EDITORIAL: WHERE ARE WE PLANNING TO GO?

The content originally appeared on: The Anguillian Newspaper

When you are unsure as to where you are going or how to get there, it is easy to get lost. It is therefore no surprise that in Anguilla we seem to be adrift on a never ending wave of uncertainty. It seems as though we are simply drifting with the tide while trying to stay afloat. We have no end in sight and therefore no idea how to reach our destination. As a country, we ought to be ashamed that we have no sense of direction, no national strategy or plan, no vision for the Anguilla we would like to see twenty years from now.

There is no disputing the importance of a national development strategy. In a research paper entitled “National Development Strategy: The Key Economic Growth Institution”, Luiz Carlos Bresser-Pereira advanced some profound statements that as a nation we can learn from. He said:
“The past two centuries’ experience shows that when an economy is enjoying full growth it is a sign that politicians, business entrepreneurs, bureaucrats and workers are operating within the framework of a concerted strategy. When an economy starts to grow slowly, or even stagnates, it is a sign that it lacks a national development strategy. A nation’s strength is expressed in its commitment to the great political objectives of contemporary societies — security, freedom, economic development, social justice and protection of the environment — and in its ability to gather together and formulate strategies to achieve these objectives. None can be achieved on the basis solely of the market forces. Economic development can be facilitated by a free market that fosters efficient allocation of factors of production, but is, historically, the outcome of a deliberate approach of raising living standards, adopted by a nation using the state as its principal institutional instrument of collective action. It is the result of a national strategy.”

In other words, national development cannot be left up to chance. We cannot afford to act like sitting ducks, waiting on sustainable development. As a people, we ought to have a strategy that is responsive to national needs, outlines where we want to go and what we want for Anguilla.

Our overall strategy should then be translated into a national development plan that links the various sectors together. For example, our sustainable tourism development plan must be linked with our plan for education as well as our plan for environmental protection, youth development, cultural preservation and economic growth. We therefore have to ensure that our education system is fulfilling the human resource needs of the tourism sector; that tourism development is not allowed to erode aspects of culture but rather complements, utitlises and celebrates it; that every hotel development includes an aspect of environmental enhancement and every citizen appreciates the infinite value of our natural environment and the need to protect it; that our roadmap for economic growth makes special provision for the participation of young people in economic activity; that our education and tourism sectors foster youth enterprise. These few examples should make it clear that the interrelations between various sectors, and the impacts of one sector on the other, must be carefully examined so that our national plan seamlessly marries the key elements of each sector into an all-encompassing development agenda.

There are many benefits to having a national development strategy and plan. It allows for better allocation of scarce resources and enables strategic, realistic and achievable decisions to be taken. Additionally, it sets the backdrop for a secure stable environment which encourages private sector investment. It also empowers Government to act purposefully in securing the country’s prosperity as it has a goal in mind long into the future.

I am convinced that unless Anguilla has a national development strategy and plan we will not make meaningful progress economically, politically or socially…. I urge [Government] to make the formulation of a national development strategy and plan a top priority. This, of course, must be undertaken in consultation with the people of Anguilla as it must reflect the needs and aspirations of the Anguillian people. We have already lost enough time going around in circles. I believe we ought to stop, take stock of where we are and get some developmental direction. At least we would then have some idea of where we are going and how we are going to get there. We can therefore face the future with confidence knowing that we have a roadmap that will help us to successfully navigate any obstacles we may encounter.