Published On: Tue, Dec 4th, 2012

SLP celebrates a year of employment vulnerability

Since the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) entered into office, on the pretence that its priority was to immediately get Saint Lucians back to work because of the high levels of employment, very little has changed in the affirmative.

In the same breath, Dr Kenny Anthony believed that the fiscal deficit had to be cured quickly and that it could be done by “implementing growth enhancing expenditure and tax reform measures.” But one crucial point in Dr Kenny Anthony’s 2012/2013 budget address that remains under critical scrutiny within the Lucian People’s Movement, (LPM) is that, to curb current expenditure, “is very difficult as approximately 80% of recurrent expenditure is non-discretionary, meaning that there is very little scope to reduce these expenditures.”

Yet, with no sign of cutting the deficit in sight, the SLP government found it necessary to spend a week celebrating their first year in office by delivering mixed messages, dismal uncertainties and political policies that lack growth potential. Likewise, if unavoidable salaries and wages, retirement benefits and interest payments on debt comprise 80% of every dollar earned by the government of Saint Lucia, why is there time to celebrate?

The people of Saint Lucia expect a government that can make tough choices to reduce its burdensome recurring expenditure and deficit by initiating projects where returns will outperform expenditure. Because, it is insulting and disgraceful in this modern age for a Saint Lucian to attain work for three months a year just to make some money and be back in the same bind all over again, until “God knows when” is not an initiative by government that is sustainable and growth enhancing; this is a critical mismanagement of $1.46 million dollars.

This is a welfare strategy that clearly reflects vulnerable employment that is characterized by insufficient earnings and dismal levels of productivity. Injecting millions of dollars in programs such as SMILES, NICE, YEP, STEP, are convincing political ways to force public interpretation that “at least we have a party that is giving us a little job, however short-term and we will vote for them again.”

But how much longer will political greed keep our people in the dark on what really matters for our economy and to begin thinking in terms of prosperity and their well being? It is well known that a country that has high savings and investment rates gravitates to greater GDP growth rates. As well, the option to save money is highly impossible given the continued excessive borrowing incurred by the past and present administration.

For this reason, Dr Kenny Anthony should be establishing institutions and programs that provide incentives for the adoption of modern technology, in contrast to a bunch of bureaucratic institutions and programs that evolve more slowly than technology, creating unsustainable economic problems, where another cycle of borrowing will be needed for its maintenance.

The LPM is well aware that, when these programs funding have depleted, the majority of persons employed under these programs will be in the same bind all over again. In other words, if job creation is not sustainable it will not generate modern growth and will extend the national debt. The LPM looks forward to Dr Kenny Anthony revealing the number of Saint Lucians that found “sustainable employment” as a direct result of NICE and the “net jobs gained” by other programs.

In opposition the crime rate on the island was the talk of the SLP political agenda but, with similar homicide numbers this year, the SLP government that claimed to have had a plan to curb crime on the island has once again fallen short. The LPM suggested a National Consultation on Crime but that initiative continues to be ignored because of political selfishness, while this matter continues to batter a hastily collapsing economy. The LPM would like to assure the public that crime is not a policing problem but rather a socio-economic issue that requires a comprehensive set of events to begin to eradicate its existence.

Additionally, let’s not forget that the Trade Union Federation (TUF) has begun negotiation on wage increases and the spiraling legal fees that are expected to emerge from the Grynberg oil drilling situation. Let’s not ignore the over $300 million dollars planned to reconstruct the Hewanorra International Airport (HIA). Let’s not ignore the many Saint Lucians who are looking forward to Kenny’s infrastructure stimulus package and the numerous promises.

Did his agreement turn out to be true?

If so be the case, it is only evident that Kenny’s welfare approach to job creation will generate growth and job opportunities in the informal sector. And the lack of digitized transparency and accountability in their numerous initiatives will result in wasted resources that if effectively researched, would not have been implemented in the first place.

Therefore, the conclusion is such that, a comprehensive revenue generating initiative for employment is long overdue, to advance economic freedom and democracy, and to realistically provide economic development for Saint Lucia.

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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