I have absolutely no hesitation in describing the proposed “liquidation” of LIAT as an act of “state banditry” and a massive blow to an opportunity to catapult the rise of black entrepreneurship in Antigua and Barbuda, the region and beyond.
My initial suspicions of this being the case were confirmed by comments made by Prime
Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua, on radio in his country on the weekend and subsequently.
Who am I? I’m, among other things, a communication/media professional, an entrepreneur and a national of St Vincent and the Grenadines. I’m currently crusading on behalf of black entrepreneurship, and also for the Caribbean’s cultural and creative industries (with music at the forefront) to become a/the major export of the region. I’m familiar with the modus operandi (as described by PM Browne in his recent comments) of those who are spearheading the frustration of his admirable attempts to resuscitate LIAT.
In my country, I often witness the emergence of barriers which regularly stall the advancement of black entrepreneurship. Despite the obvious discrimination, there are those with tremendous influence on the state sector who insist on promoting the view that we are living in a homogeneous society-a view I’ve challenged. In a missive to the Ministry of Trade(SVG) dated, September 25, 2019, I asked: “If we are living in a ‘homogeneous society’, then why, as a black entrepreneur, am I being/have been discriminated against by state institutions and agencies, such as the Ministry of Trade, Invest SVG, the Carnival Development Corporation (CDC), the
Tourism Authority, the then state-owned, National Commercial Bank (NCB), and the National Regulatory Telecommunication Commission (NTRC), just to name a few?
PM Browne’s determination to save the LIAT brand is wise and commendable. The brand is the company’s most valuable asset. It enjoys an enviable level of loyalty and goodwill which any business will crave.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s LIAT initiative is being discriminated against. A “bewitched knee” is on its neck. The blatant disregard meted out to his proposal reminds me of the findings of the Report on The Situation of People of African Descent. This Report, which was commissioned by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, found that in the Caribbean, black businesses and entrepreneurs frequently encounter discriminatory obstacles in their respective countries. The Report was launched on July 6, 2012, at the 33rd meeting of Caricom Heads of Government, which was held in St Lucia.
I’m currently involved in business initiatives that are available to collaborate with PM Browne, who has rightly urged that “we use our talent, intellect and creativity to attract foreign direct investments to supplement domestic investments” in a resuscitated LIAT. As I’ve explained elsewhere, the initiatives to which I referred earlier, are about entrepreneurship, wealth creation, generational wealth, job creation, Caribbean integration, etc.
I empathize with PM Browne. I’ve been experiencing the pain of the “bewitched knee” which is on the neck of black entrepreneurship in St Vincent and the Grenadines. I can’t breathe!