The veracity of the statement by prime minister and minister for finance Dr Kenny Anthony that “While I do not have updated figures on the rate of unemployment, I expect that unemployment will be contained and will gradually reduce as investment intensifies and the economy expands” has mesmerized many.
But for the finance minister to state that the director of statistics Edwin St Catherine ‘spoke out of turn’ in response to the unemployment figures, at 25%, when questioned by reporters, has the vivacity of contemporary despot, ideological rigidity and the shine of a double-edged sword.
Many continue to be struck by the ineptitude of the finance minister and the sheer wretchedness associated with daily life by the performance of the economy, now have to contend with belittling public servants for providing public information.
While this is really a bleak situation, emotions are an expectation of fear and despair, except for the glowing sense of the finance minister’s proclamation that “for our people to look forward to the future with greater hope and confidence,~ economy on the rebound,” when a reversal of fortune by Saint Lucians are the most common denominator of acute worry and open discussion.
The political and economic happenings in Saint Lucia’s young democracy is the continuation of elected misfits and, subsequently, the inability to deliver on policy, the understanding of concepts and structure, and the applicable legislative framework to achieve results.
This continuous failure is much too entrenched and devoid of reason, except to flourish at the ultimate test of who is the loudest cross talker on hope and false expectation.
Almost four years upon bluffing voters into office, unemployment has increased to 25%. The cost of water, sewer and electricity has risen sharply. The failure to transform the lives of the poor, by the political party of the poor, the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP), has instead legislated 15% VAT in addition to tax increases on basic commodities, transportation services and property owners. Creating a situation that is extracting buoyancy in the middleclass and the poor, and causing contraction in the economy, rather than creating value and equity.
This voluminous contraction in the GDP is getting worse and has contributed to the unraveling of the fabric of society, most notably, the current social disorder (housing, transportation, security concerns, and political corruption) that is not adequate to forge stronger connections and develop contemporary policies.
The untold truth in the finance minister’s ‘economy on the rebound’ is the multiplier effect to a lack of understand history and economic statistics that government revenue is inadequate to support rising expenditure, the quantum leap in interest payments, a combined accumulation of old and substantial new loans, and that despite tourism’s inflows, the economic outlook is not positioned to translate into strong income flows.
The ability to evade blind spots to the unvarnished truth in the fourth year of steep economic decline, running deficits, that will not stimulate the economy any time soon, substantiates the conclusion in my article published December 8, 2014: The St Lucia Labour Party is deluded… brace for drawbacks.
The Gros Islet Choc highway project, billed at $150 million, is another masquerade. This project is expected to expense for the most part the acquisition of small portions of land, already in use along the roadway that will not bear relative improvement in traffic congestion; meanwhile the maximum speed limits 30-40 miles per hour at intervals is not anticipated to graduate to highway conditions by any definition to improve road efficiency or eventually improve productivity from time gain, idling in traffic.
Thus “the largest investment in road infrastructure to date to revving the fortunes of this economy” is another risky gamble of taxpayers’ money. A political ploy designed to entice voter’s participation in a legacy portrait of the finance minister’s non bona fides.
For many, there are no lingering doubts about the finance minister’s non performance on financial management on aspects of sovereign debt, loans, interest payments that is drowning the country into the Caribbean Sea.
By these actions, the government of the poor has no moral legitimacy to cooperate for the common good.
What is clear is that the political elite have sufficiently manipulated the politics enough to be comfortably incentive to the issues previously used to reinforce their political base. And the corruption by way of state patronage that has redefined politics to the point of belief that there is no obvious threat to the people’s rant and rave. The points of purpose are setbacks that have come to define domestic politics and give rise to serious displeasure on the future for democracy, peace and prosperity.
While the government has left the door open to deficit spending, and increased taxes, without offering quality representation and services in return, a promising aspect to increase revenue in building new communities through proper housing development and a national transportation system that offer real tangible value, and to create a sense of belonging, is beyond the ability of career politicians to comprehend.
Providing a platform to entrepreneurship is a matter of fact mandate to opportunities that builds trust, collective responsibility and creates social capital. On many levels an engaged people are most productive when connected. A stronger community is built, with eyes wide open to protect their interest from internal and external threats.
But compared with previous performance, Saint Lucia has been short-changed for too long and needs a better deal politically and economically to trust on policy issues with a progressive agenda to improve infrastructure, home ownership and rental housing, and transportation systems.
Common sense suggests that the inability to provide continuous and affordable housing and transportation impacts unemployment, skills development and clouds national development. The failure of which is a continuous drain on approximately two-thirds personal income that is felt by the entire population with adverse effects on the quality of life and the national’s economic performance.
Therefore am referring to large scale engagement with the private sector. Not piecemeal partisan interest associated with sporadic infrastructure, housing and transportation, not linked with a national development plan.
One thing is certain, and that is to continue along the lines of quasi government institutions and partisan interest is a formula for disaster.
The people of Saint Lucia are not longer blind to the finance minister’s knee-deep economic ignorance, a primary factor at the root of aggression, bitterness and mistrust.
There are protests action in the coming weeks that should give established cronyism in national politics reason to feel insecure in power and authority from the people who have had enough from dangerous enablers who bypass democracy with contempt.
But while the test is getting harder for the finance minister and his failed administration when pressed for accountability, the tendency is an uncomfortable episode to criticism and press scrutiny. Desperation can be profound. However, what the finance minister says for public consumption and the deliverables is of a certain kind of competency that is favourable to confusion but perhaps rightfully dysfunctional.
In this case, vigilance to hinder constitutional reform in preference to fast track electoral and political reform is sufficient to warrant concern.
Against this backdrop is the unfavourable economic factor that is eating the common man/woman’s lunch. This brings to mind the precedence to carve bitter sweet refuge by governments that become unfavourable for a number of reasons, including undelivered promises.
Therefore, intelligence must guard against actions to consolidate power by fixing elections, trampling on civil liberties, further manipulation of the economy, and in the process continue to exclude from representation the majority of the population.
This ideology is not farfetched in the corridors of the political elitists in Saint Lucia with support from their socialist collaborators!
By Melanius Alphones
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 firstname.lastname@example.org