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Updated on June 2, 2020 9:26 am

Pierre Proposes Wide-Ranging Measures To Cushion Economic Effect Of COVID-19

Opposition leader Philip J. Pierre Sunday night made his third address to Saint Lucians in respect of the current COVID-19 situation.

The entire address is reproduced below:

EXTRAORDINARY MEASURES FOR EXTRAORDINARY TIMES

My Fellow St. Lucians, Good Night.

Tonight is the third time that I am addressing you in less than two weeks. This is extraordinary but we are living in extraordinary times that have been generated by an extraordinary pandemic- the Corona virus called COIVD 19- which has been the subject of my two previous addresses and to which I return tonight. As we have been witnessing, this pandemic is ravaging the globe – developed and underdeveloped countries, First World and Third World States, continental military powers and no powers island states – all lie stricken in its path; and all over the world Governments and Legislatures are taking extraordinary actions to combat it.

Our world is in a crisis that, and at the very least, can be likened to World War Two or the financial crisis of 2008. Governments and international institutions in both cases were required to respond, albeit in different ways, to these crises to return the world economy to normality. Immediately after WW2, governments responded by adopting heavy deficit spending to rebuild damaged infrastructure and getting people back to work. And in the case of the financial crisis, governments and central banks around the world were bailing out financial institutions and providing financial capital to shore up the banking system. In the case of Covid-19, government interventions are required again, but this time it is to ensure citizens are protected and able to sustain themselves. While social distancing, good personal hygiene and testing are all necessary to reduce the spread of Covid-19, displaced workers, who will be unable to work for a while, need money in their pockets to feed their families. We must do all we can to avoid panic and social disorder. And of course our health facilities need to be dramatically improved to look after those infected and requiring health care.

Let me thank our health and medical professionals who have been giving so much of themselves for us already on the front line in fighting this disease. We are heartened that the Government has at last been made to move you and the patients of Victoria Hospital to the new OK EU hospital which the St. Lucia Labour Party completed five years ago. You and the citizens of this country deserved no less.

My appreciation and gratitude also goes out to the personnel of the St. Lucia Fire Service and The Royal St. Lucia Police Force who are also on the front lines in this theatre of the world war against COVID 19.

I want to thank the Government and people of Cuba for once more coming to our assistance in our time of need with the dispatch of 128 medical professionals to assist us at this critical time. Our relations with Cuba have been long-standing and deep and Cuba has never failed to answer our calls. We speak of extraordinary times but Cuba is an extraordinary country. The SLP pledges its unwavering support to the Government and people of Cuba in their struggle against the unjust economic sanctions to which they have been subjected.

I take this opportunity also to thank the Government and People of The Republic of China- Taiwan for their contributions to our battle against the disease. Taiwan has always been a steadfast friend to St. Lucia and also deserves our gratitude.

We are also concerned that the Government appears to be ignoring some of the very guidelines that it has called upon the public to observe in relation to COVID 19. The Government has asked our people to observe social distancing.

in line with the advice of the health authorities and so it has closed down all non-essential services in the country. So why is the government undertaking new projects in some communities like the construction of new roads and buildings and work on some playing fields? Are these activities absolutely essential at this time? On Wednesday 25th March, the Director-General of the WHO, Dr. Tedros, in an address to member states on the policies they should be taking to combat COVID 19, recommended six actions, the sixth of which was: “ Refocus the whole of Government on suppressing and controlling COVID 19.” The Prime Minister has told us before, that on COVID 19, he is following the advice of the WHO, PAHO and other regional organisations. I therefore commend this recommendation to this Government.

We are cooperating in trying to stem the onslaught of COVID19 on the health of our people but it has already devastated our economy. Our tourism industry, the economic backbone has been shut down; thousands of our citizens have lost their jobs and small businesses and the self-employed are adrift. We as a country must therefore deal with the implications of this economic shock whilst simultaneously counter-attacking the virus on the health front. In my previous addresses, I called upon the Government to introduce measures to overcome the economic fallout of COVID 19, particularly in relation to workers who are now unemployed. In the spirit of continued cooperation and national unity against COVID 19, the St Lucia Labour Party is proposing the following initiatives to assist in cushioning the devastating economic impact of the virus. I have sent the proposals to the Prime Minister for the consideration of his Government and I now wish to share them with you.

Health Services

We estimate that over the next three months resources will be required to handle the actions required to fight COVID 19 directly. These include steps to expand and increase testing, community tracing, quarantine and isolation when deemed necessary, education and information dissemination, hygiene and sanitation, costs of additional staffing as well as costs related to commissioning the OKEU Hospital. -$45M We also propose the following measures that will form the basis of an economic stimulus aimed at providing relief to the thousands of anxious Saint Lucians. The package is designed for an initial three month period but the situation is dynamic and will require monthly monitoring and or adjustment.

The Economic Survival and Support programmes that we propose for implementation for the next 3 months are:

1. Direct Income Support

2. Fuel Support

3.Agricultural & Food Support

4. Domestic Utilities & Rental Support

5. Short Term Employment

6. Small & Medium Enterprise Support

7. Travel & Tourism Support

Those broad programmes are further broken down into sub-programmes, to cover those critical areas, as I shall explain. A. Direct Income Support

This programme calls for government’s intervention to provide direct income support to all sectors which have been impacted by layoffs and inactivity. A monthly cash stipend maximum $1000 should be paid to all qualified persons whose regular income have be cut-off or substantially reduced.

1) Pay-roll, formal hotel and restaurant employees, self-employed vendors, taxi drivers, tour guides active NIC contributors and others falling in that pool will qualify for assistance. Working through the NIC, taxi and vendors associations, Village Councils, hotels, eligible citizens can be identified for this assistance. ($129 M)

2) There should be an Increase in public and social assistance. Additional assistance should be provided to needy persons and those who are presently on government’s assistance and persons with disabilities because of the extra difficult circumstances they will face during this period. Any other assistance that they might have been receiving from family members will be scare during this period. ($2.6M)

3) Food vouchers through the SSDF should be distributed to deserving families based on the population of the 17 constituencies. -($5M)

4) Starting from April, a monthly bonus should be paid to the front line health workers, including nurses, doctors, and first respondents for their extra-ordinary efforts in the fight to contain this coronavirus and protect the population. ($1.2M)

B. Fuel Support

This support would provide direct subsidy on fuel purchase for high consumers of fuel namely, fisher folks and public transport operators.

1) Fishing boat operators, especially registered fisher folks would need fuel subsidy in order to remain in business to supply much need protein to our people without the need to increase fish prices. A fuel voucher should be introduced as a direct subsidy to that industry. The voucher can be the equivalent of the excise tax amount of $4.00 per gallon of gasoline. The value would be based on the monthly consumption rate of the fishers. This measure could be easily implemented through the various fisher folk co-operatives island wide and would greatly assist in our food security-($2.2M)

2) Mini-bus operators, should be provided with direct fuel subsidy through a similar fuel voucher mechanism to enable that sector to remain viable, providing an essential service to the country under very difficult circumstances. The imposition of social distancing on public transport has affected those operators financially and every effort must be made by government to support this sector directly. ($3.6M)

C. Agricultural and Food Support

1. We propose income support for the farmers who have not been paid by NFA for produce sold to Winfresh ($2.5M)

2. income support for the farmers who sell directly to the hotels and restaurants who will no longer be receiving any income -($3M)

3. To enhance our food security we recommend that inputs of seeds, fertilizers and other planting material together with irrigation support be provided to our farmers – ($3.6M)

D. Domestic Utilities and Rental Support

1. LUCELEC be asked to cover for the next three (3) months, the first 180kWh for households which require relief. This would result in a savings of $135 on the electric bill of approximately 30,000 households. there should be no disconnection during that period.,( $12.1M)

2. WASCO be asked to cover the next three (3) months, the first 3,000 gallons of water consumed for households which require relief. This would result in a savings of $25 for approximately 30,000 households. There should be no disconnection during that period (-$2.2M)

3. Landlords must be encouraged not to evict tenants and consider reduced, part or a suspension of payments taking into account that there may be a moratorium on mortgage payments

E. Short Term Employment

We need some critical sectors of the society to provide necessary services while observing the necessary protocols of social distancing to work.

1. A Farm/Fisheries Labour Support Programme can create jobs and assist in boosting our primary production ($1.5M)

2. An expansion of the Home Help Programme can assist over 300 seniors and persons with disabilities -$1M

3. A national landscape & beautification programme can enhance our roadways, parks, trails, historic sites and attractions.

F. Small & Micro Enterprise Support

Our small and micro enterprises are already suffering from loss of income. There are many small businesses, some of whom employ just one or two other persons, some many more. They will require assistance to survive this period. We propose a small business grant facility to aid up to over 1000 Small & Micro Enterprises. A grant of $5000monthly is proposed. -$15M

The arts, entertainment and media sector which we have often termed as the Creative Industries will require special attention. Artists, performers, DJs, musicians, graphic designers, cosmetologists, entertainers, media and producers are most particularly affected. They can be persuaded to produce useful programmes to raise national spirit – ($3M)

G. Travel & Tourism Support

A short term grant to small hotels and guest houses A&B operators and other operators who are not captured in the income support programme $15M

H. The Public Services

Salaries for civil and public servants in the initial 3 month period should be financed by the issuance of new public debt. We expect that international financial institutions will support this venture. . Banks will be expected to support this undertaking with roll overs and fully subscribing to the new issued debt. It must never be forgotten that we are living in extraordinary times and extraordinary measures are needed to protect the lives of our people since there can be no economy without people.

Other Measures

We propose that government should offer companies who retain and continue to compensate staff a tax credit of 150% of the total paid to the employees Waiver of income tax installments due for the year 2020. Payment of tax refunds of less than $2000 due to tax payers. The moratorium of loan and mortgage payments do not attract increased interest or late payment fees.

We have been visited by an invisible enemy that threatens our livelihoods and sadly the lives of many. Our priorities must, therefore, necessarily be revisited in response to the threat of Covid-19. We must act decisively, and adopt policy responses that are efficient and effective. Many of our citizens have already lost their jobs, and more will be in the coming days and weeks, and their ability to look after themselves and their families. A caring government has a civic and moral responsibility to help these people now. It is not enough to, only, extend our concern; these displaced workers have human needs just like us, and so we must help them, from whatever resources we may have as a country. The government’s priorities pre-Convid-19 cannot be the same as post-Covid-19.

My fellow Saint Lucians, sisters and brothers, as I said at the commencement of my address, this is an extraordinary time and it demands extraordinary action to save ourselves and our country. This is why we have presented these recommendations for an economic stimulus package. We must be extraordinarily disciplined in our response to this pandemic, it means strictly and rigidly following the instructions given to us by the Health Authorities and adhering to the regulations set by Government to combat the disease. Frequently wash our hands, maintain social distancing, and stay at home.

The next few weeks will be most challenging. We must be prepared for even more extraordinary action and discipline on our part, if the virus becomes more severe here. We must not panic for panic will only worsen the situation but with a resolute and united purpose and the Grace of the Almighty we can and will overcome.

I thank you.

 

17 COMMENTS

  1. It seems you holding the government money.
    Garcin las bat **** sans hont ah you’ll finish okeu 5ys ago.
    Boy stop trying to be a pm what you’ll NEVER BE!!.
    All of a sudden you’re blessed with all the answers to SLU problems BUwhen you had the chance to make a difference your *** was shut.

    • 2021 we will rule again PLEASE DO. Lan Caca ! You think this pandemic is an on and off switch and when all is said and done and the fat lady sings all we have to do is wash out the pools hire back the staff and put our teeth out and we are back within an inch of normalcy again you stupid Johncrow. The road to recovery will be 10 times harder than post Corona and there will be nothing more pleasing to see you Yellow Jackasses WALLOW in the financial shit of a mess your party has created and is coming their way fast. The little Black Man is too intelligent for your ass, his ideas are pointinent and profound no he should not talk and think this way right house Negro how dare he. He is not acting like a Prime Minister Johncrow, he is acting like a leader; you don’t hear of world Prime ministers you hear of WORLD LEADERS. A US 5 million dollar payment is due in June on the US 100 million dollar loan your PM took out can we pay it amongst “others” ? We lost millions in landing fees millions in docking fees and hotel taxes and just about everyone is unemployed so what’s feeding the VAT Yeah 2021 you rule again LAY ON THAT SWORD

  2. Thanks mr.pierre,but why cater for businesses that have been accumulating and saving millions…those one,s can go withdraw some cash and take care of themselves,unlike the common man..i do support alot of your proclaims but please don’t make it sound ridiculous….we at this moment where nothing else matters but human health,..making sure they have vital suppliments and avoiding that virus,..i notice you mention 1st and 3rd world well God almighty has one world and this virus has brought every human soul on equal terms,yours don’t worth more than mine..mine don’t worth more than yours and so is the elites of the world…i’m still wondering if it’s a biological invention or God’s plan,either way every man is equal at this point in time.

  3. I have heard a lot of hogwash before but this certainly takes the cake. And to bamboozle the citizenry and make believe that it is real, SLP has found a way to add bogus figures to the proposals with the hope that people will think that it is happenable. i don’t believe that would be Pierre’s final address to the nation. You see, Chastanet is doing a good job manageable COVID -19 and he is in the media regularly. Pierre doesn’t want to be outdone, so he genuinely believes that a bogus address to the nation is better than none at all. I expect the next address to be Hillaire calling upon Chastanet to use the CIP money for Pierre’s proposals. And then Kenton will make the final address to speak about the unconstitutionality of the State-of-Emergency.

  4. Please let us know what you think about the PLAN. Its merits, liabilities or negatives. What makes the plan workable or non workable. Give us some quantifiable something.

  5. You do not know how to make the money (negative growth only) but you want to tell the govt how to spend it. Remember “pay the civil servant” and “pay the fishermen” and when you all got into government you gave them nothing?

      • The history of SLP in government is no secret as far as the economy is concern. We do not have to be a Greenspan. Our God loves St Lucia, hence during the 2 world economic crisis we have experience, it has been under a UWP govt. UWP has successfully dealt with it before and UWP will do it again.

  6. Stop telling ppl to just wash hands wash hands wash hands youll keep neglecting the fact that this thing thrieves in the air after a carrier coughs or sneeze remind them to also wear a mask for respiratory protection cause the country is dealing with inadequate medical supplies and staff as bad as it been already remind them that respiratory tract is this war conscious tactic and secret motive and the respiratory tract is its target where it manfest it demies on ones breathing so plzzzz tell them that each time they go out where a mask and sanitize your hands as frequently as possible. Some of them make fun of ppl who chooses to wear a mask to protect themselves why are we lucians so irresponsible take care youll take care all lets take care of each other instead of laughing and joking when someone is wearing a mask why not be each others keeper and say why aren’t you wearing a mask god bless us all truely a step back in time of the days of Jesus it reminds me of the plague where King Pharoah refused to let Gods ppl go so he sent the spirit of death to claim the lives of each and every first born male child over all household I find this to be a spirit of death just like in those days whosoever refused to kill the lamb and put the blood of that lamb on the corners of the door so the spirit of death would not kill their child they suffered the lose of their first son. Pitty we do not have any gaurentees like killing a lamb and putting its blood on our doors to safe our lives all we have is ppl emphasizing on washing hands washing hands my a…

    • Just found a video clip saying stay away from advil especially,it helps trigures pneumonia with the covid19!

  7. Ummm, Ummmm, Ummmmm. The moment I read about SLP finish OKEU, I stopped reading. The man shrinking bad. He looks sick. Pierre quarantine STAY HOME AND SHUT UP. STAY HOME PIERRE, STAY HOME. I cyah wait to hear Kenny and Richard talk about unconstitutional acts of Chas and the Police. God alone knows why Tomas, Financial crunch and now COVID only came around when Flambeau in power, cause I fear all now we would have a power struggle between Pierre, Hilaire and Kenny.

  8. This man just sickens me. I will never vote again..but why is this man bent on confusion in an season of crisis… You colleagues know you are not PM quality… Just shut up…

  9. Were you in favour of cutting civil servants salaries? Was you party planning to stop gratuity in March 2018?….

  10. Pierre, thank you for your proposal. I do not support everything you’ve proposed but at least you’ve proposed SOMETHING! Something we can analyze, criticize, digest, support or dismiss. I’ve been waiting for our Government’s economic recovery plan and haven’t seen it, maybe I missed it. I’ve seen Barbados’ and Grenada’s . Grenada had one even before they had their first confirmed case. I’m still waiting for ours. There are many people who are already hurting economically from this and they need to know if there is any assistance or support coming their way. We need to prepare for the next fallout form this which will be economic. We cannot wait until this passes over to start planning.
    Some of the things you’ve proposed here are just not feasible. In addition, with our history of corruption and lack of accountability, there’s a high likelihood, that the assistance will not go to those who desperately need it. The opening of the OKEU hospital is a plus, sad that it took a pandemic to get it open; I’m blaming both parties for this and the general public for accepting this as the order of the day. Makes me wonder what it will take to get St. Judes back – another pandemic?
    Overall, the Government is doing a decent job of managing this pandemic. There were some missteps at the beginning and the lack of an economic recovery plan is a major source of concern, however, the response has gotten better. The lack of adherence to the curfew and the reluctance of the authorities to act on this is a symptom of the slackness which pervades our country at every level. This is not a time to put up with persons who shirk the rules and regulations meant to protect all of us. I look forward to reading the Government’s economic recovery plan. If there is already one that has been made available, please provide the link.

  11. Well everyone is entitled to their opinion and I’m pleased that you can advise the government on some of the plans that could be included in our recovery package. I must say I see a few that the government can adopt however I think most of it was not properly conceived. Foremost where will the money come from to satisfy these proposals. Already the government is losing almost every source of revenue. I also think that most employers in St Lucia have discussed with staff the possibility of at least salary payments for at least the first fortnight or the entire month of April. So let the process take shape. More than a stimulus package and economical handouts, I think we need to seriously look at the psychological impact and fallout of Covid 19.

Comments are closed.

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