Political commentators divided on PM’s comments

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Two political commentators have expressed different views on the prime minister’s candid criticism of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) during his tour of Barbuda on Friday.
Dr. Damien Greaves, a former government minister and senator in St. Lucia, said Browne could have handled his grievances better.
Appearing on OBSERVER Radio’s Big Issues programme on Sunday, Dr. Greaves described the prime minister’s comments at the handing over ceremony as reckless and lacked diplomacy when he accused the organisation of exploiting Barbuda.
“It was a reckless statement. I’ve heard Prime Minister Gaston Browne on a number of occasions…and it seems to me like he is a man who is very angry, and he flies off the handle very easily. He needs to control that. As a prime minister, you ought to handle things with more decorum. You have to be able to nurture a position whereby you use reasoning,ratherthan reflex,” Dr. Greaves said.
However, Denys Springer, social scientist and fellow of the national academy of Taiwan, believes the prime minister was within his rights to make the statements.
The UNDP team had used stickers, a little bigger than a man’s open hand, to mark the homes that had been partially repaired with material from a UNDP-China procurement project.
Speaking on the same Big Issues programme, Springer said that the stickers added no value and were not necessary. “If all this thing was spoken about before that UNDP would be doing the work on behalf of china, then that would be sufficient, why the stickers? Were these stickers necessary? No, they were not. Why put them on the houses? What are they trying to say to the people of Antigua and Barbuda?” he posited.
On Friday, Prime Minister Gaston Browne criticised the UNDP for what he believed to be a case opportunism and he accused the group of taking credit for the government’s effort of disaster relief on the Sister-Isle. The People’s Republic of China provided U.S. $2 million, and the UNDP ordered the material, brought it to Barbuda, and managed its distribution as well as its use in construction.
The stickers displayed two logos, one for the UNDP and one forthe government of China. Browne first noticed the stickers while touring the homes for which repairs had been completed. Dr. Greaves said that while he understands Browne’s position about the stickers, there are more diplomatic ways to address his concerns.
“You have to step back a little bit, count to 10 and allow the voice of reasoning to supersede your tendency to resort to reflex actions or reflex statements because that is the position you are in. That was not the forum to attack a particular charity or organisation that obviously had an input and positive impact on what happened on Barbuda and before,” he said.
Browne told the UNDP team, in the presence of the Chinese ambassador, whose government paid for the material, that the project contributed little more than “a few sheets of plywood.”

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