A lack of confidence

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Increasingly, this beleaguered administration is confounding us with its fumbling and bungling. This ragged outfit is looking more and more like the gang that can’t shoot straight. Every blessed thing that they touch is riddled with missteps and miscues. They are making Larry, Curly and Moe of THE THREE STOOGES look like the acme of competency.

Consider the recent case of the good Minister of Social Transformation and the Blue Economy whose incoherent utterances were excused as a “slip of the tongue.” Or how about the recent writings of the Prime Minister whose screed was yesterday excused as being “taken out of context?”  Or how about the silly joyride aboard the cash-strapped LIAT to Dominica on Independence Day? Or what about the flight aboard a cash-strapped LIAT to Barbados with a single solitary passenger on board? Or what about the squabble that arose between ourselves and St Vincent and the Grenadines and Barbados over small procedural (but important) matters? This administration’s excuse was, according to the Cabinet notes of Thursday December 10, 2020: “Cabinet expressed its disappointment at the treatment which LIAT received by two CARICOM neighbours. The Cabinet rejected the notion of LIAT 1974 Ltd having to reapply for landing rights or be required to pay landing fees in advance; the reasons were characterised as ‘subterfuge and trickery,’ intended to ensure that LIAT does not succeed. The demands being made on LIAT are described as restraint on trade since several US bankrupt airlines have been allowed to land and take-off at airports in the USA and in many Caribbean jurisdictions.” Now, while the LIAT administrator, Mr Cleveland Seaforth, and our government, might have been under the wrong, or even the right impression regarding landing rights and landing fees, would it not have been prudent to straighten those matters out before taking to the skies and creating another spectacle that smacks of incompetency? These little missteps certainly will not inspire investor confidence. Neither will the general public have that assurance that the new LIAT management team knows what it is doing. And by the way, the belligerent language being used by our officials as to the motives of the Bajans and the Vincies in this LIAT spat is not helpful. In fact, we suggest that a great deal of the friction that now exists between our government and some of our Caribbean neighbours has to do with unfortunate articulations from on high.

Meanwhile, switching gears a bit, but still on the theme of how this administration is so very much at sea. We cite the matter of the bracelets. It is almost a joke. Since the very early stages of the Covid shutdown in March of this year, we have been hearing grand talk about these tracking bracelets to make sure that those who should be under quarantine are in fact staying put in the agreed-upon quarantine area. Since the summer, we have been hearing talk that the bracelets will be here soon, soon, and very soon. Then we heard that they are here. Some 300 of them. Then, last week, we heard that 25 of the 300 were supposed to have been deployed last Saturday. It is anyone’s guess if that small sum of 25 bracelets actually were affixed to any arriving passenger. Such is our lack of confidence in this administration’s ability to execute the simplest of things with any modicum of proficiency. We mean, any 16-year old could have set the whole blessed thing up in a matter of days, if that long.

On another note, we are curious as to the status of a number of much-ballyhooed initiatives. For example, how is our Digital Nomads Residence programme working out? We have yet to hear a report, save for the vague declaration that a number of foreigners have shown an interest in the offer to live here and work remotely from one of our sun-drenched beaches.

And what about the fifth berth that, last we heard, is supposed to be handed over to us in two weeks? We were told that an Oasis-class vessel was supposed to make a call here at the pier at the end of October to test the berthing facilities and the turning basin. That never happened, and we have not heard anything further. We suspect that the owners of the vessel thought better of sending an empty vessel to our shores during theses times of so much uncertainty in the cruise industry.

Folks, these are dread times – unchartered waters, (pun intended) so to speak. Some of the ill winds buffeting us, are beyond our control. We understand that, and we make allowances for those vagaries. Nonetheless, in the name of all that is good, could we have more realistic projections, and less thoughtless utterances from this befuddled regime? Sigh! We suspect that that is too much to ask. We have no confidence that this regime can get it right.

We invite you to visit www.antiguaobserver.com and give us your feedback on our opinions.

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