The opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) has withdrawn its representative on the Multi-Sectoral Committee, mandated to finalise an Economic Stimulus Strategy and Plan aimed at boosting economic recovery post COVID-19.
SLP leader Philip J. Pierre chose Castries South MP, Dr. Ernest Hilaire to represent him on the body.
Pierre informed the Acting Permanent Secretary in the Department of Finance, Esther Rigobert, about the decision to withdraw Hilaire in a letter dated May 18, 2020.
St Lucia Times obtained a copy of the letter.
In it, Pierre said he was provided with the documents from the first meeting Hilaire attended.
He said he cannot accept the approach adopted by the government.
“Let me make it clear that as a Party, we support the need for an Economic Stimulus Strategy and Plan,” the SLP leader stated.
He referred to an earlier letter and reiterated the position that that the Minister of Finance should have presented a Statement of Revenue and Expenditure that provides for basic Government functions and COVID-19 specific expenditure.
“This would cover a period of four months whilst we finalise a broader Strategy and Plan as mandated to the Multi-Sectoral Committee,” Pierre wrote.
However he explained that instead, the Minister presented an Annual Statement for the financial year ending March 2021.
He recalled that the statement included all the signature projects and programmes which the Government intended to implement from pre COVID-19.
The SLP leader asserted that the Multi-Sectoral Committee seems to be continuing with that same approach and quoted from the committee’s meeting notes in support of his contention.
Pierre said he would have thought that given the severity of the COVID-19 crisis and the critical necessity to ensure that resources are available to finance a recovery, the country needed to put all projects, programmes and plans on the table for review and prioritisation, in addition to new ideas and recommendations.
He asserted that the approach cannot be that Government continues with all its previously announced plans and projects and is simply seeking ‘add-ons’ for a broader recovery plan.
“The reluctance of the Prime Minister to even change his approach was reflected in his comments to the Unions when he clearly stated that Unions should not be telling him how to manage the country,” Pierre’s letter observed.
” Surely, if a stakeholder cannot share a contrary view or opinion on Governmental plans and action, then the proposed consultation becomes nothing more than a charade. An action meant to create an impression of open-mindedness which in fact does not exist,” Pierre declared.
“Noting my comments above, I have to inform you that my representative cannot continue to participate in the deliberations of the Committee. We wish the Committee well and look forward to the presentation of the Strategy and Plan for review and comment,” the SLP leader’s letter concluded.