The week that was
January 26, 2016

Falling fuel prices have given VINLEC customers their best week since 2004. Because diesel prices are plunging globally, the much-hated VINLEC fuel surcharge is now under 21 cents per unit, less than half of what we were paying just one year ago. Even better than the lower electricity bill is VINLEC’s ongoing multimillion dollar investment{{more}} in upgrading our hydro-electric infrastructure, which will provide even cheaper, greener power to SVG. Low fuel surcharge, more hydro, and the promise of geothermal energy in the not-too-distant future spell good times ahead for Vincy homes and businesses.


The Marion House shepherded another 30 young men and women through their Youth Assistance Programme last week, and hopefully put them on a path to a brighter future. The programme targets at-risk youth who either dropped out of school, ran afoul of the law, or lacked marketable job skills. The Youth Assistance Programme, which has been steering teens towards more productive pursuits for the last 27 years, is precisely the sort of initiative that must be celebrated and expanded. With a growing youth population and an inhospitable economy and job market, SVG has to plan and prepare to meet the needs of young people and give them a helping hand when it’s needed. Programmes like these are far cheaper than the cost of jail cells, “poor relief” and hospital bills that inevitably follow large numbers of disenchanted young people. Kudos to Marion House director Jeanie Olliviere and her team!


Holders of licensed firearms must have been scratching their heads last week after PM Gonsalves – our Minister of National Security – made some confusing and illogical comments about when and where you could carry your weapon. According to the PM, you can’t show up at a meeting or protest with your gun, even if you have a licence to carry. Going further, he described “meetings” in such broad terms, that basically any gathering of a couple people should send you scurrying back home to lock

your gun away in the safe. The PM is famous for his tortured and politically-influenced readings of the law – from sedition to “causing alarm” – but his views on gun licences almost make the licences themselves useless. If you can’t protect yourself in a potentially hostile crowd, when can you?


Speaking of confusion, what exactly is the deal with the National Sports Council (NSC) and its proposed “user fees” for public playing fields and other facilities? After an abrupt and baffling declaration that the NSC would start charging user fees, no one is sure how to answer the questions of how much, where, why and why now. It’s unfair to spring expensive fees on organizations that use the facilities, if those organizations never paid fees before. And will the casual jogger, soccer player or netballer have to walk with an extra five-dollar bill in their pockets when they want to “buss a sweat” or do some after-work exercises? How much money is really going to be raised from these nuisance fees? Isn’t this what we pay taxes for?

If I had a question in SVG Parliament

…I’d ask the Leader of the Opposition to tell me less about his plans for the time and location of his next protest and more about his plans for succession. With the high-profile budget debates coming up, Eustace should be making the first steps of what we hope will be a graceful exit from the political stage, not clinging desperately to faded dreams of electoral triumph.

Media Watch

People get arrested at demonstrations. Picketers, journalists, even bystanders sometimes. It happens around the world, from university campuses, to street corners of the most liberal democracies in the world. So, maybe we can stop the breathless reportage of “was anyone arrested today?” and instead analyse the popularity and purpose of these endless lacklustre protests.