Opposition Leader Dr. Gale Rigobert has rated a recent trip to Barbados to discuss matters relating to the current economic situation in Saint Lucia as a success.
Dr. Rigobert and Leader of the United Workers Party (UWP) Allen Chastanet left the island on March 10, 2014 for three days, to participate in these talks.
Speaking to media on Wednesday, March 19, Dr. Rigobert said discussions were convened with several missions, embassies, governmental partners and donor agencies on various topics.
“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. I think we left Barbados with a very balanced view of not only what is transpiring in Barbados but also what is going on in St. Lucia. I’m sure you can appreciate that the information is not always forthcoming in St. Lucia and so we are better able in some regard to source the information from the outside,” she said told reporters.
The opposition leader indicated that out of the “frank” discussions held in Barbados, a common sentiment expressed was that St. Lucia is “in serious economic problems.”
“The topic of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) came up over and over again. We know all too well anytime a country is forced to consider engaging the IMF that we have really, really arrived at a very bleak position in our economic development,” she said.
She drew attention to what she described as a significant economic contraction in the St. Lucian economy, which now has an unemployment rate of 25 percent.
“We cannot sit idly by as an opposition party and not give due consideration to potential policies that can reverse that trend.
She said that last week’s trip was part of efforts by the UWP to continue to ready itself for the next polls. A core mandate of the party is to provide effective representation to citizens, she stated.
“The opposition is very clear about its mandate we represent a fair percentage of the voters in this country and even those persons who would have elected the Labour Party into government rely on us to pose the right questions,[and] to highlight the shortcomings of government policy and to a certain extent also offer policy prescriptions as to how the current economic ills can be addressed and resolved,” she stated, adding that the opposition should be seen as a feasible alternative to the current government.
The meetings this week, she said, was not only about exposing the deficiencies of the current administration but also was an opportunity to engage stakeholders as to the party’s own readiness to assume the reigns of government at the next election.
Additionally, Dr. Rigobert said it is important to get acquainted with the economic situations in sister Caribbean islands as it allows locals to be in a position to not only follow suit on effective measures, but take precautionary steps to prevent potential economic problems.
“It makes good sense therefore to engage with those persons so as to garner for ourselves not only what is the state of the St. Lucian economy, but also the regional economy,” she said.
“We have come to appreciate, that when a sister island suffers from a particular economic malady, we had better begin to take in the necessary medicine to avert any potential economic onslaught.”
Last week’s meetings were also held as part of preparations for the upcoming National Budget.