CASTRIES, Saint Lucia –Monday, May 30, 2016 – Ten new initiatives that will reform not just the economy in the south, but the entire economy of St. Lucia were announced on Sunday as the United Workers’ Party held a mass rally in the Choiseul/Saltibus constituency. It is an area that has begun turning yellow behind the leadership of candidate Bradly Felix. Between the promises of new jobs, reduced taxes and renewed hope, UWP supporters, among them thousands of youths, were treated to a musical feast.
The candidate for Soufriere/Fond St. Jacques Herod Stanislas as well as the candidate for Anse la Raye/Canaries Dominique Fedee, both spoke of the UWP’s intention, once elected into government, to create new economic spaces by focusing on the development of cottage industries and the revival of the tourism, agriculture and manufacturing sectors in these areas.
According to Stanislas, the people of the south needed to free themselves of the ‘Labour’ pains they have suffered over the past five years, and to give birth to a bright new tomorrow. UWP Babonneau Candidate and Deputy Political Leader Ezechiel Joseph went on to announce the party’s ‘Five to Revive’ strategy for the agriculture sector to bring about growth and economic independence for the south and west. According to Joseph the UWP will:
1. Rationalize all available arable lands and ensure they are used for agriculture.
2. Revitalize the banana industry and implement a programme to assist banana farmers with inputs including land preparation, drainage, financing, and the development of downstream industries. Evaluate the possibilities of introducing value added products that can be manufactured from bananas.
3. Introduce new technology to make agriculture more attractive in the areas of vegetable production, livestock production and fisheries.
4. Establish a new marketing hub for farmers.
5. Provide support to farmers by injecting resources into the St. Lucia Development Bank with a mandate to support the agriculture sector through the increased provision of soft loans to farmers.
Mr. Joseph says a UWP government will develop the Coconut Growers’ Factory in Soufriere and will establish linkages between agriculture and tourism. There are also plans to restructure the Ministry of Agriculture to provide necessary services to assist farmers.
For his part the candidate for the Choiseul/Saltibus Bradly Felix says all the Labour Government left in his area was a legacy of failed promises and dashed hope. He dismissed Labour Party promises of a $200 Million hotel in the area as being empty, saying there is no evidence of environmental clearance, community consultations nor has the source of funds for construction been identified. Rather he says the UWP will empower people by the development of cottage industries such as arts and craft, and which can provide souvenirs for tourists. He also says Choiseul was the only village without a jetty and with one street, promising that he will change all of that once elected.
Felix was warmly supported by his political leader Allen Chastanet, who promised the people of Choiseul/Saltibus that they were getting a candidate with a heart, and with a proven track record of service. Mr. Chastanet once more vowed that the ‘Five to Stay Alive’ initiative will indeed be implemented under a UWP government. This includes a reduction in VAT and vehicle license fees, a waiver of hospital fees for those in need, a doubling of subsidies for the school feeding and transportation programmes and a 3-year moratorium on property taxes.
Mr. Chastanet went further to propose a “Five to Thrive’ initiative to help young people in St. Lucia. The plan will include:
1. Establishing a $10 million loan facility at the St. Lucia Development Bank for young persons who want to purchase a home, study or startup a business.
2. Funding an annual youth forum to identify priorities for youth, and which will allow them to plan the way forward for the following year. All ministries and statutory bodies are mandated to participate.
3. Establishing a Youth Coordination Agency to bring together various youth and sports councils, Non-Government Organizations, International Donors and public and private sector agencies charged with implementing the recommendations coming out of youth forum.
4. Establishing a National Youth Employment Agency with a database of youth and their various skills in order to manage the entrepreneurial and apprenticeship programmes including the cruise ship employment programme and farm workers programme. These are to better plan and develop job creation initiatives. The Party predicts a reduction in youth unemployment by 5% per year.
5. A UWP government will mandate the Education Ministry to reform the curriculum for schools to encompass a wider variety of academic pursuits to position youths for the best available jobs whether they are technical skills, in the arts or entertainment.
The UWP Political Leader says it was all part of an economic strategy called ‘Constituencies Without Borders’, which will allow for constituencies in the south to develop synergies to enhance their specific economic initiatives. He also announced the establishment of an economic council for the south which will be an overarching body charged with monitoring and implementing development activities in these areas.
Earlier the crowd was entertained by former Trinidad and Tobago Minister Winston ‘Gypsy’ Peters, who not only endorsed the UWP and Allen Chastanet, but remade the well-known political commentary ‘Sinking Ship” with a focus on St. Lucia. The message he sent to Kenny Anthony and the Labour government was clear, ‘Captain, (your) ship is sinking….” However he offered hope, saying a new captain stood in the wings, and along with his UWP crew, Allen Chastanet is competent and ready to set the ‘St. Lucia’ on a much more stable course.