Now, mind you, just yesterday morning the Prime Minister returned from Mexico, where he held "fruitful" discussion with a number of foreign countries (sic) regarding rising food prices and the drug trade.
Mind you, as well, that he promised that, "in due course" (whatever that means), the Minister of Consumer Affairs Peter Taylor, will be addressing the nation shortly on his Government's plan to reduce food prices."
He also made it clear that Valued Added Tax (VAT) on food items will not be reduced. His reasoning? "If it is removed it will only serve to increase the margin of profit to the traders." As if to suggest that VAT was introduced for the opposite purpose.
But the government has refused.
Now, it's refusing to remove VAT on food items, this so, even though the signs are there for all, but the blind or despotic, to see, that we are about to be hit with a firestorm of protest, expressed through anti-social behaviour, in like fashion to when
"...bandits took things into their own hands yesterday (April 3, 2008), attacking and looting two vehicles transporting flour, milk and juice-three items which are now in the high-end price range is supermarkets across the country - along the Churchill Roosevelt Highway, in the vicinity of the Beetham Gardens.
And as the van's driver, Ian Hitlal, 29, was making a report at the Besson Street Police Station, police officers had to return to the Beetham to respond to another robbery. This time, orange juice and milk were stolen off another transport vehicle.
Since those incidents, there have been several similar others, in other parts of the country. That's why my earlier statement that it's just a matter of time before we descend into the abyss that Haiti has, still holds true.
Now, today, I'm reading where
Across Globe, Empty Bellies Bring Rising Anger
"It's the worst crisis of its kind in more than 30 years," said Jeffrey D. Sachs, the economist and special adviser to the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon. "It's a big deal and it's obviously threatening a lot of governments. There are a number of governments on the ropes, and I think there's more political fallout to come."...
...There are no scripts on how to handle the crisis, either. In Asia, governments are putting in place measures to limit hoarding of rice after some shoppers panicked at price increases and bought up everything they could...
"This is a perfect storm," President Elías Antonio Saca of El Salvador said Wednesday at the World Economic Forum on Latin America in Cancún, Mexico. "How long can we withstand the situation? We have to feed our people, and commodities are becoming scarce. This scandalous storm might become a hurricane that could upset not only our economies but also the stability of our countries."
...In Indonesia, fearing protests, the government recently revised its 2008 budget, increasing the amount it will spend on food subsidies by about $280 million.
"The biggest concern is food riots," said H.S. Dillon, a former adviser to Indonesia's Ministry of Agriculture. Referring to small but widespread protests touched off by a rise in soybean prices in January, he said, "It has happened in the past and can happen again."
...Leaders who ignore the rage do so at their own risk. President René Préval of Haiti appeared to taunt the populace as the chorus of complaints about la vie chère — the expensive life — grew. He said if Haitians could afford cellphones, which many do carry, they should be able to feed their families. "If there is a protest against the rising prices," he said, "come get me at the palace and I will demonstrate with you."
When they came, filled with rage and by the thousands, he huddled inside and his presidential guards, with United Nations peacekeeping troops, rebuffed them. Within days, opposition lawmakers had voted out Mr. Préval's prime minister, Jacques-Édouard Alexis, forcing him to reconstitute his government. Fragile in even the best of times, Haiti's population and politics are now both simmering.
...The rising prices are altering menus, and not for the better. In India, people are scrimping on milk for their children. Daily bowls of dal are getting thinner, as a bag of lentils is stretched across a few more meals.
Maninder Chand, an auto-rickshaw driver in New Delhi, said his family had given up eating meat altogether for the last several weeks.
...Real solutions will take years. Haiti, its agriculture industry in shambles, needs to better feed itself. Outside investment is the key, although that requires stability, not the sort of widespread looting and violence that the Haitian food riots have fostered.
In recent days, Mr. Préval has patched together a response, using international aid money and price reductions by importers to cut the price of a sack of sugar by about 15 percent.
Meanwhile, most of the poorest of the poor suffer silently, too weak for activism or too busy raising the next generation of hungry. In the sprawling slum of Haiti's Cité Soleil, Placide Simone, 29, offered one of her five offspring to a stranger. "Take one," she said, cradling a listless baby and motioning toward four rail-thin toddlers, none of whom had eaten that day. "You pick. Just feed them." (Marc Lacey, New York Times, April 18, 2008).
Maybe, rather than going to have "fruitful" discussions with foreign "countries", the Prime Minister needs to sit with Marc and have him light up the dark tunnel into which we're inexorably headed, for to continue to ignore the obvious signs of the clear and present perils just ahead, is to invite them, all, upon us.