September 16, 2014
The current administration must do some soul-searching

Tue Sep 16, 2014

Whatever one’s political affiliation, there is no gainsaying that the Unity Labour Party (ULP) government has visualised, implemented and executed a number of economic and social programmes which have had, and are having, a significant impact on the socio-economic development in St Vincent and the Grenadines.{{more}} This is in spite of the difficult global economic environment over the past 13 years, since the tragic events of 9/11, 2001.

All the countries of the Caribbean, even oil-rich Trinidad and Tobago, have had a struggle to not only keep their economies afloat, but also to satisfy the needs and growing expectations of our people. It has proven to be a most challenging task for all the administrations and not surprisingly, those governments which have been unable to meet expectations have been swept aside at the polls.

Some governments, those in Dominica, St Kitts/Nevis and St Vincent and the Grenadines in particular, have stayed the course, but even these are facing strong challenges at the next general elections, due within the next 15 months or so in all three countries.

It is almost a contradiction to be saying on one hand that the ULP government has had meaningful programmes during its tenure, and on the other to state that it is facing a major challenge to its bid for a fourth successive term. One explanation lies in the tendency of electorate to tire of the same leadership over a protracted period. That is why renewal, of personnel, ideas, leadership styles, is so important.

There are other factors as well. Chief among these is balancing rising expectations, especially among young people, with the ability of the Government to deliver. In countries like ours, where government plays such an important role, the failure to deliver the economic goodies is blamed on the Government, rightly or wrongly. In the minds and eyes of all too many, unfavourable external factors, economic or caused by natural disasters, do not absolve the Government from blame. This is an important reason for lifting public consciousness, largely ignored by too many governments to their own detriment in the long run.

Of major significance too is the matter of governance, the extent to which the Government seems to be in tune with the aspirations of its people, the perceptions about democratic practices in the society, and the degree to which the population feels that there is fairness and justice for all in the society. These are issues on which the current administration, for all its positive impact, needs to do some soul-searching as it moves fully into campaigning for the next general elections.