Thursday, April 25, 2024

FIRING LINE: Addressing some issues


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I feel the need to comment on a few areas this week and I hope readers do not mind taking my at times potpourri approach to some key issues.
While I have no actual evidence to support this claim, I would assume there are quite a few entertainers (I make a deliberate distinction between entertainers and calypsonians) who are saying some quiet prayers to the Almighty. After all, I would hope that at the very least they are thanking Him for the creation of breasts, bottoms and the excitement that comes with intimacy because I am pretty sure that most of them would have no material otherwise.
Even as I say this, I ask them to proceed with caution. The Almighty, as far as I am aware, is unlikely to take kindly the commodification of women’s bodies that has become synonymous with this season. I would urge them to perhaps first offer a prayer of forgiveness and see how it goes.
My email address is usually attached at the bottom and I am interested in anybody who can explain to me how Bajans reconcile purchasing the eensy-teensy wafts of material that pass for costumes and their high price. Many of them look like they could be balled up in the palm of your hand and if you are not careful, end up being discarded as tissue. While I do not want to put anyone out of business, the value for money proposition evades me. 
While I do not necessarily agree with Government investing money in the development of tourism plants, I do want to give them some kudos for certain aspects of the tourism plan recently unveiled by the Minister of Tourism. The focus on renewable energy and green-globe certification shows some practical application of initiatives outlined in the Throne Speech and is forward-looking. Perhaps the rebate proposals could have been more targeted but at least it demonstrates that they are attempting to be responsive.
However, if I am accused of being overly gracious to these proposals, I would accept the criticism without complaint. After waiting so long for some sign that this Government is a living, breathing, thinking machinery, I am just glad for something. This Government, however, knows how to “wax eloquent” when it wants to. We look forward to actual effective implementation.
I want to bring another element to the discussion on comments attributed to Attorney General Mr Adriel Brathwaite. The comments suggested that the region is facing challenges attracting international aid. While it is very true generally that the Caribbean is falling off the international agenda and that donors are prioritizing other regional groupings and issues, that is not the whole story. A large part of this story which also needs to be acknowledged is that we have proven ourselves to be efficient spenders of donor funds when they are available. If walls could talk, they would speak to the millions of dollars in donor funds that are returned on an ongoing basis, the inordinate amount of time lost in implementation delays, and the donor frustration of operating in an environment dominated by ancient bureaucracy.  The calls for more donor funds must be matched by an admission that we have not always been the best stewards of what has been offered. 
I am not sure how many of us recorded the 40th anniversary of CARICOM (yes, we – or rather, they – actually celebrated this officially on July 4). I think that for most of us, this hardly sparked one iota of interest. The lack of interest and enthusiasm around this milestone is telling. It reinforces the notion that for most of us, CARICOM, its institutions, processes and programmes belong to governments and perhaps the staff of the secretariat. The continued disconnect and lack of ownership by people of the Caribbean, if not quickly remedied, will doom this institution as a relic of academic discourse.
Finally, as summer unfolds, I do want to urge caution to young people and children in their activities. I also ask parents to be extra vigilant so we can avoid the unfortunate accidents that happen every summer. The sweltering heat will, I am sure, have some impact on our sanity (it is already impacting on mine), but let’s try to keep our wits about us and get all of our children back to school safely in September.
• Shantal Munro-Knight is a development specialist and executive coordinator at the Caribbean Policy Development Centre.


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