Sunday, March 08, 2009

Chalk and Cheese!

By Sojourner

I pride myself on being a rational and reasonable person. But when I hear the ALP leaders and supporters talking about how the UPP has done nothing for the past 5 years, I literally started second guessing myself. I had to stop myself, step back and take a look at the situation. And I love to be fair, so I literally stepped outside myself and looked at the situation from an objective position.

The best way I know how, is to judge the UPP against the standard ALP. You see I need to make a good and sound judgment this election. My country is too important to make a decision willy nilly.

So here I go... and I want you to come along in this exercise with me, like a good sport......

ALP - Pensioners disgruntled, their pleas for relief disregarded... They received less than $300 per month. Lots of them still had to use this to pay utilities.

UPP - Pensioners negotiated successfully for benefits. They now receive upwards of $1000 per month. Even with this, their utilities are heavily subsidized.

ALP - Civil servants were taken for granted and month after month after month, they received their salaries late. Civil servants could not pay bills on time... they could not pay their mortgages on time. They incurred late fees and many of them faced the embarrassment of calls from businesses reminding them of their payments.

UPP - Civil servants received salaries on time every month. Bills paid on time, mortgages paid on time. No late charges, no returned checks, no disgusting phone calls!

ALP - Public Library damaged in 1974 and abandoned. No public library built. The dingy room upstairs Lolita's that passes for a library is grossly inadequate.... and has been grossly inadequate for over 28 years!

UPP - New Public Library is near completion. This is a top of the line facility and will support thousands of students in their academic work.

ALP - Few scholarships awarded annually. Lots of scholarships poured in from abroad, but most not used and many thrown into wastepaper baskets at the various ministries. Result- a largely unqualified and untrained population. Result- people from other places move in and scoop up jobs and high positions because they are better trained and more qualified. They turn up with papers... certifcates, diplomas, degrees.

UPP - Quantum increase in the number of scholarships offered. Young Antiguans are studying everywhere... Cuba, UWI, USA, Canada, England, Japan, Israel, Singapore, China, India... And they are studying all sorts of things... the UPP is building capacity, readying a young generation to add value to the national growth and development while preparing themselves for the challenges of CSME and globalization.

ALP - Scant regard for the health of the nation. This is reflected in the way they kept Holberton... and how they treated the nurses.

UPP - Reorganized the health sector. Improved community health care. Completed Mount St. Johns and put plans in place for a tip top health care delivery system.

ALP - Simply nasty and worthless. St. Johns under their watch attested to this. Smelly, dirty, with clouds of flies. I often wondered how the tourists felt, coming from their cities with clean streets and well trimmed gardens (Not many tourists come from New York!)!

UPP - St. Johns can rival any developing city. Garbage disposals for all to use, covered drains, cobble stones, nicely paved sidewalks. We are heading toward "Metropol"!

ALP - Plenty, plenty dirt roads, and alleys long forgotten. When it rained, you better made sure that you had enough plastic bags for shoe covers. Ask the people in Briggins and they will tell you. "Me nar lie, Me nar make up story!" My friends in neighbouring islands used to grind me about our roads too.

UPP - Well, just look around and see. The UPP embarked on a proper road rehabilitation programme. There are now lots of good roads. Concrete roads to boot. And the people in Briggins and Belmont say that "the cute one" should be paying toll to use the road.

ALP - Children go to school hungry because many parents could not afford to give them food or money. Now if you don't believe me ask any teacher. Find out how many of them used to have to give these hungry children food to eat. Even the ALP ones will tell you this!

UPP - Children get hot meals at school. Teachers get hot meals too... good, nutritious food! Everybody is happy, and everybody is ready to learn (and teach)!

ALP - Parents feared September. Book Scheme Prgramme was some help but they still had plenty expenses. School fees to pay, school supplies to buy, and school uniforms to buy. Imagine having two, three, four, five children...

UPP - Parents relieved of some of the expenses and much of the stress. The School Uniform Grant is a big help and more schools benefit from the Book Scheme Programme. (Even the private schools now benefit more!)

ALP - They are trying to find something they did for young people over the 28 years and they are finding it hard! Oh... the Manpower Work Programme. Now as I remember this, I am getting angry, because this was a programme to exploit young people's labour and benefit the politicians' business friends. These young people on these work programmes were always in a state of perpetual probation... while government subsidized not them... but their crony business supporters.

And there is the Land for Youth Programme..problem is that they sold the same plot to more than one youth; or the promised several young people the same plot. Advantage!

The NYO was a bunch of young people who supported ALP and no one can tell you what they did. Maybe we should ask the elderly minister of religion who was head of the NYO to give an account of his stewardship.

UPP - The establishment of community computer access centres, the fencing and upgrading of sport complexes are among the many things that have been initiated. Now there is a youth division with a comprehensive programme and there is a National Youth Policy.

ALP - Borrow, borrow with no intention of repaying. They left with a bad international reputation with lending agencies,

UPP - Has repaid a lot of the debts racked up by the ALP. and has committed to reducing the national debt. As a result, Antigua and Barbuda has now gained some international respectability

ALP - They go out of their way to pack up the place with foreigners. They seemed to have actually had a "Foreigners Voter Programme". As part of that programme some cute ministers were reported to have been involved in passport shenanigans. When they were kicked out of power, they found other ways to continue their cute scams, reportedly.

UPP -Shows respect for our hard working Caribbean brothers and sisters. Has ended the pawn game of the ALP by instituting the Mellinium Naturalization Act. Legal initiatives were developed so that our non-Antiguan born residents could play their full roles in the development of our country. They have received all rights benefits and privileges of citizenship with the UPP Government. No under-the- table- hanky panky.

Now, when I do the comparison, its like comparing chalk to cheese. It is clear to me that the UPP in its short 5 years has done much much more than the ALP over its 28 plus years reign. It is clear to me that the UPP and Antigua are the right fit. It is clear to me who has the country at heart - and it is not the ALP (never mind that the ALP's logo is a heart... that heart means brazeness!)

And so it is abundantly clear who deserves to take Antigua and Barbuda into the future.

It has to be UPP.