Commentary: The kitchen cabinet in St Lucia and its agents display willful ignorance… again – Caribbean News Now (press release) (blog)



Melanius Alphonse is a management and development consultant, a long-standing senior correspondent and a contributing columnist to Caribbean News Now. His areas of focus include political, economic and global security developments, and on the latest news and opinion. His philanthropic interests include advocating for community development, social justice, economic freedom and equality. He contributes to special programming on Radio Free Iyanola, RFI 102.1FM and News Now Global analysis. He can be reached at melanius@newsnowglobal.com

By Melanius Alphonse

The so-called ‘kitchen cabinet’ in Saint Lucia and agents for the puppet government of Allen Chastanet displayed willful ignorance in two articles published in the Voice newspaper last weekend. In the normal course of events, the views expressed don’t fit into any narrative other than to be ignored.

But given the relevant heat my articles seem to generate at unnerving the status quo, I accept the tactical and philosophical challenge of separating fact from fiction.

Many of my articles are for savvy readers to come away with some ideas and to present alternative viewpoints. Therefore, the authors and ghostwriters of the Voice articles, merely worthless remnants of an earlier era, surely distinguished themselves by errors, lies and nonsense – compounded by their unfamiliarity with the English language.

The unequivocally stagnant economy of Saint Lucia and numerous investigations into the kitchen cabinet should be enough to occupy serious consideration, where an assertion of “probable cause” in the Hewanorra International Airport Redevelopment Project corruption probe in a letter to the US Department of Justice to wit, the request for mutual legal assistance in the matter of Antonio Assenza states:

“…Also, Mr Oswald Augustin was the deputy chairman of the UWP and information was always available to him. He has a business relationship with Mr Allan Chastanet and his father.”

There are some important and disturbing questions that need to be asked…

Is there the appearance of conspiracy, impropriety or perhaps insider trading or corruption to explain certain people’s ability to draw on unique resources, busting through norms and boundaries for themselves, above all others?

So, who best fits the charlatans as espoused by the ghostwriter of Franklin Solomon’s piece?

A Google search defines a charlatan (also called swindler or mountebank) as a person practicing quackery or some similar confidence trick or deception in order to obtain money, fame or other advantages via some form of pretence or deception.

Evidently, the kitchen cabinet and its agents are on the defensive and must resort to willful ignorance in an attempt to defect and detract.

But the kitchen cabinet has lost credibility – locally, regionally and on the international level. Its trust factor and what is left of it is shattered, in the betrayal of the country and its people. What else could I describe it as?

This does not translate into a better life for the people of Saint Lucia, but I am not perplexed at the attempt to “connect the dots” via unsound agreements and aspersions that include Caribbean News Now.

But this is rare foolishness by deceivers to structure a public relations agenda for me, prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Brown, and Caribbean News Now. If anything, that’s an error of abundance!

For starters, it is preferable to keep the company of the wise and astute, rather than a “not so smart prime minister of Saint Lucia”.

And without exception, I could not be better served with the knowledge and skill of the managing editor of Caribbean News Now’s command of the English language, accuracy, quality control, and adherence to proper journalistic methods, international access, and connections.

It is documented that Browne sets a high standard for himself, personnel in his domain and members of his cabinet. He sets policies and abides by them, like it or not. He is a man of actionable results. And so there’s no need for me to “talk about the recent arrest of Asot Michael”.

Browne’s initial first steps are well advised and he is positioned to receive sound intelligence in the application of his judgement.

On the other hand, Chastanet’s competence and lack of credibility have raised eyebrows before (Tuxedo Villas, Black Bay Lands, airline deals, massive mobile phone bills) and are still cause for concern, to wit, the recently reinstated legal action against him for misfeasance in public office.

In a show of strength, the attorney general’s chambers is capable of providing the prosecutorial strategy and psychological bubble wrap, inclusive of the application of the laws of Saint Lucia, pending US action, and the request for mutual legal assistance in the matter of Antonio Assenza.

While St Lucia minister Guy Joseph welcomes the airport project corruption probe, it’s only a fraction of the reality and the wide-ranging events that are currently taking place.

To explore further, all cabinet members that are implicated in and/or are part of internal and external investigations continue to serve at the prime minister’s pleasure, including the Ubaldus Raymond masturbation fatwa, but Chastanet apparently fails to comprehend that, as prime minister, his actions or inactions carry greater scrutiny and reflect on all Saint Lucians.

In time something will have to give!

Unfortunately, community newspapers and practicing journalists under the control of the kitchen cabinet, kissing up to preserve their subsidies and favoured spot in the pecking order have cowered in servitude for their wages of survival, and therefore are not remotely adequate to deliver real news, publish articles of diverse points of view and are incapable of pursuing questions and answers required for a civil democracy.

Therefore, “It is this sort of behaviour that has caused problems for legitimate media houses… and it has severe repercussions for practicing journalists”, to separate fact from fiction and speak truth to power, that the VAT reduction’s decrease of EC$52 million in revenue, without counterbalance measures, is punitive to the wider cross section of the population.

This does not equate to “living in denial” when compared to the inferiority complex of the kitchen cabinet’s own survey, showing tremendous unpopularity and weakness, after just 18 months in government, is in a state of mass hysteria.

This is materially significant, facing an uncertain future.

The hard truth is such that government’s social and economic policy with “Five to Stay Alive” was a rhetorical masquerade to favour the elite one percent of the population, political contributors, donors and economic merchants. The end product contributes to inflation, artificial capital projects and extensive adjustments as detailed in the judo budget and subsequently disadvantageous to the wider population.

Ubaldus Raymond, minister in the ministry of finance, attributes private sector performance to government economic policies without the data. If nothing else, improve credibility and accountability, in a transparent way and recognize that documentation is essential for an argument to have credibility and therefore persuasiveness.

But it is well known that business closures continue at a rapid rate in the face of sales figures reported by a business performance survey conducted by the Saint Lucia Chamber of Commerce that 69 percent of businesses reported higher sales for the period January to June 2017 compared to the previous six months – July to December 2016 – and feeling optimistic about future economic prospects.

More importantly, during the time period, the general price levels have risen considerably; people are working harder just to make ends meet. Wages and incomes continue to decline, others lose jobs they previous held and living standards are in decline.

The important question is how much the price of goods and services has increased in real or inflation-adjusted terms, consumer price index (CPI), and purchasing power parity (PPP) and employers’ misunderstanding of the labour market.

According to the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), Saint Lucia is reported to be the second fastest growing tourism destination in the Caribbean, recording a 9.2 percent growth in tourist numbers from January to August 2017. The Saint Lucia Tourist Board says the island recorded a 14.5 percent overall increase in visitor arrivals from January to August this year. Cruise ship arrivals are also reported to be up 21 percent.

Meanwhile, hoteliers are discounting up to 65%, vendors and taxi drivers can’t seem to see the tourists. Further, in the idiotic promotion of tourism as economic development, the people of Saint Lucia own little to no tourism infrastructure and therefore remain exploited on the back of taxpayers’ subsidies and taxes withheld, rightfully owned by the people of Saint Lucia.

The gap between the haves and have not is widening. Gasoline, contrary to the Orange March when the kitchen cabinet was in opposition, spurring malevolent claims about EC$6.80 profit by government has been deliberately pegged at EC$2.80 per litre or EC$12.75 per gallon. This is a record high for the three months consecutive price adjustment periods. Irrespective of the arguments, gasoline and its by-products, energy consumption and the cost of electricity and is at a historical high level.

Purchasing power is not rising and while many people can’t figure out where all of their money is going, Godfrey Bloom explains.

Imbalance in government revenue and expenditure has resulted in tax receipts declining, while government continues to rely on extensive borrowing for local banks (that’s important to note) most recently Tuesday, October 31, 2017, to finance FY2017/18 Budget.

The kitchen cabinet has tried to spin new borrowing measures and, in this case, it is the blind leading the blind. Never mind government’s ‘alternative fact sheet‘ that the country is broke.

Health care is traumatic in contrast to his campaign rhetoric “Let the people live, open the dialysis machines”, Allen Chastanet, on assuming office, commissioned a EC$980,000 technical audit of St Jude hospital.

“Currently the budget for the ministry of health is $110 million. Hence, there is a financing gap of $69 million.” ~ 2017/18 Budget.

The infrastructure of the country is in tatters, secondary to the new occupation of the prime minister’s imaginary Fortune 500 CEO status, meanwhile “Our roads, schools, hospitals, water distribution network, government buildings including police stations, require urgent attention. These costs are however beyond what this country’s fiscal capacity can support.” ~2017/18 Budget.

Crime is at an all time high, 48 homicides, as of this writing, with an allocation of an amount of EC$772,000 for purchasing vehicles. ~ 2017/18 Budget.

This is not fake news, alternative facts or fabricated discourse. It’s the serious nature of the change psychology of deceptive and misleading conduct.

The facts are clear even by means of selective memory of certain politicians’ frequent assertiveness to greater knowledge they actually don’t have. The enemies of convenience are apparent, clamouring partisanships to protect their tax-exempt status.

However, the lazy public relations effort to blame Caribbean News Now to gain media traction contrary to salient points of view, and a government overwhelmed by its own cacophony of misinformation, will find it impossible to put the toothpaste back in the tube.

Without substantive knowledge of the subjects under discussion, the kitchen cabinet and their agents can derail with misinformation, not supported by economic theory and cooperation with departments and agencies in three of the “Five Eyes” countries (Google it).

In the face of evil, I am not trained to look the other way, so I am drawing a line in the sand, figures don’t lie, but liars figure. This may well be the albatross around the neck of a cruel and vindictive kitchen cabinet in the near future.

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