Opposition senator, Kay Bacchus-Baptiste, is accusing the Ralph Gonsalves government in St. Vincent and the Grenadines of being “climate change prostitutes”.
Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves rejected the label in Parliament on Thursday and suggested that the senator had misused the term.
Bacchus-Baptiste levelled the charge during debate on the Climate Levy Bill, which was passed into law, and would see visitors to SVG paying US$3 per night on their hotel rooms for the first 30 days of their stay as of June 1.
The money generated will go to the Contingency Fund, which has been set up to help the country respond to climate change.
Bacchus-Baptiste said the opposition had “a serious difficulty with the bill”.
“In fact, the attitude of this government has been likened by some to what is known as climate change prostitution.”
She said Haydn Billingy, who works in the field of climate change, says climate change prostitutes are persons or countries who do not genuinely care about the phenomenon of climate change, do not really understand the issues or even care, but they use the climate change momentum to leverage money for development of their countries.
“They will frame every project around climate change for a chance of wringing money out of taxpayers.
“And we are warned to be aware of climate change prostitutes,” Bacchus Baptiste said.
The senator said she made that point because one gets the feel in SVG that the Unity Labour Party administration is dealing with the symptom of climate change.
“We don’t see any initiatives to deal with the reasons for the unusual floods, the destruction of our bridges, etc. what are the plans to eradicate these problems? How can raising a tax level at EC$8 per night or per room really alleviate the problem if we do not go to the root of the problem? Is it really genuine?”
She said that another issue is what the government intends to do with the levy.
“We are well aware of the very poor accounting, dismal record that they have for accountability. So how do we know that what this money would be spent on and how it would even assist the problem with climate change?”
If the monies collected are merely going to be used to rebuild bridges or roads, etc., again, I ask, how will that alleviate the root cause? That’s the point,” Bacchus-Baptiste said.
‘a gimmick’ to tax citizens
The senator said there is “a gimmick to tax all our people to rebuild a bridge and when you are finished building the bridge, you paint it in red and you invite ULP people only to come to the opening. How does that solve the problem of climate change? Or is it for merely getting election points? So you fix a road and you build a bridge.”
She said that what is needed is an education policy for vulnerability assessment to the roads and bridges.
“For example, for over the past few months, years even, there has been no response to the broken bridges and roads in Sandy Bay, Magum, Tourama, Coulls Hill, Chateaubelair and other areas, even some areas in East St. Gorge.
“What about more training for health care professionals so that they can respond better to disasters and better management of our watershed areas and depletion of our forest — reforestation?
“Because those are the reasons for the floods that flood down our roads and cause the bridges to disappear.
“So we see a strategy emerging by the ULP to link taxes with a cause — what they determine is a good cause but, sadly, no accountability for the money…
“So you find a project that sounds good, hoodwink the public that we’re doing this for Zero Hunger or we’re doing this for Lives to Live or whatever you call it, and then we never have any follow-up about how the monies are being spent and that is why we over here are suspicious about this bill, as just another Zero Hunger, Lives to Live, raising money with no accountability.
‘Is that prostitution?’
In response, Gonsalves said, “… climate change prostitution is a thing — if you read the literature, just like climate change refugees are a thing.
“There is a concept in the literature that there are some people who have been so impoverished by climate change, by drought, by flood, by being made refugees that some women have been forced into prostitution because of the changes wrought on them by climate change.”
The minister said he was familiar with climate change prostitutes in that context, even as he has heard about climate change refugees.
“… but never have I understood the phrase and comprehended the phrase to be a term that could be attached to a government, to a state that has been fighting tooth and nail every single day to protect and arm its population against the ravages of climate change.”
He said he wonder if climate change prostitution, as a concept, includes when SVG sent its bailey bridges to Dominica when they were affected, or send entire barges of foodstuff to the British Virgin Islands after the hurricane last year.
“Is that prostitution?” asked, adding that if that was also the case when SVG hosts students from countries ravaged by hurricane.
“Or I wonder if it is when, as the Minister of Agriculture said, we send trees to replant the hillsides of the British Virgin Islands,” he said, and further asked if it is prostitution when utility workers from SVG go to devastated Caribbean countries to restore services there.
Gonsalves said SVG has seen death and destruction wrought by storms and hurricanes.
“This is not an intellectual thing. This is not something we are talking about in the abstract. People have died in St. Vincent and Grenadines because of hurricanes, because of floods, because of landslides. Well maybe they were wicked. Maybe those who died were wicked.”
He said Dominica, the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, and Barbuda have seen “damage unimaginable”
“These things have hit home not only to us in this Parliament but [to]people all across this country and across this region. We know that climate change is real and we know we have to do something about it,” Gonsalves said.
We have failed to deal with the litter problem and the pollution caused by poorly serviced vehicles. Yet the government wants to give the impression that it cares about our environment. This has nothing to do with our environment. They should focus on improving the dismal quality of life of vincentians instead of taxing us to death. They are too lazy to actually do something to improve the economy. Have they finally realised that we can’t bear any more taxes and are now targeting the few visitors including returning vincentians that come to these shores?
You are right. However the ULP has done a few good things for the environment such as the Styrofoam ban. Sadly we have a government that believes it can tax the people into prosperity. Most governments are greedy but ours is excessively greedy. Taxes make a government temporarily wealthy but eventually poorer because the people become poorer by causing less economic activity. Unfortunately no one at the top of our government understands the basics of economics. The very wrong philosophy, the excessive greed along with our very bad system, harmful unfair concessionary import policy and the very poor financial accountability and management means we are doomed! I believe our Prime Minister has at times listened to the people, made some good changes but he really needs to make a change in his economic philosophy.
As far as Climate Change is concerned: We do not need new taxes, they just need to better manage the existing taxes. Baptiste is right: This is just another money-grab from the people.
The opposition members are a bunch of blow-hards collecting salaries while doing nothing for it. Nothing they protest or suggest ever passes and, they don’t seem to mind that. The ULP has absolute power in SVG and, they have been in power too long. Search your feelings SVG. You know this is true. The NDP doesn’t seem to be a viable alternative to the ruling party, who have already taken measures to checkmate them.
Camillo Gonsalves is all over the newspapers. You couldn’t beat him out of the news with a stick. Next few weeks all that opposition protest will be forgotten like old news.
What do you or anyone else suggest the opposition should do? Put up roadblocks?
The opposition party could work relentlessly and tirelessly day and night, to remove Gonsalves and his Cronies from Office. Hold them accountable for real issues that affect the People of SVG. Like the high taxes, they are imposing on people, Like repairing the Nation’s roads, Like making an effort to cleaning up and fixing the problems of Kingstown. Seventeen years is too long for one political party to be in power. […] There is little that Bacchus and Co can do about climate change. There are enough issues in SVG to campaign on, like bad Governance, mismanagement, financial unaccountability, selling of grenadines islands to racist people, Education, Jobs, the Slavery mentality in SVG. A lot of people are fed up with the status quo of incompetent narrowminded selfish greedy abusive idiotic Politicians.
The increasing crimewave. the workers who still has to get paid for their labour. the People who have to steal dasheen and bananas to survive
Your answer (s) is/are valid. I agree with most of what you answered. Mainly the opposition should bring attention to the terrible economic philosophy of the present government…that is the ULP ‘s very weakest point.
I like the reference to the govt being climate change prostitues – its hilarious and freakin true if we think about it logically- Kay you have contributed a new definition of the term to the existing literature (at least the ones I can find).
Cant believe how party blind people could accept every and anything the ruling party does-are ULP supporters unallowed to critically assess a policy or too afraid to lose their party card????
This woman is just mindlessly grandstanding to score some cheap political points.
As a tiny speck in the ocean, we don’t have any ability to address the causes of climate change. Indeed, there is a growing recognition that there are neither the resources nor the will to do so even from a united global perspective.
So, all we can do is deal with the consequences such as flooding, drought, more violent hurricanes, rising temperatures, and so on.
In fact, if you read this loose cannon’s words closely you will see that she randomly flits back and forth like some manic depressive from the causes and consequences.
Just as in the case of Anesia Baptiste, the NDP will soon rue the day that Ms. Bacchus-Baptiste was appointed as a Senator.
I disagree! Baptiste is doing a great job. Should she just always keep her mouth shut? In this case she is certainly correct. The ULP are totally unaccountable with the people’s money. Much of this new tax will be so that high government employees can fly all over the world. The High ULP officials can fly first-class, stay in first-class hotels and go to meetings where they can beg for money.
Why don’t they instead pass legislation that creates jobs instead of causing unemployment.
I wonder why Crap Ben is not head of some State because he is versed in every subject matter under the sun… shove it please…kmdt as if the political points scored by ULP are any more expensive… I now expect an English Language lesson
She is correct. Expect this charge to increase as the years go by. Climate change is a farce which has been debunked by real scientists with integrity. It is a further tax on the people. They have conclusively shown that the Earth heats and cools over hundred or thousand year cycles. The weather conditions in the Caribbean are typical of the region where at particular months of the year there is high and low pressure which creates hurricanes. Or the “Red Ring of Fire” around the Pacific basin from New Zealand, through Japan, Alaska and southwards through North, Central and South America where Volcanoes and earthquakes are prevalent due to high plate tectonic activity. There was a BBC documentary in 1974 claiming we would all be plunged into an ice-age where all life would be extinct. I think we survived. Smh
This is nothing but a money/tax grab by governments. Do the research on weather throughout history. Such is nature that there will always be weather anomalies, or machines created by men to manipulate the weather.
Kenton, why do you always censor my comments. Above you left out the gist of the commentary. Why?
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