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 Hon. George Odlum

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Christmas Message 2000

by Hon. George Odlum

Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Financial Trade

Parliamentary Representative Castries North East

My Dear Constituents

I must commend you and compliment you for the sensitive understanding of my peculiar role as your Representative and at the same time holding the post of Foreign Minister and Minister of International Trade. Both of these portfolios are very demanding in terms of frequent travel and this takes a heavy toll on my ability to represent you adequately. At the beginning of my term of office some of my constituents were very vocal about my absence from the country and consequently, my absence from the Constituency. I have taken the opportunity in some of my public addresses to explain to you the need to appreciate the competing claims of my national duties and my constituency duties. Subsequent to those appeals you have muted your protests and complaints and have given me words of appreciation and praise for my contribution to the national welfare. This sensitive understanding of my predicament places a responsibility on my shoulders to explore ways and means of making it up to my constituents in whatever way I can.

During the course of this year my Constituency office in Sans Souci was able to meet some of your needs in areas like Georgeville, New Village, Odlum City, Skate Town, Morne Du Don and Leslie Land. With regard to Agards Land the news is mixed. Although the funds for road works and drainage improvements has been sourced the work is held up on the point of the allocation of contracts.

I have constantly reminded the Ministry of Communications and works that while the grass in growing, the horse is starving. We must move early in the New Year to relieve the plight of the people at Agard’s Land.

At Christmas time we usually reflect even more deeply on the conditions of humanity in our country as a whole. We examine the quality of life to see whether your Representatives have given a good account of their stewardship, individually and together as a Government.

For my part I have the opportunity to see our country and its problems at a global level. From a broader perspective I can appreciate the effort and energy that my colleagues and I have put into the thrust to transform the economy. There are a number of built-in obstacles which impede the evolution and growth of our society. The first of these obstacles is the attitude of our people which constitutes a bottle neck to development. As a Government we have failed to excite and energize our people to take into their hands the responsibility of being the engine for growth in our society. Our Government must prime the pump but our people must also respond creatively and productively to these incentives. If we fail to motivate our people to produce efficiently then we will fall out of the global race for development. This is indeed a serious situation and the division of our society, the tribalised position of our Party Supporters and the absence of an over-riding national pride will prevent us from making any progress as a nation. It is easy for us as Ministers to continue to receive our salaries and ignore the fundamental problems which impede the development of our nation. The division in our society is indeed a serious obstacle to development.

Our Ministers of Government are confused and non-plussed at the fact that they feel that they are working hard and conscientiously and cannot get a flicker of appreciation from our divided society. The media feels it a professional responsibility to hold the mirror up to the level of hostility and discontent which is prevalent in our society. At the other end Ministers fondly believe that their Sixteen–to-One Mandate should ensure them an exemption from wide spread criticism but our electoral system has distorted the popular vote since a little less than forty percent of the electorate are at large waiting to critise and demoralize the national effort engineered by the incumbent Party. The floating voters who shifted from the opposing Party to give a massive victory (in terms of seats) will once again be poised to enter the revolving door of Party politics against the incumbent regime. The Caribbean cannot afford this game of musical chairs. We must divise a system which will bring our people together as a united force which will increase the efficiency, productivity and competitiveness of our country. It is a bold step but we must seize the time otherwise the rapid pace of global events will overwhelm us.

This Christmas the felicitations of PEACE and LOVE are not as meaningful and hopeful as in previous years. The culture of Hate and Derision is gaining strength. The society is getting fiercely polarized again and it is incumbent upon us to move positively to find a fresh formula for healing this nation. Our leaders must put their heads together with the leaders of the Church and the leaders of the community to explore the possibility of uniting our people and our country to enable us to chart a better way of life for our people.



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