Letter To Chief minister banks from anguilla concerned citizens group

anguillian
By anguillian December 28, 2015 11:18 Updated

 

 

10 December 2015

Hon. Victor F. Banks
Chief Minister and Minister of Finance
Ministry of Finance, Government of Anguilla
The Secretariat
The Valley
Anguilla

Dear Mr. Banks,

We write to you to express our great disappointment with the 2016 Government Budget you presented to the people of Anguilla in our House of Assembly yesterday. You mentioned fiscal prudence, but it is very difficult to see the fiscal prudence whatsoever in your budget. Instead of a reduction in the budget to reflect Anguilla’s continuing deep recessionary economic environment, which would have been fiscally prudent given Anguilla’s high unemployment, suffocating and shrinking private sector, and current banking crisis, you presented a substantially increased budget of some 20% in the face of steadily reducing ability of the people of Anguilla to sustain such an increased budget.

Further, despite your reference to the need to grow the economy and “a robust growth strategy”, “a return to robust and steady growth”, “make tough decisions”, we see nothing in your budget that even really addresses or seeks to stimulate any economic growth whatsoever or makes any tough decisions. In fact, what has been presented to the people of Anguilla is quite the opposite: no growth; further decimation of the economy through increased extraction of already non-existent cash from the pockets of the people and businesses of Anguilla which can only have the impact of further constraining economic growth. We also see a carefree and callous failure to reduce unnecessary government expenditure and associated taxation despite the financial hardship being faced by the people and businesses of Anguilla over a prolonged period now Into its eighth year.
There is no question that high electricity prices have been playing a major role in strangling Anguilla’s economy, and just when it appeared that declining oil prices would provide some relief to our people you have chosen to increase the tax on electricity consumption. How much more uncaring will you be of your people’s plight? While on the one hand you indicated that property values have fallen considerably, your budget practically doubles property tax receipts- how can much reduced property values result in much increased property taxes?
Your people are in danger of losing their homes and lands en masse through inability to meet their debts in this deeply recessionary economy, yet instead of producing a budget that creatively assists your people to recover themselves financially, you increase their tax burden in several areas thereby extracting millions of additional dollars from them that they need to save themselves from the loss of their homes and lands. Mr. Chief Minister, why are you doing this? There must be a better way.
Chief Minister, it appears that you are deaf to the calls of your people and seemingly inured against empathizing with the longsuffering of your people. We ask you one more time: please reconsider this Budget and reduce it. In our view there is substantial scope to meaningfully reduce government expenditure and associated taxation while at the same time allocating funds to new objectives, without significantly impairing the provision of government sefvices. We have no desire to make it difficult for your government. We simply seek an approach to government that operates much more efficiently and effectively and lightens the burden on your people during this time of serious financial hardship being suffered virtually by all, people and businesses alike.
Mister Chief Minister, in the interest of participatory democracy and with a view of easing the pain and burden on the people and businesses which are already stressed, We kindly request the following; that a team of selected persons from the Concerned Citizens Group be afforded the opportunity to meet with a team of persons from the Ministry of Finance to review the budget proposals for 2016 before the Bill receives its third reading. The purpose of the review will be to propose adjustments that can be made without any significant program lost while resulting in great benefits to the people and businesses of Anguilla.
Thank you for your understanding and positive response.

Respectfully yours,

Editor’s Note:
In the edition of The Anguillian for Friday, December 18, 2015, we published a letter to Chief Minister, Mr. Victor Banks. It was read and delivered to him by the Concerned Citizens Group during their recent protest march regarding the 2016 Budget.

Since then, the writer, Reverend Dr. H. Clifton Niles, reported that the wrong letter, which needed editing, was inadvertently sent to the newspaper. He requested that the above version should be published in this edition of the newspaper.

anguillian
By anguillian December 28, 2015 11:18 Updated

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