PM Defends COVID-19 Bill As SLP Calls For Its Deferral

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Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has defended the COVID-19 Prevention & Control bill that was before parliament Tuesday.

The measure has evoked expressions of concern from the Saint Lucia Bar Association.

The Bar has requested that the measure be deferred pending public consultation.

The opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) has said that the Allen Chastanet administration should do the ‘honourable thing’ and postpone the bill.

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“The passing of such an important Bill through all stages at this one sitting of Parliament without stakeholder consultation is unacceptable,” the Saint Lucia Bar Association said in a statement late Monday night

The President of the Saint Lucia Hospitality and Tourism Association, Karolin Troubetzkoy, in a letter dated September 29, 2020, also expressed concern about the bill to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Information and Broadcasting, Culture and Creative Industries, Donalyn Vittet.

“Given the importance, the context and the longevity of the proposed bill and its great relevance for the tourism industry, it is now only astonishing but extremely concerning that the Ministry did not find it appropriate or necessary to invite dialogue with the SLHTA to review the content of the bill,” Troubetzkoy observed.

The letter was copied to the PM, Tourism Minister Dominic Fedee, Attorney General Stephen Julien and the Speaker of the House, Andy Daniel.

Reporters in an encounter outside parliament Tuesday with Chastanet noted that there are concerns that the bill is a replacement for the Curfew Order under the State of Emergency.

But Chastanet explained that it is a replacement for the State of Emergency.

He observed that the State of Emergency gives the government a lot of authority.

“We have always said that we’ve used this state of emergency specifically for COVID and so now that we know at this stage – six months after the fact, that COVID is going to be with us for a while. We have no idea when COVID is going to end,” Chastanet told reporters.

He noted that the requirement for Saint Lucia to be on high alert is still there.

“What we have done now is a specific bill for COVID, so all of the legislative authorities we have brought them under one act,” Chastanet observed.

“The fundamental thing to observe about this is that under the State of Emergency, the authority is the Prime Minister. In this act what we have done is brought the authority back to the Ministry as well as  the technocrats,” the Prime Minister told reporters.

He described the measure as a landmark piece of legislation.

In relation to concerns that the expiry date is two years after its commencement although it can be extended or shortened, Chastanet declared that no one knows when COVID-19 will end.


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Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
Our Editorial Staff at St. Lucia Times is a team publishing news and other articles to over 200,000 regular monthly readers in Saint Lucia and in over 150 other countries worldwide.


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