Under Saint Lucia’s party control system, defining a distinctive edge to untapped generation change, accompanied by political change is nonexistent. Alongside this backdrop, an unreal strategic assessment of market conditions and unrelated investment is contributing to widening the socio-economic divide.
Based on this approach, market fragmentation is assisting to ensure party elite’s interest become the will of the people in the institutions of state power. The take away from this is despite the fact that Saint Lucia is endowed with a natural environment, and many competitive options there is little room for comfort in a disruptive marketplace poorly inhabited with deepening inequality.
Outside the spectacle of theatre, the business community is on the rocks with an almost indefensible feeling, contemplating their next move.
Like the economy, government continues to fail in the delivery of the most basic services.
Access and affordability to good health care is inadequate. The educational system is problematic. Attention to sanitation is poor. The delivery of reliable drinking water, housing, a reliable food source and dependable security has outgrown present day suitability.
And it does not take much visual insight and intellectual competence to sum up the adverse impact of these unacceptable basic deficiencies to people and country.
Statistics of distraction
Irrespective of the applicable concepts of political distraction, people are up in arms; they have not progressed by definition, and done well as expected from increases in tourism arrivals!
According to tourism officials, visitor arrivals to the region were up 6% at the end of the first quarter, whilst Saint Lucia alone recorded a 6.4% growth over the same period last year. At the end of the first five months of the year, total stay-over arrivals to the island were 159,077; up 5.5% from the same period in 2014.
Ideally, this crescendo should be stacked up against modest development, along with an impact assessment on the business community, climate change, farmers, vendors, and to what extent service providers have taken ownership of the industry!
This information is essential to understand the real statistics that matter; the socio-economic impact on the overall economy and deprivation strategies.
But really, are Saint Lucians feeling the effects of 6.4% increase and previous figures over the last three years that show record arrivals? The answer is an obvious no!
The troubling evidence is a visible decline in visitor expenditure and buoyancy in the economy, which is in sync with the common reality, except government handlers are carefully muzzled to disclose and prescribe otherwise.
In the politics of statistics, attention is adjudicated to perception, focusing on what will most likely sink-in with a distracted electorate. And since statistics work in this instance, repetition is relentless for credit ratings by a deficient government, up to its neck in debt, unable to make a difference in the lives of people and country.
The important factor at play is Saint Lucia’s hopeless future of indebtedness on the heels of general election as creditors and decision makers look over the island fiscal structure with significant fear.
The visible indignity
Definitely, a change in mindset on what do to is required to gain forward momentum.
Recently, public–private partnership (P3s or PPP), is bandied around by the ardent socialist government of Saint Lucia, as if to having uncovered a novel concept. In any case, better late than never. However, it important to acknowledge, that P3s are a vital investment and development component for economic upturn.
On the other hand, when the pathway is influenced by external factors, with advance capability, to list Saint Lucia at number five on the slowest projected annual growth rate, or CAGR, from 2014 through 2017, based on the forecasts from the World Bank’s Global Economic Prospects 2015GDP: -0.60% 2016 GDP: +0.80% 2017 GDP: +1.40% 2014-17 GDP CAGR: +0.15%, among countries like: Ukraine, Venezuela, Libya, Belarus, Russia, Serbia, Brazil and Yemen – this is an about turn!
Appropriately, this report has stirred much discussion, but what should be taken away from this is Saint Lucia’s economy has been in a zombie state for the past four years, with no end in sight and borrowing heavily to quench the thirst for magnified expenditure.
Therefore, if the government “look before you leap” position is worthy of confirmation that “it is now clear that the figures attributed to the World Bank are incorrect and outdated,” then, are the numbers reported in the budget annually and information reported to other international institutions “incorrect and outdated”?
Because, irrespective of the attacks across the aisle, these numbers are significant in the global marketplace, with long lasting implications to Saint Lucia’s reputation and business classification which is already unfavourable at best.
The other aspect of significance is the European Union blacklist of the world’s worst tax havens.
It is encouraging that Saint Lucia was not placed on the list, unlike other Caribbean islands that were not so fortunate. However, there is work to be done and the Caribbean region must respond to this situation with collective action!
The instructive way
It has come to pass that the finance minister is unable to put the Saint Lucian economy in order, and hold persons responsible for the current dilemma.
Pretence will not deliver the prescription for development; therefore, cutting off the hands of corruption is a course correction that must be undertaken to uphold international covenants and preserve sovereignty.
Overcoming the current crisis is finding new paths to fairness and growth; meanwhile it should be made clear that the government of Saint Lucia cannot continue to show scant regard for accountability and transparency, to satisfy their mendicant habits with other people’s money.
Next, it is most critical that the finance minister undergoes a transformation to understand that the laws of finance should trump dark political art form that is incomparable with good governance, logic, arithmetic and science. And to reflect true priorities get funded to unlock economic potential.
Seeking a shortcut through the sale of Saint Lucian passports, the sale of the Queen’s chain and other prime holdings covertly, is ill advised at this time of unfettered risk, even though, favourable punctuated by party elites, with deep interest.
Industry observers note that the residence and citizenship programme as presented is flavored at the behest of intoxication, committed to the art form of prostitution on Saint Lucia’s patrimony, comprising the affluent Lambirds matter, IMPACS, the Cuban visa mystery and the possible smuggling ring in Saint Lucia that continues to boggle the minds of the professed best brains.
The reality is, when politicians and bureaucratic interest don’t know what to do, they resort to raising process issues, which leaves the situation vulnerable to political charlatans, which tend to muddy the water in search of an escape route.
The fact of the matter is the elephant is still in the room and it is only an illusion to think that with time it will disappear or succumb to a natural death.
What this will trigger is an expeditious encounter with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ).
These are some of the public issues overdue for in-depth analysis and correction, if the blindfolds of the state apparatus are favourable to light and the well being of the people and country. In contrast to the blindfolds and clever tailspins of deep seated benefactors.
It’s like ignoring the law of gravity.
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 protected]