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Moratoriums and Things

The increased (and increasing) interest in real estate on Anguilla has induced Government to declare a moratorium on large foreign owned development projects—which is, I believe, a correct decision. The primary impetus behind this temporary freeze was the proposed hotel and golf course project in the east--the scale of which (at an estimated 2,000 rooms) set off quite a debate on island about Anguilla’s future…a healthy debate about Anguilla’s future.

While development is necessary, the over arching analytical concern must be to ensure the development is beneficial to the host society—not simply beneficial to the investors. With the foregoing in mind, Government decided that the existing strain on infrastructure was reaching the breaking point… hence the necessity of a “cooling off” period. However, when declaring the moratorium, in addition to referencing the strain on infrastructure, Government also referenced the objections of existing developers to new developments—insofar as that reference seemed to deflect focus from concerns relating to the good of society in favor of protecting existing investor interests, it produced quite a bit of debate in its own right… however, herein I’ll focus on the infrastructure issues.

Interestingly, in addition the most frequently discussed infrastructure concerns (i.e. labor availability, technical skills, medical facilities, educational resources, police and immigration staffing levels, etc) a key concern, but an issue not often mentioned, relates to the current condition of Anguilla’s only deepwater pier, located at Sandy Ground / Road Bay—which is, by all accounts, in terrible condition…and which is, undeniably, Anguilla’s life line to the world with regard to building and construction supplies. Whereas the runway extension provided a boost to the real estate market by making the island more attractive to the very high net worth individuals who travel in private jets, the runaway is not suitable for heavy cargo planes—as such, any catastrophic failure of the pier would essentially shut down the construction industry…as repeated shortages of cement have done recently. Whereas the pier at Blowing Point could provide some relief, and I’ve heard some folks talk about the possibility of roll on / roll off barges hitting the beaches with supplies in an emergency, neither option is particularly viable considering the current scale and pace of development on island.

In keeping with the island wide concern regarding the infrastructure issues that resulted in the moratorium, there is an increasing involvement of society at all levels in public discussions concerning Anguilla’s development. For example, there have been strong reactions to land legislation recently brought forward for consideration—reactions so strong as to result in the legislation being withdrawn from consideration in its initial form. In addition, there have been public meetings to discuss the proposed Altamer expansion at Shoal Bay West and the Viceroy proposal for the east end—whereby both developments are fairly ambitious in scope and include accommodation components and marina facilities.

Happily Anguillians are involved in the dialogue that will shape the future look, feel and character of the island. I’ve always found a deep well of common sense, pride and independence here—I truly believe those characteristics will stand us all in good stead as Anguilla moves forward. Somehow I believe de Tocqueville would be proud—the concept of “Self interest rightly understood” seems to have found fertile ground.

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