Welcoming 2003!!!

A New Year has dawned upon us bringing with it anxieties and uncertainties not normally experienced at this time of year in recent times. Most people look forward to the passing of 2002 but never thought they were running from the smoke into the fire. There is turmoil almost everywhere. No country is immune to the shocks, real and potential.

The US Stock Market began the year with an upward trend but this is being threatened by the rising oil prices and as a result is not sustainable. The US manufacturing sector showed encouraging signs as we entered 2003 but again oil is the fuel for that engine.

While most of the world's nations watch on at the developments, they must be challenged to find alternatives. They cannot afford to stand idly by. There must be emergency plans. The National Economic Council should begin to work out its contingency plans. What if the oil situation worsens? What about our food security? How can we use the crisis to our advantage - being located in a zone of peace? What are we doing to ensure that we are protected against terrorists? This is a time for vigilance. Whatever the solutions, we must be proactive.

I see our Tourism product being promoted under the theme "A shelter in the time of storm." We must lure tourists to get away from anxious moments to moments of relaxation. Out of many bad situations, good can be found, if we seek them out. In these vulnerable states, we must learn to reverse misfortune with good fortune. We must be soldiers of the new age. Ready to face the battle, not shy away from it. Whatever is said about President George W. Bush, it must be said that he is a man of will power, he is a brave President, prepared to stand alone. But surprisingly, he does not stand alone in his country. He continues to have an all time high rating as President in his country. The support he gets is not partisan but he has evolved as the people's President.

America has one thing going for it if nothing else; it is the will of its people to ensure that America is No.1 and that will transcends all political and cultural barriers. We in this part of the world are so divided on issues of national importance, even when it comes to bread and butter issues. We must learn to rally around those persons with ideas that are in the best interest of our nation. It is not always comfortable to follow because of our pride, but we must be aware of the fact, that pride goeth before a fall. If it is a good or necessary action, then regardless of the person from whom the idea originates, it is good for all. Can we step into this New Year with a commitment to do what is right, even if a little child shall lead us?

There is a serious challenge to our media houses, given the world's state of affairs, information is vital. Too much time is given to programmes that fail to inform or educate. There must be more commentaries, feature articles/programmes. Our people must be kept abreast of world developments and learn of ways to deal with the various issues.

The government has to engage civil society in an effort to mobilise and extract ideas to allow us to cope with the difficult times that are upon us. It has been a long time since we welcomed a New Year with such turmoil. Our resolve has to be pointed in the way of survival. I am certain many persons have not made resolutions for this New Year but were resigned to the situation that there are too many variables beyond their control for them to realise their goals. My advise to my readers is simple, be knowledgeable about the times in which you live and just do what you have to do. We have to plan for the worst.

This brings me to the point where I would like to suggest that the importers of food items and local manufacturers be brought together to work out stock levels that will see us thought for at least 6 weeks to 3 months. Additional financing might be necessary but this could be our way of ensuring that we have food for ourselves and our guests. Let us take it seriously. Could you imagine that Venezuela is currently importing fuel?

We cannot turn back the clock. The year 2003 is with us, 2002 prepared us, let us get to work, fully cooperating with each other, finding solutions to our many problems and trusting God for daily miracles! Let us make the best of what could well be an exciting year for many. A prosperous New Year to all.

Keep the Faith - God is in charge.