Published On: Tue, Feb 5th, 2013

LPM responds to foreign minister Hon. Alva Baptiste

Castries, St.Lucia – The Lucian People's Movement says that the incoherent and illogical argument presented by the Saint Lucian foreign minister against adopting a commonsense policy that would require Saint Lucia to implement the cost efficient operations of our embassies and consulates abroad; and to ensure that ambassadors and their staff produce the kind of returns that would justify their salaries was received with a mixture of amusement and disbelief.

To concentrate solely on the LPM's call for the immediate shut down of Saint Lucia's consulate in Miami, while ignoring the following valuable suggestions that were made to save the country millions of dollars is a tactic typical of the minister:

a) Enter into agreements with members of the OECS to share embassy spaces and to even, perhaps, permanently operate joint facilities in order to extend the diplomatic reach of the island and the OECS region.

b) Tap into the vast network of Saint Lucian students studying abroad in fields such as international relations and international business and marketing who are capable of being utilized in our missions and consulates on a voluntary or internship basis.

c) Restructure our entire operations abroad so as to usher in a modern system of diplomacy that produces trained diplomats whose primary focus is not attaching themselves to international causes but rather using their positions to attract jobs to our shores.

The minister’s response says a lot about his sincerity to manage and transform “Saint Lucia's largest non-productive and low yielding bureaucratic investment abroad.”

As the minister insists on retaining the status quo and giving only lip service to reform, the LPM wishes to inform him that we are serious about Saint Lucia's future and that—if given the reins of power in the next elections—we will effectively relocate Saint Lucia's consulate in Miami and instead consider setting up an embassy in Brazil, which currently has an emerging economy that would be better suited for Saint Lucia's economic aspirations. The LPM would also like to remind the minister that the decision to award host nation status to Brazil for the next Olympics and the World Cup did not come as a fluke; instead, it was a direct result of Brazil’s rising influence and power in the world. Therefore, justifying the costly maintenance of three foreign installations in the United States, one each in Miami, New York, and Washington DC, all of which are in very close proximity to each other (in terms of flying time), does not speak well of a nation that truly understands that the effective allocation of scarce resources applies to foreign policy as well.

The LPM is not asking the government of Saint Lucia to further cripple our country, nor are we questioning the importance of expanding foreign relations to meet global competitiveness. What the LPM is concerned about is the lack of productivity from people who are hired to perform these critical tax-revenue-consuming functions. We believe that prudent vision in allocating diplomatic resources is what our country needs right now. Therefore, we reassert, without any reservations, that the ineffective management of our diplomatic structure is a mechanism for bankruptcy because it yields minuscule returns on the exorbitant cost incurred.

Finally, if the foreign minister wishes to be taken seriously, he had better begin to demonstrate that he fully understands the changing nature of our global environment along with the shifting sands of diplomacy, which if not read carefully, can catapult a small nation such as ours into the category of a broke and failed state!

End/

Therold Prudent

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