Commentary: ‘Opaque transparency’: The new political apparatus for promoting immorality in SVG

Commentary: ‘Opaque transparency’: The new political apparatus for promoting immorality in SVG

By D. Markie Spring

St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) has been crowned for transparency and accountability in government among top countries around the world!

Having read this expression in the Communist Manifesto of 2015, as one of the Communist Party’s campaign themes, I was astounded! At first, I could not contain myself, I thought, it has to be one of Ralph’s usual political stunts. However, the recent demands for transparency and accountability in the government’s fiscal policy, surrounding the Argyle International Airport (AIA) and other expenditures, Ralph repeatedly referred to Transparency International (TI), among other international organizations that highly ranked his regime for exhibiting top class transparency and accountability.

The author of a number of published works, D. Markie Spring was born in St Vincent and the Grenadines and now resides in Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands. He has an MBA from the University of Leicester, England, and a BA from Saint Mary’s University, Canada

Again, I thought this has to be a big joke.

Then, I gazed! If this is true, how can TI make such a grave and egregious mistake?

After all, TI boasts a number of outstanding strategies and tools for promoting integrity and countering corruption. Furthermore, TI is heralding, it is working with businesses, governments and citizens to stop the abuse of power, secret deals and bribery – giving a voice to the victims and witnesses of corruption.

Sadly, SVG was enthroned in a time when there were trade-offs of lumber, cement, galvanize and steel in exchange for political support, orbiting in and around the dark and corrupted arcs of the ‘red’ inner circle. Besides, during this period I have to ask, did TI use its ‘abuse of power’ tools, to figure out how some people come to acquire scholarships, jobs beyond their qualifications and business opportunities?

Once more, I’m asking, did TI hear about the US$1 million that was deposited into St Lucia’s state-owned bank? Even, I am aware, transactions of more than $10,000 have to be reported and investigated for money laundering.

While TI has crowned SVG for transparency and accountability in governance, the families of Union Islands are still mourning the abrupt closure of investigation into the Union Island fiasco, which left one Vincentian dead? I can bet, TI did not know that the Venezuelans who were involved were sent back home in style without an in-depth investigation into what had occurred!

Meanwhile, the national books of SVG have not been audited for over a decade – not a year, for more than ten years! Considering the tools that TI has at its disposal, how can this organization enthrone such a despotic regime spearheaded by Ralph?

Here, I’m asking, did TI work along with the government to garner pertinent relevant information? How were they unable to uncover the scarcity of development in SVG, despite the extreme borrowing and the shady dealings of the PetroCaribe funds?

While we are at this juncture, I cannot understand why TI did not know that hundreds of millions of dollars are unaccounted for and; therefore, no one knows the exact whereabouts of these fortunes, which left citizens to believe that these monies developed their own feet and ran off like wild Indians – some ran into unknown pockets and some lost their way into foreign bank accounts?

I am of the opinion too, TI hadn’t heard of all the accusations of rape and indecent assaults – cases, which have never seen the door of the court house, much less see a judge.

Since SVG graduated with honours in transparency and accountability, the situation got worse!

David Ames absconded the shores on SVG under the cover of darkness when the then, E.T Joshua airport was closed and the nation was quietly asleep. As a matter of fact, when the people started to scratch their heads in search for answers about Ames’ disappearance, Ralph had all the details, he heralded, “Ames left legitimately.” Sadly, Ames forgot to leave behind the $7 million he owes to the nation’s taxpayers.

Maybe all those monies went to an account! However, this does not suggest accountability.

By now, TI has to be aware, the ‘real’ deputy prime minister is hardly in SVG and when Ralph is on his overseas ‘joy rides,’ ‘Gomery’ has to act for the deputy. To date, the people of SVG are still unaware of the truth behind the ‘real’ deputy’s absences from the jurisdiction. Additionally, the citizenship status of the ‘real’ deputy has been questioned and although openness is an essential quality of good governance in a liberal democracy, Ralph is yet to answer this query. Instead, his ‘tyrannical conscience’ has directed him to tell the nation to seek legal recourse if they desire an answer.

More so, TI has to know, Ralph is hiding financial information surrounding the AIA. The only information, thus far, which the Vincentian public has concerning this project came from Ralph’s announcement that the airport project has added another $400 million to the country’s national debt. Although the people are demanding the financial statements for the AIA, hitherto Ralph has failed to do so. If Ralph’s regime is at the top of the list for transparency and accountability, I am saying to TI, it has to be the biggest hoax ever.

Not withholding, when the people apply pressure to see the financial audits, Ralph in collusion with his son, sent the people to a company called “CIPO” – a wicked covert operation designed to camouflage his ‘planned’ immorality – where Ralph indicated all the reports are kept. The world would be shocked to know that no such audits exist.

In Ralph’s own defence, and although he could not produce the demanded financial statements, he continuously alluded the nation to his own conviction that TI, among other international organizations, has declared his regime among the best for transparency and accountability.

If one understands the true definitions of such terminologies it’s easy to examine the political arena in SVG and conclude that ‘bad’ governance is widely practiced, notably, in the notions of transparency and accountability. Here, I am at liberty to say to TI, neither transparency nor accountability exists in governance in SVG! I am also asking TI to disclose the measurements, strategy and tools it used to access and determine transparency and accountability inside Ralph’s oppressive regime.

In light of all these political miscarriages in governance in SVG, I am compelled to express further, my views on these important matters.

As an independent thinker and researcher, I am persuaded, transparency and accountability are synergies of governance. Coupled with this, it is quite safe to assert that it is impossible for Ralph to exhibit good governance in the absence of these two important constituents.

Moreover, for transparency and accountability to exist, decision making on national issues has to be an open phenomenon to the press, the national budgets have to be available for reviewing and enacted laws cannot be self-propelled and must be opened for discussion. This is not the case in SVG!

Even so, plutocracy must cease to exist, where the Vincentian society is ruled and controlled by a handful of ‘free-riders’ and where these people make their decisions behind closed doors; thereby, limiting the people’s participation in influencing elections.

Paradoxically, Ralph’s own words suggest he does not practice, or maybe know the meanings of transparency and accountability, as he often spouts that he does not have to answer to anyone. “I am the PM for every square mile of SVG,” he sometimes boasts!

In my honest assessment of Ralph – to him it appears, transparency and accountability are very much still pariah words. He has often revealed himself as an insouciant and an incorrigible demagogue who clandestinely maneuvers the nation’s affairs among his intimates.

In plain English, what I am saying is, for transparency and accountability to prevail or even exist in SVG, Ralph has to be voted out of office, it’s that simple!

To me, what TI saw in SVG, seemingly was a ‘trance,’ rather than transparency and many ‘accounts’ minus ‘ability!’