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Food for thought – a serious contender in Marriaqua

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Fri Sep 12, 2014

Editor: Please allow me a little space to answer some critics; to thank those who support me; and to provide some food for thought for all, after offering myself as one of the contenders in Marriaqua at a time such as this.{{more}}

I have taught French, Spanish, Geography and Economics at three institutions to hundreds of students over the years. I hold a BA in Economics, a MSc in Financial Economics. My political life dates back to 1993, the closing days of MNU, when I was a caretaker in Marriaqua. I was eclipsed by Sis Girlyn Miguel. I harbour no hard feelings toward her. She is a wonderful and decent lady. I soldiered on in the shadows. When it appeared that the chips were down for the party following the fiasco that was the Referendum in 2009, I set up a working party group at my house, rallied the faithful comrades to bolster ULP’s standing in the community to beat off NDP convincingly in 2010 General Elections. This comrade held the fort.

I take this opportunity to answer those who believe “no one takes him seriously” and provide some food for thought. Marriaqua has 16 polling stations, six of which are in Richland Park/Hopewell, roughly 54 per cent of the votes in Marriaqua. He who knows the electoral arithmetic in Marriaqua knows that whoever wins Richland Park convincingly wins the constituency. I live in Richland Park. This fact redounds to a homeboy’s advantage at a time when the folks of Richland Park are saying that, this time, they want their representative from Richland Park and living there with them. Also, the rest of Marriaqua takes their cue from what the majority in Richland Park are saying. Ask yourself which of the three of us: Jimmy Prince, Kirk Da Silva and Godson Cain is likely to get the most votes, given the people’s expressed desire to have their representative this time from Richland Park?

Some want people to believe that I am not known outside of my home base. This is a serious understatement and one designed to sow doubt. I do not know everybody in Marriaqua and everybody does not know me; but I am working my way to them. I do not want them only to know my name and face, but crucially what I am offering is a programme of economic, political and social development. In other words, I am offering a better deal… one backed by a high level of development and financial economics and planning. Folks of Marriaqua, I am doing it for you. Take a chance on me. Together, we can beat the odds. Therefore, it is not so much a matter of who or what I am: it is a matter of what I can bring to the table to deal with the real bread and butter issues that confront our community and, by extension, St Vincent and the Grenadines.

As I move around the various communities, people, especially the unemployed youths with a number of CSEC passes or A levels, and of late, a growing number of our university graduates, are getting fed up and are increasingly asking themselves why did they bother to study. In a few words, they want jobs; they want action. They are becoming more cynical and dismissive because the current environment, domestic, regional and international does not offer hope. The media inform us that things are hard everywhere and this feeds into a psychology of despair, which, if not dispelled can lead to voter apathy, as is often mouthed “all ah yo the same sand I ain’t voting.” Some feel betrayed.

We have to take stock of what are the felt needs and aspirations of our people and articulate programme to engender hope. Sometimes I ask myself how are hitherto prosperous farmers and their dependents making out in a time such as this when their farms have been ravaged by plant diseases hard on the heels of very choppy and unfriendly competition in external markets in Europe that were once their safe haven. How are they making out living on extremely discouraging prices for dasheen, a nine-month crop? What are we contemplating doing for them to lift their spirits? The agriculture sector, the lifeline in Marriaqua, is underinvested, needing scientific guidance in terms of what to plant, when to plant, how to plant and crucially, marketing driven by information (chiefly prices and supply and demand considerations) from the target markets. The information asymmetries plaguing this sector have to be tackled so that farmers will have good and timely information to guide their production rather than blurting out the pathetic excuse: “way me go do wid the land; me can’t do better”. Farmers are just groping in the dark. We have to do agriculture more scientifically. What can we do to beef up the marketing intelligence relevant to the farmers and consumers?

Marriaqua is on the doorstep of the Argyle International Airport. Marriaqua can become the beneficiary of the airport project, but what are we putting in place in Marriaqua for Marriaqua to lift off when the planes lift off at Argyle? The Indian community in their heyday had their hands to garment manufacturing. JAX is the lone survivor and a successful one too. The late Bunpan Guy showed us how financial intermediation could work to improve and galvanize poor people into bigger things.

What has happened to us today? The co-operatives started and developed in the Valley bear testimony to a people with a savior vivre and resilience. Their earlier corporatist spirit sparked development, where has all that gone? It is still there. All it needs is someone with the knowledge and zeal to resuscitate and guide it rather than wait on the state to do it. By invigorating the private sector to mobilize more domestic saving to be channeled into venture capital that will have linkages to what we produce can create opportunities for growth and development. Too many of us have come to expect a hand or are waiting on a hand, but let us be reminded by Razam “the same hand does not push you down”. Pappy Latham was made famous when he pushed the concept of “Self Help”. Marriaqua has all the ingredients necessary for sustainable economic development, chief among which are fertile soils and brains. We have the highest concentration of educated folks outside of Kingstown. Some of the top civil servants in our administration hail from Marriaqua, yet we get the smallest slice of public sector investment. Charity really doesn’t begin at home.

In closing, a number of pressing bread and butter issues are confronting our folks and let us not be side tracked by our faces frequency at bars on television or sponsorship for this or that, but let us intellectually engage the hearts and minds of our people so that they share our vision and fall in line in our quest to deliver a better deal for the folks living in the breadbasket and save it from becoming a basket case. Therefore, I am calling on the other two contenders to let us rumble in the valley in the full glare of our folks. We can put our vision and aspirations before them and field questions from them. I am ready to rumble. I am calling for the debate.

Godson Cain

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