Opposition leader, Philip J. Pierre, has declared that the plans being pursued by the United Workers Party (UWP), will wreck this country’s economy.
“They made unrealistic promises to an unsuspecting electorate to gain an election victory,” Pierre said.
He was addressing Sunday’s 2016 Open Session of the Annual Conference of Delegates of the opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party.
It was held at the Bellevue Combined School in the Constituency of Vieux Fort North,
The SLP leader asserted that now reality has set in for the UWP because it is time to govern.
“Now is the time to fulfil these promises. You can run but you can’t hide. They sought all consultants, even if the reality was staring them in the face – the reality of the expenditure as against revenue. What did the consultants say? The same thing the SLP always said,” he stated.
Pierre, an Economist, made reference to the latest report of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
He quoted the report as saying that under the baseline scenario the objectives the Government of Saint Lucia has set for itself will not be realized.
“This means that the UWP plans would wreck the economy of our beautiful island,” the SLP leader told his audience.
Pierre recalled that when his party was elected in 2011, it was honest with the people.
He said the SLP informed citizens that for a number of reasons, including the world economic situation and the high levels of recurrent expenditure and debt, some tough measures to improve the economy and place it on a path of sustainability had to be taken.
The SLP leader said some of these measures included the imposition of VAT as a replacement tax.
“VAT is a tax on consumption, but the Labour party was sensitive to its impact on the lower income earners,” he observed.
Pierre said Saint Lucia, although it was the last country to implement VAT in the OECS, ensured that most basic food items were either VAT-exempt or Zero-rated.
“VAT was set at 15% based on studies and the objectives of government to reduce the Debt to GDP ratio to 60% by the year 2030,” the SLP leader noted.
He said four years later, there are signs of improvement in the economy, but Saint Lucia was still in difficult times.
Nevertheless, Pierre asserted that investment was returning and economic growth was on the rebound.
“We protected the workers of the country. We did not send civil servants home. We chose the least pain for the people of our island while being fiscally responsible,” he said.
Pierre said the SLP government was transparent and truthful with the people on the economy of Saint Lucia.
“We spoke the truth. We were not politically expedient, we were not interested in short-term political gain. We were and we are totally committed to the future well-being of all our People, whatever party you support.”