Hoping in 2019

WHEN WE LOOK back on the year 2018 we are likely to think first and foremost of the bad stories that dominated the headlines. Far from being a year for love, as promised by The Voice’s ubiquitous soca hit, it was a year of blood. For the first time in this decade, the murder toll surpassed the 500 threshold, even as new hope dawned with the appointment of a Commissioner of Police in the form of Gary Griffith.

Yet, in the darkest of times there are always moments of hope. Several “good news” stories also made a memorable impression not just because of how they showed the resilience of the human spirit but also because they reminded us of our great potential. Flood victims helped one another; Curtis Thomas graduated at the age of 84; our children scholars continued to inspire; doctors performed ground-breaking surgeries at public hospitals; and a teenager delivered her aunt’s baby. Of course, there were many more wonderful moments that did not make the headlines that happened as ordinary citizens went about their lives.

As we welcome 2019 we take a moment to remember the unsung heroes of 2018. We do so mindful of the fact that it will take much bravery, discipline and courage to map a way forward as we enter what already looks to be an uncertain year.

The latest quarterly monetary policy announcement issued by the Central Bank has painted a picture of sluggish growth after a bump in economic activity in late 2017, dashing hopes for a speedy return to economic buoyancy. While inflation remained low, production indicators showed declines.

Gas production waned, and the bank also said preliminary non-energy indicators were also lower.

“The economy is dragging along, and the State will have to find novel ways to revitalise it,” said Dr Roger Hosein, head of the Department of Economics at UWI.

This means citizens must brace for a continuation of fiscal measures that have been designed to put the economy back on the right track and to avoid this country turning to agencies like the International Monetary Fund for assistance.

But it also means the State will need to embrace greater creativity in jump-starting the non-energy sector. That sector remains crucial to the long-term sustainability of any recovery. Increasing productivity must also be a part of the strategy.

All of this, however, can only come in the context of a safe and secure society where people have confidence in our institutions, from Parliament to the police. This means our leaders need to lead by example and demonstrate the maturity that is required to take us through choppy waters ahead. We hope for that in 2019 and for a safer society.


"Hoping in 2019"

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