NEITHER side of the political spectrum should take any pleasure in what transpired – or didn’t – in the House of Assembly last week Wednesday for what was billed as the debate on the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure. Plain and simple, there was no debate; just an exercise in cluelessness.
However, what that lack of debate among the Members of Parliament has demonstrated is that the more the people clamour for progressive change is the more these politicians shortchange them. Even lambs cannot be as silent as those Members of Parliament were, just sitting there, waiting for each other to make the first move.
Even though Saint Lucians would have been spared the verbal tit-for-tats that usually pass for order in the House these days, someone must have felt the need to engage in some level of debate on the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure. No government in this world can agree totally on something as crucial as the subject matter that was due for debate that day.
Perennially, we have been inundated with the poor excuse from the Opposition – both parties included – that crucial financial information related to the fiscal budget never gets to them in time for them to peruse it before debating. We already have a Civil Status Registry that is seemingly working hard to come out of its hole of inefficiency for us to have to continue the comatose trend of Parliament not doing what needs to be done. One need not wonder any longer whether this tactic used by the incumbent is deliberate.
Parliament is set to reconvene next Tuesday for the presentation of the Budget Address by Prime Minister Anthony. The Budget Debate is scheduled for next Thursday and Friday. While last week’s debacle remains a bitter taste in many people’s mouths, the citizenry would undoubtedly want to see elected men and women represent them next week. No shenanigans, no drama; just pure commonsense on how their dollars and cents are being spent.
At some point, politicians on both sides of the House need to recognize that not everyone is that dedicated to either party’s cause to simply stand by and allow the elected to treat the electorate as illiterates and Neanderthals. At some point, matters that are put on the House’s agenda need to matter most to the households who stain their fingers every five years for progressive change. At some point, politicians need to muster some level of courage to raise the standard of politics so that that profession finally gets its good image.
Beginning next week, our politicians have a fair opportunity to change the system for the better.