January 6, 2017
For 2017: the battles we must win, or dare not lose

Vincentians face a new year. And as is our wont, some of us will give ourselves a set of New Year’s resolutions: losing weight, gaining wealth, finding new love – the list is long. Some of these we will keep, and some we wouldn’t. And next year the pattern will repeat itself again. So it has been and so it will continue to be. After all, our capacity to imagine, and indeed, create a future different and better than the one we have is a fundamental part of our humanity.

What is true for the individual is equally true for the nation: each new year presents a moment to reflect on what we have done and on what we need to do. For St Vincent and the Grenadines, this list is not long, but it is vital that all Vincentians fully recognize and fully partake in the battles that would define whether our tomorrows are better than our yesterdays.

Virtually all of our challenges in SVG can be captured in a single word: SECURITY. Whether it be financial security, physical security, political security, international security, Vincentians long for and must work towards ensuring that in 2017, nationally, we make genuine progress in increasing our security across all domains of Vincentian life.

Financial security is a necessary condition for making progress in all other sectors of Vincentian life. Our Government has expressed deep confidence that the imminent opening of the Argyle International Airport (AIA) will be of significant benefit to the Vincentian economy. We share that hope. But we also believe that this can only be realized if all Vincentians, both at home and abroad, engage their imagination and intellect to create and exploit opportunities in a global economy of which we form just a tiny percentage. Our new airport would surely lock us in more firmly to the international economy. We have won the battle of building an international airport. However, our greatest national battle of 2017 is to leverage the AIA into the catalyst for stronger economic growth in SVG.

Our physical security has become a more urgent concern of Vincentian national life. In an era of increased reliance on statistical instruments to measure the quality of our lives, our record on crime, particularly homicides, makes very poor reading. Quite frankly, last year is the worst year on record for the incidence of homicides in SVG.

We have used these pages to make the case again and again that we can and must do better in fighting violent crime. We believe that this is a fight that we simply dare not lose. All our hopes and dreams of a more secure health system, a more secure educational system, a more secure financial system, all of these are rendered utterly meaningless for those who are murdered; and they are deeply compromised for those left to pick up the pieces of those senseless homicides. In 2017, our Government must set benchmarks for measuring Vincentian security. Our first benchmark must be a fall in the levels of violent crime, particularly homicide.

When an individual fails to meet his or her New Year’s resolutions, generally no one else is the wiser, the winner, or the loser. But if, as a nation, we fail to meet our security needs – both financial and physical – the whole nation suffers. In 2017, these are battles that we must win, or at least, we dare not lose.