Below is a press release from the leader of the Opposition
Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Stephenson King, has expressed alarm at the unprofessional and undiplomatic behavior displayed recently by the Ambassador to the United Nations Ms. Menissa Rambally concerning the suspension of Saint Lucia’s voting rights at the United Nations.
The statements made by Ambassador Rambally are “unbecoming of a Saint Lucian serving their country at such a prestigious level”. In typical SLP fashion since the conclusion of the 2011 General Elections, Ms. Rambally sought to blame the current administration’s negligence on the part of the last UWP administration, despite being in power for the last 15 months.
Ms. Rambally chose to ignore the historical fact that during the five-year reign of the United Workers Party, between 2006 and 2011, at no time did the former UWP administration ever allow Saint Lucia’s contributions to be in arrears for more than two years, to affect Saint Lucia’s ability to utilize their voting rights at such an august body.
For such a report to be released by the United Nations bearing our beloved fair Helen’s name is an absolute embarrassment to our people and is an indictment on how Saint Lucia’s affairs are currently being managed by the new ambassador to the United Nations and the government in general.
Only incompetence and negligence should be blamed for this diplomatic brouhaha and not the former administration, who has been occupying the opposition benches in the Parliament since the 29th of November, 2011.
What Ms. Rambally should be explaining to the people of Saint Lucia, between herself and the Minister for Finance Dr. Kenny Anthony, is: Which one of them dropped the ball concerning the payment of the UN contributions? Was it the Consulate which she oversees or was it the responsibility of the Ministry of Finance headed by the prime minister?
It is also very interesting to note that the allocation made in Saint Lucia’s annual budget for the ‘United Nations Organization’ and ‘United Nations Regular Budget’ were maintained at $107,888 and $78,032, respectively, during the five-year tenure of the UWP administration. However, in the first budget of this new SLP administration, the current minister for finance reduced the budgetary allocations for the ‘United Nations Organization’ and the ‘United Nations Regular Budget’ from $107,888 to $91,201 and $78,032 to $66,192, respectively. May this be the reason why the current ambassador was unable to take care of business in New York thus creating a diplomatic embarrassment?
(SEE TABLE BELOW FOR FURTHER CLARIFICATION: Source 2012/2013 Estimates of Expenditure)
I therefore call on the government of Saint Lucia, through either the Minister for Finance, Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony, or the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alva Baptiste, or the ambassador to the UN herself, to provide full disclosure on the following:
i) What exactly transpired between November 2011 and February 2013 which would cause Saint Lucia to miss its payment of its United Nations contributions for the first time in its history as an independent nation?
ii) Why were the budgetary allocations for the ‘United Nations Organization’ and the ‘United Nations Regular Budget’ cut or reduced in Saint Lucia’s 2012/2013 Estimates of Expenditure?
iii) Where have the monies which were previously allocated for United Nations contributions gone and for what purpose, if not the UN, were these funds utilized for?
iv) Is it true that Ambassador Rambally refused to occupy the furnished residence of the former Ambassador St. Aimee, but rather leased a new residence and substantially furnished it with new furniture at tax-payers’ expense?
v) Is it true that a new post of counsel general was created in New York to facilitate a political appointee and that the individual and his family stayed at a hotel in New York City for an entire month at tax-payers’ expense before suitable long-term accommodation was found for his entire family?
vi) Is it true that an officer who worked previously at the New York Mission has been employed at the Mission without going through the proper Public Service channels and is receiving a full salary?
These very important questions must be provided with answers at the soonest to the House of Parliament and to the people of Saint Lucia.
Any failure to do so will result in immediate demands for the resignation of the Ambassador to the United Nations Ms. Menissa Rambally due to her negligence, incompetence and undiplomatic behavior!