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Missteps and misrepresentation

Published: 
Friday, April 6, 2018

Whether it was a matter of miscommunication or misinterpretation, T&T’s entire foreign relations system is being shown in a bad light following the vote against Dominica’s request for a waiver of its Organisation of American States (OAS) membership fees.

That is because foreign relations is all about maintaining good healthy relations with our neighbours in the region and the wider world.

What happened on March 23, when this country’s representative to the OAS, Ambassador Anthony Phillips-Spencer voted against the request, making us the only nation in the 35-member bloc to do so, suggests a lack of properly developed and enunciated policies in key areas.

It looks like Ambassador Phillips-Spencer was not properly briefed and T&T came across at a regional forum as a blundering, bungling nation not sure of its position on key issues. And the silence from Foreign Affairs Minister Dennis Moses only helps reinforce the perception of little or no meaningful communications and exchanges throughout the country’s diplomatic network.

Damage control is already under way, which is good since that OAS blunder could easily trigger all kinds of negative fallout, particularly within Caricom where some relationships are already fragile. We are not completely out of the woods from recent trade and immigration disputes and could be courting further trouble if we don’t get it right from now on.

This country needs a more skilful foreign relations policy and rules so that at all times, T&T’s representatives at all levels in the diplomatic system can effectively represent the country’s position at various fora.
Over to you, Minister Moses.

Paying for waste and neglect

Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young must have been genuinely trying to deliver some good news when he revealed that $30 million less will be spent on restoration work at President’s House.

That would have been good news were it not for a back story of neglect leading to the collapse of a portion of that historic building in 2010. The structure had become termite-ridden and that problem had been ignored by successive governments.

It would have been bad enough had President’s House been an isolated case. However, millions of dollars of restoration work also have to be done on the Red House and some of the Magnificent Seven buildings around the Queen’s Park Savannah.

Had there been regular cycles of maintenance and preservation work on these and other historic buildings, there would be no need to spend all these millions now to save them from being completely destroyed.

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