THE proximity of Martinique to St. Lucia has many advantages, but today the greatest disadvantage of this proximity is the un-fetted access to our shores. Saint Lucia is surrounded by water with a number of accessible coves which lends itself open to all sorts of breaches. The big question today is what can be done to protect our borders in a world where gangsterism is rife?
The most effective approach is a dedicated agreement between the French and Saint Lucia governments. If tough measures are instituted for at least six months in the first instance to send a strong message to the perpetrators, we stand a chance of slowing down these irregularities. I mentioned a couple weeks ago that part of the problem originated in Martinique as some elements in Fort De France are now working in tandem with our local fisher folk.
Having probed deeper into this information, I have now learnt that based on some drastic cuts in the social services from France, some qualified Martiniquans have entered the illegal trade. The latest interruption of drugs and illegal individuals over the weekend in the Dennery area by our police tend to support the ongoing information. Saint Lucians from all walks now have a moral responsibility to update the authorities on anyone entering our shores illegally, as without this information the cost to the state for contact tracing and providing medication to infected persons will only put additional pressure on our limited financial resources.
Saint Lucians should now be convinced at the speed this virus can spread and by extension, we need to revisit the financial consequences when government institutions are forced to lockdown to address the spread. Revisit the pressure on parents when schools are closed as a primary example. We as a people, need to take these warnings seriously.
The Christmas season is around the corner and if we intend celebrating the festive season in a half-civilized manner, we must address the ongoing issue. Political rallies and senseless demonstrations need to be scaled down to zero until the country returns to normality, as we cannot afford to replicate what is transpiring in Europe and the US. Our economy is far too fragile at this time to play games with the lives of our people. The tourism industry is already playing its part by way of employment and we cannot destabilize the trend at this time.
Some St. Lucians are not fully aware that many of the ongoing infrastructural projects were approved two years ago by international agencies which represent foreign exchange entering our coffers and cannot and should not be stopped.
Additionally, there are some 18,000 workers currently employed and the breakdown is as follows. Road construction 800, St. Jude Hospital 220, HIA Terminal 180, SLASPA Headquarters Vieux Fort 145, General and Private construction 700, Hotel Industry workers back on the job 8,000, banana famers currently employed 600, market vendors 400, call center workers 7,000. As the economy grows, other supporting services automatically increase. We must remain optimistic and realistic and not be dissuaded by negative propaganda which serves no useful purpose other than harbouring despair.
We have a Prime Minister with a vision, a vision which commenced before and after he was elected. The Prime Minister recognized the state of the nation’s finances prior to assuming office and having realized how long it takes to get financing for roads from the various external agencies, he placed a $1.50 gas tax against the support of the opposition. Today, a simple glance around shows the number of roads under construction. By August next year there will be a new Saint Lucia as far as our roads are concerned. With general elections now set for August / September 2021 this administration will show slate unlike the SLP that cut short their mandate by one year.