Monthly Archives: May 2013

Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister Lauds Cabinet Secretaries

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Prime Minister Dr. Kenny D. Anthony

Prime Minister Dr. Kenny D. Anthony

The Honourable Prime Minister  Dr Kenny Anthony, lauded cabinet secretaries, as he delivered the feature address at the Prime Ministers’ Cabinet Secretaries meeting.

As you gather here today, I am reminded of a famous quote by Margaret Mead who said that “(N)ever doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”.

Of course, the “committed citizens” referred to in Mead’s quote need only be replaced by “committed public officers” meaning in this instance, Cabinet Secretaries, whose offices are specifically identified by our Constitutions.

A PRE-EMINENT POSITION

Not many public officers are identified by their offices in Commonwealth Caribbean Constitutions. For example, in Saint Lucia, we have a Public Service of approximately 9,000 employees. Our Constitutions refer to classes or categories of employees but do not usually single out specific offices by name. I suspect that fewer than thirty offices are mentioned or identified by name in our Constitutions.  The post of Cabinet Secretary is one of those exceptions.  It enjoys an exalted, almost pre-eminent position.  Why?

Our Constitutions offer us a clue.  Section 70 of the Constitution of Saint Lucia, for example, provides as follows:

(1)               “There shall be a Secretary to the Cabinet whose office shall be a public office;

(2)               The Secretary to the Cabinet, who shall have charge of the Cabinet Office, shall be responsible, in accordance with such instructions as may be given to him by the Prime Minister, for arranging the business for, and keeping the minutes of the Cabinet and for conveying the decisions of the Cabinet to the appropriate person or authority and shall have such other functions the Prime Minister may direct.”

The Constitution says that the “Cabinet Office” is the domain of the Cabinet Secretary. For all practical purposes, the Cabinet Secretary is the custodian of the secrets of the Government of the day. There is no other public officer who gets an insight into the minds, and personalities of Ministers or for that matter Prime Ministers, as the Cabinet Secretary. He or she witnesses all, the quarrels, the anger, the anguish, the compromises, and I guess, even the occasional tears. He or she acts in “accordance with such instructions as may be given to him” or her by the Prime Minister. The Cabinet Secretary is the closest public officer to the Prime Minister. He or she acts at the behest of the Prime Minister who may issue “such other instructions” as he may direct. He or she occupies a unique office of trust and for that reason cannot be an ordinary public officer. He is the Prime Minister’s confidant.

Cabinet Secretaries occupy offices that are often shrouded in mystery. That, in part, could be explained by the secrecy that accompanies its business and I would add, the closeness of the holder of the office to the political directorate. In many capitals, it is often believed that Cabinet is answerable to one, could make whatever decisions it chose at any time, could even break the laws of the land at its whim. There is perhaps no office that requires demystification as the Office of the Cabinet Secretary. Reform therefore, must start with that simple reality.

That process is now underway, helped in part, by decisions of our courts. The courts have now categorically repudiated the view that decisions of a Cabinet are safe and immune from judicial scrutiny and review. This happened in the case of Attorney General of Saint Lucia v. Kenny D. Anthony. In this case, the then Leader of the Opposition challenged a decision of the Cabinet of Ministers to approve concessions to a Cabinet Minister while he sat in the Cabinet, and subsequently, alter its decision ostensibly to protect him from possible prosecution. The Court of Appeal held, inter alia, that the decision of the Cabinet was “so unreasonable that no reasonable Cabinet would have made it.” Further, the decision of the Cabinet was made ”in bad faith for the improper purposes of shielding the [Minister] from further investigation and possible prosecution for breaches of the Customs Laws” of Saint Lucia.

This case establishes that our Cabinets are as accountable for their decisions as other public authorities. Decisions must not be made for improper purposes. They must not be tainted by bad faith. They must be rational, reasonable, and within the four walls defined by statute, if statute applies. Every Cabinet Secretary who is at the centre of the reform process should read this case because of its immense implications for the management of Cabinet Offices. Unquestionably, Cabinet Secretaries are charged with huge responsibilities.

In my book, you are charged with the responsibility to champion the changes required in developing a modern, relevant, responsive, efficient, affective, accountable, service-oriented and dynamic public service, fit for meeting the extraordinary challenges that confront us.

This is not an easy time for any Cabinet Secretary or indeed for any Government, anywhere in the region at this time.

DIFFICULT POLICY DILEMMAS

The global economic and financial crisis continues to impact adversely on our Caribbean economies.  Indeed, the magnitude and duration of the economic and financial crisis has placed tremendous pressure on the governments of the region. Many are grappling with high debts, widening fiscal deficits, low growth, low investment, a struggling private sector and high unemployment.     The objectives of reducing debt and the fiscal deficit conflict with the objectives of spurring economic growth, reducing unemployment and increasing investment.    Governments of the region are faced with difficult policy dilemmas.  Moreover, the policy choices are constrained by the fact that we have limited fiscal space within which to operate and dwindling aid and development assistance.  Governments are forced to implement austerity measures.  As you would be aware, these austerity measures have severe implications for the public service as the governments seek to cut or contain expenditures in reducing the fiscal deficits.

NOT ONE OF GLOOM AND DOOM

The situation is not, however, one of doom and gloom.  History has taught us that strong, visionary and effective leadership is required to address the challenges and uncertainties that confront us today.  I truly believe that the challenges and opportunities that are presented by this unprecedented economic and financial crisis will enable us to craft and create a public service that will be more resilient, adaptable and innovative.  This calls for the creation of a new vision for the Public Service as we seek to develop holistic solutions to our economic and fiscal challenges.  This vision for the Public Service must emerge and be informed by the National Vision for the Country.  I believe that we need to move with a degree of urgency and haste as time is of the essence.

SEARCHING FOR VISION

It is for this reason the Government of Saint Lucia will be establishing a National Vision Commission with the support and involvement of all State actors, including the Opposition. This Commission will be charged with leading the dialogue for crafting a National Vision and Strategy.  It will be selected through consultation with the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, multi-sectoral groups from throughout the country and my good office.  This Commission will be established very shortly.

AN INCLUSIVE PUBLIC SERVICE

Going forward, the Public Service has a critical role to play as we seek to transform the way we govern, the way we formulate policies and the way we deliver services to citizens.  Our citizens are more demanding and expect more from our Governments.  The Public Services and indeed the Public Officers must therefore rise to the challenges placed by our citizens for more effective and efficient public service delivery.  In undertaking this task, we need to tap on the collective wisdom and knowledge of the stakeholders and people to develop solutions to these challenges.  We must create an environment where public officers can work closely with the citizens they serve to address the issues we face.  Citizens must be engaged and have shared ownership of the challenges that we face so that we can arrive at solutions together.  In this way, we will provide the foundation for a more cohesive and resilient society.   This is the approach we will adopt in crafting the National Vision for Saint Lucia.

NEED FOR COLLABORATION

I now wish to address specific areas that I believe require urgent attention.

Many of the issues we face in the Public Service are cross-cutting. For example, health problems that are being addressed by the Ministry of Health may have implications for Education, Youth, and Social Transformation.  This means we must foster a collaborative approach in dealing with challenges in the Public Service.  We need to get departments and agencies to work more closely in developing government wide solutions to our public service problems.  The tendency is for Government Ministries and Departments to work in silos.  The need to preserve one’s turf is at the heart of organizational politics in the Public Service.  We must therefore get agencies to consider the wider implications of its own policies beyond its mandate and to work across organizational boundaries to deliver a suite of solutions that best meet our needs.   This will require closer policy coordination by the centre of government.  I understand this is the theme of your meeting this year.  We need to ensure that the Centre of Government puts in place the systems and structures to developing a coherent and unified policy framework for the Public Service.

The Centres of Government of the Region must take a lead role in galvanizing the collective support of our society in dealing with the complex issues in the region.  I am sure you would all agree that we need to be better at being a “relational” government.  We need to understand the people of our region and re-think how we can engage and connect with our people. We cannot ignore their culture but we must use it for transformative purposes.

AN AGILE AND ADAPTABLE PUBLIC SERVICE

In an era of intense global competition where change is the order of the day, it is important for us to develop a Public Service that is agile and adaptable.  If we are to encourage investment, we must improve the enabling environment for doing business.  This will involve reducing red tape and place more emphasis on increasing productivity.

In this regard, I wish to highlight some of the measures we wish to undertake in Saint Lucia. According to the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report, Saint Lucia has for many years held the distinction of the best place in the Caribbean to do business. Over the years, however, we have slowed in our rate of implementing business reforms. We have decided to remain in the forefront as that ranking is a priceless marketing asset. So, we have welcomed the suggestion of the Chamber of Commerce to create a National Forum comprising key Government agencies and the private sector, to monitor and review the ease of doing business, identify and remove bottlenecks, and to recommend changes in procedures that hinder business activity.

We live in a world where social media can also propel an issue into spotlight and which require Governments to take immediate action.  The use of social media will require the Public Service and the Government to reduce the time it takes for decision making and action.  This will require a more nimble and agile Public Service to deal with the rapid flow of information and issues which arise.

INCREASING PRODUCTIVITY

The issue of productivity, and more specifically, increasing productivity, is one in which we have no option but to pursue vigorously if we are to survive in this intensely competitive world.  In this regard, we need to engage all stakeholders including the private sector and trade unions so that all parties understand the economic imperative of the need for increasing productivity to sustain improvements in our standard of living.

Recently, I announced that Saint Lucia would establish a National Productivity and Competitiveness Council.  The Public Service will be targeted since we need to boost productivity across all service sectors. Rigorous performance managements systems will be necessary if we are to get the best out of our public servants.  This will require the setting of high standards for employees and ensuring that employees meet these standards.  The extremely demanding period ahead will be one in which we should recognise and appreciate employees excellence in achieving results.

SEARCHING FOR INNOVATION

The Public Services of our Region must also be more innovative in the way we deliver services to our citizens.  We must think out of the box and try new approaches that deliver better outcomes to our citizens.  Many of these innovations depend on the use of information and communications technologies, which will continue to reshape the way we will deliver services to our citizens.  Much of the innovation of the 21st Century is being made available by well-developed communication technologies.  We therefore need to embrace Web 2.0 and social media tools that have immense potential for transforming the way we work.  Indeed, this is the mode of communications with the current generation.   In Saint Lucia, we have recently introduced the use of credit and debit cards as a means of payment for government services.  We intend to build on this platform to introduce on-line payments for Government services.  We will be starting with the Online filing of Income Tax which is currently be spearheaded under the Electronic Government for Regional Integration Project   (EGRIP).

ENDURING VALUES

I am confident that our enduring public service values will help us in our efforts to develop the public service of the 21st Century.  We must preserve the public service as an impartial, professional and ethical organization.  This requires public servants to conduct themselves with the highest level of integrity.

We must all be concerned of the growing cynicism that people have towards governments.  Some have betrayed the trust which people/citizens have placed in them.  We must all fight to ensure government’s fidelity to the public.

The case I cited earlier is instructive. The reasoning was predicated on evidence; the importance of records such as minutes; the credibility/integrity of persons who serve in public offices, the need for proper monitoring of decisions, the need for transparency and above all, the need for honest leadership.

You, as leaders in our region’s public services, operating as it were, at the “nerve centre” of government, cannot allow the anguish expressed by William Butler Yeats in his poem the “Second Coming” to become our reality.  Yeasts agonized over the:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

As the leaders of the Public Service, you must have conviction, you must be anchored to the values of integrity, excellence and professionalism.  As leaders, we must set the example for others to follow.  You must have the courage to provide bold, passionate leadership in setting direction and vision for the whole of government.  As heads of the public service, your ability to inspire and align public officers with the vision and strategic direction of the government will make a significant difference in the way the public service contributes to the development of the welfare of our nation.

Ladies and Gentlemen, there is so much more I would like to say. I hope, however, I have left you with enough of my “ramblings” for your deliberations.  I am confident that your deliberations will yield sound recommendations and more importantly, implementable solutions.

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Taste Of The Caribbean’ Set for Miami in June

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The participating team members represent members of CHTA

The participating team members represent members of CHTA

Caribbean culture will be on display at the annual Taste of the Caribbean where chefs and bartenders from the region take center stage to compete for the Caribbean’s top culinary honors. The Culinary Competition & Festival takes place June 26-30 at the Hyatt Regency, Miami. “The Caribbean is united in the promotion of the region’s indigenous flavours and products. From the world’s best spices to the best coffee, rums, beers and tropical fruits, our national cuisines are an important part of our destination marketing,” said Josef Forstmayr, chairman of CHTA and chairman of Taste of the Caribbean. “Our distinct cuisines are part of our national identities and Taste of the Caribbean showcases our region in a very powerful way,” Forstmayr added.

At Taste of the Caribbean over 10 teams from the Caribbean compete in a hot food/culinary team competition, bartender competition and pastry competition. Each participating team represents a Caribbean island which has held individual competitions to select their national team. Each team is composed of 2 senior chefs, 1 junior chef, 1 bartender, 1 pastry chef and 1 manager.

The participating team members represent hotels, restaurants or educational institutions in the Caribbean which are members of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA).

The trade show as this event is a one-stop forum for gathering practical information, sampling, purchasing, strengthening established supplier relationships and meeting new vendors, all on hand to help Taste of the Caribbean registrants build food and beverage business – and yield benefits on the bottom line.

There are currently ten Caribbean culinary teams registered for the event including Anguilla, Bahamas, Barbados, Bonaire, Curacao, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and the U.S. Virgin Islands. For the registration form, click here. For complete event details, click here. For all of the latest news and photos of teams participating in Taste of the Caribbean, follow on Facebook and Twitter.

CBA Mourns Alan Didier

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Alan Didier with wife Jennifer

Alan Didier with wife Jennifer

The Carnival Bands Association is mourning the loss of a fallen soldier. Carnival stalwart Allan Didier passed away on Thursday in the United states.

“His loss brings sadness to the carnival fraternity at a time when we are planning for the island’s biggest cultural showpiece,” said President of the Carnival Bands Association, Sonia Sifflet.

“Alan was a Carnival enthusiast, and was part of the Management of the now defunct Originals Carnival Band. He continued his support to Carnival while in his role of Operations Manager at the Castries City Council, by being the representative on the Select Committee of Stakeholders. Our condolences go out to his wife Jennifer and son,” Sifflet added.

Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival Continues on the Fringe

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Saint Lucia Sound Stage – at the Cocoa Palm Car Park, Rodney Bay Marina:

May 6th

6:00 pm                Diamond  Steel Orchestra

6:45 pm                Performance poetry featuring Kendal Hippolyte and Travis Weekes

7:05 pm                TJ Project featuring: featuring  emerging artists and Teddyson John  with a grand finale performance.

The Saint Lucia Hotel & Tourism Association will present a Taste of Saint Lucia Village -a unique and interactive culinary experience showcasing local foods.

Saint Lucia HOT Couture: – May 6th -Venue is the Audi Centre at the Meridian Place 7:00pm

Saint Lucian models from the international runway as well as newbies, will walk the runway at Hot Couture

Saint Lucian models from the international runway as well as newbies, will walk the runway at Hot Couture

Featuring established and emerging Saint Lucia designers:

  • Kumba Designs
  • Jaeylu Designs
  • Perry Bags
  • Meme Bete bags
  • Shazi Designs
  • Lynn Bristol
  • Delia Isaac
  • Tracey Betts
  • Incognito

And top  regional and international designers:

  • Claudia Pegus (Trinidad)
  • Cassandra Mottley (Barbados)
  • Francis Hendy (New York )
  • Heather Jones ( Trinidad)
  • Mickaelle Berlin (Martinique)
  • Sushma Patel (India via Atlanta)

For the first time on a Saint Lucia runway, overseas based Saint Lucian models who are active on the International stage:

Lucian born int'l model Annaliese Dayes, appeared on America's Next Top Model (ANTM) British Invasion

Lucian born int’l model Annaliese Dayes, appeared on America’s Next Top Model (ANTM) British Invasion

  • Mala Bryan
  • Portia Chery
  • Denise Lay
  • Annaliese Dayes

Limited tickets are available for this show

Tickets are available online: www.stluciajazz.org

 

Saint Lucia HOT Couture Trunk Show

On Wednesday May 08 (the day after the Fashion show) there will be a Trunk Show at the Bay Gardens Beach Resort, Rodney Bay where the public can view and purchase designs from Saint Lucia HOT Couture .  The Trunk Show takes place from 2:00pm – 6:00pm. All are welcome.

African Dance workshop – May 9th at 6:30pm at Christylights studio in La Clery

The performers from the Broadway Musical FELA will be dancing on Pigeon Island mainstage with Tony Allen. These professional dancers will host an African dance masterclass for Saint Lucian dancers FREE OF CHARGE at Christylights dance studio in La Clery. Free session – call 452-4094 to register

Piano Masterclass – May 9th at 10:00am at the Saint Lucia School of Music

Roberto Fonseca who will be performing at the Gaiety on Rodney Bay on Wednesday, May 8, will also be hosting a master class for seasoned pianists FREE OF CHARGE at the Saint Lucia School of Music at 10:00am on May 9th.

Any persons interested please call 452-4094

 

Children’s Music education workshop by Etienne Charles

Etienne Charles will be performing at Gaiety on Rodney Bay on May 8th and will also host a student’s music workshop FREE OF CHARGE at the National Cultural Centre on May 9, 2013 at 10:00am.

Etienne Charles – who received a master’s degree from the famous Juilliard School of Music is a current teacher of Jazz music at the University of Michigan. Etienne hails from Trinidad, is a master trumpeter who fuses his Caribbean music with contemporary jazz music.

For more information please call 452-4094

Visual Arts Exhibitions

May 6 – 10th at Baywalk Mall on the 2nd floor

Art pieces from both experienced and emerging Saint Lucian artists and local crafters. Literary arts exhibition featuring both well-known and rare publications of Saint Lucian authors.

There will also be visual arts exhibitions at the Gaiety on Rodney Bay and at Pigeon Island National Landmark. The best of Saint Lucia’s visual arts will be showcased and available for purchase.

SAINT LUCIA JAMZ

Every evening from Wednesday May 08 to May 12 the Rodney Bay Village will come alive after the Jazz Showcase (Gaiety) and Mainstage concerts with FREE performances at popular restaurants.  Visiting and Saint Lucian musicians are invited to come and jam with popular bands featuring various music genres.  The public is invited to come and experience a musical treat.

Featured bands include Annexus, Emerson Nurse Quintet, Xtent, Pulse, Skip Monday, Alibi, Tropix featuring Shomari Maxwell, Black Antz and more…

Fatal accident claims the life in Sarrot

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About 4:00 am on Sunday 5 May 2013, Officers attached to the Traffic Department responded to a report of a serious vehicular accident which occurred along the Sarrot road.

On arrival, the officers received information that a grey Toyota Corolla motor car registration number PJ 6869 driven by 26 year old Kurt Joseph of Millet, Anse La Raye was travelling in a westerly direction along the Sarrot road when it came into contact with a pedestrian.

The pedestrian namely Frederika Ellick, a 55 year old resident of Sarrot was transported to Victoria Hospital via ambulance. She was pronounced dead on arrival.

A post-mortem examination is scheduled for a later date to determine a cause of death.

An investigation into the accident continues.

ENDS

For further information contact the RSLPF LogoRSLPF Public Relations Office: Tel: 456-3727, or Fax 456-3726. Email: public_relations@rslpf.com