By Caribbean News Now contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia -- While the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM) said it welcomes the conciliatory tone of the prime minister’s address to the nation on Sunday evening, the party intends to adopt a wait-and-see attitude based on the many futile proclamations of national unity issued by Dr Kenny Anthony over the course of the 12 years during which he has served as prime minister of Saint Lucia.
The LPM maintains that a key test for the ruling St Lucia Labour Party (SLP) and its supporters will be the level of political tolerance for the dissenting voices of fellow Saint Lucian citizens with competing visions and ideas of how the country should be governed.
“Therefore, should St Lucia Labour Party continue along the current political trajectory of always repudiating and disrespecting ideas that do not emanate from within it, then those of us who have traditionally stood in opposition to this government and have had to endure the abuse and violation of our alienable rights as Saint Lucia citizens to hold political opinions will be left with no choice but to ignore Dr Anthony’s call for our participation in helping to formulate a ‘national vision’ for the future of our country,” the LPM said in a press statement.
As a progressive organisation, the party said it applauds the prime minister’s admission that the nation does have a persistent crime problem and that it is perhaps the single most important issue on the minds of all peace-loving Saint Lucians. His admonition to the nation that “we really must stop making excuses for ‘thuggery’ and criminality” has no doubt validated the long-standing position held by our party that hypocrisy and denial have served as the greatest impediments to the fight against crime, the LPM said.
“We openly acknowledge our agreement with the prime minister on this issue. However, we must also register our disappointment in his failure to present a credible plan or set of ideas with the capacity to deal significantly with the prevalence of crime in the country,” the party said.
The LPM added that it hopes that Anthony will finally take this opportunity to engage the party in this regard.
In the meantime, the party said, it may prove useful for the country if Anthony would take a little time to explore some of the ideas and recommendations that were given to him by the LPM in an open letter published on January 24, 2014.
“With regard to our nation’s finances, there can be absolutely no denial that the introduction of the VAT in Saint Lucia has done very little to boost government revenue,” the LPM said.
However, what is most frightening about this situation is the fact that, by Anthony’s own admission, not even the imposition of new taxes will be able to remedy the shortfall in government revenue during this difficult economic time, the party continued.
“In a single sentence of truth, Saint Lucia is cornered. Moreover, with our backs against the wall and our limited ability to borrow money, our government will be forced to make a number of very serious fiscal adjustments, eventually resulting in the mass layoff of public servants,” the LPM said in its response.
The LPM pointed out that, in the interest of the island’s socioeconomic development, the party has made various sound recommendations regarding reducing the public purse.
“If these recommendations -- such as the shutting down of the Saint Lucia Consulate in Miami and the sharing of embassy space with OECS member states in New York -- had been considered (among other recommendations), Saint Lucia would be in a better financial position today,” the LPM said.
“Now that the harsh economic reality has arrived on our shores, and most importantly, the doorsteps of our citizens, it is difficult for anyone to truly believe that the worst is almost over. The compounding unemployment statistics tell the story of how many of our people are languishing in poverty,” the party said.
The LPM said it is saddened that its well-researched initiatives have been completely ignored by the government of Saint Lucia due to political selfishness.
“However, we still hold on to a glimmer of hope that Dr Anthony and his government are sincere this time about engaging the people of Saint Lucia in the management of the country,” the LPM concluded.
No corresponding response to Anthony’s address has been received from the opposition United Workers Party (UWP).