Letters & Opinion

An Important National Issue

By Peter Josie
By Peter Josie

JANUS has also been defined as the god who looks both back and front at the same time. In that sense January is appropriate for looking back in order to identify past mistakes whilst looking forward to define a new path, avoiding past errors.

Today’s piece has been inspired by Calixte George’s eulogy at the last rites and ceremony of his friend, student and confidant, Hilford (Pough) Deterville. It was also inspired in part by a tribute in writing to the memory of the late brother by Prime Minister Kenny Anthony of Saint Lucia.

In his tribute Anthony wrote: “Though his career had many highlights, one which especially stands out relates to the dismissal of a public servant by then Prime Minister John Compton. The case involved Emma Hippolyte who, as Director of Audit, had pointed out to the Prime Minister several areas of concern as they related to the country’s fiscal management.”

There was more. “Prime Minister Compton was unimpressed with Ms. Hippolyte’s frank disclosures and the government terminated her services. HilfordDeterville sued the state on Ms. Hippolyte’s behalf and eventually won a judgement ordering the government to immediately reinstate Ms. Hippolyte. That case was ‘precedential’ in the OECS and has been cited on numerous occasions, even within the wider Commonwealth,” added Anthony.

Two matters sprung to mind. The first was when the last report of the Director of Audit was published and whether the people of Saint Lucia, including the business community, know anything about the last Audit report?’ The appointment of a chairperson of the Finance Committee of the present House of Assembly is a matter of good governance. At independence Saint Lucia adopted the British parliamentary system and voted for the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition to chair the Finance Committee of the House. The membership of that committee is drawn from both sides of the elected House. The Leader of the Opposition has chaired that committee for thirty plus years. That practice has recently been stopped. Why?

The people of Saint Lucia, including the Chamber of Commerce must demand to know who stopped the process and why. They ought also to demand answers about the last Audit report; when it was presented to Parliament, etc. In addition, organizations such as youth groups, trade unions and farmers’ groups must also demand a financial account of their country’s affairs by the Auditor General. Surely, the dearth of recent Audit reports could not have been the work of someone with a PhD in Constitutional Law. Neither could it be that of a person who did not wish the Leader of the Opposition chair the Finance Committee of the House.

It struck me that any self-respecting lawyer must be aware of the many ‘laws’ in the English legal system which are slavishly obeyed even though these are not codified. The British take a certain pride in informing the rest of the world that they do not have a written constitution. Their Common Law arose from ancient custom and practice which date back to the earliest times when people benefitted and survived by certain practices they found beneficial.

Since his name was widely invoked by people who claimed to know him perhaps someone should have asked whether the legally astute Deterville had offered any advice to the government of Dr. Anthony on the granting of a licence to Grynberg for the drilling of oil in Saint Lucia’s sea bed. Some people would also like to know whether Mr. Deterville had advised that the Governor General was the correct authority to sign such an agreement with Grynberg. By the way, what is the latest information on the Grynberg lawsuit against the government of Saint Lucia?

The following also came to mind when I listened to Calixte’s eulogy last Saturday. Does the present Labour Government know of what Calixte George spoke? Who in new Labour cares about the sale of the Bank of Saint Lucia to Trinidad or about land reform and the crucial work of a land bank? Did anyone try and stop the Labour Government from selling the Bank of Saint Lucia to Trinidad? When Kenny Anthony ‘privatized’ the banana industry and handed the assets of the former St. Lucia Banana Growers Association to his chosen friends did anyone try and stop him? When Anthony later replaced three SLP senators for speaking their minds at a meeting of the Senate, did anyone try and stop him?

I was taken aback when I listened to others referring to Hilford as their friend. The HilfordDeterville I remember had many acquaintances, associates and admirers. After fifty years of quiet observation, not counting the years at St. Mary’s College during which I was his senior, I know of some genuine friends Hilford appreciated throughout his life. Among these were Eli Greenidge, Michael Bartlett, Richardson St. Rose and Calixte George. I would add Thecla his wife, as people who spend much time together often become friends. There are others he picked up along his life’s journey. These were few and far between and Hilford was too kind and too often passive to hurt anyone who sucked up to him.

The Seamen Waterfront and General Workers Trade Union has lost three of its former presidents in short order. Dunstan Fontenelle, Eli Greenidge and now HilfordDeterville. I was president of that union before the above three. It still remains a mystery to me how God chooses his servants and how he allots and times their life’s work. He calls them to himself when their work is done. It is such belief which helps me continue to work towards a better more just Saint Lucia and Caribbean. It is therefore in this same spirit of work and struggle that I wish a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year to all who regularly read this column. The proper response is to make January 2015 and the months which follow, one of service to family, to community and to country.

5 Comments

  1. Solemn, CoolBlue zephrs and a slate gray waterman’s plume: I imagine you atop that southernmost lighthouse writing this ominous dirge.

    You are elusive and cloaked like a Romulan interceptor (Star Trek).
    You emulate their Alpha memory devices in such good measure that the cemetery scenes of Hamlet are well projected.
    As a fan of the

    There

  2. As a fan of the futuristic sci-fi genre I predict that you will make some linkage with EMMA & MARY in order to accrue the latter and now senator much needed heroic stature.

    I look forward to your penning of this “Crucible”.

    Till then, the above solemn episode a la fraternite de St Mary’s College was a good serious read.

  3. Good article. Long been making this point.

    The only thing I can think of is that both sides are happy to let it pass. Like two stupid kids in class not wanting to be examined.

  4. Sine 1997 when Labour came into power there has been no audit or transparency or accountability on government expenditure.
    Kenny Anthony and the SLP have just borrowed like madmen , made grand speeches on what fantastic results will come from the borrowing then spent like drunken sailors.
    The expenditures result in nothing but the leakage overseas and filling the pockets of hacks and giving a temporary feel good factor.
    One or two years later after the temporary high they then come back again and borrow more money for similar reasons.
    Result: Almost $2 billion in debt and a wrecked economy.
    Did you know that when Labour came into power we spent $1.25 million a month in interest payments on debt and now it is $1.5 million per WEEK!
    En Rouge!

    Also is it not vulgar and classless and crass when a PM repeatedly uses sad and solemn accasions to castigate John Compton and the UWP. And you wonder why St Lucia is so wrecked economically and socially!

  5. The St. Lucia leadership (political, academia, business and religious) has for the past 35 years since Independence have had the hand in or turned a blind eye, to the politicisization of the St. Lucian civil service. The public with their now instilled victimhood attitude and sense of mendicancy have gleefully accepted this process irrespective of the destruction it had placed on society and the efficiency of our successive governments. They have been happy to accept the spoils of this destruction.

    In 1853 Prime Minister William Gladstone in the UK instructed Sir Stafford Northcote and Charles Trevelyan to established a Civil Service for the United Kingdom based on the following principles: open, competitive recruitment; for hires to be made by the Civil Service, not specific departments; and that recruits were placed into hierarchies.

    The biggest change to these Civil Service parameters as practiced in St. Lucia has been on point four: that promotion would be based on merit, not on the grounds of preferment, patronage, or purchase.

    Today in St. Lucia we laughably follow the English system with supposedly the same views on the role of the civil service. Unfortunately nothing could be further from the truth, as politicised civil servants, i.e. taxpayer-funded party activists, take the most senior jobs, and undermine St. Lucia’s public sector , society and economy with their scrounging and living off the taxpayer plus failed liberal/socialist ideologies .

    You have to be amazed at the brazen nature of politicians’ enlistment of these publicly-funded staff in promoting their agenda and even taking part in election campaigns. We even have the accepted fact of one of the main appointed political hacks with his daily partisan rantings and vulgarity on radio and television destroying the so called impartiality of the post he holds.

    These actions show our leaders’ total disdain for the taxpayer. Think about this: if you pay VAT on anything, if you pay income tax, if you pay national insurance – or any of the other of the hundreds of taxes we pay – then you may have contributed to the salaries of these uber, well payed party hacks. The record shows that they contribute nothing but fodder for their future careers in some other taxpayer funder organization like the UN or whatever. In particular we have the one running around talking about fraudalent ‘green’ policies and handing out computers costing millions even as the economy deteriorates.

    The lower echelons of the civil service is also filled with those who just push paper or go about their own daily lives while not fulfilling anything on their job descriptions.

    This civil service as political patronage has cost us as much as $1 – $1.5 billion in the past 10 years particularly as the SLP and Kenny Anthony have more than doubled the enrollment in the service. Yet as we get nothing in return and spend $1.5 million/week on interest debt payments (that should be going to the development of the country) we sit back and say nothing. We refuse to analysize the short term cash infusion vs the long term damage and lack of development in the country. In fact if you say anything about it then 75% of the country who benefit from this dysfunctional form of socialist governance would go up in arms.

    In St. Lucia we operate on a day to day basis. Out politician make hundreds of decisions daily with only their political survival and pockets as the main agenda to determine their policies and we see the result in massive debt, high unemployment, a ruptured society, indecency and no respect for law.

    Do not expect it to change in the future as we fall further down Gros Piton!

    In fact if you did a stress test on St. Lucia you would realize that even a minor shock to the economy could tip our society completely over the edge to societal disorder.

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