Guy Joseph gave a refreshing perspective on his role as Minister of Economic Development, Housing, Urban Renewal, Transportation and Civil Aviation on Monday, October 23, 2017 when he hosted a press conference at Government Information Services studios. For the first time over the past few months the focus for Minister Joseph was not St Jude Hospital, at least not until closer to the end of his briefing.
The initial order of business, prompted by Senior Communication Officer Nicole McDonald, was his overview of the government’s meeting with the World Bank. Minister Joseph reiterated some of the points made by Prime Minister Chastanet at this year’s United Nations General Assembly. He mentioned that due to the recent devastating and revealing effects of climate change, world leaders are now more inclined to recognize Saint Lucia as a developing state rather than a middle-income state for recovery and adaptation loans.
Moving on to his responsibility for housing and development, Minister Joseph highlighted the difficulties associated with attaining land in Saint Lucia, particularly for locals.
“In the last 20 years we have not had many housing developments in Saint Lucia,” he noted, “We have developed a system that makes the price of land prohibitive in Saint Lucia.” Requirement costs needed for developing land are unreasonable for many, and he plans to initiate new incentives to make the process more affordable. Minister Joseph expressed his preference for young people to invest in a house and land before perhaps investing in a vehicle, and hopes new incentives will encourage the investment practice. “There are a lot of rules that we have that we can do away with in terms of reducing the cost,” he said.
Regarding the transportation sector, Minister Joseph claimed that nothing has changed or improved since he last served in the ministry of transport. At this week’s meeting, he spoke again of plans to “revitalize” the sector.
Joseph also addressed problems within the telecommunications sector regarding telephone and internet services. “LIME, their application is still pending,” he assured Saint Lucians, “It was sent to me to be addressed. There were some issues that were not clear and I have since written to the company and requested of them that before this license is renewed we need to know what the merger [with FLOW and Lime] entails, what the expectations are moving forward and how it is going to work.” Joseph was also enthusiastic about plans to develop number portability. It has been an issue for individuals who want to keep their original number but desire to switch providers. Minister Joseph affirmed that changes are in progress.
Other items were addressed, and McDonald informed the gathering that another similar press conference will be held to delve into more details. As for the St Jude Hospital, Minister Joseph promised, with a copy of the previous project manager’s exit report in hand, that issues will be resolved as soon as possible. Again, he assured that the Government of Saint Lucia will present a definitive statement by the end of October or beginning of November 2017 on the way forward.