PS FINANCE: “STOP THE BICKERING”

anguillian
By anguillian September 14, 2012 09:25

PS FINANCE: “STOP THE BICKERING”

 

PS Dr. Aidan Harrigan

“Anguilla is at a fundamental crossroad. It is a moment of truth for us as a country,” Permanent Secretary, Dr. Aidan Harrigan, stated in his touching, but candid, opening remarks at the public forum (on Monday) on the island’s economic and fiscal position.

 

Dr.Harrigan, widely-known for his usually reserved disposition, was noticeably perturbed by the growing economic and fiscal situation, and attitudes of persons, affecting the island. He stressed that there was a need “for us to come to decisions in terms ofAnguilla.” He stated that Chief Minister Hughes “has suggested that all the infighting has to stop, and I agree because there are bigger things going on.”

 

He continued: “There are people at Cap Juluca who are concerned about their future; there are people at Malliouhana, which has been closed, and they are out of work – and still today they don’t know what is going to happen; and the news is getting worse and worse. Recently, LIME indicated that they will be laying-off people and so on.

 

“The way the system is set up, here inAnguilla, political administrations change because we have a competitive political process but, in the main, the civil service remains as it is in terms of the technical people. Most of us, especially at the senior level, were there when the United Front Administration was in office…Sometimes the role of technical people and permanent secretaries is almost an impossible job…and sometimes, too, people tend to forget that we have personal lives and cannot be devoting 24 hours of the day to Anguilla…because we have our families too. As I said, I think this is a moment of truth and we really, as a nation, have to act that way.”

 

Dr. Harrigan went on: “I don’t follow the blogs, the public meetings and all these things, day by day, and the constant back and forth, but you do hear things.It is interesting [to hear] the sting and the distortion that goes on, on both sides. I am suggesting that enough is enough and we have to stop that.”

 

The Permanent Secretary said, “the world has fallen apart” andAnguillawas not immune to the situation. “The interesting thing, which always astonishes me, is we have a newspaper…and if you go back to all the issues of The Anguillian, you would find the pattern of events that have been affecting Anguilla in various positions. They have been facts and statistics. You can dispute a lot of things, but it is hard to dispute statistics.”

 

He stated that the reason for the forum was to inform the people ofAnguillaabout the economic and fiscal facts so that they could understand what was taking place on the island, and what was required.

 

The Anguillian Economist noted that after growing in 2007, by almost 18% in real GDP terms, Anguilla experienced a deceleration in growth in 2008 to only 3-4%.As a result, the then United Front Government took serious action and commissioned the Ministry of Finance’s technocrats to devise a fiscal and economic plan in 2009 which included salary cuts. Despite that, the year ended with a deficit of 70 million dollars and in 2010, an election year, the Government did not produce a 2010 budget. He spoke about the tedious budgetary work when the new AUM Government assumed office that year, the burden the lack of a budget placed on the technocrats, the disapprovals of budgets by the UK Government, and the impasses and frustrations that resulted.

 

Dr. Harrigan, commenting on British technical teams coming to Anguilla, was pleased that he and other personnel in the Ministry of Finance were trained by Government over the years, and now had the expertise to meet the demands of the island’s economic and fiscal work themselves.

 

“I keep telling the younger folk in the Ministry that the Government and people ofAnguilla[funded their training] and they were not in their current positions for their good looks,” he said. “A lot of resources have been invested in them so you have the technical knowledge, and you must have the courage of your convictions – professionally and whatever.

 

“Irrespective of whether it is UK Government officials, CDB officials, or the European Union, if they put something before you, you are trained. By the nature of your training, you are supposed to ask questions – else what is the point of all of this training?”

 

Dr. Harrigan recounted the dedicated work of the technical staff in the Ministry of Finance and emphasised: “We have confidence in ourselves, and look at the amount of training we have got.”

 

He added: “In terms of the Borrowing Guidelines, and this week of negotiations to replace those guidelines, we thought that it was important to give the public a chance to hear what was proposed. We also thought to update the public in terms of the state of the finances as of today.”

 

He spoke at some length on various economic and financial matters affecting Anguilla, and on the new Framework for Fiscal Responsibility which is to be agreed between the Governments of Anguilla and theUK.

 

anguillian
By anguillian September 14, 2012 09:25

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