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Remarks by The Right Honourable Sir John G. M. Compton On the occasion of the formal swearing of the Cabinet of Ministers

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Remarks by
The Right 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”.


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 Government.


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.


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 knowledge”.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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