Chastanet will present his first ever budget to Parliament on Wednesday since his ruling United Workers Party (UWP) won the June 2016 general elections.
The budgetary process begins today following the traditional Throne Speech by Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy, heralding a new session of Parliament.
“The budget is not high enough. There are a lot of people in this country that still need help,” the Saint Lucia Prime Minister told reporters on Monday.
He referred to the state of Saint Lucia’s roads, hospitals, schools and the judicial system, declaring that the budget is the best that his administration can offer at this time although it is not enough.
According to Chastanet, over the next three years the first priority will be to grow the economy.
“The things that I have been doing to try to get investors into this country, to generate new jobs are priority number one and that’s why I have a difficulty with some agencies that continuously fight the need to grow,” the Prime Minister said.
He told reporters that it appears as if investment is a bad word.
“We need to change that,” Chastanet said.
He explained that the question is how to generate more revenue for the country.
“You generate that revenue through taxation? So when we had the VAT at 15 percent with the possibility that the VAT could have gone to 17 percent – is that the way you are going to solve the problem? Do you solve the problem by increasing personal income tax and increasing corporate taxes? Do you add on a whole bunch of new fees?” Chastanet asked.
He explained that his administration does not believe that is the way forward.
Chastanet expressed the belief that taxes have to be lowered, while Saint Lucia has to be made more competitive to encourage local and regional businessmen to invest and foreign investment has to be brought into this country.
“That’s job number one,” he stated.
Chastanet asserted that in so doing, money will be put into the pockets of people and the consumption on the island will increase.
He said while the rate of taxes will be lower, people will be consuming more with the result that more revenue will be coming in to the government so that it can provide essential services without borrowing money.
According to Chastanet, one of the biggest costs now is the interest Saint Lucia is paying on its loans.