Saint Lucia is experiencing a phase of stagflation. Imported inflation and the structure of the tourism industry are driving inflation upwards.
The St Lucia Labour Party (SLP) government’s response is a traditional mix of welfare spending and taxation but the impact is negligible.
Some form of structural adjustment is required to improve the industrial base and transform public service delivery. But the SLP has wasted its mandate on small-minded political quarrels.
Visionary governments have some Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) but the SLP government elected on 26 July 2021 only had a political goal, to get re-elected by promising small things and calling it “putting people first”.
So a lot is said about the spending of Taiwanese money for the “Youth Economy”; the laptop program and payment of school facilities fees. None of these initiatives are going to transform any sector of the economy and society over the next 20 years.
The consequences are real, many Saint Lucians will continue to live on low wages, with no prospect of secure opportunities to build decent livelihoods and communities.
To make matters worse, the SLP has continued with the crony capitalism of previous administrations. It has done nothing to ensure that value for money is achieved from public spending. Take for example, the $10 million allocated for the housing assistance program, but we are left to depend on Shazi Chalon (a political operative) explanations as to how the money was spent in the description of transparency and accountability.
The SLP is slow to realize that depending on political hacks to protect the victory undermines the sense of national consensus that is needed for dealing with the economic and social challenges we currently face.
Neoliberalism is in crisis. The greed and projection of self-interests is destroying Saint Lucian communities. Every institution is at risk; the family, churches, schools, local government and the civil service.
Collective action is becoming difficult and violence is being normalized in a “dog eat dog” culture that is unproductive.
The problem is a lack of ideology. Without some common ideals around which communities can be mobilized, SLP politicians will soon come to be seen as individuals pursuing their self-interests. Already the Banannes Bay land sale has raised concerns about corruption. What will emerge next? The redevelopment of the CDCs?
A new approach to governance is required. The NPP will promote associative democracy. It is a link of democracy with economics. Not only will members of NPP be engaged in ensuring that they are included in the democratic process but also members of NPP will be engaged as change agents.
Working with communities to organize and build new wealth-creating entities to replace the stagflation that this SLP administration has locked us in and the cantankerous politics that is trapping us in stagflation.
If ever there was a need for progressive politics in Saint Lucia, then the time is now. Let us mobilize the courage to make the change.