I have been enjoying a sabbatical from writing, and just spending some time observing our society over the last few weeks. However, I was greatly amused by a recent article written by David Prescod in which he ventured into journalistic mischief by attempting to suggest that I had some insider information on the recent CDB Report. Let me settle the mind of my fellow civil engineer by saying to him that I got my information on the Report from listening to an analysis on MBC TV from an interview by Shelton Daniel with an Economics Lecturer from UWI Cave Hill. In an effort to bring more substance to his ridiculous theory Mr. Prescod proceeded to couple the comments I made with a statement of the Opposition Leader a few days after my article was written. Sad indeed my friend, sad indeed.
Let me categorically state that I remain of the firm view that maintaining the 15 % VAT at this time is the best policy for Saint Lucia, and I believe the economy is too fragile at this point for such tampering with the revenue stream of government. Politicians for some very weird reason believe that the electorate is not smart, yet the same electorate is declared smart when they are voted into office. I believe the majority of Saint Lucians would have understood if this present administration conveyed that having done a proper an exhaustive analysis of the VAT, the economists are saying that it should not be tampered with at this stage.
I am of the opinion that increasing the cost of travel to Saint Lucia is a dangerous move when your tourism arrivals are dwindling. A tourist in the USA has the Bahamas, Jamaica, Cancun, Santo Domingo, Cuba, Puerto Rico, USVI, BVI, Anguilla, St Maarten, St Martin, St Kitts, Nevis, Antigua as cheaper travel, we are low down the pecking order. It is even more confusing when the UK Gov’t was chastised by the Caribbean hoteliers, and even our own tourism leaders, for imposing a passenger tax. We were told about the serious consequences of this decision on tourist arrivals. Has the concern disappeared?
The last SLP Government spent over $ 2.0 million in fees to the IFC for the preparation of the last approach to develop the airport. This project involved giving a 30 year lease of the airport, a decision I had great concern over. While SLASPA suggested that it included the repaving of the runway, I have my doubts. There are two issues that need to be considered at Hewanorra International Airport. Firstly, the runway is past its design life and is in a very poor state. It is now more critical to repave the runway than it is to improve the terminal. The repaving of the runway thus becomes the number one priority. The second issue is that the design of terminals has evolved over the years as technology has significantly reduced the ‘check –in’ spatial requirements for new terminals. In fact you can now decouple the whole process of ‘check- in’ from the terminal building. But as my friend Rick will say that is for another show.
My short sabbatical did allow me to observe the level of lawlessness that exists within our society. I sat in the carpark of Gablewoods, and could not believe the number of drivers that cannot read signs. There was a huge sign stating that parking was reserved for the Physically Challenged and driver after driver with complete disregard, drove into these parking spaces. Surprisingly, they were not young drivers, but senior people, all supposed well learned. Then I walked into Castries and saw a contractor on the William Peter Boulevard operating with complete disregard of pedestrians and the drainage systems of the city. The drains were completely destroyed to gain entrance to the site, a backhoe was parked upon the side walk, and all I could have done was to shake my head in disgust at this travesty. My frustration continued as I drove along the Gros Islet Highway and I pulled over for a short period on the shoulder in front of the abandoned Mall in Bois d’Orange, and sighed again with disgust. This is expensive property just left idle by successive governments, people are now dumping waste on the land, and all types of abandoned trailers are left strewn on the property.
I have decided to buy some dark shades; just maybe the pain to the heart may be less.
So the next time anyone has a concern on the source of information concerning any matter I have written take the high road of intellectual honesty and ask me. Doh try datagain !!