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The paradox of ‘have taken the position’ Vs a ‘policy position’ declares St Lucian MOH officials: Part 2

By Caribbean News Global fav

LONDON, England – In Part 1 we examined the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOH) abstract thinking of “have taken the position” versus a policy – based on facts, science, data and a plan to reopen the economy.

Starvation political tactic

Last Thursday, secretary-general António Guterres, told the Security Council “conflict drives hunger, and when that turns to famine, that then drives conflict. If you don’t feed people, you feed conflict”.

“When a country or region is gripped by conflict and hunger, they become mutually reinforcing…[and] cannot be resolved separately” he added. And when hunger meets inequality, climate shocks, sectarian and ethnic tensions, together with grievances over resources, they then “spark and drive conflict”.

The episodes in Barons drive Soufriere, Gros-Islet and Dennery are not isolated, to which curfew violators, showered police officers with bottles and selected missiles. This is the tip of the iceberg waiting to exhale from social and economic deprivation. This is not a law enforcement measure to control.

Against that backdrop and global concerns expressed by secretary-general Guterres are relevant here: “there is an emergency level of acute food insecurity.”

COVID-19 has exemplified the use of care packages, preferred economics and government resources to care for select groups of people and the use of political patronage. Humanitarian practices have become a tool for political advantage against hunger and economic development. Thus, setting the foundation for instability and political conflict.

Make no mistake; if not corrected, Saint Lucia is at the crossroads for conflict and instability.

COVID-19 response

The government has tried various report methods for COVID-19 responses, all leading to increased numbers and a lack of guidance on the way forward. On Tuesday 16 new cases were reported; cases diagnosed in the country to date to 4069; active cases 161 and, they got the language correct this time; as of March 15, 2021, a total of 19,053 individuals have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Saint Lucia.

Meanwhile, the government ducks at every opportunity to come clean with expenditures in the name of COVID-19 on multiple occasions, a rear Government Information Service (GIS) dated March 11, titled: Parliament approves funding for COVID-19 response, said:

“Saint Lucia is positioned to have increased access to funding for managing and mitigating the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19. Parliament has approved authorization for the prime minister and minister of finance, Allen Chastanet to borrow an amount of USD$30,000,000 from the International Development Association to finance the COVID-19 response, recovery and resilience development policy programme. The prime minister, during a sitting of the House of Assembly on February 23, explained that the funds would go toward addressing the many challenges posed by COVID-19.”

The GIS communique continued: “The COVID-19 development policy programme is expected to leverage government efforts in three primary areas:

Protecting Lives and Livelihoods: This will be achieved by continuing to focus on structural measures and interventions that will strengthen the social protection system for the most vulnerable.

Ensuring Business Continuity and Strengthening Resilience: This component will focus on our current efforts in saving jobs as well as strengthening the support to the fisheries sector through the implementation of the Insurance Mechanism Caribbean Oceans and Aqua Culture Sustainability Facility. In relation to business continuity, additional liquidity support will be made available to medium-small and micro enterprises (MSMEs) as we work toward economic recovery.

Legislative Reforms: This area focuses on reforms in Public Financial Management, Public Procurement as well as the improvements of public debt transparency and public debt management for the post-crisis recovery.

With the view of saving lives and preserving livelihoods the government of Saint Lucia since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, has channeled significant resources in undertaking the Social Stabilization Programme, the Economic Recovery and Resilience Plan as well as the initial health response,” the GIS article said.

Looking beyond the immediate crisis, while people were facing dire situations, St Lucia’s PM attempts course correction to bad COVID-19 measures.

However, in the GIS article, prime minister Chastanet, said: “Some of these initiatives are expected to continue into the new fiscal year and will require significant financial outlays. The sharp increase in positive COVID-19 cases since January 2021 has increased the pressure on an already fragile health sector. Despite the Sector benefiting from significant donor – financial and technical assistance a huge deficit still remains.”

The GIS article continued: “… The funding of the COVID-19 Response, Recovery and Resilience Development Policy Programme from the IDA will therefore finance both capital investments as well as current expenditure in the 2021/2022 budget. It will not only support the containment of the spread of COVID-19 among the citizens but will undergird the economic recovery of the local economy.”

Exemplifying the uncertainty, ‘we must act now’. Further reading: St Lucia’s gangster capitalist raid election projects, airport development.

Related: Part 1

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