Dear Mr. Editor,
Over the past few days our country has been abuzz with discussions as it pertains to the Saint Lucia National Trust and the Government of Saint Lucia’s decision to cut the Trust’s annual subvention by 100%. At first, I was amazed that the Prime Minister would be foolish enough to make such a decision that in my mind screamed victimization and this raised concern amongst many Saint Lucians.
That was until I decided to conduct my own research on the Saint Lucia National Trust’s operations and its relationship with the Government of Saint Lucia.
Through a Press Release issued by the Trust in relation to the announced cut, the Trust revealed that it received an annual subvention of $500,000 for 20 years from the Government of Saint Lucia a total of $10 Million and $700,000 per year for the last 17 totalling $11.9 Million giving a grand total of $21.9 Million received from the GOSL since 1975. According to the Trust’s release, in 2016 alone it collected a total of $2.64 Million from its operations. It also receives on average an additional $200,000 grant funds every year from regional and international organizations and has been able to consistently grow their revenue by 10% per annum. The Trust via its Press release went further to state that it employs 36 full time employees at a cost of $1.4 Million annually making the average monthly salary at the National Trust $3,241.00. They also mentioned their plan to redevelop Pigeon Island by constructing a Head office and Conference centre amongst other things to the tune of $6.6 Million. With this information at hand I started to ask myself the following questions:
1)Is a Government subvention supposed to be forever, especially when an organization has their own revenue exceeding $2 Million dollars a year?
2)Will the National Trust give the public a breakdown of their monthly or yearly expenditure apart from salaries to make a better determination of whether the Trust’s finances are being managed prudently?
3)What is the average monthly salary in the Public service and average National salary when compared to the Trust’s average of $3,241.00 monthly?
4)Is the construction of a conference centre and offices at Pigeon island the best use of the $6.6 Million that the Trust proposes to spend?
5)Why didn’t the National Trust speak out against the Dolphin Park project when it was initially announced by the Dr.Kenny Anthony administration in his 2014 Budget address, since they oppose the dolphin park not only being setup at Pigeon Island but anywhere in Saint Lucia?
There are many other questions that I would like to ask especially in light of a recent revelation that the St.Lucia National Trust received a boat as a gift from the World Bank to monitor Maria Islands and to conduct tours on the islands but have never made use of this boat. It in fact has since been revealed that this same boat was used by certain board members of the Trust to go on outings on weekends with their family and friends and that the National Trust has recently sold the boat without consulting or notifying several of their board members.
Most concerning however is that it appears that the St.Lucia National Trust has allowed itself to be hijacked by high ranking officials of the St.Lucia Labour Party which will be to its detriment. We Saint Lucians are tired of party politics, and an institution which is mandated to protect our National assets should make all attempts to be seen and known as non-political. The deterioration of the National Trust via politics and mismanagement is a very unfortunate event and something that should outrage all right thinking Saint Lucians.
Proud Saint Lucian