By Melanius Alphonse
When the news of Dr Ubaldus Raymond’s resignation from the Senate and, consequently, as Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce, Business Development, Investment and Consumer Affairs to allow him to take up the post of Chief Economist in the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands, came as a swift and sudden surprise, I chuckled with cynicism and immediately reached out to my sources.
Melanius Alphonse is a management and development consultant. He is an advocate for community development, social justice, economic freedom and equality; the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM) critic on youth initiative, infrastructure, economic and business development. He can be reached at email@example.com
For weeks, there has been a rumbling of a cabinet reshuffle, discontent in certain quarters and, at the same time, celebration at the ministry of infrastructure, port services and transport, and the prime minister’s office, where two new appointments helped reinforce big government ideals and political patronage.
Whether anyone of these gave rise to Dr Raymond’s exit remains a mystery, for now. But, Dr Raymond’s departure, based on my observation, is emblematic of a progressive personality that is not comfortable with the status quo and quite rightly; a professional who is not comfortable with the Kenny and Tony version of Keynesian economics and blind plantocracy that requires obedience, and no dissenting viewpoints, even when basic arithmetic trumps liberal ideology.
Why is this so important? Every country needs an economic strategy. What is Saint Lucia’s strategy to help the development of businesses that will create jobs and profitable opportunities for the financial sector to invest in and realize economic growth?
The knowledge and experience of any economist recognizes that basic principle and will not indulge in playing politics with the future of a country and its people.
The habitual lapse of judgment and the lack of aptitude to engage knowledgeable minds, and civic and professional groups to harness the best ideas and solutions are reflected in the 2012/2013 budget that is laden with an accelerating ideology of big government, spending increases and high taxes that will not solve the debt problem and grow the Saint Lucian economy.
As a result, an economist’s modus operandi requires results that are achievable via an economic strategy with a foundation that works with consistency and efficiency, and one that is proactive to change in this global sphere.
The resignation of Dr Raymond may very well equate to a development setback for Saint Lucia to attract and keep excellence. And to wish him well and continue to make his country proud is an affront, as someone who is not essential and valuable in the development of his country, but is better off in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
In today’s global challenge to economic growth, the search for knowledge, innovation and creativity is a critical component that comprises three Ts - Technology, Talent and Tolerance that must synchronize to power and distinguish Saint Lucia in the marketplace.
Yet, in this modern-day, level-headedness is carelessly displaced in favour of a political philosophy that is antiquated in terms of the economic realities of Saint Lucia.
Perhaps this is part and parcel of the grand scheme to export knowledge, expertise and wisdom to the Turks and Caicos Islands and elsewhere around the world in return for issuing work permits and visas at will to work in Saint Lucia.
And maybe, it is just what the constitutional Doctor prescribes as the possibilities to develop and build a vision to suit narrow political and cultural borders, and a choir that can only coexist in the framework, principles and performance as set out in the fine print of the blueprint to growth.
Who knows? Most of that could be adding up, but the performance review and subsequent reports will tell the story. Either way, we’re in a mess. The sensible thing to do is to take responsibility for changing things and move forward.
But, that requires envisioning a twenty-first century with leadership that embraces visionary needs, strategic planning and guidance for tomorrow’s workforce; suitable thought processes and astuteness to absorb and process arguments that cut across ideology with methods that actual works.
This is not complicated and it shouldn’t be all that hard, to extend a sense of responsibility that transcends fiction, and is committed to building a nation on the principles that contribute to socioeconomic development.
At this juncture it is time to trash antiquated ideology and bring to the table ideas, experience, creative imagination, values and results-driven solutions into positive change, to improve the quality of life of citizens and to advance a new era.