St Lucia: SLP, Saint Lucia Labour Party Philip J. Pierre lambasted the mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic by the current Government.
The constant increase in the number of demises and the fact that the number of positive COVID-19 cases has not abated is of great concern to us. Saint Lucia now has the worst coronavirus statistics in the Eastern Caribbean and is currently the worst in the Eastern Caribbean in the management of its COVID-19 response; this should alarm us. Only today, there were 155 positive cases out of 377 tests.
And, when in Parliament, we made the point that the R factor was important, as usual, we are not taken on. I will, therefore, once again urge the administration to follow the science and best practices in the world in order to bring this pandemic under control.
In this regard, the regime should give serious consideration to the recommendations from the St Lucia Medical and Dental Association on how to deal with what it sees as a more deadly threat to the nation in the next month from coronavirus.
While the administration, as usual, is disputing the association’s figures and its basis for its dire predictions, we all have to approve that we are in a very grim situation and that urgent, corrective action is required. The arrival this week of the gift of vaccines for Saint Lucia from India is therefore welcomed. On behalf of the St Lucia Labour Party and the people of St Lucia, I would like to thank the administration of India for this gift and again to thank the Governments of Barbados and Dominica for coming to our rescue.
You may recall that I had called last month for the quick implementation of the program to immunize our people as the best defense against COVID -19. I am therefore appealing once more to everyone, to all Saint Lucians to register for the vaccination program, particularly those people in the most vulnerable groups. As I have promised before, I will take the vaccine after the frontline workers and first responders have been immunized. I also note that the Government has adopted another of our recommendations. That is the deployment of a contact tracing app, which we had called for a few months ago.
As you recalled last week, the Government went to Parliament to obtain approval to borrow another $80M for its COVID response program. However, this response program continues to fail to provide economic relief and support for those small enterprises, entrepreneurs, self-employed persons, minibus drivers, entertainers, and those most badly affected by the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. When we raised this in the House of Assembly, cabinet members scoffed, saying that financial institutions do not lend you money to give to citizens. But this is exactly what those concessionary loans are for. According to a World Bank press statement made on the 14th of January 2021 in Washington on loan to Saint Lucia, and I quote.
Finally, I want to raise today the point of diversifying our economy so that Saint Lucia is not totally dependent on tourism as the COVID-19 experience has demonstrated. I have in previous national addresses from as far back as two years ago, alluded to the economic opportunities in the area of economic activity like the medicinal and recreational cannabis industry.
He added, I want to reiterate that the St Lucia Labour Party is fully committed to establishing this industry, and a future Saint Lucia Labour Party Government will embark on a robust education policy program. A robust education policy scheme that, in the first incident, will lead to the decriminalization of marijuana with a view to legalizing it and also to create full use of the economic advantages that can be derived from the manufacture of cannabis.