Francois to head Soufriere Foundation!

Jobs, jobs, jobs! The words most repeated during the 2011 election campaign. The question no one asked was, for whom? There have been several new appointments to direct government positions and statutory bodies since the government took office last December. Press reports recently were that former Tourism Minister Menissa Rambally was set to take up an appointment at the UN as the nation’s new ambassador.
On Friday the nation learned by way of a press release that former Soufriere MP Walter Francois had secured himself the position of Chief Executive Officer at the Soufriere Regional Development Foundation. The not-for-profit organization, though not a direct government entity, has been rife with accusations of being used as a political football. Soufriere MP Harold Dalson was highly critical of the former management of the organization while he was in opposition.
Mr Francois is most famous in St Lucia for resigning from the office of Minister for Planning, Environment and Housing following revelations in the press that though he allowed himself to be called “doctor”, he did not actually possess a PhD. In an address to the nation in 2002 then Prime Minister Kenny Anthony dealt with the issue this way: “Following a thorough investigation and discussion with Hon. Walter Francois over the last few days, I became aware that Mr. Francois did not possess a PhD degree, as had been assumed. . . Walter Francois’ failure to clarify the situation with respect to his formal qualifications has exposed him to relentless and intense media scrutiny and speculation. The disclosure that he had not been formally conferred with a PhD has caused tremendous anguish to his colleagues in government, his friends, and his constituents in Soufriere.                 “Having enunciated the principle that a Minister who misrepresents his academic or professional qualifications cannot remain in the Cabinet, I accepted the resignation of Hon. Walter Francois which was tendered on July 25th 2002. It is without question that his actions had rendered his tenure in the Cabinet of Ministers untenable and unacceptable.”
Despite his resignation from Cabinet Francois remained the MP for Soufriere until he was replaced by Harold Dalson who contested the 2006 general elections, which the Labour Party government lost.
Francois’ appointment as CEO of the organization took effect on April 2, 2012. The press statement from SRDF states that “Mr Francois is in an ideal position to lead the organization having served in a number of senior managerial positions in the public and private sectors, including Budget Analyst III with the Government of St Lucia and Financial Analyst (Economist) with the Canadian National Railway (CN Rail).”                 The release also states that Francois has “very ably served the constituency and country.” The press release came with an endorsement of Mr Francois for the position by SRDF’s Chairman, Michael Gustave. For his part Francois said it was “a great honour to join the leadership of the organization and to have this opportunity to contribute to its success.”
Not to mention employment!

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