Dr. Kenny Anthony delivers an a la carte policy statement of hardship and inadequacy: By Therold Prudent – Political Leader, Lucian People’s Movement
In a desperate bid to save face, following his grand political promise of “better days”, Dr. Anthony may have delivered a magician budget that makes Mao Tse Tung’s “Great Leap Forward” of 1958-1961 seems pale by comparison.
On Tuesday evening, May 8th 2012, the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia and Minister of Finance, the Hon. Dr. Kenny Anthony, delivered his 2012/2013 policy statement, and presented estimates of revenue and expenditure in the region of $1.457 billion, eastern Caribbean dollars.
Historically, the government’s policy for the fiscal year is based on good intentions to deliver the goods, and on a desire to seek stability and to promote growth, all towards a better future.
However, a new path to growth that benefits a wider population is now required: What is needed is a path to better balanced and sustained growth. This would require a right combination of policies, working together with the ‘epic triangle’ of success, the business, political and social leaders.
Unfortunately, Dr. Kenny Anthony’s 2012/2013 policy statement is, at best, anaemic, and appears quite unable to support the developmental challenges of Saint Lucia.
However, there is no doubt that the current need for growth — in order to service an excessive debt burden and to support a new social balance that benefits the wider population, while retaining the ability to protect Saint Lucia against the impact of external shocks — is an overwhelming challenge.
By all estimates, Dr. Kenny Anthony’s 2012/2013 policy statement requires a more substantive base, and a sustainable development action plan, if Saint Lucia is to regain lost opportunities, and establish a generation of young people who will stimulate growth while building a secure footing for better days to follow.
Despite years of political manoeuvring and sixty years as a political party, Anthony’s administration policy statement still remains a cross word puzzle that lacks the capacity to bring reform or build the foundations for a new economic model for Saint Lucia.
In his 2012/2013 statement, Dr. Kenny Anthony’s estimates of Saint Lucia’s revenue and expenditure shows little difference from that of the King administration: Both are building on the same platform, and both are using the same tools, (a macroeconomic policy of unsustainable and unplayable public debt that prioritizes the interest of creditors over the needs of the country) and, Saint Lucians, therefore, should not expect different outcomes.
Given the immediate challenges of seriously addressing economic growth and of creating a balanced social agenda (of food security, water supply, energy, health, housing and infrastructure), through its failure to focus on the issues that are most basic to a developing nation the unreality of Antony’s position becomes clear: Liberal socialism and the leisure of involuntary experimentation will not achieve the best possible results for the country.
Despite the increasing inability of citizens to afford basic goods and services, the policy formulation has no short, medium or long term strategy sequence for improving productivity and efficiency, or for achieving growth and development, either locally or globally.
Saint Lucians have the right to expect a policy of sustainable development and an environmental approach that will challenge internal consumption and increase the opportunities for enhanced capacity, while implementing a comprehensive plan that would urgently diversify Saint Lucia’s agricultural products.
The appeal of this alternative approach is that it could offer skills training and personal development, with start-up business incentives, to citizens who want to become entrepreneurs. It could also train and hire the unemployed to assist with the production and marketing of goods and services, while attracting international investment.
This approach would provide a more productive solution for the wider population, offering a natural fit with multiple avenues of economic growth and development.
Where youth unemployment is concerned, labour policies would open island-wide job training, linking colleges with businesses in apprenticeship programmes, with options for tax credits. Resource centres would be established to provide job-search assistance. Attention to these support structures is microscopic in Anthony’s policy statement in relation to the current requirements for national development.
This type of development is critical if the unemployed are ever to be weaned from the dependency syndrome implicit in the current estimates of revenue and expenditure. It would appear that the option of handout policies is preferred in a la carte portions.
It is critical to understand this dynamic, because, moving into a third term, the Dr. Kenny Anthony administration, has still not understood the dynamics of Saint Lucia, or recognised that the economy has stalled. Rather, it appears that the number one priority for fiscal consolidation is seen as “the implementation of Value Added Tax.”
While the number one source of funding to finance the current budget is tax revenue, which “represent(s) 92 % percent of the total projected recurrent revenue.”
These taxation measures will impact a wide cross-section of the population that is not gainfully employed.
Anthony’s policy appears to represent a calculated formula for hardship, and represents political inadequacy rather than a policy” Building Opportunities For Our Common Future.”
In the words of Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador, “We are living through a change of times rather than through times of change.”
Saint Lucia’s deficient democracy and flagging economy require it to rise above blind liberal doctrines if it is ever to reach a healthier future. Rather than developing a policy made up of “a right combination of policies”, it needs a better balance of financial and social cooperation, with market reform to restore competitiveness and productivity that will together fuel sustained growth into the future.
A quick look at where Saint Lucia now stands, as presented through the estimates of revenue of expenditure, indicates that something is deeply wrong: Most sectors are disadvantaged, with weak fiscal adjustments, social and economic hindrances and further constraints caused by poor infrastructure. This all suggests a potential disaster.
Saint Lucia needs the ‘epic triangle of success’ (business, political and social leaders) to work together towards a new form of diverse innovation and leadership, in order to develop a new sustainable paradigm.
To facilitate this, the politics and governance of Saint Lucia need a paradigm shift away from the physical to the mind. This would liberate the country from its clever enemies and their schemes, and enable us to achieve a future that works for the vast majority – and makes lives better.
We do not want to be poorer and more insecure, as the Dr. Kenny Anthony administration a la carte policy statement of hardship and inadequacy suggests. The reality is that the Dr. Kenny Anthony’s policy statement is not pragmatic and it is certainly not sufficiently flexible to engage with the citizens in “Building Opportunities For Our Common Future.”
Dr. Kenny Anthony’s policy statement provides no long-term sustainable solutions that will benefit the wider population, spreading the benefits and providing clarity and vision for a collective hope and a shared dream for Saint Lucia.
What is presented is an awkward contributor that serves self interest and special interest elites, with the hope of retaining real political power.
I would remind you of Mahatma Gandhi’s statement: “Beware of politics without principles and commerce without morality.”
With Saint Lucia facing and struggling with fundamental insecurities, a real commitment is required to embrace a new and sustainable development policy, a willingness to transform the status quo, and a right combination of policies, working together with the epic triangle of success (business, political and social leaders), to begin the formation of a common future for all Saint Lucians.
This is the path to a better balance of policy and to sustained growth.