Dr. Fraser- Point of View
August 26, 2022
SVG does its own thing its own way

These are indeed difficult times. SVG not only had to put up with the COVID-19 epidemic, but we often allowed politics to get into the way of our understanding of the science. We had the eruption of the Soufriere volcano and withstood it with the help and generosity not only of Vincentians in the disapora and friends but also from countries and institutions that came to our rescue. The manner in which we dealt with the assistance is indeed still a matter of concern and debate when we hear stories from some people in the Red Zone and others elsewhere who had put out helping hands with their slender means. The resources that came to us helped significantly not only in responding in the aftermath of the eruption but even more so in keeping afloat the economy of SVG.

The government of the country, like any other, has to deal not only with immediate problems that affect the people who had elected them to office but also to look forward to the long term development, trying to build sustainable development and also putting in place the infrastructure that is necessary as we push forward. Currently there are about a hundred and one things happening all at the same time.

Then add to this talk of a Referendum geared to making SVG a Republic. Laudable as this might be it involves an agenda and time of its own.
We however await further word on this. The focus for long term economic development appears to be on the tourist industry, with a number of hotels slated to be built, some with funds borrowed by the government rather than through private investments. We are still not hearing as much as we should about the tourism product, for without this hotels mean little. In the long past there was talk of eco-tourism, broadly defined to include the culture, geography and history of the country and of course the traditional, sea and sun tourism. Not sure where we are on this.

I am left to wonder if the focus is not on preparing a context for the next election, the earlier the better because it presents a golden opportunity for photo ops. Better to let us use our creative mind to imagine what the structure over there might be and could become while it is being constructed than to see it complete and not living up to our ‘fancy’ expectations. The human power involved with all this activity must mean that unemployment is not a major factor here! But let’s get down to brass tacks.

Like our neighbours we are feeling economic spasms, not all of it of our own making. What do we do? Sit it out and hope for the best while our people suffer, or do we identify aspects over which we have some control and therefore help to ease the burdens? Inflation and rising prices are taking a toll on our population as we see when we go to the shops, stores and supermarkets. This applies not only to goods that are imported but to locally produced goods since they also have to buy the imported things that we do. Unvaccinated teachers and other public servants were dismissed from their jobs, some on the grounds that they abandoned their jobs, even though having been handed letters of dismissal while at their workplace. Some resolution is expected to be made, hopefully by the time this paper reaches consumers, to satisfy the calls by minivan and taxi drivers to be given a fair deal. They are really prodigal sons in reverse! Many are feeling the economic squeeze and are not sure where to turn.

Why is a path not laid to get civil society integrally involved in the way forward? Or will civil society be seen as an obstacle? Obstacle to what? I am not sure! Well, SVG does it its own way! Is that why some of us want the PM to move from an SUV to a donkey cart? At least our PM seems to believe so!

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian