Is the proposed improvement to the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport a “done deal” or a “work in progress”? You decide.
Obviously a lot of preliminary work was started under the previous government and is continuing under the new administration. Five or six studies are under way, and none of them has been completed yet. Once they are completed, the government, hopefully with expert advisers, will choose from various options, one of which might be to abandon the project. I am not against progress, but I worry that at such a huge cost (sure to be double the estimates), if government is really taking everything into consideration. It is said that “plenty of people are keen to lend us money for the project.” However, I believe the United Kingdom government would have some say vis-a-vis borrowing guidelines.
As for the reluctance to rely on a foreign location, such as St. Thomas, for our major airlift, I would point out that Anguilla, St. Barts, Eustacia and Saba all rely on the international airport in St. Maarten/Martin. The main reason United States visitors now use the St. Thomas ferry is the fact that, as an international air destination from the US, we are an expensive destination, and the difference in airfares is often several hundred dollars. With modern ferry boats and a much more regular and expanded service, the STT route could serve us well for years.
Government has bold plans to complete the hospital, expand the airport, expand the West End ferry terminal, enlarge the cruise ship dock, complete the greenhouses, repair the roads, tidy up the islands, finish the incinerator, and solve the sewage and water problems, to name a few. Governments can of course embark on several projects at once, but this will be stretching our resources past the limit, especially in these bad financial times — particularly in view of our very poor funds management over the past few years, which has put us into a parlous financial state. Leaders also want to become “green,” with recycling, garbage disposal, and the use of alternative forms of energy. All these ideas are more expensive than they think.
Details coming out of the reports of the Standing Finance Committee on the budget are astonishing! I have always thought of the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College as a self-perpetuating oligarchy, in which the students play only a small role. Now we know! Look at the number of staff employed! If the bakery in Road Town, which as far as I can see is of no benefit to the college, cannot be turned around, it should be closed or sold to a private operator. What is the point of running a food establishment at such a huge loss when it is not providing subsidised food for the students and staff? At least one HLSCC staff member has been caught stealing, and others may be getting away with it.
In the March 29 edition of the Beacon, we read of two organisations for schoolgirls. I cannot see the need for the Women of Power and High Potential, established in 2006, which seems to have the same agenda as the Girl Guides, which have been in operation for around 100 years. Surely in such a small community we do not need both “clubs.”
A March 29 letter praised former legislator Eileene Parsons for working for free, among other accomplishments. But of course “Mrs. P” hasn’t always worked for free! As a member of the House of Assembly, she would have received a handsome salary and, no doubt, a pension. She may be giving her time free now, as a public service, but she would have been paid or earned for earlier employment in her life. The search for a national dress and song has now been extended — obviously there is not enough interest, or too few entries have been received. Same old story in the VI: late for everything! Are there any old photos of “our national dress” around? It doesn’t seem as if we really had one, so this one will be completely artificial.