Honourable Sir John G. M. Compton
On the occasion of the formal swearing of the Cabinet of Ministers
Prime Minister’s Residence
December 19, 2006
Your Excellency the Governor General, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Your
Lordship Mr. Michael Gordon, acting Chief Justice, Ladies and Gentlemen, people
of Saint Lucia.
I wish to thank Her Excellency for graciously consenting to preside over the
ceremony and for forgiving the breach of protocol in the choice of venue.
I extend a special welcome to my very good friend, Sir James Mitchell, the
former Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, who for much of my
public life walked the road with me, and whose career was almost the exact
replica of my own. Sir James has only recently returned from London where he
launched the chronicle of his experience in a book entitled “Beyond the
Islands”. I hope soon to do the same.
A few days ago, on the 15th of December, many of you were present when Her
Excellency charged me with the duty of selecting members of a Government which
will preside over the affairs of St Lucia during this electoral term.
It was a hard but honourable charge which she laid upon me, and I have now come
to report and to present to you the result of my efforts, and to explain briefly
to the people of St Lucia, the reason for my choice.
We are now entering very challenging times in which the tide of globalization is
washing our shores. If we are not only to survive but to prosper, we must adjust
our thinking and our actions to these times.
In my choice of the persons to help us to chart our course through the troubled
times, I have sought to choose “Horses for Courses”.
HOME AFFAIRS AND INTERNAL SECURITY – Dr. Keith Mondesir
All surveys of public opinion in St Lucia have shown that crime and public
safety, and employment and education, to be of prime concerns.
To deal with the problems of crime, I have invited Dr. Keith Mondesir, the
elected member for Anse-la-Raye/Canaries, to accept this portfolio. Dr. Mondesir
has wide experience both here in St Lucia, in Canada and other Caribbean
Islands, in medicine, in management and community relations. This experience
will serve him in good stead as we face the problem that is of major public
concern. I invite the support of the public to ensure success in this task – a
problem which affects us all and which is the first responsibility of any
HOUSING AND URBAN REDEVELOPMENT – Mr. Richard Frederick
Closely linked with crime and criminal activity is the problem of poor housing
and the ‘ghettorisation’ of our city, our towns and villages, where the blight
of urban decay spread throughout our land.
As our economy shifts from rural based agriculture to an urban based one of
tourism and services, as we see the relentless drift of our young population
into our city and urban areas, all our efforts at diversifying our economy will
be sorely affected unless we pay serious and urgent attention to the blight of
urban decay and poor housing.
The girdle of slums which surrounds our city is a veritable incubator for crime
that threatens our daily lives.
This problem must be tackled with determination and with imagination.
For this purpose, I have created a new Ministry of Housing and Urban Renewal,
coupled with Local Government and offered the challenge to the Honourable
Richard Frederick, the member for Central Castries.
Mr. Frederick is not only the member for the city of Castries and the
surrounding urban areas, where the problem is most urgent, but the affection in
which he is held, and the respect which he commands in the affected areas are
well known. His experience as a former Police Officer, his profession of Law and
his association with the Tourism Industry will be experiences, and will serve
him in good stead as he embarks on this very challenging adventure.
EDUCATION AND CULTURE – Mr. Arsene James
The principal challenge of the Government must be the removal of the scourge of
poverty from the bulk of our population. A recent survey by the Caribbean Bank
revealed the frightening problem created by the shift of our economy. It showed
that while there is growth in the economy – that is growth in the money supply –
the gap between rich and poor has widened and the percentage of persons and
households which fell below the poverty line has increased in the past ten
years. As we seek to address this problem we are guided by the words of Sir
Arthur Lewis that “the fundamental cure for poverty is not money, but
With this in mind we shall be embarking on fundamental reform of our education
system to offer to investors and developers an educated workforce and converting
our economy into a “knowledge based” society.
We are now given an opportunity to revisit the universal secondary education and
transform it from being one of placement into a secondary school, into an
education system based on the ability and aptitude of each child.
To carry out this task, I have invited the Honourable Arsene James, the member
for Micoud South, whose career in education spans many years, culminating with
the distinction of being the President of the School Principals Association.
With him, and specifically charged with the task of Education Reform and
Development will be Mr. Gaspard Charlemagne whose qualification is not only
education, but music and culture. In their posts they must address both
education and culture.
YOUTH SPORTS AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT – Mr. Lennard Montoute
Closely associated with education is the portfolio of youth, sports and
community development, now glamourised with Social Transformation.
The interest and experience of Mr. Lennard “Spider” Montoute in the area is well
known and I am therefore spared repetition, but his vista of sports extend
beyond the mundane of organising youth clubs and tournaments, important though
these may be. It is one of general education in sports, to give our young people
an opportunity of earning a living in this form of activity, even beyond the
boundaries of St Lucia, also to attract sports people from outside St Lucia to
utilize the facilities in which so much has been invested. In other words, to
link to sports, not only the education of our youth into clubs where they shoot
goals – their personal goals and ambitions – and not shoot each other, but to
connect this Ministry to health, wellness and tourism.
The first major challenge of this Ministry will be the organisation of the
Cricket World Cup, into which so much has been invested by both the private and
the public sector, to ensure that this investment is not a “twelve week wonder”,
but that the benefits of this would render exposure and continue well beyond
this event and well into the future. This calls for marketing of our country and
its facilities, to provide the linkage between sports and tourism which can be
of immense benefit to our people in general and to our young sports men and
women in particular.
On the social side of this Ministry – the area of Social Transformation, I have
invited Miss Tessa Mangal to serve. This is to ensure that the needs of the
women, and underprivileged are not neglected and be a breeding ground for
problems in our society as we make our drive for modernization and reform.
HEALTH AND LABOUR – Mr. Stephenson King
It is an accepted truth that “the health of a nation is the wealth of a nation”
and so it is – St Lucia the challenges relating to this portfolio are many.
The hundreds of millions being invested in this area will be wasted without
proper management and training of personnel. A new hospital does not necessarily
guarantee a proper health service. We are fortunate to have available to us
through the wise selection of the people of the Castries North Constituency, the
proven experience and ability of Mr. Stephenson King whose previous service in
the Ministry of Health, has earned him the praise not only of the medical
fraternity, but of the people of St Lucia in general.
While there is much talk of the Universal Health Care, the complexity of this
effort demands not only a Minister of Mr. King’s experience but a team of men
and women dedicated to deliver to the people of St Lucia the quality and range
of health services that our people deserve. I am convinced that Mr. Stephenson
King is up to this task.
His personality and his experience also equip him for the conciliation,
mediation and compromise necessary for the challenges which the Ministry of
Labour will inevitably bring. He will be provided with a loyal professional and
dedicated team which the challenge demands.
AGRICULTURE AND MARKETING – Mr. Ezekiel Joseph
For many generations, Agriculture was the leading sector of our economy. But as
agriculture faces the challenges of a globalised world, it has become the
Cinderella of our economy and the “golden carriage” has once again turned into a
“pumpkin”. Perhaps Cinderella will once again emerge as she may have met her
Prince Charming in the person of Mr. Ezekiel Joseph, the member for Babonneau.
He brings to this task of reforming and transforming this Ministry – the
Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Fisheries and Forestry, not only academic
qualification, but an enormous wealth of practical experience in this field.
The challenges of this Ministry is not only in production, but in marketing our
own produces and providing grading and packaging, to meet the demands and
standards both for the supermarkets, the hotels and the export market. This
calls for the experience and organisational skills which Mr. Marcus Nicholas,
the member for Dennery North has displayed in his own line of business.
TRADE, INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE – Mr. Guy Mayers
Electoral fortunes did not smile on Mr. Guy Mayers but the demands of this
country in the field of International Trade, Commerce and Industry, the need of
our people to meet the challenges of this rapidly changing world, demands that
the knowledge, experience and dedication of Mr. Mayers should be harmonised for
our development to provide the employment which we will need to absorb the
growing number of educated youth who will enter the workforce each year.
The changes brought about by the Free Trade of the Americas have caused us many
casualties in the manufacturing sector. Few communities have suffered more than
the Dennery community with the loss of Belle Fashion. It is for this reason that
I have invited Mr. Edmund Estephane the elected member for Dennery South to
serve with Mr. Guy Mayers, to attract industry to the communities to provide
employment and prevent the urban drift which is the root cause of overcrowding
and crime in our city and major towns.
COMMUNICATIONS, WORKS, TRANSPORT AND PUBLIC UTILITIES – Mr. Guy Joseph
A modern economy depends upon an efficient supply of transport and public
utilities. It is for this reason that I have invited Mr. Guy Joseph the member
for Castries South to serve in this Ministry. He has already had experience in
the field before he came into elective politics and his management skills have
been amply demonstrated in the modernisation of the internal transport.
Demands will be made upon these skills by every sector of the economy. Be it
health (for water), agriculture for internal transportation, Tourism for air and
sea ports. I am confident that he will meet the challenges as he has met others
in the past.
FOREIGN AFFAIRS, INTERNATIONAL INVESTMENT, INFORMATION AND BROADCASTING –
Mr. Rufus Bousquet
No man is an island – no man stands alone. So to with countries, especially
small countries. We must therefore keep those friends we have and grapple them
to our hearts with hoops of steel. This is the task given to Mr. Rufus Bousquet,
the member for Choiseul/Saltibus. His task is not only to keep those friends we
have but to expand the circle bearing in mind always that the interest of St
Lucia and St Lucians is paramount.
The subject of International Financial Services is not new to him because it is
Rufus who first introduced this when he served as Minster responsible for the
NDC in 1995.
He will keep the public informed of the activities of the Government as Minister
for Information and Broadcasting.
MINISTER FOR TOURISM AND CIVIL AVIATION – Mr. Allen Chastanet
In our drive to diversify and to modernize our economy we have invested heavily
in tourism – both by the private and public sector. This area will, in the
foreseeable future, be the lead sector, providing not only the jobs but the
essential linkages to all other sectors of social and economic life. It is
important therefore, that we have at our disposal persons who have the vision,
the knowledge and the experience to guide this important area of our economy.
I have therefore invited Mr. Allen Chastanet to serve. Mr. Chastanet has the
vision to see the road ahead and to prepare us for the challenges we will
inevitably meet in this fiercely competitive world. St Lucia may be beautiful
but we must realize that we are not the “only pebble on the beach” and to meet
the competition we must mobilize our best brains and our resources. Mr.
Chastanet will be backed by a team of men and women who have excellent track
records in this field.
His own interest in this field is no conflict, but an incentive from which the
entire industry will benefit.
ECONOMIC PLANNING, DEVELOPMENT AND THE PUBLIC SERVICES – Mr. Ausbert
Without vision the people perish, so too without proper planning. It is because
of this and my own knowledge and experience with him that I have invited Mr.
Ausbert d’Auvergne to serve in the Ministry of Economic Planning and
Development. Even his fiercest critics do not deny his ability which has been
proven over the years in the Ministry in which he has been invited to serve.
As this stage of its development St Lucia needs the talent, the experience and
the drive of Mr. d’Auvergne. St Lucia also needs a reformed, re-organised and a
dedicated public service, if this Government is to deliver on its promises made
in the electorate and lead St Lucia into that bright and secure future to which
it has committed itself.
Now that the tumult and the shouting has died, now that the war drums of
political rhetoric beat no longer, now that the battle flags have been furled,
let us now proceed in the words of own Anthem – “where strife and discord will
no longer dim our children’s toil and rest”. Let us work to deliver what we
promised “a Bright and secure Future”.
I have done this part of my duty. Now proceed to do yours.