THE closed session of the Saint Lucia Labour Party’s (SLP) 2014 Annual Conference of Delegates was held in the Grande Riviere Secondary School last Sunday. The session came one week after the open session was held at the Castries Comprehensive Secondary School.
The party’s General Secretary, Leo Clarke, told The VOICE this week that reports were presented by the General Secretary, Treasurer and the SLP’s Women’s Organization on the day. Clarke said all 17 constituencies were represented at last Sunday’s closed session and that the discussions were “very lively and animated”.
Four party posts were up for grabs: Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Treasurer and Assistant Treasurer. Sir Julian R. Hunte retained the chairmanship (unopposed), while Errol Charles and Gus Small were both re-elected Treasurer and Assistant Secretary respectively, unopposed. Virginia Albert-Poyotte was elected to serve as Vice-Chairman.
Dr. Anthony received another vote of confidence as Party Leader last Sunday with delegates voting 287-5. At the 2013 Conference of Delegates held in March this year, delegates expressed confidence in him by voting 261-5. As per the party’s constitution, there is only election of a political leader at the first Conference of Delegates following a general election. At subsequent Conferences of Delegates, the Political Leader only needs to have a vote of confidence from the delegates, which Dr. Kenny Anthony has received consistently since the party returned to government in 2011.
Clarke said the party is currently putting the requisite mechanisms in place to host a series of zonal conferences across the island. The 17 constituencies in which the party has established delegates and support have been placed into five zones and those zonal conferences should wrap up by September.
“It is our hope that very early in the coming year we will be going into a programme of zonal conferences one after the other until the five conferences are completed,” Clarke told The VOICE. “We hope that on or about the third quarter we should have completed them.”
Clarke said that despite the criticisms being levelled at his party, the SLP has done much to arrest a worsening of the economy despite having to adjust the party’s mandate for bringing development to the country. The past three years, he said, were challenging.
“When the Labour Party came into office in 2011, it found a very serious financial situation. There was a serious deficit the government was confronted with. Therefore, the government had to adjust its approach to work with the prevailing conditions. Over the last three years, the government has tried to contain expenditure,” Clarke explained.
The SLP General Secretary said government is always conscious that more permanent jobs need to be created. To that end, he said, government has continuously been looking at attracting foreign direct investment into the country.
“I think that is what the Prime Minister was referring to when he said he was beginning to see some light where that is concerned,” Clarke said.
Clarke also defended the party’s decision to invite Saint Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas as guest speaker at the SLP’s opening session two Sundays ago. Days after the November 30 opening session of the SLP’s Conference of Delegates, local attorney, Alfred Alcide, chided the party’s choice of guest speaker, suggesting that given the Saint Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister’s own domestic problems, the choice was ill-advised. Clarke, however, disagrees.
“Dr. Douglas is a four-term Prime Minister, so he must have gained some experience in the politics of Saint Kitts and Nevis. Do we think we can import the Saint Kitts and Nevis model wholesale into Saint Lucia? No. But we can look at what he’s done and he can come and speak to us about what he’s done. What was very instructive was how the sacrifices there are now yielding benefits. I think that’s a very significant point. Sometimes I think Saint Lucians believe we live in a vacuum,” Clarke said.