Leader of the Opposition Cora Richardson Hodge.
ANGUILLA–On Wednesday, August 4, Leader of the opposition Cora Richardson Hodge wrote to Governor Dileeni Daniel Selvaratnam with concerns on the passing of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Act. She noted that on July 30, the GST bill was before the House of Assembly and the eleven elected members voted – six against and five in favour. Hodge said that in an unprecedented move the deputy governor and the attorney general, both ex officio members, voted in favour and so the bill was passed.
The opposition leader said that the two positions are not by virtue of being elected, but through their appointment by the governor. She noted that constitutionally they have a right to vote but in the past neither ex officio members exercised their right to do so but allowed the people of Anguilla to exercise their democratic rights through their elected representatives.
“The Deputy Governor Perin Bradley and attorney general voted with a minority of the elected members. Their votes in favour of the GST were ultimately the deciding votes for the passage of a new and significant tax on our people, and otherwise undermined the will of the people, as expressed through the votes of their elected representatives.
“The members of the opposition as well as the people of Anguilla whom we represent are firmly of the view that a significant matter such as a wide sweeping tax law which has implications for all Anguillians, residents and visitors alike, should not have been passed with votes from two unelected members, though their votes may have been constitutional.”
Hodge said that the votes are seen by the public as votes cast by the governor that “made a farce of the concept of parliamentary democracy.” The precedent that this has set for the passage of laws in the House of Assembly in the future is alarming, she said, and asks if the votes of the ex officio members will now be used to secure the passage of an unpopular bill where the elected members of the day may be in the minority.