PIES IN THE SKY

anguillian
By anguillian February 15, 2013 09:15

PIES IN THE SKY

 

Anguilla has never been in such a dismal fiscal and economic malady as it is today. Everybody is crying. It seems more and more that the island is closing down, with various businesses reporting serious financial difficulty. Job creation is not only virtually non-existent, but those who have jobs are either being sent home or on the verge of losing them.

The sadness about the whole affair is that Anguilla, a once prosperous island, and the envy of some of its neighbours, is now in a wretched situation with many of its people standing in the poverty line. While it is true that Anguilla’s economic plight is shared by other countries and territories, in our case it appears that we are being relegated to the pre-revolutionary days when our island was considered to be a backwater in the Caribbean.

The 1967 revolution was about changing that situation and, for a considerable time, particularly after 1980, when Anguilla achieved formal separation from St. Kitts-Nevis, the island began to show some signs of prosperity. That development, principally in the tourism and construction sectors, eventually progressed and by the next 25 years it reached a highpoint with full employment for Anguillians and other Caribbean workers. It was only from 2008, when the global depression really set in, that our prosperity quickly began to go downhill, starting with the closure of the Flag/Temenos golf course project. Luckily for us today, the Viceroy property, then also being undertaken by the KOR Group, was able to weather the storm. Today, both Viceroy and CuisinArt Golf Resort and Spa (which took over the Flag/Temenos project)are the main functioning properties on the island, keeping the tourism industry in Anguilla alive and employees in their jobs.

The economic downturn, which severely struck Anguilla in 2008, and continued thereafter,was undoubtedly one of the reasons for the removal from office of the AUF Government in the February 2010 general election. In fact, the state of the economy was the highlight of the AUM campaign which accused the Government of mismanagement of the economy and wastage of the island’s finances. The eventual election of the AUM Government to office was touted as an opportunity to rebuild or, in the words of Chief Minister Hughes, “toturn around the economy” and put the people of the island back to work.

It is both unfortunate and disappointing that Anguilla appears to be in a worst state of economic and financial deprivation than previously. The promise of economic recovery, even in its slightest form, has not materialised.This week the Government should have been observing its third anniversary but, sadly, there is really nothing to celebrate about. The Chief Minister is not even in Anguilla, having gone to the Falklands saying he would be speaking on self-determination at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference at which Anguilla was only accorded observer status.

After three years in office, all that is on the Government’s record of accomplishment is a string of signed MOUs on paper,largely perhaps with speculators. At first the MOUs for the proposed tourism projects were taken to the House of Assembly for approval, but recently they have even been signed in the absence of the media with no opportunities for questions or explanations.Today, only Zemi Beach Resort has shown some semblance of construction activity – along with the recently-acquired CuisinArt Golf Resort and Spa project where full rebuilding work is to be undertaken later.

Aside from these two projects, the majority of the MOU projects are pies in the sky. They are unreachable by a starving people in search of employment, and unattainable by a Government which speaks about finding work for them and to boost the failing economy, but without success. If these MOUs had turned out to be productive, many workers, including those now sent home by Cap Juluca and Malliouhana, and others, would have quickly found employment elsewhere. This is not a happy situation for a Government – after three years in office – with glaring unfulfilled promises, and a preoccupation with independence which is not a solution.

anguillian
By anguillian February 15, 2013 09:15

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