TRANSPARENCY and accountability were the principles that were promised to the citizens of our country, in the conduct and management of the affairs of St. Lucia. Citizens of St. Lucia have the expectation that every elected government honors these noble principles, and therefore hold every administration accountable to the people for its actions. This concept of Transparency and Accountability advances the notion that citizens should be informed by an elected government of plans that will affect their lives and welfare.
As a pluralist and democratic country, the government is duty bound to discuss with the citizens and the relevant interest groups, of the important initiatives and policies that will affect the various sectors of the society.
In the current circumstances, this administration has completely abandoned the philosophy of consultation with the people of our country. This was highlighted graphically by the secret deal made by the Prime Minister with the Chinese Investor Teo Ah Khing, which to date has not been discussed in our country’s Parliament.
By the abandonment of the consultative process, it is clear that based on reports in the local newspapers that there is total confusion, instead of a systematic approach in the policies that should be implemented in a number of controversial and critical issues such as the St. Jude Hospital, The Owen King E.U. Hospital, and the disintegrating George Odlum Stadium, masquerading as a hospital.
While denying that there is any intention to privatize the Owen King E.U. Hospital, the Prime Minister was caught making a number of contradictory and confusing statements to the country’s leading newspaper, in the issue of The Voice of St.Lucia of Saturday, 10th February last week.
In the Voice report the Prime Minister reveals that a Cayman Islands Health group were on island for talks with the government, to review the process and proposals to the government on the future of the O.K.E.U. Hospital.
The Prime Minister also admitted that he was in contact with several other groups in the region to decide the future of the O.K.E.U. Hospital. This approach reveals that Allen Chastanet is bent on marginalizing our brilliant St. Lucian professionals who have excelled in many fields of learning such as Medicine, Engineering, Economics etc., with the unique record of producing two Nobel Laureates, from such a small country.
Why was the Prime Minister’s trip to the Cayman Islands shrouded in secrecy, when such a mission would normally be broadcast in the news media? This is the business of the state, and citizens have a right to be informed of the travels of the P.M. on state business.
I must go on a journey into the past, for it is evident that Allen Chastanet does not fully understand the origins, philosophy or history of the political party he now heads.
After 39 years of the attainment of our Independence, The Prime Minister wants to re-introduce in our country subservience to foreign entities, less developed than we are, to manage critical areas of our country. Does the Prime Minister want external agencies to take over our country?
This approach undermines the outstanding strides that St.Lucia has made in our educational, infrastructural and economic development. St. Lucia has also superseded the other territories by our unique place in the world of academia, by producing two Nobel Laureates, unprecedented in a tiny island like ours, which attest to the brilliance of our people, nurtured by the rigorous education system in our Secondary Schools.
Sir John, the founder of the U.W.P. was among the Pantheon of brilliant men of vision from the Caribbean, who graduated from the most prestigious Universities in Europe in addition to Canada and the United States.
A walk into our contemporary political history will illustrate the chasm between our greatest Prime Minister and the neophyte who leads our country today.
On his return to St.Lucia, Sir John joined the St.Lucia Labour Party in 1953, because he identified with the work of Sir George Charles among the sugar- cane workers, after being influenced by Socialist ideas in Europe which was a hot-bed of Socialism.
The educational difference between the two men would create inevitable tensions, culminating in Sir John’s departure in 1954. He however rejoined the SLP in 1957, but left in 1961 to form the National Labour Movement. Sir John later formed the U.W.P. in 1964. The new U.W.P defeated the S.L.P. in the elections of 1964, heralding the rule of the U.W.P for fifteen unbroken years until the independence in 1979.
Sir John with his advanced background in Economics, embarked on a Programme of development under his concept of an Economic Tripod, based on Agriculture, Manufacture and Tourism.
Immense changes took place in St.Lucia during that period, because St. Lucia’s economy developed at a rapid pace, with major expansion of infrastructure in the construction of the Castries-Gros Islet Highway, the creation of a modernized Gros Islet, the Castries Waterfront, and the expansion of a fetid harbor to create the Pointe Seraphine Touristic Complex. This was just a tip of the accomplishments of Sir John, the likes of which may never be duplicated.
This little bit of our political history that guided the leadership of our country in that era, illustrates very dramatically the limited perspective of the current administration.