Thursday, 20 June 2013

THE SWEET, SWEET SCENT OF SLAVERY

So pretty...if you don't live there

Ah, Roseau….

The last place in St Lucia where you can still smell the sweet, sweet scent of slavery.

Just a couple hundreds yards from where a historically white plantation turned the sweetness of slavery into rum for black people, is a slum that makes ghetto people in Castries cry tears of sympathy.

If you don’t live there, you don’t want to know what life is like. And if you live there, you don’t want anyone to know what it’s like for you. Going to the bathroom is a courageous act for some people. For others, it’s just plain dangerous.

Most Caribbean people started the process of liberation a couple of hundred years ago. Roseau people are still waiting for deliverance.

Roseau in 1794
Joking....it's Chester Williams Mist of Roseau
This year, government put up $15m for the relocation of these people. For a new community. A new start. A new beginning away from the invisible chains that bound generations to the vestiges of slavery. And once the people of that blighted community are settled away from the historical location of their ancestors enchainment, what do we do with that stained piece of land? Burn it? Bomb it? Bulldoze it?

Hmmmph! (Big exhale.)


How about we sell it? The Goddard Company (which is basically the Bajan version of the Barnards) bought the rum factory. Maybe they’ll want the piece of land that reminds them of the greatest of their ancestors and the good old days when Negs knew their place and Beches were born on top of the world, regardless of their talent, their intelligence or their actual abilities.

COUCHIE, COCONUTS & CLIMATE



“We are not major contributors to climate change, but we are major victims.”

Laugh still...
That’s our story and we’re sticking to it. Don’t mind the appliances clogging the river ways and the pastics choking the turtles and the chemicals bleching the coral off our shores. We didn’t blast a hole in the ozone. But when the water levels start to rise, we’re going to suffer first. Well, second. Barbados is going to suffer first.

St Lucia imports 1.4 million barrels of oil a year. 4% increase. $300 million. Three times ten years ago.

Alternative energy is still a pipe dream in St Lucia. Apart from wasting solar energy on heating water and the few private farmers who turn their livestock poop into energy, St Lucia is a little gold mine for the Trinidadian oil exporters. We’ve just done nothing to our own benefit when it comes to energy. Even while Vanuatu and Fiji proved that coconut oil worked in diesel engines, we listened to people who told us that coconut oil was useless. We made edible coconut oil when no one wanted it and no that they want it, our factory is dead. Only one producer has figured out that virgin coconut is the way to go and his stuff isn’t even on the shelves anymore.

It almost sounds like we were sabotaging ourselves. I mean someone had to get paid to ensure that we remained this stupid. It couldn’t have happened for free.

Not photoshop...climate change is real..
Government wants us to produce 20% of our energy by alternative means by 2020. To reduce operating costs. To have our own buffers against the volatile oil markets. To improve our image as a green destination. Long term savings like joke. And of course, energy as an economic growth sector.

But the government is still thinking of wind, solar and geothermals. There’s no talk of bio-fuels. And that’s what we can do fastest, cheapest and best. The diesel engine is just waiting for us to get real.

Government imagines that there can be 50 small energy producers on the electricity grid. Perhaps the garbage energy friends of Guy Joseph could be among them. Incentives for that will come later in the year. Also a special loan facility at SLDB for this. No word on when LUCELEC’s monopoly on generating electricity will meet its well-deserved demise.

Already, 50 LED street lights have been installed in the city, while VF, Gros Islet, Soufriere all get more lighting, some of it secondhand from Castries.

As for the pollution, the Refundable Containers Act takes aim. One would think that between DuBoulay, SMJ and the bottled water people they would have figured out how to take responsibility for themselves, but apparently not. They will have to be legally forced to stop polluting the whole damned island.


There was opposition to this in the past. One wonders who would open their mouth and oppose recycling. 

By the way, this article has nothing to do with couchie. It was just meant to get your attention. The FLOGG is not responsible for any sexual feelings aroused during the reading of this article.
Still laughing?

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

DIRTY MONEY!!! THE NEXT GENERATION OF LUCIAN MILLIONAIRES



Ever see a Rasta raising pigs? You soon might.

The EU gave $37 million for Banana Accompanying Measures (BAM) for the period 2013-18. 

Hmmm...Money does grow in trees...
The EU wants us to get the hell out of depending on agriculture so that they can get us out of their hair. We’ve been sucking their blood for too long. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. We were supposed to make money for them, not cost them money. The post-colonial plan so screwed up that white people are starting to enslave each other again. Rich white people everywhere are regretting they met black people at all.

Caribbean bananas are better than Latin American bananas, but they are less competitive.
And also, the island has to depend on a lot more than bananas. I mean whose dumb idea was it to depend on bananas and tourism in the first. Talk about a plan doomed to fail. The most amazing thing about it was that succeeded for so long in the first place.

So what's the plan? Food. Grow food, make money. Export food, make more money. Process food, and now you're shitting millions and looking for safe places to stash money. (Ask Ramjattan. And he doesn't even grow food.)

Agri-youth, government realizes that people must eat so they’ve set aside nearly $2m. Go get it.
And not just agriculture. Praslin’s fish landing site has a $600,000 allocation and there’s half a million for Savannes Bay. Thank you, Taiwan. Japan was supposed to be all over this, but clearly they had more important things to do.
Just add math, science, reading and a laptop

Coconut replanting gets $100,000 because coconut oil demand is higher than ever. People actually want to consume coconut oil after years of thinking it was too high in saturated fats.

There is to be a government task force for hobby farmers.

And so, in the interest of national development and personal profit, I will be planting tomatoes first, growing chickens second and then growing everything else I think will make a profit.


And while I don't think I'll be the pig-raising Rasta, I'm not ruling it out. These baldheads eat an awful lot of unclean and my kids are getting more expensive by the minute.

CLICO-BAICO STILL MAKING US SING BOB MARLEY, 2013 Buget Pt 9

KENNY SAYS  IT'S SOLVED...Kinda...Not Really

"I don't wanna wait in vain for your love..."

Duprey playing deaf
Remember when CLICO was falling apart and the British American people told everyone not to worry cause every little thing was going to be alright. Well, they lied. In July 2009 when British American went under judicial management, everyone got to know what a persistent bunch of liars they were.

“Lives were shattered, investments lost,” Kenny Anthony told Parliament. Kenny wasn’t in power then. But everyone in the OECS knew that if the governments didn’t get together to foot the bill for capitalism’s most unapologetic conmen, it would be ordinary people who would suffer the most. And ordinary people don’t have anyone else to take their frustrations out on, except their democratically elected leaders. And so….
OECS scrambled their jets. They had to protect depositors, prevent systematic risk (better late than never) and craft an OECS solution.

“The outcome is now reasonably successful.”

That's my money!
The three stage strategy includes a $5 million trust fund. More than half a million in claims have been settled. SAGICOR has bought the life portfolio. EC governments injected $38 million to make it feasible. There are no changes to the policies included in the sale – which is all policies. SAGICOR is supposed settled everything in the next two months. Amalgamation with SAGICOR is on August 1st.

“But progress on CLICO International Life is not as advanced. No solution can be found without the government of Barbados.” Great.  Just great. The only thing we can be thankful for is that the Antiguans are not on the Bajan side - if they were, we guarantee you, this would be just another great idea that wouldn't fly until it was too late.
Freekin Bajans




WHY WOULD LATINOS HOLIDAY IN LUCIA? 2013 BUDGET Pt 8


Sooo...these guys want to come here?!? Why?!? I don't get it.
Why would Latin Americans want to come to the Caribbean? Most of them are closer to the Equator than we are? They’re the only people in the world more tropical than West Indians.

But Sandals is spending $10m and GOSL is chipping in $2m to get the ascendant Latinos to spend their increasingly abundant dollars on a vacation to the Helen of the West. And also to boost travel in the summer.

It's also going to be important to market small properties to the island Frenchies, who are basically Lucians speaking French who want access to cheap Chinese products that are not allowed in Martinique because there are simply not good.

And to top it all off, the GOSL will give them a free night if they spend a week. Or something like that.
Sounds good. Almost makes you want to go to Martinique and buy a Lucian vacation. But of course, you are not that patriotic. You're only Lucian, after all.


 But why....

Why, we ask, would people from the equator visit St Lucia?

You know, these island people spend good money to vacation in America?
Crazy, huh?
They don't know either. But they're already coming. Check out the cruise ships and you will see that if the passengers aren't American or European, they are probably Latin American. Weird. But as long as they spend, who are we to judge? After all, we are tropical people who pay good money to vacation in America and England. Now that, is true mental madness. Redundancy intended.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

LUCIA'S BIGGEST ZOMBE, 2013 BUDGET Pt 7

WASCO - Always begging, but always hustling
WASCO stands on the corner by where I live waiting for me to come home from work.

"Oy. Bredren. Great man. Pass a likkle $20 million on me, uh?"

"Sorry. Don't have $20 million."

"Okay, gimme five."

"I don't...."

"Okay, one, one....just one million. Please, Ras. Just one million I want to take care of operating costs. For true. I'll not spend it on drugs, I swear!"

While that story is not factual, it is true.

WASCO's debt burden was high before Tomas. After Tomas, WASCO was in financial silt up to its neck. Can’t even recover operating costs now. Liabilities are greater than assets. Insolvency opens her thighs ready to swallow WASCO up. 

Government has already pitched in over $106 million. If it was anything less than water, government would have thrown WASCO under the bus, rolled over it, reversed the bus and rolled over it again. To government, WASCO is that zombe cousin who has the skills that help you maintain your home, but is always trying to scam you out of more money.
Government's zombe cousin

Now, they’re talking debt equity swap. Debt forgiveness could amount to over $77m with $26m in interest. Hopefully, this will clear the way for progress. Cure WASCO of the financial leprosy. Hopefully they will attract partners/investors.

Wait. Are we going through all of this to fix WASCO so we can get back on the privatisation train? Oh good God. Which is worse, mashing up WASCO or leaving water to the goddam capitalist free market?

After paying $19m from 2008-12, why would I want to make it attractive to investors. If WASCO gets fixed, sell it Lucians. Policy holders. Customers. Yeah. Let the customers own it. That way, rate hikes would just mean more money in our pockets.

WASCO needs $20m a year more than it makes just to survive. Once that’s fixed, I don’t want any heartless foreign profiteer vulturing and vampiring around the most essential service on the island. 

I could never understand privatisation. Why would we sell a good thing? That would make the government an even bigger zombe than WASCO itself.


Monday, 17 June 2013

HEWANORRA AND THE DEATH OF A&M CONSTRUCTION


WELL, THAT DID NOT GO ACCORDING TO PLAN

Once upon a time....the fabled HIA upgrade
What ever happened to the fastest growing company in St Lucia? Remember them? Asphalt and Mining. President Antonio Assenza. Absolutely no connection with Guy Joseph, then Communications and Works Minister. Part of the evil plot of borrow half a billion dollars to upgrade the terminal at Hewanorra. What ever happed to them?

Deutche Bank didn’t like A&M. Pop! Bublle burst, game over.

SLASPA now says the runway is deteriorating.

“Priority must be given to the runway.” And what about the terminal that Guy Joseph and friends were going to spend half a billion dollars on?

The cost of runway repair is an estimated $54. There will be improvements to the terminals but the bobolists who wanted to spend half a billion are not going to see anywhere near that spent. Because 500 private jets land here a year (what the hell are they doing? I don’t see the effects of this except in the increase in the number of zombes), government figures some private jet facilities are needed.
I have nothing to do with it (lol)

And that, my friends is how A&M meets the end. Even the little road project by Ravine Chabot has been stalled and closed. Much less the HIA. Game over boys. You had a good run. I hope you didn’t throw it all in the Hairy Bank.


In related port news, Labour almost redeveloped Castries harbour when John Compton re-entered politics and stole their cake in 2006. Flambeau paid new consultants to tell them almost exactly what Labour already knew. But Flambeau was trying to use Port Castries to get into bed with Royal Caribbean. Lucky for everyone, this is not going to happen. Even more importantly, A&M has nothing to do Lucian ports anymore.

Now, all that remains is to finish the damned Chabot road and get them out of our hair forever and for good.

Friday, 14 June 2013

RICK, CENAC & JUDAS ISCHARIOT



In the annals of St Lucian political legend, there is no fable more treacherous than “The Tale of Neville Cenac.” If George Charles was John the Baptist and Compton and Odlum competed for the role of Christ,
Neville Ischariot: 25 years of carrying double crosses
Neville Cenac would definitely win the role of Judas. If you believe everything you read, poor Neville was also Loki and Benedict Arnold. Worst of all, he was literally Neville Cenac – the patron saint of political back-stabbing. At least, according to the self-appointment pope of political virtues.

From being the lifelong adversary of Compton and Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Cenac made a leap of whatever the opposite of faith is, to become Compton’s foreign minister. Sounds like the path of personal prosperity. But Cenac reaped tears on both sides of the political fence.

He was practically flung from Olympus by the Labour Party after single-handedly battling the despair of being in the weakest opposition of all time, up til that point. (The poor guy only had the comedic stylings of Cecil Lay for his backa. John Odlum was also in opposition, but for the PLP.)

Cenac deserved to be Political Leader of Labour in 1987, if only because of that. And there can be little doubt that he had the makings of a great leader. Or at least a good one. Inarguably better than any of the other political leaders in both parties, with the notable exceptions of Kenny Anthony and John Compton.

But in the mid-80s, that was quite irrelevant.

Labour didn’t need a great and deserving leader who had kept the party’s honor in Parliament in those dark days in the political wilderness.

Labour needed change.

And the name of change was Julian Hunte.

Cenac practically annointed Hunte as his successor, a move that calmed tensions between Labour's warring tribes. Then, the party blew its nose with Neville and put him away. To be fair, he was not cast aside like an old tissue, as they did with George Charles, Kenneth  Foster and Allen Louisy before him. He was at least good enough to be treated like a handkerchief. To be re-used.

The true story of what happened next has yet to be told in full. Patience, children. Soon come.

But in the not-so-true story, Cenac was painted as the biggest Judas bastard sellout sonofabitch since Judas Ischariot laid his macoumere lips on Our Lord and Saviour. Ironically, the person who was holding the paintbrush was none other than Compton’s former press secretary, Rick ‘Hypacrisy’ Wayne, a man who, at that point, had switched from anti-Compy to P.R.O.-Compy and back to anti-Compy again. Wayne assiduously propagated and purveyed the fable of Cenac’s treachery, both profiting from it and paying for it dearly. (Cenac sued him and won $50,000. And those are 1980s dollars we talking about, not the pathetic shekels that pass for money nowadays.)

Herodotus Wayne: When in doubt, print the legend
Rick paid for being too specific in the ways he called Cenac a sellout, but the moral victory was not yet won. Not even close. Cenac, if not Judas, was still Cain. Justice was done, but karma was quite incomplete. The one government minister who never went anywhere without his  wife and who never spent a government dollar on her, the one man who took meticulous care never to abuse his privileges was written off by three generations of Lucians as immoral and corrupt.

Fast forward to 2013. No one would have seen the irony coming. The tables have turned. Rick turned them himself – the anti-hypocrite was exposed as the biggest hypocrite. The anti-hero made himself into a villain, for the sole purpose of showing Kenny Anthony who was the real boss.

Rick Wayne is now wandering the political and social wilderness with the disheveled devils who ransacked Compton’s kingdom. He spent the last decade in a raging vendetta against Kenny Anthony in particular. He persisted, even when it became clear that the last Flambeau government had gone way off the rails, strategically, politically and ethically. Over the last seven years in particular, truth, facts and journalism were damned as Wayne flailed away at the political legend he helped to create. And because some words cannot be taken back, Wayne now has no road home and no choice but to stick to his empty guns and the most politically inept friends anyone ever had.

Which all leads the student of political history, fable and legend to ask: Who is the real floor-crosser? Who is the unprincipled, self-serving master of treachery? Who’s the Judas, now?
Whet your appetite for Neville Cenac's book. Visit http://news.stluciastar.com/32490/


Thursday, 13 June 2013

IF CHAS WINS, WHAT WILL FREDERICK DO?



The future of Flambeau



He’s had seven years. He’s been lucky and he has been unbelievable audacious, courageous beyond moral reckoning. Maybe it’s almost over for him. Maybe Frederick is going to go down with King’s ship.

But maybe not.

Make no mistake, Richard Frederick has options, if King loses to Chas, when the UWP holds their first ever real leadership contest. (In fact, it may be a first in the history of the country. Pretty much every political leader   before that has been elected unopposed, negotiated, parachuted or otherwise wangled into the leadership.)



No one doubts that Frederick has genuine feelings of fealty and friendship for Steve. (Stop that laughing, this very instant!) From the start, Richard has been Steve’s number one defender, his Cardinal   Richelieu,his Thomas (both Wolseley and More) and his Desmond Brathwaite, rolled into one.

Okay, maybe I’m laying the cheese paste a little thick.

Some doubt Richard’s sincerity. They remember that he was an independent candidate who was brought in despite the misgivings of the ancient god of all things Flambeau, Sir John Compton. They cast aspersions on his tried and true Flambeau-ticity, painting him as conveniently Flambeau-matic, at best, Flambeau-ostic  and at worst, Flambeau-tatious.

From their perspective, he’s not King’s Richelieu. He’s King’s George Odlum, the Manley to his Bustamante, the Brutus to his Caesar (Stop laughing! Especially you, Hilaire and Tennyson and the rest of y’all in the Red section!), not a mere Cassius, but a Caesar himself, to King’s doomed Pompey.

As Chas’ chances of becoming PL/UWP increase, there are rapturous whisperings among this silent majority of Flambeau that Frederick’s days are numbered.

The truth is, King is the one whose days are numbered. Without support to keep at least the Leadership of the Opposition in Parliament, he’ll wither away on the back-benches until he finds his true level – as a constituency level pawn-broker and, if he’s lucky, a player on the party executive.

He was good enough at these things to make Cybelle Cenac into a winning candidate, support Vaughan Lewis against John Compton and then, wangle his way to deposing Cybelle and installing himself as candidate, as John Compton’s right hand man in Parliament and Cabinet and finally, into the Prime Ministership.

As King himself admits, he never dreamed of being Prime Minister. He never thought of himself as prime ministerial material until it fell into his lucky lap. He never prepared for such an event and it showed. His success in becoming and remaining the leader of Flambeau has, in the end, made him the unwitting symbol of everything that’s wrong with the party and has to change.

A DIFFERENT KIND OF ANIMAL

Frederick, meanwhile, is a totally different kind of animal.

He is not a creature of any political party. If there is one politician alive in the island who can claim to be self-made, it’s Richard Frederick. (Kenny was created by Labour, Vaughan Lewis was mis-created by Compton and Brathwaite, Morella Joseph was uncreated and King was an evolutionary accident. Most others, with the possible exception of Spider and the two women in Cabinet, are creatures of their party. 

Both John Compton and George Odlum are dead. And frankly, I refuse to dishonor Hunter Francois by speaking of The Greatest Prime Minister we never had in the same breath as the honorable personages mentioned above.)

He is a power generator completely independent of the Flambeau power grid, bringing new energy to them. He rose, not just to prominence, but to Parliament, on his own steam and unique insight into the true heart of the majority of the people of Castries Central. His brutal, but true, insights brought a whole new demographic, both in age and economic class to Flambeau’s cause in the last seven years.

And he has maintained this new demographic as his loyal, personal power base. (He is the only politician who practically has his own Praetorian guard and a personal retinue of 13 deadly concubines. lol)

From his self-created power base, he cannot be destroyed. Not even perturbed. Not by politics as usual. Because he’s not politics as usual. Events and whisperings that would have precipitated the downfall of others were like mosquito bites to him.

King or no King, they can’t get rid of him.
Not your side. Your back. You have to watch your back.

Not without endangering a large portion of their young, non-middle class supporters. In effect, he’s the Cardinal,  nay, the pope of Flambeau’s Church of the Ghetto Youth.

His weakness, ironically, is that he is too much of an independent power. He is heedless of the complex balances and interactions that must take place to stabilize the infant post-Compton Flambeau.
And so, rather than rallying to his every cause, tried and true Flambeaus, regard him with skepticism and are always satisfied to leave him contained within the bounds of his powerful cult, never to cross over into the realm of high party office.

This de facto policy of containment is precisely why Frederick has failed to win any bid for executive office in Flambeau, in spite of being one of its single most beloved figures and most powerful magnets. A just reward for saving the party from near-certain suicide in 2006, don’t you think?

Like a bunch of wildebeest who have cornered a lion, they have him contained. But containment is all it is. It’s all they have against him and his new practice and theory of politics. He cannot be confronted. Not with the current deficits of courage and moral fortitude within Flambeau.

And Frederick, while posing as the pitbull, the maverick, the bulldozer and the runaway train (‘loose cannon is still reserved for Keith Mondesir, and after that, Allen Chastanet has dibs), has proven to be rather nimble in rallying strategic partners to his ends, if not to his cause in general.

The result?

Though he has been kept from high office in the party, he was one of Flambeau’s most powerful ministers and remains one of its most influential forces today.

Whether King loses or not, that is not going to change. The great River Richard will find his way around Mt. Chastanet and begin the attrition, the slow work of taking the mountain down. Rivers always win in the end. 

Some mountains just like to drag out the suffering.

THE MARRIAGE OF FREDERICK AND CHAS

Then…there’s the possibility that Richard and Chas might heed each other and begin to need each other, especially in the face of the sweeping attacks currently underway from Labour. They may feed each other’s quest for glory and power. (It seems convenient. Chas wants the glory and Richard wants the power.)

In a world that makes sense, these two natural enemies ought to realize that they are made of the same philosophical DNA. And while their styles may be abhorrent to each other, their ultimate ends are very much the same.

Like Compton and Mallet, they could form the new lever that lifts Flambeau back to power and stop the party from sputtering from election to election.
Don't mind them, Steve. You'll always have this moment.

Unfortunately for them, post-Compton Flambeau is not a world that aims to make sense. It is a frigging Twilight Zone. And to fix that, prime ministerials like Richard and Chas are going to need something that the Golden Age Flambeau had. A third member of the triumvirate. A person to grow the party and hold it together as the other two go off to war.

Every lever needs an fulcrum.

Compton and Mallet had Giraudy. Who could Chas and Frederick turn to? Who will co-operate with them, without pandering and being a patsy? Who will share power without competing against them for supremacy? 

Who is it that loves Flambeau more than power? There is no better candidate in the recent past than the man who made himself the enemy of every independent duke, lord and count of Flambeau in the last election campaign. The real Cardinal Richelieu. The midwife of a new Flambeau organization. Clem Bobb.

This is going to be impossible. For all the potential benefits, you can probably bet money that this will NEVER HAPPEN.

2013: THE MONEY CURSE Pt. 5 - GOV'T TELLS JABALS: "TAKE BUS! WE'RE TRYING TO SAVE $$$$!"

Jabals and other outside women all over the island are slowly but surely finding that there is no more free ride  in government vehicles from the other woman's man. As government's efficiency measures start to take effect, even some wives and legitimate girlfriends are finding that their taxpayer funded privileges are disappearing.
Jabal crying: Kenny tell them take bus.

Government officials insists that they are not deliberately targeting jabals.

"Jabals are a very important part of the economic and social fabric," said a spokesperson. "Without jabals, most marriages could not last and the divorce rate would skyrocket. Also without jabals, many of the clothing stores, cosmetic boutiques and jewelry establishments would go completely out of business as men would have no reason to ask their wives for forgiveness."

The government is trying to impress on citizens that the measures which are affecting jabals are merely part of  more global cost saving measures. For example:

Government plans to make mergers easier for local and foreign businesses who are not in distress. Why? “To prevent distress. But that’s just preventative stuff to help the private sector keep paying taxes.

Other coming public sector improvements include paying online, electronic document management system, fleet monitoring and tracking systems (there goes the public jabal transportation system).

Government also needs to draft about 60 pieces of legislations that they can’t do now because of limited drafting resources.

“We need a director of legislative drafting and to hire new consultants. Oh no. Did you say hire more consultants?

The new laws are apparently economic. They will help realize existing trade agreements and open up new opportunities.


New government buildings are supposed to help reduce government’s rent bill.

Jabals will be glad to know that the government has made no move against the culture of saloptay that keeps jabals as one of the most cherished and enjoyed cultural phenomena in the island.

2013: THE MONEY CURSE Pt 4, COST COSTS, Inc Part II


“I want to thank the St Lucian people for their overall level of maturity,” Kenny Anthony said in the budget after outlining all the reasons we should burn shit down.

VAT. According to Kenny and those business people who make their money by importing stuff, VAT was part of the fiscal consolidation and streamlining, blahblahblah, nobody wants to hear it.

“There was a 95% compliance for filing.” Nobody wants to hear it.

“We’ve had some teething problems.” Laaawwd!!! The man was just determined to give us all the bad news one time. But you have to have some sympathy.

Curtailing capital expenditure after taking over the government from Guy Joseph’s Flambeau is no easy thing. The majority of projects left by the last government were not finished. Flambeau didn’t finish much of anything. And they left bills for their unfinished work, too.
Y'all tink it easy?

“Only 15% of the projects we’re undertaking were initiated by Labour.”

To make things worse, Flambeau gave public servants a huge increase, leaving Labour with a huge wages and salaries bill and a set of unions who imagined they could do the same to Kenny that they did to King and company. Losers!

Current wages and salaries amount to 43% of government’s recurrent expenditure. Add in the pensions and it goes up to 53.1%. Add in the Sir Arthur Lewis College and the Castries City Council and it goes up to almost 70%.

Something’s got to give. Any sensible, honest government is going to have to do some unpopular things and hope the witch hunters don’t burn their houses down in the middle of the night.

Fair warning. The cuts are going to start coming from the end of this year. Kenny promises no slash and burn. He promises to be delicate and surgical. But he promises that the cuts are going to come.

The IMF says we’re not competitive and productive. (Imagine that someone in the IMF got paid good money to tell us that. Now, tell me who is really unproductive.) Kenny tells us that sustainable growth is a partnership between the GOSL and the POSL. He kept the UWP’s Competitivity Council and is going to operationalize the technical office.

“We’re still the best place in the English-speaking Caribbean to do business,” Kenny encouraged.

But yet, we suck.  And we all know it so well that he doesn’t have to say it.

Monday, 10 June 2013

2013: THE MONEY CURSE Pt 3 - BRIGHT SPOTS, Ltd. A Limited Liability View of St Lucia's Future

Look on the bright side. If we fail, we could market the island as the closest place on earth to Hell...

Big construction projects slowed or stopped in the last five to seven years. Public sector construction, one of the drivers of the economy is down 31.5%. Stay over visitors, another driver, down 1.8%.

And you’re thinking, “Muthaflogga! You said this was an article on the bright spots.” It is. We’re in the dark moving toward the light. Things are pretty bad, we have to admit.

But would you believe that even though the number of visitors went down, the amount they spent went up by 2% to $1.55 billion. It’s as though we threw away the cheapskate tourists and exchanged them for better spenders.

Banana production is up 25.2%, but of course, it was practically nothing before that, because of the Black Sigatoka crisis. There was nowhere to go but up. Agricultural exports are up 40.1% as crop diversification takes effect – that is a real, unmitigated bright spot. Chicken production is up, too. But egg production is down. Hmmm....analyze that!

Saving the economy, one drink at a time
There was a 23% bump in production (not export) of alcoholic beverages. Other food and chemical manufacturers also helped boost the sector. Unemployment is still above 20%, but it’s down from over 22%.
Grants were lower than expected but still up over $325 million. If the fact that donors are waiting to see if they can trust Labour as much as they couldn’t trust Flambeau has anything to do with it, Labour wasn’t saying.

There was a $59.2 million surplus for 2011/12 and $45.5 million for 2012/13. Or were those deficits?

Subsidies for rice, flour and sugar have been cut in half from $18.2 million. Government is throwing $2.2 million of the savings at the poor and indigent so that they don’t have to listen to the opposition make an eight cent increase on a pound of sugar sound like the end of the damned world.

The NICE program aimed to generate 2500 jobs and exceeded that. Job placements amounted to 1740. STEP UP provided 8704 jobs at a cost of $5.6 million.

The construction stimulus – well, it’s too early to talk about that and plus, the likes of Clinton Reynolds and others still think it’s incomplete.

“The full effects should be seen and felt later this year,” Kenny promised. “The discerning consumer must look out for better prices.” Some dealers, apparently, are not passing on the concessions and savings that government wants you to have. An estimated $16 million in government revenue has been foregone so that construction can bounce back.

The department of planning is doing a road map for the next 30 years. There will a big consultation about it.







2013: THE MONEY CURSE, Pt2 - COST CUTS, Inc.

HERE'S THE BAD NEWS

The OECS/ECCU is one of the strongest things about the nations of the East Caribbean. But in the current climate, we, like Europe, must share the consequences of each other’s mistakes. It’s as bad as it sounds. Dominica has 9% deficit and 104% debt to GDP ratio. Antigua-Barbuda, pli worse encore – 10.6% deficit, 117% debt to GDP ratio. St Kitts-Nevis, 7.4% and 156%. Bon dieux! St Lucia is at 9% and 71%.

(mumblemumble) I'm tired of warning them (grumblegrumble) fellaz....

The actual debt of the GOSL is $2.53 billion.

If we continue the way we’re going now, we’ll be over 90% by 2015. We need to change course so that we’re down to about 60% debt to GDP ration in 2015. As for growth, those numbers are so dismal, we don’t even want to talk about that here.
Read 'em and weep! For those who can't read numbers, this chart says you're probably screwed and you deserve it.

“Measures are needed to stabilize the situation. We must have the courage to take these measures now.”
The regional picture is made worse by the global picture. Everybody’s screwed. Well, almost everybody.  But everyone who is screwed seems totally screwed. While those not screwed remain marginally fucked.

Wages and unemployment are too high. (Tell it to management and the consultants, say workers who can’t get minimum wage.) Productivity, efficiency and output are too low.

And most of y’all are still breeding like we just escaped the Garden of Eden.

Large numbers can’t find jobs that match their skills. 60% of workers don’t have complete secondary school education. We have a mismatch of workers and skills. Only 3% of workers are technicians and professionals, 2% in craft and related fields and 39% are making bom. (That last statistic is subject to correction.)

COST CUTS CARIBBEAN & Co.
.
How is me, uh?
I didn't ruin the economy and put the country in debt.






If you’re the head of government anywhere in the world, right now, you want to believe the pundits who tell you that things are going to get better. The fact that they’ve been saying this since 2009, with no good result is beside the point. The IMF  says that US job numbers are getting better, so I want to believe that’s going to result in more investment, more tourism and whatever else we need America for (more bom?).

Of course, Europe is dragging the whole forward movement down. If only it was possible to simply flush Cyprus and Greece down some literal toilet, things might be a little better. Might. Japan is screwed. China slowed down. Canada is in the same category as the US. The only people who are ascendant are the BRICS. And with the possible exception of Brazil, these countries are corrupt beyond belief, so their true growth potential is constantly being short changed.

Regionally, growth is flat in Barbados. In Jamaica there is growth in tourism but mining and agriculture are down and no one has gotten realistic about Jamaica’s number one export. (You would think that in this economic climate, Jamaica would say, “Well, it’s legal in Colorado, so….”) It’s been the fourth straight year of negative growth in the Eastern Caribbean. Even Trinidad, in the midst of rising oil prices, has managed to fall economically flat.

It’s bad. And it has to get worse to get better. There are $85 million dollars in cuts coming. Three years of $85 million cuts. Ouch! And we’re better off than most of the people mentioned above.

2013: THE MONEY CURSE, Pt.1 DIARY OF A POLITICAL ZOMBIE



 I used to be young and happy. This job sucks!
Budget was a bitch.

After the report of review was announced and threatened to send every member of the last government to jail, hardly anyone could remember there was a budget at all. But I took notes. And not to boast, but FLOGG notes are waaaaay better than the replays on NTN.

For the benefit of people who are interested but are allergic to boredom, here's the raw feed from THE FLOGG DIARIES. More on the actual budget to follow this week. (And then, we'll take apart the Report On Flambeau Corruption, or whatever it's called, I promise.)

BACK TO BUDGET, BACK TO BASICS, BACK TO BLACK

He started by reading some statutory instruments.  Lots of stuff about alien landholding licenses, something about finance and something about the St Lucia parliament. I knew what I was looking for so I wasn’t listening to those parts too well.

No Frederick yet, I noticed.

Pierre says something about motor vehicle whatever.

Emma says something about fiscal incentives for Baron Foods and price control. RKL. Dalson. Kenny does something with the appropriations bill. Fletcher walks in late looking well stuffed with ideas, notions and other things that result in a PhD in crop physiology. (Don’t bitch about it. It’s way better than a PhD in telecom penetration rates in the state of Maryland, which is the kind of thing that passes as doctoral thesis in the degree factory, nowadays.)

Procedural stuff.

Pip hi-fives Kenny. They confer and chuckle on something. I think I know what it is. I think everyone including Flambeau knows what it is. But over the next few days of April 2013, Labour will play their part so well, that I will forget that I know exactly what will happen and start to pay attention to what is actually happening. Imagine that. A higher up gave me a heads-up and like a fool, I sit there paying attention to what’s being said, rather than focusing of what’s important – what isn’t being said.

THE DEVELOPMENT CROSSROADS

T'ink ah lyin'. I was happier in opposition....King on vacation compared to me!
“Unprecedented era…new threats…globalization…natural disasters…recession…”

I’m quoting Kenny Anthony here. Hope I’m not taking anything out of context.

“EU coming apart at the seams…” I’m not sure that’s a quote. He said something like that.

“ECCU contributing to deficits, debts and contraction…” That’s a quote. That’s the true story of Kenny’s life right now. It’s basically the worst job in the country. You have to feel at least a little sympathy for the guy who has to clean up the mess left by the Lucian version of George W Bush. The economy is so messed up that the most optimistic message he has at his disposal is something like, “Well, we’re better off than we were then, we’re doing better than our friends in the neighbourhood, but to tell you the truth, we’re still totally screwed.”

He says something kind about the way Jamaica blew away a $1.27 billion loan and now has to open up wider to the economic pederasty of the IMF. (Don’t look it up. Basically, I’m saying that they have to let the IMF bull them.) Frederick saunters in. Kenny totally ignores him. But others in Labour are happy to see the King-maker.

“New loans were more painful,” he said. “St Kitts-Nevis and Antigua-Barbuda also turned to the IMF. Grenada defaulted on March interest payments on bonds, affecting everyone in the ECCU. We can no longer afford to ignore….”

And I think, “We could afford to ignore it before?” But that’s pedantic, hair-splitting bullshit, right now. Redundancy intended. Now is the most important crossroad in St Lucian history. Now matters in a way that people in the past could never have imagine.

Friday, 7 June 2013

COPS MESSED WITH THE WRONG GIRL

The land, the light, the police brutality

For two years, she has been fighting a case against the cops she says assaulted her over a parking violation. And in the end, there was no parking violation. They didn't even give her a ticket.

What they did give her was a good roughing up and a punch in the face that caused the whites of her eyes to swell with blood for weeks. They also gave her two hours in the worst guest house in the island - Custody Suites, under the patronage of Her Imperial Majesty.


RSLPF - Treating Lucians like dogs since 1741
As the story goes:

She stopped on a single yellow line near Clarke's Drug Store on Bridge Street to let her 60-something-year-old mom. As she was moving off, a cop pulled her over and accosted her for obstructing traffic. She pointed out that she was on a single yellow line, dropping off an old lady. Furthermore, she observed that there was no traffic and therefore, no obstruction.

Bad move.

The young cop's anger boiled over and though he let her go, a few moments later another cop stopped her.

"This must be my lucky day," she said to herself.

The second cop asked her to get out and leave her mother and son in the car. Why? Because the first cop had come crying to him that 'the girl in that car told me to 'Fuck off!'"

"Come with me," the new cop said, escorting her to the station. Of course, she protested.

"What am I going to the station for? What are you charging me with?" she asked, bewildered and confused.

"Shut up!" snapped the officer in charge, as they walked into the station. "You cannot be shouting in the station like that!"

"I'm not shouting, I'm just asking why I'm here."

"Sit down!" But she didn't want to sit.

She figured they had to give her some reason for her detention, they had to question her or charge her with something. If not, she had no business there. And if they tried to keep her there, she was going to need a lawyer.

"I'm calling my lawyer," she announced.

"You're not allowed to use your phone in here!" the OIC growled. As she proceeded to try to get help on the phone, four of the eight or nine officers in the room accosted her, trying to rip the phone from her hands. She put both hands, with the phone, between her thighs, thinking that the good gentlemen would not pursue the phone into her crotch.
What you say about that, Commissioner?
"Nothing..."

Bad move.

They went after it with such a vengeance that one of the cops punched her in the face as though she was his wife's outside man. After taking the punch, she was told by the OIC that she was the one who hit the officer.

"Now that you have assaulted an officer, we're taking your phone, your jewelry, stripping you naked and locking you up," he told her.

Of course, he denies that now. They all deny it. As far as they know, a young woman accused of a traffic violation was brought in and then proceeded to attack big, burly, brawling policemen. A likely story. (If it was true, she wouldn't be facing criminal charges, she would be sentenced to therapy for being a crazy person.)

Since June 28th, 2011, the cops have dallied and delayed the case they brought against her for assaulting an officer. She has been to court 15 times, four times this year alone. But the cops and their lawyer always have an excuse. This past Thursday, their lawyer was ostensibly at High Court. Her lawyer was politely impatient.

"I'm asking for this case to be dismissed for lack of evidence," he begged the magistrate.

"If he's at High Court, the matter must be adjourned," the magistrate concluded, somberly.

"Two years, your worship..."

"The time is not particularly relevant."

Her lawyer asked for bench warrants to be issued for the absent cops (only two of the four showed up and they showed up late - practically giving the court the middle finger). The new date for the case was set for July 2nd.

In the meantime, the cops continue to jeer at her in the street.

"You can watch us, but you can never touch us," one told her, confirming the suspicion of many St Lucians that police think that are untouchable, above the law, protected from their wrongdoings rather than held to the same standard as everyone else.

She thinks they are trying to frustrate her, drag the whole thing out until she is fed up and make her drop it. But they messed with the wrong girl, this time. She is not going to drop it. Even though she is afraid of being targeted, even though she is reluctant to speak to the media, she is determined to see the case through to the end and then sue then in civil court afterward.

"It's not about money or compensation," she tells her friends. "It's about the principle. Since when do they take people to the station for traffic violations. Since when someone in police custody cannot call a lawyer? These things make you hate police. It's taken me a long time to stop just hating and being angry."

Too much paramilitary training, not enough manners
Yeah. Many people can identify. The same cops who expect citizens to help them are the same cops who treat citizens as Public Enemy Number One and punch them in the face. How do they expect anyone to help them, if they treat us as their enemies or as their robots who must obey them without questioning? How do they expect anyone to trust them if they keep covering up for each other, instead of making an example of officers who breach the public trust? How do they expect anyone to love the law when they themselves always seem to be violating it to protect the wrongdoers in their midst.

No one should be above the law. Officers make mistakes, yes. But when they do,they should own up to it as fast as possible so that the public can know to trust them, despite their human failings. The longer they hide and cover up, the more proof they provide that they are just the biggest, most legal gang in the country.

If they can give the law their middle finger, why would they expect anyone else to obey it?
O'er the laaaand of the beat...and the home...of the....slaaaaaaave!