The St. Lucia Association of Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia, expresses its appreciation to the Prime Minister of St Lucia, Allen M. Chastanet, for taking time off his very busy schedule to address and meet St. Lucians in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area at the OAS building on October15.
The Prime Minister was joined by Dr. Ubaldus Raymond and Ms. Cointha Thomas of the Ministry of Finance.
The meeting was chaired by Stephen Sealy who, on behalf of St. Lucians present, expressed his appreciation to the Prime Minister, noting that it was about10 years since St. Lucians in that area were addressed by a Prime Minister.
It was pointed out that the fact that he had taken time off of his very busy schedule with the World Bank, IMF, State Department, other US Government agencies, international organizations and investment interests in Washington, was an indication of his interest in the St. Lucian Diaspora and the part that we must all play in the development of our country.
PM Chastanet did not lecture to the group but, rather, in the first instance, invited those present to air their concerns and ask questions in any area related to their homeland. There were over 20 questions posed by those present representing individuals from regional and international institutions as well as those from the St. Lucia/US private sector and business community.
In response to questions raised, the PM outlined his vision for St Lucia, addressing the many questions and statements made by members of the audience. The questions on crime in St Lucia were addressed. It was revealed that there was a considerable backlog of pending cases and that was being rectified by the strengthening of the department of justice which would accelerate the scheduling and clearing of so many pending cases.
He covered the questions related to education, health, youth leadership, sports, agriculture, economic development, water resources and areas of investment promotion.
Additionally, he outlined relations with the US, cooperation and projections with international institutions, which were the subject of his high-level meetings in the course of his visit to Washington.
On the question of damage by Tropical Storm Mathew, he indicated that there was the need to rectify the situation where considerable damage was due to flooding as a result of poor drainage, poor erosion control and an overflow of river banks doing damage to roads and bridges. This, he indicated, was a recurring experience which must be attended to through proper soil conservation and appropriate land use.
In reply to the question on “The Pearl of the Caribbean” (a reported US$2.6 billion project) to be executed in the south of the island, he indicated that this matter was being carefully considered to include a horse racing track of international standard which would include horse breeding, horse racing, and related infrastructure, hotel development, the development of a University Park and its inter-related faculty associations.
One person in the audience expressed frustration at the length of time it was taking for him to get a St. Lucian passport. The PM explained that the process was in keeping with problems related to family names and other legal requirements which have been put in place in order to clean the system of inaccurate data related to St. Lucian nationals.
PM Chastanet was able to respond to questions and statements raised and to project his vision for St. Lucia. This vision was expressed without negative political inferences or references to the previous government. This was well-received as was the invitation to the Diaspora to play a part in national development.
Lawrence Paul, President of the Association, on behalf of all present, expressed his thanks to Prime Minister Chastanet for taking time off his busy schedule to meet with St Lucians in the DC area.
The meeting was followed by informal conversations with St. Lucians at a reception next to the room dedicated in honour of Sir Arthur Lewis.