The week that was
February 2, 2016
The week that was


From steelpan to saxophone, from calypso to country, the Bequia Mount Gay Music Fest was four days of melodic bliss. The multi-genre, multi-location festival had something for everyone – and by the number of yachts in Port Elizabeth, just about everyone turned out to enjoy themselves. The performances of Arturo Tappin, Fya Empress and the Elite Steel Orchestra deserve special mention, but even the less talented performers – and, let’s be honest, the quality was uneven – brought energy and entertainment to the audience. Each Bequia Music Fest seems to get bigger and better; and the organizers could certainly teach mainland Vincies a thing or two about pulling off a huge logistical challenge with style and panache. Well done!{{more}}


Despite his complaints, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves must have been thanking his lucky stars that Arnhim Eustace and the NDP boycotted last week’s debate on the Budget Estimates. After promising a “better harvest” throughout the election campaign, Gonsalves’ Estimates had a ho-hum sameness that lacked innovations or reason to believe that 2016 would be any different from 2015. This year’s Estimates promised to spend $200 million on projects, down almost $100 million from last year’s election budget. Arnhim and his team could’ve scored some political points in dissecting the Government’s lacklustre numbers, but they were too busy planning their doomed “Victory Rally,” which failed spectacularly in Layou the following day. So, instead of risking a black eye during the Estimates, Gonsalves got a free pass, with the added bonus of the NDP’s public embarrassment the following day. How lucky can one man get?


An administrative error? An empty treasury? An incompetent government? Whatever the real reason, the temporary suspension of SVG’s voting rights at the United Nations is an embarrassment that we could ill-afford. The Government’s explanation that some clerk just wired up the wrong annual membership payment – US$39,000 instead of US$41,000 – seems plausible, up to a point. But the “simple administrative error” theory doesn’t explain how the Government still failed to pay up the $2,000 shortfall once the UN told them that they were still in debt. If you try to pay, send the wrong amount, and then fail to correct your error in time, you’re well into “incompetent” territory. For a Government that is always bragging about its foreign policy credentials and its intention to run for a seat on the UN Security Council, this is the type of self-inflicted wound that causes everyone at home and abroad to question our place on the world stage. Remember when Comrade Ralph was preaching about “getting the small things right?” Someone didn’t get the message.


There is an age-old philosophical question: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” This weekend, the New Democratic Party revised the question as a political query: “If a Victory Rally takes place in Central Leeward, and nobody attends, does it make a difference?” The sparse attendees of the NDP’s much-hyped “Victory Rally” should tell Arnhim Eustace and his team everything they need to know about their doomed strategy of electoral denial. Nearly two months after the General Election defeat, only the die-hards and the delusional harbour any hope that the NDP’s limp protests will force a change in government. Eustace and his allies still can’t provide any proof of fraud, and still won’t face up to the fact that they were more soundly beaten this time around than in 2010, despite the similarities in the final constituency tally. If the NDP doesn’t quickly move on to repair and rebuild their image and party structures, they may be preparing themselves for an unprecedented fifth term in opposition.

If I had a question in SVG Parliament

…I’d ask the Minister of Planning how long he plans to let people suffer in their smoke-filled homes just because he’s too timid to shut down the (illegal?) BBQ spots that have been popping up in the Arnos Vale area. The people who are inhaling cement dust and charcoal smoke 24 hours a day must be wondering if these indignities would be allowed to continue next to the home of some society “big wig.”

Media Watch

The usually boisterous pro-NDP section of social media was unusually quiet in the aftermath of their party’s “Victory Rally” in Layou last weekend. Other than a few official photos from the party itself, you could barely find a mention of the rally on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. When even your die-hards stop trying to put a positive spin on your missteps, it’s probably time to hatch a new strategy.