Monday, 26 March 2012 03:30
By Colin Sampson
Antigua St John's - Member of Parliament for All Saints West Chanlah Codrington has issued a call for Antiguans & Barbudans to exercise a spirit of national unity in dealing with the many challenges facing the nation.
The parliamentary representative made the call on the Colin Sampson Show. Readers may visit the Caribarena.com video archive to hear highlights from the conversation.
MP Codrington ended the programme with an eloquent and ringing re-affirmation of the Christian foundation of his work as a citizen, a politician, and a representative of the people.
Before reaching that closing point, however, Codrington provided a survey of the challenges confronting the constituency of All Saints West, prominent among them being infrastructural issues concerning road maintenance and water delivery.
Chanlah Codrington notes that besides being heavily residential and boasting a relatively large number of electors, his constituency covers perhaps the largest land area of any on the mainland. He insists that when it comes to road maintenance All Saints West has historically received worse treatment than any of the other 15 mainland constituencies.
The MP listed the affected areas (Belleview Heights, Lightfoot, Montula, Buckleys, and Renfrews). He recalls that it was only after he issued an ultimatum to the minister of Public Works that Cuban workers were eventually sent to tackle what he considers to be the worst roads on the island.
In one instance, Codrington reports, he was required to personally make several trips to the hot-mix plant to secure several buckets of road-repair material in order to alleviate a particularly destructive pothole. The offending obstacle had seriously damaged the front end of a constituent’s vehicle.
The parliamentary representative is completely unapologetic as he repeats his demand that some sort of systematic approach to road maintenance be devised that will fairly distribute the available resources across the entire road network.
He believes that the politically biased policy that favours certain constituencies over others based on some perceived electoral advantage has not worked in the interest of his constituents. Codrington makes no bones when he demands fairer treatment for All Saints West in the areas of infrastructure and service delivery.
MP Codrington is a strong supporter of a more active role for the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), of which he is a member. He laments that the PAC has no teeth, and in any case should not be limited to reviewing the nation’s audited accounts only after they have been laid before Parliament.
The PAC, he stresses, should be empowered with an investigative function that will enable the committee to inquire into government’s financial activities in real time. He views such an expansion of the functions and powers of the PAC as a minimal obligation to the people, who underwrite the government’s expenditures.
Codrington joins Revenue Recovery Manager Everett Christian in regarding the 2009 economic meltdown and the subsequent recourse to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as possibly one of the best things that has happened to Antigua & Barbuda in recent times.
The MP believes that the nation has been forced to take a long, hard look at its fiscal performance. This, he said, can only redound to the betterment of the nation’s economic and fiscal management. Codrington looks to the creation of rational business plan for the country, accompanied by quarterly reports on government’s fiscal and economic performance.
In support his call for a spirit of national unity in advancing national development Codrington urged the people of Antigua & Barbuda to abandon the xenophobic thinking that defines the national attitude to foreign investment. The MP considers the economic impact on the country of Chinese and Syrian ethnic groups to be an indictment of the disunity that prevails among locals.
Urging the indigenous people of Antigua & Barbuda to take a page out of the Chinese and Syrian playbooks, Codrington called on locals to band together in co-operative business ventures.
Offering an example of the type of cooperative business activities he has in mind, the MP for All Saints West suggests that it would take only four thousand people, each investing $1000, to generate $4,000,000 in capital. In such an environment, he notes, a residential development such as the one currently being undertaken at Montero by Chinese investors could be developed purely out of local resources.
As an example of the type of cooperative venture he has in mind, Codrington points to the proposed All Saints West Development Organisation, soon to come on stream. He hopes that soon every constituency will boast a similar co-operative group whose mission will be to accelerate the economic development of the nation.