Sunday, January 15, 2012

Biggest failure of Antiguan politicians IMHO

For the past few days I have been thinking about something I didn't write earlier in the week. In my last blog post I mentioned that during a live chat show where I was a guest, we had a phone call from a minister in government. He's a strong politician who does well in his community. He defended his position in The Ministry of Environment and mentioned several projects that they are working on. I had one question for him when he finished speaking. I asked him that if he became Prime Minister, would he give the incredibly important Fisheries Ministry, The huge and overwhelmingly challenged Ministry of Agriculture, and the equally challenged and important Ministry of Environment to one minister. Of course he now is that minister who has all of these jobs, and I said that if I was elected and was asked to do all of these things all at one time, I would run!
He said that the PM "in his wisdom" felt it necessary to put them together and that since his government was trying to make government smaller, that it wasn't a bad decision. (This didn't answer my question, but it was good enough.) He went on to say that in all of these ministries there were Permanent Secretaries, sometimes two, and sometimes Junior Ministers, and all sorts of technicians to do the work and manage the work to be done. This was a good answer, and it was the kind of thing that has been done for years in government.
The big problem was and still is that in reality things don't quite work that way here in Anitgua. All of the "underlings" working in these ministries answer to him, and he makes decides what happens or doesn't happen. The legislation and the general status quo makes it almost impossible for many of these these highly educated and very proficient career professionals to get things done unless the Minister is in agreement. The buck stops with the Minister, and we have seen time and time again glaring examples where Fisheries and or Envionment officials make decisions which are then ignored or overruled by Ministers at the top.
It's no secret that I have written about many of these examples in my blog over the years, and of course this type of thing has been going on for even longer all across both the ALP and UPP governments. At one point I even said that the government should just close down the Ministry of Envirionment since they have no power to do much good in the current situation.
Ministers need to start trusting their own people. There is no good reason why they shouldn't, but apart from that no one person can or should be expected to make all the decisions across three huge ministries all at the same time.