PM Chastanet explains how business practices can be applied to running a government

By SNO Correspondent

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Prime Minister Allen Chastanet at Monday’s pre-Cabinet press briefing.

On the heels of last week’s vigorous public debate about whether businessmen are suited to become politicians, sparked by a fiery lecture by Dr. Tennyson Joseph of the University of the West Indies, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has sought to further clarify his thoughts on applying business practices to the running of the government.

“I have said that there are disciplines that you have in business that should be applied, or can be applied to government,” he told reporters at Monday’s pre-Cabinet press briefing.

Chastanet, who last week characterised the tenor of Dr. Joseph’s comments about him as “racist”, expounded further on the idea of applying business practices to the administration of a sovereign state.

“There’s a fundamental difference between government and business. Business’ objective is to maximise the returns to the shareholders. Government does it differently in that it maximises the returns to the citizens of the country,” the prime minister added.

He went on to outline the country’s fiscal trend over the past several decades.

“I’ve always been at pains to explain to everyone in Saint Lucia that we’ve had 20 years where we’ve been running a deficit. A deficit government means that you have less revenue than what your expenses are. So there’s this gap.

“So what that means is that the monies that you’ve been investing over the last 15 to 20 years have not yielded any significant increases in the size of your economy, and the government has refused to tackle the deficit. As a consequence of that, we’ve continued seeing a deterioration in the ability of the government to provide the necessary services that the citizens require,” he explained.

Chastanet supported his claim by pointing to the quality of the island’s road network, school plant infrastructure, healthcare system, and national security network, all of which he says have diminished over time.

“When I came in as prime minister…none of the Coast Guard boats were working. None. Zero. There was no DPP [Director of Public Prosecutions], in fact we only had three lawyers in the DPP’s office. The forensic lab was closed. You had judges who did not have chambers, you have magistrates that don’t have offices, and there was a grossly inadequate amount of security for your judicial system…so the responsibility of government is to earn enough revenues in order to be able to provide those services. It is not difficult, in my mind, to determine a way forward.”

It was very clear, Chastanet continued to say, that Saint Lucia’s GDP was not of sufficient size to “generate enough cash that’s turning over for us to be able to provide the resources”.

Therefore, he said, the government may choose to rely on taxes to make up the much-needed shortfall. However, in his opinion, an increased tax burden would be counterproductive in the long term, as that would cause a barrier to increased investment in the country.

The only alternative, in the prime minister’s opinion, is to increase the size of the island’s economy, by expanding infrastructural and human resource capacity – exactly what he says his administration is attempting to do.

(18)(6)
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11 comments

  1. This prime minister Allen,I in my opinion is one of the smartest in the Caribbean and he will succeed.I praying for you without fainting.

    (0)(0)
  2. That's right Chastenet ...when a CEO fails to deliver he is fired so fire yourself because you are a failure.

    (6)(2)
  3. PM U LIE ...it is a big fat lie to say none of the coast guard boat were not woring....u are wrong on this one

    (2)(2)
  4. This PM is on the right track. St. Lucians like freeness and no discipline. This is what he is setting about to do, put discipline in place, no favors and get things on an even keel. Those of you who cannot see 1+1=2 are foolish, dumb and doomed.
    The PM is not perfect but a damned sight better than the other fake white man PM from Vieux-Fort whose father was a racist and almost slave driver. So fake white man PM with traits of you racist father, you are no longer in office so shut up and your cohorts too.

    (2)(2)
  5. The PM needs to understand that all previous groups before him could have made exactly the same statement about deficiencies in governments ability to provide for the people. Being a businessman doesn't equate to success in governing. The biggest threat to our economy is the total focus on tourism and very little if any on manufacturing and agriculture. I do think that's putting all your eggs in one basket and expect no breakage when the bucket tumbles. That's the area that Chas knows about and that's where he is leading the country... Presently we are hostage to their demands and one only has to hope that the economies that support our tourism stays healthy. We are one economic downturn to desester.

    (7)(0)
    • Stupid Labour Person

      He never said that being a businessman would make him successful in government or any other profession for that matter. In economics you do what you are good at, or more or less have comparative advantage in. We are not a large country. We have limited resources. Now ask yourself, what are we good at? What do we have comparative advantage in? Its not manufacturing....we work for too much and have no raw materials, fossil fuels, manufacturing capacity or expertise, neither is it agriculture....we dont have the land capacity for large scale production, we lack the inputs, expertise, investment base, we work for too much to compete and have a population which hates agriculture. Now tourism...thats relatively easy. We sell our caribbeanness....culture, climate, people. Are we doing it well? We can do it better, but St. Lucia is well situated to outperform every single island. We just need to be disciplined about it. Barbados has built an entire middleclass on tourism, and all they have is sun. We can link our agriculture to tourism, our sports, our our culture, etc. Chas is also right, we have been running deficit budgets for years, simply hoping that we can catch up. You can hate the guy, but he makes total sense. We actually have a focus as a country now. The other dudes were simply floundering.

      (1)(0)
  6. this guy allen chastenet is a disgrace to leadership, he is a quack and invalid, yow get out please, worst thing we ever had

    (19)(25)
  7. Chastenet is fully right. 1+1 = 2. In St.ucia 1+1 = minus 2. A totally failed nation. However this has been caused by the world economy crash since 2008 as well as the huge seize of St. Lucia civil servants.

    (22)(9)

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