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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Retrofitting St. Lucia

The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that Honourable Dalson’s presentation to the Budget Debate was perhaps one of the most relevant contributions.

Firstly, Dalson’s characterization of the Budget as “quick quack” was spot on; and apparently, the senior public servants who crafted it were embarrassed and disappointed by the charade that passed in the House in the name of a Budget Debate. So, they have apparently decided to compensate for the extremely poor debate performances of their ministers by hosting a live roundtable TV discussion to expound on the programmes funded by the Budget which was missed by almost every government minister. The issue is: will we hear anything about the “Quick Quak” that the sea was sold? My own view is absolutely NO! That prevarication by Richard, Rufus and Guy was as extraneous was as it was criminally disingenuous.

To some extent, I empathize with Tucker and Guy because they are both desperate and power-hungry politicians who perhaps don’t know better. But Richard – a student of Dr Anthony – does know better. I’m sure Dr Anthony taught him well and that he knows the definition of “corporation soul” and its nexus to government; but that’s what excessive venom does to the mind.

Secondly, Dalson also sounded a grave warning of an impending active hurricane season where the experts have predicted at least six potentially devastating category 5 storms. With all this intense off-season weather activity we are now facing, Dalson’s warning is now beginning to sink in.

St. Lucia was perhaps expecting this year’s Budget to have a presidential “State of the Union” orientation and to generate some serious proposals for retrofitting the island after the passage of St. Lucia arguably worst natural disaster. Never has our island been so badly bruised and fractured in living memory; but the budget debate did not reflect on that. All we got was “quick-quak” fairy tales about Kenny “selling the sea” and “the minister” being paid royalties. For the enlightenment of listeners, I hope the Budget Director explains the role of the Minister of Finance during their discourse tonight.

Six months after Tomas, there has been little progress in retrofitting St. Lucia. According to the World Bank /IMF assessments, those costs approach one billion dollars. Government missed a glorious opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to a comprehensive and meaningful post-Tomas recovery by integrating its “retrofitting” initiatives into the national budget.

With the weather prediction by experts and early warning signs thus far, the country is getting scared. The hurricane/rainy season has not officially started and we are already experiencing heightened “tropical weather” activity by way of recent “strong” troughs (one of which came perilously close to an off-season storm) and heavy rainfall.

I deeply empathize with the people of Saltibus, Daban and Gertrine; the people of Fond St. Jacques, Columbette and Soufriere town; and the people of Bexon, Marc, Tete Chemin and Venus who were devastated by Tomas but have been left to their own devices, even when they do not have the resources to fend for themselves!

In the absence of a caring government, may God cast an eye on them!

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