The art of the bluff and polarization in Saint Lucia
Logic suggests that we have not had any historical examples to review lowering standards, the spectacle of dysfunction and open warfare to blame for historic political and economic imbalances in which ad hoc and irrational dealings threaten the interest of everyone in Saint Lucia.
Since coming into office in June 2016, the government has consistently shed light on the country’s debt, yet is unable to recognise Desert Star Holdings (DSH) “Pearl of the Caribbean”, described in glowing terms, actually carries extreme financial risk and probable economic collapse akin to the glossy expenditure and revenues estimates for 2017/18.
The Invest St Lucia business proposal assessment reads, “From the financials presented, the developers’ viability and their profit is clear, however the ongoing viability of the project has not been highlighted.”
“Also, DSH has informed that the minimum number of CIP funding required before initiating the project would be 90% of the project cost, this further illustrates that this project is solely reliant on CIP. This is a high threshold to meet, which has not been substantiated through details on their sales and marketing strategy.”
Here’s what this tells us. ‘Pearl of the Caribbean’ is not the economic revolution that will take mankind into economic and social salvation.
It is simply a prestige project with abstract concepts that pose economic adversity, security challenges and environmental re-orientation spanning ’99 years for the consideration of US$1 per acre’.
When the government of Saint Lucia refuses to acknowledge, for obvious reasons, any part of the well publicised DSH agreement, although now a document tabled in the House of Assembly, this gives the impression that there is something to hide, something that will paralyze Saint Lucia more than it is already and very possibly become a client state of China.
What many Saint Lucians fear is tightening the grip of exclusion that has begun to emerge in agreements, cabinet conclusions, inclusive of No.530 of 2017, and marketing concepts that share a brand of numeric fantasy.
Thus, powered by expectations, there is an influx of start-up “zombie companies”, padding risk bordering on “malfeasance”.
These pose a threat in the shape of both a severe debt trap and potential cultural rivalry that may soon evolve into extremism. Monitoring this requires knowledge of history, inclusive of appropriate corrective measures. Devoid of such, the country will be caught behind the curve and the people left wondering – what happened, how did we get there?
International politics and foreign relations are changing rapidly. China’s Caribbean interest is a strategic demonstration of economic power, inserting greater influence on matters of sovereignty, security and development interests, while looking to Europe and Asia for markets of the future. In turn, Europe is looking to build, leaning on China.
This is a landmark moment. But ‘America First’ is leaning towards a policy shift to employ Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 to fend off China’s demands, and allow investigation into China’s trade practices, raise tariffs on imports from China or impose other sanctions.
Meanwhile, a meeting of trade ministers from China, Brazil, Russia and India recently concluded, agreeing to promote international cooperation and oppose “trade and investment protectionism”.
“Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none.” ~ Thomas Jefferson.
The government of Saint Lucia must employ a smart and deep-seated perspective to unclog its thinking along the lines of an Economic Development Council (EDC) to help restore faith where strange math and the abandonment of data and facts are deemed extraneous.
And at the other end of the spectrum, bridge the gap to put forward legislation, offer solutions and guidance on development ideas and plans to achievable goals for economic intensification.
This illustrates the need for a robust economic development program; an interactive foreign policy, trade, monetary, financial, economic, health care and institutional remodelling of systems, with deeper engagement with the people and mitigating future risk.
With great power comes great responsibility. Character, ethics and intelligence are important. It is time to face looming questions on the future direction of Saint Lucia in order to avert the permanent low ebb.
Part 1: Intelligence and the modern triangle
Part 3: Saint Lucia’s foreign policy dilemma (coming up)