CASTRIES, St Lucia – The current administration celebrated their 5th anniversary of the election victory in 2016 as the exact election date for 2021 remains a mystery. The prime minister has indicated that his administration deserves another term and listed his administration’s accomplishments. The following will analyze the various key areas mentioned in the prime minister’s Facebook press release.
The prime minister states: “We found unemployment at approximately 25 percent and youth unemployment at 50 percent. Before the pandemic, we had already reduced unemployment to 17 percent and youth unemployment to 33 percent. Unemployment even during this pandemic remains lower than it was at this point in 2016.”
As discussed in the unemployment post and using figures from the Statistics Department, the figures showed that there are 10,000 less Saint Lucians employed at the end of 2020 than in June 2016. The only reason the “unemployment rate” is listed as lower is that 10,000 persons have removed themselves from the labour force and hence are no longer classified as unemployed. If these persons were included as part of the labour force then Saint Lucia’s real unemployment rate would be over 30 percent. Is there any proof that this administration created more jobs during their five-year stint?
St Jude hospital
The prime minister states: “We promised that we would fix the mess with the St Jude hospital. The new world-class St Jude hospital is currently in its final phase after only two years of construction.”
St Jude hospital is still not open more than five years into this administration. The two-year timeline was imposed solely by the current administration, and they could have begun constructing St Jude from day one. Furthermore, St Jude hospital is currently without x-ray services for more than two months. “The hospital has been without x-ray capabilities since March 30. We are doing everything in our power to have the technicians from Santo Domingo troubleshoot the problem that we are having, and they have already given us a quotation. So, therefore, this moment, all we are waiting for is for the part to arrive here, and they will come and install it for us,” Henry-Ernest said.”
Ironically, less than 2 years ago, the PM boasted about a new x-ray machine for St Jude’s. The staff at St. Jude’s was also extremely dissatisfied leading to unsatisfactory patient outcomes like no food provided.
Will the worker concerns along with the X-ray machine issues be a top priority for this administration?
The prime minister stated: “We promised we would create new jobs. We’ve created over 2000 new jobs in the ICT Sector.” He failed to mention how many of these jobs continue past the one-year employment mark from which the government is generously providing 40% of salaries. “The government of Saint Lucia offered to subsidize salaries of up to $1,000 for the first six months per every Saint Lucian employee and $500 for the following six months. Further, the government agreed to cover the cost of customizing the assigned factory shells in the Vieux Fort Free Zone with the required physical layout and necessary telecommunications infrastructure.”
These companies are granted 40 percent of the salaries of their workers paid for by the Saint Lucian taxpayers while the taxpayers gain zero equity and zero value from the work artifacts produced by the Saint Lucian workers. This is in contrast to other government programmes where the work artifacts could benefit other Saint Lucians as opposed to only foreigners in this case.
Furthermore, these “investment” terms are much worse than what a typical venture capitalist would ever accept. The payroll subsidy provides a clear incentive for the call centers to terminate employees after one year resulting in high employee turnover. This continuous employee turnover restarts the salary subsidy. Therefore it minimizes costs to the company while increasing the cost to the Saint Lucian taxpayers and call-center workers.
The prime minister states: “We promised that we would invest heavily in sports. We have created the Saint Lucia Sports Academy, upgraded playing fields in Dennery, Micoud, Desruisseaux and Soufriere. Major work has also been done on upgrading other playing fields such in Balata, Jacmel, Canaries, La Fargue and Forestierre.”
As the rest of CONCACAF wraps up the first round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier, it is instructive to note that Saint Lucia was the ONLY country that withdrew from the CONCACAF 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Has this government actually invested heavily in sports or is their signature achievement the failed horse-racing track for the Pearl of the Caribbean.
The only comment from the prime minister related to crime was the following: “We inherited deplorable police and fire stations across the country. We have done repairs to every single station.”
Has this administration shown meaningful progress in addressing the deteriorating crime situation?
The Saint Lucian public are awaiting the prime minister to provide the election date which is now more than five years after the last election. While the Constitution provides the prime minister up to 90 days after the first sitting of parliament which was held unconstitutionally 36 days after the election. “Each session of parliament shall be held at such place within Saint Lucia and shall begin at such time, not being later than 12 months from the end of the preceding session if parliament has been prorogued or one month from the holding of a general election of members of the House of Parliament has been dissolved, as the Governor-General shall appoint by Proclamation.” The United Kingdom which our Westminister system has had the only election delayed over the past 100 years, the 1940 election “The election due by 1940 was not held due to the Second World War (1939–1945).”
Saint Lucia has never had a prime minister provide the election date more than 5 years after their previous election win. Interestingly, every Saint Lucian leader who has had the election date more than five years after the last poll has lost the subsequent election.
When will the prime minister give the Saint Lucian public the opportunity to judge his administration’s performance over the last five years at the ballot box?
Source: The St Lucian Analyzer