Letters & Opinion

Accountability in Government: An Urgency for Government

Sylvestre Phillip M.B.E
By Sylvestre Phillip M.B.E

In a previous article in March 2020, I stressed that our nation has been grappling with a number of issue which create anxiety in our land. Some of those issues are crime, unemployment, poor health care, political divisiveness, hopelessness and several others. Those issues have made it difficult to unite as a nation.

The problem of crime and criminal activities still continue; although these past few weeks, things have been relatively quiet.

The government of St. Lucia is using an approach to deal with the crime situation. One aspect of the approach is to provide the police with the ‘tools’ needed to fight crime. I agree that there are many societal issues that lend support to crime and criminal activities. One such issue is unemployment.

Government is now pressing ahead with providing employment opportunities for its people. A youth employment programme is very soon to be rolled out for our young people to obtain gainful employment. Government is poised to provide the funding for youth projects which they will present.

Now it’s not only the young people that the government is catering for. There is a ‘window’ for everybody. Very recently, I listened to the Minister for Tourism Hon. Ernest Hilaire explaining a very attractive programme of employment opportunity to be rolled out in Tourism. That is St. Lucians with a desire to start a project in Tourism will be facilitated to get a loan at the St. Lucia Development Bank and the government will provide grant funding for part of the cost of the project.

Specifically, if the project costs $18,000, the proposer will be facilitated with a loan of $12,000 and government will provide grant funding for $6,000. It means therefore that proposer has an opportunity to start a business, make a profit, pay his/her loan gradually, and put something aside to regenerate into the programme and to put himself or herself into a formidable position in the tourism business.

But not just that, indeed, all the necessary skills required to run the business will be provided through a programme of training which will be provided by government. This is excellent!

Indeed, there are other areas intended to bring care to the St. Lucian populace. We must have been hearing about universal Health Care to be rolled out for our people very soon. Government has pinpointed one of the areas of Universal Health Care. And that is care of persons with diabetes and hypertension.

Diabetes and hypertension has been of concern for our government and people. I can’t provide the actual figures readily; however many of our people suffer with diabetes and hypertension. I must indicate that a large cohort of young people are suffering with both diseases. Since 72% of the population of St. Lucia is made up of youth, it is important that their health needs are catered for as a matter of concern.

Now the mantra of the government is ‘Putting People First. And members are putting the machinery in motion to ensure that people come first. And no doubt, the people are very happy with what the government has been able to do.

But there are politicians who are desperate to create division and confusion among our people. The SLP came in to power with a thirteen (13) seat majority. It means that a sizable amount of the St. Lucian population voted for the SLP and a government to cater to the needs of the nation.

Now to use falsehood, blackmail, misrepresentation, untruths, deception and foxiness about a Prime Minister who is so loved by his people and has started to do much for his people would redound to promoting anger, disorder and division among the St. Lucian people.

To come straight to the point; I was hearing that the Prime Minister is being accused of receiving a plot of land and a BMW which is supposed to be a luxury. I understand the Prime Minister very well and something was telling me that he would not take these accusations lying down. Only last evening I heard him explaining that he took a loan to buy the BMW which he possesses. He was bold enough to say from which lending institution he took the loan, and the monthly repayment. I don’t know of any prime minister who has done this. I am saying that these accusations can only cause enmity.

I have heard the late Prime Minister John G. M. Compton say: “I have no enemies; only adversaries”. But when supporters hear these lies about their Prime Minister, what do you thing would happen? Of course I know they would show aggression in the ‘ballot box.’

And what else could happen? Maybe you can list them! St. Lucians are peace loving people and they should not be lead to anger. When Lucians are angry, they’re not nice at all!

These falsehoods would only motivate the Prime Minister to do more for his people.

Then we come to the matter of accountability in government. Persons in high office should always be made to account in one way or the other.

I have lived long enough in St. Lucia to know about ‘Bobol’, ‘corruption’ in high places, even in government. But the problem of name calling and accusations of people in public has never been practiced.

That should not be part of the practise in St. Lucia. We all have our party and we want them to be in government, but when the elections are over and the people have spoken, we all have to reassemble as one nation.

The Politicians should simply do their homework and come back again. Not dividing people in this way.

I was privileged to have studied in Trinidad and Tobago and to be there at election time. I can tell you campaigning and elections in T&T are ‘hot’. But the day following the elections, an atmosphere of Peace and Love prevails in the entire nation. I have also been present during the United States elections.

Americans are politically conscious people. It’s either you are a Democrat or a Republicans, and after the elections, they become ‘Demopublicans!.’

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