The United Workers Party is very surprised by a statement issued by the government of Saint Lucia titled “statement on incident of ministers subsistence cheque posted on social media”, dated June 15, 2023, in which a number of matters were raised, many of them are untruths or need greater clarification.
In the release, it was quoted that the cheque was issued to the Minister for his attendance at a meeting of the OAS from June 21-23…. 7 nights and 8 days for subsistence”.
However, June 21-23 is a total of 3 days. It means, therefore, that the Minister has received funds for an extra 4 nights and 5 days, and we seek clarification.
If this is the case, we request an immediate refund to the public purse of the additional funds received by the Minister in question.
The second issue raised was that of confidentiality. This is bewildering as a current government minister, when in opposition, made it his frequent business to post on his weekly talk show and his social media pages, cheques, contracts, and other confidential government documents, supposedly in his quest to keep the then government accountable and transparent.
We now demand that this minister keep his own government to the same level of transparency and accountability.
The third matter is the release states that the allowances are in keeping with rates in existence for the last 25 years. This is clearly untrue and we ask the government to retract this statement.
As a matter of correction, the current rates used for public travel were last reviewed on May 08, 2013, as stated in a memo sent by the then Director of Finance Mr. Francis Fontenelle who, incidentally, is now the Director of Finance.
It means that the rates have been in existence for 10 years and not 25 years as erroneously stated by the government release.
It is very disrespectful to the general public and hard-working taxpayers of this country for the government to ask in their release” what is so lavish about that”.
This clearly shows a government that is insensitive to the hardships being faced by Saint Lucians, who cannot make ends meet because of the high cost of groceries, transportation, fuel and, soon to be, an extra 2.5% tax on the backs of us all.
Does the government not know there is still a high percentage of public servants and private sector workers who only earn an average of one thousand two hundred ($1,200)
dollars monthly or less and that thirteen thousand ($13, 000) dollars spent in 3 days by a
government minister would cover approximately 10 -12 months of salary for the average Saint Lucian?
We call on the government to immediately retract this statement and apologize to Saint Lucian taxpayers who have a right to ask for transparency as to how public funds are being spent on their behalf.
We also demand that the same level of financial prudence and restraint, requested of the
people, be also requested of government Ministers.
We note that an unprecedented 6 million ($6,000,000) dollars has been allocated to travel in this financial year whilst Saint Lucians are suffering due to lack of medication at the primary Health Care Centres, the high cost of fuel although fuel has been reduced on the world market, increases in the cost of bread and bus fares and other basic needs of the population.
SOURCE: United Workers Party