COMMENTARY: Dr. Rigobert’s Barbados connection – what’s new?

Melanius Alphonse

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Melanius Alphonse

On Wednesday, March 19, and as a matter of normalcy, the leader of the Saint Lucia Parliamentary Opposition Dr. Gale Rigobert and United Workers Party (UWP) Political Leader Allen Chastanet pronounced that their recent trip to Barbados on March 10 was a success.

Dr. Gale Rigobert and UWP Political Leader Allen Chastanet alluded to meeting with public and private sector representatives to discuss a number of issues, including meetings that were part of the party’s policy development strategy ahead of the next general elections and its possible return to government.

Dr. Rigobert said, “The trip to Barbados was very productive. We were able to consult with members of the diplomatic corps, various development agencies, persons in academia, and we had conversations with both in government and opposition.

A common sentiment expressed was that Saint Lucia is “in serious economic problems. The topic of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) came up over and over again …. we have really, really arrived at a very bleak position in our economic development, as a significant economic contraction in the Saint Lucian economy, which now has an unemployment rate of 25 percent.”

Dr. Rigobert said the discussions also presented an opportunity to exchange ideas on tackling the common economic issues confronting the region, and to come up with prescriptive policies to address them.

Certainly, nothing as reported seems productive on the trip to Barbados that supports the opposition party’s claim that it is ready to assume governance of this country. The real truth to this trip may very well be unmasked in the not-too-distant future.

My view is that this trip was predicated on intelligence gathering and follow-up on unfinished business.

However, it would have been more productive to get a sense and to engage the Caribbean islands that are reporting growth for themselves and the region if the real reason was economic and policy consideration for growth and development.

Getting acquainted with the economic situations in Caribbean islands and to take precautionary steps to prevent potential economic problems is not a onetime wonder predicated on random meetings and talk shops. In addition to considering these meetings as a part of preparations for Saint Lucia’s upcoming 2014/15 National Budget and policy formulation is in itself a whitewash of things to come.

The achievements that Saint Lucia should emulate are one of growth and development not regressive economics and policies predicated on Cold War theories that the UWP is relentlessly consumed with. A better exercise would be to examine what St Kitts-Nevis is doing to have achiever economic growth of 1.7 percent in 2013, projected to rise to between 2.5 and three percent in 2014, albeit the government pressures to debate an opposition motion of no confidence, and calls for the ousting of Prime Minister Denzil Douglas.

On Wednesday, Zhu Min, a Chinese economist and the deputy managing director and acting chair of the International Monetary Fund issued the following statement: “The St Kitts and Nevis authorities have continued to make commendable progress under their home-grown Fund-supported program. Economic activity is picking up after a four-year slump, inflation remains low, the financial sector is stable, and the fiscal and external positions are improving. Significant progress has also been made to strengthen public financial management.”

The secret to economic growth is not magical. Saint Lucia’s policymakers have for decade’s pussyfooted around with the islands natural resources and ability to produce the capital goods and services required for growth and development. As a result the marketplace is saddled with heavy imports and a large balance of payments deficit.

To lessen Saint Lucia’s vulnerabilities and to improve job creation, it has been said repetitively that priority should be given to measures to enhance revenues by promoting growth and development, improve physical infrastructure, and streamline tax administration and public expenditure through civil service reform.

Following the comments of the leader of the opposition Dr Gale Rigobert, it is clear she has exhausted her limited capacity to chart a new course forward that encompasses a diversification of production and functional cooperation, which are some successful areas of cooperation to lift the sufferings of the people of Saint Lucia.

Because of poor planning, poor spending, and a lack of vision for growth and development, the tailspin of dependency and corruption should be shed.

There are options available in a 21-point progressive option, both Dr. Kenny Anthony’s Labour government and the Leader of the Opposition Dr. Gale Rigobert should borrow Keynesians’ liberal economic days are gone:

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) critic on youth initiative, infrastructure, economic and business development. He can be reached at [email protected]

This article was posted in its entirety as received by This media house does not correct any spelling or grammatical error within press releases and commentaries. The views expressed therein are not necessarily those of, its sponsors or advertisers.


  1. You know that I know

    Do you want us to do like St Kitts/Nevis, establish a citizenship by investment programme to sell passports to Iranian? Diplomatic passport costing about $1 million.

  2. Are there any fundamental differences between the two main political parties in SLU ? I’ve tried to answer this questions so many times and I can’t, can anyone help ? They’re both driven by the need to retain power by any means necessary, and don’t shy away from employing cheap political strategies to retain power. GIGO: Garbage in – Garbage out !!!

  3. My sentiments exactly.

  4. Gale is a fear-monger! Kenny said that there will be no layoffs, so what the bloody hell is she talking about?
    Hurricane Allen with Gale-force winds, should understand that Barbados is NOT our overseer anymore, like them, we are and independent State within the Monarchy. I think these two just wanted to go on holidays cuz the whole thing is just weird.

  5. You know that I know

    I agree that advice could have been sort from St Kitts/Nevis. After we saw the Dominica PM behaviour during the SLP convention, would you trust going to St Kitts/Nevis, knowing that he is also a buddy of Dr. Kenny Anthony? Maybe they could have check our own, Ubaldus Raymond, from the Turks and Caicos Islands.
    Do we really had to go anyway or did they really want to go anywhere? Didn’t Miss Rigobert state that the information was not forth coming in St Lucia? Would you trust this government to give the opposition the right information? They have been giving the public the wrong information on Bananas and Tourism.

  6. St Lucia is too small to be able to sustain completely contradictory styles of government. Once a direction is set it needs to followed through to completion, even if the governing party changes. This can only work if a consensus is reached during policy formation process. You can’t keep having one party come up with an airport redevelopment then the other changes it, for example.

    ‘Growth’ is also a misleading term. If the government borrows £100,000, then the economy has nominally increased – but it’s borrowed money! Gale appears to join a long line of policitians who want power and don’t actually know they they want it for. The best politicians would be honest and tell the people the truth: that you have to rely on yourself first to put bread on the table. No government will ever make the people rich, but they can set the economic conditions to allow people to thrive.

    • Brilliant comment.
      I have lamented same.

      As an English Professor stated; Politicians in the Caribbean are detrimental to the Economic growth and prosperity to our islands, based on not following up on what was previously set with an open mindset based on any project’s viability and importance.

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