THE latest decision by Prime Minster Chastanet to make a presentation to the members of the Saint Lucia National Trust (SLNT) was indeed a bold and surprising move based on the temperature of their relationship over the past two years. Many St. Lucians were intrigued by the presentation as the contents highlighted both sides of the coin.
A Prime Minister has the direct responsibility of creating employment and economic activity in their country whenever possible, based on a changing world order when international aid has virtually dried up, and this is of serious concern to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) like St. Lucia.
At this point, we shall not delve into the areas crying for assistance as they are already well documented in the minds of most St. Lucians. The SLNT is a fitting organization for any nation, but the responsibility of the hierarchy needs fine tuning by way of realism as St. Lucia does not have the luxury of revisiting minor details available to the Trust which directly affect substantial and long-term developments, as it goes against the grain of what politicians were chosen to implement.
The Prime Minister articulated his intention in a calm and civilized manner, by highlighting how the Trust could increase its self -sufficiency, simultaneously permitting his administration to use their subvention in areas which are unable to create an income. One of the most startling areas was the fact that over a twenty-five-year period, of the Jazz Festival at Pigeon Island, $20 million was disbursed for constructing and tearing down the stages at the end of each festival. If the Trust had only put on their thinking caps and formulated a plan whereby a permanent stage could have been erected, this investment alone would act as a great revenue earner for them; but at this time, this is nothing more than history and is food for thought for the coming years.
We live in a democratic society and we all have different opinions. St. Lucia is divided 50 / 50 politically and by assumption the same theory may very well apply to the Trust members, but emotional and political options should not play such an important role in the decision making of a nation.
The fact that two Dolphin Parks were approved by the former administration, but even more importantly a portion of land within the Canaries area was actually purchased by the former administration to erect that park. This was never criticized by the Trust and 99% of the Saint Lucian population were not even aware of these approvals.
On the other hand, when the current administration attempted to further the plans and intentions of the former government, all hell broke loose. In our view, this action was seen as partisan politics which is wrong.
When construction began on the new Police Head Quarters and the six Court Houses the SLNT placed an injunction against the current administration to ensure that the six convicted murderers, who were buried on the site, should be protected by way of unearthing those skeletons for reburial. Couldn’t the Trust have gotten together with the current administration and worked out a method instead of going through the courts, delaying the project and incurring legal costs, only to be told by the judge that Government and the Trust should go and settle such an issue by themselves. It should be recalled that the Barfincor Bank on Chaussee Road adjacent to the Anglican School was built on a cemetery where a couple hundred decent St. Lucians were buried.
This is not the only area in the Castries basin where individuals have been allowed to build upon cemeteries. We simply have to revisit the cemetery adjacent to the Vieux Fort bus stand where individuals have built homes indiscriminately over decent St. Lucians. Has the Trust ever addressed these matters?
Today, 1000 police officers and several important court houses are strewn over the Castries basin, when a proper home for the police officers and our judiciary would have been located in a primary area with all the necessary services. Lastly, a major project at Honeymoon Beach was interrupted for almost four months based on the fact that the Trust indicated that there were certain artifacts on that property. A special team from Martinique had to be hired by the current administration at a cost of $300,000 to be told that there were no artifacts on the site, resulting in the delay in construction of a 350-room hotel. We sincerely trust that the recent presentation by our Prime Minister will be taken seriously and all these unnecessary impediments can be addressed to ensure that the development of our nation can proceed in harmony with the various agencies on island.