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Sunday, June 19, 2016



There has been much discourse on the new Cabinet configuration - a discourse that (by and large) has been “superficial”, showing a measure of meaningful and significant penetration mostly at the level of social media.

While it was indeed heartening to have heard the voices of industry-standard experts in Economics and Finance (like Richard Peterkin and Frank Myers), it was equally disappointing that their voices did little to address the inherent anomalies in our "Sputnik" Cabinet or to attempt quell the ensuing babel (of seemingly national proportions) which only seems to keep on gaining momentum with time.  Apparently their cautious and mundane sound bytes which were proffered in the euphoric moments of the inauguration went with the flow and did nothing to alter the momentum of the discourse.


Two fundamental questions have been either not been asked or have been largely ignored, except for the debate on social media.
The questions are: (a) is the new configuration in its current form “tenable” and (b) if it is, then, "Does it do more with less or vice versa?" 

Our mainstream media on which we depend for enlightenment and a measure of intellectual leadership continue their free fall from omniscience to “peripatetic ignorance” with even some publishers/Talk show hosts going to the point of celebrating and/or defending the new configuration without proper, in depth analysis. In other cases, they downplay the issue (perhaps) in the hope that it will go away and become a “new normal” in our excessively skewed politics.

It appears our media have a Freudian propensity to keep on repeating the same past mistakes of "honeymoonism" with new governments, jumping unto the “bandwagon of bliss” in a way that seems to painfully corroborate our IQ ranking as assessed by “the Economist” magazine a few years ago. 

When Kenny Anthony won the elections in 1997, the Press blindly hopped aboard his train and seemed to have remained there indefinitely until he broke the cycle of bliss by firing a Senator who was a publisher. Almost twenty years down the line, we haven't learned our lesson or have forgotten history.

The question is: is this our true and real St. Lucia or is it a historically momentary, anomalous quirk of fate? I pray it is the later!


 Let's now look critically at the geometric configuration of the new cabinet and also its potential implications. Later, I shall argue that the reduction in the number of the ministries is only a hoax not grounded in rationality – one that was designed to have never happened.

Firstly, the new PM said he would reduce the number of Ministries; and he did! He however did not tell us that he would increase the number of Ministers; but he did! He didn't tell us anything about the consequential fiscal ramifications: for example, (a) the net effect of the reduction in the number of ministries and (b) increasing the number of Ministers; and would it result in cost savings and how?That is one of the puzzles for which we await a solution!

In the meantime, we can only surmise: If it does result in cost savings, then the PM should be applauded and from a fiscal point of view, he is on his way to a fine term; but this however still remains an exceedingly grey area.

Lets us argue rationally: can there be a reduction in the number of ministries, if there is no reduction in the staff or reduction in the “population of structure” of those Ministries?

Let's look at the scenario theoretically: if the number of ministries is reduced by a factor of x, then shouldn't we expect savings by a factor proportional to x? Or let's put it directly in terms of “population of the structure”: if you reduce the number of ministries, then shouldn't also there have been a reduction in the staff compliment of the ministries in proportion to the reduction and doesn't that directly translate to or at least imply redundancy or retrenchment?  A fair question is: is the "cluster configuration" a pre-emptive rationalization to retrench public servants in medium or long-term plan to realise recurrent savings?


Let's still look at the argument at a more "global angle" by bringing in "more factors to the table": With a humongous public wage bill of almost $500 million, a planned reduction and eventual removal of VAT and the new PMs intention to change the fiscal deficit into a surplus, then what are the implications - economic or fiscal - of the new configuration?

The total picture is blurry and the reconciliation is challenging: How do we reconcile a “reduction” in the number of ministries with an increase in the number of ministers?

Is it simply a case of jobs for the boys/girls in the name of a fictitious reduction in the ministries by grouping them into clusters?

Wee can even go further and extrapolate: if this is the PMs calculus of reduction, then what would a reduction in VAT amount to?


I don't expect answers to the above puzzles anytime soon! But I'm concerned and curious! My curiousity and fascination have me looking for insights; and if I am to go by "the language" of the various ministers who all seemed coached to recite the same chorus, I am beginning to see a little clue here and there; and perhaps this might be the place to start. 

All ministers who spoke after the inauguration were saying “post hoc” what they should have said prior to the elections. Before the elections the UWP categorically said that it would remove VAT! After the elections, it is saying that it needs to conduct reviews and assessment going forward.  The question is: Suppose those reviews and assessment say VAT cannot be reduced or removed, then what would the outcome be?

Apparently, there were lots of reckless and untenable promises made to the electorate; and I predict that those may well turn out to "bite their owners". The last elections may have taught politicians a massive lesson: They must eschew recklessness for the purpose of winning elections; for recklessness has its own backlash. All the goodwill currently enjoyed by the government could be frittered away at the snap of a finger because of recklessness.

I fear the chaos and civil unrest that recklessness may bring. Those of us who understand the implications but say nothing might only be adding fuel to the fire.

I regret the experts ignored those angles.

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