What do we really want?
I pose this question because I feel that there is a need for a serious conversation about our future. Are you satisfied with the current arrangement that runs our government affairs? Should anything be changed? How do you feel about the battles between ULP and NDP? When you are at the rallies dressed in your party colours, do you feel that your representatives will address your concerns honestly? Should the church have a role in government? What about the Senate? Should senators have to run for election? Or, should we do away with the Senate? How do you feel about a Senator having more power than an elected MP of the Opposition? I think we have a lot to address here. So I have been thinking of a system that may serve us better than the present arrangement. I will call it social democracy.
It will be developed from the understanding of what our resources are and how we develop what we have for our benefit and the greater Caribbean as a whole. Our resources are (1) our people (2) our land (3) our waters and (4) the aesthetic beauty of our region.
The system I am proposing is not expected to happen overnight but will evolve over time. If we can collectively agree that what the colonisers left us with have taken us to a fork in the road. We can choose to continue on and experience hopelessness, wastefulness, saddled in perpetual debt. In a sense lost from our true potential. Or, we can bear to the right into unknown territory with the understanding that we can’t be lost forever and we have a GPS.
At the root of our social democracy is integrity legislation. It is broad and will cover our conduct as a people. In essence it will define who we are. This is a big conversation and must involve everyone. It must address the conduct of our prime minister whoever that might be, all elected officials, senators, judges and magistrates, police officers, heads of governmental departments, school principals and must guarantee equal rights and justice for every man, woman and child. It must protect our lands from illegal sale and exploitation by foreigners, must protect our fisheries and the environment, it must address the conduct of election officials to ensure a free and fair electoral process. If you feel that I have left out anything, please enter it because this is what this conversation is all about.
Our land is our mother and she will feed us with every ounce of her milk if we honour and respect her. When she asked us to clean up our rooms and we don’t, then she does a thorough cleaning as we have just witnessed.
Our ambition is to grow an abundance of every kind of food to be the breadbasket of the Caribbean and beyond. There are already good things happening in agriculture. Farmers are learning how to test the soil and how to amend it for optimum production. The offshoot of food growing is food manufacturing. For example, from mangoes we can have mango juice, dried mango, canned mango, mango jelly, mango ice cream and an endless assortment of products. The same goes for anything that we grow to boost our exports. If I grow herbs, I could create my own label and market to supermarkets, other islands, US, UK, Canada, etc., and health food stores. The possibilities are endless.
Our fisheries must be protected and returned to our people and we must invest in proper equipment. The rivers must be cleaned up to encourage the crayfish, mullets and chee-chee to flourish and the rivers must be protected with environment laws. Out of fisheries, we can meet our needs and export instead of import.
Now our fourth resource is catered to tourism and the hospitality industry. We must be fully aware that we live in paradise and paradise is not cheap to outsiders. We cannot afford to have foreigners living in our Grenadines, doing good business and not paying their fair share of taxes. This unfair practice must end now and we must hold our politicians to it until we can get integrity legislation in place. Our best lands must never be sold to foreign investors. Instead we should lease the land and set the terms of the lease agreement so that we can get our share of whatever comes to our shores. Recently, I have been searching for a seven-day cruise to SVG. Nothing except for one that originates in Barbados, and it is very expensive. The point is that we are not promoting our islands as aggressively as we should. When we attract tourists to our shores we should have all of or towns looking fresh and clean. Our people should be trained in hospitality, efficient service and courteous behaviour. This is why our education system must be geared towards the four resources that I have mentioned. Some of the degrees you have now will not be able to help you even if you travel abroad.
Integrity legislation will be our declaration of independence. Even though it is 34 years late, it is still on time. In it we must have the ability to recall anyone in high office if they abuse or violate our Constitution and we won’t have to wait for the next election to get the rid of them. Mr. Eustace has mentioned that if the NDP gets the reins of power, that he would have an all-inclusive government. I am not sure that the political maturity is in place for such a thing to happen, but it will be a welcomed move in the right direction. The PM, on the other hand, is avoiding integrity legislation by all means necessary. That is understandable considering all of the accusations that were brought against him and that he took all of us into communist ALBA as if we are one of them without consulting anyone. This man is prepared to hold hostage to poverty and disease the ignorant and those that are stuck in the little box that he built for them. It must be noted that Canada has integrity legislation that is limited in its scope and they function fairly well except in the areas that the law did not address. We must cover every base to the point that politicians will not waste time with empty promises but rather have to come up with creative ideas to improve our lives in order to get your vote.
The USA does not have integrity legislation and the result is a corrupt system where money has circumvented the people vote and nothing can get done to benefit the people.
Recently I gave you the article “Debt=Death”.
It is simply designed to help you get out of debt. You can improvise however you wish. I also mentioned that the massive debt that the government racked up will burden all of us forever. It is simply too large for our population and when most of our revenue goes to pay just the interest on the debt then everything else suffers. No money for human development, none for healthcare, none for infrastructure and so on. When the borrowed money start to dwindle we will see increased taxes. The end result is human suffering, even death. Don’t be surprised if the trip to the Vatican was designed to tie us up with another loan from the Vatican Bank. If that happens, you are one step closer to Chucky and his son moving in to SVG to bust you up. People do not hesitate to bring your personal debt under control and stop paying interest to the banks. When the IMF and the World Bank come to take control, there will be massive lay-offs and cut backs to all kinds of services. If your debt is under control you will be able to ride the tide.
The PM is already using the current disaster as an excuse to borrow more money and seeking to increase the budget without knowing what aid we might be receiving or even to put some austerity measures in place to see us through this crisis. All hands on board is what is needed now. I have also observed that he never mention that he has asked for help from the USA government. That is an ALBA thing but I have already sent an E-mail to President Obama seeking assistance for SVG. Every disaster is an opportunity for us to do better and to think on a higher level. My condolences go out to all who suffer great lost especially the lost of love ones. May god bless and strengthen you in these troubled times.
All of the issues in this article is for conversation in schools, on the street, among friends and enemies, Parliament and between you and your elected officials. I will like a total involvement and remember that we can disagree without being disagreeable.
The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].