By anguillian November 13, 2017 12:34 Updated




Governor Tim Foy, OBE, whose first major challenge, since his recent appointment, was the destructive aftermath of Hurricane Irma, and Chief Minister, Victor Banks, have teamed up to work towards Anguilla’s recovery.

“The Chief and I share a real desire to communicate with the press,” the Governor said, by way of introduction, at their first joint press conference on Tuesday, November 7. “Sometimes the Chief gets concerns that the truth isn’t necessarily out there – as often as it should. It very easily gets picked up and perverted in one way or another, so I am very keen to talk to the media and as frequently as we can.”

Chief Minister Banks said in part: “We thought it is important that we come to the press two months after the storm – and this is a milestone in terms of the recovery process. The Governor and I have been teammates, in this effort from the Government of Anguilla’s standpoint, along with that of the UK Government. I think we have worked well beginning with the day of the storm, going all the way down to where we are today. The relief period has passed and we are now in the recovery mode – and we have a lot to be thankful for.”

His long list included God for His protection in that only one life was lost; the first emergency responders; other persons and organisations in Anguilla; the UK Government initially with its naval presence and then its airlift of supplies; various outside agencies; regional Governments and other sources of assistance in the world – as well as the Anguillian diaspora.

Governor Foy was particularly pleased with the assistance from the UK Government while also thanking other donors who came to the aid of Anguilla and its people. He regretted that the British Overseas Minister, Lord Ahmad, was now unable to visit Anguilla shortly because of parliamentary engagements. He said, however, that the Minister would be meeting with Chief Minister Banks at the Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council in London later this month. He was pleased that a senior Foreign Office representative, Ben Merrick, would be arriving in Anguilla, next week, to see the recovery progress the island has made, so far, and to discuss matters of assistance.

“The next step is that the Inter-Ministerial Group, which the UK Government established immediately after Irma, is due to meet, I think, on the 18th of November,” the Governor disclosed. “That meeting will consider the next stage of the response. It will involve all relevant UK Government Departments – the Department of National Development, the Foreign Office and, critically, the Treasury as well as Ministers who visited here: Priti Patel and Boris Johnson. The committee is chaired by Boris Johnson.

“That will then move on to the Joint Ministerial Committee where I would both expect and anticipate that the UK would be in dialogue with the Chief about the future sums of money/assistance that the UK will give to Anguilla. Meanwhile, there is some continued UK assistance coming in. The key things are around the work at the airport to get it up and ready, in terms of certification, so that we can do night flights 24/7 which is really important. The temporary tower (which costs the better part of half a million pounds) should be arriving sometime next week and, critically, on electricity I expect the first [set] of the Canadians to arrive today or tomorrow with the rest to be flown in by the middle of next week. I think the Chief puts it this way: ‘We are grateful, but we are impatient.’ I respect that impatience.”

Governor Foy said the assistance from Canada to the ANGLEC included thirty linesmen, five supervisors, six bucket trucks and two derrick diggers. The cost involved is said to be three million pounds.

“I am delighted that the UK has provided this assistance,” the Governor continued. “To be honest, the assistance was much more around working with the logistics, to find a provider that actually has the resources, because the entire region has been decimated and every available linesman is either working in the southern United States, Puerto Rico or the islands.
“I give great credit to David Gumbs (CEO of ANGLEC) and his team for really working so hard. They have been brilliant in bringing people in from across the region and feeding them, and [credit is also due] to friends and colleagues in the rest of the Caribbean. The UK assistance is simply supplementing the fantastic work that already has been done – and UK Ministers are very well aware of that. This is an important supplement but it is not fixing a problem. The problem was well in hand and that is something I wish to make as a point.”

Chief Minister Banks commented: “I think that the British Government continues to provide some support for us in this critical period. The UK understands the importance of island-wide electricity because our tourism sector contributes 60% of our revenue – directly or indirectly – through Customs Duty, Accommodation Tax and other services as well. Unless we have the sector up and running we will only not have the revenue but the jobs for our people – so we need to make sure that the electricity is speeded up to advance the date of opening for some of the properties. A number of properties in the tourism belt would have been probably ready in the January/ February period, and if we can get support services we will facilitate the process of re-opening, and certainly give hope to persons so that they can return to work and generate some money in the economy.

“We are concerned that the revenue situation for this year will be affected and, as a consequence, we need to be very innovative and creative and swift in getting things done. I am talking about the support for investment in the tourism sector as well as support for persons who are working in that sector…

“I think the British Government understands that, and is giving us support. We are now negotiating how best the UK can support us and we have already established how we are going to get to the end of this year. I think it is a good plan. I am always hopeful that we are going to do better than has been predicted. I trust the resilience of the Anguillian people and Anguilla generally. Nobody would have recognised that two weeks after the storm, Anguilla would have been green and fresh again; and also the efforts by Anguillians to clean up, move debris, and get things moving at the right time and places.
“The port facilities at Blowing Point have not yet been restored to a viable situation. Those are among the things we will be focusing on for the next couple of months to make sure that, at least, we have a facility in Blowing Point that can assist in delivering the kind of guest experience that is required even at this period of challenge.”

Governor Foy made the point that his responsibility is to Anguilla and its people. “The Chief knows that we will disagree on certain things and we will have conversations about that, but we will do that privately,” he stressed. “I will have disagreements with the UK Government and I will do those privately as well. But what I will always be public in, and it is a genuine sincerity, will be two things: the fact that I feel absolutely blessed to have this job which is a unique opportunity for me [to serve]; and secondly, the pride I have in the people of Anguilla and the Government I work with alongside. I will always be vocal about that and I will always defend Anguilla as a uniquely special place.
“When you read the history of Anguilla, going back a hundred plus years, you learn about the Revolution; you learn about the expectations of the Revolution and I think I have a responsibility to help fulfil that. I will always say it as it is… I hope I am an honest broker.”

Chief Minister Banks responded: “I told the Governor that I can’t help but being frank. It is important that we are upfront whenever we have discussions. Even before the Governor came here I met him in London, and I said to my colleagues that he telegraphs well. So far, he has not let me down.

“As he said, we have differences of opinion on certain things, but at least he knows where I stand on issues. I know for sure he is rooting for Anguilla because he has gone beyond the call of duty – that I have been accustomed to with other Governors – so maybe he considers it his duty.

“He said he is blessed to have come to Anguilla, but I am not so sure about that because he came in the midst of a hurricane. Two weeks after he came, there was the most disastrous hurricane in the recorded history of our region to hit land – and it hit his jurisdiction. He has had to begin with both feet, and both hands, to assist us in this recovery – and I think he has done a good job.”

“Thank you, Chief,” Governor Foy replied.

By anguillian November 13, 2017 12:34 Updated


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