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Tuesday, 04 October 2016 09:57

Can incompetence fill a vacuum? Featured

By Melanius Alphonse

A “lame duck” in politics describes an elected official continuing to hold high political office pending the inauguration of a more recently elected successor. The official is often seen weak and loses the ability to achieve anything, having less influence with the legislature and the public at large.

Regrettably, however, in Saint Lucia, newly elected Prime Minister Allen Chastanet seems to be a lame duck from the outset, exemplified especially by his most recent awkwardly delivered report to the nation that he has spent his first 100 days in office working on a plan to reduce Saint Lucia’s debt to GDP ratio, as the island’s deficit is larger than anticipated.

“The new government’s term in office began with the realization that the 2016/2017 budget grossly underestimated certain areas such as school maintenance and the operations of the new hospital.

“I have taken it upon myself to have as many meetings as the prime minister to try to expedite investment in this country.

“Saint Lucia’s current finances have restricted my ability to institute reform. We have had a very difficult time in being able to establish control of the government.

“Ambassadors who have contracts that have no out-clauses. Investors that we signed up two days before the election with no out-clauses in their contracts. And so I’ve not had the opportunity of moving quicker because obviously there are legal issues and we always have to follow the rule of law.”

The essence of the problem is clear. Prime Minister Chastanet has taken little time to learn and prepare adequately to put into practice management and leadership skills; and develop effective policies to counter the issues and dilemmas facing the country.

The first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump revealed what a well prepared, informed and resourceful demeanour can accomplish.

Meanwhile, the parallel in the local vernacular is that of a “Tropical Trump”, totally unprepared and insufficiently informed, and incapable of delivering sound judgment on a variety of subjects.

This is the reason why it was necessary for a CDB economist to tutor the government of Saint Lucia in implementing much needed pro-business, fiscal reforms and perhaps new legislation, whilst awaiting a further report from international auditing firm, Ernest and Young.

Thus far, the CDB recommendations are in harmony with what progressive thinkers diagnosed and articulated in prior articles extensively published and read on Caribbean News Now.

However, enablers of 'steering' and 'kleptocracy' confined to a “transactional, trans-colonial leader” fallaciously claim that my articles (a) “are not solution based and are simply the writer's personal prejudice”; and (b) have “no concrete recommendations”.

This is extraordinary and thus far demonstrates that a comprehension problem does exist, as well as the collection of house hypocrites, peddling wrongheaded approaches and false choices of change and relief that have now turned out to be void of any serious strategy for governance, fiscal transition and nation building.

In keeping with the lame duck analogy, there is a similar expectation that the vacuum in governance will somehow add legitimacy by the proposed appointment of a new governor general, the pay to play personae of media figures as government surrogates and imminent ambassadors in Washington, New York and the UK.

In fact, should the not so secret list hold, it will keep the adverse pressure on Saint Lucia without any drastic change in external policy towards the country’s strategic development goals.

By the same token, the Chastanet-led administration’s first 100 days were simply a dramatic awakening to false narratives contributing to the absence of effective management, creating credibility concerns, dwindling high value investors and investments, now compounded by the setbacks from tropical storm Matthew, in particular the agricultural industry.

While the impact of tropical storm Matthew awaits evaluation, international financial compliance, job market confidence and the heavy reliance on tourism still demand immediate and effective resolution.

Simply put, policymakers must act now to reverse the country's external vulnerabilities and plan scenarios to confront the current socio-economic decline; the outcome of the US presidential election’s direct impact on economic, immigration, and national security; and Brexit.

Fittingly, the image of a lame duck, quacking and splashing in its puddle indiscriminately, holds true time and again, and here's the real kicker – Prime Minister Chastanet greeting an elderly lifelong resident, former district representative and ambassador as follows: “De white man is in de house”.

“Clearly the protection of the Desruisseaux church at the time avoided a fiery response; however, it captures the reality. That statement three months after the election contours a vindictive spirit and intent to obstruct or victimize.” ~ Cassius Elias

Even so, if ever there was the need to demonstrate a transactional, trans-colonial leader’s glaring incompetence within a vacuum, this illustrates the “hoax” played on the country, existing in his own universe, globetrotting outrageously to convey asymmetry, in denial of the obvious.

Is there any hope for Saint Lucia?

Melanius Alphonse is a management and development consultant, a long-standing senior correspondent and a contributing columnist to Caribbean News Now. His areas of focus include political, economic and global security developments, and on the latest news and opinion. His philanthropic interests include advocating for community development, social justice, economic freedom and equality.

The article published above is a letter submitted to www.whatsupcaribbean.com and is the writer's view/ opinion and should not be considered as the view of Whats Up Caribbean or of it's staff.

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