Today’s opinion: Experience does not count

POSTED: 04/14/11 12:05 PM

The headline above may or may not startle but one can most definitely be startled by the statement, “As stated on numerous occasions, no one expected of the parliament and government of the new country St. Maarten that they would hit the ground running.”

We are startled because this comes from the leader of a political party that campaigned on the slogan “Experience Counts” and pledged to the electorate that their party would be ready on day one to run the country. Lest one throw the word coalition into the soup one must understand that the leader on the other side of the coalition thumped his chest about his 15 years of experience and unbroken service in the Executive Council while on the campaign trail in order to assert his ability to lead.

It is with interest that while accusing the opposition of “throw(ing) sand in the eyes of the people to hide their own shortcomings” the government fails to address its own shortcomings. As an example this is an administration that has no governing program to state where it is headed, that lost a minister in its first one hundred days in the middle of a scandal, does not fully meet its commitments to its advisory bodies, is woefully slow when it comes to making decisions, sacks civil servants without clear reason and has spent its entire time in office thus far, mostly grappling with balancing with its budget.

With those kinds of issues at play, one must believe that experience does not count. The other conclusion would be much darker – that the government truly has no experience, and lied to get where it is.

It would also seem that seeing as the government is unable to deliver on the promises linked to their experience, that it chooses to attempt to manage expectations. The first step in that plan is to state that the expectation was not very high to begin with and so the government is meeting those expectations. That’s a position delivered from sand filled eyes that don’t see that residents of the friendly country are under increasing pressure to make ends meet and that they did and do expect more of their government.

Is a new election the correct response in this economic climate? Obviously not, for the simple reason that it will take time away from the government and parliament doing what they must in order to improve the lives of the people of our Friendly Country. The real response here is a government that solidifies its vision in a single guiding document and works hard to implement that vision. That real response must also include ensuring that the democratic institutions and agencies that deliver checks and balances can function properly. That real response must also include a parliament that is proactive and is creative. One that is able to do its work even using limited resources, because let’s face it, we remain a country of limited resources.

The real response also includes that decision makers in the Council of Ministers and parliament actually take decisions, because that is after all what they campaigned on and were elected to do. Neither body should be used as a floor rag, but the price of requesting to serve and being mandated to do so is the expectation that one will actually serve and make decisions.

The real response is also a community – both business and resident – who are committed to also contributing to building the country and the nation by investing time, money and know how to move things forward.

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