Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy has called on government to implement changes within itself which will allow the country to be more productive, efficient in its operations and better able to attract investment.
Delivering her Throne Speech at the start of a new parliamentary session on Tuesday, the governor general said that like many other countries, Saint Lucia’s government “has become bigger than we can afford.” She therefore urged the Saint Lucia Labour Party administration to spend cautiously.
“This is an issue that confronts many countries worldwide. However, we do not have the luxury of vast resources and reserves as do some others. We must ensure that government spends only what it can afford,” she said.
Becoming more productive and effective at what it does is a must for the government, according to her.
“The time it takes to access a service, the value-for-money afforded to a community, the ability to implement a project effectively; these are the things that will matter to the public. Government’s way of doing business affects everyone’s business, and is everyone’s business,” she added.
The governor general further proposed that government improve on its management and implementation capabilities in order to foster and promote an agenda of reform which yield results.
“Time if of the essence,” she said, while adding, “we cannot allow projects to languish, not for want of money, but for a want of leadership,” she added.
“This country needs transformative leadership, not just in the political recesses of the state, but in our ministries, our schools, police stations, trade unions, businesses, non-governmental organisations (NGO’s); indeed, everywhere that decisions are made,” she said.
With regard to the economy, the governor general believes that remedying the unemployment situation is the only way to become globally competitive and develop an export-driven economy.
She said that while there are signs of “excessive consumption” on the island, it is “not productive enough.”
“This emphasis on exports will require an up-to-date, live understanding of what is in demand in the world; what we can sell to the world profitably, whether through the export of goods or services,” she said.
“Saint Lucia must leverage its resources more; its once-pristine environment, its sea, and of course its ingenious people. Investing more in our people, in their minds and abilities is the only sure way to secure our treasure,” she stated.
She believes that science and technology should be embraced in order to allow the country to increase food production, secure reliable sources of clean water and reduce on its own carbon footprint.
The governor general however said that the proposed policies, while they can lead to a better St. Lucia, are not magical and will not bring about immediate gratification. She said that some of the measures which are necessary to achieve these goals may not be what many want.
“They are even painful at times, but the end result will be worth more in the long run than the sacrifice today,” she said, further pointing out that “We may well have to venture down new paths, including paths we loathed and repudiated. Of things that we once held sacred we may have to ask ourselves the question, why? We shall have to be critical of ourselves, of the way we do things, and the reasons we have not been as successful as we would have liked.”