Irrational exuberance over inconvenient truth?

Tradition calls for the first order of business at the opening of a new session of parliament to be an address from the throne, in which an outline is presented of government’s proposals for the advancement of the country’s development within the framework of policies, plans and objectives established at the commencement of its term of office, allowing for possible refinements along the way. However, the traditional nature of this exercise can never diminish the seriousness of its purpose. Governments, having been given a mandate by the people, are required to report on the progress achieved in discharging this mandate. The address from the throne is intended to do that and to speak to policies and programs to be pursued in furtherance of the mandate.”
The preceding forms the first paragraph of the governor general’s 2010 Throne Speech. A year later the opening words of her speech centered on “the traditional nature of this annual exercise to present to the parliament the plans and strategies which government proposes to implement . . .”                 But that was not to say it had pointlessly been “conceived as a yearly ritual” with no redeeming qualities,  you know, like carnival? On the contrary, “the speech from the throne” was a “major instrument of the democratic process of government, providing for the transparency which is demanded in the conduct of the business of the people.”
Yes, so while it may be an annual exercise too often predictable, repetitious, poorly written and pretentious, not to mention capable of putting whole audiences to sleep, the speech from the throne had been conceived to serve a vital purpose: provide the transparency demanded by the democratic process in the conduct of the people’s affairs.
The 2012 speech from the throne opened on a credible note. Her demeanor reflecting heart-felt disappointment, this was how the governor general began:                 “I would’ve liked to bring you some great news; some glad tiding which would set your world to right. Alas, this is not the case: the world is in turmoil, restless and uncertain.”
A sad state of affairs, indisputably depressing, gloomy with no end in sight
. . . enough to have reminded the governor general of “the terrible tragedy that has befallen Greece,” and of our own cherished if altogether masturbatory relationship with Helen of Troy, Homer’s mythical most beautiful woman in the world.
Alas, though by now it is no secret that her office requires Dame Pearlette to read aloud and convincingly act out whatever is handed her by her employer and scriptwriter the prime minister, the governor general took more than her fair share of heat for the 2012 speech from the throne. Many claimed it was “pure doom and gloom” when what was called for was something to lift the nation’s spirit.
I have no doubt the prime minister heard the generally bad reviews. It would certainly explain why he had written for the governor general a speech that reflected the day’s reality and for himself the precise opposite.
For all the prime minister said in his ritual budget presentation, things were mostly  on the up and up. While others were mourning the imminent demise of our “vital tourism industry” that by earlier persistent official account had contributed over 80 percent of our foreign exchange (understandably the SLHTA’s cries were the loudest!), our strutting prime minister confidently predicted the industry would “in 18 months or so be buoyant again.” Contrary to what respected economic-weather forecasters in Europe and the United States were saying almost nightly on CNN and elsewhere, Saint Lucia’s prime minister promised sunshiny economic times in two years. Conceivably his “better days are coming” campaign pledge had been inspired by his own wishful analysis of the economic winds.
Obviously hell-bent on creating his own perfect storm, he cited an employment-generating housing boom in 2005 that he alone recalled, then offered a construction stimulus package that he confidently predicted would have debt-overloaded Saint Lucians tripping over one another in their mad rush to build new homes. He also promised to do for the nation’s single mothers what their impregnators had with impunity consistently failed to do, undertook either to resurrect or to give birth to several welfare programs, and perchance the usual prophets of doom should have the temerity to wonder whence the money would spring to pay for such generosity, our prime minister quickly identified his economic well spring: the taxpayer’s near empty pockets!
I felt certain after the prime minister had taken his seat again and relinquished the floor and the TV cameras to the opposition that at least one MP would’ve taken the opportunity to remind the House about the all-important speech from the throne, “a major instrument of the democratic process of government, providing for the transparency demanded in the conduct of the business of the people.”
I waited in vain. Faked parliamentary orgasms are evidently better than no orgasms at all. I could hardly believe my eyes and ears as MP after succeeding MP (yes, on both sides of the table, whether or not obsequiously) verbally backslapped and hi-fived the smiling prime minister for his generous debt-financed allocations
that proved yet again his was a “compassionate” government that had always heeded “the cries of the people.”
Conceivably, among the loudest criers were the election casualties and discarded former MPs that (like the loudest squeak that always gets the oil) had been newly appointed village mayors, members of statutory bodies, consultants and special advisors at the government ministries—most of them with their own carefully negotiated contracts to die for. Also the scores of mothers who had been paying the price of condomless promiscuity. For them, thanks to their compassionate government, relief was on the way. Then there were the nation’s unemployed tree surgeons and the chosen other lucky ones now guaranteed jobs, jobs, jobs—at any rate, regular salaries paid by the nation’s taxpayers.
To be fair, it should also be noted that while the speech from the throne had been conceived for the purpose of transparency in the conduct of government business, no one had ever thought of it as the people’s policeman. Presumably, we the people were expected to determine whether what was exposed in the light of the throne speech met with the nation’s sense of good governance—and if not to react appropriately.
What if our prime minister had retooled the latest speech from the throne and made it his own, so that what the people now heard from him directly was great news and glad tidings to set their world right? What if all of it flew in the face of the reality earlier projected by the governor general? What if the last analysis the people preferred irrational exuberance over inconvenient truth? If we can conceive of elected government as a reflection of the popular ambition, then I dare to say we are not about to hear another gloomy speech from the throne though the heavens fall!
Several months ago the prime minister’s office announced via a backdated press release that Jack Grynberg, the CEO of a Denver-based oil exploration company known as RSM, had sued the government of Saint Lucia for breach of contract. Since that shocking public announcement, not a related word. Every limp-wristed attempt by the pathetically pusillanimous opposition to persuade the prime minister to reveal details of the largely secret transaction has either been contemptuously ignored or without argument in our House of lawyers declared sub judice. It should be remembered (then again, maybe not!) that should Grynberg prove his case against our government, the cost to taxpayers could be some US$500 million for damages alone!
Meanwhile, we are evidently content with pretending there is no case before the ICSID against Saint Lucia, just as we once pretended there was no contract in the first place, or that it had expired, renewed and the rest of it. Just as we pretended Earl Huntley and Ausbert d’Auvergne were the world’s most credible  witnesses. And by we, I also mean the governor general whose authority the prime minister may have usurped in the process of granting Grynberg a license to explore this country’s seabed.
Perhaps even more worrisome is that although the Grynberg matter started back in 2000 and remained a state secret until 2009, not once has it been mentioned in a   speech from the throne. So much for this exercise that is more than just another yearly ritual, that “is a major instrument of the democratic
process of government, providing for the transparency which is demanded in the conduct of the business of the people!”
I am reliably informed that the prime minister has retained the services of the London-based law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, at some US$4000 a month. It’s anyone’s guess how long local taxpayers will have to continue forking out the amount. According to one reliable source, it could be two years before the ICSID is ready to resolve the Grynberg dispute.
Meanwhile the oilman from Denver, Colorado effectively controls what potentially is Saint Lucia’s most valuable resource!

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