Anguilla chief minister warns: country under threat

THE VALLEY, Anguilla, Wednesday December 7, 2011 – An ongoing controversy between the Anguillan government and two UK representatives over the transfer of permanent secretaries has taken a turn for the worse with the chief minister warning residents that the country is now “under threat.”

The warning came in a national address delivered more than a week after Chief Minister Hubert Hughes returned from London where he attended the Overseas Territories Conference.

UK Overseas Territories Minister Henry Bellingham, who hosted the meeting, had agreed to ask the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to review the decision of British-appointed Governor Alistair Harrison after complaints from the chief minister and his regional colleagues.

Hughes has accused the governor and his deputy of attempting to “disrupt” his ministry by failing to consult with him, and replacing a veteran civil servant with someone with no experience in finance.

However, the chief minister said Governor Harrison has since informed him that the previous “decision stands.”

“I think at this point our island is under threat by the action of the Governor and Deputy Governor,” the chief minister told residents. “This does not make sense since it is a poor use of our precious human resources and does a disservice to you the taxpayer who pays for the salaries of these civil servant.”

“In addition, given that specific timelines were set for us in relation to our budget, the action of the Governor and Deputy Governor has amounted to a shifting of the goal posts in mid-stream and serve to handicap this administration in our recovery effort on the budget.

“What is more troubling however is that despite the expression of my concern over these transfers when Anguilla is in its toughest economic climate the Governor and Deputy Governor have total disregard for the interests of the people of Anguilla,” he added.

The chief minister and the governor have had an adversarial relationship.

Earlier this year, they were at loggerheads over approval for the national budget and the issuance of visa waivers. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)