October 30, 2006
Our Social Security Board is at this time celebrating twenty-four years of service to the people of Anguilla. Celebrations for this Social Security Week are therefore on the eve of the quarter century milestone of commitment and dedication by the Board, Management and Staff of the Board to both its contributors and beneficiaries. I also will be privileged next year to have been the Minister responsible for Social Security for more than half of the life of the System on Anguilla. But as one writer put it: “we are but dwarves standing on the shoulders of giants” and we all must admit that among those giants in the case of Anguilla --- none stands out more prominently than the Honourable James Ronald Webster, the father of Social Security in particular and Modern Anguilla in general.
It is against the backdrop of Mr. Webster’s vision that so many Anguillians have come to realize the tremendous contribution which the system has made to our development both directly and indirectly. And it is still that vision which twenty-five years later stands out as a haunting reminder of the foundation of social solidarity and social justice --- upon which the system was established. It is those principles which must even today, as we expand and develop the system, drive us to maintain our focus and vigilance by ensuring that --- in a dynamic environment --- there is an ongoing process of adjustment to achieve that original vision.
It is in such a context that Social Security Week has been instituted so as to bring attention to these noble goals and objectives, to highlight the achievements of the system, to reflect upon the journey and to fashion the strategy to maintain the correct path going forward. Indeed, the success of the system so far has been, in no small measure, due to the constant process of self assessment which has been taking place over the past years --- and more recently in the form of comprehensive sessions which include the staff, the management, the board of directors and external consultants through the modeling and formulating of strategic business plans. Already the five year business plan for the years 2007 to 2001 has been prepared --- and its design is a response to the focus question: “What specific targeted actions must we take to provide social security services to the delight of the people of Anguilla”.
The Business Plan also includes an execution system which allows for the evaluation of the performance of the Board in the course of achieving its Vision and Mission from four perspectives, namely, the customer, the internal processes, learning and growth and fiduciary responsibility. This process is intended to be institutionalized --- and commits the Board to a thorough monitoring plan which will include various channels of reporting: Staff to Managers; Managers to Management Team; Director to Board; Board to Minister; the Minister to the House of Assembly. And in the further interest of transparency and accountability --- the Board is committed to publishing in the print media a summary of the Annual Report as well as an annual presentation of the Report at Town Hall meetings thereby providing a forum for public debate and discussion of its stewardship.
Over the last twenty-four years the Board has had seven actuarial reviews --- these are important exercises which ensure that the management decisions of the Board are based on carefully analyzed financial data and sound projections. It is this diligent process of evaluation which enables the Board to confidently pay over five million dollars in long term benefits this year --- to almost five hundred recipients; short term claims --- to over twenty-five hundred persons and at the same time maintain a Reserve Fund of over one hundred and fifty million EC dollars at the end of August this year. In short the operations of the fund are actuarially sound and the prospects for its sustainability and profitability --- based on its investment decisions ---are both favorable and positive.
But while we may measure the direct support of the fund to its contributors on an individual basis --- we should not overlook its indirect contribution to the overall well-being of the community. This year in particular the Social Development Fund of the System contributed to a number of important and far-reaching national projects to include: support for the Anguilla Amateur Athletic Association, the Anguilla Scouts Association, the National Football Association, the Anguilla Tennis Academy, the Anguilla Cricket Association; Camp Be Aware; the National HIV/AIDS, the Optimist Club, the National Fitness Quest Programme; various cultural development projects including the Tranquility Jazz Festival, the Anguilla Summer Festival and one of the latest projects a significant contribution towards the purchase of a Grand Piano for the Music Department of the Albena Lake-Hodge Comprehensive School. This represents a total contribution of over five hundred thousand EC dollars to social, cultural, educational and health and wellness projects ---- and makes the Board a significant partner in our islands social development program.
The expanding scope of the focus of the Fund is an essential part of its mission --- and over the years it has demonstrated through this process its adherence to the foundation principles of Social Security as expressed by the President of the International Social Security Association, Johan Verstrateten when he said: “the ultimate goal should be to move from basic minimal protection of some residents to a much more ambitious promise of benefit adequacy and universal coverage of all residents; because the objective of social protection is not only subsistence, but social inclusion and the preservation of human dignity.” Indeed, the Board has made several strides in its young life towards achieving these imperatives and the management, staff, directors and contributors must all be commended for their efforts towards the realization of these ideals.
The number of initiatives which the Board has undertaken for the furtherance of a stable socio-political environment --- many of which are often considered to be outside of its realm of direct responsibility --- further highlights its concern for wholesome national development as it relates to social justice. For example, initiatives like the Anguilla Community Foundation, the Biennial National Development Conference, the Annual Public Lecture Series, and the promotion of the National Health Fund are all indicative of this expanded remit which the Board has adopted as an aspect of its national responsibility. And in doing so lends accuracy to the description of the Board as “the single most important institution for the social and economic benefit of the Anguillian people.”
For the rest of this week there will be a number of speeches, discussions and activities highlighting Social Security Week. I invite you to listen to and participate in as many of these functions as possible. Of particular importance will be the Annual Public Lecture which will be delivered by Mr. Edmund Lawrence, the Managing Director of the St. Kitts-Nevis Anguilla National Bank, his topic “Social Security and You --- Creating the future”; the Regional Customer Service Workshop, the topic: “Exceeding Expectations with Service Excellence” and to top it off the Health Walk and a healthy Breakfast on Saturday November 5th.
This year is also the Eightieth Birth Year of the visionary founder, The Honourable James Ronald Webster. Let us use this occasion to wish him once again God’s blessings for continued good health and strength --- as we strive together to advance the mission which he so passionately espoused. May his clear vision be as a beacon to guide the way forward for the provision of “social security services to the delight of the people of Anguilla”.
And finally may I again congratulate the Board, Management, Staff of the Anguilla Social Security for achieving this milestone with tremendous success --- and thank all of you once again for your assistance in providing a positive answer to the biblical question, “Am I my brothers keeper” --- with both words and deeds. I thank you all very much for your kind attention.
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