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Thursday, April 11, 2013


The dark clouds of industrial action which hovered over St. Lucia since February 21 have been blown away (at least for the time being) and the prospect of the warm and brilliant sunshine of normalcy, recovery and hope is on the horizon again. And I am sure that all patriotic St. Lucians will be happy to begin to exhale again.

But this temporarily therapeutic sense of optimism may be short-lived as the emerging sunshine seems lined with more threats of pessimism.

Officially, the Hurricane season begins in June; but I suspect the onset of bad weather will be much earlier. I also suspect that the “epicentre” for the bad weather will be Choiseul/Saltibus and that gale force winds may begin to blow as soon as Town Hall meetings with the PM hit the constituency.

Sources close to the PM indicate that his weekly VF South constituency days are muddled by a large influx of constituents from the two Southwestern constituencies of Laborie and Choiseul. While I do not want to pre-empt the PM’s discoveries of what passes in the name of representation in certain constituencies, I will nevertheless opine that there may well be shocking lessons in political enlightenment for him. Lucky for him, he is an astute and intellectual diplomat who has the capacity to diffuse confrontation and I suspect he will need to summon those competencies when he sets foot in certain constituencies.

I believe one of the PM’s challenges at both constituency and parliamentary levels will be dealing with the management of constituency finances over the last five years. The effluvia of those financial “rotten eggs” continue to linger in certain constituencies and the people’s cries for answers are getting louder. In Choiseul, we refer to that effluvium as the “Red Curse on Choiseul”; and while it may have enriched the managers and procurers of the funds, it has also, among other things, pushed the natives deeper and deeper into poverty.

Preliminary investigations by the Powerhouse suggest Choiseul is indeed trapped in a "Red Curse"! A discussion with a former member of the defunct Choiseul Village Council revealed two stunning discoveries about the management of constituency funds. Firstly, there’s a claim that less than 2 million out of the several million Taiwanese dollars could not be accounted for by the Council. When prompted for an explanation, the councilor replied: “You’ll have to ask the district rep about the rest”.

Secondly, the councilor claimed, as much as ¼ million dollars of the Mini Stadium funds could not also be accounted for.

Although The Choiseul PowerHouse could not independently verify any of those claims, we are nonetheless aware that the public is restless as they do not seem to be aware of the whereabouts and status of the funds which were meant for major capital and social projects in their constituency.

But the worst is yet to come. In a serendipitous encounter with a disgruntled past member of the constituency executive, some critical information was unwittingly unveiled. The member agreed that “there’s more in the mortar than the pestle” in that ongoing saga of what Choiseulians perceive to be the “disappearance of the La Fargue Mini-Stadium funds”. In her apparent “anger”, she then went on to impute that certain funds procured overseas on behalf of the Choiseul/Saltibus constituency never made their way to the council or treasury. She told the Choiseul PowerHouse that she was convinced that cheques received from Portugal and Kosovo were held “in escrow” by a Minister of Government in undisclosed and “illegal” accounts.  She believes that one such account exists in the United Nations Federal Credit Union (UNFCU). (The UNFCU has a membership of more than 88,000 members in 212 countries and an asset base in excess of US$3.1 billion. It maintains two branch offices at United Nations Headquarters in New York City as well as its own representative offices at major UN duty stations in Geneva, Vienna, Nairobi and Rome with Smaller UN duty stations being served by Liaison Representatives; and its membership is limited to employees and family members.)

If membership in the UNFCU is limited to employees (and their family members) of the United Nations, then how did Choiseul/Saltibus become a member of the UNFCU to the point where cheques payable to her could be lodged into an account there? This is a matter should not be taken lightly and is worthy of immediate and urgent investigation.

So when a former Minister said publicly that a Moroccan cheque was deposited on the Choiseul Village Council account in the “Credit Union”, he surely did not mean the Choiseul Credit Union because it has been independently verified that no such monies were lodged there.

In any case, should any monies were to have been lodged in the UNFCU on behalf of Choiseul/Saltibus, then it would be interesting to find out who is/was the bearer and beneficiary of that account and whether or not the Choiseul Village Council has an account at the UNFCU and who is the beneficiary of that account.

Obviously, those monies would go into the account of an employee, a retired employee or a relative of that that employee or retired employee. The question therefore is: Who from Choiseul/Saltibus does the cap fit? Perhaps the ongoing forensic audit should broaden its terms of reference to probe into the allegations of those transactions.

The Powerhouse has been reliably informed (but could not independently confirm) that a former Government Official who may be in the centre of the controversy was able to negotiate for an extension of his diplomatic visa, giving him the latitude to commute between the US and St. Lucia at will and with increasing frequency. In the context of this official’s history and propensity for identity fraud, the ramifications and implications are potentially ominous.

Meanwhile, with so much monies in the constituency’s name allegedly at large and with a seemingly disinterested and detached rep who has not demonstrated a propensity for accountability and transparency in matters "Choiseulian", the curse of “being in the red” continues to haunt Choiseul! . . . And more and more it is beginning to look like Choiseul was born to die in the red!

May God help us!

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