May 13, 2009

Edward Harris At Large


It was the Budget 2009/2010, then the in the midst of the uneasiness of the public sector, the number one party in the Caribbean was just in time to present a diversion from the financial woes and job uncertainty being experienced by many.

The 18th Jazz event formerly St. Lucia Jazz Festival, now St. Lucia Jazz was a memorable one in many ways. Officials of the Tourist Board expressed satisfaction with the level of visitor and local participation. The spotlight was definitely on Amy Winehouse and St. Lucia got a lot of media exposure as journalists monitor her every move in St. Lucia. Her performance was the worst ever staged at the event and the discussions will continue for a long time regarding the impact of her performance on the event.

All the negatives aside, the event was well received and patrons got value for their money. The local participation in this year’s event was significant and their performances were outstanding. This development is very encouraging and the future of the music industry seems set for the next level. It is now accepted that St. Lucia has talented artistes and musicians.

Carnival 2009 was promoted during the Jazz event in an effort to secure the participation of patrons during the season. The National Cultural Foundation under new management is expected to deliver an outstanding Carnival Season 2009. This timing of Carnival will this year more than any other in recent times offer a welcome diversion from the financial crisis that will be at its fiercest at that time as parents attempt to cope the summer holiday demands of their children and their back to school requirements. Dancing in the streets will be therapy for many.

The demand by public servants for final payment of 7.5 percent on their negotiated 14.5 percent package has met with resistance from the government which claims that it cannot afford to pay the entire amount due at this time and has made a counter offer of 3 percent. The teachers are demanding 100 percent of the amount due while public servants are prepared to accept 4.5 percent with the balance payable within 12 months. It will be unfortunate if a compromise is not reached as any further disruption to the economy will be crucial. The deadline that is given by the unions is May 26, 2009. If an agreement is not arrived at there is a threat of strike action. St. Lucia cannot afford such a situation at this time and everything should be done to avert such a crisis.

Allocations in the Budget are very likely to be released during the month of June as contracts are finalized and serious work begins on the many projects especially in the construction sector. Serious emphasis has to be placed on the tourism sector. The 45 million dollar allocation for promoting the destination must be spent in areas that will produce the best results and innovative ways of reaching potential visitors must be found. Embrace all those persons who will like to assist in promoting St. Lucia.

This is a very difficult period to predict the future, even in the short term but there seem to be some significant developments that give hope. There has been a surprise prediction that the recession will be reversed by the end of 2009 and that is the best news we can get at this time. The 2009/2010 tourist season will definitely be better than 2008/2009 and our lead sector will be back on track. The cruise sector is doing fine and it seems as though the Eastern Caribbean is getting some increased traffic as a result of the H1N1 Flu. So far St. Lucia has not recorded any case of the flu and it is hoped it stays that way.

It is time to take a positive look at the future and play your part to bring about the necessary changes that are so necessary to ease the current financial crisis.

Keep the Faith; remember always God is in Charge, Dream Big and Expect Daily

Edward A. Harris
Freelance Journalist, Real Estate CyberSpace Specialist (RECS)

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