The eye–opener that three years of Labour has pro­duced

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT - By Alexis B. Montgamery

Labour’s thirty–six months in of­fice have been very telling. It has shown that there is a vast dis­tinc­tion be­tween what the gov­ern­ment said they would do to im­ple­ment change for the bet­ter; and what they have ac­tu­ally done over this pe­riod. It is time to bring un­der scru­tiny the prickly – cac­tus type of gov­er­nance this is­land has borne from Novem­ber 2011 to the present.

Noth­ing is as fu­tile as at­tempt­ing to ex­pel from the mind what a man has wit­nessed and ex­pe­ri­enced first­hand. This sug­gests that the so– called spin doc­tors will have to re­visit Abra­ham Lin­coln’s old quote that: “You can fool some peo­ple all of the time, and all of the peo­ple some of the time but you can­not fool all of the peo­ple all of the time.”

Un­for­tu­nately, labour fol­low­ers have demon­strated great dif­fi­culty grasp­ing that con­cept. Suf­fice it to say that cit­i­zens should be given a chance to tell their story. In­deed it is not the ex­clu­sive right of only one sec­tor to ex­press them­selves. Only those with lit­tle or no re­spect for the prin­ci­ples of democ­racy seem bent on pro­mot­ing a Saint Lu­cia Labour Party for life state of mind and one party state. They need to be cog­nizant that there are more mod­er­ate minded peo­ple in the coun­try. In­ci­den­tally, should they wish to pur­chase a pri­vate lala land and go re­side there to un­in­ter­rupt­edly cod­dle in their own par­tic­u­lar brand of utopia along with me­chan­i­cally pro­grammed party hacks, then so be it. Un­til such time, let us re­spect the democ­racy in which we live, which is def­i­nitely not a one party state.

Even though it is well known that dis­sent­ing voices are not well tol­er­ated by the in­cum­bent and their sup­port­ers, let us trust that they still sub­scribe to the prin­ci­ple that this is a gov­ern­ment by the peo­ple for the peo­ple and not a gov­ern­ment by the peo­ple but for it­self and the boys and girls club only.

Our anal­y­sis be­gins in 2010. Re­mem­ber all the con­tro­versy that ac­com­pa­nied the re­lo­ca­tion of the Min­istry of Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs, to the spank­ing new of­fices at the Bay­walk Mall. The min­istry was headed by for­mer For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Ru­fus Bous­quet. The SLP was livid and ag­i­tated about this re­lo­ca­tion, point­ing os­ten­si­bly to the mind-blow­ing rent which they claimed to stand at $135,000.00 per month although the UWP de­nied this fig­ure say­ing the rent ac­tu­ally was just over $114,000.00. What­ever the strong con­cerns the Labour party had about this ten year lease, one would have thought that upon com­ing into of­fice they would have ex­ited the lease if not forth­with, cer­tainly by now, as proof to the pub­lic that they are gen­uinely con­cerned about gov­ern­ment’s ex­pen­di­ture on rental of of­fice space. Alas th­ese of­fices are still oc­cu­pied by the said min­istry and is said to be not only the envy of all in Cab­i­net but more so, is a wellap­pointed and per­son­al­ized of­fice space, well–pleas­ing to one par­tic­u­lar min­is­ter. This was an is­sue SLP turned into a me­dia cir­cus and me­dia tours had to be con­ducted to show the gen­uine rea­sons why th­ese of­fices were be­ing re­lo­cated. After kick­ing up such a furor about it, the same labour party now has no prob­lem oc­cu­py­ing the space on the fifth level of the Bay­walk Mall for the past thirty six months.

Ref­er­ence to the Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs is­sue, one of many, which Labour mis­chie­vously man­u­fac­tured while in op­po­si­tion was de­lib­er­ate as it serves to il­lus­trate a pat­tern of the­atre and op­pos­ing for op­pos­ing sake, which per­haps the pub­lic had mis­read at the time. But the party has sus­tained this pat­tern of be­hav­ior as one of its strate­gic char­ac­ter­is­tics through­out their term in of­fice.

Labour’s very first prom­ise to Saint Lu­cians is still pend­ing to this day and on their much lauded three year track record, it still can­not be pulled out of their hat of tricks. It is yet to come into fruition. For those who pre­fer to for­get this epic prom­ise, look it up in the 2011 man­i­festo. It reads: “In­ject $100 mil­lion im­me­di­ately into the econ­omy for job cre­ation and re­con­struc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties.”

By May of 2012 when there were no signs of this mas­sive cash in­jec­tion into the ail­ing econ­omy, the op­po­si­tion de­cided to make its ram­blings pub­licly, in re­gard to this now pro­tracted and un­ful­filled prom­ise. A CMC ar­ti­cle of May, 2012 records the UWP’s re­ac­tion.

“The main op­po­si­tion United Work­ers Party (UWP) is re­mind­ing the rul­ing St. Lu­cia Labour Party (SLP) of its cam­paign prom­ises in­clud­ing an im­me­di­ate in­jec­tion of EC$100 mil­lion (US$37 mil­lion) into the lo­cal econ­omy.

The UWP said that the gov­ern­ment can­not now re­nege on its prom­ises mak­ing ref­er­ence to state­ments by Prime Min­is­ter Dr. Kenny An­thony and the SLP’s gen­eral sec­re­tary Leo Clarke that the funds would now be in­jected in phases.

“The Prime Min­is­ter and his gov­ern­ment along with their op­er­a­tives must be re­minded that the St. Lu­cian elec­torate can­not be fooled,” the UWP said, not­ing that the gov­ern­ment said the mul­ti­mil­lion dol­lar in­jec­tion into the econ­omy was to cre­ate jobs and re­con­struc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties.

“This prom­ise is stated in clear and un­am­bigu­ous lan­guage and can only be un­der­stood in one way. There is only one way to in­ter­pret the word “im­me­di­ately,” the party said, adding that “this bold and glam­orous prom­ise,” was among a lst of 20 used by the SLP to gain the favour of the elec­torate.

The St Lu­cian elec­torate is ea­ger to know whether the Prime Min­is­ter is now seek­ing to use the long hand of Value Added Tax (VAT) (com­ing on Septem­ber 1), to in­trude into the al­ready shal­low pock­ets of the cit­i­zens to raise the promised EC$100 mil­lion.” “You can fool some of the peo­ple all of the time, and all of the peo­ple some of the time, but you can­not fool all of the peo­ple all of the time” be­cause now they see the Light.

Another prom­ise by the gov­ern­ment as stated in the man­i­festo 2011:

“Cre­ate im­me­di­ate em­ploy­ment by un­der­tak­ing the com­pre­hen­sive re­build­ing of our coun­try’s in­fra­struc­ture that was dam­aged by Hur­ri­cane To­mas.”

Thirty six months in gov­ern­ment and the cur­rent Gov­ern­ment can­not as yet bring into ef­fect a full com­ple­tion of post To­mas in­fras­truc­tural works. Hur­ri­cane To­mas paid a solemn call on the night of Fri­day, Oc­to­ber 30, 2010. By the next morn­ing the UWP gov­ern­ment was al­ready be­ing lam­basted for not ex­pe­dit­ing the coun­try’s re­cov­ery from the dev­as­ta­tion and tragedy. As far as the SLP then in op­po­si­tion was con­cerned, they should do so within a few, short im­prac­ti­cal months. An un­sym­pa­thetic at­ti­tude was ex­hib­ited by the SLP while in op­po­si­tion. Now that they are in gov­ern­ment they ap­pre­ci­ate dif­fer­ently the scale of the dam­age un­leashed by the cat­e­gory 2 dis­as­ter. They now know that To­mas had taken a sig­nif­i­cant toll on the lo­cal econ­omy. The SLP is now aware that the UWP gov­ern­ment had been seek­ing out­side as­sis­tance which takes sev­eral months to a year to se­cure, in terms of meet­ing the formalities of pa­per­work, pro­cess­ing, due dili­gence and ap­proval. In 2014, multi–mil­lion dol­lar bridges are still be­ing con­structed as part of post To­mas in­fras­truc­tural works. As re­cently as in Oc­to­ber the Gov­ern­ment of Saint Lu­cia re­ceived au­tho­riza­tion, to bor­row ap­prox­i­mately US$68 mil­lion from the In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion (IDA), for post-Hur­ri­cane To­mas re­cov­ery ef­forts.

The SLP, once at the helm of gov­ern­ment, could not them­selves pro­duce the magic wand type re­sults that they were bul­ly­ing the UWP about, in or­der to make good on their over­stated and overblown prom­ises to the peo­ple of Saint Lu­cia. The peo­ple have been watch­ing ex­pec­tantly for three years now with­out much to en­cour­age their quickly fad­ing op­ti­mism, we might add. “You can fool some of the peo­ple all of the time, and all of the peo­ple some of the time, but you can­not fool all of the peo­ple all of the time” be­cause now they see the Light.

(Next Week: more prom­ises?)

t the SLP Con­fer­ence last week in cel­e­bra­tion of three year’s in of­fice: L-R-For­mer po­lit­i­cal leader of the SLP Ju­lian R Hunte, Guest Speaker

Den­zil Dou­glas prime min­is­ter of St. Kitts, Ne­vis and Kenny An­thony po­lit­i­cal leader of the SLP.

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