Published On: Mon, Jun 23rd, 2014

LPM claims that dirty politics is partly responsible for Saint Lucia’s debt crisis

Castries Saint LuciaCASTRIES, St Lucia –  While the ongoing impasse between the government of Saint Lucia and the public service unions may prove inconvenient for the nation at this time, there may be valuable lessons to be learnt by all the politicians who continually place their personal ambitions for power over the national interest of the country.

This observation comes from the leader of the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM), Therold Prudent, who recalls Dr Kenny Anthony’s support for a 7.5 percent wage increase for public servants in 2009, even after he had personal knowledge that our nation’s debt-to-GDP ratio had surpassed the dangerous threshold of 60 percent during his tenure as prime minister of Saint Lucia between 1997 and 2006.

To substantiate his claim against Dr Anthony, Prudent offers the following statement by Sir John Compton, which he made during the budgetary exercise of 2007: “This expanded borrowing by the Central Government increased the total public sector debt to $1,624.9 million and the debt to GDP ratio from 63.8 to 65 percent, [which is] well above the prudential guideline of 60 percent set by the Monetary Council of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank.”

It is, therefore, ironic, says Prudent, that in his most recent address to the nation, Dr Anthony now cleverly regurgitated this very same argument, which Sir John Compton had once made against him for excessive borrowing, to persuade the public servants that they should accept a five percent wage reduction, which is contrary to the salary arrangement he had once publicly supported.

On the evening of June 10, 2014, Dr Anthony told the nation that “most of the studies that have been done indicate that whenever the debt-to-GDP ratio is higher than 55 percent, it hurts the growth prospects of the country.”

Yet, as opposition leader in 2009, he engaged in political mischief, which no doubt misled the public servants and inadvertently forced the hand of the then prime minister Stephenson King to enter into a difficult agreement that hinged primarily on the need to save his fragile government.

However, while Prudent agrees that there is merit in putting our fiscal house in order and continues to urge Dr Anthony to consider other sectors in which the gaps in the island’s fiscal shortfall can be bridged, he remains resolute that there can be no improvement to the island’s fiscal woes as long as the current culture of malice and deception continues to dominate Saint Lucian politics.

Prudent concludes that, as defenders of our nation’s interest, we should not act self-righteously when our party is in power, yet willingly participate in devious activities that are adverse to Saint Lucia’s economic and financial interest, when our party is in opposition.

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