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How the news unfolded last year – what will next year bring?

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Fri, Jan 2, 2015

The news during the first few months of 2014 was heavily dominated by stories about the effects, on the people of this country, of the adverse weather system which struck during Christmas 2014, and the relief efforts which followed.{{more}}

These stories centred on the suffering, both emotional and physical, of those directly affected; the damage to the country’s infrastructure and productive sectors, and the immediate outpouring of support from individuals, organizations, businesses and governments, at home and abroad. Of course, there was the politics surrounding the relief effort, which in the case of St Vincent and the Grenadines, is always thrown into the mix.

Then there was the recall of Deputy Counsel General Edson Augustus from the Consulate in New York, for “acting beyond the scope of his authority”; the intrigue surrounding the resignation of the former Registrar of the High Court and the court case that followed; the debacle that took place at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church at the funeral service of former talk show host Elwardo Lynch; the outbreak of the Chikungunya virus and the response here in St Vincent and the Grenadines to the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa.

In September, when a house at Clare Valley, in one of the Government’s much touted low and middle income housing projects crumbled to the ground, that brought renewed focus to these housing developments, the quality of the construction of the houses and debate on whether the homes were safe.

Clare Valley was to return to the spotlight a few months later, when an unlicensed and uninsured motorcar plunged into a crowd gathered there, for a meeting of the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP). That collision resulted in the death of one man and injury to several others.

All of these stories, deservedly or not, attracted significant partisan political spin, with the Opposition either putting responsibility for what transpired squarely at the feet of the Government, or accusing them of corruption, misbehavior in public office, or withholding information, and on the other hand, the Government accusing the Opposition of dishonesty and spreading fear among the people.

In ten days time, the debate on what some have called the 2015 ‘Election Budget’ will begin. Election budget or not, the people of this country deserve to hear what all the Members of Parliament have to say about the plans, programmes and policies put forward by the Government. Let’s hope that we do not have a repeat of what transpired last year, when debate wrapped up prematurely after Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace had given his response to Prime Minister Gonsalves’ presentation. After the opposition leader had finished speaking, none of the other members of Parliament, from either side, rose to debate, so the Speaker invited the PM to wrap up, prompting a walk out by Opposition Members of the House.

From the vantage point of today, the two major events on the calendar this year are the long anticipated opening of the Argyle International Airport, and of course, the General Elections, which more than likely will be called before the end of 2015.

The construction of the international airport is the largest capital project ever undertaken in the history of this country and one in which the Unity Labour Party (ULP) government has invested heavily politically. The stakes are high in the upcoming elections: the ULP, with its one seat majority, is fighting for a fourth consecutive term, while President of the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) Arnhim Eustace, must, on his fourth try, lead his party to victory. Eustace is 70 and ULP political leader Ralph Gonsalves is 68, so it may be reasonable to assume that this is the end of the road, politically, for the leader of the party that loses. Interesting times are ahead.

A happy, peaceful and prosperous New Year to everyone, from the Chairman, Board of Directors, Management and Staff of SEARCHLIGHT!

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