ONLY HUMAN: Time for action, Mr Stuart
The Alexandra School impasse should be over by this weekend because Prime Minister Freundel Stuart will broker a deal if necessary.
Even if the decision taken leads to one of the parties taking the matter to the law courts, I am confident that by Monday coming, most, if not all of the 30-plus teachers now on strike will be back in their classrooms.
My confidence is based on the Prime Minister’s need to demonstrate to the public that he and his Government can act swiftly and decisively on an urgent matter of national importance.
His statement on Sunday was definitive and resolute.
“I do not intend to allow this matter to drag on indefinitely. It is true we have procedures in place that have to be followed . . . but when all is said and done, we cannot short-change the innocent elements in this entire issue – that is, the children at Alexandra; and it is my commitment to get this matter brought to a conclusion as quickly as possible.
“Whatever decisions have to be taken to do so, I am prepared to take, and without fear or favour,” said Stuart.
Coming after his non-action despite his strong statement early last month that heads will roll if it was found a coup had been attempted against him, Stuart needs now to show that his bite is as strong as his bark.
In fairness to the Prime Minister, the operative word was “if”. That is, he said if there was an attempt to derail his Government, then “certain consequences will have to follow”.
We can assume that no action has been taken to date against any of those reported to be associated with a letter seeking an urgent meeting with him because there was no evidence to suggest it was indeed a coup attempt.
Since that revelation, Finance Minister Chris Sinckler admitted there was a letter which he and other parliamentarians were aware of which sought an urgent meeting with the Prime Minister to discuss the issue of leadership.
That apart, my conviction the Prime Minister will resolve this unfortunate mess swiftly is rooted in my belief that he regards education as a major plank of this country’s development and the population’s route to advancement. Therefore, everything should be done to ensure no child is ever deprived of a quality education.
The third reason I expect Stuart to come to the rescue of the suffering Alexandra School children is his need to show that his word can be relied on.
This is important, given the questions raised about his administration’ sability to deliver on their promises, the most recent being statements on two significant matters by Sinckler.
We speak of Sinckler’s comments last Wednesday that the social security schemes in Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines would join the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) here to pump money into the stalled Four Seasons project.
This has been refuted by Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit who said his government has not as yet decided on the proposed $22 million investment in the initiative.
In fact, Skerrit, who is also the country’s Minister of Finance with direct responsibility for the scheme, said the matter had not yet reached his desk.
“No one has discussed the matter with me. They [the Four Seasons developers] have had discussions with the staff of the Dominica Social Security but I have not seen any formal papers,” Skerrit said.
This boo-boo by Sinckler comes after he had stated that contractor Al Barrack would be paid the near $70 million Government owes him for building the Warrens Office complex by end of 2011, only to later say that that could not happen as the matter was taking longer than anticipated.
“But I think if not within another week or two, certainly very early in the [New Year], I would be able to make an announcement to the public of Barbados on the settlement,” Sinckler said last December 10. It’s now January 18 and there has been no further word on the matter.
Barrack’s retort last month to Sinckler statement was pointed and emphasized why on this Alexandra issue the Prime Minister must do precisely what he says. The contractor said: “When Government ministers give their word, they should say what they mean, and mean what they say so they can be trusted.
“They need to realize that people outside are watching this situation, and the country’s credibility is on the line,” he explained. Enough said.