WHAT TO EXPECT IN ANGUILLA IN 2018 Governor and Deputy Governor Look Ahead

anguillian
By anguillian January 8, 2018 11:52 Updated

 

 

 

 

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With Anguilla now having entered the New Year, Governor Tim Foy and Deputy Governor, Perin Bradley, have spoken in an interview with The Editor of The Anguillian on various matters that will come up as 2018 – progresses and the Governor has promised: “We will do our very best for the people of Anguilla.”
Governor Foy prefaced his remarks saying: “I think 2017 definitely had two halves to it. I think, in the first half of 2017, things were going pretty well and people were very optimistic about how the Christmas Season was going to be in 2017 and into 2018. I think what we are doing now is working as hard as we can to get ourselves back as close as we thought we were going to be if we hadn’t had the horrific events of Hurricane Irma.
“To be honest, I think Anguilla has done everything that it possibly can to get itself in that right shape. We have our power back on; our hotels and restaurants are beginning to reopen. We know what the big issues are, and the Deputy Governor and I are talking to the Chief [Minister] about some of those issues. In a way, Irma has exposed the vulnerability of Anguilla in terms of access. We know that there is reduced transport into St. Maarten now because the industry in that country is so badly damaged. We need to be dealing with some of those longer term issues about making sure that Anguilla isn’t as dependent upon St. Maarten, or any particular route, in order to support its economy.

Governor Mr. Tim Foy, OBE

“To be honest, I am quite optimistic about 2018. The Chief – and it was his work – managed to secure a very significant amount of assistance from the UK Government. That will start to flow in February, March and April. It will allow us to really build a very strong infrastructure for the future, and generate some work. I am convinced that when we talk next year about our view about what 2019 is, 2018 will turn out to be a very, very positive year. That’s because things are going to be started from a better position than we were six months ago. But Irma gave us something very special. It gave us a quick reminder about all the good things about Anguilla and Anguillians and their ability to respond to challenges. What myself, the Deputy Governor, the Chief and his Ministers are now working on is how we can get people to respond to the opportunities which 2018 brings.”

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n now is how can we keep that momentum and energy focused in the right direction. Last year, we developed a work plan for the first time which sets out what the priorities were for 2017. Things were looking really good but, of course, Irma pushed that sideways. This year, 2018, we want to take a slightly different approach.

Deputy Governor Mr. Perin Bradley

“The work plan last year was very ‘ministry specific’. This year we want to make it more ‘issue specific’ and take a whole Government approach to how we should tackle these things. The big things are access to Anguilla, managing public finances, how we support economic development in the longer term; and how we get people to focus on concrete and specific actions needed to be taken to support those ideals and initiatives. That’s the key thing for me going into 2018: execution and delivery. The public service has some of the smartest and sharpest people you will find anywhere in the world. They have all the ideas and suggestions and so forth. The question now is: how do we prioritise and translate those ideas into concrete and very specific actions?”

Mr. Bradley predicted that 2018 will be a hard, but good year. “If we have to spend 60 million pounds [provided by the UK Government], how do you deliver six primary schools, a high school, fix up the port in Blowing Point and manage all of those processes?” he asked. “Maybe hard is the wrong word – may be challenging – but again in that challenge are some wonderful opportunities. If you get this right in 2018, it will set Anguilla on a course sky high over decades to come.”

Governor Foy pointed out that, apart from the 60 million pounds approved by the UK Prime Minister for Anguilla, there were other sums of money, probably up to 10 million pounds, which were provided before for the island’s hurricane recovery efforts. “That was part of the 57 million pounds which, I think, the Foreign and Development Secretary announced in September [for the three hurricane-struck Overseas Territories – the British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands and Anguilla].”
Asked what the main project areas to be financed in 2018 from the above 60 million pounds were, the Governor replied: “When the Chief and I wrote to Lord Ahmed, back at the end of October, 2017, the Chief was quite clear that the areas which he thought most important were to get our six primary schools back up and to be better and really well built; as well as our secondary school because it is so important; the Blowing Point Port and I think some work on health which is also really important.”

He continued: “We will now start discussions. Our office will start to work with the UK Government and the Chief Minister’s Office to work out what is possible within that envelope and to get the maximum possible impact we can. What I am pretty confident about is that, hopefully, this will be the start of a more regular flow of capital assistance from the UK into Anguilla.”
Mr. Bradley supported the Governor by commenting: “There is also scope for some softer projects around our public sector reform, IT upgrades and so forth. Part of Government’s efficiency is to have a good IT background for things like having more services online. There are other softer areas that are not concrete and specific like schools, but really matter to support economic development. Imagine if you can show how easy it is to do business in Anguilla when persons apply for licences and permits online and thereby bring down the cost of running government. So there are a host of issues that we will need to fine tune.”

Questioned about his known intense interest in Anguilla’s development, Governor Foy stressed: “My responsibility is to Anguilla. My loyalties are not to the British Government. My loyalties when I took that oath, is to do the best I can for Anguilla. That is if it meant pushing the UK Government to recognise the extent of the damage that Anguilla had suffered, and the remarkable efforts Anguillians have made in the weeks following the hurricane to get their lives back on an even keel. I can always make a pretty good case to the British Government and I will always push even harder. I am sorry we didn’t get more money.

“The DG (Deputy Governor), myself, the Chief and his Ministers will be looking at this. The 60 million pounds is to help us to rebuild the public infrastructure which was lost. We need to match that in terms of having an economy which is stronger for the future. With the work that the DG is talking about, in terms of public financial management and a stronger and more effective civil service, the part I really want to emphasise with the Chief and the DG is this: It is to try to get some new UK private investment into Anguilla because it is the private investment that really drives the economy and creates the jobs.

“Anguilla is a really great place to do business. I am disappointed that there is so less UK investment in Anguilla. I am going to be working really, really hard, particularly with those UK companies that have investments within the region (BVI or Cayman) in the tourism industry, transport, financial services and so on. I am going to say to them: come on, how about putting 5 or 10 percent of your business into Anguilla? How about spreading the wealth? More than anything else, we have the responsibility to create meaningful jobs for the 200 or so young people leaving the Comprehensive School every year. There are only so many jobs that people can get in tourism. We are losing our best and most able people because they feel pushed out as there is no employment for them in this country; and there is where I think we both [the DG and I] feel passionately in driving that forward.”

Responding to what the Governor said, the Deputy Governor made the point that there was a need in 2018, and beyond, to improve the environment for doing business in Anguilla. This, he pointed out, included issues of business licensing, economic diversification, fishing, greater agricultural activity to lower the island’s import bill, as well as improved financial services which Anguilla has been struggling, for quite a while, to have as a second pillar of the economy.

In other matters, the Governor and the Deputy Governor spoke about their plans to ensure that the Anguilla ferryboat dock at Simpson Bay, St. Maarten, badly damaged by Hurricane Irma, is back in operation to continue to provide access to Anguilla.

“I will continue to have discussions with the UK Government, and with Ministers in Anguilla, about what we can do to improve our access – and there are two parts to it,” said the Governor. He went on: “One is, in the first instance, what could we do to improve the ability of people getting into Anguilla within a runway of 5,400 feet? It strikes me that we haven’t necessarily exploited that yet. I know the DG has been chatting to the Tourism Board, and others, about what sort of support and assistance we can give to carriers to connect with flights coming in to Antigua, which has now become a bit of a hub. It is almost a secondary hub to St. Maarten. All the six or seven flights a week from the UK stop in Antigua and it seems to me to be a real shame that a carrier [to Anguilla] is not connecting with those flights. We are trying to get that sorted out within the existing runway.

“I would also like to have a conversation again with the carriers, and the hotel industry here, about what we can do…[to get] a couple of flights a week. If we can make it happen from Miami, that would be really good. We need to think differently. The old models of coming through San Juan, Puerto Rico, were what happened 15/20 years ago. The market has changed so our approach needs to change with the market.”
Commenting on this matter, the Deputy Governor said it was realised that Anguilla’s reliance on Puerto Rico and St. Maarten was putting the island in a very vulnerable situation. “In the first instance, there are preliminary moves to reform access [to Anguilla] particularly on the Antigua side. As the Governor correctly said, there is a lost opportunity for UK investment, UK tourists and so forth. There must be a way for us to strengthen links. We have had some initial discussions with one of the local carriers, which decided to pick up that Antigua route, but is it enough? It is a good place to start, but is it enough? I am not too sure, but there is a keen interest in actually strengthening the airlift out of Antigua.

“On the St. Maarten side, I know that Mr. Leslie Lloyd [Manager of the Simpson Bay dock] is hard at work there. That facility was completely destroyed by [Hurricane Irma] and this is a good opportunity for us to build back something that will be much better and fit for purpose. There are also some initial discussions about pre-clearance and how we can make the transit easier coming to Anguilla, through St. Maarten; and the question of extending the time because the ports close 5 or 6 o’clock in the evening. Is there scope for extending that time so that, with flights coming to St. Maarten at night, persons can still get to Anguilla the same day?”

Governor Foy observed: “There is no one solution to improving access, but we want to make Anguilla easy to get to whichever route you choose to come through. I would like to get more French and Dutch people coming directly in. They are going to come to St. Maarten on KLM, and come to Anguilla through St. Maarten, and so keeping our ferry route is important. Lots of people will still choose to fly into St. Maarten because it is a major hub. What we should be doing is trying to get as many different ways of getting into Anguilla as easily as possible.”

He added: “We all get very excited about new investment but the key thing that will sell investment in Anguilla is when the hotel occupancies get in the 80s and 90s percent. That’s where I think that the DG, myself and the Chief Minister, share a view that access is the key thing to make that happen. This is a fantastic place, but most people would think it is an expensive or difficult place to get to. We need to get rid of that notion.”

As the interview with the top administration officials was wrapped up, Governor Foy said: “Pound for pound, Anguilla is the best country in the world and it is not a small village.”

anguillian
By anguillian January 8, 2018 11:52 Updated

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