“ANGUILLA: SITUATION HOPELESS BUT NOT FATAL” by Tyrone Hodge

anguillian
By anguillian September 26, 2016 09:51 Updated

 

 

“Power does not concede anything without demand,” (Frederick Douglas).

Almost two years into the Victor Banks-led government and we are still waiting for the promises that were made to be kept. We know of at least two whose shelf life have already expired. Of course I’m referring to the resurrection of the indigenous banks and the repeal of the Stabilization Levy.

Given what has gone on, nothing that happens from here on in will come as a shock, for we have grown accustomed to the whimsical manner in which this government operates. It was pointed out in so many words by the Honorable Opposition Member, Ms Webster, that this government is tantamount to a Mickey Mouse one.

With all the unforced errors that this government has made, the appointment of a Chief Financial Officer (CFO), by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, is a further erosion of their trust in this government to execute the duties of that office. It was also learned that this draft legislation has been around ever since the Hubert Hughes Administration, but was never consummated for whatever reason.

There was some talk late last year when this topic was broached once again, and we remember the Minister of Finance, Mr. Banks, being adamant in his assertion that any such action would in his own words be: “Over my dead body,” so it looks as though rigor mortis is about to set in for the CFO took up his position on September the 19th. What his powers entail aren’t quite known just as yet, but it will be very interesting.

It is somewhat hypocritical to hear the CM trying to rally the troops to stand with him against the British intentions. Mr. Chief Minister, there are many old sayings out there that come to mind, right now, but the one that stands out is “Live by the sword, die by the sword.”

Democracy as defined by Abraham Lincoln is “Government of the people, by the people, for the people.” It is said that democracy is the most challenging form of government there is, both for politicians and the people alike. Democracies came about as a reaction to the concentration and the abuse of powers by the rulers. Of democracy, Winston Churchill had this to say: “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

In that we in Anguilla have been trying for the last twenty years to reform our constitution should say something of where we are as a nation. The United Kingdom, from whom we inherited the Westminster Model, failed to give us the wherewithal and the know how to properly execute the Westminster Model. What we have wound up with is a system which is conducive to one party rule, putting in place an elective dictatorship. A true democracy would be one in which everyone has a say in what happens, but since that’s not practical or realistic we wound up with a representative form of government which is really not much better. These elected dictatorships are party oriented and, more often than not, have no obligations by law and no reasons to base their votes on the issues at hand. Their obligations are to the party rather than the wishes of the people, that is until the next election comes around.

This type of behavior has been the norm and not the exception in Anguilla. We listen to each party platform and, based on their pitch, we then go out and elect these people, hoping against all odds that they will keep their promises. When they don’t we really don’t have any recourse except to wait another five years at which time we throw the bums out, and then we start all over again.
Somewhere along the way someone has to realize that we can’t continue to do what we have been doing. The world has changed and we more than anyone else ought to be able to recognize this. We have not done anything differently in almost forty years. As you go around the Caribbean Basin, you learn about what the other countries in the region are doing to better the lives of their people. Instead of our government getting up off of their rear ends to do the job for which they were hired, they get bogged down in trivial stuff.

This government have failed us in every way, shape and form. Not only have they failed us. They have done irreparable harm to this and succeeding generations to come. As a child of the revolution, I am hurt and disgusted with what I’ve seen first hand. While I still have my inheritance, as do most of my relatives, there are those who, through no fault of their own, may very well lose theirs.

Other countries, Grenada for example, have developed a high value seafood export business to the United States and Martinique, as part of their Blue Economy. According to Caribbean360, the World Bank just released a report in which it examines how the transition to a ‘blue economy’ can help Caribbean countries generate growth and gain greater resilience while preserving the ocean.

That brings us back to the very sensitive topic of Anguilla’s territorial waters which are vast. It is no secret that the powers that be have been trying to snare Anguilla as a full fledged member of the OECS which would in turn allow all the members of the region to do whatever, and whenever, they want with Anguilla’s territorial waters.

The report also stated that it estimated that the Caribbean waters generated $407 billion US in 2012 which represents more than 17 percent of Caribbean GDP. The report further stated that these monies come mainly from cargo shipped through Caribbean waters, tourism and oil and gas production. The ghosts of Trans Shipment are lurking somewhere out there.

The report highlighted the opportunities offered by the Caribbean ‘blue economy’ and identified priority areas for action that can generate blue growth and opportunities for Caribbean people, while ensuring that oceans and marine ecosystems are sustainably managed and used, said Sophie Sirtaine, World Bank Director for the Caribbean. The report also recommended: eco labels promoting sustainable fishing practices and aquaculture, offshore winds and other marine systems, and environmentally friendly coastal hotels.

Instead of us borrowing that $22 mil from the Caribbean Development Bank, we ought to be looking to invest in a “blue economy” like Grenada and let our own resources work for us rather than those people who are already poaching in our waters. The Brits can spend money to help the Falklands but not us. Why haven’t we reached out to other nations who would be more than willing to work with us to harness some of the wealth that we seem to care very little about? Where are the outside of the box thinkers? What happened to our ocean front walk to celebrate our heroes in Island Harbour?

The report also mentioned that the World Bank is supporting other small island states such as the Seychelles and Mauritius which have already championed the ‘blue economy.’

It is hoped that this government will do no more harm that has already been done. It appears that short of Victor resigning, because he can’t stand someone looking over his shoulder, and given that he drew a line in the sand, he has no choice but to die by the sword, for he will have cowered, unlike the big man he was when he called us out as being undemocratic. Now because he needs us, he wants us to be democratic. Vic, old boy, you can’t have it both ways. You vociferously said that the possibility of a CFO coming from Britain would happen over your dead body. Well, either you are dead, in which case we have got a shroud for you, or you have stuck your tail between your legs and joined the team, or you have simply resigned.

So it’s up to you to do what any red blooded Anguillian would do: get a 43 oz bottle of Mount Gay, a tall glass, a few limes and do what any self respecting Anguillian would do – get drunk.

It appears that just about everyone has resigned to accept the status quo. It would also appear that we are waiting around for the other shoe to drop. All we hear are the members of this government doing damage control, while the ship flounders in dangerous waters. We build more hotel rooms with no foreseeable way of putting heads on those beds. Everyone is salivating like Pavlov’s dogs to get their hands on our resources, while our government remains impotent.

We have done our people a disservice. We have not planned for their well being. I’m reminded of the fable of the Grasshopper and the Ant. The ant, the industrious one, saved up but mostly for himself and his friends, while the grasshopper lived from day to day with nothing to fall back on. We are in serious trouble and we know it.

Our situation is hopeless, but only if we allow it to be, so at which time it will be fatal. Mr. Banks wants us to march and let the British know that we can very well do without a CFO, and that might very well be the case, but given the way this government has treated us, its constituents, that’s a heavy lift.

Common wisdom says what goes around comes around. It also says live by the sword, die by the sword. When the people are being given the respect that they deserve, then, and only then, they’ll come to your aid, or just maybe they being a headless body will not be able to comprehend what you are saying. It’s almost laughable to see the way how things turn out. Until next time, may God bless us all and may He continue to bless Anguilla.

anguillian
By anguillian September 26, 2016 09:51 Updated

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