November 23, 2011 

Harris At Large! 


In less than 48 hours after the newspaper in which this article appears hits the newsstands, it will be voting time as St. Lucians go to the polls on 28th November, 2011. While there will be 5 parties and a few Independents, the battle narrows down to two parties entering the ring – the UWP and the SLP. It will be a super heavy weight bout. The supporters on both sides are ready and plan to turn out as never before. Many persons in their 30s who have never voted plan to do so this time around, claiming that there has never been a time when there was so much at stake and that the current situation necessitates decisive action that will impact on the future of themselves, their children and grand children. 

We are definitely living in serious times. It is so crucial that headlines of articles such as “Vote Right or Die” are viral on the internet. Over the past several months, politicians have been contending for the hearts and minds of the people and have at least exposed every possible aspect of each other character and actions during their political life. The electorate is well informed and is definitely in a position to decide which set of politicians should form the next government. Unfortunately, it is not about the individuals who present themselves, it is all about the contesting parties. Not one independent candidate is likely to win their seat based on the trend in recent elections; the victorious candidates will only be drawn from the two long standing, established parties. That is the reality. It is UWP Versus SLP!

 The electorate is being presented with manifestos of all the major parties and will be in a position to review the development plans therein. Whichever party forms the next government will be expected to implement their manifesto. I will like to assume that there will be 5 manifestos, there was enough time between the launch of the various manifestos for the later ones to do some adjustment to the content to come up to scratch with the earlier ones that were launched. The manifestos included old and fresh ideas based on the individual party’s thinking on the immediate and future needs of the people. Any party seeking to form the next government will do well to establish a think tank to put all the development programmes put forward in the various manifestos together and priortise them to meet the urgent needs of the nation. This simple step will establish the fact that the party is ready and willing to take all available recommendations on board in the interest of the nation. This could be the first step towards uniting the people.

Employment is high on the agenda of all the parties and as a result, education geared at producing the type of programmes in schools to meet the labour market is of paramount importance. There must be an emphasis on foreign languages especially Spanish and Mandarin (Chinese). Then there is need for trade schools, entrepreneurial institutes, nursing schools, hospitality training schools, ICT training, etc. No new administration should ignore the need to establish a Ministry or Secretariat to drive Technology and Innovation. These two pillars can bring about rapid improvement in employment.  Let us look at a scenario where an inventor creates an indigenous product for tourists. Can you imagine how many persons throughout the island could be employed? There was a time when women in the region got contracts to produce crochet items for an extra regional market. Our women were able to turn idle time into productive endeavour.

Several years ago a former Executive Director of the Tourist Board proposed initiating a visit by art and craft vendors to other tourist destinations to identify items that can be produced locally but nothing was done as far as I am aware. I suggest this proposal should be implemented and that the mission should also include Entrepreneurs.

Looking at the dominance of the tourism sector in the economy as the main export earner and the need for involvement of St. Lucians in the industry, the time has come to seriously find a way to use the skills of our young people in particular in the promotion of St. Lucia as a preferred destination for pleasure and business. Our young people are very much in tune with Social Media and can do much to improve our visibility globally. Let us go beyond the Call Centre and develop a programme that will share the promotion dollar with our citizens. I previously alluded to a Multi Level Marketing (MLM) programme that will promote St. Lucia, while rewarding St. Lucians and other persons around the world in promoting St. Lucia. Travel offers to destinations around the world are promoted by YBT and other MLM companies.

Many years ago I was involved with the Executive of SLISBA to provide an Investment and Tourism Representative Programme for Professionals and Entrepreneurs around the world, at no cost to the Government. The major political parties know about this proposal and I would imagine that given the state of the economy it would be an option worthy of attention.

The need for Foreign Direct Investment and increased tourists arrivals cannot be overemphasized. There was also discussion on the possibility of the introduction of Real Estate Tourism which will assist Realtors in promoting their business while attracting direct foreign investment. There is no shortage of ideas; it is my hope that government will engage all persons with ideas to move the country forward. It was refreshing listening to former Prime Minister of Grenada, Honourable, Dr. Keith Mitchell on the midday news on 23/11/11 talking about uniting the people of Grenada, regardless of their political preference, to work together without discrimination for the benefit of the country. Grenada’s election is due in 2013 but Hon. Dr. Keith Mitchell is already beating the drum of unity. Shouldn’t St. Lucian politicians take note?

The state of the world’s economy is not likely to get better any time soon. The battle regarding the economy rages on between the Democrats and the Republicans in the USA. Here is a recent story that clearly gives the path that the USA is taking – Martin D. Weiss, Ph.D. in his Daily Money & Markets Report dated 21/11/11 noted – “Never before in modern history has the U.S. government faced a greater fiscal disaster! And never before has it failed so miserably to confront it! This past weekend, instead of putting new proposals on the table, Congress’ Super Committee — our nation’s last hope for a solution — has shot down the last of its trial balloons. Instead of burning the midnight oil to come up with an 11th hour deal, they’ve gone home”. The House and Senate are in a deadlock and only elections in November of 2012 can change this.

 Well my readers, whether we live in Saint Lucia or Guyana, we don’t have long to wait. It is certain we are living in exciting times and the results in both cases will be full of surprises. I urge you to join all the first time voters whether they are 18 or 37 and vote on November 28, 2011. Be early. Everyone knows which party I am voting for, I have been consistent, and this marks my fourth election. We will all awake on the morning of the 29th November, 2011 to a new Government whether it is the incumbent or the current opposition.

While we await the results of the general elections, remember always to Keep the Faith, God is in Charge, Dream Big and expect Daily Miracles!

 Edward Harris

Freelance Journalist, Realtor, Business & PR Consultant

Email: eaharrisdestiny@gmail.com

Websites: www.stluciapropertydeals.com www.stluciasimplybeautiful.com

www.cariblist.com  St. Lucia – Agent ECREDMC

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