WRONG_WOEID WRONG_WOEID

No Gloom and Doom II

Officials are accused of corruptionNo. I am not living in a wonderland filled with a fat wad of cash and oblivious to the challenges of Antigua & Barbuda. Yesterday, I outlined what I think can be accomplished if we as a nation pull together, determined for a better future.

No one in his right mind could expect that I have all the answers to the way forward.

I hope though that those who have been quietly optimistic about the nation’s future will recognise that they are not alone, and together we can make a huge difference.

Everyone who has an idea of the solutions needed for our problems should say something. I challenge all of you who read Caribarena.com to comment.

Let’s start the process of healing right now, today, and prepare for that better day most of us talk of. It’s my view that in order to get to that place I speak of, we must first take a serious look at the system of government.

One of the main reasons for changing the system is the fact that it presently does not require elected officials to be accountable. We cannot move ahead without that crucial element intact.

Antigua & Barbuda is not the only country in the world where elected officials are accused of corruption. Actually, it’s the norm that elected officials the world over become involved in some type of corruption talk or scam. The difference in Antigua & Barbuda, it seems, is that our elected officials have an electric fence protecting them from prosecution.


Just imagine upholding a system in which an elected official exposed during a commission of inquiry to be an accomplice in shipping arms to South Africa and Columbia is slapped on the wrist. That should never be a part of our future.

Elected officials in Antigua are able to file loads of petitions in court to stop people from tracing money that was taken out of the Treasury. Going forward, this has to be an impossible feat.
For a bright future, we must make sure that the impossible cannot be possible, contrary to what some of our elected officials have demonstrated.

Elected officials should not be allowed to form aggregate companies and take the resources of the people for personal gain. Any system that protects such actions has to be thrown out the door immediately.

No elected official should be allowed to build his own home, then rent that said house as his "government residence". Those are not best practices. I hope there is enough "fire in my belly" to ignite the same fire in those of you are so quick to comment on the way forward.

If that fire is lit, hey, let’s get to work and implement those practices necessary for proper accountability and transparency. Never again should we return to a system where elected officials are able to delay the opening of a media house to limit freedom of speech.

Once the accountability issue is sorted out, then the government can go ahead and implement its tax policies. We should all pay our taxes. At the same time, the government has to ensure that our tax dollars are properly accounted for.

In that way, we will be able to redeem the profits, not in cash, but rather in the programmes necessary for sustained living. If citizens contribute little or nothing in taxes to the development of the nation, they can only request little or nothing of the elected officials.

It reminds me of the way it used to be, especially with the absence of free press. Today, the changes cannot and should not come only through more taxes, but rather with renewed vigour in accountability as well.


This can only be accomplished if most of us buy into this new system, which will obviously have positive effects on other areas of development. Education must play a key role in any prosperous future for the nation. Presently, millions of taxpayers’ dollars are spent in scholarships to allow young aspiring nationals to leave the country and go to universities overseas.

With no real plan to accept these young people after they graduate, it does more harm in my view than good. The reason to send the youth to be educated must be for them to return and help in the continued development of the country. Anything else is basically contributing to the "brain drain".

The way forward must have the University of Antigua & Barbuda not as a talking point, but a real undertaking. There has to be more focus on educating the youth at the primary and preschool levels, with emphasis on evaluation and research.

More technical schools have to be established so that those who are not so inclined with the book can also make a conscious contribution to development. Teachers, nurses, the police, and other essential services must be paid closer attention, with increased remuneration for improved service.

I have often heard it said that the government sector is too big, but there is so much to do that is not being done. The public sector has to be productive. A lot that has to be done will depend on proper fiscal policies.

And yes, the political divide, that’s personal. Each one has to decide whether s/he will continue to allow politicians to influence his/her obligation to work toward the development of the nation.
There are those who believe that Antigua & Barbuda was willed to them; they have some kind of entitlement.

And with that belief, these extremely selfish individuals will stop at nothing to impede the development of Antigua & Barbuda. To go forward, we cannot be drawn into that game, which has been played out for too long.

Work and not talk is what will make this nation great and prosperous. Think about this. What would your answer be when your children ask, “Mommy, Daddy, what did you do to improve life in Antigua & Barbuda?”

Surely to suggest that “I supported this party as opposed to that party” would be the worst answer, so please do not fall in that trap. Interestingly, those whom you support remind us every day that this country is nothing without them.


In essence, you do not matter, and we all know that that’s an old trick that has been once again used too long. All will not be achieved overnight, but let’s start.

I’m willing to bet that if we take these proposals seriously, along with those positive suggestions that you have as well, we will see that bright future.

It would definitely not hurt to try.

 

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19 Comments In This Article   

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More can be said

#19 Dig It » 2010-09-24 14:22

Magic, I agree with you that we don't have a "no real plan to accept these young people after they graduate." And, you're right "it does more harm in my view than good" because of limited opportunities for them! These young men and women should have a secure job when they return back home, and not only look for career opportunities mostly with the bank. This is why it's very important for the government to find good investors to create good jobs, and not having these students depend too much on them, in which, most of them will be placed in the overcrowed and huge public sector. Anyway, Magic, many of us will always be taken for a ride by these politicians because we're so gullible and naive! I believe we can educate the public to get out of this state of mind by creating an independent organization to teach our people about politics in A & B, and the basic principles of moral integrity that we can't be brought for the purpose of a vote! Enough Is Enough, and we need to let this be our motto!
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Dig It

re: john doe

#18 fnpsr » 2010-09-24 12:44

John Doe, if you are correct, they charged you approximately 83% of the value of your goods. I think you were "pimped". If they were to charge you a reasonable amount, let's say 10 % of the value of your goods, you would have had an extra $792 or so to spend else where and help to stimulate the economy.
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fnpsr

@Skyewill,

#17 tenman » 2010-09-24 11:13

Skyewill, I suspect many of the persons advocating this have never been to a university. My God we don't even have a real public library. The truth is there are institutions on island now that offer you the option of getting a degree without having to leave the island. There is one where if you are not disciplined enough for distance learning, you can actually attend cl** in Antigua. UWI also has programs where you can do most of the courses in Antigua and only have to spend at most one year (two sessions ) overseas. As fnspr likes to say lets "“Let’s fix the little things before we attempt to fix the big things”


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tenman

#16 Skyewill » 2010-09-24 11:00

Some things are nice to say and even sound good but an Antiguan University is a Horrible idea. First is the question of Accredidation. Then cost. Antigua's population can't support a university. Hell you guys cant even keep PMS clea, MADNESS. The current college is a mess and you want to add to that. I would love that it could work but the island is just too small to accomidate it. the expence would kill us. There are on the other hand lots of current schools that we could have branches that out students can attend . Also some very credable online institutions. First fix the infilstructure before you start on something you have no idea of like running a university that will allow student to transfer to even high learning institutions
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Skyewill

Customs

#15 John Doe » 2010-09-24 10:51

I got less than $400 US in Goods in Customs. They are charging me $900 + ec TO GET THEM OUT. I know Customs rob people for sure. so people over pay. the question is where does the extra money they collect go.
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John Doe

@ Tenman

#14 Morris » 2010-09-24 07:36

Those figures that you quoted are very pathetic, and should not be anything for our Ministry of Education to be proud of. I agree with you that mathematics is not all that difficult, all it takes is a certain level of discipline and constant repitition/practice. Then again if you do not instill in students the relevance of the subject in their lives after school they become very disinterested. It is a constant struggle that must involve teachers, parents/guardians and the students themselves. I check my son's work daily and if I have questions I am able to log on to the school's website and see the lesson plans and his performance in class for myself. And that is the part of the writer's message that got my attention, when your children and grandchildren ask what was your contribution to improve (quality of) life in Antigua & Barbuda, what will your answer be?
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Morris

@Morris

#13 tenman » 2010-09-24 06:39

Morris no more than 30% qualify ( No more than about that number pass maths and no more than that number pass at least 5 subjects including maths and English)now how many actually go, that is another question but its probably in the teens. I agree with you the system is antiquated, its like we are still back in the 50's. Especially for boys teachers need to find a way to make what they are teaching relevant. Attention must be given to properly teaching our children mathematics. The truth is it is not a difficult subject but it calls for discipline ie doing the homework but our boys especially have too many distractions. I though a school like grammar school being single sex there would be less distractions but looking at the results for that school, getting boys away from girls during school time offers no real benefit. Then again they are probably chatting with them on their phone during class time.
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tenman

Green-ness...

#12 locally speaking » 2010-09-24 06:11

Amen.
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locally speaking

@ Tenman

#11 Morris » 2010-09-24 05:05

There are a few reasons for our failing education:
* We are following an antiquated model instead of a 21st century model. It appears that we are preparing our students for the service industry rather than preparing them to become professionals so that one day they can take the reigns of leadership from the incompetent batch we now have as leaders.
* We lack the technologies to keep us abreast with the rest of the developed countries. We need more computers to get our students to interact in the virtual classroom. Wouldn't it be great if we could have schools in Antigua partnering with schools here in the US sharing ideas and collaborating on projects together?
* Improving the infrastructure will definitely have a positive impact on our students education. Do you think for a minute that those students are happy to attend those dilapidated buildings we call schools?
* We have to provide incentives/opportuni ties for our students (especially our males) after secondary school, if not most of them will resort to criminal activities.
You said it yourself, what percentage of our students leaving high school go on to college?
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Morris

amazed

#10 fnpsr » 2010-09-24 02:38

I am beginning to get a picture of Antigua that when it comes to serious issues for debate, we are not serious. I must commend the writer for proposing solutions for a way forward. I count at least twelve topics for discussions that if implemented might have a positive effect on Antigua. However, bloggers have selected the least likely of the twelve and decided to make it the focal point of the discussion. I am amazed!!

The University of Antigua has been previously discussed; see discussions under “Investment in Education is Essential, by the Scarlet Pimpernel, Caribarena, August 31, 2010.

“Let’s fix the little things before we attempt to fix the big things”
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fnpsr

#9 audrey » 2010-09-24 02:23

In antigua we really need to hold our leaders accountable. we complain about transparency under ALP, while UPP comes and do the same thing. no audited statements put before parliament yet we pass budgets after budgets without persons accounting for their stewardship .

All countries have debt , the great united states is highly indebted. china is buying up all their debts and owning all their land marks.
The ability to service the debt is whats important and it takes planning and being fiscally responsibility . sourcing cheap financing is very important . ALP suffered tremendously where their sources of finances dried up because of non payment causing them to seek loans with high interest rates .
Antigua's problem is not really debt per say its corruption. economic activity is centered around government contracts costing us millions of dollars for 'shabby' works.
hope we get serious. i was glad to see Dorsett taking the initiative and starting that pressure group but he had a bad day on the witness stand. i hope there is still hope for us god help us
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audrey

@Commuter

#8 tenman » 2010-09-24 01:22

Commuter I agree with most of what you wrote regarding the feasibility of the proposed university of Antigua, I must add that ABIIT proves why the proposal for university of Antigua is currently a bad idea. ABIIT struggles to get students, it has been forced to offer CXC subjects because most of our students do not meet the criteria for tertiary education, so the institution has been forced to try and help them to qualify. Something urgently must be done about our secondary and primary school system. I suspect a big part of the problem is that our students are not encouraged enough and sold on the idea that education is important. Our males especially are failing at a higher rate than our girls and one reason I suspect is they have too many distractions. Can we find a way to get more professionals to visit these schools and sell the value of education? Perhaps the problem lies in these students being told that in order to be successful here all you need to do is know the right politician.
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tenman

moon

#7 tenman » 2010-09-24 01:07

While we are it why don't we set up a space project so that All Antiguans will be able to travel to the moon? The writer speaks of a University of Antigua yet only 30% of our school leaving students could even qualify to attend such an institute. Instead of offering ways of fixing this problem they writer instead proposes that we build another layer on a foundation that is rotted. He then continues the often repeated falsehood that Antiguans do not pay taxes by his statement: "If citizens contribute little or nothing..", well author the IMF stated the the population is overburdened by taxes. The IMF in its 2006 article (url: http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/scr/2007/cr07238.pdf) consultation on page 14 stated:

"In discussing possible fiscal measures, given the tax reforms underway and the already rather high tax burden, the mission emphasized expenditure reforms"


Writer, I think I will trust the judgment of the economist there over yours.
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tenman

Good Going "Magic" You have touch the nail on the head sect. 5

#6 The "Commuter" » 2010-09-24 00:37

Then the ABITT a dumping ground for political hacks falling under Free Trade Zone, with no free trade activity. The surrounding land its proximity to St Johns, reasonable accessible roads, the infrastructure of The Medical School and the Hospitality training school.
Magic Antigua and Barbuda (through the ABITT) is the State among ECC to provide tertiary education to the people of the Eastern Caribbean. The political hacks at the Free Trade Zone could not find a way to take advantage of the opportunity. They could not set aside their corruptive ways to seriously consider proposals that would have build the affordable student housing required to get the program going.
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The "Commuter"

Good Going "Magic" You have touch the nail on the head sect. 4

#5 The "Commuter" » 2010-09-24 00:36

What we know as Secondary School education is universally thought to be a public obligation for a functional society. That why we have the Primary, Secondary and Comprehensives. We also have the Antigua State College a very good college which is on par with most juniour colleges in the US.
From the population of children graduating from high school every year how many go abroad to college? Do they go abroad to college because there isn’t enough places available in Antigua and Barbuda. What percentage is of choice? Meaning those who did so made the choice without applying to state college? Is there any data that shows the amount of applicants eligible and meet the requirements but do not get in because of lack of capacity at the Antigua and Barbuda State College?
Once the thousands of relevant questions and surveys are answered and analyzed; it would be a no go. There isn’t even the funding to do such a study unless The UN or some such Agency funds it.
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The "Commuter"

Good Going "Magic" You have touch the nail on the head sect. 3

#4 The "Commuter" » 2010-09-24 00:35

Education in the Caribbean is treated as a commodity. That was the way Brits gave it to the former Colonies and they continue to treat it that way. In today’s world Antigua and Barbuda would have to be able to show a competitive advantage beyond a reasonable doubtLike any other commodity Antigua and Barbuda output cost is high.
Even if it was treated a non- commodity Antigua and Barbuda has no competitive advantage. The cost per student to develop and maintain such a university in Antigua and Barbuda is such that it would not be competitive in any of the metrics by which such institutions are measured. It would be another boondoggle from which we would have to extricate ourselves. In planning not to long ago was a Early Childhood Education Center and a School of Continuing Education The infrastructure exists to enhance post secondary education.
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The "Commuter"

Good Going "Magic" You have touch the nail on the head

#3 The "Commuter" » 2010-09-24 00:35

Sorry “Magic”, I hate to trash you idea publicly and burst your bubble on this University thing; which has been the subject of much uninformed debate on these pages. I understand where you are coming from. It is an idea that is conceptually a bad concept. This article says my brother you have been to the mountain top; don’t despair keep plugging away. I hear the voice of an Antiguan journalist who learned that we have to under go a cultural change if we are going to save ourselves from the politicians and the political process.
While the comment section of this portal is not the proper place to explore this issue, let me begin with these basic factors and why this is not a good idea.
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The "Commuter"

MORE STILL

#2 THINKING HARD » 2010-09-23 23:49

HEADING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION... BUT I SEE THAT YOU WERE VERY SELECTIVE IN YOUR CHOICE OF CORRUPTION REFERENCES, SOOO MANY HAVE HAPPENED UNDER THE UPP. PART OF MOVING AHEAD IS BEING FRANKLY HONEST IN YOUR **SMENT OF HOW THIS PROBLEM RESIDES IN OUR CULTURAL AND EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM. UNTIL WE ALTER THESE WE ARE IN TROUBLE.
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THINKING HARD

Good Going "Magic" You have touch the nail on the head

#1 CountryMan » 2010-09-23 23:38

Now here is an article which begins to identify and make suggestions on many of the issues plaguing the society. While I agree with most every thought put forward i must take issue to The University of Antigua and Barbuda idea. I can see the emotions steaming but such a concept is just another dream idea based on emotions and not rationality. Where is the market analysis that says you need such a thing? Now you ask where is the market analysis for eduction up to comprehensive?
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CountryMan

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Ian 'Magic' Hughes

Ian 'Magic' Hughes is an Antiguan Journalist.






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