I see that the government is moving with great speed into the realm of economic citizenship, and while for the sake of the country, it is my hope that the programme succeeds, I cannot help but make the point that it has started on the wrong foot.
One of the complaints that we have heard from countries in this region that have gone that route: Dominica, Antigua, St Kitts and Nevis and Grenada has to so with the tendency to contaminate the process with partisan political and other considerations that serve to bring them into disrepute. Sadly, we in St Lucia appear not to have learnt anything from the embarrassments suffered by our neighbours.
The fact of the matter is that you cannot play politics with something as sensitive as economic citizenship, but staffing it with political appointees. We have already seen this in the appointment of the overall committee or Board that will supervise the process, now we are seeing it in the appointments to the Economic Citizenship offices.
Why in heaven’s name is the government going that route by selecting so many party supporters to man a new enterprise like this? Given the penchant for investors to try to corrupt every possible process that they can in small countries like ours, is this not a dangerous trend that the government is pursuing by appointing people whose principal loyalty would be not to their country, but to themselves, their government and their party?
The government seems to have learnt nothing from the economic citizenship scandals that have rocked this region of late. In St Kitts the government was forced to revamp the entire system following the defeat of the Denzil Douglas administration to the point of bringing in reputable international advisers to help them re-package it.
I do not want put goat mouth on our programme but I believe there are Saint Lucians who are not so heavily politically tainted and aligned who should be in the forefront of promoting our economic citizenship programme. I object to so many known party hacks and supporters being so prominent in the process in what appears to be a deliberate policy of the government given what it has done in other areas as well.
No one is fooled by the recent advertisements in the press inviting applications for various positions in the Economic Citizenship offices. Given the fact that the people so far appointed are so heavily partisan, it is not far fetched to conclude that they will now turn around and select only people from their party, the Labour Party to fill these positions. The Prime Minister always gives us the impression that he is such a nice man, but why is it that he is presiding over this blatant practice of partisanship. It’s the same thing that went on with STEP and the other programmes. It’s always a question of Labour Party supporters first, second and last. This is a form of corruption that not many recognize.