The 2018 Throne Speech reflected a new set of Government priorities for the next fiscal year and was pregnant with gubernatorial promises.
Returning Her Majesty’s address to the linguistic confines of its royal origin, the new Governor General opted for his own strength of expression in the language of the realm.
Sir Neville Cenac did pay tribute to his predecessor Dame Pearlette Louisy for her two decades of service, as he also did for the many native sons and daughters who departed this earthly domain in the past year, among them Derek Walcott, Theresa Hall and Gandolph St Clair, as well as journalist Lawrence James.
In all of 4,510 words, in his first Throne Speech, the new Governor General on Tuesday acknowledged poverty levels, suggested that a business-like approach to things always returns good results and reminded citizens of some of their Constitutional duties and responsibilities.
True to usual form, Sir Neville also found the words to hint that just as “Parliament is the grand inquest of the nation”, likewise “Every Governor General is the conscience of the State.”
Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition didn’t hear a single word of her official message this year — unlike over the last two decades when Saint Lucians at home and abroad tuned-in each year to the live broadcasts of the opening of Parliament for reasons more than just the shape of the GG’s hat, color of attire or linguistic dexterity.
This week too, elected parliamentarians started their second round of dismantling the proposed Estimates for Revenue and Expenditure since the last General Elections.
Reference was made elsewhere this past week to the (near) absence of the use of the very useful Question Time approach by local MPs and Senators.
There’s also been discussion on how realistic it is for any government to implement as wide a range of new policies as it would like to in one year, especially if they are to yield edible fruits.
This week as well, Saint Lucia’s continued existence as a community in the global village was again driven home with references to aspects of the island’s past and present that will not make all its citizens proud.
Saint Lucia was named in the mega data scandal involving stealing and selling of personal information of 50 million Facebook users by functionaries at now-being-disgraced Cambridge Analytica and its London-based arm SCL.
The island was also named in not-too-flattering terms during the debates leading to Wednesday’s Antigua and Barbuda General Elections, which at least one leading online Caribbean news service’s coverage described as more akin to a battle between Prime Minister Gaston Browne and Caribbean tourism magnate Butch Stewart.
Antigua and Barbuda’s 12 new Cabinet Ministers have been named (See Antigua and Barbuda Elections Results on Page 3 ) ahead of those who’ll take office when the new cabinet is sworn-in tomorrow in Grenada after its historic clean-sweep March 13 elections.
In Saint Lucia, on the other hand, contrary to some expectations, identification of a new Speaker of the House of Assembly did not have any impact on the size of the island’s Cabinet of Ministers.
With all this happening in the middle of the end of the Lenten Season in still predominantly Catholic Saint Lucia, Christians and citizens of all cloths will spend the last week before Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday – and Easter Monday Holiday) in an understandable state of anticipation, if not anxiety.
Most will be hoping, if not praying, that at the end of the usual lengthy verbal parliamentary battles over the budgetary proposals, there will have been something in The Estimates that will change their material circumstances after the voluminous document is voted upon and the new Speaker says, for his first time in this regard, ‘The Ayes have it!’