18 April, 2010


Scotty asked a good question.  Am I so comfortable with the new administration in Anguilla that I have converted this blog into a constitutional tutorial?  That deserves an answer.  Well, here goes my attempt to be clear on what I am doing with this blog.
Yes, the new administration does deserve a short period to become familiar with the issues and to develop policy in relation to them without being sniped at by me from the sidelines.  The election campaign was quite passionate.  Temperatures became very high.  Things must be allowed to cool down.  The new government has not been in place for two full months.  There is no healthy purpose in digging at minor scratches and bumps when the body politic needs to heal.  I am sure I shall feel quite differently in a year or two.
Then, I am not aware of anything terribly wrong that the new Hubert Hughes administration is doing that needs to be highlighted.  I am not aware of any scandals or maladministration that need to be exposed to the light of day. 
If anything, my very minor complaint has to do with the lack of information coming out of the administration.  Hubert has not done what we have all been asking and introducing more transparency into the system.  He has allowed himself to go along with the traditional British system of secrecy in Anguilla’s administration.  What do I mean by this?
One, he should insist that the press be invited to Executive Council meetings.  Except for matters of national security, which will be dealt with in private, the public ought to be informed weekly by the mainstream press what matters have been discussed and what decisions have been reached by our cabinet.
Two, if the Governor does not permit this, he should go on national radio and TV every week and give a summary report to the public on what matters were discussed and what decisions were reached.  If the Governor tries to stop him, let him point out that in other British Overseas Territories this is a routine matter.  There is nothing wrong with it in principle or in practice.  On the contrary, it is very bad for his reputation and that of his government if he continues to let everything done by his administration remain shrouded in secrecy and subject to baseless rumour.
Three, the most important reform that we need in Anguilla, as a matter of urgency, is constitutional reform that will entrench measures designed to ensure transparency, accountability and integrity in government in the future.  We all know what these measures are, as I have dealt with them extensively before.  They range from the enlargement of the House of Assembly to improve debate and to enlarge the catchment area for appointing ministers, to the ombudsman, to the integrity commissioner, to the public service, teachers and police commissions, to the tenders board, to the freedom of information Act, and the many others.  These reforms all need to be embedded in the Constitution and given real teeth, not cosmetic ones.  Most of them cannot be achieved by common statute, far less by administrative reform.
In light of this last, I think it is worth harping on about weaknesses in the Constitution for the next year or two if necessary.
Of course, if there are any real errors in administration that need exposing please let me know about them so that I can write my views on them.


  1. Dear Don,
    I thank you for being so quick and direct in responding to "Scotty."

    In many places on the island I hear of instances of blatant racism by menbers of the present administration. I hear this from belongers in the tourist industry and it recalls an attitude that, in the past, was most destructive to the Island's image.

    It has always been tempting, especially to politicians, to place the blame for economic distress, on a minority.

    Right now, it seems, the "Chinese" are in the spotlight. Suddenly, their businees acumen has raised the ire of the present admimistration. The excecution of pure capitalisim, long hours at work, lower prices, giving people what they want (even if the greasy food leads to obesity and diabetes) buying in bulk, has lead this administration to see them has an ethnic threat.

    So where is the "secret plan" that the CM promised he would reveal after the election.?
    Even the vapid "Anguillian" finanlly has started to ask the right questions.

    Don, you are too tolerant. There is no time to waste.

    Why not start by asking if the CM is now paying his property taxes.

  2. Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and
    abandoned, everywhere is war and until there are no longer first-class and second-class citizens of any nation, until the
    color of a man's skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes. And until the basic human rights are equally
    guaranteed to all without regard to race, there is war. And until that day, the dream of lasting peace, world citizenship,
    rule of international morality, will remain but a fleeting illusion to be pursued, but never attained... now everywhere
    is war. --Bob Marley, based in part on a speech by Emperor Haile Selassie to the United Nations

  3. when will the locals have access to the same capital as the Chinese.
    This problem with investors coming in and marginalising the local merchants is something seen across the Caribbean and is something to be guarded against.
    The use of investors from the island's standpoint is to enhance not takeover the island's economy for the locals benefit. In the event the benefits accrued are less than the detrimental factors, the investment/s should be discouraged.
    Their work ethic and hands on approach by the family is commendable. But the number of Chinees restaurants needs to be curtailed. The need for an alternative exotic style of cooking may need to be explored. A Guyannese or Trinidadiand cookshop maybe.

  4. Who said the Chinese had/have access to capital? Maybe they worked long enough and hard enough and earned enough to operate from a “Cash” position? How does an investor come in and marginalize locals, as CaribbeanMan posted by working hard each day from sun up to sun down, or maybe by observing a niche in the market place and filling it? You may choose to guard against such business acumen, but that’s called isolationism, and that will not help Anguilla develop a strong independent diversified economy.

    CaribbeanMan believes ..”the use of investors is to enhance the local economy” and he is right, however, without the inflow of capital, new ideas and commerce the islands economy will always be dependent on other nations. Knock down all the hotels from the island and send the economy and residents back 30 yrs. To suggest that investors should then mind their place after taking the risk on business is comical.

    Diversification and competition is the key to any economy, it is what drives innovation and kindles the drive inside men to succeed. Restrict completion and you trample innovation, dampen the drive to succeed and you create environments where mediocrity becomes the norm and socialism takes hold. Just look at Cuba and Venezuela as 2 Caribbean examples. .

    CaribbeanMans’ point may have been to hold on to a Caribbean way of life and culture, and for that he is right and the government should make the effort to delicately balance the outward influences while holding to the Anguillian culture. But the economy must be diversified and that will only come from foreign investment and the investment will NOT flow if the reward is NOT there. So to think that foreign investors are simply a "tool" to show locals how it can be and then they get pushed aside, is to fail to understand the cornerstone of investment….thus marginalizing the country at your own hand.

  5. Dear Sir/Madam
    Why speak of what we do not know?
    1- The 'staking' of the Chineese and Indian enterprises in access to less costly stock and finances and higher quality stock is documented across the Caribbean.
    Albeit this is good business practices from their point of view.
    By the vey definition of a citizen/belonger there is a categorisation between the citizen and the foreigner,this does not deny the foreigner their human rights and the need to be treated with courtesy. In Anguilla and I would imagine elsewhere, investor in a nation ought to be controlled in the interest of protecting the mores,values and interests of the people/citizens of the nation. eg: the stripper industry investor may require a strong measure of control. The investor must have parameters within which to operate. These parameters HAVE to be governed by the mores and values of the nations.
    IF the benefits ACCRUED are less than the detriments SUFFERED.

    Nevertheless the agreeing with me initially in your paragraphs then proceeding to flail about apears rathe facetious.

    CaribbeanMan :-)

  6. Very good points. However, is it at all possible to train/educate Anguillians in the functioning of capital and redirecting the behavior of local, non-foreign capital into a network in which Anguillian capital becomes a primary financial mechanism with enough leverage to offset foreign enterprise whether Chinese or otherwise?

  7. Facetious or not, Caribbean Man is once again correct that any business must operate within the morals of the society. Of course such boundaries all ready exist in the business/licensing codes otherwise any business would not be legitimate. But the under current of the April 25th and May 4th comments is nationalism or worse. “the number of Chinees restaurants needs to be curtailed. The need for an alternative exotic style of cooking may need to be explored. A Guyannese or Trinidadiand cookshop maybe”.

    On a Friday afternoon or Saturday morning are not these “Chinese or Indian” foreigners hard at work? If they were not providing a service which the community finds of value (within the local business codes) wouldn’t they go broke? I’m sure they are not operating as drug dealers or strip club operators which the community would be right to object to.

    Do you suppose that when the “Chinese or Indian” foreigners enter the bank to request a loan they are given preferential loan rates or terms which are not available to the average local businessman/woman? Why would NBA or CCB show such favoritism to a foreigner? No they are in the business to loan money for a profit while minimizing default risk...that is their business. If locals can’t get loans then there is a fundamental disconnect between the risk and reward for the bank. Fix that fix the disconnect.

    Bemoaning the existence of foreign businessmen/women only exposes the disconnect; they did not create it. If the market will support a Guyannese or Trinidadiand cookshop then open one! The idea that there are “forces aligned against me” is hogwash and a cop-out for hard work, perseverance and an iron will...all of which the “Chinese or Indian” foreigners demonstrate.

  8. In the event the undercurrent of my mailings are misunderstood let me clarify my position.
    If the Foreign investor must kowtow to my desire to have Anguillian as the first choice then I am NATIONALISTIC.
    If I desire the Laws of the land to reflect a policy of diversifying the culinary and price range of our restaurants in the island the I am NATIONALISTIC. perhaps we may invite a Korean/Japanese/Thai/Antigua/Cuban themed restaurant

    Anguilla has not as yet achieved nationhood. Yet in our recent past we have thrown off one weighty shackle in our governing of our affairs, we are yet young as governance goes; and our Laws, Codes and Policies reflect that youth and naivete along-with the practice of such.
    But how does one legislate the ethos and mores of a Community to the Foreign Investor the things that we hold dear?
    Are Laws the only boundaries an Investor must subscribe to? Are Laws the only boundaries you as the citizen of AXA must subscribe to?

    So how you as the citizen subscribe to these unwritten mores and convention and the investor does not. Have you not become a SECOND CLASS citizen in your home? All this to deny the label of a nationalist or worse.

    "If locals can’t get loans then there is a fundamental disconnect between the risk and reward for the bank. Fix that fix the disconnect"

    This 800lb gorilla has been around so long most have learnt to run with it.

    (within the local business codes) School children are seen serving beer , working after eight, nine , ten, eleven, hmmm

    CaribbeanMan ;-)

  9. Then what your lamenting are the growing pains of a country. Every time a country lets foreigners in, it gives up a little bit of its own identity. Naturally the smaller the population which your dealing with, AXA, the more visible this becomes. Such is the case with France and N. Africans, G.B. with middle Easterners, the USA with everyone nation on earth, Canada with middle Easterners and so on. And yes it is the definition of Nationalistic, to stem this erosion of ones culture.

    But what you (in my words) lament can’t be avoided from the trajectory which AXA is and has been headed on. When the government seeks only to attract hotels and resorts which locals are workers in, the locals are providing a service industry. Sadly by the very nature of these jobs cause locals to become second–class-citizens, service based economy always are! When restaurants and shops cater to the foreign visitors and are priced outside the reach of locals due to the service economy, locals become second–class-citizens. This natural occurrence can only be avoided if locals are the ones who own the hotels, resorts, golf courses or high end shops but as history is our example, and you point out, this is not happening. This is not the Chinese, Indian, or foreign businessman’s fault. This is the result of the government picking the low hanging fruit; it has chosen to pander for votes with its electorate to get/stay in power. For a country hungry for jobs gov. brings hotels and development and for that moment the crisis is solved – or is it? No they just kick the can further down the road; they have not addressed the real problem.

    What Anguilla needs, is to diversify its economy away from tourism/service. Believe it or not there was a recent instance where the current and former administrations had an opportunity to bring an industry to Anguilla other than tourism. The former administration stonewalled the proposal and sought to extract fees from the petitioner to full the treasury and reduce the financial hemorrhaging. The current administration cant even make up its mind if it wants to respond. But they are sure they want to travel to NYC to rub elbows with the tourist industry. This diversification unfortunately can’t take place until foreign businesses are embraced. In their zeal to stop the hemorrhaging, the current administration is making the investment climate in AXA, for the little capital which is looking for a home, to look elsewhere leaving only tourism as the economy’s engine. Now we have come full circle. However, there are other business and opportunities which can diversify the economy and give choice to the Anguillian’s other then second-class maid/gardening/restaurant service jobs. But they will not be started by locals unfortunately.

    Clearly and to your point, like a guest in your home; foreigners need to respect local customs. But as with your home, if you’re going to open it to friends and neighbors, then you take them as they are....not as you want them to be. If they misbehave, then you ask them to leave and not return.


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