Four years ago, June 6, 2016, Allen Chastanet promised that he would give us a new St. Lucia. Today, four years later, what have we got and where are we heading?
We, as concerned citizens, make the following declarations:
* We the people of Vieux-Fort are appalled and angered by the disrespectful, destructive and callous political adventurism that the Allen Chastanet Administration is pursuing in our country and the level of economic and social dislocation that he has caused by his actions.
* Throughout St. Lucia today there is widespread disappointment, discontentment, disillusionment, and fear caused by an insensitive, reckless and selfish administration that has lost its way. Chastanet has shown scant regard for the urgent needs, cries, and aspirations of the citizens while he embraces and enriches Friends, Family, and Foreigners (FFF) and the party supporters through a web of blatant and rampant conflicts of interest, naked nepotism and the covert/overt victimisation of citizens and organisations with a different political or developmental perspective.
* After four years, Chastanet has plunged St. Lucia into near bankruptcy and a clear indication of this came long before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. His poor mismanagement of the economy has resulted in a continuous downward spiral of growth from 3.4% in 2016 to 1.7% 2019 which is further projected to crash to – 8.5% by the end of 2020/2021 financial year. The COVID-19 crisis simply exposed the depth of the poor management and leadership capabilities of Allen Chastanet and the collective ineptitude of this current UWP regime.
* Chastanet’s very poor record of public financial management can only be described as SQUANDERMANIA.
He has wasted millions of dollars of taxpayers money by arrogantly pursuing dubious projects like the DSH and the new wing of the St. Jude Hospital, giving over-priced contracts and direct awards to questionable consultants and well-known UWP supporters, expanding and padding the civil service, overseas missions and quasi-government institutions with incompetent and untrained political appointees and creating duplicating structures in the delivery of government services, among many more.
* Today, despite the so-called decline in unemployment, many continue to suffer especially our youth. This has been aggravated by Chastanet’s deliberate and vindictive policy of closing down facilities or discontinuing initiatives of the previous SLP administration such as NICE, Radio St. Lucia, secondary schools, and a number of development projects. With so many citizens losing hope of securing gainful and long-term employment, it is no wonder that the crime rate is high and spiralling out of control.
* Under Chastanet our public health-care system has been reduced to shambles.
Public confidence has waned, nurses and doctors are demoralised and some have left for greener pastures, leaving medical institutions understaffed and working under increased strain made worst by the absence of critical materials and equipment. The forced opening of the Owen King EU Hospital, hastened by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, has hardly improved the situation.
* Our children were denied laptops to continue their education simply because it was an initiative by the former administration.
That decision has come to haunt Chastanet and Gail Rigobert in the age of virtual learning and teaching.
* Chastanet has consistently shown his contemptuous disregard for the Constitution, public consultations, accountability, transparency, and responsibility (e.g. CIP funds; appointment of a deputy speaker).
Many of his actions reflect dictatorial, unilateral, and autocratic tendencies such as the unjustified extended state of emergency, threatening civil servants over 50% pay cut, and disregarding signed arrangements with the SLNT. We fear for our democracy.
* After four years of Chastanet, we no longer feel empowered in our country.
We have been insulted and denigrated by Chastanet who called us barking dogs, jackasses, beggars, and people with pre-school education. The latest insult is the statement that “colonialism has a conscience”. This is the same system that brought and maintained our fore-parents in slavery.
* Our patrimony is being gifted away or sold to foreigners with scant regard for our concerns causing us to cry out in pain ST. LUCIA IS NOT FOR SALE. The pension funds of our people are now being used to finance foreign “investors”. Day in and day out Chastanet and his ministerial cabal plunder the NIC for funds for his ill-conceived investments.
* While other OECS/CARICOM countries are providing stimulus packages to help various productive sectors of their populations cushion the economic, social, and emotional impacts generated by the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, Chastanet has stubbornly refused to do likewise. Following intense and sustained criticism he is now offering persons engaged in sectors such as transportation, small businesses, fishing, and creative industries, a paltry $500 a month for three months. How insensitive and unconscionable?
* Chastanet has cast adrift the poor and the vulnerable.
Fisheries Complexes have been taken away from fishers and privatised. Fishers have returned to selling fish on the streets and to vending all over St. Lucia to dispose of their catch. Most social safety net programmes have been discarded.
* Come June 6, 2020, after four years under Chastanet and the UWP, we know we have been deceived and are demoralised.
We can take it no more!
Chastanet is driving our country full speed towards the edge of a precipice. We must stop this slide to disaster, take back our country to strengthen our independence and democracy, reinstate and introduce programmes that benefit the people, protect our patrimony and restore our pride and dignity as St. Lucians.
We must act now to save St. Lucia.
S I G N E D
Member of RED ALERT – “a symbol of resistance”