Dame Calliopa Pearlette Louisy,
GCSL, GCMG, D.ST.J., PH.D, LL.D (HON)
GOVERNOR – GENERAL OF SAINT LUCIA
On the occasion of the Formal Opening of the
Sixth Session of the Ninth Parliament of Saint
Thursday April 14, 2011
MADAME PRESIDENT AND MEMBERS OF THE SENATE
MADAME SPEAKER AND MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
We meet here today in this annual exercise, to present to the Parliament the plans and strategies which Government proposes to implement in the interest of the economic and social advancement of the people of this nation. Far from being conceived of as a yearly ritual, this Speech from the Throne is a major instrument of the democratic process of government, providing for the transparency which is demanded in the conduct of the business of the people.
As we reflect on the state of our country, as we ponder on the challenges which we must confront, and as we search for solutions to our problems, it becomes apparent that notwithstanding the influence of the external environment, it is our own internal strength and conviction which will have the greatest bearing on our survival as a nation.
A survey of the global landscape at this time reveals a pretty grim state of affairs. While not attempting to chronicle every international event, some obvious examples nevertheless come to mind. Disasters, natural and man-made, in different parts of the world; unrest in several countries, particularly in the Middle East and in North Africa, as populations rise in their quest for democracy; factional violence, almost descending to civil war and a humanitarian disaster in the Ivory Coast; spiraling prices of oil and petroleum-related products, with its knock-on effects on every other sector of society, particularly in the transportation and energy sector; increasing food prices; the near collapse of some economies, causing them to approach regional and international institutions for bail – outs; are but a few of the examples that point to instability in the international environment.
Even as we meet here, Japan, a country with which Saint Lucia has enjoyed such friendly relations since our independence, and which has been so generous in its support for our development, is recovering from a massive earthquake and tsunami, resulting in the loss of thousands of lives and the displacement of many, widespread destruction of property, and an ongoing threat of radioactive fallout posed by the proximity to the disaster zone of a damaged nuclear power plant.
My Government wishes to take this opportunity to extend our profound sympathies and our solidarity to the Government and People of Japan as they struggle to overcome their ordeal.
We in Saint Lucia have not been spared the effects of the global economic and financial meltdown or the ravages of natural disasters that seem to have engulfed the world in recent times. Indeed as a small and open economy we so often catch the proverbial cold when the rest of the world sneezes. Therefore, being dependent on imported petroleum products for so much of our energy and other daily needs, we are now bearing the brunt of increased prices for these products on the world market. Increased food prices due to droughts, floods and other natural phenomena in different parts of the world are now the order of the day. But therein also lies an opportunity for us and for our farmers in particular to be more innovative in supplying our needs and exploring other markets.
Through prudent policies and fiscal measures, my Government has been able to avoid the worst fallout from being felt in Saint Lucia, notwithstanding delays and cancellations of many investment projects. We remain committed to the exercise of fairness in pursuing the delicate balance between fiscal prudence and the pursuit of growth- enhancing policies. The right mix of policies that will create economic growth, provide opportunities for our population to prosper, that will enhance social cohesion, assist our youth in attaining their full potential while ensuring fiscal responsibility, has been and will remain at the center of our strategic approach.
Internally, a spate of criminal activity and acts of deviant behaviour threatened to undermine the very foundation of our society, by compromising our national security and placing at risk our reputation of being a safe and secure country. My Government has acted decisively to counteract this threat, and with the support, commitment, sacrifice and devotion to duty of the hard-working members of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force, has stabilized the situation.
My Government wishes to place on record its appreciation and that of the entire population to those officers, who at great risk to themselves and their families, confronted this problem head-on in the effort to restore confidence in the security of our country.
The event which has left the greatest and most lasting impression on our lives during the past twelve months has been the passage of Hurricane Tomas during the weekend of October 30 and 31, 2010. The many scars on our landscape bear testimony to the long-term effects of this disaster on our lives. But the most tragic aspect associated with Hurricane Tomas has been the loss of human life; those who have been confirmed as having perished during or in the aftermath of the disaster as well as those who are still listed as missing. My Government joins the entire population in extending sympathies and condolences to all those families who have lost loved ones. We share in your sorrow and will continue to support you and pray for you and your loved ones.
But Hurricane Tomas was also the event which brought to the fore once again that trait for which Saint Lucians have become noted. It is in times of adversity that the best in us becomes evident. Those who braved the floods, the landslides and other potential threats to rescue their neighbours, or citizens they hardly knew, who gave of their time to feed, to clothe and to comfort those in distress, who donated relief items - foodstuffs, clothing, pharmaceuticals -, who housed those who needed shelter, who cleared the roads, restored bridges and other infrastructure very often in situations of danger to their own lives, were in effect displaying the true meaning of being Saint Lucian. My Government salutes all of you, individuals and organizations, and conveys its sincere appreciation for the sacrifices that you have made, for the discomfort endured in the interest of others and your country.
My Government also wishes to publicly express gratitude to all the friendly countries, regional and international organizations which came to our assistance in this time of crisis. The process of reconstruction following this disaster will take many years, but we are encouraged by the immediate response, and the commitments of support to the rebuilding process already made.
Hurricane Tomas taught us many lessons. It has highlighted our vulnerability as a small island state, the susceptibility of our eco-systems, the far reaching effects of such phenomena on our lives and our survival as a nation. My Government believes that it would be failing in its responsibility to the people of Saint Lucia and more specifically future generations of our citizens, if we did not learn from these lessons and act on them.
The on-going international debate on the dangers that climate change poses particularly to small island eco-systems such as ours is evidence that the world community is becoming more sensitised to our vulnerability. My Government has been an active participant in this debate and will continue to champion the cause of nations like ours so that the international mechanisms currently being considered will take full cognizance of our peculiar situations, and contain measures to adequately address them.
My Government is committed to the principle of sustainability in its development programme. For us to be truly on the road to sustainable development, we need to appreciate the need to build resilience in all that we do. We must change our habits - in construction, in waste management, in the design of projects, and in how we live generally. We must ensure that appropriate adaptation and mitigation measures are at the core of every initiative, so as to guarantee future generations an adequate quality of life.
Sistenm Palemantè péyi-a ka ban nou lokasyon pou vini ansanm toulézanné pou tann sé plan-an Gouvedman ka pwoposé pou gouvène péyi-a épi pou potjiwé pou labwizen pèp-la. An menm tan-an, yo ka sèvi lokasyon-sala pou plasé douvan nou sitwasyon péyi-a an li mouman-an: sé sitwasyon-an ki kay afèkté, pou li byen kon pou li mal, pwojé twavay-la yo ka pwopose-a. Lanné-sala, Ste. Lisi, kon pwèskè tout lòt péyi oliwon latè-a, ka touvé kòy adan an sitwasyon difisil, kwitik menm. Jou an jou nou ka tann nouvèl twakasman, déga épi dézas ki ka pwan kou toupatou – go dlo, twanblanntè, sounami, mové tan, ladjè, siwèksyon – anfen, i sanm tout kalité malè ka vizité latè-a sé jou-sala. Isi, an palapòt nou menm, nou èspéyansé ovif, déga épi donmaj nou té ni labitid wè sèlman asou télévizyon. Kilès pami nou kay obliyé sa ki pase an péyi-a li twant épi li twantenyen òktòb lanné dènyè? Mé sèl sa nou tout sav, menm si nou pòkò fini wè ki koté nou kay tounen, sé ki nou ni pou viwé mété péyi-a asou dé pye-y. Sé nou menm ki ni pou fè’y, menm si lezòt ka endé nou. Se fòs-la nou ni an nou menm-lan, konfyans-lan nou ni an kapasité-nou pou fè sa ki ni bizwen fèt-la, lèspwa-a épi lafwa-a nou ni an yonnalòt-la ki kay vwéman endé nou wéisi. Chimen-an long, nwèsè-a pitèt épéè, jounou-an pitèt fèb, anchay di nou pa kay sa fè pli mèyè pasé bwété, mé Kouwaj – Lawout sé tjè.
Mannyè moun vini ansanm apwé dézas Tomas-la pou nétwayé péyi-a, pou débouché kolvèt épi lawivye, pou débwazé chimen, pou tiwé labou lanfalay, pou pòté moun soukou, ka moutwé ki, menm si yo ni chikann yo lè bagay nòmal, yo ka mété tout sa dèyè-yo lè twakasman wivé péyi-a. Sé kalite bon tjè, bon natiwèl-sala nou ni bizwen an sé tan difisil-sala. Gouvèdman ka pwan lokasyon sala, jòdi-a, pou wimèsyé ankò épi pou aplodi tout moun, tout òganizasyon, an péyi-a pou tout twavay wèd-la, tout sakwifis-la, tout jennman yo sipòté pou lapéti vwazen-yo, pou lapéti péyi-yo. Gouvèdman ka wimèsye osi, tout peyi epi òganizasyon an Kawaib-la epi oliwon latè-a ki te vini pòte nou soukou apwe Tomas. Twavay-la kay long épi wèd, mé nou apwésyé vivman lenkouwajman-an épi sipò-a yo ja òfe nou-an.
Lanné dènyè sété sa-nou; lanné sala sé sa Japon, an péyi ki ja fè tèlman ban nou dépi lendépandans nou. Nou tout an Ste. Lisi ka senpatizé épi Japon pou tout donmaj-la, tout déga-a yo soufè-a akòz di twanblanntè-a épi sounami-an ki dévalisé yo-a dènyèman. Nou ka di yo, kon nou ka di jan péyi nou menm “lafòs èk kouway”.
Pitèt ou ja tann mòso pawòl sala: “Kabwit bay bal, mé sé mouton ki sou”. Sé vwéman sitwasyon-sala nou ka touvé ko-nou andidan sé jou-sala. Anchay chanjman ka pwan kou an dèwò péyi-a, bagay nou pa ni anyen pou fè épi, mé sé bagay sala ka afèkté nou sèwèzman. Pa èkzanmp, pwi gazolin ka hosé; pwi machandiz ka mouté; pwi tiké pou vwayajé ka vini pli chè; i menm ni sa ki di ki tout sé go dlo-a, sé tan sèk-la, sé mové tan-an ki ka afèkté nou sé jou-sala sé wésilta di vyé labitid moun an tout ti konyen latè-a. Konsa, sé pou nou fè atansyon, pwan pokosyon pou sav ki kalité bwason nou ka bwè an sé bal kabwit-sala.
Honouring the Legacy
During the past twelve months, we have lost many of our outstanding sons and daughters. They range from political giants and legal luminaries like Sir George Mallet, Sir Allan Louisy and Sir Vincent Floissac; cultural icons like Dame Sesenne Descartes, educational and cultural activists like Petronilla Deterville and Patricia Charles.
Those modern-day pioneers, and many who have gone before them have contributed immensely to the progress we have made as a nation. They have left us a legacy of sacrifice and hard work which our generation must continue to cultivate. We cannot allow this legacy to vanish into oblivion.
My Government will therefore propose specific measures to honour the legacy of these outstanding citizens. During this session of Parliament, Government will launch the Dame Sesenne Descartes Endowment for the Arts. This initiative is designed to unleash the creative potential of our people, particularly of young persons involved in the arts and to facilitate the growth of creative industries not only as an expression of talent but as a viable alternative area of economic activity.
Charting the Vision
It has been written that “where there is no vision, the people perish”. Very early during its term of office, my Government took the bold step of commissioning a study with a view to developing a National Vision Plan for Saint Lucia. The main objective of that vision plan was to spread the benefits of development to all sections of the society, both in a geographical sense, and to all social strata. We have completed the first part of that vision plan as far as it relates to the spatial distribution of development.
The wisdom and foresight behind this vision plan and some of the ideas and projects contained therein have been underscored following the passage of Hurricane Tomas. During this session of Parliament Government will proceed to the next stage of this plan which will involve the integration of the social dimensions of the development process into the physical component, and the design for implementation of some of the specific projects identified.
The damage caused by Hurricane Tomas, as well as some of the social and economic challenges which we face, underscore the need to proceed expeditiously with these initiatives.
Securing the Future
The challenge of building a society that is just, that caters to the needs and legitimate aspirations of all Saint Lucians, where all are considered equal and have an even chance of success, requires a holistic approach to the problems of development. The challenge to feed, clothe and house our population, to confront our many social problems, to provide health services, education and water, to provide opportunities for our youth, to create employment, to protect our environment, and to maintain law and order, is made more difficult by less than friendly external circumstances over which we have no control.
But we must confront them if we are to secure a future for our citizens. This we can only achieve through hard work and a consensual approach to addressing our problems.
My Government has demonstrated its commitment to this inclusive approach through its agreement to convene a joint sitting of Parliament to address the vexing issue of crime and security. The sitting will be convened very early in this new session, and we hope that the outcome will further complement the strategies already being pursued and which are beginning to show results.
Earlier in the year Government announced a six-point plan to address law and order. The successes of the early phases of this plan are evident and we will continue to build on these successes by enhancing the capacity and capability of the police; by protecting our borders through regional collaboration; by social reform and renewal targeting all areas including inner city communities and rural communities; by adopting a consultative approach embracing all sectors of the society; and by the strengthening of legislation.
The health of a nation is also its wealth; and securing a future means addressing issues in the health sector. During this session we will witness the completion of many health facilities and the initiation of new projects either by rehabilitating existing facilities or constructing new ones. But the burden of the cost of health care with an ageing population is one issue which we must address. To complement the new facilities, the excellent work of health personnel as reflected by the advances being made both in community care and in specialized areas, Government proposes to seek a sustainable approach to the financing of health care.
It has been said that education is the vehicle through which we will pull our people out of poverty. Our late and longest serving Prime Minister subscribed to that view and it is a position endorsed by my Government. As we continue to rehabilitate, rationalize and where necessary expand the school plant, the quality of our education system is a priority. Government will pursue the modernization of our education system by broadening initiatives to expand the use of Information and Communications Technology in schools and to better prepare students for the workplace.
Accreditation is an important aspect of any framework for the management of education. This has become a most urgent issue in light of the increasing number of external institutions seeking to establish campuses in countries like Saint Lucia. My Government will therefore enact legislation to govern accreditation. The establishment of a National Accreditation Council will facilitate Saint Lucia’s participation in the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) as it relates to the movement of skills. It will enhance the regulatory framework for tertiary institutions, particularly Medical Schools, operating here. It will enhance our competitiveness as a destination for the export of education and health services and will represent a major step for capitalizing on the opportunities available in these areas.
Young people account for 70 per cent of our population. Therefore any development strategy must ensure that the needs of that sector are specifically catered for. My Government believes that such approaches should not only be restricted to creating employment and to building facilities for the youth to expend their energies, but should specifically cater for their full inclusion and participation in the development process.
Unfortunately, we have witnessed a decline over the years in youth organizations and uniformed groups such as Scouts, Guides and other similar organizations. My Government will therefore embark during this term on a new programme called the SIGN UP initiative to galvanise young people into participating in the development process. SIGN UP will seek to energise and inspire them to service to their peers, their communities, their churches, the environment and society by joining existing youth-oriented organizations and where necessary by revitalizing or forming such groups in order to serve a pertinent need.
My Government has recently received the report of the Minimum Wage Commission. Cabinet will soon be examining this Report with a view to creating the conditions for its implementation. A just minimum wage for all workers is our ultimate objective.
Since assuming office, Government has set about carefully and purposefully to reinstate the agriculture sector to the position of prominence it once enjoyed. The wisdom of that strategy has become obvious in light of the continuous rises in the prices of food internationally. This policy of support to agriculture will be continued. More specifically, these policies will be informed by the objective of developing the sector in a sustainable manner avoiding decisions based on expediency. We have committed to acquiring certain assets of the Saint Lucia Banana Corporation, a company now in liquidation. These assets include the shares held by the company in WINFRESH and the lands in the Mabouya Valley. This decision is aimed at protecting the interests of Saint Lucia in WINFRESH and at avoiding prime agricultural lands being used for speculative purposes. Recent events have shown that these interests were placed at risk by past decisions.
With due regard to fiscal responsibility my Government has focused methodically on the delicate balancing act of charting the economic and the social development of our country. It is a balancing act that has been made much more difficult by the harsh external environment and by the passage of Hurricane Tomas.
As we focus on the task of reconstruction, we will need to navigate skillfully through very turbulent waters. Our diplomatic relationships will need to be geared towards facilitating the task at hand. Therefore we will continue to strengthen our relations with traditional friendly governments and international and regional organizations while we cultivate relationships with new allies and explore new strategies, always with the interests of Saint Lucia at the forefront.
Go twavay-la ki douvan nou-an, sé ki démach ki nésésè pou asiwé ki nou ka bati an sosyété ki jis, ki ka satisfè labwizen épi lèspwa tout Ste. Lisyen; an sosyété ki ka fè povisyon pou bay tout moun an chans pou wéisi. Twavay-sala pa ézé, mé sé fo i fèt. Pou’y fèt sé pou nou tout mété tèt ansanm épi dakò asou ki démach kay mennen kalité solisyon-an nou ka chaché-a.
Nou ni twavay pou fè an ling di santé. Nou ni lopital pou fini, épi lòt pou koumansé; nou ni sant hospitalyé pou wanjé épi lézòt pou konstwi; nou ni pou désidé ki mannèv nou kay pwan pou péyé pou sèvis santé sitou bay an populasyon ki ka vyéyi.
Nou ni twavay pou fè osi an ling di lendikasyon. Tout moun dakò ki sé lendikasyon ki kay tiwé moun sòti an povté. La ni lékòl pou bati; la ni sa ki ni bizwen wanjé. Nou ni pou ègzaminé sèwèzman kalité enstwiksyon-an ki ka pwan kou an sé lékòl-la, paski nou ni pou asiwé ki nou byen pwépawé jenn moun ki ka kité lékòl pou kalité se twavay-la maché nèf-la ni bizwen.
Apipwé swasant dis pousan populasyon péyi-a sé jenn moun. Nou ni pou konsidiwé sa lè nou ka pwan disisyon asou mannyè péyi-a ka dévlopé. Jennes péyi-a méwité plis ki fasilité pou jwé bol. Sé pou nou ankouwajé yo patisipé an dévlòpman peyi-a, an konmin-yo, an légliz-yo, pou bay sèvis nenpot koté yo wè an bizwen.
Nou ni pli twavay pou fè ankò an ling di agrikilti. Lè nou konsidiwé sé kalité hosman-an nou ka wè an pwi podwi agrikòl asou maché entènasyonal-la, nou ni pou dakò ki disisyon-sala ka fè anchay syans. Pami lòt dèmach, Gouvèdman kay achté adan popwiété SLBC-a –lentéwé yo ni an WINFRESH, épi sé tè-a an Vale Mabouya-a.
Sé vwéman balansé nou ni pou balansé dévlòpman ékonomik épi sosyal péyi-a pou ba li an fondasyon solid, pou kité an byen solid bay sé jénéwasyon-an ki kay swiv nou-an.
The Legislative Agenda
I now turn to the Legislative agenda which my Government intends to pursue during this session.
1. Firearms Legislation:
Government will continue the process of strengthening legislation to combat crime. Specific focus will be placed on amendments to the Firearms Act Cap 14.12 and Criminal Code Cap 3. of the Laws of Saint Lucia with a view to addressing both those in possession and perpetrators. Those found guilty of dealing or trading in illegal firearms can expect to face stiffer penalties. Owners of licensed firearms will be required to exercise greater care and protection in their handling and safe-keeping of their weapons.
2. Gang Related Violence:
We have been witnessing the proliferation of gangs and gang- related activities in Saint Lucia but our current laws do not make provision for addressing gang-related violence. It is Government’s intention to examine models such as those of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth jurisdictions and to propose legislation to address the scourge of gang violence in Saint Lucia.
The Royal Saint Lucia Police Force has been doing a commendable job trying to abate crime on the island while at the same time providing security to our nation. Some progress has already been made in dealing with Cyber and other white-collar crimes. The Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Bill was passed during the last Parliamentary Session giving the Police increased powers to stop and search suspects. This will serve to bolster their efforts in combating criminal activity. There is need however, to re-visit the Police Regulations to increase the powers of the Police Commissioner in disciplinary matters as well as in dealing with rogue officers. The powers of the Police Complaints Authority will be strengthened to discipline and sanction offending officers, and to hear public complaints in a more timely manner.
4. Other Sectors:
It is expected that there will be a review of the Electricity Supply Act as the Electricity Company attempts to develop a modern and more efficient supply to enhance our competitiveness in the global environment. In light of global trends in oil prices there is need to examine the option of cleaner and more sustainable sources of energy for the future.
Through the Ministry of Communications, Works, Transport and Public Utilities my Government intends to enhance traffic and pedestrian safety, to improve traffic circulation and enforcement as well as to transform the licensing regime for greater compliance. Therefore it has again become necessary to review the Motor Vehicle and Road Traffic Act 2003. Consultations are currently taking place with a view to implementing the new amalgamated legislation during this Session of Parliament.
5. The Public Service
The management of the Public Service continues to be an area of concern to Government. During this session it is expected that a new Public Service Management Bill will be piloted through Parliament along with accompanying regulations.
6. Disaster Management
Government will strengthen existing Disaster Management legislation and will introduce The Marine Pollution Bill.
7. Financial Sector:
During the last Session of Parliament, Government aggressively pursued the enactment of legislation aimed at bringing stability to and enhancing the operations of the financial sector. The following Bills were passed and will be implemented in this Parliamentary Session:
- Financial Services Regulatory Authority Bill
- Computer Misuse Bill
- Data Protection Bill
- Electronic Transaction Bill
New legislation in the sector will include:
- The Cooperatives Bill
- The Finance Administration Bill
- The Procurement and Contract Administration Bill
- The Banking (Abandoned Property) Regulations, and
- An Insurance Bill
A number of Amendments to existing legislation were passed in Parliament during the last session and will become operational in this new Session. Among them are:
- Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act
- Evidence (Amendment) Act
- Money Laundering (Prevention) (Amendment) Act
- Public Order (Amendment) Act
- Finance Administration (Amendment) Act
- Labour Code (Amendment) Act
Kon lakoutim, Gouvèdman kay wanfòsé wéjim lwa péyi-a pou wéglé dévlòpman ékonomik èk sosyal péyi-a. Pami sé lwa-sala, nou kay pwoposé swé chanjman ében yonn tou nèf ki kay konsèné:
Fèman – Sa ki pa ni lisans pou ni ében pou pòté fisi kay ni pou péyé bokou plis pasé yo ka péyé atjwèlman-an si lalwa touvé yo koupab.
Kwim èk violans – Gouvèdman kay ègzaminé lwa plisyè péyi pou wè ki mannyè nou sa wédwi violans épi kwim pami tout sé ganny-lan ki ka établi toupatou an péyi-a.
Polis – Lalwa kay bay Chèf Polis-la pli pouvwa pou disipliné polis ki ka kasé lwa péyi-a. Konmité-a ki ka tann plent manm piblik-la ka pòté kont polis kay ni pli pouvwa pou disipliné yo osi.
Sèvis Piblik – Gouvèdman kay entwodwi lwa pou wéglé sèvis piblik péyi-a.
Finans – Gouvèdman ni lantansyon pasé plisyè lwa pou wanfosé wèg an zafè finansyé péyi-a.
As conscious as we now are of our civic responsibilities, we should all be aware that, barring some extra-ordinary circumstance, this sixth session will bring to an end the life of the Ninth Parliament of Saint Lucia. It does not mean however that our commitment to good governance, economic and social development, and other responsibilities should be any less. On the contrary, it is in this period that we should demonstrate our maturity, our sense of purpose, our national pride and our commitment to nation building.
All around us the world is grappling with one crisis after another. People are agitating for their basic rights, countries are facing severe economic meltdown and catastrophies are an almost daily occurrence.
Years ago we would have heard of these events long after they had occurred. Today we witness them instantaneously and their effects on us are immediate. We therefore need to be forward thinking and collectively innovative if we are to be spared the worst of these problems. Let us therefore continue in the same spirit of brotherly love and caring that was so evident in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Tomas. May God bless our nation.
It is now my pleasure to formally declare open the Sixth Session of the Ninth Parliament of Saint Lucia.
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