TORONTO, Canada – The World Health Organization (WHO) informed journalists’ on Monday that, “intensive care units are filling up to capacity in some places, particularly in Europe and North America”.
In the Caribbean, leaders are re-evaluating their situation. In some case, prime ministers are afraid to upset their voters base. Others have done better-taking control of COVID-19 with a focus on health and safety and the wellbeing of the people. Meanwhile, others have lost control of the virus for not being honest with the facts, the inability to listen and follow the science and true economic arguments.
Economic arguments and tourism (via the front door) and the selective distribution of State resources have siphoned money from the pockets of the people on the brink of starvation. The backdoor (illegal entry) and the black market has regained an unsavoury reputation, for a people desperate by any means necessary.
The economic health and security matters confronting the region – need not be in the position it now recons, but for some governments and their ill-defined apparatus not being honest with the public.
Saint Lucia has infamously pronounced that it is broke, amid increased COVID-19 cases and dengue. The thought of a lockdown would equate to “pandemic fatigue”. And the consideration of a lockdown by the government is a risk fact, for fear of being rejected by the decision makes from elsewhere and the island tourism boss.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director, has also advised to stop the politicization of COVID-19 and keep politics out of it, said: “Political divisions; blatant disrespect for science and health professionals; and spreading deliberate confusion, have caused cases and deaths to mount. This is why I have said repeatedly, stop the politicization of COVID-19”, he warned. “A pandemic is not a political football. Wishful thinking or deliberate diversion will not prevent transmissions or save lives”. What will save lives however is “science, solutions and solidarity”, Tedros stressed.
To understand the politics of deception, Carlton Augustine wrote on Facebook: “Don’t fall for it. That a prime minister who has been such a spectacular failure is pushing this “best chief medical officer (CMO) ever,” is telling. A prime minister who has admitted that the country is broke. A prime minister who squandered the resources of the country on horseracing. A prime minister who squandered the citizenship by investment (CIP) receipts, is trying to deflect attention from his own failures by pulling the CMO into the political fray.”
“I stand with the people of Saint Lucia who have endured over four years of incompetence mismanagement, conflict of interest, corruption, nepotism, the destruction of our patrimony and abuse at the hands of the prime minister and his Cabinet. #Chastanetmustgo.”
To underscore the hypocrisy and immoral governance Saint Lucia is good at, it is no secret that the warning signs and a practical solution on the way forward was tabled, only to be ignored.
Battling the pandemic is “everyone’s business”, Tedros asserted, Monday, adding that “we all have to play our part”. To keep our children in school, businesses open and lives and livelihoods preserved, he stressed that “trade-offs, compromises and sacrifices” must be made. “That translates to, among other things, people staying at home, maintaining physical distance and wearing masks while governments must break transmission chains, test, isolate and care for cases, in addition to contact tracing and supporting quarantines”, Tedros said.
Thus, while smart leaders in the region, for example, followed the view that “science continues to tell us the truth about this virus … how to contain it, suppress it and stop it from returning, and how to save lives among those it reaches”, Tedros said, noting that many countries and cities that have successfully “followed the science”.
In Saint Lucia, however, the opposite is true from the standpoint of some healthcare professionals and economic analysis tripping over themselves, after the fact. And the realization that the worse lies ahead.
Again, Saint Lucia need not be in this upsurge of COVID-19 cases, dengue and the economic paralysis of being broke and broken. This was completely avoidable if not for the dishonesty of government and enablers, too afraid to speak truth to power, beyond rattling anticipated scenarios. Moreover, being lead by a prime minister that recites: “I don’t listen. I let the jackasses bray,” the following is unsurprising.
The statistics according to Richard Peterkin Facebook post reads:
- “GDP is likely to contract by 26 percent;
- Government Revenues are down by 36 percent;
- Public Debt is now $3.6 billion and will likely exceed 90 percent of GDP by March 31, 2021;
- National Insurance Corporation (NIC) has spent $68.9 million and government has spent $7.2 million on unemployment relief. Over 20,000 persons received some level of support;
- Government has spent $38 million on COVID-related Health responses, which probably includes the move to the Owen King Europen Union (OKEU) hospital;
- There have been 13,600 stayover arrivals since the borders were opened in July, and Hotels have re-employed 5,000 persons. 10,088 of these arrivals were from the USA;
- “Citizenship by Investment (CIP) applications are up 129 percent.”
The experienced and practical John Peters said: “The above represents the greatest financial crisis that Saint Lucia has faced since independence. What is very troubling is that the nation has not fully understood where are at this stage, and the political activists have subtly created various sub-plots to divert attention from the real issues. Sadly, many of these culprits are living in the comfort of North America, where they have taken up citizenship and have the safety nets of unemployment relief from their governments.
“This crisis has come at a time when our agricultural sector is at its weakest, when we have placed so much effort in tourism, and where there is limited to no foreign direct investment inflows. It is now clear that the assumptions made in the last budget address, which was delivered less than six months ago, were completely wrong.
“The prime minister mentioned the following foreign direct investment projects in his budget:
- Point Seraphine Business and Leisure Hotel;
- Pearl of the Caribbean Canelles Resort;
- Cabot Links;
- Soley Kouche;
- Anse de Sable.
“None of the above have started and are unlikely to start in this financial year. In public sector investment, the following projects are yet to start:
- Millennium Highway and West Coast Rd Project, which was approved for funding some five years ago and which is the most stunning display of implementation failure;
- Cul de Sac Bridge;
- John Compton Desilting programme, which again is a serious failure in implementation;
- Hewanorra International Airport Redevelopment, where the major investment by SLASPA so far has been in advertisements.
“The seriousness of this financial crisis cannot be left to political tribalism. This is a matter where every Saint Lucian must be engaged, and the best minds be utilized to take us away from the edge of this cliff. This is beyond the present government acting alone, and thus leadership is required to pull the nation together”, Peters advised.
Related 2020/2021 budget links:
Underscoring the need for hard work from leaders and the realization that there are no magic solution Tedros attested that when leaders act “quickly and deliberately”, COVID-19 can be stemmed.
A similar analysis is true, if Saint Lucia was lead by the example of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda; and Dominica to providing much-needed support to families, workers, and employers, laying the foundation for a rekindled economic recovery. And albeit the need for borrowing, to provide meticulous details of government’s borrowing, exemplified by The Bahamas.
Moreover, the wisdom to advance a strategic outlook and a supplementary budget instead of the masked 2020/2021 budget, not even the authors and so-called advisors can patch-up. Subsequently, to await progress update on the government’s economic recovery and resilience plans at this stage of the pandemic is hypocritical and immoral.