Letters & Opinion

Prime Minister Philip: Living His Apostleship

By Sylvestre Phillip M.B.E

There is no doubt that Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre is living his apostleship. The Gospel of John and the Acts of the Apostles confirm my assertions.

Philip, a disciple and apostle of Christ, was called by Christ from the fishing village of Bethsaida, in the far northeastern part of the sea of Galilee, in Jerusalem. Philip was a founder of Christianity.

It is important to understand that a multitude of persons followed Jesus continually. The crowd grew from about one thousand to five thousand. During his mission, he continued to express His concern about feeding the multitude, who themselves were not concerned about food, since they were happy about following Jesus.

His apostles tried to convince Jesus to send the multitude of people to the village to buy food for themselves. But Jesus did not agree. Instead, one day during His teachings, He called a follower who had five barley loaves and two dried fish in his possession. Jesus took the bread and fish and prayed over them. He then called Philip to put the multitude of five thousand followers into groups of one hundred and to identify a group leader. Jesus then gave Philip to distribute the loves and fish to the multitude. After they had eaten, there were several baskets of leftovers.

Philip is well known in Catholicism as the apostle associated with the distribution of the loaves and fish. He is also known as the patron saint of fishermen, chefs and hatters.
Indeed, Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre continues the work of Philip the apostle. He leads a government of ministers who themselves have responsibility for a constituency. It is their responsibility to feed the multitude or constituents with food.

Now, since man does not live by bread alone, the Philip J. Pierre led administration, is ultimately responsible for fulfilment of the basic human needs of the multitude of St. Lucians and to grow the economy to the benefit of all.

Indeed, at this point, I wish to highlight some of the programmes of the government which would put food on the table for St. Lucians, and to provide for other needs. We begin with the Ministry of Equity which offered $1,500, a one-time payment to households who were non-contributors to the National Insurance Scheme. That would surely put food on the table for many struggling families who suffered loss of income as a result of COVID-19.

Now, while this was happening, the government also paid out $600 each to government pensioners to help them cope with the present economic situation. I know that pensioners welcome that assistance which was paid towards the end of 2023.

The Philip J. Pierre led administration introduced a Health & Security Levy which is an investment in our community, country and people. The 2.5% levy, is now being imposed on goods and services originating out of the state of St. Lucia. The government is dedicated to improving the health services provided in our country. We are all familiar with the saying: “Health is Wealth”.

Now in February 2023, the Tourism Development Bill was tabled, debated and passed in the Lower and Upper Houses of parliament. Actually, the bill was a restructured Tourism Bill which is already in existence.

Indeed, tourism is the island’s biggest industry and main source of jobs, income and foreign exchange which accounts for 65% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The restructured bill will create more jobs, develop the infrastructure of our country, generate more income for local businesses and, by extension, put more bread and fish on the table of our people. Space does not allow me to emphasize several other areas which could benefit a restructured Tourism Development Bill.

Now government initially injected some $4 Million in the Youth Economy Programme for young people who wish to pursue business interests in sports, music, entertainment, designing and the creative economy.

Indeed, we now come to the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME). The prime minister and his government are not only promoting the involvement of youth in our economy, but every St. Lucian with a strong desire to improve their economic situation. The Minister of Commerce, Hon. Emma Hippolyte is well poised to implement that programme and to make a great success of it.

As Hon. Hippolyte has indicated, some 8.5% of an allocation of $10 Million has been set aside for that programme. That is a total of $85,000 is earmarked for this programme. The Ministry of Commerce is currently inviting prospective business persons and those already in business to make use of the opportunity to apply for and access those funds available through the MSME programme.

Philip, the St. Lucan apostle, is standing right behind these programmes to ensure his people, the multitude, benefit from all the government economic programmes.

Now speaking of the economy, St. Lucia is now experiencing sound economic growth. The economy moved from a negative growth rate of 23.59 % in 2020 to an unprecedented positive growth rate of 29.1 % as I write. Now judging from the trend which I am following, 2024 will be a ‘bumper year’.

Indeed, the 2024-2025 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure has now been passed in the two houses of parliament. We now await the delivery of the policy aspect of the Budget.

As the prime minister, himself emphasized, “the estimates will lay the foundation for sustainable growth in the economy and will provide real hope for our people; hope that will provide investment and employment opportunities across all major sectors of the economy.”

Indeed, the prime minister insists, that under his leadership, his government was able to achieve this feat, despite the precarious situation of the economy in 2021.The prime minister made it clear that his government is credible delivering on the promises it makes.

I have no doubt that as Philip continues to live his apostleship, he will be guided by the Holy Spirit in the same way that he guided Moses, Joshua and the other Patriarchs.

To be continued.

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