NewsNCMC Chair Wants Government To Be More Up-front’ and ‘Transparent’ on COVID-19 Decisions

St. Lucia News OnlineJanuary 16, 2022224136 min

NCMC Chair Cletus Springer says he has a problem not being able to explain how the government arrives at decisions regarding COVID-19 protocols…

Chairman of the National COVID-19 Management Center (NCMC) Cletus Springer is calling for more transparency in how Government takes decisions that affect people – in particular, changes in local COVID-19 protocols.

In a recent Facebook Post, the NCMC Chairman said he was asked, many times, how the government takes decisions on protocols and was unable to respond.

However, he did try to explain, by first describing “The purpose and structure of the NCMC.”

He noted that “The NCMC is a creature of law” (the Covid Prevention and Control Act of April 2020, amended in September 2021). In explaining its purpose and powers he said that “It serves as an advisory body to Cabinet on Covid-related matters and has oversight on measures required to control and prevent the spread of Covid 19.”

He went on, “These functions make clear that the NCMC can decide only the recommendations it makes to Cabinet, but Cabinet makes the final decision.”

The NCMC consists of representatives from public sector agencies (Tourism, Health and Finance Ministries, GIS, the Commissioner of Police and NEMO) as well as private sector reps (Hotel and Tourism Association), Civil Society (Medical and Dental Association, Trade Union Federation and the National Youth Council) and Medical Professionals.

Explaining how the NCMC interacts with the Prime Minister and the Cabinet of Ministers, Springer referred to “a recent meeting with PM Pierre at which the CMO and I were present.”

According to the chair, “they” (the Prime Minister and Cabinet Minister) argued that the 2021 Festive Season offered restaurants the first opportunity to recover some of the significant losses they have incurred over the past two years.

“Restaurant staff, who had been suffering for just as long, suffered from the reduced confinement time which hurt their earnings potential, including tips,’ Springer said.

He added that “though not privy to discussions in Cabinet,” his take was that its decision to extend the confinement time for the recent Festive Season was driven partly by “compassion” for the restaurant sector.

Further, he explained, “With the surge in cases after Christmas, the NCMC recommended that the confinement period for New Year’s Eve be pulled back.”

The chair said, “Cabinet was supportive of this recommendation, but felt that such a late adjustment would not be well received by the general public.”

In the end, he said, “Cabinet decided to keep the confinement time at 1:00pm, but with prohibitions on mass crowd social events.”
He then said, “This scenario speaks to my earlier point that decisions on Covid-19 protocols involve more than the science of epidemiology.”

“The elephant in the room is the public’s reaction,” he added, asking further: “Would a populace yearning for freedom comply with an earlier or later confinement time?

“And would the Police be able to enforce compliance?”

The chairman continued, “As I reflect on the sudden, seemingly contradictory decisions being taken by the US and UK governments, I’m reminded that these are not the best of times, even for evidence-based decision making.”

He then explained why he felt governments, including Saint Lucia’s, should be more “transparent” and “up front” with people on Covid-19 decision-making.

According to Springer, “I believe that at the very least, what is required is that Governments be up-front with their people and share the reasons for their decisions, the assumptions that drive them, the likely risks involved in unintended outcomes and how they will be addressed.”

“In other words,” he said, “FULL transparency is the best policy!”

St. Lucia News Online

2 comments

  • Cletus I Springer

    January 9, 2022 at 10:54 am

    ACOLYTES OF UNETHICAL JOURNALISM

    This is the text of my response to an SNO story which attributes to me a statement that I did not make.

    Dear Editor: This is the third time in as many weeks that I have had to seek an apology for something that I’m reported to have said that I never said.

    At no point in my piece did Cletus Springer say “he has a problem not being able to explain how the government arrives at decisions regarding COVID-19 protocols…” This claim is demonstrably false. And I can only conclude that its intent to foment discord between me and the Government.

    As a trained journalist and one who free-lanced for many years, I consider it a most egregious breech of journalistic ethics when one is quoted as saying something he did not say. As a Chair of the NCMC, I am bound by the principles of collective responsibility to support and share the rationale for Cabinet decisions on Covid-19. I made clear in my piece my understanding of the reasons for Cabinet’s decision. And I gave a factual account of the reasons as I understood them from my participation in the meeting between the PM and the delegation representing the restaurant sector. My account was earlier corroborated by the Minister of Health in his statement announcing the protocols. It’s disappointing when the very transparency that I preached and practiced with my statement has been been twisted in this manner. Given that it is impossible for you to prove that I admitted to having “…a problem not being able to explain how Cabinet arrives at its decisions regarding Covid-19 protocols” I expect the story to be withdrawn and I expect to receive from you with 24 hours, a FULL AND UNRESERVED APOLOGY, failing which I will have to employ legal means of securing redress. I expect to receive a copy of this apology at the email address provided with this comment.

    Reply

  • Most honarable Lucian high grade

    January 12, 2022 at 7:50 am

    One life to live people follow the protocols and stay safe vaccine is a choice shouldn’t be mandatory vaccination and I hope in the next 5 years those vaccinated are alive.

    Reply

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