Build­ing a Bet­ter Saint Lu­cia

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By

Michael Walker

Just for the heck of it I read the 2011 St Lu­cia Labour Party Man­i­festo on the long flight from Hong Kong to Lon­don last night. The cover it­self was quite re­veal­ing: It pur­ported to be a Blueprint for Growth by Build­ing a Bet­ter Saint Lu­cia sym­bol­ized by a hand­ful of soil and a three-leafed seedling; the mixed metaphor was a giveaway. The slo­gan ‘Bet­ter Days Are Com­ing' – with­out say­ing when – was, bet­ter yet, an easy prom­ise to make. The Foun­da­tion com­prised nine ar­eas of im­prove­ment: Restruc­tured Econ­omy, Cre­at­ing Jobs, Sup­port for Lo­cal Business, En­cour­ag­ing In­vest­ment, New Pol­icy Mea­sures, Tourism, Agri­cul­ture and Fish­eries, Cre­ative In­dus­tries, In­ter­na­tional Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices, and ba­si­cally any­thing else you might think of.

Well if you call a ru­ined econ­omy a ‘restruc­tured econ­omy' I guess Kenny kept that prom­ise. As for ‘Cre­at­ing Jobs' well they were an­other of the PM's well-kept se­crets that were prob­a­bly hid­den where the ‘Sup­port for Lo­cal Business' lan­guished. ‘En­cour­ag­ing In­vest­ment' be­came ‘Sell­ing off Ci­ti­zen­ship'. ‘New Pol­icy Mea­sures' – un­spec­i­fied of course – were as­signed to the ‘your guess is as good as mine' cat­e­gory, and as for ‘Tourism' - check the ho­tel oc­cu­pancy! As far as ‘Agri­cul­ture and Fish­eries' are con­cerned, just look at all the im­ported fruit and veg­eta­bles on su­per­mar­ket shelves, or try to buy your favourite fish from the ev­er­shrink­ing pool of lo­cal fish­er­men (sorry, we are sup­posed to say ‘fish­ers' th­ese days in recog­ni­tion of all the ladies em­ployed in the in­dus­try – smile please).

Two SLP Pil­lars rose ma­jes­ti­cally from this shaky Foun­da­tion: ‘Our (SLP) Na­tional Se­cu­rity Pro­gramme' and ‘Our (SLP) Hu­man and So­cial De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme'. The first promised the ‘Strength­en­ing of the Po­lice' but that was be­fore Kenny went on the at­tack and did his very best to alien­ate the po­lice force, of course. It seems that the po­lice force has never been held in such low es­teem by the ci­ti­zens it is man­dated to pro­tect. Whose fault that is, I wouldn't care to say, ex­cept of course to men­tion that few if any prime min­is­ters have ma­ligned their po­lice forces as U-No-Hu has done. (We must not for­get the China-Tai­wan diplo­matic re­la­tions flir­ta­tions fi­asco that in­sulted and an­gered both po­ten­tial al­lies.)

Then came ‘New Mod­ern Leg­is­la­tion' (as op­posed to old, out­dated leg­is­la­tion) which per­haps should more cor­rectly have been des­ig­nated ‘airy-fairy-un­spec­i­fied leg­is­la­tion' or ‘we'll see what is most ex­pe­di­ent' – like VAT. Just a quick word about VAT: I think it is a great, fair tax if ap­plied wisely, but the way Kenny in­tro­duced it was, to say the least, mis­lead­ing. He in­di­cated that VAT would al­le­vi­ate the fol­low­ing prob­lems: ‘All chil­dren, from birth, get ac­cess to qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion; all ci­ti­zens have ac­cess to af­ford­able health care; high-risk groups get ef­fec­tive so­cial pro­tec­tion ser­vices; the pop­u­la­tion is ser­viced by an ef­fi­cient public ser­vice . . . ' Has any of this hap­pened, or come close to hap­pen­ing, since the in­tro­duc­tion of VAT? Of course not, the money just dis­ap­peared!

Here's an­other whop­per from the Man­i­festo of 2011: ‘When our Party was in of­fice we pro­vided a cush­ion to con­sumers from high prices of petrol and cook­ing gas. Once again, this will be the ba­sis for our pol­icy on fuel costs.” Well, I seem to re­call, un­til re­cently, record high prices on fuel, but peo­ple for­get so eas­ily, as Kenny well knows, dur­ing a ‘year-be­fore-the-elec­tion' year.

Then came – wait for it – a ‘Stronger Jus­tice Sys­tem'. Hon­estly, has our jus­tice sys­tem, if it ex­ists at all, ever been in such a sham­bles? At times it has seemed that the PM and the Di­rec­tor of Public Pros­e­cu­tions, let alone the le­gal fra­ter­nity and soror­ity, have been at odds – not to say ‘war' – with each other. What a way to strengthen the jus­tice sys­tem!

Fi­nally, prob­a­bly be­cause they had a line to fill, noth­ing else, the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Pro­gramme promised to tackle un­spec­i­fied ‘So­cial Is­sues', which pre­sum­ably means that so­ci­ety is much bet­ter now than five years ago. Of course, Kenny has trav­elled abroad so much in the past five years he can­not be blamed for not know­ing how so­ci­ety has de­te­ri­o­rated back home.

The sec­ond Pil­lar to rise from the Foun­da­tion: the ‘Hu­man and So­cial De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme' of ‘Ed­u­ca­tion, Health, So­cial Trans­for­ma­tion, Hous­ing, Na­tional Her­itage and Sports'. (I'm sorry to go on about Foun­da­tions and Twin Pil­lars but they were there in the Man­i­festo – clear ev­i­dence of Kenny's ob­ses­sion with a blinded and bat­tered Sam­son tear­ing down Saint Lu­cia's Philis­tine Tem­ple of Dagon – the Fish God, and a cold fish in­deed – will­ing to de­stroy him­self and ev­ery­thing around him rather than suc­cumb to op­po­si­tion.) Well, Ed­u­ca­tion has not im­proved and can­not be im­proved by tem­po­rary cash hand­outs; the Health sys­tem is a dis­grace de­spite the best ef­forts of doc­tors and hospi­tal staff; So­cial Trans­for­ma­tion – what trans­for­ma­tion? Hous­ing? The peo­ple in power al­ready have their houses; Na­tional Her­itage has, as they say, been around a long time – that's what Her­itage means; and as for Sports, well maybe Dar­ren and Lev­ern re­ally could cap­tain the coun­try bet­ter!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Saint Lucia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.