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St Lucia’s finance minister: 400 horses, 800 persons employed… (commentary)

By Melanius Alphonse

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Prime Minister Allen Chastanet

Prime Minister Allen Chastanet

COMMENTARY – Prime minister and minister for finance Allen Chastanet made mention at his press conference recently that 400 horses will be part of the initial phase of DSH Caribbean Star Limited racecourse on the island and that two persons will be employed to attend to each horse.

He also indicated that investors have confidence in his government and, in his closing message, said:

“2017 is to tighten your seat belt and to embrace the change, it’s going to be difficult, it always is to leave what you are accustomed doing and to try something new, but we have no choice. Honestly the country is in a financial quagmire and there is tremendous amount of potential but we

now need to convert that potential in reality and its going to require fundamental change…”

Indeed, my article published on July 16, 2012, comes to mind: What went wrong? Buckle your seat belts Saint Lucia!

But above all, the country is navigating towards 83 percent GDP, faced with an unemployed population of 45 percent primary school and 90 percent secondary school education and an unemployment rate of almost 25 percent.

Despite this the prime minister and minister for finance was without resolve and, as his usual self, lacked sound and solid impetus on the country’s socio-economic and sustainable development ethos to meet the dynamics of change.

In fact, no direction was proffered to improve the skills required to boost productivity at work and at home through productivity enhancers in science, technology, engendering and maths (STEM), to take the country to the next level.
In like manner, the attending journalists at the press conference missed the following questions:

• What is the required skill-set of the two personnel to attend to one horse and are they going to be Saint Lucians specially trained to care for valuable thoroughbreds, “prized with Saint Lucian heritage though citizenship by investment program (CIP)”?

• Without a reformed and repurposed universal education system compatible with a global education system, what type of investment and jobs are being sourced for Saint Lucians?

• Please explain the background of Chinese partners to the signed memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the government of Saint Lucia and DSH Caribbean Limited, China State Construction Engineering Corporation Limited (CSCECL) and China Communication Construction Company Limited (CCCC);

• Why not make public and discuss the contents of the MOU?

According to China Horse Club News: “The following morning a senior representative of the China State Construction Engineering Corporation Limited (CSCECL) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the government of Saint Lucia and DSH Caribbean Limited to play a lead role in the project’s development. CSCECL was one of two major Chinese construction firms that was in attendance at the ground breaking ceremony, with China Communication Construction Company Limited (CCCC) also represented.

Note: CCCC was formed from a merger between several companies, including China Road and Bridge Company (CRBC), which was adjudged by the World Bank to have irregularities in a past road construction project in a neighbouring country. As a result, the World Bank barred CRBC from engaging in any road or bridge projects financed by it.

Thus irrespective of what the prime minister and minister for finance says to the Saint Lucian public, it is conveniently contradictory.

In the light of numerous examples in Saint Lucia and the Caribbean region, Chinese firms bring Chinese workers to do the work at what unions describe are lower wages; therefore, the prime minister and minister for finance is either naive in dealing with Chinese companies, reading and interpretation of the DSH contract, the somewhat secret MOU or simply has his renowned ability to massage the truth.

Nevertheless, the job market and the Saint Lucia economy will be under severe pressure, per DSH clause 3.4, “be exempt, in the ordinary legal manner, from income taxation in Saint Lucia in respect of the Project for a period of 25 years.”

“Clause 5.1 The Government warrants, represents and undertakes that the Master Developer shall be permitted, without being required to obtain any further approvals, licences or consents, to engage and/or terminate any contractors or sub-contractors, suppliers or other specialists that the Master Developer selects in its absolute discretion (regardless of the jurisdiction of the relevant contractor, sub- contractor, supplier or other specialist) on such terms as the Master Developer determines.”

“Clause 5.4. The Government of Saint Lucia agrees to waive, and agrees to procure the waiver of, statutory Work Permit fees and Personal Income Tax for personnel of the Master Developer domiciled in Saint Lucia for the duration of the Project.”

“Clause 9.2 Any and all licenses, consents and/or approvals granted to the Master Developer and/or in connection with the Project pursuant to this clause 9 shall be irrevocable … and in the case of licenses in relation to casinos, wagering and broadcasting, the licenses shall be continuously renewable, in accordance with the existing legislation governing the specific license, with said renewability not to be unreasonably withheld.”

In addition, the thought process to rebrand Saint Lucia “the cheapest” CIP and perhaps later “the cheapest tourism destination”: analysts merely view the changeover to a perceived “tourism authority” as a handover to a local marketing agent.

Sir Derek Walcott once noted that the only difference between slavery and tourism is that “at least the slaves did not have to smile”.

It would be so much better if the Chastanet-led administration would be honest and disciplined and not prized in the fabric of falsehoods with shameless abandon.

In many aspects is it not extraordinary that the thought process behind a five-month festival of “creative” employment that is being described as an endeavour to mask the frills of prosperity with conspicuous consumption the likes of supermarket/wholesale concept El Cheapo, buy before best used by date.

Saint Lucia has far too many problems associated with the lack of discipline, order and stability, alcoholism, suicides and sexual abuse.

But really, how should one expect a Chastanet-led administration that does not understand much of how things work to explain anything with clarity, if only, to highlight continued weakness, mental blindness, poor decisions and policy outcomes.

This conspicuous social and “financial quagmire” requires corrective action in the course of a national social policy, a practical vision and leadership of high quality and competence that will not exploit, plunder, marginalise and disperse Saint Lucians to the exclusive Chinese enclave/state within Vieux Fort, to re-enslave the country for 99 years and empower the elite.

If there is any lesson learned, in all likelihood, it is to drive such persona from power through regime change (Chase those crazy baldheads out of town! ~ Bob Marley), liberate our land, and return power to the indigenous people of Saint Lucia.

Melanius Alphonse is a management and development consultant, a long-standing senior correspondent and a contributing columnist to Caribbean News Now. His areas of focus include political, economic and global security developments, and on the latest news and opinion. His philanthropic interests include advocating for community development, social justice, economic freedom and equality. He contributes to special programming on Radio Free Iyanola, RFI 102.1FM and NewsNow Global analysis. He can be reached at [email protected]

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This article was posted in its entirety as received by stlucianewsonline.com. This media house does not correct any spelling or grammatical error within press releases and commentaries. The views expressed therein are not necessarily those of stlucianewsonline.com, its sponsors or advertisers.

13 comments

  1. It is a ridiculous project. Another Le Paradis.Just for laundering money and bribes. The Bank of St. Lucia is on the edge of bankruptcy too.

    (0)(2)
  2. Employment solution? Bring in more horses. Be certain to bring in thoroughbred and offspring winners from the Royal Ascot and Belmont. Diversify. Crate a breeding nursery. This is much better than breeding criminals in the SLP-created, in the news ghettos, of CDC, Bois Patat, Grass Street, BruceVille, Egard,
    Conway, and the dreadful creative, the GraveYard.

    (12)(1)
  3. if you all clowns really know about horses u would know the most outstanding horses cant race in our hot temperatures unless the whole racetrack is air condition, so the DHS deal is to launder and like Stanford , later all those folks behind bars.

    (5)(4)
    • Therefore idiot, in summer the race tracks in Britain and the USA are closed. Or, the thoroughbreds race under air-conditioned domes. You drink too much damn beer. Sober up and then talk.

      (7)(1)
  4. Watcher, thank you very much for sharing.

    It's fascinating reading and would be a logical strategic move is several ways.

    I urge all to read it. Certainly worthy of consideration.

    https://www.google.ca/search?q=the+string+of+pearls+strategy&oq=the+string+of+pearls+strategy&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l5.2711j0j8&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

    Thanks again for sharing.

    (0)(0)
  5. Hope Chastamet ,use him self and his family to care fore some of the horses. Only then I will take a job to clean horse sh--

    (4)(2)
  6. Oooh myyyy. How eagerly we get at the throats of our own people to tear and rip when our political skirts are lifted. Gentlemen while you are tearing each other to shreds - here is something to research: "the string of pearls strategy" by the Chinese. Is it only in the Pacific and in India, or has it spread to the soft under-belly of the USA...the Caribbean region?

    (4)(0)
  7. "...return power to the indigenous peoples of St. Lucia." How such a tragically self-important statement, cand completely irrelevant coming from someone hoping to be part of a victorious SLP in the next election. All this while, Mr. Alphonse lives in a comfortable home in the Toronto area, mixing with the booge Eastern Caribbean diaspora while pretending to be familiar with the island, its people, and its culture.

    Mr. Alphonse fails to identify who he defines as the "indigenous peoples of St. Lucia". Or is that simply a thinly veiled racist reference and code for "make St. Lucia black again"? While citing a populist viewpoint regarding "indigenous peoples", he very conveniently chooses not to fully explain the necessity of establishing blood quantum. Perhaps he should explain just how, exactly, he would do it, and explain it in plain language.

    If he's trying to peddle an idyllic version of returning power to the truly indigenous St. Lucians, the original Arawak and other tribes that first settled our island, then he is truly a fool for believing that he can peddle such mis-leading baseless rhetoric to St. Lucians.

    While in certain countries, decreasing yearly, there remain "indigenous peoples", they largely no longer exist here. It's that simple. And those few elders that are still alive are non-partisan, taking a holistic view, and not the view of the SLP. Sorry, Mr. Alphonse, you will have to look for votes elsewhere because the hackneyed and tired approach that you semingly take of proverbially wrapping yourself in the flag fools no one (well, okay, maybe a few).

    St. Lucians of all races and mixes with history going back hundreds of years do exist here. They live here. They work here. The strive through thick and thin with perseverance through the good and bad, faithful to their nation.

    That, in complete contradiction with Mr. Alphonse, who would have St. Lucians believe that he is but a man of the people who lives and works among us, and breaks bread with us. Really?

    And, on a literary note, he needs to be more diligent in properly citing quotes he uses in his postings. Someone who purports himself to be highly educated and knowledgeable, and seemingly capable of espousing arguably out-dated economic thought, should already know this. Or don't they teach that up there in Canada? I'll check on that with a friend who has a relative who lives up there, his dear Uncle Tom.

    (3)(7)
    • Unfortunately you missed the message, throwing it out along with the obvious excoriation. Degradation and depredation of self and country is pellucid enough at every level. From the illiterate misguide despoiling our byways with repugnant filth and litter to the affluent holders of power, including governments. The latter being the most dangerous. For it is Governments who prostitute the birthright ownership of our Saint Lucia, bought with the lives and slaving sweat of our antecedents. Surrendering our citizenship cheaply to the fancy of market dictate. CIP and other appeasing schemes are shameful at best. We surrender our dignity of self by admitting, at the highest level, that we are so inept at caring for ourselves, that we will sell our very souls for the next illusive economic fix. We continue to elect AND deify leaders who are intellectually emaciated, hoping and praying for salvation. Unless and until we wake up from our political dream, we are doomed. There is no CIP or Chinese savior coming to rescue Helen. She'll have to wake up from her slumber.

      (4)(2)
      • Translation: We're both calling each other a--holes! Calvin being the bigger of the two of course...uhumm!!!

        (6)(3)
      • Discerning, you seem very passionate about our island. That is admirable.

        You write:
        "We continue to elect AND deify leaders who are intellectually emaciated, hoping and praying for salvation. Unless and until we wake up from our political dream, we are doomed. There is no CIP or Chinese savior coming to rescue Helen."

        If you ytruly believe this to be the case, then cease the opportunity and make a difference --- pick up a clipboard and start a petition. Get yourseelf nominated as a candidate for Councillor or for member of Parliament.

        Get off sitting on the democratic sidelines populated by too many whiners that choose to simply opine and not to do their part to make a difference. . Discern yourself. Inspire the rest of us and get involved in our democracy to make your ideas a reality and rouse Fair Helen from her coma.

        May Allah provide you his divine inspiration should you choose to begin this journey as a true agent of change and a hope for the future.

        (0)(3)
  8. a loosers writing.

    (14)(6)

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