Solar Farm sheds light on SLP PPP-Flip-Flop

By George

A few weeks ago, former President of the United States Bill Clinton paid a short visit to St. Lucia for the grand opening of LUCELEC’s 3MW Solar Farm at La Tourney, Vieux Fort.

Understandably, as one of the most famous/infamous personages in the world, (depending on what one knows of Clinton), it was his arrival and subsequent speech which piqued the interest of this nation’s media and public alike.

However, there was another former President also present at the Solar Farm Opening at La Tourney and although barely anyone remembers his name or the contribution he made, his words shed light (unbeknownst to him) on a very touchy subject around these parts, and on just how the relinquishing or acquisition of power, causes politicians to completely change their opinions on policy.

Over the past few months we’ve been told by (almost) all and sundry that a PPP (Private Public Partnership) is no good for St. Lucia, with the SLMDA opposition to it so strong, one wonders if they’re strongly considering becoming another Opposition Party.

In its “Vindication” press release towards the end of May, the SLMDA made it clear that it is completely opposed to PPP for a myriad of reasons, stating that health care should not be done for profit and that having private partners will mean the certain doom of the health care industry in this country.

“We will continue to be vigilante and vocal and advocate No to PPP/Joint Ventures…”

This remains the view of the SLMDA on PPP to this day. However, what is quite striking is that the Opposition has joined the SLMDA on its anti-PPP crusade, when not long ago, it was one of the strongest proponents of PPP.

While in power, the SLP harboured no scruples over the role it played in recruiting private groups like the Clinton Climate Initiative in order to get the recently launched Solar Farm project off the ground.

That project was lauded three weeks ago by both sides of the political aisle during its official launch; and as Jose Figueres, former President of Costa Rica declared; without a PPP, this dream would never have come to fruition.

Lavishing the Solar Farm with the highest praise, he declared that it “is living proof of the efficacy, la eficacia, y la eficencia, of a Public, Private, Partnership.

Figueres was so convinced of the efficacy and the efficiency of a PPP, that he felt compelled to express this sentiment in his native tongue.

This opinion, which holds some weight given the source, is diametrically opposed to that of the SLMDA; that is, regarding the ‘efficacy’ and the ‘efficiency’ of a PPP. (Quite shocking that not every one holds the SLMDA’s views on this matter.)

Add to that the fact that Figueres isn’t the only dignitary to have visited St. Lucia and state very positive things about a PPP. Remember the EU Ambassador who’s name is now taboo with the SLP brass, who recommended a PPP model for the OKEU?

Apart from that, Figueres’ praise also highlighted something else about PPP; the SLP’s support for it (whilst in power of course). And that in turn highlights just how the political pendulum shifts with either the acquisition or loss of power.

 

The SLP’s (former) PPP support is undeniable. During his speech at the Solar Farm Launch at La Tourney, former Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony made no bones about his government’s role in its initiation and eventual launch. He went on to list all of the [public?] partners Dr. Fletcher and company had to source in order to make this dream a reality.

 

“In celebrating this achievement, we must not forget the vision and the hard work that got us here.” Anthony began.

 

He went on to recall that “The journey started with a promise by my former administration…to increase the penetration of renewable energy in our national grid by 20% by the year 2020.”

 

Anthony would then go on to admit that “in making that pledge…we needed to build a coalition of development partners along the way.”

What he doesn’t state openly is that the “development partners” he recalled having to coalesce with, were Private Institutions and that any Government coalition with them did in fact constitute a Public Private Partnership.

However, he did (fondly) cop to the fact that “the former Minister of Sustainable Development and Energy Dr. James Fletcher, with the blessings of the Cabinet of Ministers, enlisted the support of the Clinton Climate Initiative.”

Put more succinctly, the SLP government enlisted the support of a Private Partner, with the blessings of Cabinet Ministers such as Philip J Pierre and Moses Jn. Baptiste; the two members of today’s Opposition who most virulently oppose PPP.

So the question is, what has elicited this sudden change in the SLP’s stance on PPP?

 

Also, isn’t it quite funny how back then, while this deal was being finalised, there were no cries of private partner profit seeking being the ruin of St. Lucia’s electricity production and provision? There was no SLMDA to warn us of the horrors of the SLP dealing with Private Partners like the Clinton Climate Initiative and RMI. (I wonder why).

Some private partners I suppose, are better than others. Or is it that a PPP is only acceptable when being negotiated by a certain political party?

It’s quite telling that the SLP now completely opposes a PPP regarding healthcare; while during its term in office, it not only jumped at the idea, but it initiated the whole thing.

It would be one thing if the SLP’s argument solely revolved around more transparency regarding PPP, but they have categorically announced their complete opposition to it on numerous occasions and in numerous statements, completely forgetting, that it was their utilisation of a PPP that secured the initiation and completion of the Solar Farm.

 

 

4 Comments

  1. Lala
    August 29, 2018 at 6:40 am Reply

    Convenient amnesia

  2. Brent Fevrier
    August 29, 2018 at 2:02 pm Reply

    By George, your oped attempts to paint the particular and instant objections to the use PPPs as a GENERAL objection, but misses the fact that those objections were for particular instances which to the mind of the objectors may be fraught wirh danger.

    An example to the contrary is: government was responsible for the collection and disposal of garbage but engaged private contractors for the collection aspect of that service. There ARE others which one can find.

    PPPs are beneficial to certain aspects of social services, but not to ALL. By Geore, THAT is what you missed altigether in your oped.

    1. JonG
      August 31, 2018 at 2:51 pm Reply

      I think you’re mistaking ‘PPP’ with ‘outsourcing’. Garbage collection is outsourced. The company/companies collecting the garbage are paid to do so. PPP is when the ‘Private Partner’ usually puts up the money to make the project happen. They then get to share in the profit. Not the same as outsourcing.

  3. Peter
    August 31, 2018 at 4:14 pm Reply

    Interesting take. I agree that the government assisted LUCELEC in obtaining technical assistance from Clinton Climate Initiative and other agencies, and that to Ministry of Sustainable Development did a lot to facilitate this project. However,

    1) the Solar Farm 100% financed and owned by LUCELEC
    2) the lands on which the farm is situated were SOLD to LUCELEC by Invest St. Lucia
    3) the farm will be maintained and operated solely by LUCELEC

    The Solar Farm is a bad example of a PPP because GOSL doesn’t have a direct material interest in the project.

    Perhaps it may be better to compare the proposed PPP for HIA to what is proposed for OKEU?

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