RADIO ADDRESS FOR SOCIAL SECURITY WEEK 2018 BY HON. CHIEF MINISTER VICTOR F. BANKS
Once again as the Minister responsible for Social Security, I am called upon to deliver a radio address at the opening of a week of activities celebrating the anniversary of the establishment of the Social Security System on Anguilla. I cherish such an opportunity because it provides a window for reflection on where we are in terms of fulfilling the vision conceived by the Father of Social Security and the Father of the Nation, the late Hon. James Ronald Webster.
The Anguilla Social Security System is now in its thirty-sixth year of existence and I have the honor and privilege to be the longest serving Minister responsible for this important institution having been so assigned by three Chief Ministers, myself included, for almost twenty years. I am therefore entitled to associate myself with the success of the Anguilla Social Security System going back to the early beginnings when we worked hard in the proverbial trenches to assist in delivering this vision of the Father of the Nation. I sincerely believe that we are well on track to realizing that vision and I feel a great sense of pride for having been a part of the steady progress we are making.
Today many take the Social Security System for granted and many of those who thirty-six years ago expressed some reluctance to be a part of the process are now grateful for the vision, the commitment and the struggle which has made it such a vibrant institution today. But while we must appreciate the journey to the present we must never lose sight of the challenges in the road ahead. It is for this reason we must continue to ensure that the Anguilla Social Security System remains a dynamic institution responsive to the vagaries of the national, regional and international environment in which it must subsist. Such an attitude will give credibility to the theme for this thirty-sixth anniversary year: “Social Security: Supporting a Culture of National Resilience.”
The sustainability of the fund in itself is inexorably linked to sustainable economic development and as such the management and administration of the system must be in sync with policy initiatives of the Government. In fact, at times when Government is not sufficiently proactive, an effective Social Security System may be required to lead the way in advancing relevant programs and actions to achieve positive solutions for the country. Last year the Government of Anguilla in collaboration with our Social Security System provided a real positive response to the needs of our people in the aftermath of that devastating weather event that threatened to reduce many of the gains we have made over the last fifty years including the growth and maturity of our Social Security System over the last thirty-six years of its existence.
There is no question that the level of social dislocation that occurred with Hurricane Irma demanded a substantive response in which Social Security had to step up to the plate. This was an imperative because our developing island has not yet developed the more sophisticated social and financial safety nets prevalent in developed countries, and that is capable of providing for its citizens in times of both natural and human disasters. The Temporary Unemployment and Under-employment Assistance Program/Project was speedily designed to fill that gap in our capacity to formally deal with such situations as was the case with the estimated over 2,000 persons in our work force that were immediately without full employment as a result of Irma. That program was an overwhelming success and therefore Social Security along with relevant Government Ministries and agencies must be commended highly for this innovation. The lessons learned in that experience were blessings in disguise because as a result we have been rudely awoken to the need to make this response a permanent feature of our social justice policy. And the impacted workers may be the ideal campaigners to advance this initiative given the stark realities they faced during that traumatic aftermath experience.
The theme for this year highlights the fact that the history of our small island demonstrates clearly that we have resilience in our DNA. While resilience has become a buzzword in the recovery process of affected Territories in our region I believe that we in Anguilla have been perfecting this art over the many centuries of hardship and struggle that we have endured. As a consequence I must agree with the author or authors of the theme that Social Security has a role to play in supporting that natural attribute of resilience that is almost uniquely Anguillian.
Obviously, there is a cost to building such capacity. So the many naysayers in our community must come across to an understanding of the importance of contributing to the present Social Security System. Our citizens must similarly learn to appreciate the value of paying into a system that provides for them at critical junctures in our development a support system that fits the unique circumstances of our economy. I am proud to have been associated with several initiatives, which Social Security Boards have undertaken over the years for the furtherance of a stable socio-political environment. While there are those persons who may feel that some of these programs are outside of its remit I believe that these have all been in keeping with the need to be involved with wholesome national development in the pursuit of social justice. The Social Development Fund, which the early architects of the System created is now being properly applied and the Board and Management of Social Security have decided to introduce a governance strategy that requires qualified groups and organizations to submit calls for projects. I commend the administration of Social Security for this innovation because even at the highest levels of the political spectrum and especially in the broadcast and social media there is a misunderstanding of the objective of this Fund.
This week promises to provide a great opportunity for the community to be further informed about what your Social Security System is doing to improve on its already commendable record of achievements for the cause of social justice in Anguilla.
It is with the confidence that the Anguilla Social Security System is well poised to maintain its relevance into the near future and far beyond that I take this opportunity to declare this program of activities marking thirty-six years of achievement officially opened. I now look forward with great anticipation to the System’s continued relevance in this new period of dramatic change that now confronts us, alongside of other institutions on Anguilla charged with securing our national development.
Again congratulations to successive Boards, Managements and Staff for this stellar record of success over its many years of its service as an Anguillian institution. We stand firmly with you as you continue to respond affirmatively to the biblical question: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” with both words and deeds.
May God Bless You All! And May God Bless Anguilla!