Saint Lucia’s full potential as a tourism destination, including development and real estate issues, that dialogue continue to nudge my thoughts in particularly, on the heels of Economic sentiments and the reality of the market.”
Back in April 11, 2005, Saint Lucians were informed of a miracle that took place on July 7, 1986, when Pope John Paul II visited the island. The 18-month-old Kevin Jerome, who was very ill and unable to walk according to young Kevin’s mother, Marie Jerome, believed that her son would not die. The next day Kevin was well and began walking.
Given the healing and conversion of faith, trust and belief, which are tremendous attributes to behold, seems far fetch, when it comes to government’s policy decisions in the development of our country. Evidently, the power of politics, and the influence of money, seems more deep-rooted, with a recipe all intended to win elections. With such a focus, this has so far placed governments in an inferior position to advance a practical development plan to embody the nation, but rather helps to harbour decisions towards the long-lasting malfunctioning of Saint Lucia.
Dating back to 1986, the country’s entrepreneurial vision and the development focus have missed out in totality (development potential, marketing, environmental, physical layout) the economic and social implications of major changes. For example, the holy parcel of land and surrounding areas, which facilitated Pope John Paul II to meet and greet patrons, which shortly thereafter ballooned in property value, has not helped government’s policies. Pressing environment and traffic problems are unfulfilled, which gives people cause to conclude that special interest groups continue to influence policy at the expense of everyone else.
The same can be said for areas like the causeway, in Gros Islet, Malgretoute in Soufriere, now Freedom Bay; developments in the Piton management area, Le Paradis in Praslin Bay, and other pristine locations like Pointe Du Cap, Cape Marquis and Marquis Bay in Dauphin that are under consideration with immense political and economic pressures. The most recent is Vigie Vendors Arcade — A Potential Disaster.
Even though these investments extended economic survivability, the approach to development and government’s policy decisions fades, in the transformation of a very clear long-term objective for sustainable development and growth.
Following the conversation on Hon. Richard Frederick television program “Can I help you” last week Thursday on MBC Real television, discussing options to maximize Saint Lucia’s full potential as a tourism destination, including development and real estate issues, that dialogue continue to nudge my thoughts in particularly, on the heels of Economic sentiments and the reality of the market.
However, this reflection illustrates other significant shifts, that Hon. Richard Frederick, in his capacity as the former minister for physical development, housing and urban renewal in the United Worker Party (UWP) government did not present. In particular, the driving principles towards Saint Lucia’s strategic development during his term in contrast to the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) government. And what role, the influence of politics and moneyed interest played towards that strategy? In addition to his observation on the tepid development thrust of the SLP government. These would surely be a robust and enlightened discussion with legitimacy one would endeavour to observe!
Over the years, government’s policy decisions have been unable to develop or adopt development modules to enhance the country’s strategic importance and to gather maximum income generation to meet its annual domestic budget and foreign commitments, evidence of which is available in the budget estimates of 2014/15. The inability to pass that threshold makes it harder each year to turn the economy around and to invest in research and innovation to maintain market share of export products, and to facilitate expansion in any one industry.
Take for example what happened with the banana industry. In short, the Windward Islands at that time, and even now, are subjected to client government’s status, stemming from reasons of low economic positioning, weak international representation, domestic and external security gaps, non-competitiveness, to political support for friendly regimes on energy and transportation needs.
These limitations to a large extent and the obsession with socialism has driven the SLP government to the PetroCaribe agreement to buy oil at market value but only pay a percentage of the cost up front and the balance can be paid over 25 years at 1 – 2 percent interest as long as oil prices exceed US$100 per barrel, and with deferred clauses of 70 percent of payments if oil reaches US$150 a barrel. This agreement is a long term liability to Saint Lucia that serves as a shackle to Venezuela, as long as it sees the need to maximize its welfare unfavourably to economic reality but advantageous to symbolic political mantras.
With market prices at US$80 and projected to reach US$70, not to mention the Venezuelan economy suffering from food shortages and runaway inflation in excess of 56 percent, a weak Bolivarian currency, ratings agencies downgrade of the country’s bond status to junk and the continual loss of oil revenue ranging from US$15 to US$20 billion annually.
These excruciating losses mean undeniably that PetroCaribe is in jeopardy, on the heels of President Nicolas Maduro’s approval rating that has plunged into the low 30 percent range, as his party prepares for congressional elections next year. Perchance, Henry Kissinger’s latest book, “World Order,” comes in handy: “Wisdom and foresight are needed to avoid hazards and ensure that technology fulfills its vast promise.”
By: Melanius Alphonse
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 email@example.com