Letters & Opinion

Time to Change the Change!

By Stephen Lester Prescott
img: Aerial view of the medical complex near the Millennium Highway with OKEU Hospital at the forefront.

LIKE most Saint Lucians, I am just going through the tough daily ropes, so to speak, with little hope of anything of significance happening to impact the economy in the months ahead. To keep my hopes alive, with bated breath, I am looking forward to the next general elections which is constitutionally due sometime in 2021.

We were promised “chingching” in our pockets, but our pockets are empty. We were promised improvements in healthcare with the immediate opening of the newly constructed OKEU Hospital and fast track completion of St Jude Hospital among other changes to the health sector. We have entered the fourth year of this administration, the OKEU Hospital has not opened and the then St Jude Hospital Reconstruction Project has been abandoned. Healthcare is now crying out for its own care – for much needed help and attention.

We were promised a serious reduction in crime, but the crime situation has worsened. Since the 2016 elections the highest homicide rate in any one year was recorded. As of September 2019 the country has recorded over 30 homicides. The authorities have stopped keeping the public abreast of the homicide numbers as was done in the past. So too it is no longer blaring from the mouths of some well-known talk-show hosts.

We were promised an end to poor governance and corruption but we now have inept, insensitive and unresponsive governance with corruption at unprecedented levels. We were promised jobs upon jobs for the unemployed. We now know that overall unemployment figures remain at pre-2106 levels, except for slight changes in youth demographics, as heightened construction activity in Dominica, St Marteen and St Kitts & Nevis absorbed many of our young skilled workers, post hurricane Maria.

We were promised more and better laptops and school computer labs for our students within a year. As the fourth school year commences under this administration the laptops have not returned and the computer labs have not been built. We were promised improvements in the school curriculum and modern school plants to accommodate teaching of subject content via cloud technology in small clusters of students. We were promised enhancements in tertiary education with the conversion of SALCC to a modern, state of the art university. Today, there are no new school curricula, no new school plants with Cloud teaching technology and SALCC is still a highly underfunded state community college. The move to a university seems to have been quietly abandoned without public disclosure.

We were promised prudent management of our CIP funds and an enhanced program. Today, the expenditure undertaken with funds derived from the CIP program from 2016-2018, have not been placed before our parliament, as is required by law. Not a single CIP approved project has gotten off the ground, so to speak, and the lately amended legislation has left more unanswered questions in its wake, than solutions to legitimate CIP related issues.

On close scrutiny of the above among many broken promises and misdeeds, I feel confident to posit that any unbiased observer will conclude that all of the above are absolute truths. Then, the question becomes-what has the Allen Chastanet administration been doing with the resources of this country at their disposal, in over three years, to assist the citizenry? Not forgetting the over $1 billion already borrowed by them. What tangible benefits have accrued to the people from this current government? I strongly believe that the unbiased observer will conclude- they have been working predominantly for their friends, family and foreign interests.

And the people need a government to work for the majority, the masses. The unbiased observer will issue a clarion cry that: “It is the people’s time to change the change”.

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