KINGSTOWN St. Vincent – Vincentians can play politics if they want but discussions about public policy should be “rational”, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said this week as he called for more “fact-full” discussions of national issues.
“In today’s world, I have noticed there is a fact-free discourse by many persons. … You have a telephone you can call any radio station you’re not interested in any fact; you talk it,” he said while commenting on the recent increase in water and solid waste management rates here.
Gonsalves said he had borrowed the idea of “fact-free” discussion from economist Paul Krugman.
He said that some local radio talk show hosts “just talk because, as far as you are concerned, talk is just cheap and it is just transient”.
“Of course, talk is expensive because it does get a lot of people into trouble with their mouths. So let’s stop this fact free discussion and let’s not just select one fact,” Gonsalves said.
He said that while it as a fact that the government owes the Central Water and Sewerage Authority (CWSA) EC$3 million, it is also a fact that the services delivered to the government by the CWSA are consumed by the people: in hospitals, schools, police stations, prisons, and other government facilities.
Another fact, Gonsalves pointed out, is that the government owns the CWSA and guarantees its loans and must repay if the CWSA is unable to.
“But, of course, I insist that we must have the discipline at the central government to make the payment to the CWSA and that discipline has not existed, not now, [but] for ages,” he said.
He said that in some instances, when people calls radio station and make comments about certain issues, the host then ask listeners if they know about the issue they should call and talk about it.
“… by the time he repeats it the third time, he ain’t say somebody called him. It becomes a fact by the third time it is repeated by him,” Gonsalves said.
“And I am not talking about any particular person. I am saying that, generally, that is what you have,” he added.