Opinion

Whose Purpose is the Prime Minister of St Lucia Serving?

Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, Allen Chastanet, during his interview on CNBC
Whose Purpose is the Prime Minister of St Lucia Serving?

In a recent interview with American business network CNBC, Allen Chastanet, prime minister of Saint Lucia, directed his attention to another of his acclaimed obsessions – investment and economic growth.

However, his proposition in search of that silver lining was met with raised eyebrows and the question, whose purpose is he serving?

But first, lack of respect for the truth is detrimental to democracy and a violation of democratic norms. It deeply undercuts the power of persuasion let alone the influence of high authority.

Second, it sets a damaging example and conveys disdain not in keeping with regional exemplars and scholars.

On such an occasion on CNBC, it would be routine if the prime minister would directly address American consumers, companies, and investors with the intention to bolster Saint Lucia’s national interest.

This was also an opportunity to lead a Saint Lucian commerce and investment contingent to advocate signing partnerships and showcasing the country’s global readiness for trade and investment.

Rather, the prime minister’s normal inclination persisted in speaking from a position of weakness on economic policy, among others, even with great investment opportunities ongoing in the Caribbean.

“Can we not get an incentive, and that’s what we’re in discussions with the US about, that if US companies invest into the Caribbean, that those investments in our books are always tax free that the US allow those funds to be repatriated back into the US tax-free, only on those investments. So, it accomplishes getting the funds back into the United States of America. It creates an avenue for the private sector to participate in this growth and brings a lot of money to the table.” ~ Allen Chastanet, prime minister of St Lucia.

In retrospect, the Budget Address for the financial year 2017/18 reads: “The International Business Companies Act has been amended to allow for headquarters of regional companies to be located in Saint Lucia.”

However, to western commentators and US administration officials, the question was asked, whose purpose is Allen Chastanet, the prime minister of Saint Lucia serving?

“Indeed, he seems acting as a foreign agent, lobbyist, or public relations for corporations, pioneering a new form of international political consulting to indulge his taste for the high-life, and subsequently buff his reputation soliciting business for foreign clients?”

By all accounts, the Foreign Agents Registration Act would apply to disclose work and source of income to the Justice Department if he lobbied the American government on behalf of a foreign client.

A “corporate inversion” is a manoeuvre in which a US company moves its headquarters overseas to reduce its tax burden. Corporate inversions often cost jobs and tax revenue, and the symbolism that government act of kindness to foreign corporations, supersedes regional and domestic companies and its citizenry.

Further, the continuous travel to discuss investment opportunities and potential business deals, infrastructure contracts as well as investment and sovereign funds, and the purchase of Saint Lucia’s debt with the particular focus on governments in Asia and the Middle East should raise serious concern.

Nevertheless, the Chastanet administration is already on the wrong side of history, making all the wrong choices, mismanagement and negligence, with seemingly conflicts of interest in exchange for consumption and low-end jobs.

Rather than engage in blue and green economic integration that transforms society for long-run growth and as argued in renewable energy, in contrast to tourism-led growth in St Lucia,  the quadratic equation, further illustrates the thinking endowed in a revised format of “value extraction business” with the trappings of the industrial/textile era in Vieux-Fort of the 80s and 90s, where foreign companies were set up at the expense of taxpayers and, even more disturbing, treated workers poorly.

Mysterious companies came, they exploited our resources, hoarded capital and abruptly withdrew, leaving behind factory shells, unpaid workers and millions in lost revenue to the country.

In effect, the economy was artificially inflated and then deflated, in a classic boom and bust cycle.

Therefore, whether in its technical details or marketing sidestreet sales-man like effects, the veil has been lifted on the Chastanet administration Castries Redevelopment Programme to imply that “My government will be following up this legislation with incentives for local developers to construct residential, commercial and mixed use developments to accommodate these companies.” ~ Budget Address for the financial year 2017/18

Essentially, the “value extraction business” script that put the country back several decades makes clear through an economic prism – a possible rerun of just how much political leaders and economic merchants stand to gain, trading on the economy at the expense of taxpayers.

So whose purpose is Allen Chastanet, the prime minister of Saint Lucia, serving to apparently see the country as a subsidiary starved of revenue, manipulate the market, take advantage of the country’s natural resources and offer tax shelters to plough back profits overseas?

If so, is it possible to ask, which company or group this serves?

The following is meant to offer clarity and contrast what empowers entrepreneurs and on the other hand expect real and extended growth, knowledge transfer, capacity building, equity and infrastructure development.

“Canada’s progressive approach to trade is focused on further growing trade and investment relationships with existing partners, as well as diversifying into new and rapidly growing markets in Asia and South America. This comprehensive and strategic vision aims to help Canadian businesses expand their markets, which in turn creates more well-paying middle-class jobs for Canadians.” ~ François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of International Trade

Despite current realities, it seem inevitable that more extraction business is extraordinarily vulnerable to the credibility of the Chastanet administration in keeping with a coordinated lack of economic policy to Saint Lucia’s future.

In particular, strengthening democracy often directs economic and security interests, but the prime minister salesman’s bluff, his administration and business circles once described in terms of a “mongrel organisation” and recently in keeping with those who identify with the party’s crooked narrative and the schematics of a fresh start leading to retirement takes on a broader spectrum.

Clearly, the priority of a fresh start hasn’t deflected economic disaster and inflation save for what is seemingly to take advantage of regulations, contracts and provide privilege access.

In the midst of this, there can hardly be any consideration for the worsening fiscal crisis and the “oppressed people” the prime minister literally cries for on demand, not too long ago – has now raised concerns about manipulation, perpetual austerity and economic shrinkage preventing future development.

As for the economic cost in fighting for imperial dominance and the 2017/18 estimates of revenue and expenditure – both are enormous to impact the country – borrowing more to keep the economy “working” yet unable to solve one crisis, without sliding into ‘economic terrorism’ and ‘treason’.

Certainly! The status-quo is void of mercy, except to send a signal of disregard. But even worse, it is in keeping with the cavalier fashion of moral hazards that thrive on manipulation, distraction and deception – Machiavellian.

And so, whose purpose is the prime minister serving when unable to pursue a value-added vision encompassing an inclusive development plan, socio-economic strategy, foreign policy and national security?

Beyond that, well watch out! All are at risk!

By Melanius Alphonse/Caribbean News Now

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