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Saturday, March 19, 2016


I don't want to "second-guess" Chastanet's investment policies; at the same time, I am also extremely curious about his unambiguous position on the Citizen by Investment Programme (CIP).  Except for blasting Dr Ernest Hilaire and Dr Juffali, I'm yet to hear from him clear and definitive policy pronouncements on the CIP; or at least how he intends to adapt the current CIP configuration to fit his policies.

I'm also uncertain and highly suspect about his “national priorities and preferences”. I can't remember him uttering a single word in support of St. Lucia during the bashing by the British tabloids, except for calling for the axing of Ambassador Juffali.  Indeed, the view of some political observers (that “forces within St. Lucia” might have been in league with the British Tabloid network and Mrs Juffali in their quest to sully the island's name) might be a tenable and justifiable one. One can only hope that our politicians seeking to govern St. Lucia were not part of a larger conspiracy with our detractors.

I raise the CIP issue against the background of the development potential it holds for us, especially given the fact that Foreign direct investment from our traditional sources has literally dried up. The Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) which John Compton dubbed as a martial plan for Caribbean was eventually downgraded to Caribbean Basin Security initiative (CBSI) and currently we are not even beneficiaries because of ORC.  Moreover, given the prevailing economic dilemma of the West plus their diversion of practically all aid away from the Caribbean to the Middle East, there isn’t even the remotest chance of the Caribbean getting the quantum of development assistance which was literally poured on us by the West in times past.

Therefore, if (under the CIP) we are going to get a highway linking Gros Islet to Dennery, a hotel at Sabwisha and a diabetic research centre (among other things), then what are Team Chastanet's - not just objections and criticisms but more importantly - policy positions on those? What is Team Chastanet going to do with those projects, should his party form the next government? He certainly needs to expostulate his "policy positions" on those beyond his electioneering rhetoric.

Indeed, and on a broader level, it may also be warranted for Team Chastanet to clarify his party's general investment policy for the country and particularly with regard to attracting foreign direct investment (FDI). We need to know where FDI would be coming from and how it relates to his promise of free entry visas into Canada.

On another note, we get the impression that the policy development within Team Chastanet may be hampered by the the party’s own limitations in intellectual resources. There’s the suggestion that the UWP is now run like a plantation with a “motley crew” of incompetent “yes men” and “Labour Party dissidents” who have won the approbation of their leader based exclusively on their unconditional loyalty to the boss. If that suggestion holds water, then those sort of persons may not be very useful in policy formulation and from all indications they are now turning to be “more of a liability than an asset” to the party.

Hence, I’m not surprised by reports that the intellectual powerhouse who powered Sir John’s policies and programmes (and indeed the person that the UWP should have considered in the first place to take over its reigns), is now flirting with the Dennery North constituency with the aim of becoming the candidate. Given the dearth of intellectual material within the party, I applaud this initiative, if it is true. The UWP needs him now

There's no doubt that we live in a "new world" which requires “brains” like Ernest Hilaire, Tennyson Joseph, Reginald Darius, Ausbert d’Auvergne and Claudius Preville working in various positions and capacities in the foreground or background to help forge the way forward for our country.

The electioneering suggestion that the UWP wishes to go down the road of Sir John Compton may well suggest that the party is stuck in the wormhole of the “old world” politics and economics at a time we need a “new paradigm” for our development agenda. It may not have attracted the brains needed to extricate it from the wormhole.

Time is running out on Chastanet. He needs to do more than his chorus criticisms and the conduct of polls. He needs to change the focus of his narrative which comprises almost exclusively criticisms to a focus which is policy-oriented. According to Hon Harold Dalson, he needs to tell us what would he do differently! 

It’s time to make “sense”.

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