Published On: Mon, May 20th, 2013

Help wanted: a government derailed!

Melanius AlphonseThe policy of Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony in the 2013/2014 budget is not only antiquated, but baseless.

It is rather unfortunate, that the prime minister who is also the minister for finance is clearly off the mark on what is needed to jump start a comatose Saint Lucian economy.

This is a painful reminder of how helpless the Anthony administration is at finding a desirable formula to stabilize the economy and to mobilize its resources to direct critical relationships internally and externally.

With this background, I refer to Abraham Lincoln: “If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do and how to do it.”

The prime minister and minister for finance have failed to do the job!

In fact, the Anthony administration has given lots of quantitative evidence to demonstrate their lack of proficiency on how to grow the economy. Their inability to adapt to changing labour market conditions and capital acquisition, as well as their inability to think practical about the situation at hand is baffling!

And perhaps, have shown that it is not within their aptitude, their aspiration and mission to bring about positivity and perseverance, so that productive influence can contribute to economic growth.

Research has show that putting things in perspective with a solution base approach is really what builds a country - and building a Saint Lucian economy is really about its identity, citizens working together –building a country with character. It’s about ideas and innovation, promoting enterprise – developing a social connection.

Rather than being directed to comply to the masters wishes!

But seriously, aren’t this generation a free people? Free from the estate enslavement on sugar plantations and the compensation received by estate owners for their slaves?

I sometimes wonder if the accepted theory is really true and whether we should hope for advancement!

With that in mind, citizens must be in action mode constantly, with a focus of awakening to the true situation; getting to know the actual facts rather than a figurative jinx of the Anthony administration to economic impasse. The fight is to expand freedom - to develop better strategies - to realize broader results for national stability and business success.

However, the Anthony administration scenarios that twist ordinary people lives with half-truths, distorted world views and twisted value is proving to be a real scum that the political masters cannot camouflage much longer.
As a result, the force fed diet of “Better Days “is now self destructive.

Saint Lucia’s economy contracted by 0.8 %in 2012; retail sales are down, industrial production is weak, manufacturing is flat, and tourism and agriculture pale in comparison to desired levels.

The rate of inflation increased from 2.8% in 2011to 4.2% in 2012, partly due to the introduction of value added tax (VAT).

This indicates that Saint Lucia has run out of steam and is stuck in the middle – income trap, (per capita income estimate for 2011 is US$7,379) where a range of factors such as information, communication and technology (ICT), innovations, higher education and skills levels, infrastructure readiness, including weak government institutions and unfavorable macroeconomic conditions are at greater risk without steady growth of productivity.

The force budget cuts of $130 million are very visible, and not unexpected – though being used as a propaganda tool to sway citizens to the Anthony administration claim of responsibility and accountability.

This is far from reality!

Day after day, the Anthony administration is busy transferring wealth from citizens to state apparatus, via more taxes – more borrowing and increased deficits (even on the last day of the budget debate), while the economic stimulus packages, state job creation and welfare programs are been directed to the political elite and party honchos.

And in return, talk about trickledown economics and state job creation of approximately 2,500 part-time jobs in “NICE” and that, 8,704 persons gained short-term employment under “STEP-UP” at a cost of $5.6million, and 171 small contracts island wide creating 2,400 short-term jobs?

But failed to add – for party sympathizers!

Clearly one cannot be more antiquated than that in creating a sink hole to win over skeptics. At a time when “ In fact, the IMF has proposed an $80 million adjustment, or about 2 percent of GDP, annually for the next three years to safeguard Saint Lucia’s financial future.”

Most will conclude that the budget statement for the financial 2013/2014 is far beyond what is considered reasonable for economic recovery, much less economic growth and fiscal sustainability!

The Anthony administration has consistently failed to create an enabling job creation environment, and an investment platform for long-term employment.

This means government revenue will continue to collapse with no strategy in sight on how to make up the difference. This, in actual fact puts downward pressure on wages and reduces the middle class and wealth creation, while increasing poverty levels.

Meanwhile, the minister for finance cannot account for the allocation of the previous year 2012/2013 estimates of revenue and expenditure, and address the economic situation facing the country with new ideas; a new vision and policy measures to turnaround a deteriorating Saint Lucian economy.

The end result is a situation whereby the people of Saint Lucia is being rob blind by the policy and twisted logic of the Anthony administration.

In this current void of economic leadership and government derailment, the Anthony administration needs to make use of economic stabilization methods in order to hold the line and avoid further disaster based on the following, in the 2013/2014 budget statement.

“Wages and Salaries stands at $450million and accounts for 48 percent of recurrent expenditure. Goods and Services which amounts to $196 million and accounts for 21 percent of recurrent expenditure. Debt servicing which amounts to $204 million and absorbs 22 percent of recurrent expenditure; and transfers in the amount of $95 million, or 10 percent of total recurrent expenditure. The Government’s projected recurrent expenditure for the financial year 2013/2014 is expected to come in at $947 million which is about a 1.5 percent contraction from the approved figure of the 2012/2013 Budget.”

The budget statement continues, “The most glaring was on the legislative front. We failed, in large measure to enact out planned legislative programmed. An estimate from the ministry of legal affairs indicates that there are approximately 60 pieces of legislation awaiting drafting.”

Clearly, our people need a break from hardship, from suffering and continuous deception, failure and disappointment.

Meanwhile the Anthony administration is unable to live by their own policy of no work, no pay.

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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