The office of the Prime Minister (OPM) has responded to yesterday’s walkout of parliament by members of the opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP).
“We saw what happened in the house yesterday that basically fuelled the walkout by the opposition MPs,” OPM Senior Communications Officer Nicole Mc Donald, told reporters, adding that the action was very unfortunate.
Mc Donald asserted that the Speaker of the House, Leonne Theodore-John, did make a point of apologising to the opposition for not telling them that the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) motion had been removed from the order paper.
“She apologised profusely and she also indicated to the opposition that the matter had not been completely set aside,” Mc Donald recalled.
According to the Senior Communications Officer, the Speaker indicated that the matter had not been swept aside but has been deferred to a subsequent house sitting.
The OPM official said it unfortunate that opposition members walked out of parliament and missed some of the other ‘significant’ bills that were down for discussion during yesterday’s house debate.
Mc Donald said that Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet, had indicated that he needed more time to consider the matter and prepare an appropriate response to the motion.
She explained that the house Speaker acquiesced to the Prime Minister’s request.
“This does not mean that the Prime Minister and the government will not be prepared in the future to debate such a motion presented by the opposition – it was just deferred to a future date,” Mc Donald stated.
Members of the opposition staged a walkout of parliament yesterday, accusing the government of abusing parliamentary procedure.
At a news conference later, opposition leader Philip J. Pierre told reporters that the United Workers Party (UWP) administration is attempting to stifle this country’s democracy.
“The opposition will not be part of that,” Pierre stated.
He recalled that about eight weeks ago the member for Castries South, Doctor Ernest Hilaire, informed the Speaker of the House that a negative motion would be tabled in the house asking it to negate the changes made by the government to the CIP programme.
Pierre said the opposition held discussions with the Speaker of the House and all was in order.
But the opposition leader noted that when the order paper was released for the meeting of the house yesterday morning, it was observed that the matter of the motion by the member for Castries South has disappeared.
He asserted that all the processes and procedures required for the laying of a motion in the house were met by the member for Castries South.