During the Radio Programme “Just the Facts” last Monday, January 17, three Members of the Opposition hosting the broadcast, Mr. McNeil Rogers, Mrs. Cora Richardson-Hodge and Mr. Cardigan Connor, were quick to point out that the current Government officials have no experience in governance.As a point of reference, they used the series of increases in medical fees imposed upon the electorate in December of 2020, in the heart of the Covid-19 pandemic, and they decried the statement made by the Premier that people in other neighbouring countries pay more for medical services.
Mr. Rogers commented: “During the budget presentation, you would recall that I spoke at length about how heart-broken I was over the fact that this Government assumed office on the 30th of June and, by December 10th of the same year, they were in an Executive Council meeting approving increases in medical fees.“That year, the country itself was shut down due to Covid-19. For an entire six months while they had been in office, there was no economic activity. So how could they justify the increase of medical fees at such a time? Even while I was on my feet in the House opposing that move, I got a note from a lady who said that she had just paid $180 at the Welches Polyclinic for services that used cost her $50.”“Experience is absolutely important here,” Mr. Rogers claimed. “I have always harped on the issue of experience. I did it during the 2020 election campaign, and I would continue to say that experience is important. I have been talked about, referring to the Government Ministers as ‘rookies’. But it is sad to know what the current administration would think about experience in light of rising prices on medical services in these difficult times.”
He noted that as a past administrator, he is cognisant that his party does not hold all the answers, and they do not hold all of the experiences. “There are positive and negative experiences,” he said. “There are some things that one would have experienced on the journey that should not be repeated, but the lesson would be learned. And there are other experiences which are positive, that one would want to hold on to, improve on, and move along with.”
When Mr. Rogers solicited Mrs. Richardson-Hodge’s views on experience, she quickly answered: “Well, we certainly have more experience than this Government. In the realm of experience, one would learn along the way, and in learning one would experience the good and the bad. Decisions are made upon experiences, and one must avoid making the same mistake, based upon his or her experiences.”She continued: “It is almost laughable to expect that you can jump into a position, and from day one, without any knowledge or experience, without any expertise or no one to garner information from, think that you know all the answers. That is impossible.”
Mr. Connor contributed to the discussion by saying: “It’s just life. I always say that if you want advice, you would have to go to a seventy-year-old, and not a seven-year-old. Whether or not this Government wants to accept it, they are ‘rookies’. That word ‘rookies’ is not a bad name. It is just a term for those who are experiencing for the first time. The advantage that we had as a Government, in 2015, was the experience of Mr. Banks and yourself [Mr. Rogers]. But the challenge for this Government is: who would they turn to — who would they listen to for guidance and advise?”
He went on: “Sometimes egos can get in the way. If they feel that they have to ask advice of someone, it is almost like they saying ‘We don’t know.’ And they don’t want to go down that road. So they will make mistakes that should not be made. But all they have to do is to be humble and ask simple questions. That’s the challenge that this Government is facing.”
Reverting to the issue of increases in medical fees, Mrs. Richardson-Hodge observed: “I heard the Premier speaking about the medical fees increases. He said these fees are not high compared to other countries. That may be the case, yes, but I think what he is missing is that that comparison is out of context.
“The Premier has to look at the fact that if one is paying $50 in Anguilla for one type of medical service, and suddenly the price of that service rises to $180, it does not make sense to compare that scenario with other countries. What he needed to do is to bring the people along to those new prices slowly, over time.“And in the face of the country being shut down, in the face of lack of economic activity, or minimal economic activity with people not being employed, to go from $50 to 180 is significant…So he had to make the argument to the British that this is not the time for these increases, nor is it the time for increased new taxes. But it is the time to restore the economy.”
Mr. Rogers then reverted to the issue of a lack of experience: “In 2005, when I was first elected, I was surrounded by Ministers who had a wealth of experience. In 2010, when we lost the elections, at least the Honourable Hubert Hughes, who was a senior politician with a lot of years of experience, led the way forward. In 2015 we had the Honourable Victor Banks who was a well experienced political administrator. But then in 2020, can you say the same thing about the present leader? Absolutely not!” “It’s just the facts,” he said.