Last week, the prime minister’s press secretary Jadia Jn Pierre-Emmanuel took to the airwaves to defend the government’s Cruise Ship Employment Program, mentioned in the 2014/2015 Budget Address.
In case you missed it, according to Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony, “through NICE, the Government of Saint Lucia launched a pilot program valued at $0.4 million during the past fiscal period to assist unemployed youth between the ages 19 and 35 years to access this employment.
“Unlike other similar initiatives in the past, this pilot program has been carefully designed in conjunction with a training institution, a cruise line and the Saint Lucia Development Bank.”
The employment opportunity is projected to net upwards of USD $3000.00 for those lucky enough to snag a spot.
Only problem was the partner, Florida Caribbean Cruise Association, was unaware of this new develop-ment, as evidenced by the sheer shock of organization head Michele M. Paige who shared with The STAR that communication between the two was non-existent.
But Jn Pierre-Emmanuel cleared up the apparent misunderstanding, by explaining that their co-pilot in this venture was actually Carnival Cruise Lines.
Now that the cat was out of the bag, further clarification was provided via Radio Lucia’s Inside Government program, by the prime minister’s permanent secretary, Dr. Alison Plummer.
“Last year,” she said, “220 persons benefited from training, assistance and employment as a result of a collaboration between NICE, Springboard Training and Development and the St Lucia Development Bank. Springboard Training and Development Centre has entered into an agreement to train and recruit employees from Saint Lucia to fill non-utility positions on Carnival Cruise Lines.
“Having recognized the inability of many of the potential employees to meet the costs associated with taking up these jobs, Springboard approached the Government and this relationship was developed. Carnival Cruises recognizes the accreditation of this training institute and has expressed satisfaction with employees recruited in the pilot phase last year.
“As such, Government will make $3 million dollars available for on-lending by the St Lucia Development Bank, so more people can benefit.”
No surprise that the UWP leader Allen Chastanet is crying foul at this latest revelation:
“I listened to the press secretary’s comments with regard to the cruise ship training program and I question the validity of her statement. As everyone would know, Carnival Cruise Lines is the same cruise line that Invest St Lucia had indicated wrote a letter to Pointe Seraphine tenants saying that Carnival had threatened to pull out, a statement later retracted.
“Carnival Cruise Lines would not do something like this by themselves. They would always do it through the FCCA. I don’t believe the statement she made and I believe this government again has just thrown out hope without having done the homework.”
He maintains that while not governed by them, Carnival Cruise Lines are a part of the association and one of the founding members: “On a program like this that would be hiring, they would not do it unilaterally. They would always do it as a group.”
Chastanet does not believe there has been any communication between the cruise line and the government and laments the unsubstantiated bait constantly being thrown out to those eager for gainful employment.
“I know that they’re planning on having a meeting later this year but they do not have the program set up and again they have come out prematurely. I think this shows their desperation.
We reached out to Paige for confirmation of the Carnival collaboration and once again her response was eye-opening.
“I have been able to confirm that Carnival is not the conduit for having such an initiative.”
For good measure the question was repeated.
Did Carnival arrange the partnership themselves? We’re being told that Carnival has proceeded forward.
“The answer is no. Carnival is not moving forward on any initiative with the St Lucia government.”
Looks like the government’s got some ‘splaining to do.