By Melanius Alphonse
Celebrating Saint Lucia’s 40 years of independence is a historical achievement measured on the scale of human resource achievements, socio-economic development and geographic advantage.
Even so, it’s a rare moment of truth as written in prime minister Allen Chastanet’s independence message that, “There is still a lot of work to be done in the areas of crime, education, health care, agriculture, housing, environment, and in the eradication of poverty.
As a grown-up nation of 40, we need to be bold and confident, to be disciplined, family-oriented, show maturity and above all remain humble. When people think of Saint Lucia we must be seen as innovators, a country of excellence, a nation that is peaceful and God-fearing.
On the attainment of independence, the political decorate squandered a huge advantage then to unlock financing and economic development necessary to building a path forward that supports economic growth and prosperity. And now, tapping the potential sectors needed to forge ahead with changes to develop the country’s competitive advantage and national interest heralds a dismal performance.
Similar, decision-makers have tolerated doing little to change structural power, conventional thinking and the political bureaucracy. Meanwhile this hasn’t helped; the tendency to secrecy has subdued the way forward, letting others do that for us.
The real issue is a path forward for economic development, and that means it’s time to take back the country from the plutocrats and a ragtag cadre of an ill-defined administration.
Why not, in the midst of the erosion of democracy that perpetuates corrupt governments and rigged economies playing with philanthropic foundations, providing phoney solutions?
Adapting to various situations even as concerns are raised on an ambitious infrastructure program across Saint Lucia and the worst consequences that the country is being used as a ‘gamblers paradise’, among other things can’t access the right markets and investments.”
One could potentially peel off the intellectual and ideological apart but in the formation of an isolationist country, ongoing political gamesmanship and socio-economic inequality, the prime minister’s independence address acknowledged that “We must be ready to pilot the restoration of the economic and social fortunes of our country.”
That said, the administration has given up control of building a country that we envision and the dividends derived placed beyond the shores and reach of Saint Lucians. Thus, squandering another opportunity to drive our economy, branding the way we envisage, and develop in a most eco-friendly and sustainable way.
Such has benefitted only a privileged élite who argue correctly “All-In”, as ruled by the colonial dynasty, living a marvelous life, while the middle and working-class people are deprived of basic human necessity.
And so, here’s further truth to the claim of diminishing returns at 40, the consequence and the challenges Prime Minister Allen Chastanet’s independence address espouse.
“We are painfully aware that too many Saint Lucians are living in less than ideal circumstances” leaving out that his administration has made it difficult and many have seen their quality of life deteriorate to previously unthinkable levels.”
“We need to provide proper health care for all our people; we need better housing; we need to establish an education system that meets the demands of the modern workplace.”
Yet, St Jude hospital and Owen King European Union (OKEU) hospital is yet to be commissioned, never-mind a growing lack of sympathy, the prime minister continues to snubbed protest action. Worse still, both hospitals are said to be heading into foreign control, in less than ideal affordability, underpins living standards.
Clearly, the government of Saint Lucia is bogus, specifically to adherent narratives by the prime minister pretence and superficial platitudes.
“As we reflect on this journey, we must also keep in mind the things that bind us together: our faith, our values, our community, our shared accomplishments, our families.
“But we must admit there have been times when it seemed we had lost sight of our goals; our aspirations. We started to see ourselves as victims and in the process gave up control of our own destiny. Instead of sticking together as a small island threatened by a new world order, we permitted ourselves to turn on one another. To tear each other down.
“Let us also stop blaming others; let us instead acknowledge our own shortcomings. Only then will we be able to begin overcome them.
“Now at 40, we have no choice but to accept our responsibilities, the first being to guarantee ourselves, and those who rely on us, a better now and tomorrow — regardless of impediments; come rain or shine. We can no longer afford to be distracted by small-mindedness and selfish considerations.
“Even as we celebrate our achievements, we must also look back on our shortcomings; on the past actions that made our national goals that much more difficult to achieve. We must now recognize the difference between difficult and impossible. With united determination, we can reverse negative trends and get back on the road to national fulfillment. It is never too late to recommit ourselves.”
Bemoaning an overhang is widely a public relations stunt of convenient truth to damage control hitherto, more than reflect setbacks “to stand up and play our part in pushing our country forward”. However, celebrating our national heroes and “our soldiers of patriotism, “government remains pre-occupied with the Saint Lucia national trust, and continue to undermine institutions none aligned with the evils of the usual suspects.
By contrast, to conscientiously not advocate for medical care for all, minimum and/ or livable wage, the prime minister continuous superficial narratives simply make it more obvious his accord with the status quo.
“Of course, government has a role to play. But no government can be successful without a people, united in the commitment to others, a devotion to charity, to duty and to patriotism. It’s that humility; that community spirit, that “All-In” mindset that strengthens us to work for the good of Saint Lucia.”
“Success will only be achieved if we work harder and smarter as a country. And we must do so, together”; is contrary to an administration that repeatedly trash the constitution and the rule of law, and on the permeable surface bear true faith and allegiance to it, says with a straight face, “Above all, it will take a united effort between government and all Saint Lucians to guarantee safety and security for all.”
The very reason safety and security impact is catastrophic to most basic functions of national security and an array of other new technologies to intelligence failures, widely ignores budget allocations, training and equipment for the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) after 40 years of independence. The exception decries the value of independence and the main function of governance to its people.
As always, ill-defined administrations political and economic policies are the exact opposite of the spoken word, actions taken and desired results.
These actions compliment the cooperation of extortionist and more often than not exploit the angst and fear of working-class people through deprivation and class warfare.
So, how could one support such a government irrespective of ideology and an ever-growing list of defectors for regime change that seems determined?
Politics is the art of the possible. The calculus has changed and there is a realization that this is a do-or-die moment in the country.
Many analysts say attrition is on the rise and the prime minister’s independence message “leaves much to be desired in content on what’s next on the horizon. This likewise “underscores a miserable exhibition of platitudes and unrealistic empty phrases”, void of policy and fiscal commitments capable to inspire present and future generations.
In earnest reflection, at 40, and a government with little to showcase and inspire, distinguishing ends from means, decision-making is purely political and contingent on political loyalty to preserve support.
Spending without restraint to celebrate 40 years has given cover to corruption that blur the difference between expenditure and investment that raise value and profitability.
To date, poor thinking has easily double Saint Lucia’s foreign debt, while exploiting national assets and resources, deepening the existing economic crisis.
In the light of decisions being made plutocratically and privately shaping Saint Lucia, through business arrangements and market arrangements, the prospects for change is likely to take on even more significance that resembles pre independence attitude.
Further, with less than ideal governance and an increasing number of detractors amidst the deterioration of the well being of Saint Lucians and Saint Lucia, at 40, the prime minister’s comportment and sense of optimism are rather extraordinary.
This critically leaves most in doubt on whether to laugh or cry, or to get nervous as to the sort of model being defined for Saint Lucia. At 40, this is the time to take a deep breath, rather late, than never.