IT is now apparent that Stephen Lester Prescott, the faceless Labourite will not engage me in debate over his lavish claims being made in THE VOICE on a weekly basis. With typical arrogance, I suspect, Mr. Prescott, whoever he is, may have chosen to ignore all criticisms of his articles which are intended to dupe and deceive, more than anything else. Why else would he decline to talk about the points that I raised about corruption and governance.
Since then, however, Prescott has made another unfounded claim, that the SLP was providing St Lucia with “secured leadership”. It is ironic because it is the lack of leadership being provided by the SLP in general and the Prime Minister in particular that has St. Lucia in the mess it currently is in. If we had had good leadership, surely we would, like other countries in the OECS, be starting to show positive economic growth. But the IMF forecast for St. Lucia in 2014 is for another year of negative growth. In other words three years in a row of negative growth. Is that good leadership? The question Prescott must answer is simply this: why is it that everyone else in the OECS including St Vincent and Dominica is reporting economic improvement and St Lucia remains stuck in reverse?
In the three years since it has been in power, the SLP has inflicted a whole series of economic hardships on the people of St Lucia. While the people are suffering, the SLP has the gall to boast about reforms it claims to have instituted. Among them, it had the audacity to talk about reforms in the public service, that is now a serious liability to the country, thanks mainly to reckless SLP policies. Labour still does not understand that people cannot be fed on reforms when the cry out there is for jobs and better standards of living.
The SLP does not understand that it cannot pass the buck on the question of the present state of the economy, when it is Labour that has been the dominant party in the seat of government since 1997. It cannot accuse the other party of committing sin when its own sins are ten times more serious. I do not need to revisit the SLP’s recent history, Rochamel that cost our country $80 million and the Vieux Fort to Soufriere road that cost more than twice the original amount are among the misdeeds of Labour that Saint Lucians dare never forget.
Was it good leadership to engineer the departure from St. Lucia of a person who had been implicated in the NCA scandal and help him onto a prestigious job as happened under Labour? What about the Soufriere Regional Development Foundation goings on some years ago, that the government failed to address? Was that an example of good leadership as well?
Prescott cannot talk about leadership when little things that need being done, are not done. How many weeks now we have been talking about school children loitering around the streets after school hours. You mean to tell me a government that is boasting about its leadership, cannot devise measures to deal with this? The late John Compton frequently and publicly lamented the plight of Saint Lucian school children having to walk long distances to school. In his time, he took steps to change that. That is leadership. Our current Prime Minister has never demonstrated that he is aware of the social conditions facing the young people of St. Lucia that is driving them into all forms of decadent behaviour. Is that leadership, when a prime minister presides over a nation in peril and does nothing about it? Yet, Prescott talks about “the education revolution started under the Labour government of 1997-2006”. What revolution is he talking about? Where are the results of this revolution? Is Prescott smoking something that impairs his vision and thinking?
The lack of leadership in the SLP is not confined to the Prime Minister though. Look at the state of education with all its violence and anti social behaviour by students, lack of security at schools, children going to school dressed anyhow. The attack on a female teacher by two boys of the Clendon Mason School in Dennery this week is the latest manifestation of the crisis that currently exists in the school system and the lack of leadership in the government to bring it under control. There’s absolutely no discipline in the school system, but the Minister of Education sits there as though there’s nothing wrong. And on top of it all, Prescott wants to brag about education reform? What reform are you talking about when increasingly our children are finishing school unable to read and write?
It’s the same in health. Look at the situation at our hospitals? Look at the state of the environment, especially in the capital. In a recent segment of DBS-TV news with Alex Bousquet, several people lamented the state of the city and its garbage, its clogged gutters and drains, its stench of urine etc. etc. Where in all this is the Minister of Health? You call that leadership?
Prescott talks about superior leadership of the SLP when the government has involved St. Lucia in a massive law suit with the American Jack Grynberg and has to this day, never made a public statement on the matter so that Saint Lucians could get some kind of understanding of the issues involved. Is that good leadership?
Is it good leadership to take a decision to cut public servants salaries by five person without entering into any form of discussion with them? Is it good leadership to promise the people that better days are coming then turn around and impose hardship on them the way Labour has done?
Prescott’s article in THE VOICE of October 25 was another episode in a series that is intended to deceive the public. Instead of taking on the opposition and its internal affairs Labour ought to be devising ways and means of making life better for the people of St Lucia. This is what the public is clamouring for. The Prime Minister apparently is unaware of the level of discontent with his government that exists in the country and even that raises questions about his leadership, because a good leader would have his ears to the ground and not believe that it is raining when in fact, we are bathed in sunshine.
The fact is that Kenny Anthony has failed us and we need to dump him off as a matter of urgency and try something different. One of the issues facing this government that is seldom spoken of, even in the media, is the dominance of the Prime Minister in the government that reduces his other Ministers to silent observers. This may account for the failure of Cabinet members to be informed about the Grynberg matter but it also exemplifies the kind of leadership that Labour has provided to this country.
Finally, I want to make the point that whereas Prescott appears to be living in dreamland with his extravagant claim of good things being done by Labour, the points that I am raising are familiar to all who live here.
By Roger St. Cyr