Members of Parliament (MPs) and government officials including Prime Minister Dr Kenny D. Anthony turned up one after the other, to take part in this morning’s meeting at 10 a.m., ahead of the debate on the estimates which commences at 2 p.m. this afternoon and continue into the next day, April 30, 2014 at 10 a.m.
The parliamentarians said that they are all awaiting the presentation, to make their contributions to the debate and to ensure that the people are properly represented.
Deputy Prime Minister Phillip Pierre said he wants to hear from critics, tangible alternatives that will reduce the current deficit.
“I don’t want to hear things that you can do this and you can do that, I want tangible figures and the arithmetic that will tell us how one can reduce the deficit,” he asserted. Pierre said the island is facing a real situation and the opposition and other critics, must be able to support their calls for a reduction in the current deficit and provide something that is achievable and realistic.
Opposition Leader Dr. Gale Rigobert has said she hopes the administration have included strategies to tackle the high fiscal deficit and unemployment in this year’s budget. Dr. Rigobert has said the fiscal situation and the debt to Gross Domestic Product GDP ratio, which stands at approximately 89 percent, is troubling and a consorted policy intervention is needed to correct the issue.
According to her, anything close to 60 percent is worrying. The current economic situation therefore needs to be reversed, she added. She said the trend of rising unemployment at 25 percent and youth unemployment at 43 percent is unhealthy. The opposition leader stressed that a concerted effort to revisit the current incentives for the local private sector and potential investors is also required.
While, government has denied reports that it plans to put over 200 public servants out of work next month, the entire populace will be paying close attention as to whether a move in this direction will take effect or whether the government will hold off on this move.
Government has reportedly met with trade unions to discuss the issue. Pointing to the country’s fiscal deficit which went from 9.6 percent of GDP in 2012 to 6.05 percent in 2013, the government said in a letter to union leaders on April 17 that, a further reduction is needed in order that St. Lucia remains competitive and restores its financial credibility.