and material for this project. They promise they will review and approve the procurement methodologies to ensure integrity. They assure me that they take pride in ensuring that the project will be able to stand up to national and international scrutiny from a technical, engineering, financial, and management perspectives.

I hope so. It will be a fresh start. After all, they have not always done it before. There are no accounts and no reports published for the now 4-year old airport extension. No member of the public knows who got the tens of millions spent on that project.

Ask the Hon Edison Baird if you don’t believe me.

What is this about $12 million? I thought we were brokes!

And, do we have any confidence that the up-to-now secret GoA policies and procedures for tendering services, labour and materials have any integrity?

Related Posts:

26 February 2008 - Procurement

20 August, 2009


Why parents must be held more accountable and responsible. I was talking to the unmarried father of an 8 year old boy recently. He has a problem with the mother of his child. Every time he brings the child back to the mother after he has spent the weekend with him, the mother locks the child out of the house. She refuses to let him back in the house until he cries and begs to her satisfaction. She screams abuse at the child constantly. He has tried to get the Department of Social Development to help him, but there is nothing they can do under our present legal system. There is nothing the police or the court can do. There is no legal remedy. The mother has all the ‘rights’ and the father only has ‘obligations’. His concern is that the lack of love and affection is going to turn his child into a criminal one of these days. He is so right.

The present serious juvenile crime situation in Anguilla is a social phenomenon, not entirely susceptible to legal solutions. Only the parents can solve the nub or nut of the problem. The sad thing is that so many of our parents are themselves the product of broken and abusive homes. All they can do is to repeat the cycle of domestic abuse and neglect. It is human nature to do so. It is also an aspect of culture and education. When so many mothers and fathers have been educated to bring up anti-social children, why are we surprised when they so often succeed?

That is why some social reformers advocate holding parents responsible. We need to put more pressure on parents to perform their parenting role. It should be backed up with educational programmes on how to be a good father and good mother. It always amazes me how many parents do not begin to understand how destructive their example and behaviour is. Then, when we point the finger at them, they respond by saying it is unfair. No, it is not unfair.

If a mother or father persistently permits their child to be a truant from school, that ought to be a crime on the part of the parent.

If a mother or father persistently permits their child to mix with gangsters, that ought to be a crime on the part of the parent.

If a mother or father persistently permits their child to bear arms and offensive weapons in the home, that ought to be a crime on the part of the parent.

The object is not to punish the parent. The object is to convince the parent that he or she needs to do more to monitor and supervise the behaviour and acquaintances of their child.

The result will not be a flooding of our jail with delinquent parents. The Magistrate will make an example of one or two, and suddenly attitudes will change.

It is not the fine or the jail that is the wake up call. It is being brought before the court and named and shamed that is the effective part of prosecuting a social crime. We have to face reality as a society and take active steps to break the cycle of child abuse and negligent parenting.

Of course, if we were rich like the Americans or the British, we could try doing like them and throwing lots of money at the problem. I don't see that working for them, and we certainly can’t make that a solution here.

Just my thoughts, while I thank God every day that I am not a parent myself.

14 August, 2009

Sad day

Turks & Caicos Constitution Suspended. Shaun Malcolm said it eloquently this morning:

Not one person, not one person who contacted me or with whom I spoke, was sad because of the decision in London. The Country was in a state of Joy. The only additional sentiment they expressed was now an anxiousness to move forward as quickly as possible.

The Governor's statement was decisive.

With immediate effect, Ministerial government and the House of Assembly are suspended meaning that Cabinet will no longer exist and the House of Assembly is dissolved and Members’ seats are vacated. The constitutional right to trial by jury is also suspended with immediate effect. In accordance with the Order in Council, this will be for a period of two years, subject to extension or abbreviation as necessary.

All the perverse efforts of Galmo Williams and Michael Misick to agitate the Turks and Caicos people to rise up in street protests and confront the British and to stop the suspension of the Constitution have failed. Their day of reckoning is approaching.

Suspect West Indian leaders such as Ewart Brown of Bermuda have thrown their hands in support of Misick. It is brotherly of Brown to have found the time to show this solidarity. I would have thought he was too busy defending his own corruption accusations. In the event, he wasted his time.

The Jamaican media has been up to the same mischief. They have been siding with the interests of such prominent Jamaicans as Butch Stewart, Delroy Howell, and David Smith. These have been shown to be intimately involved with Misick in numerous private and suspect financial dealings.

The touting of the issue of colonialism across our region is an exercise in cynicism. It amounts to an abuse of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands one last time. The great majority of the Islanders have rejected the call to rise up. They realise that Williams and Misick’s sudden clamouring for independence is a desperate device to evade responsibility for what they have done.

The Constitution has been suspended, the House of Assembly dissolved, and Cabinet has been sent home. I say good riddance to bad rubbish.

It is a sad day for us in the West Indies when we look on and see the British Government suspending the Constitution of one of our fellow Overseas Territories. Are we the laughing stock of the rest of the world? Are they pointing their fingers at us and shaking their heads with dismay? Do they think that we are too immature and undisciplined to be able to govern ourselves? Well, they are wrong.

The people of the TCI have been severely let down. First, by their elected leaders, who used their high public office to line their own pockets. Second, by their local bureaucrats, who did nothing to reign in the wilder schemes of personal enrichment of their leaders. Third, by the opposition parliamentarians, who wished only that it could have been them feathering their own nests. Fourth, by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which ignored all the hints and pointers to the corruption that has been endemic in the TCI for decades. For the past 30 years we have all known that the TCI is the most corrupt of the British Overseas Territories. During all that time, the FCO denied that there was any sufficient evidence for it even to mount an investigation into official corruption.

The people of the TCI have been through this crisis before. The British suspended the government between 1984 and 1986 and sent the government home. Chief Minister Norman Saunders did not go home. He was in a gaol in Miami serving a sentence for attempting to smuggle a large package of cocaine through customs. The resulting rest period did not do the TC Islanders much good. Within ten years, they had once again elected a greedy bunch of politicians, including the now free Saunders, interested only in stuffing their mouths at the public trough.

The lesson is that merely suspending the local government and running the country directly from Westminster does not amount to reform. It is at most a step in the right direction. We learned that in 1984. What this suspension does is to provide the opportunity for the British to introduce the reforms that the local administration failed to put in place.

The present shut down of constitutional and democratic government, and the temporary imposition of higher supervision, will only have been worthwhile if the people of the TCI ensure it never happens again. We all know how that is to be done.

The question is, will the British help the TC Islanders to make it happen by putting the necessary safeguards into the law and the Constitution this time?

Or, will they be as thoughtless and as careless as they were the last time?

Related Posts:

28 December 2006: Corruption

9 August 2007: Public Accounts

9 February 2008: Self-government

24 May 2008: Open Mic

24 July 2008: Barbados

20 August 2008: Grenada

13 August, 2009


FCO Turns Down Anguilla Request to Extend Borrowing Limits. Well, we all heard Minister Banks speaking at the Chief Minister’s Weekly Press Conference this week. I cannot pretend to quote him exactly. However, he tells us in essence that the British turned down his plea to permit us to borrow more money. His proposal was that we be permitted to borrow a large amount of money to take us through the present recession.

We recall that just a couple of months ago the government persuaded the House of Assembly to approve issuing some $200 million in bonds. It was not so difficult to persuade the House. After all, of the 11 voting members of the House, only 2 are in Opposition. The British would be well aware of how farcical such an approval is.

Then our brilliant leaders discovered they needed Auntie’s approval to make the borrowing that had just been approved. So, off they went to London, expecting it would be a breeze. After all, everybody knows what good businessmen they are. How could anyone in London doubt the seriousness of their proposal? Especially when there are general elections due in six months’ time. Surely the politicians in London would understand the exigencies of the situation?

Well, there was just one question. How are you going to pay back the money you plan to borrow? You are not going to leave it to the British taxpayer to bail you out, are you? Oh, you have no plan! A hurricane may strike next month and set all your plans aside? Is that any reason not to have a plan for paying back the borrowing? Do you go to a bank to borrow and not come with a business plan showing how you expect to be able to repay? Is getting permission to increase borrowing any different? Of course it is not!

And, Hubert is so right. Government has just given away one of its main sources of revenue. And, apparently, to people who were not even asking for the gift. First, they announced that they were going to bail out Flag Luxury Resort by taking over the white elephant golf course in exchange for all the bed tax and aliens landholding revenue from that real estate development project. For the next thirty years! Then they announced that they will severely cut the taxes for Viceroy. Then, they will severely cut the taxes on real estate transactions with all foreigners until further notice.

Anguilla made its reputation as a destination of choice through its little up-market boutique resorts. We risked destroying that market by permitting mega-resorts like Flag and Viceroy. We said we were doing it for two reasons. One was we needed major new employers for our burgeoning population of school-leavers who were entering the work force. Secondly, we needed the revenue that the sales would produce. To hell with boutique and with up-market. It is a question of jobs.

Well, we permitted Flag and Viceroy to import massive amounts of cheap Asian ‘slave’ labour, resulting in minimal local employment. Then, we astonished them by gifting them with the opportunity to unload their over-priced units free of all sales taxes. Our explanation? We thought it was an excellent initiative to stimulate the economy!

No income. No ability to pay back borrowings. No way.

11 August, 2009


It is called phishing. Symantec reports that in July spam averaged around 89 percent of all e-mail. This compares with about 90% for June. Image spam, which sneaks past filters by embedding spam in an image, accounted for 17%. Health related spam declined 17%. 419 spam (often better known as Nigerian hoax spam) rose 3 %. Phishing e-mail often includes official-looking logos and other identifying information taken directly from a legitimate web site. It may include convincing details about your personal information that scammers found on your social networking pages. The main thing phishing e-mail messages have in common is that they ask for personal data, or direct you to web sites or phone numbers to call where they ask you to provide personal data. Once you are at one of these spoofed sites, you might unwittingly send personal information to the con artists. If you enter your login name, password, or other sensitive information, a criminal can use it to steal your identity, use your credit card, and empty your bank account.

Knowing this, when I got a letter from an old friend in Jamaica I had no difficulty in recognizing it was a con job of some kind.


How are you doing?hope all is well with you and family,I am sorry I didn't inform you about my traveling to England for a Seminar..

I need a favor from you because I misplaced my wallet on my way to the hotel where my money,and other valuable things were kept I will like you to assist me with a soft loan urgently with the sum of $2,500 US Dollars to sort-out my hotel bills and get myself back home.

I will appreciate whatever you can afford and i'll pay you back as soon as I return,Kindly let me know if you can be of help? so that I can send you the Details to use when sending the money through western union.


(***** signed with her special logo)

I must admit, knowing my old friend’s skills, the pathetic punctuation was the main giveaway. I did not for one moment believe it was an authentic message from her. So, I immediately sent her an email (not clicking on reply, but taking her address from my address book). I copied the fake email to her, and added:

Subject: computer taken over by worm
Date: Thu, 6 Aug 2009 06:18:41 -0400

Hi *****,

Better get your computer checked!!



Within minutes I got a response. It read:

Subject: RE: computer taken over by worm

Hello don,

Thank you for your concern and help. My email address has not been compromised, I sent you the mail in-order for you to help me out. Let me know if you can be of help to me.

(***** signed with her special logo)

I was amazed and horrified at the same time. I knew it was not from her, pathetic spelling and punctuation and all. Someone must have taken over her e-mail lock, stock and barrel. They had intercepted my e-mail!

All I could think of doing was to send a message to another friend in the same country, asking him to telephone our mutual friend to warn her that her email, and possibly her computer, had been infiltrated by someone who was pretending to be her, and who was using her e-mail service to con her friends. I wrote:

Hello *****,

Somebody has taken over *****'s computer and is using it to con her correspondents. I don't have a telephone number for her, or I would ring her to warn her.

As you will see from the below, the person has such control of her machine that he can answer messages emailed to her.

Sorry to trouble you, but I can think of no one else in Jamaica, except my friend ******, to whom I am also copying this email in the hope that he also knows ***** and can express my concern to her.



My friend tried to contact her, and, instead of telephoning her, sent her an e-mail. As I later responded to him,

Thanks, *****, but *****'s computer has been taken over by a phisher. Your email to her would have been intercepted. Best if you could give her a call. But, she probably knows by now from others of her friends.


I have not heard from my friend whose computer was compromised. I am afraid to send her another message.

Tell me if that exchange of correspondence would not have you freaked out. Not only was the English much better, the punctuation nearly perfect as it progressed, but you can see how many people would fall for such a con.

You have to wonder how many friendships are being compromised right this moment by similar conmen.

02 August, 2009

Ripped off

Were Osborne and Victor ripped off in London? A Chinese website seems to think so. China Travel Industry News is the ChinaContact Blog that claims to collect and expertly analyse all the news about China’s tourism sector. Those who read and listen to the local media will recall that at last week’s press conference the Chief Minister and the Minister of Finance reported on their activities during the previous week in London. They had gone there ostensibly to negotiate an increase in the Anguilla government’s borrowing powers. Britain holds a tight leash on the power of overseas territories’ governments to engage in borrowing that might come back to be a burden on the British Treasury Department.

While in London, the government delegation engaged in a number of unrelated, spur-of-the-moment activities. One of these adventures was to sign a contract with the Chinese Business Network. This is a London-based translation service. According to the Anguilla Minister of Finance, for a “very minimum fee of ₤5,500 Anguilla will be registered on their network. They will translate Anguilla’s promotion on their website and maintain it over a period . . .”. So Victor is reported as telling the Anguilla press.

What the China Travel Industry News Blog hints is that Anguilla was overcharged. A competitive pricing for the service contracted would have been more in the region of ₤1,500. We did not need the Blog to tell us that our government does not have a clue about how to market us. We did not need to have it rubbed in our face that we often act in a rash way without investigating the market properly. But, that is exactly what they imply about our leaders’ wild initiative:

For comparison, we charge our clients for building a Chinese version site and hosting it in China for a year around £500 + £200 for the hosting and registration of own domain name. Translation is an extra few hundred but the whole thing does not go over £1,500.

The point I am illustrating is that so many countries that are new destinations for the Chinese have no clue about how to market themselves and they often act in a rash way without investigating the market properly and seeing if their expectations are realistic.

What we at ChinaContact are hoping to do is raise the level of education and awareness about the Chinese market in an honest and transparent way. It is easy to lose control of your marketing if you don’t understand the market for yourself.

If only our boys had sought and taken a little advice first while they were in London!

Why do we have to be so cowboy about everything?