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Commentary: Ideology run over by fiscal deficit
Published on June 30, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Melanius Alphonse

The en-rouge revolution is over, the covenant destroyed -- a mere two and a half years into the Dr Kenny Anthony socialist government. As questions swirl, the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) slips deeper into eternal purgatory, making Dr Kenny Anthony’s prior experience in opposition purgatory look like a mere Sunday afternoon tea party.

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Melanius Alphonse is a management and development consultant. He is an advocate for community development, social justice, economic freedom and equality; the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM) www.lpmstlucia.com critic on youth initiative, infrastructure, economic and business development. He can be reached at malphonse@rogers.com
Perhaps this points the people of Saint Lucia to remedy the national tragedy of mistrusted leadership and economic crisis and to decide on a truly representative alternative that the Lucian Peoples’ Movement (LPM) is well positioned to provide.

To be truly clear, the need is for a deeper language that speaks to people’s souls, a change in mindset and practice, habits and direction that is deeper than red, yellow, blue or green. This should not be a surprise, but the outcome will create a new and more inclusive form of government to truly bring the people of Saint Lucia together on issues of principle.

However, the propaganda machinery and the agents of the socialist SLP government of Dr Kenny Anthony seem comfortable to do the opposite in a gross misrepresentation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) report and the facts associated with the current situation that confronts the government of Saint Lucia.

Nowhere in the IMF executive board conclusion of the 2014 discussion on common policies of member countries of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) was Saint Lucia mentioned. Neither did it make any specific recommendation to address the current predicament with the public service.

In its customary fashion of misrepresentation and deception, the government continues this practice by attempting to misuse the IMF as a big stick to beat the civil servants and to torment the people of Saint Lucia.

As things stand today, most seem to think that Saint Lucia is trapped by politicians who don't understand much. Here's what I mean with options on the way out.

One might have thought that, given all the experts that comprise the “best brains” in the socialist SLP government of Dr Kenny Anthony’s “party of substance”, they should have at least figured out their professed application of leadership, economic management and governance with the SLP collection of “wisdom.”

Instead Saint Lucians have come to realize that the SLP liberal leftist ideology is a national embarrassment of epic proportions. On a daily basis, their arguments are full of holes. Their coordination of information is contradictory by nature, compromising their ability to act, with no clear improvement in the way Saint Lucia should be governed.

It is evident that the socialist SLP government of Dr Kenny Anthony’s covenant with workers’ umbrella bodies and its claim to be the only one that can preserve the rights of the workers and provide for a better Saint Lucia awaits an ecumenical service and final passage. This much is well-known, as workers are not feeling better off than before. In fact, in recent times, workers have had to express themselves aggressively against exploitation and bureaucratic assessment that favour party elites and financiers. Thus, exposing the ideological dictator’s lack of reasoning and airborne arrogance!

For some time now, many came to the conclusion that the unbelievable offer of “better days” and other warranties that were sold during the election campaign of 2011 by the socialist SLP government of Dr Kenny Anthony would not survive the economic conditions then, much less the difficult economic times now.

That means the ideological liberal architects have become nervous and non-responsive to calls as to the true state of affairs that they have had knowledge of for many years, but choose to message adversely, and now cannot defend, for fear of exposing their active participation of the leadership and economic crisis that is facing Saint Lucia today.

The misuse of public funds by both administrations (SLP and UWP) dates back to 1997 and, as illustrated in the LPM press release on Monday June 23, 2014 – “Dirty politics contributing to St. Lucia’s debt crisis” – has resulted in major liabilities for the taxpayers.

It is also infinitely dangerous that scandals in regard to Rochamel/Frenwell (EC$45 million-plus), Grynberg (US$500 million plus legal fees), NCA (untold millions), Black Bay (EC$85 million-plus), EC$21.6 million for land at Canelles and another EC$30 million to recover lands at Black Bay in Vieux Fort and Laborie, Daher Mall EC$80 million and counting, along with questionable phone bills, tent rentals, travel expenses, large and unusual financial transactions in North America, the Taiwanese fund and the town and council report are all “against the public interest.”

As you and I know, debts don't just disappear. At the moment, a fraction of the corrupt millions spent above would solve the EC$76 million deficit crisis that threatens our very way of life, and threatens to burden the unborn children of Saint Lucia to a life of debt, suffering and even emotional slavery.

This now brings me to the principle that responsible leaders should take responsibility for their stewardship and for those within their command. But instead, past and present governments continue to exchange selective ideology while attempting to sell short-term solution(s), inequality and oppression, as commodity prices soar locally and on the world markets.

Therefore, in order for Saint Lucia to come out of the leadership and economic crisis and to boost growth from the current negative 3.3% economy into positive territory, a growth strategy has to be established to capture the future generation and Saint Lucia’s chances to economic prosperity.

As such, policies geared towards a comprehensive package of structural reform that targets healthcare, renewable energy (solar energy), new technology and services at competitive rates, the financial sector, and the continuation of labour reform must take shape. Agriculture (agro industry and fisheries) and product development is the other component that is essential to taper-off food inflation and public borrowing that is too high.

It is obvious that creating decent jobs is a combination of a positive reputation as a place to do business in an environment of law and order, with access to an educated workforce, skilled labour, energy and a decent infrastructure. Therefore, priority must focus on education and skill development to complement the immediate and future workforce. Also legislation such as the LPM recommendation dating back to October 1, 2012, that “Saint Lucia is in serious need of a debt ceiling, which will limit the amount of money that this government and all future governments can borrow.”

In contrast, it is fair to point out that the fourfold agenda mentioned in the budget statement 2014/2015 to underpin the appropriation bill for 2014/2015 is currently out of step “to set our country’s economy on a path of higher and sustained growth and employment; to create sustainable, fulfilling jobs, particularly for our youth; to steer our country’s public finances away from a fiscal cliff; and to build resilience, so that we can bounce back faster from future economic and natural shocks.”

In fact, based on various analyses, a downward spiral of Saint Lucia’s economy is in full effect. And, as stated in an earlier publication, the bureaucratic elite have blown it, and repeatedly at that, by their failure to combine the use of monetary policy, structural reform and fiscal stimulus, and to enable a better balance between price stability, growth, and inflation in an enabling macroeconomic environment for strong investor confidence and economic development.

Given the current environment of economic instability and political misinformation, the LPM will in no way offer the ruling Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) a pass nor will it allow any other competing political organization to gain future access to power without a comprehensive set of ideas to govern effectively. So, what does this mean?

Builders and architects agree that it is the simplest of ideas that go unnoticed, and eventually drive up costs or create waste. This can’t happen continuously; therefore, in anticipation of the prosperity for Saint Lucia, broad financial and political support is needed to inject dynamism. The sequence of events in the country requires a degree of urgency and Saint Lucia is in need of credible ideas to move our country forward, and not the usual mudslinging that has come to characterize politics in our country.

In the meantime, the alternative is a series of steps forward in a logical approach, and requires a reliable and high state of readiness to storm freedom ashore during this difficult time.

In my recent article, A moment of reckoning; it is time to redirect, the following, was stated “Indeed, there is need for an urgent commonsense revolution to revive the economy, placing more emphasis on lower personal, small and medium enterprise (SMEs) and corporate taxes, and a leaner government with minimal intrusion in business and commerce, with a pragmatic approach towards an economic development model that empowers people and enterprise in a sustainable way.”

Since then, the word “revolution” has resonated in other competing circles. In the light of such, I am obliged to define the framework and principles in order to remove any ambiguity.

The commonsense revolution that I referred to is one that sets goals, decides on the team members and their responsibilities. It sets key objectives towards implementation of policies, procedural and systematic changes, with programs to impact the beneficiaries, along with a public interface component that is clearly spelled out to account on its stewardship in the form of democratic governance.

In laying the foundation of action for future growth, other aspects of the commonsense revolution require a change of mindset that is committed to meet words with action, boost investment for the future, and to provide a national economic reconstruction of Saint Lucia to crush the acceptance of failed recycled politicians, mediocrity, pretence, arrogance and entitlement.

The socialist SLP government of Dr Kenny Anthony is worn-out and trapped mid-term, besides the backdrop of a broke and direction-less agenda that is unable to drive innovation to redefine the possible. But here's the Russian caviar, the government hopes you and I don’t take notice of that and act upon it!

There has never existed before a barometer by which to measure an elite bureaucratic enclave that has not kept up with a better policy framework, and have backpedalled on reform(s), on workers’ rights and the people of Saint Lucia in a continuous and condescending manner.

The most recent example of this is activating the Government Negotiating Team (GNT) in an about face, under duress. In fact, activating the GNT should have been the first course of action, preceding the budget debate. By now, much progress would have been made to face the harsh reality of the day, in contrast to expending months lecturing unsuccessfully.

But to add insult to injury, two agenda items were mandated: “salaries and conditions of work; and expenditure reduction and wage adjustment.” But that’s not all; here comes the Jesus moment of classic stonewall politics: “provided that we agree to the agenda indicated above and as suggested by the unions and associations, agree to complete negotiations within two weeks after the commencement of negotiations."

This is another illustration that constitutes pompous arrogance by risk-incarnate leadership and undisciplined decision making via a misguided communications strategy. These actions have little chance of changing hearts and minds or to correct errors and omissions, especially if already tried before in a different format.

Recognizing the inescapability of such risky habits that are being felt in a big way, through the socialist SLP government of Dr Kenny Anthony, this is exactly what happens when the truth is not told and when countries get too far in debt or when their consumption exceeds too much and produce too little and have to depend on borrowing and socialist dependency, if not at the mercy of a loan shark, if you can find one.

At the very least, the process has begun in the fight to win public opinion. From my point of reference, the choice is a modern configuration of governance to stabilize the political environment. Even more important, a sound understanding of industry, world economics and wealth generation, and to build up the private sector to create jobs and entrepreneurs, and to prioritize adequately the return of Saint Lucia into a regional and global force that is respected and well liked.

Related articles:
Shock and effect of frantic governance
Kenny Anthony’s kumbaya budget needs unions as capital underwriters
Keynesians liberal economic days are gone
An open letter to Dr Kenny Anthony Prime Minister of Saint Lucia
 
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