Published On: Thu, Jan 24th, 2013

Why we don’t need cabinet doctors

The most pressing need for a doctor, in general terms, is to administer care and to give patients an opportunity to get better. To date, the Saint Lucia Labour party (SLP) cabinet of doctors has proven themselves incapable of performing either.

Equally, they have fallen short on socio - economic prescriptions that are consistent with growth in the interest of the country.

Ever since they started basking in this pretentious “Better Days" hoopla all dressed  in En Rouge, the SLP doctors have sought to cure every conceivable social and economic illness in Saint Lucia, with a single political pill which can only be obtained in generic form.

Along the way, they have stifled most of our citizens with their one size fit all diagnoses, and have virtually left others who had hoped for a speedy recovery, baffled at what a mess they have made with their unattainable policies.

With every passing day, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the doctors to explain to a struggling nation why the political policies they have employed to date aren’t working. In searching for a way out, they have suddenly become Hollywood actors, acting out their little fantasies of "Better Days" from a carefully scripted Hollywood handbook.

Frankly, if the SLP administration cannot stand on its own policies and has to resort to acting, this should be evident enough to suggest that the doctors are suffering from a brain freeze.

In their current state of mental freeze and imbalance, they are unable to calculate the multiplying effect and the long –term consequences of their adverse political creation. During this process, the economy continues to suffer from chronic retardation and protracted uncertainty.

Further, the economic actors have a problem of believability on their hands, in trying to explain why widespread tax increase is not flooding the treasury and why stimulus spending is not creating jobs.

From one defensive argument to another, they have convinced themselves that, in a system such as ours which generally caters to the practice of skullduggery, the SLP administration, though widely disconnected from the cries of the people, will weather the incoming economic and political storm!

If my memory serves me right, it was the late Brother George Odlum who reminded us all that you must really listen to the voice of the people, if you want to make sure that government runs better.

But if truth be told, paving the way towards economic prosperity does not require obstructionism. We need leaders who are capable of acknowledging the problem, and wise enough to adopt a novel approach to solving it.

Saint Lucia is in need of a number of economic practitioners, who are experienced enough, and would not feel overwhelmed when confronted with the following:

  • Reducing the deficit of $254 million is paramount by means of reducing unemployment that is approaching 25%
  • Understand that as long as the deficit is above normal growth of 3-4 % of GDP the national debt is growing constantly out of proportion (currently 6.3%)
  • That a  hasty  implementation of 15% VAT and the expansion of the tax base will not necessarily increase the tax receipts in a dead economy
  • That leaders must respect the need for political and economic reform, or else the  status quo will continue to prevail
  • Acknowledging that, without a concrete approach in  addressing equality through STEM education (science, technology, engineering and maths), the people will remain poorer
  • Employing a  new agri-business strategy and manufacturing sector that has the capacity to perform in excess of 25% of GDP
  • Not relying solely on economic growth that is based on tourism
  • The inability to incorporate the private sector into the national strategic plan for development with options for financial lending
  • The non prioritization of bilateral trade and foreign direct investments (FDI)
  • Dismantling  inefficient and sloppy state-owned enterprises that control the economy with stimulus packages
  • Dealing effectively with the sad alternatives from the blueprint for growth that creates expensive public policies to accommodate members of the SLP party, and was designed to win an election rather than to improve the economy.

As a result the socio - economic health of the country has declined and, frankly, unless Saint Lucia is able to urgently make-up some significant gains, via structures that allow growth, innovation and high-value work that compete on quality and customization, we are bound to go under.

It’s as simple as that!

The prescription of a generic political pill will not advance progress and neither can it reformulate the month - to - month current account deficit worry to true liquidity, and a strong current account position.

It’s a math equation.

Can the cabinet of doctors resolve that for us?

Melanius Alphonse is a management and development consultant. He is an advocate for community development, social justice, economic freedom and equality; the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM) critic on youth initiative, infrastructure, economic and business development. He can be reached at malphonse@rogers.com

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