News2022/23 Budget Provides Much Relief

St. Lucia News OnlineAugust 8, 202275364 min

The 2022/2023 budget debate is scheduled to start in the House of Assembly today, Thursday 28th April.

All 17 parliamentarians are expected to respond to the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) Administration’s budgetary proposals, though uncertainty remains over the speaking time slot of Opposition Leader Allen Chastanet if he indeed makes a contribution to the debate.

PM Pierre’s first budget as Minister for Finance, Economic Development and The Youth Economy, is aimed at repairing and transforming the economy, with the island’s youth to play a leading role, through the Youth Economy.

During his budget address on April 26, the Minister for Finance highlighted numerous examples of reckless mismanagement of the nation’s finances during the 2016-2021 period of UWP rule. Much of the mismanagement related to large infrastructural projects: Hewanorra International Airport (HIA), St. Jude Hospital (SJH), and the John Compton Adam in Roseau.

PM Pierre reassured the nation that while investigations continue into how millions of dollars were wasted under the Chastanet administration, his administration will continue and complete these mismanaged projects.

The $1.8 Billion budget, the biggest in the island’s history, comes at a time when the island (and the world) is facing the steepest food and energy price increases occasioned by supply chain problems that started with COVID and the war in Ukraine.

Despite the economic and financial challenges, the Pierre administration has been able to cushion consumers from the full impact of rising prices for fuel, cooking gas, flour and sugar.

In addition to Public Servants getting salary increases, the Pierre administration has also been able to announce in his budget cuts in personal income tax, by increasing annual personal allowances from $18,000 to $25,000, providing a one-off payment of $500 to government pensioners, increasing public assistance to the most-needy and reinstating of the Distress Fund, previously removed by last UWP administration.

As an inducement to taxpayers to settle their income tax liabilities, all related interest charges and penalties will be waived for the income tax years up to 2020 if those liabilities are settled by 1 st January 2023. In addition, all income tax due at 31st December 2000 will be written-off.

With several public sector projects to be undertaken and expected increases in tourism arrivals, the economy is expected to register healthy economic growth for the years ahead, at an average of 4% annually, according to the Minister of Finance.

The House debate will end on Friday 29th April, at which time the Appropriation Bill for 2022/23 will be enacted into law.

St. Lucia News Online

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