Photos by Winston Sill/Freelance Photographer
LEFT: Guardsman chairman Kenny Benjamin (left) knocks head with Finance Minister Audley Shaw (right). Looking on are Susan Duhaney and Robert Haughton.
RIGHT: Finance Minister Audley Shaw (second left) is obviously enjoying his post-budget reception with (from left) Ron Kelly, his wife Bonnie Kelly and Susan Duhaney.
Chester Francis-Jackson, Contributor
Luvs, it's been such a long time since we had anyone but the People's National Party, or Dr Omar Davies, delivering the keynote speech in the annual budgetary parliamentary presentations, that indeed, if nothing else, Audley Shaw's maiden presentation as the country's finance minister held more than mere academic interest for political and social observers.
Two or three essential components of this annual exercise usually played out on the day of the presentation have served as an unofficial weathervane, used to test the political capital and connectivity of the governing party. One is the assessing of just how much of the political capital will be consumed by the tabled expenditures, via new taxation. Another is how much goodwill will be retained by the promise of new and improved delivery of goods and services, that is, the unwritten contractual understanding between the governed and the governors, to offset the bitter pill of budgetary presentations. All this against the rationale for the introduction of new taxes.
The third component is the post- presentation cocktail parties, hosted by the various players on the political stage, or their proxies. In order of importance, the most anticipated post-presentation cocktails have always been that of the finance minister, the opposition's shadow minister, and then that of the party leader.
Friends and supporters of Audley Shaw had, unfortunately, grown accustomed to him in the role of shadow minister of finance. For his maiden presentation in his new role, they were all but champing at the bit waiting, as it were, to exhale!
Well my dears, on Thursday afternoon when Shaw completed his presentation, even his most ardent critic walked away with grudging admiration, inspiration even, for his inaugural presentation.
Luvs, we will leave the dissecting of the substance and promises of the presentation and the likely impact on the national economy to those charged with that responsibility. Audley Shaw, however, was at his political and theatrical best, as he demonstrated that he was the new man at the helm of the country's finances. And while not prepared to pursue a policy of vilification and vengeance, he is prepared to let the chips fall where they will, with a hands-on approach.
Comparatively speaking, while his grading is still a work in progress, he painted a picture of his predecessor that made him look out of step with his command, and due to the longevity of tenure, was less than vigilant when committing the country's resources during crunch time. His audience loved every minute of it!
So what was originally planned as a post-budget presentation reception for some 300 guests, at the Pegasus hotel's Talk of the Town Restaurant, was relocated to the gardens, as by the time the minister had finished his presentation hundreds more were on the telephone, working it, in order to secure an invite.
To facilitate this new and larger crowd, the capable Stephanie Scott, Amber Vicens Stewart and AnnMarie Vaz set about transforming the venue into a fabulously relaxed outdoor lounge, and then some.
Guests started arriving just after 5 p.m., and by the time the do was officially ready to welcome the expected, the place was teeming like everybody's business.
Oh precious angels, the world and his wife were out. Not to mention hordes of party supporters and grass-roots activists. Daahlings, we are talking one rip-roaring soiree here, the man of the moment, Mr Shaw, his lovely companion, Susan Duhaney, she looking oh so regally fabulous, as they welcomed their guests to their post-Budget reception.
Well my dears, you have heard the saying 'coming out of the cold'. well pumpkins, this was akin to rushing in out of a wicked blizzard. My dears, it made for a fab and diverse outing.
Among the notables were: Prime Minister Bruce Golding; Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Ken Baugh and Mrs Vilma Baugh; President of the Senate Dr Ossie Harding; Speaker of the House MP Delroy Chuck and Mrs Pat Chuck; Minister of Industry Carl Samuda; Minister of Information, Culture and Sports Olivia Grange; Tourism Minister Ed Bartlett; Transport Minister Mike Henry and wife Dawn Chambers Henry; Labour Minister Pearnell Charles; Health Minister Ruddy Spencer; Technology Minister Clive Mullings; Attorney General, Senator Dorothy Lightbourne; Senator Dwight Nelson; Senator Dr Ronald Robinson; MP Andrew Gallimore; MP James Robertson; Daryl Vaz; MP Dr Laurie Broderick; MP and Mrs Tarn Peralto.
Also out were: Head of the EU, His Excellency Ambassador Marco Mazzocchi-Alemanni; Chinese Ambassador HE Chen Jinghua and his wife, Madam Jinghua; French Ambassador HE Francis Hurtut; South Africa's High Commissioner Advocate HE Faith Radebe; Canadian High Commissioner HE Denis Kingsley and wife Jo-Ann; Mexican Ambassador HE Leonora Rueda; Madhai Hernandez of the Venezuelan Embassy; Hon John Issa and his daughter Zein Issa Nakash; Kenny Benjamin; Robert MacMillan; Ian Levy; Richard Fontaine; Jennifer Lim; Raymond Miles Sr and Raymond Miles Jr; American international financial consultant and venture capitalist Mark Jones; Canadian multi-millionaire Ron Kelly and wife Bonnie Kelly.
We also spotted: Paul Lai; Chris Parnell; Harold Brady; Madge Seaga; Col Trevor MacMillan; Turo Zaidie; Rocky Charles; James and Jackie Lechler; Charles Ross; Donna Roberts; Peter Millingen; Russell Hadeed; Xavier and Roma Chin; Wayne Chen and wife Dr Diana Thorburn Chen; Louis Williams; David Hall; FCIB Milton Brady; Gazzan Azan; Chris Zacca; Omar Azan; Roger Malik; Sophia MaxBrown; Jason Smith; Mitzie Pratt; Michael Belnavis; Andrea Bickhoff-Benjamin; Dr Wesley Hughes; Joyce Young; Granville Davidson and wife Dr Marjorie Vassell; Phillip Waite; JLP stalwarts Ryan Peralto, Joseph Hibbert, and Dorothy Carter-Bradford; Arthur Williams; Mayor of Port Maria, His Worship Richard Creary; Joan Gordon-Webley; Joel Williams; plus a number of others.