Chief Minister Banks presents 2018 Budget

Chief Minister Victor Banks presenting Budget Address.

ANGUILLA–Before a full audience at the House of Assembly, Chief Minister Victor Banks who is also Minister of Finance, presented the Budget for 2018. He used as his theme “2018 and Beyond: Anguilla – Green, Smart, Resilient and Inclusive.” He said there is a need to work together and no new taxes were imposed. He said the modern Anguilla that we seek to establish must be cognisant of the systematic realities, and will have to adopt behaviour that promotes sustainable and harmonious living with that space.

He stressed the importance of maintaining resilience and the need to face any crisis whether man-made or natural, that may occur. He said that in order to achieve this Anguilla needs to go green and the Government is to start with the restriction of plastic bags and Styrofoam containers. He said that included in this is transforming the energy sector, and legislation needs to be put in place so that the island can increase its energy independence and utilities company ANGLEC can be transformed to a modern, climate-friendly organisation.

Banks spoke of the need to replace buildings that were damaged in Hurricane Irma with modern buildings that can withstand hurricanes, and technology must be used to effectively manage the island’s resources. He also spoke about the upcoming criminal justice reforms that will include traffic regulations for the safety of all and the decriminalisation of possessing small amounts of cannabis.

He stressed the need to diversify the economy and create alternative revenue sources. Suggestions for this include permanent residency by investment, seeking to develop the offshore fisheries sector, a licensing regime for offshore fisheries, the development of ship and aircraft registries, as well as other initiatives. On the social side he said his administration wants and is taking steps to implement a National Health Fund that will better cater to the needs of all Anguillians and ease the cost of medical treatment.

The Chief Minister noted that Anguilla is a proud nation and suggested that any aid should be considered humanitarian aid. He said there should be a level playing field and no country should be held to ransom, and it would be better to do without than be treated like charlatans or fools. He said that the people and Government cannot take on any further taxation as suggested by UK officials. He thanked the UK for its support, saying there is a need to build back stronger and better.

He ended by thanking his colleagues, Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and all who worked towards completing the Budget. He said the Government needs the support of all the people to make it through the difficult times.

Source: The Daily Herald