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‘Five to stay alive’? A vision that isn’t! (commentary)

By Melanius Alphonse
Melanius Alphonso

Melanius Alphonso

PRESS RELEASE – The general election is yet another defining moment that presents the opportunity to determine the future of Saint Lucia.

But it is hard to hold off the pessimism in a system where blind adventure is conventional in the political orbit of the lesser evils. Particularly, when policy ideas bring new life to living a lie that barely responds to current realities. 

The core problem of which is that the precise nuisance of “five to stay alive”, is a political testament, tradition of imaginative flattery to placate involuntary submission.

The political obit

Political clichés such as one good term deserves another, better days, change is coming, and the latest “five to stay alive” is rhetorical masquerade that compounds revenue constraints and clearly designed to bamboozle fragile thought processes. This is a common flavour of pedigree political leaders and moonlighting contenders. 

Equally, such political overview only adds to creepy addictions than serve as fresh eyes capable to respond to current situations and in the future. But perhaps it is of no surprise, reflective of the broader disarray plaguing the country under Kenny Anthony’s administration’s phony blueprint for growth. And if by a miracle the party of Allen Chastanet comes to power with a vision that isn’t and an economic development policy many concede is irrational and frightening. 

Ultimately, both political parties are a common hindrance, mired in corruption, siphoning kickbacks and crony old-style party politics, crucial to reason, idealism and pragmatism. So it is an understatement that Saint Lucians are just really tired of everything related to recycled politicians and government with little knowledge and ability, except to excite the untrained. 

But more interesting is the fact that contending policy, new strategy and fiscal buffers are simply imaginary, in the current political orbit of chaos and lies. The economic and deployment targets can only be described as nice hypotheticals with no action plans or identifiable sustainability that could be maintained for a specified period. 

While it is clear there is ample evidence that the stakes are high in an election cycle that will have a lasting impact on the socio-economic development of the country and a marketplace that is in disarray. 

It’s the economy, stupid! 

In 1992, Bill Clinton famously said, “It’s the economy, stupid.” This is still relevant today as the economy is weaker today than in previous years. The estimates of revenue and expenditure for 2016/2017 show a reduction of approximately EC$37 million. 

Previously, I have stated, the island is not operating a billion dollar economy. It is a well known secret that Anthony’s administration continues to have revenue problems and to date are more dependent on proxy clients for basic functions including the staple of pacifying opponents. 

The latest statistics show various dynamics in real terms. But the statistic that really matters is that real income has remained stagnant. And even those paychecks that are higher than they used to be seem to be more financially strapped. Purchasing power is not rising and while many people can’t figure out where all of their money is going, Godfrey Bloom explains

In addition, without the ability to stem fiscal loss and social injustice, forecasts and narrowing will be an even deeper economic crisis in faltering economies. The problem is such that both governing administrations share the blame in an economy that isn’t good. And so there is no reason to celebrate economic growth (1.3 %?) that does not exceed 3% real GDP growth.

But after decades of games of passions, circumstances and events don’t just happen without reason rooted in larger narratives that determine tomorrow’s outcomes. And given that policymakers are unable to adopt broad fiscal reforms, the rampant populism is bolstered by how politicians and government have bungled existing business innovation, new investments and business propositions. 

As such, the priority area for revitalization that is required for economic expansion to achieve a prosperous economy is dangerously skewed. This will require considerable corrective measures made up of serious content, creativity and optimism propelled via lobbying, think-tanks and policy positions, to turn vision and development perspective into reality. 

However, the tone and tenor of political leaders are for the most part empty, psychotic and pathetic. Thus perpetuating chaotic repetition, versus the opportunity to evaluate strategic alternatives, that commit to safety and security, health issues (life sciences and healthcare industry, and business focal points) – which are at dangerous levels. 

Understanding a development vision

Organizing around a positive vision is based on core principles that must be inspiring, bold and capable to grab the nation’s attention. Of course, that vision must set out long-term goals and expectations to be achieved through accomplished programs by a specific time frame that interest the business community, international and potential foreign investors and meet the needs of citizens. 

To complement this, an efficient and transparent government is essential to service delivery that must prioritize the social fabric, human rights issues, safety and security. And at a time when human resource is mobile, specific plans must curtail job loss, undertake climate change adaptation, renewable energy, and adopt plausible fiscal programs to financial stability. 

Reason serves best to heed concerns over reform and to choose a path that promotes public investment funding to finance industry, agriculture, provide world class government and corporate services: and the provision for strong incentives to help unlock the talent of citizens regardless of creed or class. 

Despite the odds this is particularly necessary in order to revive the economic levers needed to sustain prosperity, economic and social upliftment. 

Building a new country

On that basis, that’s where structural and policy changes come into play, so that designated and diversifying services, to underpin modern emerging markets that can foster innovation and entrepreneurship. 

But in the current marketplace, deeper internal changes, cost-cutting and domestic economic diversification will become more apparent. The need for a more defined unity of ideas will require more concentration to capitalize on comparative advantage to expand total exports and high value-added services. Also, innovation will produce and introducing new sophisticated products at a rapid past.

As such, the next quantum leap is preferred on a wider vision to science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), climate change adaptation, renewable energy and innovation. 

The extracts from this evolution is the opportunity for a unique growth model and comparative technologically advantage to drive modern services, agriculture, manufacturing, engineering transportation and expand export growth. Similar, comparative advantage in research and development (R&D) can lead to demand and expansion. At the same time this will generate high quality jobs and a better quality of life. 

However, a strong sense of reasoning, diversity of thought and an enabling environment for openness and innovation is required to shape an economic future of prosperity and growth. But regrettable, such is not a current embodiment of core leadership in Saint Lucia today.

This is manifest by the phony blueprint for growth that produced deficits and a welfare state and most recent, the proposed “five to stay alive” crony flattery in anticipation of conquest. This solemnly adds to the pessimism and feels worse than the progression needed to instead of being producers and efficient productive providers, a life of continual mendicancy and subsistence living is proposed. 

Adventure or opportunity?

This election cycle will bring with it more stupid leadership and failed politicians to administer a broken system, adding to the incompetence of the elites to maintain the status quo. 

More flattering and pleasing statement meant to persuade a core demographic to submission is likely to find refuge. And in any way possible, put off the masses’ thought process with fancy aberrations. This is a desperate attempt to rekindle images of past conquest for the advancement of the cavalry of the elite few.

The context of such ideology means political leaders are trying to seize upon a perceived opportunity for the expansion of dangerous crony capitalism. Notable, the character of such methods of operation widens inequality, unnerves the middle class and stagnates the poor in low skilled, low paying jobs. 

The result is a deeper dilemma for Saint Lucia. This means a coherent alternative is most rational to allow trust, reason and intellectual thought process to flourish. But indeed, such a framework worries political leaders that are endlessly tested and continue to fail miserably from the lack of trust, competence and political will to meet key relationships and focus towards repairing the nation’s chaotic socio-economy. 

As such, the country’s state of emergency will continue to depend on foreign capital markets for economic growth. On the US, Canada, Europe, China and Taiwan for foreign trade, national security and external guidance: and remain highly reliant on inflows of cash from the Diaspora to support the economy. 

These combinations will have serious implications for the future on the heels of the Panama Papers, corresponding banking issues, the heavy pivot on tourism and citizen by investment (CIP) or is it, indirect reoccupation? The British are coming!

Again, this may just be collateral damage from political leaders that have not encouraged a strong foundation to leverage the country’s unique position. Except to find easy comfort to dealing with murky moguls and to assert that when the rich prosper, the poor does better!

In that sense, the prospects to envision Saint Lucia’s socio-economic prosperity are absolutely terrible. The quest to build a new country is a bolstered propaganda. That is, until the next adventure or is it opportunity of necessity, for “five to stay alive” while ninety-five fetch for themselves.

Not forgetting that the raw politics of vengeance is more predominate to willful ignorance.

Melanius Alphonse is a management and development consultant, a long-standing senior correspondent and a contributing columnist to Caribbean News Now. His areas of focus include political, economic and global security developments, and on the latest news and opinion. His philanthropic interests include advocating for community development, social justice, economic freedom and equality. He contributes to special programming on Radio Free Iyanola, RFI 102.1FM and NewsNow Global analysis. He can be reached at: [email protected]

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3 comments

  1. Mel, there is not yet a critical mass of people in Saint Lucia with a knowledge "mix" of business strategy, finance, financial management, international business, operations management, accounting, forensic accounting and various foci in economics. That is why we are not making any waves on the Human Development Index (HDI).

    As you have rightly alluded to, turning attention to our political candidates, 99% cannot speak to any of the subject areas just mentioned. As such, they are just shoe-ins and placeholders. They can only talk about representing their constituencies as if we had real local government.

    Sadly, or miserably, they whether or not they form the government, are facing a central government, devoid of any ideas of how to turn around the government for real positive growth. Nominal growth, in name only that is, with with tax relief, may be necessary but insufficient. We are talking about second order conditions here. Perhaps that is too much economics, but nonetheless necessary economics, because the talkers are just that. Just talkers. They on their own or of their own, cannot do. They all depend on a cash-strapped central government with the purse strings being held by a single person, the PM to provide for their local constituencies.

    Yet, our annual tax collection barely supports essential services. Foreign exchange collected in any year is already earmarked for interest payments to service and pay down unnecessary non-productive debt incurred, some largely as politically-driven election projects.

    If and when that day comes, absent any significant emigration and brain-drain, and the perverse impact of the CIP\, much more talented people will eventually bubble to the top to make real sense on our public platforms, in the public management of our Qangos (quasi-autonomous government organizations, like developmental banks), PSOs (public sector organizations), and on the boards (as talented board members, rather than quid pro quo political yard fowls) giving critical direction to our strategic development organizations and institutions like our Tourist Boards, institutions of higher education as is Teachers' College, the SALCC, and the like.

    Until that day comes, Mel, I am afraid, our current crop of political clown acts, hell-bent by tooth and nail, to maintain the status quo, and to exploit it for quick easy-to-get pensions, they will continue to grow annual waves of frustrated youth, underemployed hotel maids, gardeners and roadside grass cutters, especially in that spectacular monument to SLP's institutionalization economic stupidity and failure, the S.T.E.P.

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  2. I hate it when people seat in their arm chair and write and talk. What use is the writing if that;s all they do, Chopaz

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  3. You are absolutely correct. How do you get a loan to give civil servants a raise? How is that sustainable? If I get a loan I have to repay it with interest. Same problem with that L.I.A.T issue, throwing money down the drain, fortunately St. Lucia has dodged that bullet for now. The young educated and talented Saint Lucians are forced to migrate if that option is available or turn to crime, because both political parties have, and continue to place unqualified party hacks in important positions. Which is why the lack of vision and innovation exists at those levels. They just continue to do things as they have been done before. Government's purpose is to collect taxes, build and maintain infrastructure , and to foster entrepreneurship and innovation. We are definitely going the wrong direction when Politicians are openly talking people into depending on the government for their livelihood. The basic premise of any economy is that you spend less than you make, and make every penny count. Politicians don't live by that rule.

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