It is a rather disturbing trend that we’re seeing here. Seems, every blessed thing that other countries are implementing to fight this coronavirus fight, and pull themselves out of the resulting economic abyss, our government is . . . well . . . ‘cogging’ and saying “We too!” Of course, we have no problem with a government implementing policies and procedures that seem to work well in other countries. After all, why reinvent the wheel? But, in the name of all that is good, “Come up with an original idea for once, nuh?” Is that asking too much; especially since this administration has ascribed unto itself messianic attributes? Remember, this is the administration had eight members of parliament on the highly-touted Economic Recovery Committee (ERC). That Committee was comprised of “fifteen of the smartest men and women in Antigua.” Good grief! Help us, Lord!
Remember also, this is the administration that beat its chest and said words to the effect that there were other governments around the region keenly watching Antigua and Barbuda to see the wonderful things that we are doing here in response to Covid-19. (Don’t laugh, folks) And yes, they said it with a straight face, and without the slightest trace of irony. Nobody gave much credence to that ‘old-talk,’ not even the party loyalists! And certainly not the Timothy Harris administration in St. Kitts. They are on record as chortling at this administration’s feckless response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Anyway, even as Barbados was rolling out its REMOTE WORK visa, which it called its 12- MONTH BARBADOS WELCOME STAMP, we were ‘cogging’ and saying, “We too!” Of course, this was right in keeping with what many Bajan pundits were saying to the Mia Mottley administration, “Hurry up and roll out your programme before the other islands ‘cog’ and take your idea.” Sigh! Since last week, our leaders have been waxing eloquent about our version of the programme, and in this week’s Cabinet notes, they had this to say, “Two experts from the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) were asked to provide options to the Cabinet members that would allow the residency program that is contemplated to be engineered in order to serve the country’s need. The idea that is being transformed into policy would allow high-net-worth individuals and high-income-earners who can work from any place in the world, to decide on residing in Antigua for a period of up to two years. The presenters provided several recommendations for Cabinet that would satisfy the expectations of the lawmakers. The Cabinet was informed that similar programs have been adopted by Portugal, Ireland, Netherlands, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. The CIU is targeting 1,000 of the various types that would be attracted to the program.” Talk about following the leaders!
Of course, we certainly trust that our government will put in place high-speed internet and all the other basic services that “high-net-worth individuals and high-income-earners” require to get their wheels and deals consummated in real time. The slow and unreliable service that we long-suffering locals have had to endure will not suffice. Barbados is already marketing itself as having the fastest and best internet service in the entire Caribbean. We cannot make that claim as a selling point. We come up short in a number of other areas as well, but we will leave those alone. We’re talking about the ‘we-too-itis’ of this administration.
Look, about a month ago, our Prime Minister was waxing eloquent about the wonderful tracking app that was being used in Jamaica, and how “we too” would be ‘soon’ using such an app here in Antigua and Barbuda. A brilliant young man by the name of Elijah James, after hearing of the government’s ‘we-too’ rhetoric decided to create an app that “was not only designed with the features that Jamaica has available, but even more.” Sadly, as is its wont, our government turned down the young man. A number of other locals were in like manner turned down. But those too, are stories for another time. We’re focusing on ‘we-too-itis!’
Even something as simple as a virtual calypso or soca event to fill the void left by the cancellation of Carnival due to Covid-19, escaped the imagination of the Einsteins in this administration. Since the cancelling of Carnival, this administration should have thought of something to fill the Carnival space. It never did; that is, until Progressive Radio, and the United Progressive Party, decided to put on a calypso monarch competition. That’s when the rocket scientists in the Ministry of Culture, after three weeks of dithering, decided to put on a Soca Monarch competition, on the very night of Progressive Radio’s calypso event. Talk about badmindedness! Talk about a stunning lack of originality! Indeed, this administration’s mantra appears to be an adulteration of Isaac Newton’s third law of motion, to wit, ‘For every action, there is an equal and SIMILAR reaction.’
When a number of Caribbean islands spoke about a “Travel Bubble,” or “Travel Corridors,” a partnership between our countries that would allow our respective nationals to travel freely between us without Covid-19 tests, our administration immediately put its hand up and said, . . . you guessed it, “We too!” Sigh! Of course, we have had to rethink that travel bubble ‘follow-suit’ after one of our firefighters went down to St. Vincent and tested positive for the coronavirus.
We could go on and on with more examples of ‘we-too-itis,’ but that would be superfluous. You get the point. This administration is bereft of ideas. And it is for this reason that we cannot wait to see the grand proposals that will be unveiled in the ERC report that is to be released at the end of this month. Six days, folks! Any bets?
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