Prime Minister's address to the Nation Announcing the Formation of the New Cabinet - December 10th 2001
ANOTHER MANDATE; TO DELIVER
to the Nation Announcing the Formation of the New Cabinet, Castries, December 10th
My sisters and brothers, sons and daughters of St. Lucia
fwè èk sè, 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 one’s deliberations – indeed some have been vociferous
in their insistence on what the new Cabinet should look like.
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.
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
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:
Additionally, the following persons
have been appointed Parliamentary Secretaries:
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.
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 General’s 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.
of the Cabinet of Ministers will take place at the House of Assembly tomorrow at
Difficult Challenges Ahead
In this campaign I repeatedly said
that the road ahead will be tough and challenging, that – in Robbie’s words,
there will be mountains to climb and rivers to cross.
States is the world’s 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%
has the world’s 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.
Chiquita’s 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
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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