(PRESS RELEASE) – The United Workers Party notes that in recent times, the St Lucia Labour Party Leader Philip J Pierre has decided to make transparency and accountability a priority.
From the outset, the United Workers Party Government made clear its commitment to good governance by providing governance training to all ministers, permanent secretaries and heads of department. The UWP Government also passed landmark legislation to remove the statute of limitations on the recovery of public funds and assets to which the Labor party walked out of in parliament.
The UWP continues to back up its words with actions and calls on the Leader of the Opposition to do the same. The SLP leader need not be in Government to act. He can follow the example set by the UWP when who whilst in opposition got rid of the same persons which the SLP has now fully embraced.
In his New Year address the Leader of the Opposition declared that he “cannot ignore the wrongs and injustices of the past . . . We shall therefore hold accountable all those responsible for acts of corruption and the misuse of public funds.”
Notwithstanding his being the “Deputy Prime Minister” during the Rochamel Scandal, the Grynberg Affair and so many others, the United Workers Party is calling on Mr. Pierre to address the issues of Diplomatic passports for sale and the alleged misuse of funds for youth development, at the center of which are his two deputy leaders.
IMMUNITY: Passports for Sale
By now we are all aware based on the investigation by Al Jazeera that the appointment of Walid Juffali as Saint Lucia’s IMO representative is what blew the lid off the scandal of “Diplomatic Passports for Sale”. Based on correspondence (yet to be refuted) read out by two local talk show hosts, we know that our then High Commissioner to London and now Deputy Leader of the SLP, Ernest Hilaire was the one who introduced Walid Juffali to the SLP Government. We now know that after only a few months, he resigned as IMO representative and also recommended Walid Juffali for the post. Evidence has also been presented of numerous pieces of correspondence between Juffali and Hilaire concerning and guaranteeing him immunity.
In light of these new information, the United Workers Party is therefore is asking Philip J Pierre:
• Will he carry out an investigation into the Juffali Affair?
• If Saint Lucia never benefited from its appointment of Juffali, did anyone within his SLP ranks benefit from Juffali?
• Why would Ernest Hilaire recommend this inexperienced billionaire to represent us at the IMO?
• Why did we keep him as our representative when he attended no IMO meetings?
• Why did we not wave his immunity in light of the damage it was causing to our country’s reputation?
• Given the information circulated in the media about his deputy leader and a Range Rover, has he and will he investigate the matter?
• Can he say that Ernest Hilaire is the legal owner of the vehicle and there were no improprieties committed in importing the car?
• Can he state categorically that he stands by Ernest Hilaire on the Juffali Matter and the vehicle in question?
The Leader of the Opposition must also answer questions with reference to an account termed “minister’s account” which existed at the National Lotteries during the last tenure of the SLP Government. The people need to know:
• Will Mr. Pierre carried out an investigation into this matter which involved an agency which was overseen by his 2nd deputy leader and then Minister for Youth & Sports Shawn Edwards?
• Has he satisfied himself that there were no improprieties and that good governance prevailed in the spending of the Lottery funds?
• Is he satisfied that the millions of dollars used by Lotteries in the months leading up to last elections were in the best interest of youth development?
• Is he satisfied that all spending from the so called “minister’s account” was properly accounted and authorized for?
Whilst Philip J Pierre is trying to brand himself as a leader with credibility, is he prepared to let his actions match his words? Or is this simply more empty promises from the same old St Lucia Labour Party.