Our Readers' Opinions
October 28, 2005
A letter to the Prime Minister

EDITOR: Please publish this letter I wrote to the Hon. Prime Minister. I am still awaiting a response.

Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Right Hon. Dr. Ralph Gonsalves

Prime Minister’s Office

Financial Complex

I have been trying to have a meeting with your good self for the longest while. I even tried coming to the regular Saturday mornings “meet the public” sessions; but for one reason or the other it was cancelled last minute. That was three years ago. {{more}}

There are several issues I would like to discuss with your good self, some very old and some recent. Firstly: The non receipt of my pension, which I am entitled to, but try as I may I have been turned down, not by a board, but by one individual at the N.I.S office going back to 1992.

I started working with the Education Ministry, Music Department as a Specialist Music Teacher, September 1980 and had the Regulated Provident Fund deducted from my monthly salary. As you know, Prime Minister, during the tenure of the Mitchell Government a switch was made from the Provident Fund to N.I.S and the required contribution continued to be deducted. I worked very hard all this time attending to regular classes in recorder, singing, bi-annual musical festivals: training and accompanying solos, duets, Choirs (even established a mixed Police Choir and helped to develop skills which were lacking in the Police band – the present band master ASP Williams was assisted by me personally for three years along with others who are still with the band).

Believe me, Prime Minister, I was the only specialist music teacher in the department who actually taught and trained five primary and five secondary schools on a regular weekly basis for the duration of the time I was in the Ministry. Of course I also attended regular workshops, training and teaching the music teachers in each of those schools, recording for them the required test pieces in all categories at these workshops.

I also trained recorder and Theory of music on a regular and weekly basis in all the schools allocated to me, at one time preparing the primary students at Calliaqua Anglican School for Grade 1 Theory exam from the Royal School of Music, London. This is the first time this has ever happened in St. Vincent.

I worked very hard and enjoyed my job very much and was happy to assist whenever asked by the Ministry, assisting the Liberty Lodge Boys and Police Band.

So, it comes as a surprise and shock to me when I am told by the N.I.S that I am not entitled to pension, time and time again, because they said they couldn’t trace the evidence of me ever paying provident fund. This automatically debarred me from having served the regulated 10 years minimum to be qualified for pension.


The other matter is to do with the National Anthem of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

It is known by everyone in St. Vincent, I am sure, that I am responsible for having written the music for the National Anthem of my country.

This was made possible by a request from an acquaintance who was on the committee for the Anthem at that point. I actually did not see but was told by this person since, that EC$500 will be awarded to the winner of the competition. May I state here now that I have not been in receipt of this award since completing the anthem in 1969. I have recently liaised with this person in order to ascertain if the money was paid and to whom it was paid and reconfirmed with him that I have never been in receipt of this sum. I know that the music for the anthem, which was written by me, is published in the ‘International Book of Anthems’ around the world.

I notice recently that some announcers and others who are in the Media would like to see the anthem more upbeat and with a Caribbean flavour. I happened to hear some persons stating that it is ‘too long’ and it needs to be ‘more upbeat’ at the last Independence Celebrations. This has annoyed people at home and abroad and especially the crude remarks relating to Phyllis Punnett’s words accompanying our anthem. I must now ask that this matter be taken up with the relevant departments to ensure that it is known that I have copyrights to this anthem and any infringement either by way of comments about the anthem’s quality and/or inciting the need for change whether it be rhythmic/style will be taken as an affront to our sovereignty and culture, relating to the Internationally accepted standards by which anthems are accepted and revered around the world.

Finally, I am a Vincentian by birth and have served my country to the best of my ability, in music, agriculture and in any other department in which God has given me competence. So far to date I have received one medal (from the former Governor-General Hywel George on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen of England): and recently a plaque from this government. Now let me await your response. I hope something can be done to stop those in our society from degrading our noble country.

Yours sincerely

Joel B. Miguel (A.L.C.M L.R.A.M T.D)