The Dilemma To St. Lucia’s Structural Rise Again

Published on Dec 01 2014, at 9:06 pm



St. Lucia protesters. (Star image)

By Melanius Alphonse


Special To NAN

News Americas, CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Tues. Dec. 2, 2014: As the third anniversary of the Saint Lucia Labour Party [SLP] approached on Nov. 28th, it was more and more evident, that the country needs new and genuine governance and a national agenda with an exciting vision that is focused on performance and the aspirations of the new reality.

The intellectual lazy SLP administration has run out of recycled ideas. Their copy and paste programmes are lousy, providing no solutions to the country’s pressing issues and challenges.

To make matters worse, such a performance is accompanied with miserable converts and ideologically hardened hawks to revisit a political agenda of partisan warfare that seems parallel to the dark days of the 1979-1982 era. This has brought to scale a government that surprisingly came to office in 1979 with 53.21 percent of votes cast and 49.68 percent in 2011 that continues to struggle to assert legitimacy, maintain security, improve the economy and to implement structural reform for the future development of the country.

For the last three years, the totalitarian governance and central planning that has taken root in the SLP administration format of governance cannot lay claim to accomplishing financial gains, economic relief and confidence of the people.

The current deficit is reportedly at EC$76 million and the gross domestic product [GDP] to debt ratio at 65 percent [numbers most agree that are embryonic] is not only a source of worry, but also contributes to weak capital and public expenditure, to national security capability, health care and education [Victoria Hospital and the island schools] and other vital infrastructure maintenance and future development of Water and Sewage Company (WASCO), and The Saint Lucia Airport and Sea Port Authority (SLASPA).

For the second time in the month of November Victoria Hospital has encountered electrical interruptions in an already worsening health care system. These blackouts perhaps signal the SLP administration’s misery, associated with inadequate resource allocations, and the struggle to provide a market-driven plan towards universal health care for the benefit of uninsured Saint Lucians. Most too terrified to reach out for medical services in an economy of 25 percent unemployment, high illiteracy and destructive left wing politicians.

Further, with a pandering SLP administration that tends to harbour large deficits, often times to provide temporary feel good rewards to preferential constituents and political contributors features high risk changes in government policy that obstruct long-term growth and lead to public [domestic and international] discontent.

Actually, Saint Lucia is in the third year of negative growth [deep depression – that has discouraged high quality, long-term investments, and the requisite research and development to support such industries], spearheaded by Kenny Anthony’s insubstantial leadership.

Or is it a delusion of relevance that is unable to connect with the public and international concerns to achieve prosperity, which is primarily government’s way to obtain their legitimacy to govern.

Catholic priest Father J Lambert St Rose, in his new book, “In Turbulent Waters,” illustrates his experience, the demise of faith, the unprecedented rise of demonic subcultures among the African Diaspora in Saint Lucia and the wider Caribbean. Not surprisingly, a source of power that exposes most people to extreme instability, social disorder, suicide and sudden death. And most often, in the absence of steady economic growth, this leads to disorder and instability, the symptoms of which are visible across the country.

These dilemmas not only risk the well-being of persons and business, and prevent them from enjoying the gains of prosperity, but pretty much set the stage for resentment, anger and lawlessness to run wild in this small and fragile economic space. The most recent victim is the former speaker of the house of assembly, Matthew Roberts. These continuous acts of violence are obstacles to economic growth, which require major adjustments to restore the prestige of the island, and to manage uncertainties, as it is obvious by now that something greater than economic concerns and political discontent has offspring of anxiety and conflict.

In the book, Back to Work, Why We Need Smart Government For A Strong Economy, Bill Clinton stresses that we need a strong private sector and a smart government working together to restore prosperity and progress, demonstrating that whenever we’ve given in to the temptation to blame government for all our problems, we’ve lost our ability to produce sustained economic growth and shared prosperity.

“There is simply no evidence that we can succeed in the twenty-first century with an antigovernment strategy,” based on “a philosophy grounded in ‘you’re on your own’ rather than ‘we’re all in this together.’” He believes that conflict between government and the private sector has proved to be good politics but produced bad policies, given us a weak economy with not enough jobs, growing income inequality and poverty, and a decline in our competitive position. In the real world, cooperation works much better than conflict, and “Americans need victories in real life.” ~ Bill Clinton

This is all too real, as Saint Lucia continues to decline in key areas of productivity, the free movement of people, goods and services and taking advantage of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States [OECS] economic space to conduct business.

In the meantime, the pace of change and reform is negatively impacting growth and development, as Saint Lucia’s ranking in the World Bank ease of doing business survey shamefully drops to 100th overall, and sixth in the English-speaking Caribbean.

Three years prior Saint Lucia was ranked 53rd in the world, number one in the Caribbean and number two in the wider region, including the Spanish-speaking countries.

Yet, SLP acolytes pontificate about the party of substance; in all probability delusional!

There can be little argument that the SLP oversold their capabilities in 2011 to a very low electoral turnout of 56.28 percent on matters of governance, economic growth and political leadership; at a time of changing public opinion in a discredited United Workers Party [UWP] administration, internal and external, of their own making.

But the people, businesses and country, although having suffered measured economic damage, withstood with resilience [2008-2009 financial crises] to balance the unconventional. Particularly, when measured against the paralysis of the present death row, socio-economic predicament of destructive leadership that shows no sign of rising above lacklustre economic and governance theories of Marxism doctrines.

Regrettably, this is just the tip of challenges contributing to the socio-economic and political destabilization of Saint Lucia that allow the SLP administration to re-allocate, scarce resources for short-term political gains.

To rise again, Saint Lucia has to undertake a reduction of the real burden of debt and an increase in savings, improve agribusiness, trade imbalances towards the reduction of the food import bill, curb the deficit to regain financial confidence for high quality long-term investments, and superstructure development, health care and education, all working simultaneously to reinforce each other, towards short and long term economic growth.

There is one way out to achieve this win-win result, which is not very different, but that path is through courageous consultation and consensus, and coexistence to underline value propositions, core purpose, critical new thinking on [structure] operations and implementation capabilities, rather than unilateralism, narrow partisanship and self – interest.

The journey to rise again from structural deformity has to entail clear strategic decisions, better leadership and result oriented people that are disciplined, and not devoted to the past, to allow for a more deserving rise to the future of Saint Lucia.

Melanius Alphonse is a management and development consultant. He is an advocate for community development, social justice, economic freedom and equality; the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM) www.lpmstlucia.com critic on youth initiative, infrastructure, economic and business development. He can be reached at malphonse@rogers.com    

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