Restore credibility on strategic pillars
the midst of modest growth, low oil and gas prices and upcoming new rules from global banks and financial service institutions in the global economy, there are a few game changers to eyeball in the closing days of 2014.
The World Bank has just issued a report called “Mind, Society and Behavior” listing many policies that have already been tried and points the way to many more - on how the insights of behavioral economics can be applied to global development and global health.
The real story here is the perspective on the offensive strategy and measures to counter the new rules of engagement and the game changing policy needed to get Saint Lucia the incentives needed to improve the way forward.
To restore credibility and trust, the hope and aspiration of the people must be built on strong structural pillars and sound fiscal policy. Not the deception of the 70s and 80s era!
Years of policy divergence has not led to reward and recovery for the people and the country. The political establishment of the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) is trying desperate political tricks and discreet opportunities to exploit, not solve, basic problems to change the economic woes. The SLP can’t rule based on its superficial expertise - best brain phenomenon - when there is mass unemployment of approximately 40% of young people between the ages of 15 and 35 years. And the SLP cannot formulate and articulate policy based on its understanding of what is required. In fact its ideological blindness to learn from its mistakes and that of others is quite vivid by abstract measures that are not specific to spur economic growth in a depressed economy.
What’s new is that people have reached their limit on a special kind of arrogance by the SLP that has superficial credibility! The people have reached their limit with an SLP government that does not listen to the people, thus ignoring the need to raise the bar on real transparency and better policy decisions rather than a daily dose of talking points and political ploy of division and disparity in our society.
The polarization in that respect is a deep stress factor, particularly on job creation, educational opportunities, skills development and advancement for youth and business.
To restore credibility, the strategic pillars must focus policy on the combined use of monetary policy, structural reform and fiscal stimulus, and on how to enable a better balance between price stability, growth and inflation in an enabling macroeconomic environment for strong investor confidence and the implementation of a Centre for Policy Alternatives; and a Centre for Innovation to enhance the promotion of skills upgrade in science, technology, engineering, maths (STEM) research and development (R&D) and to develop enterprise in areas of skills development alongside agro-commodities markets, farm and co-operative markets and initiatives to turn from long-term inequality and permanently impoverished communities.
Grand and abstract schemes of NICE, STEP and STEP-UP and four lane bridges at extravagant cost on a two lane thoroughfare are just that - schemes that unborn St. Lucians are indebted to, raising concerns about how to curb a growing public debt that would be better spent to engage young entrepreneurs, and on healthcare, extended early education and primary care, and opportunities for first time employment and internship.
Renewed support for manufacturers and the agriculture sector to retool plant and equipment; provide short-term tax relief to curb high raw material cost and the promotion of renewable energy to produce competitive products to revive local demand and satisfy international markets that would in reasonable time deliver a return on investment.
Saint Lucia would be better served to build bridges that free the country from social and economic deprivation, especially the youth and enclaves of towns, villages and the city of Castries that are staved of economic develop- ment and quality job opportunities.
It is deplorable to expect Saint Lucia to develop on parttime NICE and STEP political nepotism called “jobs.” This is a reckless disrespect that demeans the human soul and serves as a barrier to build a family and plan for the future.
A better direction is to formulate a platform of youth and business to combine creative ideas, new incentives to entrepreneurship via access to microloans and low interest loans, low bank charges and credit card fees, for home based start-ups (that centre on the family - rural and community development, women and youth) in the areas of agriculture and agro-business, solar energy, and technology. Promote the development of aquaculture, biogas and greenhouses, agriculture and energy agro-business, fish production, and in the process increase farm productivity with the goal to reduce by 30% the food import bill; closing the trade gap imbalance; safeguarding jobs and foreign exchange.
Saint Lucia would be better served to engage youth and business in the opportunity to formulate improvements and solve real situations that plague society today, and foster practical strategies to end deflation and generate growth.
To restore credibility will require finding a path to fiscal reconstruction to revive the economy on its enormous youthful population and to grow businesses that foster a higher level of national engagement and a deeper thought process. Likewise, the political establishment, regardless of affiliation, must trust its young leaders sufficiently to engage their creative confidence.
In setting that dynamic strategy, Saint Lucia must also change structurally to reassure competent political governance and policy stability, to stand a better chance in a thriving economy - not the political measures of social and economic promises, which is the way the SLP government often works to block a path to fiscal renewal.
Melanius Alphonse is a management and development consultant and member of the Lucian People’s Movement.