PLEASE, PLEASE, MY PLAN­TA­TION FOR A SCAPE­GOAT!

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

Ob­served Saint Lu­cia’s prime min­is­ter this week: “While I do not have up­dated fig­ures on the rate of un­em­ploy­ment, I ex­pect that un­em­ploy­ment will be con­tained and will grad­u­ally re­duce as in­vest­ment in­ten­si­fies and the econ­omy ex­pands.”

Ob­vi­ously the prime min­is­ter has been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing great dif­fi­culty in ac­cept­ing that he made another ma­jor blun­der, this time dur­ing a press con­fer­ence to an­nounce the econ­omy is on the re­bound. He ap­par­ently for­got that when as­sess­ing an “eco­nomic re­bound” he can­not af­ford to leave the coun­try’s acute un­em­ploy­ment sit­u­a­tion out of the equa­tion. The prime min­is­ter’s 17th Septem­ber press con­fer­ence has clearly stirred up some choppy wa­ters.

Was Dr. An­thony seek­ing to cover up the fes­ter­ing un­em­ploy­ment ul­cer cre­ated largely by his tax poli­cies and his ev­i­dent in­abil­ity to at­tract di­rect for­eign in­vest­ment to our in­creas­ingly crime-rid­den en­vi­ron­ment?

Four years af­ter his elec­tion prom­ise of job­sjobs-jobs and a hun­dred mil­lion job-cre­at­ing dol­lars to be in­vested in the pri­vate sec­tor “im­me­di­ately af­ter tak­ing of­fice,” mat­ters have only grown worse un­der his lead­er­ship: un­em­ploy­ment and un­em­ploy­a­bil­ity have es­ca­lated; busi­nesses con­tinue to close down at an in­creas­ing pace while this SLP ad­min­is­tra­tion spends its time con­coct­ing ridicu­lous ex­cuses for its sev­eral fail­ures.

And now it seems the prime min­is­ter is con­ve­niently los­ing his mem­ory, to the ex­tent that he can­not re­call who en­acted what coun­ter­pro­duc­tive laws, or the latest un­em­ploy­ment fig­ures.

Or is the prime min­is­ter’s con­tempt for the na­tion’s in­tel­li­gence the rea­son be­hind his mem­ory lapses? Give this jack his jacket: when in op­po­si­tion this prime min­is­ter could rat­tle off sta­tis­tics like Mr St. Cather­ine never could—es­pe­cially sta­tis­tics that tended to make the gov­ern­ment look bad. He could’ve told you with­out open­ing a book how bad was VAT, how op­pres­sive; anti-worker and anti-gov­ern­ment was that law. We know how that went. The un­em­ploy­ment fig­ures were al­ways at his fin­ger­tips. No more!

He could re­call rat­tle off with his eyes closed analy­ses of the so­cio–eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion over­seas and at home, com­plete with de­tails of lost jobs in key sec­tors; what plant had just laid off 60-100 sin­gle moth­ers; how many men were sud­denly on the bread­line. And of course, he never men­tioned such words as “world re­ces­sion.” The only per­son to blame was King; Stephen­son King, that is; not the doc­tor.

Un­em­ploy­ment then was sig­nif­i­cantly lower, just brush­ing the 20 per­cent es­ti­mate. Oh but now he can’t even re­call who promised jobs-jobs-jobs, let alone why the coun­try’s un­em­ploy­ment fig­ures are in the toi­let. Bet­ter to say, “I don’t know uhn.” Next it will be: How is me you ask­ing? Or: Since when dat’s your role!

The public is rightly ap­palled at the prime min­is­ter’s latest demon­stra­tion of con­tempt for the peo­ple. How more dis­mis­sive can you get? Is it pos­si­ble to care about some­thing when you know noth­ing about it? How re­mark­able that he would hold forth on tourism, con­struc­tion, man­u­fac­tur­ing, agri­cul­ture, de­clin­ing in­fla­tion, im­proved fis­cal per­for­mance, and real GDP (safe in the knowl­edge no one would stand up to chal­lenge his find­ings) but on un­em­ploy­ment say not a word, not a word, not a word—to quote Philip J. Pierre.

Blam­ing the di­rec­tor of sta­tis­tics won’t cut it; the buck stops at the PM’s desk. He made all the prom­ises based on what he had learned “while in Pur­ga­tory.” Not Mr. St. Cather­ine. The PM is the one who promised milk and honey and what­ever else he imag­ined would bring home the ba­con at elec­tion time. Not St. Cather­ine on whom the public can al­ways count for straight talk, re­gard­less of who is prime min­is­ter. St. Cather­ine ob­vi­ously knows well the lim­its of his role.

And now it seems the scape-goated public ser­vice is be­ing blamed for the rep­u­ta­tion of elected of­fi­cials as cor­rupt be­yond words. We will come to that soon enough. The prime min­is­ter made prom­ises he knew he could never de­liver. That the in­evitable has hap­pened should not be blamed on public ser­vants al­ready vic­tim­ized be­yond tol­er­ance. The prime min­is­ter should own up. He has been ex­posed as the em­peror with no clothes. It’s time to quit pre­tend­ing to be what clearly he is not— ex­cept in the view of the mur­der­ously starry-eyed!

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