IN last week’s article entitled “Forget Your Troubles and Dance” I indicated that while the government was inducing the citizens of this country in its prolonged period of music festivals, it would not address the nation on the economic situation that exists in our country today.
The report of the ECCB on St. Lucia’s economic performance indicated that since this administration came into office, the fiscal situation showed that there was an ever-rising deficit, which, in economic terms, means that one is spending more than he earns.
The ECCB revealed that for the financial year 2017, the deficit was $93 million and for 2018 it has already risen to $116 million. The government has an obligation to the people of St. Lucia to disclose what the true state of our country’s economy is.
Citizens are experiencing increased prices — from electricity bills and water, to gasoline and food at the supermarkets, which are causing severe hardships for families and their households. Yet the Prime Minister has not addressed the nation on those economic difficulties being experienced by the citizens of this country.
Under the present circumstances, the inevitable question is: What is the current mood of the people in this country? Is it one of the optimism or pessimism?
The calypso season and the voice of calypsonians are a barometer and a reflection of the voices of the people. As a result, the outcome of the next general elections can be strongly influenced by the validity of the calysonians observations. The ploy being used by the PM is to have an over-abundance of festivities as a form of “escapism” from the reality of the difficulties the people are experiencing.
However, it is the academics and the professionals who have directly challenged the Prime Minister in his reckless approach to vital issues facing our country. The PM was forced to retreat by the defiance of the medical professionals, who resisted his demands to meet all the members of that highly-qualified fraternity.
The capacity of Allen Chastanet to lead the country in an authoritarian manner was seriously undermined by this group of professionals, whose qualifications require the highest level of mental discipline and development and they would not be intimidated by the Prime Minister.
The acquisition of rigorous knowledge has its own rewards for professionals of a highly-regarded discipline, who will not be trifled with or ordered around.
All we have witnessed under this prime minister is confusion, as epitomized by the St. Jude Hospital fiasco. In one instance it was demolition and the construction of a new hospital on another site, then next it was to continue on the same site with the construction that exists at the moment.
The caliber of persons in the government, who do not challenge the Prime Minister, has made us recognize and question whether this government has the capacity to lead our country on a positive and productive course for the next three years.
How can this administration earn the respect of the rational citizens of this country, when the Prime Minister and his sidekick can descend to such uncivilized rage at a political meeting on the William Peter Boulevard?
We live in a democratic country in which all views contend, except for the promotion of insurrection. Freedom of Speech is the foundation of Democracy and the greatest impediment to authoritarianism and dictatorship.
This government wants to silence dissent. Maybe in the current Cabinet there is no dissent or alternative views expressed, but that’s not so for the entire society.
We are seeing clear indications of dictatorship and authoritarianism on the part of the Prime Minister, in the manner in which secret deals are being made with foreign entities without informing citizens of the financial implications for the country as a whole.
The two classic cases are the secret deal with Teo Ah-khing and the revelations pertaining to OJO Labs. St. Lucia is an economy which depends on foreign aid, most notably from the generous Taiwanese for the most rudimentary needs of our country. Yet, in the case of Teo Ah-khing, our most valuable asset, our land, was virtually given way, with 900 acres basically handed over to the wily Malaysian investor for 99 years at one US dollar per acre.
The struggling St. Lucian pays anything between $15 and $18 per square foot of land in the middle-income areas. I calculated what Teo Ah-khing actually paid for our land and resorted to my calculator (which has 12 digits). An acre of land is 43,560 square feet. Therefore, at $1 US per acre for that land it shows that the cost of our valuable land per square foot for Teo Ah Khing was 0.000000000001% of one cent. INCREDIBLE!