Prime Minister Philip J Pierre New Year’s address to the nation was one filled with hope. The address was well delivered and the prime minister ensured that he touched on issues of last year that impacted citizens, then projected this year as one where gloom and doom will be lifted.
Pierre, in essence, offered up 2022 as a prospect-filled year for citizens, encapsulating this by saying that “this year will be pregnant with opportunities for the country.”
The Prime Minister did not detail the opportunities the country would be pregnant with in the next 12 months. We hope, however, that these opportunities give birth to healthy job opportunities for the many unemployed in our midst, create an atmosphere for businesses to flourish, structure a better healthcare system for citizens, establish an education curriculum that will enable our students to compete with all others on the world stage, ensure citizen security and more.
What with COVID-19 and its several variants still dictating to governments what to do and how to govern, we too wish the administration well in its endeavours for this year, which, if those wishes come to pass, could only augur well for the country and all of us in it.
But there is another side to a pregnancy which is hardly spoken of, which is that a pregnancy could lead to a stillborn, it could be terminated, aborted or the infant short-lived.
While we are not advocating this, we will not be like the ostrich. We will lift our head from the sand and recognise that some pregnancies can be problematic hence our fervent hope that the opportunities Saint Lucia is pregnant with are not terminated or aborted in the gestation stage, and if birthed then the opportunities are long lasting, not transient.
We agree with Prime Minister Pierre when he said that “The year 2022 must be a year of national reassessment, rebirth and recalibration” and that the nation will have to learn to live with the pandemic while addressing systemic shortfalls in the areas where these shortfalls are rooted.
No doubt the tasks ahead for the Pierre administration are tough, starting with getting Saint Lucians to change their stance on the vaccination issue. Whether the administration has the testicular fortitude to reverse this trend this year is still debatable, as its first six months in office showed more of a tolerance with Saint Lucians’ approach to the vaccination issue rather than the adoption of a firm, but understanding approach.
This year is indeed a year where the government can really turn things around, pandemic or no pandemic. this, however, cannot be done without the help of citizens who must understand that COVID-19 will be with us for some time and that all kinds of movement restrictions will be applied as government finds ways and means to control and manage the pandemic.
A lot is riding on the government to do the right things. The challenges will be there and so will be our support when needed, as well as our constructive criticisms and corrections whenever we deem them necessary.
Of note is the resumption of infrastructural projects which were halted by the government. The recommencement of these projects we believe will go a long way in realizing the hope expressed by Prime Minister Pierre at the start of this year.
So too will the determination to reinstate in-classroom schooling despite being in the clutches of a fifth wave of the pandemic. Knowing what some of our children went through over the past 20 or so months, having to deal with poor internet connection and in some cases no internet connection, no laptop or tablet and little or no supervision at home while trying to keep up with their studies, the determination by the Ministry of Education to create a safe school environment for students is not only worthy but vital for the long term future of St. Lucia.
We hope that the repeated disruptions to school life caused by COVID-19 will not have interfered with future attendance at schools across the country, meaning we hope that the number of students returning to classrooms will not have dropped and that our school children are still motivated to return to the physical classroom on Monday.