Chief Minister Victor Banks and Governor Tim Foy.
ANGUILLA–Governor Tim Foy and Chief Minister (CM) Victor Banks held their monthly joint press conference in the Executive Council Chambers on Tuesday, February 13, and midway through the conference, they were joined by Deputy Governor Perin Bradley. This forum facilitates the communication and dissemination of updates on Government’s ongoing actions and initiatives related to the post-Hurricane Irma recovery, as well as other pressing strategic issues. It also allows the media to seek clarification of issues and raise new issues that are of interest to the Anguillian public.
Governor Foy opened the conference by stating that the ongoing post-Irma recovery is progressing extremely well, and there are encouraging indicators that the tourism industry is beginning to slowly pick up, but “the island still wants, needs and deserves more visitors.” He acknowledged that access to the island is still an issue and a problem, but solutions are being aggressively addressed. The Chief Minister will go to Europe within days for discussion and finalisation of the plan to release the 60 million-pound grant from the UK to Anguilla for recovery projects. Additional funds were also sourced to re-build the Albena Lake Hodge Comprehensive School’s auditorium. The Governor remarked that he looks forward to moving on to re-address issues and projects that were put on hold due to Irma, and getting back to normal.
Banks stated, “We have turned the corner on the recovery effort” and have been successful in sourcing and securing additional financing for critical projects such as the mentioned auditorium. He stressed the importance of addressing projects such as school construction, which is key to the social well-being of the island.
Additionally, the issue of port terminal access, both in Anguilla and in St. Martin/St. Maarten, continues to be worked on aggressively. A new location for a ferry terminal servicing Anguilla from the Princess Julianna International Airport has been identified – directly across from the airport – and operational negotiations are under way. Likewise, the fencing and night landing lights for Anguilla’s Clayton Lloyd International Airport have arrived, and installation will begin shortly. Upon completion and re-certification, night flights will resume.
Additional issues discussed included the Anguilla Labour Code which will establish the first-ever minimum wage; the CM’s upcoming trip to the UK and the European Union (EU)/Brussels, accompanied by his Permanent Secretary and the Deputy Governor for discussions to include funding disbursement requirements of the recovery grant as well as the impact of Brexit on Anguilla; the two-year assignment of the new UK Financial Specialist on February 19, 2018; and an upcoming visit from Sir Simon McDonald, Permanent Under Secretary and Head of the Diplomatic Service, Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The conference ended with lively discussion about fine-tuning the island’s disaster preparedness for the 2018 Hurricane Season and other natural disasters, as well as Public Service issues.