‘Lucians, watch your bread.’ From landlords to servants!
Many moons ago Sir John Compton’s mantra echoed – “Lucians, watch your bread.” But never in his wildest dreams would he have imagined Saint Lucians would be exploited in such a manner by the United Workers Party (UWP) and government he once led.
This is, of course, actually regressive, short of a revolt, to allow Prime Minister Allen Chastanet to expropriate Saint Lucian lands; turn landlords into servants and by extension re-enslave the country for 99 years for the consideration of US$1 per acre.
In doing so, this action is a total misuse of authority and power. This action is symptomatic of a failed Westminster system in a country that has lost its purpose, its direction and is heading into a destructive path.
Despite justified public disapproval, DSH and the expropriation of Saint Lucian lands comes at a time when inequity is driving more of the population into poverty and therefore serves as a prototype that decreases Saint Lucians’ ability to achieve wealth accumulation and generational transfer, thus perpetuating the culture of poverty.
I wonder what has happened to successive governments’ desire to empower people through the purchase of land, access to food production, housing and health care, an adequate supply of electricity, water and productive infrastructure.
Soon, increased cost of telecommunications, data services and other daily necessities will take effect, while wages remain stagnant, with increased inflation, thus widening the gap between the rich and poor.
However, the backlash will come when Saint Lucians feel displaced in their own country. When our national identity, culture and tradition slowly disappear and changes to the characteristics of life unfold.
What’s more, the majority members of parliament endorse these actions to serve their own vested interests and the hyperbolic visions of “Five to Stay Alive” largely for the benefit and expansion of dangerous crony capitalism.
Of these, influenced by partisan interests, is the pet project on the Hummingbird Beach in Soufriere. This is not without worrying trends of planning deficiency. The failure of imagination to understand the future needs of the Town of Soufriere, albeit financed by the government of Taiwan.
Of further significance is the expansion of Sandals resort. This was expected, but became more predictable amid the Chastanet-led administration’s considerable uncertainty regarding actual policy and thus took the bait. They are currently keeping their end of the bargain in search of jobs and development of any type and scope.
Sandals’ new venture on 19 acres, a fourth property on the island tourism footprint and economy, carries paramount importance and authority to the architecture of the northern corridor of the island, but not without various concerns to national development.
In consequence, and on the backdrop of DSH, similar concessions will become the standard bearer and eligibility for future investments. All the while, government will continue to experience significant difficulty in raising revenue, faced with the impact on higher debt levels.
More importantly, tax giveaways and concessions in blocks of 15, 25, 40 and 99 years set a dangerous precedent, consistent with unjust exploitation of the country’s natural resources and its human capital.
Notwithstanding, inefficient protection of intellectual property rights (IPR), weak institutions and misallocation of resources and “the bureaucracy of government that impacts the political environment” regressive “creative” tax measures and burdensome business regulations are constraints that inhibit private investment and crucial business growth from pursuing higher value added economic performance.
Consistent with DSH, albeit everybody needs to just chill out – but that hasn’t happened, the interest lights up even more on how DSH framework and supplementary agreement succeeded its acquisition of Vieux-Fort, at the hands of what appears on the face of it, to be inept negotiators that were seemingly easily persuaded.
The consequence of DSH points to the reconfiguration of the Saint Lucian identity for generations to come, and that, the core of Saint Lucian heritage has gone cheap.
Such flaws are consistent with weak economic and geopolitical institutional structures and the results of self inflected tunnel vision between the economic, political and security spheres.
Notable, successive governments are however compatible with the island rich history of official corruption and continues to be bait for the oligarchy, who in return, collectively rip the rest of us off.
In brief, current so-called development projects are the most direct threat to postcolonial sovereignty, alongside a Chastanet-led administration; “a government of law breakers.”
Perhaps in many respects, the Chastanet-led administration and their accomplices are more befitting of permanent residence at Bordelais Correctional Facility.
The normality for this is captured in DSH supplementary agreement, November 10, 2016, to acquire more lands: clause 2.1, 2.4 & 2.5, not for the public good and the embodiment of our heritage evident in Aupicon and Pierrot, but to satisfactorily carry out its private development program, that of paramount possessions and profit: and plausible, the death of our historic significance.
The formality of this is in clause 9, Supremacy: “If there is an inconsistency between any of the provisions of this Agreement and the provisions of Framework Agreement, the provisions of this Agreement shall prevail. This agreement has been entered into and delivered as a deed on the date stated as the beginning of it.”
I once read a protest placard; “One day the poor will have nothing left to eat, but to eat the rich.”
However, this could be disingenuous, when “the poor and poorly educated” to borrow Donald Trump) elect politicians of nefarious character and exhibit traits of tyrants candidly, in the House of Assembly, on radio and national television.
What is clear, coupled with ties that endorse more forceful expropriation of Saint Lucian lands, thus suppressing increased GDP per capita, USD$10,343.56 December 2015, are however, mistaken.
Thus, failure to proceed with corrective action, and should the model towards the expropriation of Saint Lucian lands (a hawkish action of grave circumstance) and given to the elites and their echo chambers for personal enrichment continues, then the risk of losing the sum of the whole is imminent.
By Melanius Alphonse