By Caribbean News Now contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia -- The Saint Lucia prime minister’s press secretary, Jadia Jn Pierre Emmanuel, has come under attack from local politicians for what is described as her “naked propaganda”.
On Monday, the Office of the Prime Minister released a statement entitled “IMF recommends reduction in Saint Lucia’s wage bill
", referring to a press release
on June 19, 2014, by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) outlining a discussion earlier in the month by the executive board of the IMF on the common policies of member countries of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU).
However, nowhere in the IMF release was Saint Lucia mentioned and neither did it make any specific recommendation to address the current situation with public service wage costs in Saint Lucia, as the Prime Minister’s Office claimed.
Melanius Alphonse of the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM) described the prime minister’s statement as “a gross misrepresentation of the IMF release and the facts associated with the current situation faced by the government of Saint Lucia.”
“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,” Alphonse said.
He added that, given the current environment of economic instability and political misinformation, the LPM will in no way offer the ruling St 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.
“Saint Lucia is in need of credible ideas to move our country forward, and not the usual mudslinging which has come to characterize politics in our country,” Alphonse said.
Jadia Jn Pierre Emmanuel
Meanwhile, the United Workers Party (UWP) accused the prime minister’s press secretary of desperately seeking to cover-up the debacle of Prime Minister Kenny Anthony’s 5% wage cut ultimatum to public servants.
“The press secretary sought to deceive the public into making a direct link between the calls by the IMF and the evident results of the disastrous performance of the Kenny Anthony government in management of the Saint Lucian economy,” the UWP said in a statement.
Referring to what it described as Emmanuel’s “calculated propaganda ploy”, the UWP said that the press secretary neglected to inform Saint Lucians that such recommendations from the IMF are not new and have been repeatedly made almost in the same language to regional governments over the years.
For example, the UWP pointed out, in its 2003 Country Report (Clause 30), the IMF made the following recommendations to the then Kenny Anthony Administration: “Priority should be given to carrying out a strong upfront fiscal adjustment and continued moderation in expenditures in the medium term. The rising debt-to-GDP ratio raises concern about fiscal sustainability. The staff welcomes the authorities’ intention to slow debt accumulation through spending restraint, including a reduction in capital outlays... To ensure this, the staff urges additional steps to contain current expenditures, accelerated tax reform, and stepped-up establishment of the Revenue Authority...”
The UWP advised Emmanuel that her efforts would be best spent advising the prime minister to climb down from his stubborn posture and to give active consideration to the numerous recommendations submitted by public sector unions and other stakeholders including some of his “so-called consultants”.
“She may also wish to further advise her boss to adopt a more open-minded attitude in his efforts to engage public servants,” the UWP added.
Calling on Anthony resign as the minister of finance, economic affairs and social security before the country faces an even greater crisis, the UWP said, “His willingness to concede to failure and demit office will allow Saint Lucians the privilege of choosing a new government to begin our recovery from economic purgatory.”
This is not the first time that Emmanuel’s performance and role of the prime minister’s press secretary – a civil service position paid for out of public funds – has been questioned in recent months as she has strayed into political territory in improper personal attacks on, for example, the UWP leader Allen Chastanet.