Editorial

Is There More in the Mortar than the Pestle?

Prime Minister Philip J Pierre this week attempted to dispel doubts anyone may have had, of his administration’s interest in investigating issues relating to potential corruption and abuse of power in the previous administration that Pierre himself demanded be investigated when he was in opposition.

His media appearances seem to suggest that the ‘fire’ that roared in his belly as opposition leader is still roaring as prime minister. But in a society where everyone wants quick fixes, it may be difficult for him as prime minister to project the image he had as opposition leader.

We understand that things take time, especially investigations into some of the issues of the past administration that require answers, as legislation has to be put in place for the creation of a Special Prosecutor to look into certain acts allegedly committed by the previous administration.

We learned that this move is still on. Pierre on Thursday stated that there will be no witch-hunt of the past administration and that every investigation will be transparent. Anyone found culpable, or deserving of blame, will have to account.

While this may sound good to the ear, Pierre needs to understand that in a politically charged country like Saint Lucia where citizens are politically divided, his intentions may not be viewed in the same light by all Saint Lucians – hence the need for such investigations to be above board and, crucially, transparent.

We believe that acts of wrongdoing and corruption by elected parliamentarians should be brought to light and perpetrators punished according to the law of the land. We hold the prime minister to his word, however, that those inquiries he intends to carry out, purportedly to discover and expose dishonesty, subversion or other wrongdoings by the previous administration do not bring harm to innocent persons or their reputations and that the inquiries do not rely on hearsay or circumstantial evidence. In a word, such inquiries must be seen to be fair and not be an extension of political ‘mal parler’.

We applaud the prime minister for providing a breakdown of the more than three hundred million dollars in loans taken by the past administration supposedly for the handling of all aspects of COVID-19, a breakdown that showed a large chunk of that cash going to areas he described as being other than COVID-19. The leader of the opposition has responded explaining where exactly the three hundred million was spent. It is now up to us, the people to make judgments on the relative merits of the two sides.

The prime minister failed to expound on the unfolding scenario where the previous administration disbursed EC$7.3 million of taxpayers money to a company known as Radical Investment citing legal reasons, but he did speak of investigating the process that led to the disbursement so that this would not happen again. In the mean time the former Prime Minister did offer an explanation in his Thursday zoom press conference  He assured his audience that the 7.3 million would be returned to the Treasury. Again, we, the people must come to our own conclusions.

Be that as it may, we are still looking forward to inquiries into all the accumulative expenditures of the St Jude Hospital that the former administration said would be completed within their time in office, and which the present government calls a car park that would take years to transform into a hospital. A full, true picture of the state of the economy and the country’s true fiscal position is also being awaited.

On the long list of the things the Labour Party in opposition was calling to be investigated is  the company known as Fresh Start and the number of direct awards it received, the Hewanorra International Airport Redevelopment Project and the half billion dollars or more in loans taken for the project that the SLP considered was wholly unjustified.

The SLP in opposition also decried the number of direct awards given by the previous administration, they had a problem with the Director of Finance and Audit, wanted the Pajoah letter investigated, had a problem with the Economic Affairs Ministry which at the time had Guy Joseph as its Minister, had issues with the acquisition and sale of crown lands by the previous administration, had issues with the DSH contract and the giving of its chief architect, Theo Ah King  access to CIP funds and saw as madness paying millions of dollars to Ernst and Young for putting together the government’s budget when this was a job done by civil servants for many, many years.

We hope that the present administration does not shy away from the task it has given itself, which, it must be remembered has as its end the improvement of the governance of St. Lucia, After all, we all want to know that it was not hot air that was being blown when the SLP was in opposition. Also, we all want to know whether there was more in the proverbial mortar than the pestle that was under the care of the Allen Chastanet administration.

2 Comments

  1. The previous administration was tainted by incompetence and corruption. Case in point, awarding no-bid contracts to one company is at least robbery. There is no justification for awarding multi-million dollars infrastructure work to a company without the required bidding process. In any developed society, this would be deemed a criminal offense. Why is it done so nonchalantly in St. Lucia? St. Lucia under the previous administration had become a rogue state, deviating from all norms of a decent society. There is no practical or moral justification for Mr. Chastanet’s complicity.

    Currently, there is a tide of dissatisfaction with the previous administration. An administration that glorified corruption, nepotism, cronyism, and mediocrity. We need concrete action to change things in this country. But change doesn’t happen by itself. The evidence of Mr. Chastanet’s wrongdoings is overwhelming. And pressing charges for ethical malfeasance is not equivalent to a witchhunt.

    Enough is enough! We cannot allow any administration to rape, pillage, and misappropriate the nation’s funds any longer. Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre must set an example. If he allows the guilty parties to reign freely for their wrongdoings I can assure you that he will eventually face the wrath of the St. Lucian people with a sudden rush of fury, and vitriol. We will not tolerate business as usual, come what may. ” Justice must flow like water, and righteousness like a rolling stream.” Circumstantial evidence, as discouraged by the Voice newspaper, is admissible in court and should be used to validate or verify any wrongdoings by the perpetrators. No stone should be left unturned. By the way, only a thorough and comprehensive investigation will suffice.

    It’s not hyperbolic to say that St. Lucia has become a criminal state and it is going to take a concerted effort by the new prime minister to put this country back on track. There are some moral issues on which there can be no ambiguity. So let the chips fall where they may.

  2. Leon, you have spoken as a true patriot.

    The lesions that the Chastanet administration stabbed into the body politic of St.Lucia is raw and putrid. As you have indicated, nothin but a radical surgery can remove the rotten flesh and set the island on the path of healing.

    Prime Minister J.Pierre must know that this operation is not for the faint of heart. He and his administration must realize that the people of St.Lucia have given them the mandate to use every scintilla of the law to requite the hurt, recoup our financial loss and Make the island whole again.

    At this point, St.Lucians are definitely not expecting half measures in the adjudication of the most egregious pyramid scheme perpetrated by a government.

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