Letters & Opinion

We must change page to start the change!

Image of Carlton Ishmael
By Carlton Ishmael

It is very evident that worldwide, every country, big or small, is looking after their own affairs. 

Those blessed with plenty and have resources that can, will enhance their growth, doing what it takes to do for themselves before considering help to others.

We in St. Lucia must also begin to look inward. Recently, I heard a comment from a citizen that “For Christmas this year, the Government should order a container or two of hams to give out to persons that are deemed to be living on the breadline.”

No doubt, this can be a gesture that may full a few bellies for the festive season, but  while I support the idea of a hamper of hams for Christmas, would rather if all the pork, chicken, turkey or whatever else could be gotten locally.

The continual importation of commodities that can be homegrown or cultivated or bred here has to become the way forward. Every product obtained or produced locally should mean to us that our local industry and suppliers are more assured of making a living.

The wholesalers and import merchants make millions in continual profits through trade and little is invested in creating a supply base on island.

This past trend has to change, if we just consider the fact that the First World sees it fit to change their vehicles to electric base to improve the pollution in their country. But the gasoline vehicles that they now choose to reject, should not be dumped here in the small islands because they are cheap and will enhance our people’s way of life.

The more we are bogged-down in material things, the more profitable we become to the corporate investors. The cost and prices of all commodities and services are going up daily, but if we can produce en-mass and reduce the overheads attached to importation, it can mean lower prices for most of the things we need or want.

Not too long ago the only source of electricity was thought to be obtained from the use of fuel generators, but today several other sources of electricity exist such as solar, wind power or the use of water turbines, even nuclear, as well as from geothermal and biogas etc.

My point is that we need to diversify our methods, create our own cost-cutting methods, we should care more for our people’s survival than enhancing the corporate establishment.

For the last few decades, we were given the impression that the best way to obtain work, or to get an opportunity is to get involved in the Tourism trade, but reality now shows clearly that this industry can be vulnerable and not as profitable as previously thought, as well as risky.

We need to develop homemade industries. If we can buy tin-stuff, we should be able to produce it as well. Our import bill can be reduced by millions that can in turn help improve those who invest in island-made, we sell hotel space and services for millions, but the bulk of the cash received ends up in the pockets of a selective few persons we call high-rollers.

If we make more, there will be more in circulation, but to master that concept we must start to “Think St. Lucian”, or as the Government slogan says: Putting People First.

We need to change the page to start the change, begin to believe in ourselves and consider that we too can produce world-class produce and equally-standardized goods, as well as offer professional services.

There have been countless examples of exclusive standards and workmanship in our midst. Take our nurses, as well as some of our teachers, even law enforcers, sought-out by the First World draining us of such human resource, but for some reason we do not pay attention to our own achievements.

We must begin to do like others do; if it works for them, it could also work for us.

Think local, think prosperity, but lower the cost of homemade commodities and services. We should not bleed our people to our own detriment. Not because apples cost an arm and a leg that our mangoes should cost the same. After all, most of what we have we waste, or do not put into use, but we keep buying from the shelves everything imported.

For some reason we are of the mindset that what is imported is of better quality. We should all remember what happened to our home-made coconut oil some years ago, how we can be tricked to think our own is not good, or is inferior in quality.

It is time to wake-up and smell the coffee, decide our own course and determine our own direction, because if not, the situation we now face will not be different tomorrow, or any time in the foreseeable future.

Tomorrow can only be greater if we put the shoe on the other foot, so let’s change with the rest of the world and start caring for ourselves first. After all, charity begins at home!

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