Thursday, December 25, 2014


I can hardly believe that another has gone by and that this is the fourth time that I have had the honor of addressing you in my capacity as Parliamentary Representative for Choiseul and Saltibus and the Minister for Tourism Heritage and Creative Industries
The Christmas Season for me means many things
It is a time for introspection and at times solemn reflection on the past year, and with it the various triumphs and attendant challenges. I feel comforted that despite the odds I managed with the help of my family, and committed staff at my ministries and loyal constituents to meet most of my objectives this year.
Christmas is also a time when we reconnect with family, and loved ones, mend wounds of the past and cultivate a positive outlook for the coming year. It is also a time when we revitalize our spirituality as we ponder on the birth of our Lord and Saviour for his sacrifices for each of us.
I look forward to the days that I will spend with my constituents, family and friends and hope that I can bring nothing but cheer and good will during these times and our interactions in the future. Whilst we celebrate this season, let us also take time to remember those who lost their lives during 2014, those who are sick, and those who may be less fortunate than ourselves.
I extend the warmest Christmas greetings to our Hon. Prime Minister and my Cabinet colleagues, to the entire community of Choiseul and Saltibus and to my staff at the Ministry of Tourism, Heritage & Creative Industries, the Saint Lucia Tourist Board, The Cultural Development Foundation and the Folk Research Center
I wish to thank you at this time for your motivation, support, and at times tolerance in dealing with me as I pursue this public mandate.
Merry Christmas and a Happy 2015!

Monday, December 08, 2014

The St Lucia Labour Party is deluded... brace for drawbacks - By Melanius Alphonse

The last three years of Labour has been hell on earth. But, with two more years to go, and the proposition for early election, the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) brand will fade away.
That would be a welcome sign on the heels of an establishment that not only continues to lose purpose, but lacks credibility. For those who bothered to listen and watch last Sunday's conference of delegates, the reviews conclude that it was a successfully performance of Hollywood proportions.
In much delight, the staged performances were effortless; in much the same manner that Labour's brand of politics delivers countless pain and suffering on the people of Saint Lucia.
The message, if any, reaffirmed the establishment solidarity with constitutional abuse and excesses of autocratic leaders, and a ruling [SLP] party that's in a state of indisposed denial, finds it necessary to reassure delegates that "We came from different stock. The Saint Lucia Labour Party came from the struggles of our workers against the plantocracy and colonialism." ~ Kenny Anthony
There must be something in the air, to merit that retort. Similar, there may be reasons to conjure, as Labour is stretched out, in full self adulation in the thought process that most Saint Lucians are dancing and drinking SLP Kool Aid.
Delusional as this is for Kenny Anthony and the SLP that's the feeling of disconnection with people, business and community that is not coincidental.
Let's break this down!
Last Sunday, Kenny Anthony and the SLP attempted to come across with some revisionist history, a fake sense of compassion and a subdued social conscience. Maybe it had something to do with indifference. But first, bear with me to focus your attention to a few excerpts from Kenny Anthony's address and offer some observations. Because, repeatedly, what was dramatized is not what the people of Saint Lucia are receiving, beginning with this:
"Sometimes we are hard on ourselves, so taken in by the criticisms of our detractors that we fail to recognize our accomplishments. We are in danger of becoming apologists for our success!"~ Kenny Anthony
This is not the first attempt to bend reality or to distract society. But truly, this has to be a worrisome sign, with the responsible of finance and the governance of Saint Lucia, to actually bask in the stratosphere of nothingness. This is really dehumanizing. And to even claim that:
"We were different then, we are different now and we dare to be different tomorrow," is impractical to the quote that, "Labour is truly a government which does not discriminate."~ Kenny Anthony
Really! This is side-splitting in a self-serving endeavour. However, those who know otherwise concur that the personalization of politics, vendetta politics and the scorched earth policy of partisan warfare that currently exist -- fairness, equity and a brighter tomorrow are buried with SLP's ideology.
The underlying factor in Saint Lucia today is the underperformance of every sector of governance and the economy. This is fueled by low value ideas of contain and control methods that are a staple of SLP substandard ideology. Meanwhile, the country is mired in bread-and-butter issues and unfulfilled job creation in plain view for all to see.
However, the bad news is being propagated into a fallacy that reads:"Negative growth has now decelerated and I believe that we will see a return to positive growth next financial year. We have bottomed out. Little green shoots of growth have begun to appear. On the fiscal side, our deficit has not worsened but the delay in arriving at an agreement with the public sector unions has not given us the benefit of the adjustment we needed. We have a lot going for us. Sometimes we have to take two steps backwards to take a giant leap forward."~ Kenny Anthony
There are two phrases that come to mind. One that says "Ignorance is bliss" and the other "Knowledge is power", and with that power opens more opportunities for those who are able to make rational and intelligent decisions. I will leave it at that for the time being.
The fact is that there are plenty of opportunities that suggest the unwillingness of government to use its marginal political mandate in a collaborative manner to tap creativity and innovation to propel Saint Lucia's economy. However, these opportunities go unfulfilled due to a one dimensional scrutiny. But you won't know this having read the following:
"We believe in creating and building a society that is just and inclusive. As I said in my maiden acceptance speech to you in Laborie in 1996, we seek 'to build consensus at all levels of decision-making and to accept that we are morally responsible and accountable to the people of Saint Lucia as a whole.'"~ Kenny Anthony.
Naturally, collaboration brings people together, working together towards personal and institutional goals and the country as a whole for a successful end product. And the culture that surrounds such depicts how business is conducted, how ideas are transformed, how problems are solved and the creativity that blooms to drive innovation. So when government's best ideas have not come across as purposeful, capturing the innovation of people, this surely indicates a lack of optimism in the future with SLP on the frontlines.
The bad news is that Kenny Anthony and the SLP are roughly at their best when receiving Taiwanese money, which was classified as "dirty money" while in purgatory, and now with the distinction of implementing and collecting the 15% VAT, once described as "oppressive, anti-poor and anti-worker", is now a smart policy to raise revenue in a dead beat economy.
In a big way Kenny Anthony feels content to announce that the ALBA Bank has agreed to provide grant financing to the government of Saint Lucia to finance NICE to the tune of US$10 million over two years, that is just under EC$27 million; and overnight flip flops, as meaningful investments turned away.
Whatever you think about the ALBA Bank, nothing was declare on the fiscal chaos in Venezuelan and that the government seems to be running out of hard currency in the face of depressed oil prices, rampant inflation, shortages of consumer goods and worsening crime. Last Friday, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro said, "I have ordered a revision of salaries of ministers and state enterprises, starting with the president of the republic." Adding that a commission will be established, he stated, "This commission is going to take an axe and chop wherever we need to," and that "budget cuts were needed."
PetroCaribe and ALBA are feeling the heat. They are hanging on a shoestring as well as their foreign policy influence in the region. Four CARICOM countries Belize, Haiti, Jamaica and Guyana are taking steps to reduce their dependency on PetroCaribe. Meanwhile Saint Lucia's PetroCaribe and ALBA transaction(s) are a national secret of the SLP socialist elite.
At the same time, Russia, which by all accounts is trying to extend it borders into the Caribbean, is hurting, with a wounded economy that could fall into crisis. The wisdom of its Ukraine policy is under tremendous attack worldwide. Depressed oil prices have compounded the situation, and consequently the rouble is taking a hit, along with $1.9 trillion in debt coming due, of which $35 billion of debt repayments are due in December alone.
Closer to home in Trinidad and Tobago, Finance Minister Larry Howai has cautioned that some belt tightening will have to be undertaken and that there is no room for complacency as the ministry of finance continues to monitor the global environment and to refine remedial fiscal measures [including budget reviews] to changes in the market for oil and gas.
Conveniently, while in purgatory, Kenny Anthony and the SLP made an issue of high oil prices and the retail price of petroleum products on the island, and referenced the term "extortion". Today, world market prices are the lowest in five years and the SLP is in government, yet the retail prices for petroleum products in Saint Lucia remain unexplained.
I now put the question: is this extortion, hypocrisy or both?
But as usual, Kenny Anthony and the SLP choose to ignore such matters, and issues that affect the daily lives of the people of the country, but for political platitudes and self adulation fit for kings and emperors, except in this case the pretend kings and emperors are displeasing to the eye, serving merely as puppets, to the south-south bloc of nations.
What might those reasons be for Saint Lucia, while the risks of getting worse are filled with political dogma?
For various reasons, these are serious causes for concern that not only hinder collaboration and innovation for the development of the country, but are a far cry from the issues of development, governance and accountability, pursuing policies and systemic changes that are need to pull-up struggling people and the country from tough economic times.
The party clearly has a motto: "bread, justice, and freedom for all." But getting a fair share is a huge undertaking that very few people can afford. In essence, the article of faith and creed reads:
"The Saint Lucia Labour Party continues to champion a more equitable society in which poverty has been eliminated. We champion a society in which there is no 'yawning gap' between the rich and the poor, or as Peter Phillips, the current Jamaican finance minister once told us, 'no yawning gap between those who have too much and those who do not have enough to survive.' We believe that a society is best constructed on the pillars of social peace, solidarity and stability."
It continued:"We believe in participatory democracy. We reject the notion that democracy is for one class of persons, that some are better endowed than others, to manage authority and power."~ Kenny Anthony.
Reading this I felt besieged, knowing the realism to what is subscribed, and that minimum government, maximum governance has been a flip of the tongue and can't walk the talk, as the performance of most ministers leaves much to be desired and that the function and role of government has gotten messy with each passing day, as there is no clear cut counter-balance that is recognized about who's actually responsible for what.
Despite the explanation that "we are different" [meaning the SLP], as expressed by Kenny Anthony, the paradox is unchanged – Saint Lucia is at risk, at the hands of a self-serving small group of the [Socialist] plantocracy, who think if not them, then who else to govern the country.
There is no shortage of this action. The continuous exhibition of political theatre on every opportunity is alarming. Last Sunday was no exception!
Repeatedly, political theatre has taken precedence over finding solutions to gripping problems, and has proven repeatedly that the current political culture is incapable of creating a culture of cooperation to harvest diverse viewpoints and to reap the benefits of creative disagreements.
Is this a price worth paying? Is this brand of politics and economic mythology that is certain to breed anger, frustration and despair worthy of two more years in government? Or would an embrace of a collaborative mindset create a culture in which relationships are formed and results are derived?
Perhaps with perseverance there is hope on the horizon, as illustrated in the most recent case involving 23 Coubaril residents and the Development Control Authority (DCA) whereby residents of Coubaril expressed their disapproval of a change of use of lands at Auralie Drive, Coubaril, in Castries from residential to commercial to facilitate the relocation of the offices of the Saint Lucia Social Development Fund (SSDF) and the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) is an interesting demonstration of collaboration, democracy and the rule of law.
Perhaps the abuse of power that values symbolism over substance that public officials are exhibiting with some misguided employees will be placed in context to what the law says, rather than ambiguous deals that do not serve the public good in closing the gap between the haves and the have nots.
But now that the building and surrounding land at Coubaril will be restored, hopefully the community will return to its accustomed sense of tranquility that all can continue to enjoy. And to welcome new residents, including ministers of government who would someday call Coubaril home.
The other matter of similarity on the radar is that of the residents of Trouya Pointe raising objection to a proposal to change the land use of properties in their community from single family residential to multi-family villas and a hotel with spa and restaurant.
Emma Hippolyte, the area district representative, has indicated that she had no knowledge of the proposal beyond what has been reported in the media and vows to support the residents in their effort to stop this proposal.
But since the right hand knows not what the left hand is doing, the address to delegates lends clarity. It reads:
"We must care for all of our children, the inheritors of our future… we reaffirm that we are the guardians of our environment. This declaration is not new. That, too, I announced in my maiden address to you in Laborie in 1996. We declared our commitment to be protectors of our patrimony long before it became vogue for other political parties in our region to do so."~ Kenny Anthony.
Clearly, Labour is in the midst of paralysis, and as such is blaming somebody else but themselves for their bad policies that are not working. Their approach has no honest choices. It is hidden with discrimination and gridlock and a messy reality in a system of distraction and extortion. One that is propagated by ideological platitudes, in a system, that won't put money by way of employment into the wallets of the people of Saint Lucia.
Hopefully, soon from now, finding solutions will be possible, working together to improving globally competitiveness and compatibility with global standards. But, to achieve this, the utilization of resources is necessary to restore the middle and working class agenda with a coherent, comprehensive strategy of collaboration to transform policy for future results.
Most importantly, such will be carried out in an inclusive manner and not imposed, or to feel that without the party of substance, SLP, then who else? After all, the essence of governance is to represent and engage the people and not marshal them adversely.
Otherwise everyone will be farther out at sea, and still wondering. What went wrong? Buckle your seat belts Saint Lucia!