The week that was
March 1, 2016

Our capital city Kingstown is “filthy” and filled with “disgusting” or “repugnant” smells. Its drains are “packed” with garbage and some haven’t been cleaned in the better part of a decade. That assessment isn’t coming from some environmental NGO or Opposition parliamentarian, but from Julian Francis – the minister with responsibility for Kingstown’s cleanliness. The good news is that Kingstown may finally get the facelift it deserves.{{more}} Francis appears serious about his clean-up pledge, and has started in some of the filthiest corners of the city, clearing blocked drains and cluttered street corners in “Little Tokyo.” The Government bears a great deal of responsibility for letting Kingstown fall into such a deplorable state. But it’s good to see that, at long last, it is attempting to rescue our capital from the disorganization and pollution that have turned the city into an unwelcoming and unpleasant experience for locals and tourists alike.


(Photo) Bishop Gerard County (right) with Metropolitan Archbishop Joseph Harris

SVG’s beleaguered Catholics have a new bishop. Gerard County is a Trinidadian, with a previous stint in Mexico, where he has been doing missionary work for the last 19 years. Despite a dwindling flock and the growing strength of Pentecostal denominations, Bishop County’s first job will be to heal the rifts within the Catholic faithful, who were splintered and disenchanted by the showy, divisive style of outgoing Bishop Jason Gordon. Bishop Gordon, who fancied himself some sort of liberation prophet, never tired of reaching for headlines, both in SVG and Barbados, mostly at the expense of Vincentian politics and governance. It was fitting that his final speech as Bishop of Kingstown was a mea culpa for putting his foot into his overly political mouth on the Ganja issue. We can only hope that Bishop County tends more to the needs of his flock, and less to cultivating a mini personality cult among the partisan faithful.


Whatever technical explanations they may provide, the Bank of Nova Scotia certainly seems to have fallen prey to accepting the worst stereotypes of Nigerian con-men and flimflam artists. How else can they explain sending the police to grab Nigerian medical student Uyi Great Osunde off of his flight home and locking him up without airtight evidence to support their claims.

Young Osunde, who’d just completed the local component of his studies at American University School of Medicine, received $10,000 from Western Union and deposited it at Nova Scotia’s ATM. When tellers told him that the money would not be immediately available for use on his debit card, Osunde withdrew the cash. However, Nova Scotia personnel decided that Osunde was up to no good. They declared that it was impossible for their ATM to accept that much cash in a single deposit – a declaration that turned out to be false. They also sent the police to arrest Osunde before they counted up all the money in their ATM. The $10,000 was there, just as Osunde had said. Let’s hope that this experience hasn’t soured the young man on his time in SVG, and let’s hope that he can afford one more trip to our country – to sue Nova Scotia and the Vincy police for their false arrest and imprisonment.


The saga of Tamara Marks may now be over. Marks, the disgraced former registrar, who took over $300,000 from client accounts, has been disbarred from practising law. The Court said that “the speed with which the account was depleted is nothing short of shocking,” and that Marks’ “misconduct besmirched the entire legal profession. . . and has brought the Registry and High Court into disrepute.” In imposing what it called its “severest penalty,” the disbarment contradicts those who prematurely declared that Marks had gotten off with a “slap on the wrist.” True, she never served any jail time for her theft. But after being forced to repay, being disbarred, being disgraced, losing her ability to work in her chosen profession, and effectively being exiled from SVG, you can hardly say that she “got off” either. Let’s hope that other examples of official corruption get similar treatment.

If I had a question in SVG Parliament

…I’d ask how the Government settled on deciding which items to tax in the 2016 budget. In a bit of rich irony, the overweight Prime Minister lectured us on our health and dietary choices, and told us that he was taxing us for our own good. But if health is the reason behind sugar and salt taxes, why tax lentils, and pigeon peas? Did we miss the health warning on lentils? A little honest explanation would help.

Media Watch

If you skipped listening to the endless budget debate on the assumption that you’d catch up by reading the weekly newspapers, you made a mistake. After almost four days of budget debate, all the newpapers could muster was a feeble “taxes gone up.” Either the majority of the budget debate wasn’t newsworthy, or the newspapers don’t have the journalistic talent to translate a few hours of boring speeches into a few paragraphs of interesting reporting. The greater tragedy would be if those same papers give greater coverage to the Opposition’s sideshow distraction than they did to the actual budget debate.