Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre promised Monday during a presentation of $US 612,000 in Constituency Development Programme (CDP) funds from the Taiwanese government to distribute the money to all 17 local constituencies.
Pierre described the presentation as a bitter-sweet moment as he recalled that Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) MPs, while in opposition, never had the pleasure or honour of being involved in the receipt of CDP money.
“That was sad because our constituencies – the people who lived in our constituencies, they deserved these funds, and they thought that their representatives should have been given the privilege of not only securing these funds but distributing these funds as they saw fit. But as they say, ‘time, time’ and today we found ourselves in a situation where we are the government, and we are going to be receiving these funds. I can assure you that these funds are going to be distributed to all 17 constituencies,” the Prime Minister declared to applause from the gathering.
He reiterated that the people of Saint Lucia, regardless of political affiliation, must come first.
“It cannot be right that for a period of four years, six constituencies in this country were starved of CDP funds. They were starved in a way that was vulgar,’ Pierre recalled.
It was a reference to the situation before the July 26, 2021 elections when the SLP occupied six seats in the 17-seat parliament before winning the polls by a landslide which saw the United Workers Party (UWP), which was in government, managing to retain just two of the 11 seats it formerly had.
But while giving the assurance that all constituencies will benefit from the CDP funds, Pierre, also Finance Minister, explained that this country is in debt.
“As we speak, this country is indebted – sovereign debt of 3.9 billion dollars and debt that is not sovereign but debt which we owe and the people will have to pay it of over $500 million. That is the state of debt in this country,” he explained, adding that Saint Lucia incurred the debt before the elections of July 26, 2021.
Nevertheless, while calling attention to the country’s debt, the Prime Minister asserted that there’s hope.
“There’ s hope because there’s a new vision, a new feeling, a new sense of transparency, a new sense of accountability, and the prospects look good for Saint Lucia going forward,” Pierre stated.
He recalled that a labor administration decided that the Taiwanese grant funds would go into the consolidated fund and ‘invented’ the idea of the handover of cheques.
“Because there was a time when these cheques were not handed over to the Accountant General, and in the spirit of accountability and transparency, we started that a few years ago, and we are back here to ensure that this happens,” Pierre stated.
At the ceremony, he also assured the Taiwanese ambassador that the diplomat would get a full report on how the funds were used.
“We are a government of transparency and a government of accountability,” Pierre explained.
Headline photo: Handover of CDP funds to Accountant General’s Office