Please, please, my plantation for a scapegoat!

Observed Saint Lucia’s prime minister this week: “While I do not have updated figures on the rate of unemployment, I expect that unemployment will be contained and will gradually reduce as investment intensifies and the economy expands.”

Obviously the prime minister has been experiencing great difficulty in accepting that he made another major blunder, this time during a press conference to announce the economy is on the rebound. He apparently forgot that when assessing an “economic rebound” he cannot afford to leave the country’s acute unemployment situation out of the equation. The prime minister’s 17th September press conference has clearly stirred up some choppy waters.

Was Dr. Anthony seeking to cover up the festering unemployment ulcer created largely by his tax policies and his evident inability to attract direct foreign investment to our increasingly crime-ridden environment?

Four years after his election promise of jobs-jobs-jobs and a hundred million job-creating dollars to be invested in the private sector “immediately after taking office,” matters have only grown worse under his leadership: unemployment and unemployability have escalated; businesses continue to close down at an increasing pace while this SLP administration spends its time concocting ridiculous excuses for its several failures.

And now it seems the prime minister is conveniently losing his memory, to the extent that he cannot recall who enacted what counterproductive laws, or the latest unemployment figures.

Or is the prime minister’s contempt for the nation’s intelligence the reason behind his memory lapses? Give this jack his jacket: when in opposition this prime minister could rattle off statistics like Mr St. Catherine never could—especially statistics that tended to make the government look bad. He could’ve told you without opening a book how bad was VAT, how oppressive; anti-worker and anti-government was that law. We know how that went. The unemployment figures were always at his fingertips. No more!

He could recall rattle off with his eyes closed analyses of the socio–economic situation overseas and at home, complete with details of lost jobs in key sectors; what plant had just laid off 60-100 single mothers; how many men were suddenly on the breadline. And of course, he never mentioned such words as “world recession.” The only person to blame was King; Stephenson King, that is; not the doctor.

Unemployment then was significantly lower, just brushing the 20 percent estimate. Oh but now he can’t even recall who promised jobs-jobs-jobs, let alone why the country’s unemployment figures are in the toilet. Better to say, “I don’t know uhn.” Next it will be: How is me you asking? Or: Since when dat’s your role!

The public is rightly appalled at the prime minister’s latest demonstration of contempt for the people. How more dismissive can you get? Is it possible to care about something when you know nothing about it? How remarkable that he would hold forth on tourism, construction, manufacturing, agriculture, declining inflation, improved fiscal performance, and real GDP (safe in the knowledge no one would stand up to challenge his findings) but on unemployment say not a word, not a word, not a word—to quote Philip J. Pierre.

Blaming the director of statistics won’t cut it; the buck stops at the PM’s desk. He made all the promises based on what he had learned “while in Purgatory.” Not Mr. St. Catherine. The PM is the one who promised milk and honey and whatever else he imagined would bring home the bacon at election time. Not St. Catherine on whom the public can always count for straight talk, regardless of who is prime minister. St. Catherine obviously knows well the limits of his role.

And now it seems the scape-goated public service is being blamed for the reputation of elected officials as corrupt beyond words. We will come to that soon enough. The prime minister made promises he knew he could never deliver. That the inevitable has happened should not be blamed on public servants already victimized beyond tolerance. The prime minister should own up. He has been exposed as the emperor with no clothes. It’s time to quit pretending to be what clearly he is not—except in the view of the murderously starry-eyed!

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