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Friday, August 5, 2016


There's a view that an observer can get an insight into the integrity of an enterprise by the integrity of the individuals that embrace and promote it. In spite of the merit or demerit of that view plus my fundamental disagreement with some of the frontline supporters and potential fifth columnists in the media and elsewhere who claim to want to make modifications to the projects to suit their whims and fancies, I will not use it as a frame of reference to make a judgement about DSH. In circumstances that appear to be controversial, the national interest should always remain paramount.

It should not matter who invented our CIP model; neither should it matter who is implementing it. (My view is) it is grossly disingenuous for a set of politicians to claim credit for implementing a "state project" (like the CIP) in much the same way that another set of politicians to claim that it was their brainchild. The reality is: projects conceptualized or designed on behalf of the state (like the CIP) are the intellectual property of the state (because it paid the professionals to invent them).

Judging from the look of things, the CIP seemed to have carved the "framework" for a new Marshall plan for the Chastanet administration! Three massive development projects in VF, Choiseul and Canaries (with the possibility of a 4th) have been earmarked and are at various "stages of implementation". 

If those projects turn out to be successful, then a massive Southern transformation is imminently expected, adding a measure of equilibrium to the traditionally skewed development patterns that have overtime characterised the island. Choiseul and Canaries will finally be put on the development map; VF will at long last get its deserved profile as the industrial capital of St. Lucia.

It is also understood that (with its international airport and seaport) there is also a technical proposal in the pipeline to turn VF into a logistics centre with the business centre becoming an "entrepot town". To the best of my knowledge, a consultancy was commissioned in that regard and a technical working group was set up to advise on the implementation of the recommendations.

If successful, then those should contribute to the massive economic transformation which should in turn contribute significantly to poverty and vulnerability reduction among other things!

However, implementation processes are not linear and simplistic. In this global village, "our will is not our own". We are accountable and subject to a larger community of watchdogs at both the local and international levels.

For example, before we can implement any development project, an environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) must be commissioned. The ESIA will make recommendations on whether the overall environmental impacts are sufficiently significant to allow or disallow the implementation of the development project. The ESIA, among other things, shall take into consideration all relevant local legislation (such as The Saint Lucia Solid Waste Management Act, Public Health Regulations, Physical Planning and Development Act, Pesticides Control and Toxic Chemicals Act, Forest Soil and Water Conservation Act etc.) as well international conventions/protocols such as the Montreal Protocol or Stockholm convention.

The journey therefore from conceptualization to implementation of a development project can take years and can turn out to be a very complex matter especially if the relevant legislation, conventions and protocols are not respected . . .. But even those are not the only speed bumps along the way.

Others include the advocacy and inputs by stakeholders, environmentalists, social activists, rights organizations and community members.

Whatever the logistic issues that may hang over our “quartet of CIP projects, I remain steadfast in my support (at least in principle) for the CIP or by whatever name it is called. However, the general framework must be right and considerable due diligence (which we may not have the capacity to undertake on our own) must be done prior to implementation.

Of course, our current configuration must be regarded as a work in progress, an experiment. This being the case, a measure of caution and "control" is necessary. It is in this context that I have some difficulty figuring the PMs rationale for wishing to impulsively amend an infant Act to remove the quota of 500 applications. If the claims that DSH is seeking thousands of passports for sale to fund the project, then as patriotic citizens, we must be concerned.

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