The question probably
haunting many Vincentians today is, “Did we make a mistake in returning these people to office?â Did they not promise to revitalize the Banana Industry and repair all the roads? Apart from the construction of the airport, have they done much to positively impact the lives of all the people?
In the electioneering season of 2015, the NDP under Arnhim Eustace promised that if elected they would have introduced the planting of bananas. They proffered a comprehensive replanting scheme which would have had a good chance of succeeding. That scheme even made provision for the supporting of the farmers by way of a stipend during the critical period, a sort of life support line.
In response to that NDP plan, the ULP under Ralph Gonsalves pronounced that they would replant 2000 acres. Then they increased that to 3000 acres. However after the election of December 2015, the effort from the ULP in government was NIL and they had 100% on their effort. As is testimony today our banana shipment is NIL, this despite the fact that Dr Gonsalves had pronounced “prime ministeriallyâ that within weeks we were going to see shipments of 12,000 boxes of bananas to the UK every week. Up to quite recently we had not shipped even twelve boxes of bananas to the UK.
Until there is the admission of a failure and the reasons are given for these targets not being met, I would continue to
conclude that this was nothing but a “wutless fraud!â
There are some who, in defense of their own incompetencies and in some cases recklessness or “treacheryâ, would raise the question that having lost the protection we had on the UK market, it is not economic for us to persist with the planting of bananas. One is tempted to ask in response, “Is it benefitting the citizens to have all these persons receiving healthy stipends in the various ministries and statutory boards, whose value sometimes seems only to be the echoing of hollow slogans, primarily geared to hood-winking the people?
If we had embarked on the banana replanting programs proposed by the NDP, some of the measurable benefits we would have been seeing by now are:
(1) The attendance regularly at school by many more children, as many more parents would have been empowered to purchase the wherewithal for their children.
(2) A drastic reduction in the numbers of vendors who are now jamming the sidewalks of Kingstown as many of these strong women would have been able to operate from their homes producing goods for export.
(3) A reversal in the pattern of lay-offs from business houses in Kingstown.
(4) A reversal of the decimation of our human resources through non-communicable diseases as the application of healthy practices would have been affordable to more people.
(5) Zero hunger would have been an achievable goal, rather than the hollow rhetoric that the related pronouncements represent today.
One clearly remembers the days when regularly, tons of bananas were left at places like “SALLY SPRING,â from which needy families were able to get three or four sacks of the fruit “free.â In addition to that, at the Buying Depots throughout the state, non-farmers collected sacks of fruit without charge. The farmers were even then the under-writers of that service!
(6) Our NIS would have been healthier, as thousands of people working in agriculture and the benefitting sectors paid their contributions weekly.
(7) We would have seen a significant increase in the number of our young men pursuing careers beneficial to themselves and the state, as the pervasive lack of hope and frustration, prompted by the economic stagnation was repelled.â
(8) The reduction in crime would have been in evidence. So too would have been the obvious exploitation of the young women in our society whose vulnerability is exacerbated by the stagnation is a major issue for the society today and “tomorrow.â
These rains we have had in February could have meant that by summer the rations in the fields should have been planted. Last year would have been robust and would have given us high yields, at the time when the prices of bananas are generally at their highest on the UK market.
We should have planted those bananas!