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Prime Minister's address to the Nation Announcing the Formation of the New Cabinet - December 10th 2001

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ANOTHER MANDATE; TO DELIVER

Address to the Nation Announcing the Formation of the New Cabinet, Castries, December 10th 2001

My sisters and brothers, sons and daughters of St. Lucia

M fw k s, mamay Sent Lisi,

An Intense but Calm Election

On December 3rd 2001, you the people of St. Lucia entered the democratic spaces of your conscience to elect a new government that would be faced with the challenge of governing our dear country for the next five years and in a period that is characterized by great uncertainty and unpredictable change.

It was an intense campaign but one that was conducted with unprecedented calm, sobriety and respect for differences.  As I have earlier indicated, we all need to thank God for his guidance and direction; and each other for the tolerance, mutual respect and the comparatively high level of reasoned debate that was generally maintained.  I have already given credit to the supporters of all parties for this display of political maturity.

I want to express the thanks of my party, the St. Lucia Labour Party to the electorate for the confidence reposited in us for yet another term.  As we did in our first term, the program that you can expect this government to implement will be that which was outlined in our manifesto our vision for St. Lucia.

Maintain Honesty in Perspective

As a second term Prime Minister, I must share with you frankly the challenges that I faced in constituting the Cabinet of Ministers to lead the government in this new term.  Having worked with almost all of my colleagues, I have developed a reasonably accurate understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each; of their respective capabilities; of their performance.  All of these factors have to be carefully considered in determining the most productive allocation of portfolios.  There are too, the many voices speaking from different angles with different tones that seek to influence ones deliberations indeed some have been vociferous  in their insistence on what the new Cabinet should look like.

As Prime Minister, I always strive to be a leader who listens to all voices and takes consideration of all points of view.  I  also try to be as honest as possible in every circumstance because I believe that the people of St. Lucia expect and deserve no less from a new dispensation.  There is a fundamental intellectual honesty that must be exercised in dealing with the people, no matter how politically unsavory or partisanly distasteful it might be.  It is for these reasons that, following the outcome of the elections, I have commented critically and honestly about our individual and collective performance as candidates under the same banner and also about the performance of the opposition.

The outcome of these elections reveals starkly the political sophistication and maturity of our people.  The people in their collective wisdom and from the depths of their individual conscience have elected whom they wish to represent them.  That fundamental choice must be respected by all.  Every member of the new Parliament has an electoral mandate legitimizing his or her presence there not as much can be said for every commentator or newspaper editor or columnist.

The New Cabinet

In establishing the new Cabinet we have sought to make the most rational assignment of talent, ability and performance to a more focused grouping of portfolios.  Those elected members who have not been assigned portfolios have the equally challenging responsibility of serving as the main points of contact between the government apparatus and communities to ensure that government works for the people.  I have endeavoured to retain the same number of ministries as in the last administration.

I am therefore pleased to announce the following alignment of ministries and the ministers assigned to them:

Ministry

Minister

Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, International Financial Services, Economic Affairs and Information.

Dr. the Hon. Kenny D. Anthony

Minister for Education, Human Resource Development, Youth and Sports

Hon. Mario F. Michel

               

Minister for Commerce, Tourism, Investment and Consumer Affairs

Hon. Philip J. Pierre

Minister for Planning, Development, Environment and Housing

Hon. Dr. Walter Francois

Minister for Health, Human Services, and Family Affairs

Hon. Damian Greaves

Minister for Social Transformation, Culture and Local Government.

Hon. Menissa Rambally

Minister for Home Affairs and Gender Relations

Hon. Sarah Flood-Beaubrun

Minister for Labour Relations, Public Service, and Co-operatives

Hon. Velon John

Minister for  Communications, Works, Transport and Public Utilities

Hon. Felix Finnisterre

Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

Hon. Senator Calixte George

Attorney General and Minister for Justice

Hon. Senator Petrus Compton

Minister for External Affairs, International Trade and Civil Aviation

Hon. Senator Julian Hunte

Additionally, the following persons have been appointed Parliamentary Secretaries:

Hon. Jon Stanley Odlum

Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Health, Human Services, and Family Affairs

Hon. Ignatius Jean

Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Hon. Cyprian Lansiquot

Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Communications, Transport, Works & Public Utilities

I have moved the portfolio of Tourism to the Ministry of Commerce not only because of the obvious linkage between the two, but to afford me the opportunity to assign responsibility of  the NDC to that ministry which will now oversee local and foreign investment.  This shift will occur within the next three months.

You will note that I have opted to rename the Ministry of Community Development the Ministry of Social Transformation, Culture and  & Local Government.  This is more than a mere change of name it comes out of our commitment to putting in place a workable system of local government and of ensuring that the empowerment of communities becomes a primary focus for development at the local level.  All poverty mitigation and reduction mechanisms such as the Poverty Reduction Fund, the Basic Needs Trust Fund, and the Belfund will be assigned under this portfolio.  By doing so we expect that communities will have more direct access to resources for development initiatives conceived at the local level and for addressing poverty issues at the grassroots.

With the efforts already underway for the establishment of the National Cultural Foundation, a different approach is being taken to the promotion of cultural development.  Culture is not and should not be a bureaucratic thing and the approach of this government will be to provide support to existing cultural institutions while providing an autonomous Foundation to facilitate cultural development.  For purposes of accountability, the oversight for this portfolio will remain under the Ministry of  Social Transformation and Local Government.

I have also decided to ensure greater cohesion between the Attorney Generals Chambers and  Legal Affairs.  The reform of our legal system, the preparation of new streamlined laws, the reform of the Police Service must be undertaken in a harmonized and seamless manner and the grouping of these portfolios will facilitate this effort.   Police will fall under the Minister of Justice while Immigration, Prisons, Correctional Facilities Probation, and Youth Delinquency  will fall under the Minister of Home Affairs.

The swearing of the Cabinet of Ministers will take place at the House of Assembly tomorrow at 10:30 a.m.

Difficult Challenges Ahead

In this campaign I repeatedly said that the road ahead will be tough and challenging, that in Robbies words, there will be mountains to climb and rivers to cross.

The United States is the worlds largest economy, and this economy, as reported by the United States National Bureau of Economic Research, has been in recession since March of this year.  This has been made even more difficult by the events of September 11.   The United States economy is currently shrinking at its fastest rate in 10 years, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has predicted that the US economy will grow by a meager 0.75% next year.

Japan, which has the worlds second largest economy, witnessed a jobless rate of 5.4% in October, the highest since Japan started keeping records in the 1950s, and the German economy, which is one of the largest in Europe, has been witnessing the constant laying off of workers for nine (9) consecutive months.

Even at a corporate level, we see the effects of this economic contraction.  Chiquita our mortal corporate competitor, the 131-year-old multinational giant of the banana trade and the main actor in the effort to dismantle our preferential trading arrangements with the European Union has reported losses of more than US$1.5 billion in 8 years.  Chiquitas shares have fallen by 50% this year and just last month they filed for bankruptcy.

When developed countries have to contend with such difficulties, the options for small, vulnerable and open economies like ours are severely restricted.

So we are not alone in facing economic turbulence.  The economy of every single Caribbean country is under pressure as well.  What we need to do is to prepare our country to meet that road ahead and this can only be done with united resolve.  I hope within the next few days to appoint our National Economic Council that will involve the social partners in economic policymaking and help to develop national consensus on the measures to be taken.

A Future to Construct

 
Read Also
bulletCabinet of Ministers to be Sworn-in on Tuesday
bulletWorking Together for a New Saint Lucia
bulletCongrats to Dr. Anthony on Second Term to Office
bulletDr. Anthony's Victory Address to the Nation on Election Night
bulletDecember 3, 2001 General Elections

Once again an election is behind us and the future before us.  We know that this future will be fraught with difficulty but we know equally well that the future is not predestined but constructed on the basis of the choices that we make every day, on the strength of resolve that one can muster and on the Guidance of God.  Inspite of the mountains to climb and the rivers to cross, inspite of the fire and rain, we are all going to make it through.  I call on all St. Lucians to look past the divisions of the past weeks and look forward to the possibilities of the future.

God bless us all and hold us united in his love and in the assurance of his peace.

 

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