The following is an address to the Nation by Philip J. Pierre, political leader of the Saint Lucia Labour Party, (SLP) delivered Sunday, July 25, 2021, the eve of General elections in Saint Lucia.
By Philip J. Pierre
My fellow Saint Lucians, if there ever was a time our country needed us, that time is now. In our country today, there is an atmosphere of hopelessness and despair. In recent days, we have heard the voices of our people speaking out against the pervasive injustice, corruption and vindictiveness of this government. Our country needs us to lift us out of this abyss.
In 2016, this government inherited an economy on the rise, with major capital works ready for commencement: the Redevelopment of Hewanorra International Airport, the Choc to Gros Islet Highway with the rehabilitation of the secondary roads, the Millennium Highway Rehabilitation project and an Administrative Complex in Vieux Fort, to name a few. We had improved the country’s economic performance and unemployment was trending downward.
In five years, regardless of what is being said by this administration, the hard economic data from the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) is irrefutable and suggests that the Saint Lucian economy has been poorly managed, experiencing the greatest contraction among all other countries in the Eastern Caribbean.
Our public debt is now the highest, four billion and counting. Our investment climate remained stagnant during the last five years with many unfulfilled promises.
The question remains why has our country, which has borrowed so much, performed so poorly? Where did all that borrowed money go?
These are questions that will need to be answered at some time; we cannot forget, and nor can we forgive the government’s miserable performance in healthcare, crime and the management of the COVID-19 pandemic.
After 12 years, St Jude hospital remains incomplete, a project which was started by a United Workers Party (UWP) administration. Meanwhile, patients remain housed in a dilapidated George Odlum Stadium, while priority was given to the development of a multi-million-dollar horse racing track less than a mile away. The wellbeing of horses, for the entertainment of a privileged few, had taken precedence over the health of our people.
Only an uncaring and insensitive government could have allowed such a travesty of healthcare to continue for such a long time. Today, sadly, we are no closer to completing St Jude hospital than we were five years ago when this government took office.
And so, we have to agree with the minister, their failure to complete the hospital means that they must be voted out.
This government has a track record of misplaced priorities which was visible in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, Saint Lucia has the worst record of infections and deaths among east Caribbean countries.
Yet, we borrowed more than every other country within the OECS for the management of COVID-19. This government refused to follow the science to protect the businesses of their favoured friends. In fact, this government refused to follow science and protect our lives and livelihoods.
Where crime is concerned, it is no accident that homicides have skyrocketed to a frightening degree. The lawlessness in our society has been signalled from the top with the government flouting the laws and conventions of the land with impunity.
I, as well as my party, understand the need to lead by example. That is why, we will be an honest government of inclusion, that upholds the constitution and respects the rule of law.
We have outlined people-centred plans for our country in our manifesto entitled: “You, the People”. 224-SLP-Manifesto-2021
The intention is to achieve three main national objectives:
- We will stabilize our Economy; to save jobs, businesses and families;
- We will reposition Saint Lucia for growth; so that our people can look to a more certain future;
- We will restore good and honest governance; so that government will be guided by democratic principles and the rule of law, works for, and not against the people.
Upon coming into office, we shall immediately ascertain the country’s true level of public debt so that we can commence the process of debt restructuring. This will provide us with the opportunity to create fiscal space so that we can provide social relief to those who have suffered during the pandemic.
It is necessary to ease the burden on you, the people, by putting more money in your pockets.
We shall do this, by removing income tax for everyone earning $4,000 or less in order to stimulate consumer demand and business activity while providing $25 million for small businesses and the youth economy.
We will revolutionize and make more accessible our education system, starting by removing facility fees and paying for CXC Mathematics and English.
We shall expand opportunities in technological and vocational studies and work towards one university graduation in every household.
We shall institute universal healthcare, making it affordable and accessible to every Saint Lucian. This is our priority.
These are just a few of the many proposals outlined in our manifesto designed to put you, the people first.
Tomorrow, while we cannot erase the injustices against this country we can vote to take our country back so it can be a Saint Lucia for all Saint Lucians and not two Saint Lucias’.
Tomorrow, when you vote for the Saint Lucia Labour Party candidate in your constituency, you restore good and honest governance to our country and we can pave the way for a brighter future for all.
Tomorrow, you will vote for a Saint Lucia Labour Party government that comes from you, and so by this very nature must care for you, and must always put you first.
Tomorrow, you will usher in a new dawn of servant leadership, with a Saint Lucia Labour Party government that will preserve the soul of our nation, and make us proud to be Saint Lucians once more.
Tomorrow, I humbly come to you, a servant of the people, a son of the soil and a product of Saint Lucia.
As I have said before, I am not a showman, my detractors say I stammer. But I rather stammer the truth that I tell lies eloquently.
Goodnight, and may God bless our country, our people, our home, Saint Lucia.