CHIEF MINISTER: “I WILL NOT ACCEPT TRANSFERS OF PERMANENT SECRETARIES”

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By admin August 19, 2011 10:20

CHIEF MINISTER: “I WILL NOT ACCEPT TRANSFERS OF PERMANENT SECRETARIES”

Chief Minister and Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Hubert Hughes, has taken issue with the decision of the Deputy Governor, Stanley Reid, to transfer four Permanent Secretaries, particularly the two in Mr. Hughes’ Ministry, with effect from January 2012.

 

Chief Minister Hubert Hughes
Chief Minister Hubert Hughes

Mr. Hughes claims that it is an attempt by the Foreign Office to destabilize his Government and vows that he will not accept the transfers announced as follows:Dr. Aidan Harrigan, Permanent Secretary, Economic Development, to replace Mrs. Kathleen Rogers, Permanent Secretary Finance, who will replaceArjul Wilson who is to be Permanent Secretary, Home Affairs, succeeding Foster Rogers who is to take over from Dr. Harrigan. Mr. Hughes called a press conference on Friday, August 12, at which the transfers of the Permanent Secretaries was the main talking point.

He claimed that the decision to transfer Dr. Harrigan and Mrs. Rogers stemmed from the budgets which did not meet the approval of the British Government. “The ploy now is to victimize those people, who proved the budgets’ refusal to be futile, especially Kathleen Rogers who has been so professional in dealing with the budgetary situation and making sure it was properly done,” he told reporters.

Mr. Hughes continued: “What is the reason for the Governor and Deputy Governor, at this point in time, wanting to do this kind of transfer? They said they would transfer Permanent Secretaries, but it is significant to note they have not touched the two Permanent Secretaries in the Ministry of Social Development because they do not want to offend Mr. Baird, so Mr. Baird’s two Permanent Secretaries are not touched. They have not touched the Permanent Secretary in Public Works, the Ministry of Infrastructure, because, of course, the Permanent Secretary there is a special boy and he is taking care of [Minister] Evan whatever that means. They are quite happy with that. He can humiliate Evan as much as he wants. This will be okay so that suits their purposes.”

He charged that the Governor’s Office had decided to target two Ministries including Mr. Walcott Richardson’s Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration, Labour, Lands and Planning, and his. “The Governor has taken the Visa Waiver situation in his own hands, so virtually he has taken over immigration,” Mr. Hughes contended. “Nowhere, in the colonial world, this is acceptable. That is retrogressive for a colonial Governor to deal with immigration in a colonial territory because everyone knows that the expats who have the big jobs in Anguilla are white people (sorry to say white and black but a lot of people wouldn’t understand it if I say Caucasian), and there is a saying that the Governor guarantees these people that their work permits would be renewed no matter what even though Anguillians may be qualified…”

The Chief Minister went on: “When the Governor first raised the issue of Visa Waivers in the Executive Council, sometime ago, I was so annoyed. I said, ‘Governor where are you going with that?’ so he withdrew it. Surprisingly, that afternoon, the Governor had a big press release out that he had taken the Visa Waiver portfolio in his own hands which is completely disrespectful to the people of Anguilla…He made sure he took all the Visa Waiver files down in his office… and he refused to bring them back because he doesn’t want the world to know that thousands of Visa Waivers had been granted by various officials in the last Government, so he has them hidden. But he advertised the Visa Waivers that had been given out by Mr. Walcott Richardson on the advice of his technocrats so he made that a scandalous issue. Walcott was supposed to have been a very unethical guy; he was seeking favours. As a matter of fact, it was insinuated by scandals around the island that he was even seeking favours from female clients who come to his office. All of this went out and when the West End people decided to come out and defend their man, all this ceased.”

Returning to the transfers, Mr. Hughes said the Governor was supposed to consult with the Chief Minister, not the Executive Council, when dealing with top posts in the civil service. “Neither the Governor nor the Deputy Governor has ever come to my office and said to me:‘What is your opinion on transferring Permanent Secretaries at this time?’ That has never been done. The Deputy Governor issued a statement some time ago that they will be considering transfers of Permanent Secretaries…

“The next time we met, the Deputy Governor, Stanley Reid, issued a paper in the Executive Council that he has decided to transfer Kathleen Rogers to the portfolio of Administration. If you want to do administration you need to have a university course in administration. The system is already weak and he wants to weaken it further because Kathleen Rogers had never had any training or exposure to administration per se as a portfolio; but Kathleen Rogers is a kingpin in the Ministry of Finance…If the Eastern Caribbean Currency Authority calls me tomorrow for technical information on anything relating to the bank or finance, there is only one individual right now who can supply me with that information at her fingertips and that’s Kathleen Rogers…

“They have now decided that they will take Aidan Harrigan, who is an Economist, [and] who has a doctorate in Economics, and supplies professional economic advice and rationale in every discussion…But Aidan Harrigan’s training is not in Finance and Accounts…What the Governor wants to do, and Deputy Governor, who is extremely arrogant, wants to do, is to put Mr. Foster Rogers as my Economic Adviser, replacing Dr. Harrigan. Mr. Foster Rogers is a genius when it comes to the portfolio he is running. Today we have a very critical exercise over Flag Luxury, with Mr. Rizzuto of CuisinArt who won the bid a few weeks ago, and Foster Rogers came out and led that discussion with outstanding professionalism.

“We cannot afford to lose that expertise from the Ministry of Lands especially at this time when there is so much upheaval in the tourism industry with Malliouhana on the verge of being sold; with Flag Luxury, that critical project, on the verge of being negotiated [but] still not concluded; and with [the process of auction of] Viceroy still not complete…They are having problems now at Covecastle as well; Cap Juluca is still not settled…We cannot sacrifice the expertise of Mr. Foster Rogers from the Ministry of Lands and Planning at this critical moment in our history. Foster Rogers is far too good, far too qualified
in that area, to be sacrificed to bring him in as my Economic Adviser (and I was brave enough to tell Mr. Rogers that I studied more economics than he, so he can’t advise me on economics).

“I want the people of Anguilla to know that I have a moral responsibility to tell them the truth because they are paying…the salaries of civil servants, not the Governor, not Stanley Reid, not the Foreign Office.”

The Chief Minister argued that “consultation is a to-and-fro exercise, but if there is conflict over the issue of consultation that means that something is fundamentally wrong; and there is serious conflict.” He said he had written “a letter to Mr. Reid dealing with consultation andthe issue of bad usage of our limited technical resources.” He said he had quoted to him a statement contained in an advertisement for a Permanent Secretary which stated that such a person could be transferred to any Permanent Secretary post within his or her competence. He continued: “I quoted that, and I said the relevant point here is ‘within his or her competence’ and I went on to show where transferring Kathleen Rogers out of Finance, where she had the competence, into administration where she had no competence, defeats this particular criteria. I also said the same thing about Foster Rogers – moving him out of Home Affairs where he is extremely competent and putting him as an Economist which he has never studied. That’s out of his competence. And to take Aidan Harrigan where he is an Economist and gives advice on economic formulas and principles and put him to do Finance and Accounts is out of his competence.”

Mr. Hughes charged that Mr. Reid had completely ignoredhis letter and arguments. “This is his letter. As you can see this is a scrappy letter. That‘s total disrespect,” he stated, interspersing his comments with the text of the letter. ‘This is what he said… Please beassured that proper consideration has been given to the transfer of Permanent Secretaries’. Proper consultation by whom – Mr. Stanley Reid? That’s arrogance. The transfers are expected to benefit the Government and people of Anguilla, the AnguillaPublic Service and thetransferees themselves. That is Mr. Reid’s opinion; an opinion is not a fact and this is not factual. That is his bias opinion.” He continued to read Mr. Reid’s letter: ‘During the process, all requirements had been adhered to.You were fully consulted and due regard has been given to your representations.(If I were fully consulted, why would I be arguing with him from the very start? Fully consulted is to inform me?) I am sorry that you are having difficulties with these transfers (So I must accept them.) I would however urge you to ensure that your actions donot hinder public officers directly or indirectly affected by the transfers in the conduct of their duties during the transition period and beyond. (That’s a threat from a civil servant to a duly elected leader of the people. So if I don’t do what he orders, then I could anticipate any action that he would take against me so he will dismiss me because I am employed by him.) Any such hindrance can potentially stymie thework public officers engage in daily for the benefitof the generalpublic. This I anticipate neither of us will welcome. (That’s a harsh one. That’s what his letter is.)”

The Chief Minister, who said he had written to Mr. Reid on July 27, stated that the Deputy Governor sent out the letters of appointment to the respective Permanent Secretaries on July 22. He said that they were informed by Mr. Reid that following consultations with the Public Service Commission and the Chief Minister he was formally advising them that effective January 1, 2012, they would assume their appointments. He hoped that “the Permanent Secretaries and Ministers would work together to ensure a smooth transition.”

Mr. Hughes commented: “If Mr. Reid feels that he has all this power, then I hope he cuts a good whip to beat me with because I was knocked down in the House of Assembly already from the back, and this time he would certainly have to beat me from the back.”

He went on: “These transfers are meant to destroy the efficiency of the Anguilla administration, and they are meant to pre-occupy me with conflicts with the Governor’s Office and at the same time to destroy Anguilla and destabilize the Government. I will not accept them and I will not work with them.”

The Chief Minister was asked in view of that statement whether he would advise his Permanent Secretaries not to accept their transfers. He replied as follows:
“I am in no position to advise Permanent Secretaries what to do. Permanent Secretaries are governed by General Orders and they have to do what they are told. Not me. The people elected me and I represent the people. Permanent Secretaries can’t fight, and I couldonly fight for Permanent Secretaries as far as my responsibility to the general public. They are members of the general public and I will fight for them in this regard. I will not allow them to be taken advantage of, like every other citizen of Anguilla. At the same time, they are bound by contract under General Orders so whatever the Governor tells them, Let them do or die.”

 

admin
By admin August 19, 2011 10:20

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