Well, now that Budget 2023 has been passed, the Parliamentarians have performed their most strenuous task for the year: showing up for TEN DAYS to debate, and then approve, the Budget and its spending details. Whew!! But let’s not forget they were in an air-conditioned hall, and had cold water in a decanter, with regular breaks to contemplate a sumptuous dinner every night. Duck curry with red wine?? The AG smarmily pointed out that one female had “seconds” FIVE TIMES!! Fifths??
Now, who’s your Eyewitness to begrudge these hardworking MPs a meal? Surely, we know they barely get by on their $700,000 monthly salary, paid phone bills and duty-free vehicles. And the Budget debate was, interestingly, the occasion for the Home Affairs Minister to announce that some additional officials will be given permission to use sirens and flashing lights, to leave us poor slobs in the dust when we’re in traffic jams!! Guess the Police vehicles and ambulances that are ALWAYS rushing to emergencies aren’t causing enough confusion on our chock-full roadways!!
But back to Parliament or, more properly, the National Assembly. Whatever happened to those four Sectoral Committees – Economic, Natural Resources, Foreign Relations and Social Services – that were introduced when, after the 1997 elections, the PNC bludgeoned the then PPP Government to “share power”?? Your Eyewitness has been hearing they can’t meet because of the PPP. But aren’t at any given time two of the Committees being chaired by an Opposition MP?? Who can convene meetings?? C’mon now…what’s the REAL reason those committees aren’t grilling officials on the execution or dereliction of their official duties?? Is it because meetings would cut into their free time??
Now, your Eyewitness realizes that, in Parliamentary governments, the majority can pretty much do what they want. In motions – for spending or whatever – the Speaker doesn’t even have to lift his head to count the vote he calls. Unless, of course, there’s a Charrandas as a fly in the ointment!! But the Opposition can still make waves based on their stance on the selfsame motions that are passed routinely. For instance, on the voting for pensions and social assistance etc, the Opposition’s calls for bigger increases have certainly resonated in the target demographics. Surely, some will be swayed to change their votes come 2025!! And that’s how the democratic cookie crumbles, isn’t it??
The challenge for the Opposition is how do they overcome the mistrust in the swing voters – past and future – when they just about rubbished every promise they’d made to them before 2015!! Well, there’s new leadership at the helm, and Cde Norton just gotta throw the previous leaders under the bus by singing along lustily with Shaggy – “Wasn’t me!!”
They’ve got the National Assembly as their bully pulpit!!
As you would know, dear reader, your Eyewitness has been asking – nay, PLEADING! – for the longest while, for Caricom to step up to the crease on behalf of their fellow member Haiti. Ever since poor President Moise was assassinated by that Colombian mercenary platoon, the second oldest republic in the hemisphere has continued to plummet into the abyss of failed state-ness at the hands of rampaging gangs. The US Secty General has repeatedly asked for intervention, but there’ve been no takers.
Now, are Haitians not men and our brothers?? And aren’t we supposed to be our brothers’ keepers?? What was all that fat talk when Haitians were passing through to Brazil to escape the hellhole Haiti had become?? How come all those strident letter writers on behalf of Haitians from back then are now silent?? Well, PM Holness of Jamaica just announced his country’s willing to send troops to Haiti!!
Let’s see what the rest of Caricom – including Guyana – does. We need boots on the ground for Haiti!!
If he weren’t pigmentally-challenged, your Eyewitness would’ve been tickled pink about the urbanity and conviviality with which the Budget debate ended. But he suspects that ten days of feasting on duck curry and swigging vino will soothe any savage beast!!