Kenny Anthony Operating a Private Agenda?

Prime Minister Kenny Anthony

I would not have dared to write this article if I were afraid of the government and its agents whom I fully expect to react in their customary negative fashion. But I am concerned about this administration’s reckless disregard and callousness in the midst of the worst economic crisis facing this country, the worst since the Great Depression of 1929.
It seems this administration is oblivious of the horrors playing themselves out before us on a daily basis. The widespread anger and turmoil at home and in the major capitals of the world is a nightmare daily featured on TV. As I write the United States is facing a “fiscal cliff,” and the latest word is that the Eurozone is back in recession.
Here, the irresponsibility of the government on the economic front is glaringly apparent in its waste of our limited financial resources with the appointment of a host of parasitical persons in positions that do not contribute in any meaningful way to national development.  While the crunch is on, and business and independent minded entrepreneurs are struggling to meet their commitments, government is indulging in wasteful expenditure in the creation of cosmetic and useless jobs to feed its flock of hangers on, prominent on the sidelines of the last election campaign.
The current situation in which St Lucia finds itself demands that there be proper management of our limited resources, and not the reckless creation of jobs for the boys as paid mayors and councilors in towns and villages all over the country, of persons with no demonstrated ability to chart a course of economic independence without depending on handouts from government.
I am reminded of one of my all-time favourite books, The Mimic Men, by V.S. Naipaul, written almost fifty years ago. The book is a scathing reflection of West Indian society aping colonials trappings, a practice that sadly continues in this day and age right here in St Lucia with the appointment as mayors and councilors,    faithful members of the Labour flock with no discernible talent, evidently otherwise unemployable.
This reckless disregard is providing the elements for widespread social upheaval in this country which the vast majority are observing in shocked silence. This is just one example of poor management by this government, but there are many other examples of wanton waste that have risen to unprecedented levels.
We need to remind the politicians that the St Lucian economy which is managed by the government is paid for not from the pockets of politicians, but by citizens who pay the taxes and who purchase every single item that they consume, on which all sorts of duties are levied and now the imposition of a draconian 15% VAT on basic items that we purchase.
We the people pay the
salaries of the government ministers, and pay the debts incurred by the ministers in government.
Yet, as in the words of Naipaul, in the midst of the global economic crisis, our politicians, instead of curtailing the frequency of overseas travel, “love nothing more than the invitation of foreign governments, to attend conferences in distant places in chauffeured limousines, in first class hotels, in which the richness of the world is suddenly revealed.”  Half a century after Naipaul wrote these words, as if we have been trapped in a time warp, our politicians are behaving in the same manner.  The evidence is being played out right before out very eyes.  This government continues to behave in the established reckless manner that has already done great economic damage to the economy. Must the remedy of a quiescent people with no visible champions on the horizon be to resort to ingenious ways to wreck the government before it wrecks irrevocably St. Lucia’s  economy?
My interest was piqued by a news item on the
TV last week, which epitomized the mismanagement of our country. The item featured a minister of innumerable designations: Minister of Science and Technology, Minister with The Public Service and Broadcasting, Minister of Sustainable Development and Energy. The resident guru turns out to be Dr Jimmy Fletcher. It was reported that the Minister would be making a tour of various ministries and departments where CSA members had threatened to abandon their offices because of intolerable unhealthy conditions in their places of work.  I wondered whether the Minister with all of these portfolios had the time for a walk-about to attend to a problem which could be handled by a properly organized public sector, where senior personnel, the P.S. for example, could assess the situation and report to the Minister and advise him on addressing the problems and the appropriate action that should be taken to resolve the issues at hand.
The process being used by the Minister reeks of posturing and publicity seeking  when what is required are effective management systems put in place for the allocation of responsibilities and participation of personnel in the decision making process, with accountability laying squarely on the senior personnel responsibility for particular and specific duties.  The Minister should not be micro-managing such issues when there are so many other issues of great magnitude for which he has responsibility.
It is no secret that I abhor those with a privileged education, pursued to the highest levels such as a PhD, who settle to perform menial tasks such as shuffling papers round a desk for some politician rather than pursuing research in their field of study.  It is a pet peeve of mine, when I observe youngsters in the developed countries pioneering state-of-the-art innovations and inventions that have revolutionized our world, while we in the Third World produce nothing, invent nothing of consequence in the technological field in this world, and remain mere consumers and spectators.
Therefore, I was impressed when I learned that Dr Jimmy Fletcher had gained a PhD in something to do with agriculture at a prestigious University.  I was however, deeply disappointed when the news came that Dr Fletcher was recruited, or had joined Prime Minister Kenny Anthony’s choir as Cabinet Secretary in his first administration.  In my own judgment, I thought St. Lucia and the rest of the Caribbean would benefit tremendously if Dr Fletcher would be granted some ten or more acres of land or a laboratory to research in his field of study: Plant Physiology.
It is my considered opinion from a Caribbean perspective that the good doctor would be better served in engaging in an area relating to his qualifications rather than frittering away his talents as a politician’s minion.  For the question needs to be asked, What is the point of engaging in scientific pursuits, if the results cannot serve a purpose, or used for the benefit of your people or at some international institute?
At this critical juncture in St Lucia’s history, it seems the current administration is not exercising any wisdom or commonsense as they recklessly plunder a limited public purse to benefit a few, while the rest of the country pays the price.  The challenge we face today is how to stimulate the economy and create growth.
Those illusory jobs will pose a serious burden on the economic welfare of the country, for it would be far better to give tax breaks to businesses which are the creators of wealth and economic growth, which can maintain its employees and create new jobs.  Otherwise the implications for this country will be pretty bleak for the foreseeable future.  The question to be asked is how does one get rid of a government that has betrayed the social contract with the people by its violation of every single promise made during the election campaign,the most notable being the imposition of the debilitating and oppressive VAT, and lacking any original ideas, would proceed despite its vociferous opposition, with the modernization of Hewanorra International Airport  (a U.W.P. initiative) and the withdrawal of the Airport Development Tax.
As a man of modest, yet independent means, I regard elected politicians as servants, not masters of the people.  They are elected to serve the interests of the people of the general population, not the interests and welfare of a few individual supporters as this government transparently demonstrates.
As Jean-Jacques Rousseau,regarded as the father and inspiration for the French Revolution, asserted: the ruler is the people’s agent, not its master.
I predict that the deceit that has characterized this administration will relegate Kenny Anthony and the Labour Party to decades in the political wilderness after this term in office.  It is my considered opinion that Kenny Anthony with his Machiavellian tendencies and inclinations is determined that no one in the current Labour Party should succeed him!

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