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Updated on July 5, 2020 11:46 am
Updated on July 5, 2020 11:46 am
Updated on July 5, 2020 11:46 am

Opposition responds to PM’s 100 days press briefing

The Prime Minister’s account of the first 100 days in office of his UWP administration was bitterly disappointing.  It lacked any substance, any commitment to keep promises made, offered no way forward to meet global challenges and continued the personal attacks on professionals.

During the campaign, the Saint Lucia Labour Party had informed all Saint Lucians that we were facing difficult times and difficult decisions were taken.  The SLP also explained that the hard work was to continue.  The SLP explained that the fiscal space was limited and our deficit and borrowing had to be curtailed.  However the economy was improving and according to the I.M.F we had achieved economic growth.  The UWP made numerous promises and the electorate gave the UWP a chance to deal with the challenges by electing them. The campaign is over it is now time for governing.

The Prime Minister cannot continue to lament that these are difficult times.  The people of Saint Lucia know that.  It is time to deal with the business of Government and stop stating the obvious.

The first action which the Prime Minister promised was an assessment of the economy to be undertaken by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) on the state of the economy.  This was promised to be delivered as soon as possible.  After one hundred (100) days, there is no Report for the people of Saint Lucia to review. The SLP insists that this assessment be based on figures prepared and presented by the Ministry of Finance. The Saint Lucia Labour Party calls on the Prime Minister to immediately make the report or any other Report prepared by the Ministry of Finance available.

The UWP when in opposition assessed the state of the country and offered its “Five to Stay Alive’ which would be implemented immediately upon assuming office.  Let us assess what was achieved.

Number One: The immediate reduction and ultimate removal of the dreaded Value Added Tax.’  “We will find a more creative way and a less onerous way of raising revenues now generated by VAT,” the Prime Minister promised.  Nothing has happened!

Number Two: The reduction in vehicle license fees by 50%.  Instead, there was a 50% reduction of the increase.

Number Three:  We will double the school feeding and the school transportation subsidies.  “We must guarantee all children at least one nutritional meal a day and take the financial strain off parents to ensure children go to school.”  Nothing has changed in the school feeding and school transportation subsidies.

Number four:  Which Chastanet said was very dear to his heart.  “The United Worker’s Party will have a targeted amnesty on hospital fees owed to Victoria and St. Jude’s Hospital.  It is unacceptable that a person who is unemployed or is a pensioner feels degraded to go to the hospital because they cannot pay their bill.  What kind of Government?  What kind of man does it take to be able to impose that kind of wickedness on the people of this country?”  Nothing has been done.

Number Five:  We will remove personal property tax for a period of three years. “It cannot be that the one thing that we have struggled so long to do, to own our house and that after paying a mortgage for so many years, that a government would come and impose a property tax and cause us to lose our home.”  Nothing has happened.

The UWP Government promised that there would be no more STEP in Saint Lucia.  The Prime Minister described STEP as disgusting, demeaning and degrading.  He claimed that women were ashamed to engage in STEP and would hide when doing so.  Yet, the only action that the UWP has undertaken to stimulate economic activity is to undertake a national STEP as the Caretaker Programme.  Worse, it has been used by the Government as a tool of political discrimination.  Only UWP Parliamentarians and losing candidates were allowed to recommend workers.  It appears that the promised ‘ching ching’ is for only UWP supporters and not all Saint Lucians.

Reports on the Prime Minister’s Travel are disturbing.  On his trip to France, Morocco and England the PM revealed that he did not meet any Government officials. The purpose of his recent trip to Taiwan was to discuss with officials what he would discuss when he returned in December a task that could have lastly been done by officials of the government. The PM went to China to witness horse racing and to confirm that DSH was legitimate.  One would have hoped that due diligence would have been done on the company before any agreement was signed.  In fact all these discussions could have taken place using available technology.

Lastly, the UWP Government in its first one hundred (100) days had shown that it is the most vindictive UWP administration ever with numerous firings of workers and professionals in the most undignified manner.  The SLP believes that every Saint Lucian deserves the right to work and regardless of political orientation must be treated with dignity and respect.  The attacks on the Attorney General and Ambassador to Washington both women were uncalled for and unnecessary.

This is a preliminary assessment the Saint Lucia Labour Party will very shortly undertake a sectoral analysis of the performance of the UWP Government after its first one hundred (100) days and will present a more comprehensive report.