PRIME Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony’s 2015 Budget Address might well create some level of financial discomfort for many citizens. Raising revenue to defray government’s expenses is no easy task, especially when productivity is down, unemployment is up and fiscal deficits keep recurring.
However, government’s intention to ameliorate the unsocial conditions in some crucial Castries-based communities deserves praise.
During his Budget Address in the House of Assembly last week Tuesday, the Prime Minister indicated that the poor housing conditions, lack of ownership, poor community infrastructure, unemployment and crime have caused government to address the plight of some at-risk communities in the city.
Wilton’s Yard and Faux-a-Chaux have been identified as key areas where government intends to “undertake an updated social assessment to determine the number of residents, land tenure, and the willingness of residents to be relocated elsewhere to new communities”, Dr. Anthony said last week.
Describing the process as a “delicate undertaking”, the Prime Minister acknowledged that the respective parliamentarians from whose constituencies these residents hail, as well as the trust of the residents themselves, will determine whether the process wins or fails. Nevertheless, he said the process of identifying alternative sites for residents’ relocation will be undertaken.
Undoubtedly, such a move will come with some measure of trepidation from some residents who might feel connected to the unsafe environments where they currently reside. However, one needs to understand that raising the quality of life of every Saint Lucian should be the high standard set by both the citizenry and government.
Quite often, the government is chided for not assisting in that regard, so this new proposed undertaking by government will be a true test of whether change is really needed by the residents of those communities identified.
The soon-to-be-commissioned multi-million-dollar Walcott Place at Grass Street is already signaling a positive step in the right direction for many residents of that community who seem to make the news in a negative light. Nevertheless, as is the case with Grass Street, the Wilton’s Yard and Faux-a-Chaux residents need to embrace the opportunities being opened to them by realizing that they, too, must share the responsibility of ensuring that their communities always strive for high ideals despite their challenges.