Letters & Opinion

Where Do We Go From Here?

Image of Prime Minister Allen Chastanet’s
By Jeff Fedee

THE economic fantasy that Prime Minister Allen Chastanet dangled before the eyes of St. Lucians of a US$2.6 billion economic investment deal equivalent to EC$7.02 billion by Chinese developer Teo Ah Khing has turned out to be a figment of the imagination of a creative mind.

A gullible Prime Minister sought to persuade the people of St. Lucia, as well as his Cabinet of Ministers, that St. Lucia would be flowing with milk and honey. The evidence is clear, based on the revelations exposed in the issue of The Voice Newspaper of February 3, 2018, which revealed the details of the contract signed between Teo Ah King and the Prime Minister.

The information revealed that the investor Teo Ah Khing would be reimbursed for all the expenditure he claims he poured into the DSH Project. Totally incredible.

How could the Cabinet of Ministers sanction such a deal if they were apprised of the conditions in the contract? On the basis of this can be surmised that the arrangement with Teo Ah Khing was never disclosed to the Cabinet of Ministers.

The question now is: “Where do we go from here?” How can Allen Chastanet govern successfully as Prime Minister of the country, when his Cabinet colleagues are excluded from the details of a major investment in the country?

This arbitrary behaviour of our Prime Minister has become a characteristic of Chastanet’s behaviour which reveals an impulsive streak, in which he does not take a studied and rational approach in consultation with the qualified technocrats in the various departments of government.

There are several instances of this erratic behaviour displayed in the instant shutting down of the wind farm project in Dennery; the instant stoppage of a project financed by the Taiwanese in the town of Soufriere; the rash announcement of the closure of the Marketing Board and the Fisheries Complex, to name a few.

In addition, the Prime Minister has arbitrarily fired many highly-qualified and competent professionals at statutory boards, who have been replaced by sycophants and friends of the Prime Minister. Among the outstanding professionals who have been unceremoniously terminated are: the distinguished Louis Lewis as head of The St. Lucia Tourist Board; McHale Andrew of Invest St. Lucia, a highly qualified economist, who has worked in several regional institutions; Vincent Hippolyte, another brilliant son of the soil with an impressive resume as an advisor to several Caribbean Governments, replaced as a General Manager & CEO of WASCO; after hiring the original head of the Citizen by Investment Programme (CIP), a St. Lucian working in the world of International Finance on Wall Street and Dubai, according to the government’s own account, this gentleman was unceremoniously terminated after a brief stay on the job.

Allen Chastanet is expending tens of millions of taxpayers money on festivals and foreign consultants as epitomized over our 2017/18 Budget presentation, and most recently an American consultant has been hired to add glitter and hype to village playing fields in places where youth could engage in informal games which inculcate comradery among village residents and strengthen community relationships.

This, while the important and essential social, health, educational facilities and infrastructural works are neglected. The general neglect is dramatically highlighted by the terrible condition of the Castries Health Centre which is a contradiction of its name.

The “A” Level College, our premier educational institution, prepares students for entry into the professional world of university. The “A” Level College is well-known to be plagued by a myriad of health, mould and structural issues, while cosmetics are being pursued in other areas.

Based on his authoritarian style of government, the percipient observer must question the ability of the Prime Minister to do an effective job. For a government to achieve its policy objectives for economic development, only a bipartisan approach in which the official Opposition is incorporated in the serious plans of the government can an administration be successful.

In the final analysis, it is the general population that should benefit from government’s programmes and policies. The elected representatives of both parties who represent the electorate should be incorporated in major initiatives such as the DSH Project. It appears that not even the Cabinet members were apprised of the details of that proposed investment.

This must create tensions and suspicions within the Cabinet of Ministers, this could trigger a constitutional crisis in which members of the Cabinet can withdraw their support of Allen Chastanet and form a third party in Parliament. The bizarre replacement of the highly-qualified and admired Governor General has spawned several theories in the public domain.

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