Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has criticised an opposition walkout of the house of assembly Tuesday, saying that he feels sorry for the public of Saint Lucia because of the action taken by the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP).
But the opposition, which had also staged a walkout of parliament in April this year, has accused Chastanet of being vindictive and spiteful, while disrespecting the parliament of the country.
SLP leader Philip J. Pierre, speaking after the opposition walkout, noted that parliament had been adjourned for 40 days.
“It is the first time in the history of the parliament of Saint Lucia that a debate on a budget – such an important budget, the government’s first budget in office, that the Prime Minister saw it fitting to adjourn it for 40 days,” Pierre said.
He asserted that the move has serious implications for the country as there can be no capital expenses or new initiatives because the budget had not been passed.
Pierre told reporters that when parliament reconvened Tuesday and the member for Laborie, Alva Baptiste spoke, it was convention and normal that a member of the government would respond after an opposition member.
The SLP leader said although opposition members came willing and able to speak on the issues, the Prime Minister in his ‘normal vindictive and spiteful manner’ refused to allow four senior members of his government to speak.
Pierre said Chastanet closed the budget and began a charade of lies, innuendoes, threats and insults against members of the opposition.
He asserted that the government holds the opposition in contempt.
“We did not stay in the parliament this morning – we will not give the Prime Minister the courtesy of listening to him because he has shown utter contempt for the people and the parliament of Saint Lucia,” the SLP leader said.
He cited the non-appointment of a Deputy Speaker.
But Prime Minister Chastanet has accused the SLP of being unprepared.
“We gave them six weeks to prepare themselves and they just seemed to be tongue-tied again and not able to deliver,” Chastanet asserted.
However he declared that the business of the government would go ahead.
Chastanet told reporters that his administration will continue to do its part to ensure that it delivers to the people of Saint Lucia.
He said he was very happy with the reduction in unemployment.
“That’s a first step – we are not close to being where we want to be but we are moving very hard and very quickly to turn around the economy and the future of the people of Saint Lucia,” the Prime Minister said.
Chastanet said he gave the opposition an opportunity to speak but they chose not to.
“It was only when I saw that nobody was going to speak that we decided “okay, obviously they have nothing to say’ and I decided to conclude my debate,” he explained.
He acknowledged that some government members died not speak.
Chastanet said there was no rebuttal.
“The only person who tried to rebut the budget was Mr. (Alva) Baptiste,” he told reporters.
Chastanet declared that his ministers have been performing and have no need to speak.