December 3, 2004
Keeping it level

Debate on the 2005 Estimates will intensify next Monday when the House of Parliament meets. But, given the political volatility which the impending general election has engendered, one can expect the sparks to start flying.

Despite the efforts of goodwill that normally pervades during this festive season, it is also the time of heightened political activity. {{more}} Party conventions are firmly on the agenda and we can expect to see additional touch as the factions get ready for the poll constitutionally due by June 2006.

The brinkmanship between the two parties continued when Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves presented the 2005 Budgetary Estimates last Wednesday, a record $587,095,299.

Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace’s prompt dismissal of the presentation and his query of the package presented pointed to the distance between the two leader’s positions.

Sweeteners could be expected in Dr. Gonsalves’ Budget presentation next week, as he paves the way for the imminent poll.

The continued thrust in education and health, soak up some of the estimates, and will be portrayed as planks of the ruling regime in its quest to refresh its mandate. Salary increases, provisions for wages and debt servicing take up a fair share of the financial projections.

This Yuletide season will not be the same for the politicians, as they focus on enhancing their image and attractiveness to the would-be voter in the looming election.

Prime Minister Dr. Gonsalves, though, appears to be playing the waiting game, keeping the opposition and everyone else guessing.

The opposition on the other hand, are not leaving anything to chance and seem anxious for a pillar on which to base their campaign. Thus they have found a good target in Julian Francis as they line up for a platform for the crucial crusade to return to the realms of government.

The budget debate next week will provide a great soapbox for airing positions.

Whatever unfolds, however, the nation must be guaranteed stability and respect for the rule of law. Responsibility, civility and decency must be the order of the day. And the political barometer ought not to be allowed to reach to such level of animosity that the nerve centre of potentially explosive machinery is pricked.

We have to safeguard our age old traditions and maintain a standard of discipline for which a modern society can be proud.