While everyone is making last minute adjustments to their wish lists, we’re thinking back over the past year and looking at the current situation in Antigua & Barbuda.
It seems that the nation is badly in need of some things this year and we hope Santa will figure out some way to help us get them.
Among the biggest needs: A big, huge pot of money to allow the government to honour its commitments to its residents, debtors and partners.
Even better, the money would come in the form of a grant or “miracle” with no long-term commitments to pay it back that keep the country in debt for the foreseeable future.
Wise and brave leaders who are driven by a need to do what is best for the country and aren’t afraid to come up with innovative new solutions and then follow through with coherent and effective plans without backing down when they meet the least little opposition.
A training course for parliamentarians on civility and proper parliamentary procedures so that members won’t walk out on colleagues, tell tall tales, call each other “liars” and generally act like children instead of big people.
A public works ministry that understands how to build roads properly so that they don’t have to keep going back again and again and again to patch potholes that seem to grow by the hour and will actually install proper drainage when they are “fixing” the roads. (They could also use a hot mix plant that doesn’t break down.)
Voters that are informed about issues so they can base their vote on who is best for the country, not on how much the candidates give them.
An intensive drivers’ training course that is mandatory for all drivers so that the laws regarding speeding, not passing on hills or curves, and the myriad other protective laws can be re-instilled in their brains.
A refresher course on parking laws in downtown St John’s would also be welcomed as well as some consistent enforcement of all the traffic and parking laws by the police.
An efficient and effective court system where it doesn’t take years and years for lawsuits to be resolved and criminals are brought to real justice and where justice is not only served on the poor.
A work force that really understands what productivity is and that things like risk pay and sick pay are not entitlements but privileges that should not be abused.
Public servants that deliver value and good customer service in return for the huge amount of the budget dedicated to their salaries.
Private businesses that understand their obligations to employees and to the government so that they pay their statutory obligations and taxes on time and in full.
A reliable regional air transportation system that is not hampered by industrial actions, fuel shortages and ineffective management so that it could then offer reasonable fares.
A public transportation system that reduces our consumption of fossil fuels and provides safe and reliable service on a consistent basis.
A special effort by our utilities company to use alternative energy sources, namely sun and wind, to power the nation and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
Programmes for youth offenders that direct them away from lives of crime and into productive pursuits.
A fair taxation system that doesn’t worry about wringing every single penny out of the tax base by taking aim on allowances that are provided so employees can work more productively.
A combined, effective effort by banks, construction companies, suppliers and the government to reasonably and quickly provide new homes for Antigua & Barbuda families.
A labour code that doesn’t discourage foreign investors from building new hotels and businesses in the country.
Taxi drivers that stop acting like a flock of hungry sea gulls, descending upon poor cruise passengers with a tenacity that makes them wish they were anywhere but in St John’s.
A populace that understands that trash doesn’t magically disappear on its own and that keeping our beaches and highways clean is everyone’s responsibility.
An advanced automated system for retaining court records and important documents for upcoming trials so that evidence can’t be stolen or otherwise “disappear.”
A comprehensive master plan for development in downtown St John’s that considers the needs of everyone – including visitors, residents and businesses.
And finally, Antigua & Barbuda needs peace … the kind of peace that comes when residents’ basic needs are met, justice is done, and everyone is treated fairly.