Commentary: Pemandu multi-million consultancy in St Lucia raises conspiracy theories

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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 News Now Global analysis. He can be reached at [email protected]

By Melanius Alphonse

At the November 20, 2018, sitting of parliament, the government of Saint Lucia borrowed EC$13 million from the Caribbean Development Bank, (CDB) for consultants to conduct implementation workshops and to set up a Performance Management and Delivery Unit (known as Pemandu), reaffirming that the entire policy focus and socio-economic agenda of the government of Saint Lucia is skewed and distorted at the altar of lies, damned lies, statistics or terminological inexactitudes at the expense of taxpayers.

The beneficiaries are corporate welfare that the Allen Chastanet-led administration passionately espouses.

An analysis of events exposes the pleasure of economic and political power without any national vision and credible social-economic plan to translate imperious words into policy, capable of delivering objectives in a sustainable and inclusive manner.

The continuation of ignorance, ineptitude, lack of morals and integrity, on the real challenges of public policy and administration, financial management, integrity of public data and sustainable economic investment for development is remarkable.

Much less attention is given to wage increases, youth unemployment and skills development, managing the cost of living, the scourge of corruption and runaway debt that we all should be scared.

It’s clear, however, that national development, leadership and socio-economic solutions that must be formulated moving forward is void and requires urgent attention.

But short of believing Prime Minister Chastanet in a hapless rump of “his truth” that “We had an offer from a company called Pemandu, a company that did this similar thing for Malaysia, and Malaysia became one of the fastest growing countries in a very competitive region of the world,” there is reason to believe that Cambridge Analytica and Strategic Communications Laboratories (SCL), left clear footprints in Saint Lucia.

Pemandu (Malaysia’s Performance Management and Delivery Unit) was established in September 2009 with Dato Sri Idris Jala as its chief executive, “with two clear objectives; to drive Malaysia’s transformation into a high-income nation by 2020, and to work ourselves out of this job.”

Idris Jala was appointed minister in the Office of the Prime Minister and chief executive of Pemandu in 2009, responsible for leading the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) and the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), which underpin Malaysia’s efforts to become a developed, high-income nation by 2020.

Pemandu Associates is a private consultancy firm focused on public sector transformation, business turnaround and communications.

On the CDB website, prior to the link being replaced with a 404 message “you seem lost”, read in part:

“Under Idris Jala leadership, Pemandu was also named by NESTA, UK and Bloomberg Philanthropies as one of the top 20 most innovative Government agencies in the world. For two consecutive years, Pemandu was awarded the Best Public Sector Reforms Programme by Cambridge IF Analytica at the Global Good Governance (3G) Awards held in Istanbul. Today, Idris Jala travels around the world assisting governments deliver their very own transformation journeys.”

[Note: The link as of publication still has a 404 message, “you seem lost.”]

Pemandu’s public impact, its significant achievement and assertion that Malaysia is close to becoming a high-income nation are at odds depending on who you ask among Asian Development Bank experts, data analysis and strategic communication analysis.

Frequent missteps by the Chastanet-led administration reveal that they have lost direction in all sectors of the social and economic sphere. Moreover, what Prime Minister Allen Chastanet says is more often than not ambivalent and the intricacies of believing what he says are more complex.

Thus, keeping an eye on their double standards and intent at diluting and isolating the public service, protections of transparency and accountability, never mind the Lima Commitment to work together to fight against the pervasive corruption that is widespread in government and the private sector in many of the hemisphere’s countries.

Interviewed on a New York radio station in 2017, Prime Minister Chastanet said: “We have over US$1.5 billion in foreign investments committed to come to Saint Lucia in the next two years,” yet, when questioned by local reporters recently, his retort was a zinger: “I never committed anything!”

Absolutely, lying has negative repercussions in common with the Chastanet-led administration’s economic challenges of attracting high-quality investments, high-paying, high-skilled jobs, while marginal growth has been trending towards low and mid-skilled jobs, led by high youth unemployment.

Equally, the figures simply don’t add up amid an inept administration and the Desert Star Holdings (DSH) project in its current form is not expected to boost GNI and ETP global competitiveness and international benchmarks.

These connect provocateurs, shrewd entrepreneurs and hustlers in the art of double-talk, incapable of telling the truth, reasons why they cannot be trusted in the era of Cambridge Analytica, and Strategic Communications Laboratories (SCL).

In Saint Lucia, SCL worked with the ruling United Workers Party (UWP) and the then Stephenson King administration during the 2011 general elections. During the 2018 budget debate, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet admitted that Cambridge Analytica worked with the UWP during its successful 2016 elections campaign.

Nevertheless, in a sneaky and duplicitous way, it is the prime minister’s expectation that Pemandu’s capabilities, set to consume EC$13 million of taxpayers’ money, will rewrite the rules and help government reposition a socio-economic agenda midway in a five year term.

To be continued…

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