AMONG the central themes in this week’s Throne Speech, two of them really do stick out at us. not that the others are unimportant, but these two have the propensity to further erode any economic gains that even our best financial minds are forecasting.
The first theme is managing the fallout from the IMPACS report, something that we have done very poorly since the report was handed to officials here and subsequently mishandled.
Following ostensible stalling tactics by the previous government, the incoming government is basically straddled with the burden of fast-pacing investigations to appease not only Saint Lucians, but the United States and the 28-member European Union.
Government’s current position is that a tribunal will be set up to review the coroner’s inquest process and outline a road map to bring the unsavoury, drawn-out mess to a satisfactory conclusion.
Undoubtedly, the tribunal will come at a hefty cost and last for an indefinite period. At what cost and for how longer do we have to wait until this IMPACS matter is put to rest? Pardon the impatience, but at every turn of this IMPACS investigation, assurances have been given that the matter will be brought to a final conclusion, all to no avail.
Will the terms of reference of the tribunal’s tasks be publicized? Will the findings of the tribunal be communicated to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in the first instance? Will action – punitive or otherwise – be taken against anyone found to be complicit in the whole affair that led to the IMPACS report? Someone should at least answer these questions unequivocally.
The other theme that should not be taken lightly has to do with the inherent deleterious results of Britain’s exit from the European Union, or Brexit. While the U.S. and the United Kingdom – as well as the entire European Union – might seem imposing in our domestic affairs, including the IMPACS affair, the fallout from Brexit can spell a bad omen for us.
With tourism being our mainstay industry, our heavy dependence on visitor from Britain is now being affected due to the declining value of the pound sterling which discourages Britons from visiting our shores. With Britain being Saint Lucia’s second-largest market segment for arrivals, that can spell catastrophe for an industry whose other large market segments are led by the United States, with Canada ranking third.
Remittances, too, from Britain will also be affected, not to mention the possibility of Saint Lucians resident in Britain losing their jobs. So while Britons do have the right to vote and do as they please, their actions do have a corresponding impact on us, including stymieing whatever assistance we should have been receiving from that end.
These two themes demonstrate just how exposed we are despite our many attempts to act and think insularly. The world is a smaller place than we think and instances like these serve as reminders that large or small, we all have a stake in each other’s progress – or failure, whether unwittingly or deliberate.