Prime Minister Doctor Kenny Anthony has said that his announcement of an election date tonight was decided in the best interest of the country.
Anthony said in an address to the nation that the June 6, 2016 election date, called several months ahead of the due date of the polls, was to ensure peace, stability and certainty in this country’s affairs.
“The opposition United Workers Party has agitated for elections for months and on our side, the Saint Lucia Labour Party says ‘We are ready’”, the Prime Minister said.
He recalled that while there was a debate on the estimates of revenue and expenditure for financial year 2016- 2017 which most members of the opposition did not attend, there was no presentation of a budget address.
Anthony, who is also Minister of Finance and a former Law Lecturer, asserted that the explanation for what appeared to be unusual was very simple.
He referred to Section 79 subsection I of the constitution.
Anthony told the nation it requires that the Minister of Finance to prepare and lay the estimates of revenue and expenditure before or not later than 30 days after the commencement of the financial year.
He observed that in turn, section 79 subsection two provides for an appropriation bill to be introduced in the house of assembly to authorize expenditure from the consolidated fund.
“These are the two fundamental requirements established by the constitution to allow expenditure by the government,” the Prime Minister explained.
“Clearly we need to ensure that any expenditure by the government is fully authorized and we have done so.”
The Prime Minister said that given his decision to call general elections just after the passage of the appropriations bill 2016/2017, he felt it best that that the government elected by the will of the people in the next general elections be given the opportunity to present within a reasonable period after the general election, its economic and policy proposals by way of a financial statement to the house
Anthony recalled that he held and expressed that view way back in 1997 when a general election was held on May 23 1997, just after the presentation of the budget in that year.
The Prime Minister acknowledged that the past four years have been a period of adjustment to the economy.
He said that he was “eternally grateful” for the support and understanding the people have shown for the adjustments made by the government, to ensure that the economy became stronger, better and more resilient.
Anthony disclosed that some of the measures were not always popular.
However he asserted that it was never in doubt that the measures were implemented in the best interest of the country.
“By our common will and collective efforts we saved our country from the IMF,” the Prime Minister said, adding that results of the efforts have now begun to yield fruits, with the economy having returned to growth.