Dr. Fraser- Point of View
November 15, 2019
The silly season is here

The season when a lot of foolishness happens is with us once more. Over the next year a number of elections will be held in the region, some within weeks. Our PM is signalling elections before the end of next year, but the way things are going we have to expect the ringing of the bell anytime soon. We are deep into the Silly Season. In Dominica when PM Skerritt was announcing the election date, he thought it fit to lift his foot in the air displaying a pink pair of boots. To impress whom or about what? At home I have lost track of the number of things happening, roads that have not been fixed for years are being patched, projects which have not materialised or even been on the back burner for more than five years are suddenly catapulted into our consciousness, as a stroke of genius and with the expectation that they will be finished within the next year. It is time we stop operating by five -year cycles. The question which has to be asked is what was happening before. This is not unique to SVG and of course what is pushed are projects where one can see some visible sign of something happening or having happened.

But there are fundamental issues that we have to get sorted out and which cannot be hurriedly done. Let us use the problem of vending around Kingstown. We have allowed this to go on for a long time without seriously addressing it. It has gotten out of hand. The site in front of CK Greaves on weekends is unsightly and utterly disgraceful. The car parks are all taken up with persons vending their goods. The problem of vending is not an easy one with which to deal. Vendors have even reached under the Post Office. Let us accept the fact that an increase in vending is related to the state of employment. Having allowed this thing to fester for so long we have to now move with caution. First some alternatives have to be presented and discussions held with the vendors. We cannot deal with one set and not the others for those displaced will find spots elsewhere. Now is actually the worst time for tackling this unless we have practical alternatives. As Christmas approaches more and more people go on to the streets and it is not the most appropriate time for any rational discussion on the issue. What will also be needed is political consensus or it will then become a political football as it has been in the past.

I go back to my point about employment for this is something that needs to be addressed seriously and urgently. The answer is not to boast about an increasing number of people on Poor Relief and be happy about increasing the amount given, which even with the increase remains terribly small. Surely, persons would rather have work than depend on the assistance given. A number of persons vending would prefer to do something else. Having seen how some of these people organise themselves I am confident that many can become successful small entrepreneurs but of course, they will not be able to go to the bank for funding. They need assistance including training in entrepreneurship. This of course reintroduces the issue of a Development Bank. I have only mentioned the vending issue but there are a host of others that should not get trapped in our five -year election ‘politricking’. In this Silly Season attention focusses on being elected to or returned to ‘power’. Everything is geared to this.

The long- term development of the country which should not be subjected to election gimmickry suffers.  How seriously as a nation have, we addressed issues of crime and sexual assault? These are not isolated matters!