Ian 'Magic' Hughes
Tuesday, 27 March 2012 01:30
By Ian Magic Hughes
Antigua St John's - In coming into office in 2004 on its wave of transparency and accountability, the United Progressive Party vowed that it would "make wrong right".
And true to its word, the UPP has done just that.
Politicians keeping election promises are extremely rare, but for the UPP they were on point.
The problem is, though, most did not understand, or as the Rastas would say, "overstand" the real meaning of "making wrong right".
The UPP never promised to do the right thing they claimed to, once again "make wrong right".
After eight years in office, it’s now clear what the UPP meant.
Those things that the ALP did that the people knew to be wrong, the UPP, under the leadership of Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer, would demonstrate that these "things" were in fact right.
Take for instance the recent development where Chairman of the Antigua Power Utility Authority (APUA) Clarvis Joseph declared that he would disconnect all services if customers were delinquent in one of the many APUA services.
Okay, Joseph backtracked. He meant commercial delinquents, not residential customers who usually pay.
The prime minister jumped into the fray, and said it was an ALP policy. Yet from my 50 years on this planet, I cannot remember this ever being an issue.
But here is where the wrong is now right.
The UPP came into office in 2004 and met, according to Joseph, the attitudes of "people with a culture of not paying" for utilities. And for eight years, they (APUA) and by extension the government, embraced this.
In a "war of words" on Observer Radio on Sunday’s Big Issues with former finance minister Robin Yearwood, Joseph disclosed some more ALP wrongs.
The UPP came into office and met a number of people (friends of the ALP) who were given APUA subsidies.
Rather than stop this process, the practices continues today via the subsidies for politicians, millions of dollars of taxpayers’ monies down the drain, embraced by the UPP at the same time they ask people to "band their bellies" during an economic crisis.
Joseph revealed that as an opposition member of Parliament, Yearwood receives EC$6,000 per month in subsidies.
Yearwood contended that he receives EC$3,000 per month.
It stands to reason that ministers of government and members of Parliament of the ruling party receive at least the same or more than opposition members.
In using Joseph’s figures, a quick calculation reveals EC$9.792 M in utility subsidies for the eight years that the UPP has been in office.
And the UPP has no problem with this; another wrong is now right.
The expropriation of the Half Moon Bay property by the ALP was wrong until the UPP fought vigorously all the way to the Privy Council to make it right.
Under the ALP, the people were supposed to sharpen their cutlasses when confronted by the taxman, but the UPP imposed higher taxes and is seeking ways to impose more.
According to the UPP Projects should go to tender when ALP was in power now when ministers deliberately restrict contracts so as to ignore the tendering process, it’s all good and well with the UPP.
Of the monies spent to construct public fences, the government of the UPP declared that despite the fact that million-dollar contracts were broken into many $19-thousand contracts, they are corruption free.
When the ALP signed a contract with Dato Tan with no performance clause but a clause to solve and disagreement in a foreign country, the UPP were ‘up in arms.’
I’m still waiting for the performance clause for the contract to build the Wadali Power Plant, which from all reports is leaking oil left, right and centre after just three months in use.
The idea is that we as a people need to hold our elected officials accountable for not just their action but their words.
We will not improve as a society if we, the people continue to show this partisan and blind support in light of overwhelming evidence.
Elected officials from the ALP, as well as the UPP get a free pass when we the people fight on their behalf.
When we uphold the principles of wrong, there is no way we will ever be able to do the right thing.
Wrong can never be right, no matter what we may do or say to mask the reality.
If we were to be true to self we would all agree that the ALP and the UPP have failed miserably to do what’s right for Antigua & Barbuda and we must ensure that the next government embraces truth.
Now would be a great start, don’t you think?