By Caribbean News Global
CASTRIES, St Lucia – Understanding the prime minister of Saint Lucia New Years address and the narrative of the language from the writers thought process leads me to explore that ‘more flattering and pleasing statements are meant to persuade a core demographic to find refuge’ and more interesting, is the fact that contending policy, new strategy and fiscal buffers are simply imaginary, in the current political orbit of chaos and lies.
Adventure or opportunity?
At the onset of the prime minister utterances he shared the narrative that: “You will recall that on assuming office in 2016, and on other occasions thereafter, I indicated that our government would need about three years before we would really start seeing tangible results. Our task was not easy, in fact what we found was rather daunting – unemployment was at an alarming high of 25 percent, our country had gone through five years of zero or negative growth, we were facing crippling levels of debt and there was severe deterioration in our physical infrastructure, social services, particularly in health, education and in community services.
“Most of our institutions, economic and social sectors were either in disarray or dysfunctional, from the police to the judiciary, from agriculture to education. Many projects which should have been completed by the former government such as the two hospitals, the desilting of the John Compton Dam, all critical projects, had either not started or were far from complete. In short, the fiscal and economic situation was dire and there was a general sense of hopelessness all over the country. This is the backdrop against which my party was elected.”
He proceeded to convince self that, “Immediately, our team of workers rolled up our sleeves and got down to the business of turning this situation around,” concluding that, “ There is little question that the visible improvements in the economy and new direction has restored our country’s hope and confidence. Our policies are working and we are moving in the right direction.”
The right direction?
On that basis, what structural and policy changes can one reference that has surfaced, much less, designated to diversifying services, underpin modern emerging markets that can foster innovation and entrepreneurship.
The current marketplace shows deeper internal changes and a domestic economy that lacks diversification for a more defined exploration of ideas on comparative advantage to the quantum leap on a wider vision to science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), climate change adaptation, renewable energy, and innovation.
The extract from this evolution is the opportunity for a unique growth model and comparative technological advantage to drive modern services, agriculture, manufacturing, engineering transportation and expand export growth. Similar, comparative advantage in research and development (R&D) can lead to demand and expansion. At the same time, this will generate high-quality jobs and a better quality of life.
However, a strong sense of reasoning, diversity of thought and an enabling environment for openness and innovation are prerequisites to shape an economic future for prosperity and growth.
Suffice to point out. The prime minister extends that: “One of our first actions was to fulfill our general election promise to ease the burdens on the entire population. We immediately implemented “Five to Stay Alive”, part of the UWP’s 2016 election promise to turn around the Saint Lucia economy.
It is hard to hold off pessimism. Equally, the nuisance of political overview only adds to creepy addictions that trigger, “Today, 3 ½ years into our administration, Saint Lucians can see and feel the positive signs that we are moving in the right direction.”
Saint Lucia’s development
Support for reforms that unlock investment in Saint Lucia is quite apart off-focus, relative to the investment climate, sustainable infrastructure investment, and corporate finance, both for the expansion of local companies and in support of foreign investment to provide extensive support for progress to help the country achieve its full potential.
The prime minister mouth mantras that, “Our tourism sector has grown steadily during the past year and we are truly defining Brand Saint Lucia.” But really what does that mean, when Saint Lucia needs to step-up public investments that boost human and physical capital – public services, infrastructure, healthcare, education, and security.
What mindset is the economy steering towards when entrepreneurs are not assimilating into the economy, and facilitation is lacking building businesses to boost the domestic economy and second, namely, regional and international expansion.
What mindset is being projected when the government has prominence for misadventure, destination branding, and services – uncomfortable; meantime the domestic economy is strategically disconnected, obscure to expand ready talent.
Farming: A global view
Dominating willful ignorance, the prime minister said; “It is no secret that there was a mass exodus of farmers from the agriculture sector during the reign of the labour party. Our farmers are too important to let this trend continue and thankfully with the support and incentives we are seeing a turnaround. In 2016, banana production increased despite the challenges from natural disasters. We are actively working on new markets and discussions remain underway with Winfresh to strengthen the company’s operations and expand its export base.
“Under our Food Import Substitution Programme the ministry of agriculture is working closely with farmers to decrease on the food import bills by increasing our output of seven crops: cabbage, lettuce, watermelon, cantaloupe, bell pepper, pineapple, and tomato. The intention is be fully self- sufficient in those crops.
“We are also putting greater emphasis on our regional markets and exploring expansion with Export Saint Lucia to improve our agro-processing sector and two agro-processing plants are now in operation at Anse Ger in Micoud and Fond Assau in Babonneau.”
The prime minister continued: “Young people, now is the time to explore the opportunities in this sector, especially when it comes to the production of cocoa, honey, and livestock.”
Again, the content is nonetheless directionally unhelpful, taking into focus advancing a path forward.
Adding value to Saint Lucia’s development means stepping up poverty alleviation efforts that coexist with the digital engine for rural revitalisation and rural infrastructure driven by technology and the digital economy. The direct synergy is to help farmers connect urban and rural areas, consumers and merchants access products on e-commerce platforms; made business decisions that uplift personal, the cooperative business model and community fortunes to improve their quality of life.
The demand for agricultural products, logistics, storage and cost measures built on a business model around helping farmers sell products using e-commerce platforms and help aggregate demand for agricultural products, through data-driven approach improving yield efficiency, would drastically decrease on the food import bills, and bring to the market new products that “are truly defining Brand Saint Lucia,” from the domestic economy to the external marketplace.
Within the prime minister’s major projects planned or under construction – hardly ground-breaking with little apparent progress; chest-thumping and destructive tax measures, “Five to Stay Alive”, the New Years’ address is adversely compliant with domestic socio-economics, geopolitical and international indications.
Given the uncertainty, Saint Lucians face an administration bent on the desire to take credit and attempts to manage public opinion, the announcement of ceremony proposals is a big source of consternation.
There is enormous concern that the administration narratives must face greater scrutiny, specifically mired in wobbly implementation, for a promise down the road.