IN REMEMBRANCE OF RONALD WEBSTER

anguillian
By anguillian December 18, 2017 11:56 Updated

 

 

 

I have had the distinct honor and privilege of working with the Honourable James Ronald Webster in the establishment of Anguilla’s Social Security System, which is, without doubt, his second most important contribution to the people of Anguilla, the workers and their families, and the entire socio-economic development of Anguilla. However, even though historians will record the Anguilla Revolution of 1967 (and its accompanying economic take-off) and the introduction of the Social Security System in 1982 as two separate and distinct events, for all intents and purposes they are tightly intertwined, interdependent and mutually sustaining. Suffice it to say that the Social Security System is playing an extremely important role in “Building a New Anguilla”, which is what Mr. Webster and his fellow-revolutionaries set out to do in 1967.

The establishment of a Social Security System for Anguilla at a time when there was little economic development or formal employment was a demonstration of his confidence that one day such employment would exist and workers would need the protection that Social Security would provide. The promotion and passage of the Social Security law was, therefore, an act of faith, defined as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” or, paraphrased, “being sure of what we hope for, certain of things not seen” (Hebrews 11: 1). That faith, that vision, and the determination he showed in introducing the System in spite of opposition from within his Cabinet, from workers who saw it as a guise for government to collect taxes, and even in spite of a collapse of his government, are examples of his strength of character and that made him a leader worthy of our admiration and respect. He served as the first Minister for Social Security and watched the System in its fledgeling years with an eagle eye, ever so anxious that the System would deliver on its promises. In recognition of his pioneering work in the establishment of the Social Security System, the Social Security Office Complex building was named the James Ronald Webster Building in 1997.

Every system, every development starts with an idea, a vision, a dream, and so it is appropriate that we recognize that visionary, former Chief Minister, Revolutionary Leader and Father of the Nation Mr. James Ronald Webster, whose vision is the reality that we now celebrate. The dream of life with dignity when one is unable to work because of the uncertainties one may face such as sickness or disability, or in one’s senior years after a lifetime of employment, or when the breadwinner in the family dies, is one that is common to mankind, but all across the world there are many for whom it remains just a dream. In Anguilla, we are fortunate that we have built on those dreams to create a strong, sustainable social security system which today has EC$350 million in reserves to deliver on its promise of economic security, social justice and dignity. The Social Security System this year celebrates 35 years of service under the theme “Social Security at 35: Securing Futures, Enhancing Lives”.
It has come a long way since its inception, when it was viewed with skepticism and often, outright hostility. It has built up a solid foundation. Chief Minister and Minister for Social Security, Honourable Victor Banks has stated that he has no doubt that Social Security is “the single most important institution for the economic security of our people.” Mr. Petty calls it “a developmental showpiece, continuing to impact heavily on the general wellbeing of the Anguillian people. It has become a linchpin in the sustainable development of the Anguillian economy and the bedrock of the future security and happiness of our people”. Mr. Fabian Fahie, the System’s first Chairman, says that “Social Security is recognized throughout Anguilla as playing by far the most critical and important role by providing an effective short-term as well as long-term safety net for the working people of Anguilla.” What is left for me to say? I heartily agree with them all.
And so, the time has come to say farewell. On behalf of the Social Security Boards and Management over the years, and on behalf of past, present and future beneficiaries of the Social Security System, I say Farewell, thou good and faithful servant, James Ronald Webster!

Anguilla has lost its greatest son, but he will live on in our hearts and our history forever!

May his soul rest in perpetual peace.

anguillian
By anguillian December 18, 2017 11:56 Updated

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