Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre says opposition leader Allen Chastanet who declared that he was not allowed to speak during debate on the Budget, had absented himself.
“He was not there – that’s it,” Pierre, also responsible for Finance, told reporters on Monday as he arrived for a Cabinet meeting.
The Castries East MP recalled that he spoke immediately after the prime minister in opposition and only received the estimates on Saturday, at times around midday, and spoke on Wednesday morning.
“This time the opposition had the benefit of having the estimates from Thursday – some of them from Wednesday. You have enough time to ask questions answer questions and to make your contribution. The estimates are figures. The Prime Minister makes his contribution and you respond to the figures so this childishness about who speaks when we don’t have time for that,” he stated.
According to the PM, Saint Lucia and the world face a serious situation.
He disclosed that currently, the government is making less than 50 cents on a gallon of petrol, while the last administration had imposed a four-dollar tax.
”Do you know what happens to our revenue? As we speak these are issues we have to deal with so the pettiness and the childishness I have no time for that,” Pierre explained.
He spoke of the need to address the cost of living increases and lessen the impact on the people of Saint Lucia.
However, the Finance Minister described the issue as a very difficult proposition.
But he revealed that he has some policy suggestions to present during the April 26 debate.
“That’s what I am waiting for to tell Saint Lucians – how we’re going to make life better for them. As you know these estimates were people-centred. Right now we have to give the policies to make these things possible,” he told reporters.
Last week, opposition leader and former Prime Minister Allen Chastanet took to Facebook to complain that to stop him from contributing to the Budget, the ruling Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) prevented four of their most senior Ministers from speaking.
The debate closed without the United Workers Party (UWP) leader addressing the parliament.
Prime Minister Pierre responded when asked about the four Ministers not speaking.
“Well you see the process in the parliament is who catches the speaker’s eye and at the time none of the members caught the speaker’s eye. So who was there would have caught the speaker’s eye,” he explained.
Last week Pierre delivered his maiden Budget – a $1.8 billion measure.
He said the fiscal package was important for projects to increase jobs, create wealth, and improve social safety nets to provide relief to disadvantaged individuals and people who suffered due to COVID-19.