Thursday, December 21, 2017

Happy Birthday Andre Jn Baptiste


What is truly amazing about Dwight's Birthday is that that it reminds me of my dad bithday as well. both are on December 21st. What a great gift to have - myour first son has the same birthday as his grand dad.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Will Choiseul Get a Mini Stadium Operational By 2020?

There is much talk around this second year of Bradley’s tenure. The talk is that he step up to the plate and deliver a mini stadium for Choiseul.  Among those clamouring for this stadium are one top security expert and a retired youth sports director. “Bradley en have to do much. Just give the youth a stadium and his body press.” The two kept echoing in unison.  Hmmm! I moaned. With Chastanet focused on that economic recovery campaign for St Lucia, will he pump monies into a Choiseul facility?
Rufus and Lorne - the non-deliverers
During Rufus Bousquet’s tenure as Parliamentary Rep he secured some funds towards the building of a mini stadium. To my knowledge a feasibility study was done - site tested and design plans were already in the works. Bousquet lost the elections and things came to a standstill. (Take the poll on the right)

One would have thought that Lorne Theophilus would have taken on this project but rather he was more hell bent on making his base believe that the stadium money was no more. So four and a half years went by and the mini stadium was on the back burner. By the way, it is now being alleged that all the stadium monies was there at the Choiseul Credit Union and that the last administration withdrew and lodged it into the consolidated funds. (Par mwen kee de ee). So what now?

I have always been an advocate of top quality facilities for our local sportsmen and women. I guess that’s why I stayed so close to Rufus with the hope that this stadium would come to fruition. What a waste of my time and energy!

Soufriere Mini Stadium
My heart aches every time I hear of an activity at the Soufriere stadium – we should have had a stadium by then I keep saying to myself. I recall the deceased Bolo reposting an article I wrote about my utter disappointment in Rufus in his blog post at  

Fast forward. Choiseul to my mind is committed to promoting and developing a strong sporting culture in the communities as well as raising our national and regional profile in sports. In realizing this vision, our overall strategies should be: (a) promoting “Sports for All”; (b) fostering high performance sports; and (c) promoting Choiseul as an attractive venue for hosting districts sports events.

At present, the Choiseul/Saltibus Constituency Council (CSCC) maintains over 3 different sports venues in Choiseul. Among the larger venues are the La Fargue and the Piaye grounds. These are often used for holding major sports events like cricket, football and athletics, as well as large-scale political rallies. However, these playing grounds do not have changing accommodations for players, poor seating facilities and do not match up to national standards like the facilities in Soufriere and Vieux Fort, just to name the two closest ones. It’s time that a new modern, multi-purpose mini stadium should be developed.

So what do I have in mind for this stadium?
  • A stadium with a minimum seating capacity of 3,000 spectators with capability to extend to 5,000.
  • The stadium could cater for all types of sports events, entertainment events, concerts, conferences, product exhibitions political rallies;
  • Sufficient car parking areas, and landscape features.
  • The stadium to house government institutions in the district – Choiseul/Saltibus Constituency Council, Environmental Health Office and Youth Officer Office

Bradley Felix in great company
The fundamental premises for building a new multi-purpose stadium are:
  1. A stadium can attract more national sports events to be held in Choiseul. This, in turn, would help raise Choiseul’s sports profile, as well as attract investment and business opportunities;
  2. A modern and well-equipped facility could provide a better training environment for our sportsmen and women would help improve their performance in local, national, regional and hopefully international events;
  3. Such facility would also generate local interest in sports, and encourage wider community participation in sports activities, including raising their interest in watching large-scale sports events; and
  4. There are successful examples in our neighbouring towns, such as Vieux Fort and Soufriere in operating a stadium in facilitating sports development.

The stadium to my mind will involve substantial investment. The site would be required both the small and large field at La Fargue for the construction of the proposed stadium and its ancillary facilities.

 I am no quantitative surveyor and cannot give an estimate on how much the project will cost.

How could the stadium be funded?
  • Well for starters we already have $600,000.00 more or less in a consolidated fund. Don’t forget it’s our money.
  • Through donations from friendly countries. Minister of foreign affairs…get to work.
  •  Private sector participation – in view of the construction cost, participation by the private sector in the financing, construction, operation and management of the stadium should be considered.
  • Funding schemes involving tax-exempted bonds
  • National lotteries

NB: In the United States creating stadium proposals is one method by which governmental bodies can obtain financing necessary to build new stadiums. Once a legislative body or general public approves a stadium plan, the governmental body authorized to issue bonds to pay for the stadium sells the bonds to the investors. The government then pays the investors according to the funding source authorized by the approval of the plan. (Could we not copy that model?)

But I have my worries too, about this stadium.  I envisaged that the proposed stadium may not be able to generate enough recurrent revenue to cover recurrent operating costs. Will the stadium be able to make sufficient funds to pay its utility bills and maintain its staff or will the government foot the bills - Beausejour immediately comes to mind – Spider’s statement at the last budget debate. Could the Choiseul/Saltibus Constituency Council or some other operating agent profitably run this sport facility? Your guess is as good as mine.

Well then what are the alternatives?
  1. The future operating cost could be fully borne by an operating agent, or the Government could provide funding or subsidy. If Government should contribute to the operating expenses, the funding formula should be carefully worked out.
  2.  Advertising, premium seating, naming rights, personal seat licenses, and revenue from concession stands  and other revenue generating sources should be explored

If you are genuinely in favour of a mini stadium for Choiseul make your voice heard on:
  • (a) the need for a multi-purpose stadium in Choiseul; 
  • (b) how the stadium should be funded; 
  • (c) other key issues that Government should consider in relation to the  stadium development; 
  • and (d)  the proposed way forward as regards to operating the facility.
2020 vision for this mini stadium - hope it materialises.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Is The PM Telling Lucians Enough About DSH?

At a political meeting in his constituency, Alva Baptiste was quoted as saying “No Army, no election needed to stop DSH.” Is DSH so bad that it merits such statement from a seasoned politician I thought to myself? On the other hand,is the present government, the PM in particular, to blame for all the rhetoric being spewed about the project. What is the truth about the project?
DSH project

There appears to be a lack of genuine concern on the part of government to sell the project to St Lucians. It is being widely suggested that the Prime Minister seems to be the only visible government pushing the DSH project. (We have heard certain Government Ministers agree that there are clauses which are unacceptable.) Granted he may be the only one of the lot who may have detailed information about it, however there is enough material about the project in the public domain for every government minister to trumpet its worth. Why is it not being done?

“Choiseul on the Move” believes that this is a national issue which has far reaching implications for every Saint Lucian today and in the future. There has to be more transparency on this matter. Saint Lucians must make informed decisions on such a significant project. 

Over the last several weeks and months the United Workers Party has noted with increasing concern, as the Saint Lucia Labour Party, in various guises campaigned against the much needed development in the south, in particular the DSH project.

The Government must come clean on DSH and involve the people in deciding what is acceptable in the DSH project. Why? According to SLP, “Because this is not a single hotel project but a major project involving over 900 acres of mainly public lands, which will affect a national reserve and force the relocation of hundreds of citizens. It involves offering thousands of Saint Lucian passports for sale which will affect the identity and sovereignty of our people. This is a national issue with huge repercussions for generations yet to come.”

There is sufficient talk going around that speaks to Government’s claim that the project will bring economic deliverance to an economically starved Vieux Fort is being seen as a move to wrest the southern part of the island from the SLP representation in parliament.

It is also clear that there is no consistency, accountability or transparency in the way the Government deals with the people. Other examples include (CIP, and Dolphin Park) on how the Prime Minister and the Government say one thing today and another thing tomorrow.

The UWP Government has indicated that it is attempting to renegotiate parts of the Agreement. There are still some burning issues which the PM and his government needs to clarify for the citizens of this country:

1: The Framework Agreement provided for the establishment of an Escrow Account in a foreign jurisdiction, will the Government require that the Escrow account be held in Saint Lucia?

2: The Framework Account provides for the holding of CIP monies by the developer in the Escrow account to fund races and pay for the operations of the race track, will the Government reject that the sale of our passports be used for the Developer to operate the race track?

3: How much finance is the developer contributing to the Project and how much is requested as CIP financing?

It needs to be noted here that we too, in the Choiseul/Saltibus Constituency 1. Be updated and 2. have our voices be heard on the DSH project. Would TownHall meetings be too much to ask for?
In closing “ Choiseul On The Move” would like the PM and his government to lay the cards on the table and be more forthcoming about development projects.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Choiseul/Saltibus Constituency Council Appoints Supervisor For The Caretaker Program 2017 -2018

Desmond "Jerry" Calderon at Meeting
The Choiseul Old Boys’ School was the venue for a meeting scheduled by the Choiseul/Saltibus Constituency Council on Wednesday July 26, 2017. Though scheduled to start at 9:00 am - the meeting eventually got underway about 10:05am – did that surprise you? The usual Lucian time in effect.

The purpose of the meeting was to award and renew contracts for the Government's Caretaker Program in the Constituency which is scheduled to start on August 1, 2017.

The meeting was opened by the Mrs Enora Justin, the Village Clerk who welcomed those 30 or so persons present. She gave a brief rundown of what is expected from all caretakers and the importance of doing a neat job and within the specified monthly dates – the 1st – 15th

She also made mention of a one-time $50 fee  which will be withdrawn from the first wage to take care of insurance for the caretaker in case of liabilities during operations on the road. What however stunned me was the fact she said “If you are found to be negligent the burden is yours.” This needs further clarification.

There appears to be a significant change in the program this year. Whereas the caretakers were expected to work for four straight months, this year they have been mandated to work still for the four months but on an alternative basis – every other month. Therefore their contract starts in August and ends in February 2018.

Following Mrs Justin’s comments the floor was opened for any questions. The main concern by a few members was their inability to get in contact with the works supervisor. Many irate caretakers, though not addressing their concerns directly to Ms Justin could be heard mumbling their displeasure about incidents which they had to undergo during the life of the previous contract period.

Hmmm, did the Council get wind of this and hence the reason for appointing a new supervisor? It surely smells like that. Mr Desmond Calderon aka Jerry is the new supervisor of the program for this period and was welcomed by the caretakers. In his short speech to his team he made his position clear that he is a no-nonsense, easy-going person that he expects everyone to do their duty as stated on their contracts.  He asked that persons "work smarter" feel free to call him Jerry and contact him anytime when faced with issues pertaining to the their work.
                                          Mr Calderon bonds with his Team
Jerry's responsibilities among others, are for ensuring that the each contractor does his/her work as stipulated by the contract terms and in turn report to the Council on the status of work done for payment processing.

Mr Brian Charles, the Council’s Chairman gave a few remarks where he more or less reiterated the Clerk’s statements. Following this the caretakers  were asked to confirm their bank account numbers on the contract and signed the document.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Finally,The Dream Came True - Bradley and not Lorne Turns the Sod!

Sunset Resort
Good day! First of all let me apologize to my readers for such a long lapse since posting an article. Circumstances beyond my control plus work pressures have all had their fair share in this delay.

However I was kinda pushed to write this piece, when I read a tweet on my tweeter account -"Invest St Lucia and the Government of SLU will today be engaged in the Sod Turning Ceremony of the Fairmont Hotel, Sab Wisha, Choiseul. The event is hosted by Invest St Lucia." Wow!

I had already gotten wind of this when the Minister for Tourism made mention of this in his presentation at the House last Tuesday. However the day was not mentioned. Bravo!

Coming to think about this, my respect for our District Representative has quadrupled. Unlike the members on the other side of the divide who appear to destroy/get rid of everything which bears the signature of the United Workers Party whenever the former comes into office after being in opposition - the Balembouche/Rivere Doree Lands is a shining example but this is for another show.

Bradley, the Rep, has made it crystal clears that anything he comes across whether it is by the SLP or not, once it will benefit his constituents he will continue with it. Don't be surprised if you hear the SLP surrogates say that this Hotel is a Lorne project.  No its not or to be fair,partly.

The resort when  is expected to:-

1.  Project costing between one hundred and seventy to two hundred million US dollars, 
2.  Expected to be a four and a half to five star boutique-type property.
3.  Include a craft component enabling craft to be produced and sold at the resort.
4.  Major job opportunities during the different phases of construction of the Sunset Bay resort, utilizing the number of skilled workers of the Choiseul community.
5.  Expand opportunities for tourism linkages including tours, taxis, fisheries and agriculture,

Lorne knew very well that the propaganda he was spreading before the elections about the sod turning ceremony was solely a ploy to get votes. Nothing was in place to get this project off the ground because Planning had not given the Ok, "They are expecting all things being equal, from start to completion to take between fourteen to sixteen months,” he reiterated.

Plans were not finalized and so much had to be done that was still pending, so to say that he Lorne was about to go ahead with the sod turning ceremony was a political bluff - SLP's forte. 

The sod turning ceremony is expected to start at 3:00 pm today. Present at the ceremony will be the The Hon Prime Minister, The Minister of Tourism, The District representative, Chairpersons from the different Constituencies and Invest St Luc

The general public is invited.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

"To Eat Economic Omlettes,We Must Break Ecological/Enviromenal Eggs" - Pastrol

Pastrol Konsant
DSH! So the development that is planned in VF has been a source of serious contention for some time now, and quite rightly so. As far as designs and plans go, it will wreak havoc on the ecological landscape of that part of Vieux-Fort. This part is undeniable!!! Another undeniable issue is that the St.Lucian economy has had minimal growth, if any, for some time now and "tings rough" to put it mildly.

We now have to make some very difficult decisions, decisions that we will be able to reverse!! This coming from someone who's career focus is now a hybrid of Civil Engineering and Environmental Studies, I believe that we NEED DSH!! We have to choose between the extinction of species[bad] and the extinction of people[far worse]. That is what we are dealing with here.

The economic benefits of this project, in my opinion, far outweigh the negative repercussions that will undoubtedly occur. We need to choose the lesser of two evils: an economic injection with obvious pitfalls or continued hardship for so many citizens of St. Lucia.

The DSH Project
We all want to eat that economic omelette, well ladies and gentlemen, we must break some ecological/environmental eggs. What we need to do now is try to find ways to preserve the endemic species, if possible, before this project begins causing damage.

Humans are invasive species, we have invaded all the lands that were once filled with flourishing flora and fauna and life still goes on. After DSH, life will continue to go on but I'm confident in a much more economically progressive manner for the citizens of St.Lucia.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Choiseul Mourns The Passing of Dr Augustin Charles

Dr Augustin Charles
Early this morning social media was buzzing with the news of the passing of Dr Agustin Charles aka King Bolo – a blogger, educator, public servant and activist.  Many took it to be Fake News.

 I remember forwarding the news to a comrade who instantly replied, “Sorry. Just checked and found out that’s fake. Sorry.” Well my dear readers this is not Fake News. Bolo passed on Easter Sunday 2017, at about 3:25am. 

Dr Charles who had been down for a while suffered from some neurological issue – that’s how he put it to me in one of our frequent early morning convos via WhatsApp. In spite of his illness he was well spirited, cracking a few jokes here and there and revisiting our old times together.

Who was Dr Augustin Charles? Not many can give a conclusive report on this icon. – He was multi-talented with a brilliant brain, yet very compassionate human being and family man. However, St Lucia News Online did a fairly good write up. 

The article in part reads:-

“...........He is well-known for his contributions to the popular Facebook group, SLAPS (St. Lucians Aiming for Progress). His passion for current affairs and news was also displayed on his blog, Choiseul Powerhouse.

                                                     Tribute to King Bolo
Also known as King Bolo, Dr. Charles served as deputy permanent secretary (DPS) and also officer in charge of the Ministry of Communications, Works, Transport & Public Utilities (now Ministry of Infrastructure) and also DPS and acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Social Transformation, Community Services and Local Government.

He was a science, mathematics information technology and physics teacher as well as head of the Science Department at Choiseul Secondary School.

Dr. Charles also served as principal of St Mary’s College, chairman of the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) Programme of Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), deputy chairman of the Road & Transport Board and a member of the Training/Development Committee.

Dr. Charles was a UWI scholar with an undergraduate degree (honours), a master’s degree and a PhD degree in science education (majoring in research and teaching of physics). He also attended Florida A&M University and Arizona State University.

He served in numerous capacities at both the local and national levels including deputy chairman (Choiseul Village Council); president, Choiseul Youth Organisation & Hills Sports and Cultural Club; president, secretary and treasurer (Choiseul Credit Union Ltd) and also represented the Credit Union and St. Lucia Cooperative at regional conferences and seminars.

He also served as a director on the Board of the St. Lucia Marine Terminals Ltd (SLMTL) and Prime Minister’s of the National Awards Committee, chairman of the National Conservation Authority and the Board of the St. Lucia Electricity Services (LUCELEC).

Dr. Charles was the father of five children – three males and two females.”

His body now lies at Crick’s Funeral home at Rivere Doree.


Friday, March 31, 2017

Choiseul Credit Union Behind By $2m Plus In Minimum Share Requirements Says Silvanus Fontenard

Mr Silvanus Fontenard
In a recent FaceBook post by Silvanus Fontenard, I came across this article which to my mind makes for interesting reading. Here is the full post, unedited.
"From January 2010 to December 2012 I pleaded with the Board of the Choiseul Credit Union to commence an aggressive and proactive process of selling permanent shares to members to enable the society to be compliant with the regulations of the FSRA.

 But all board members vehemently opposed the recommendation on the advice of a new board member who misunderstood the system, but whom they thought was the St Lucia's best authority on credit union management.

 But guess what? At the end of December 2016, and seven years later, the society fell behind the minimum share requirements by close to 2.5 million dollars and now have to make the adjustment by transferring large amounts to permanent shares to become compliant.

Wouldn't have been much easier on members if the process had been commenced seven years ago? I guess when people practice hatred instead of being businesslike these are the consequences. I wonder what the fool who mislead them is saying now.

 By the way I was just informed that he has just been reelected to serve for another three years to continue to mislead the society and take it deeper into the risk of possible deregulation.

 My advice to members though is that you should be proactive and buy as many permanent Shares as possible to protect your organization.

 Many board and committee members don't really care about the future of the credit Union, They are more interested in the power derived from serving, using the Society to promote their partisan political agenda or the perks such as traveling to conventions and summits and as a result do not even read the regulations and the policies .

What is most important is that the Society belongs to the membership and as a result you should all act to protect and secure its future for your children . So I advise you all to invest at least 10 percent of your savings in Permanent Shares to ensure that you not only meet the regulations but exceed it - This way you will always be ahead of the pact and can become a model organization again just as it was in the 1990's."

To make the Credit Union more sensitive to the needs of its members, Fonte thinks that certain measures must be taken. He says.

 “St Lucia needs a very tough Registrar of Credit Unions who will insist that regulations are adhered to and place heavy fines on delinquent officers who violate the regulations - This way there will always be full compliance.

Our Registrars are just playing games and this is why Elected Credit Union officials are able to break the law and get re-elected year after year.

Imagine a man who had a history of delinquency was allowed to sit on a Credit Union Board and ends up rising to the post of president while the registrar and the supervisory committee stands by - All because of partisan politics."

Why aren't you part of the board......did you opt out or didn't take part in the election/nomination process? Someone asked Fonte.

“My time at Choiseul Credit Union ended over four years ago, when the crooked board members stated that they did not want to work with me because I stood against the extortion which some were practicing as well as the refusal to undertake practices to secure a safe and sustainable future for the society.
 I don't think I will even set foot in there anymore.

My hope though is that members will open their eyes and not leave but make changes including getting rid of the crooked people who hold office”

Tuesday, February 21, 2017