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Tourism Minister Carlos James, left, and Opposition Leader, Godwin Friday.
Tourism Minister Carlos James, left, and Opposition Leader, Godwin Friday.
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Minister who did not debate budget delivered ‘State of the Tourism Industry Address’  

Opposition Leader Godwin Friday says Tourism Minister Carlos James ran from the parliamentary scrutiny of the Budget Debate, opting instead to present a “State of the Tourism Industry Address”.

James was among ministers who were absent from Parliament on Jan. 10 when Finance Minister Camillo Gonsalves wrapped up the Budget Debate prematurely at the urging of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves.

Among the people who were in Strangers’ Gallery at the time were senior staff of James’ ministry and Opposition Senator, Israel Bruce told the media that same day that this suggested that the minister was expected to debate the EC$1.6 billion fiscal package that day.

The tourism minister presented his address on Jan. 23, in Kingstown, commenting on many of the things that a minister would usually present during the budget debate.

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On Monday, the opposition leader commented on the address, describing it as a “soliloquy”.

“… rather than coming to the Parliament and presenting his plans and subjecting them to the scrutiny of the members of the opposition, he goes on to make his monologue somewhere else, rather than in the Parliament. And so, nobody is there to challenge him,” Friday said on his weekly appearance on his party’s show, “New Times” on NICE Radio.

The opposition leader said he listened to the tourism minister’s presentation.

“… there’s nothing really new, we know that the numbers of tourists are up,” he said, adding that this is the case regionally and it is good that the country is experiencing this.

The opposition leader, however, said that yachting is still much lower than it was 15 years ago.

“And still, the visitors still have a challenge, because you don’t have enough rooms, especially on the mainland and the cost of flights to get here to St. Vincent. All of these things have to be dealt with, before we can really say that tourism is on the right track.”

The opposition leader said the country still has a lot of ground to make up, adding, “and this minister is not providing any leadership, whatsoever, never mind his talk, where he gone and talked to himself there, and not subjecting himself to the scrutiny of the Parliament”.

Friday said James does not show that he understands “what is required to get this thing moving.

“He does not inspire the people in the industry to believe that he knows what he’s doing and what the government plans to develop tourism.”

The opposition leader commended the people in the Tourism Association and the people who advise the ministry “to try and get them to do things that are necessary.

“It is not going to, however, move forward with the kind of purpose and the energy that is required, the urgency that is required for us to really take advantage of this industry that we are so well placed to take advantage of.”

Friday said St. Vincent and the Grenadines should be “way ahead of anybody else” in the yachting sector “because everybody comes and sails in the Grenadines, that’s where they come…

“That is what we need to get developed. So, we take a greater advantage of our natural talents, and our beauty and the people and the scenery and all the things that God gave us, but we got to use them. And we are not doing that and the minister … never mind his monologue, I don’t think he really gets it.”

He said James’ plans do not consider the views of longstanding stakeholders in the sector.

“He has all kinds of plans about he going do this, he going do that and without connecting back with the people who’ve been doing this long before he became Minister of Tourism, and getting advice from them and listening and humbling yourself and saying, ‘By getting a title of Minister of Tourism, it doesn’t mean that I know everything, it means that I have the capacity now to mobilise those people and the resources to do something good in tourism.’

“But if you don’t have the humility, then you will never achieve the benefit that is required to get our tourism industry going forward. That is why we have to get a new administration in place who understands this,” Friday said, noting that he has been shadowing the tourism ministry since he was elected to Parliament in 2001.

“… it’s something that I really want to see us take full advantage in and I have spoken to people who are on the ground because I don’t operate a hotel, … I don’t own a yacht; I don’t run a charter company and so forth. Who you going find out from about these things? It has to be people who are in those industries.”

The opposition leader said the approach of the tourism ministry amounts to giving people “hoops to jump through and not showing them how to jump through it.

“Everything is a fee, is a fee, is a fee; tourism department all it is becoming, about everything is about a fee. … This is just something that we have to, we have to get beyond.

“… The minister in his monologue the other day was trying to present as if the tourism industry is on the move, and that he’s on the ball. And he couldn’t even come in Parliament, and subject his presentation to the scrutiny of the member the opposition, they run and gone to a room somewhere to deliver a monologue.

“So, it just shows they’re out of ideas, they are out of time. And the sooner we can have the elections, the better. And I think that this government is doing a disservice to the people of this country, to continue to hold them in this state of suspension, when in fact, we need to be moving forward.

One reply on “Tourism Minister ran from parliamentary scrutiny, Opposition Leader says”

  1. Ah so dem lie, wicked , cruel to people. The one eat ah food had said how dem wicked, and den join dem to rain dowm wickedness on de people

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