Statement by the Leader of the Opposition on October 24th, 2017

PRESS RELEASE: Ladies and gentlemen of the press let me welcome you and thank you for your coverage of our events.

Allow me to thank the hundreds who attended our annual conference this year and express my gratitude to the delegates of the Saint Lucia Labour Party for their overwhelming vote of confidence in my leadership of the Party.  I promise to do my best.

 

The Economy

Desperate for some good news on the sorry state of the economy the government hastily latched on to a statement from the Chamber of Commerce indicating that some businesses were reporting an increase in sales for the first half of this year.  As expected, the government shamelessly proclaimed that it was as a result of their policies that there is confidence in the economy.  The Saint Lucia Labour Party asks the government.

What project have they initiated that would have led to improvement in the economy?

It must be noted that the survey spoke to an increase in sales not profits – an increase in sales can be caused by an increase in prices or possibly by the reduction in VAT not being passed on to the consumers.  This may be the reason why consumers have not felt the benefits of any VAT reduction.

The Saint Lucia Labour Party asks whether the vendor, small business person, taxi driver, mini-bus driver, unemployed youth can relate to any improvement in the economy.

The working people are not feeling any improvement in their pockets, they still have to deal with increased gas prices, increase prices of cooking gas, increase in the prices of medication. If there is an   improvement in the economy it is enjoyed only by friends and family of the government who receive large contracts by direct award and enjoy generous tax benefits at the expense of the ordinary Saint Lucian.

 

Tourism

We hear that there was an increase in visitor arrivals of 9.2% at the end of August 2017.  A more in depth examination of the figures will show that the growth is largely due to the contribution of the Royalton Hotel to the stock of hotel rooms in the island.  Arrivals for the year 2017 average 33000 while the average monthly arrivals for the Royalton Hotel is around 2900 monthly which accounts for the growth.  There was a 3% increase in stayover arrivals from January to March 2017 before the full operations of the Royalton.  That increase was as a result of improved performance of two hotels.  Most other properties have been and continue to realize a reduction in business on a monthly basis for this year even with heavily discounted rates.

Therefore it only stands to reason that the growth being boasted by the government has all to do with the 500 new rooms brought on by the Royalton and negotiated by the Saint Lucia Labour Party government.  The UWP administration has not implemented any new initiative or innovative strategies to promote Saint Lucia. The country continues to benefit from the marketing policies of the previous administration and the UWP cannot lay claim to any success since in office.

Small hotels and guest houses are not feeling any increase in arrivals nor are the vendors, taxi-drivers and other ancillary service providers .The benefits of any increase in arrivals are not being realized by the majority of people involved in the tourism industry.

 

Constituency Development Programme (CDP)

At a press conference held on 19th October, 2017 the Prime Minister received a check for $5M US from the government of Taiwan for the Constituency Development Programme.  The Saint Lucia Labour Party calls on the Prime Minister to undertake the following actions in the national interest:

  1. Ensure and demand fairness and equity in the CDP by involving and consulting Opposition members of Parliament on projects in their constituencies.
  2. Ensure that the contractors who are still owed monies for work completed are fully paid urgently.
  3. Account for funds received for the construction of the Soufriere square. Tell Saint Lucians the future of the Soufriere and the Walcott Place Project.

 

St Jude Hospital

From its return to power in June 2016 the government of the UWP has demonstrated bad faith in dealing with the issue of St. Jude Hospital.  Saint Lucians have been forced to witness what must be described as an elaborate witch hunt by the UWP.

The UWP government has not denied the existence of a St Jude Hospital Reconstruction Project Handover Report prepared and submitted for the period August 14th, 2016 by the project Manager.  The public needs an explanation as to why this report was kept a secret while the discussion on St Jude Hospital was alive in the country.

Even with that report in their possession they sought and received police assistance to raid some local business premises to recover what the Minister of Economic Development called “government property”.  At the time of the raid Mr. Joseph who was present during the raid must have known since it was clearly stated in the handover report that there was equipment and materials in storage and these were the “responsibility of the relevant contractor”.  One can only surmise that the raid was to cast aspersions on the integrity of the suppliers and in some way cause embarrassment to the Saint Lucia Labour Party government.

Minister Guy Joseph on several occasions said to the public that there were no plans for the hospital.  The truth is detailed plans including fire and health reports were lodged or submitted on 2nd March 2016 with the DCA and were cancelled in August 2017 when the new project manager refused to answer questions on issues relating to the lodged plans.  It is clear that in these two instances Minister Guy Joseph deliberately mislead the country and behaved in a manner that is unbecoming of a government minister.

If the government genuinely wanted answers on the status and situation at St. Jude they would have sought to get direct answers from the Project Manager and consultant before dismissing them.

Members of the press will recall that Minister Joseph has on several occasions accused, threatened and even spoke of criminal proceedings that could be proffered against people involved in the St Jude project. This secured the intended effect of silencing persons and key players avoiding the risk of making statements that may be construed as incriminating.

The Saint Lucia Labour Party will do all that is legally possible to stop the demolition of structures at St. Jude that have already cost the country millions of dollars.

The UWP government needs to be sensitive to the deteriorating conditions at the George Odlum Stadium where St. Jude patients are currently housed and move speedily to recommence construction of the hospital to remove patients from the potential life threating hazards to which they are now exposed.

The Saint Lucia Labour Party is calling on the Government to stop playing games and petty politics with the reconstruction of the St. Jude Hospital and move forward with urgency with the project to achieve completion at the earliest possible time.  The government has access to about $34 M to complete St. Jude Hospital.  This is made up of $7 million from the first drawn down on the Taiwanese loan and $27M from the other half of that loan.  The plans for completion need to be made clear to remove confusion and anxieties which now surround the reconstruction project.

The Saint Lucia Labour Party in office always worked to improve the quality of health care in the island.  We built new health centers and ungraded and retrofitted several more.  We initiated construction of the Owen King EU hospital and plans were in progress for construction of new hospitals in Dennery and Soufriere.  On our return to office we will continue to give priority to health and never engage in petty politics with the health of the nation.

Bon Jounen Kweyol.

I thank you.

15 Comments

  1. ron baptiste
    October 24, 2017 at 7:47 pm Reply

    Slp pay chu zotta.

  2. Anonymous
    October 24, 2017 at 8:16 pm Reply

    Instead of the usual unhelpful criticisms and the slash and burn politics why not offer the electorate some real practical initiatives that could make St. Lucia the envy of the OECS. The two main political parties should engage in a competition of ideas for the hearts and souls of the people not a race to the bottom. They should sign commitments not just make empty promises. Most politicians view politics as an easy and quick avenue to enrich themselves , family and their parasitic supporters. Politicians sell lies to gain power to feather their own nests.
    Vibz

  3. JnPierre
    October 24, 2017 at 8:44 pm Reply

    Always thought you were a smarter guy than this. Disappointed that you have behaved like the typical politician grasping at straws to criticise for criticism sake Pip. You let me down here, expect you to proffer better and alternative ideas. Don;t behave like Hillaire.

    1. Anonymous
      October 25, 2017 at 7:07 am Reply

      @ JnPierre. Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he would never be disappointed. One thing that I don’t do is to try to live up to people’s expectations, for that’s a sure recipe for failure. I would reiterate this every time. When politicians are in opposition, they have the solutions to every one of the country’s problems, but when they get into office, they are an abysmal failure. Politics brings out the basest qualities in human nature – lies, dishonesty, greed, hatred, jealousy, vengeance, fanaticism, evil and hypocrisy. Politicians are strangers to the truth. I’m very economical with my trust for politicians. Don’t be disappointed in me for I do not endeavor to impress people, I practice humility.
      Vibz

      1. Anonymous
        October 25, 2017 at 8:45 am

        Very good comment….I wish we flog these politicians who burn tax payers and behave as if they have a God given right. St Jude is proof the these two parties should not be voted for ever…. I made my last visit to a polling station in 2016.

      2. Anonymous
        October 25, 2017 at 10:15 am

        As sad as it may make me, I do understand your point Vibz

  4. Curious
    October 25, 2017 at 7:26 am Reply

    On paper Pierre yes but who is the real leader of the opposition? I mean the real one and not the puppet one. SLP must make up their minds and stop pushing faces depending on opportunities and the weather.

    This is the SLP opportunistic comic circus:
    Real leader of the opposition – Hon. Dr. Kenny Anthony
    Standby leader of the opposition – Hon. Ernest Hilaire
    Honorary (Puppet) leader of the opposition – Hon. Philip ‘Pip’ Pierre

    But if the present government is playing games with St. Jude’s, as Pierre says, then in comparison the SLP government were playing the fool and the ass combined.

  5. Anonymous
    October 25, 2017 at 9:05 am Reply

    New Testament Verse of the Day:
    When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.”
    – Mark 10: 14

  6. UWP Bye Bye
    October 25, 2017 at 9:22 am Reply

    UWP rats keeps on proving how Anti-Social they can be. One thing for sure, we are making a clean sweep in the next General Elections. And return this country to it’s true Governance and Pride.
    Pride will return to this Island once again.

    1. Anonymous
      October 25, 2017 at 10:16 am Reply

      I am an SLP supporter and I am switching to UWP. UWP Hi Hi!

      1. I doe care
        October 25, 2017 at 10:43 am

        Lies. Uwp supporters crying things hard, Farless.

    2. Anonymous
      October 25, 2017 at 2:18 pm Reply

      So last election you made a dirty sweep

  7. Anonymous
    October 25, 2017 at 11:41 am Reply

    Stop playing with the mind of the people you politician have made ignorant for there are still lots of literate people out there. You got the hospital at least 50% complete in 2011 and could not complete it in 5 years now with all these controversy you are giving the government a time frame to complete it. You should be the last person to do so. Can someone in the right frame of mind tell me where and when will an increase in price ever cause an increase in sales.

  8. High tide
    October 25, 2017 at 11:42 am Reply

    Chas will stand in the middle of castries and shoot someone and Yall will still say it wasn’t him….typical trump supporters Yall uwp are.lies,lies and more lies in this administration.he alone taking all of Yall to hell.

  9. Anonymous
    October 25, 2017 at 12:48 pm Reply

    The political hatred and hostilities garnered from the comments of both the supporters of the UWP and the SLP on this forum are insanely ridiculous. I am not your eternal enemy just because I oppose your party. Instead the politicians, on both sides, intervene and try to bring an end to this incendiary rhetoric, they allow it to fester. Our discourse has become septic. People should refrain from giving politicians blind support. Make them work for your vote. Be objective. Call right right and wrong wrong. Don’t abuse and eviscerate your fellow citizens because of this divisive and obnoxious politics as practiced today.
    Vibz

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