In the Throne Speech, which marked the opening of the Third Session of the Tenth Parliament of Saint Lucia, Louisy spoke of her government’s intention to focus on legislation that impacts the economic and health sectors, as well as the electoral process.
In an effort to attract more investors to Saint Lucia and improve the tourism product, the governor general disclosed government’s intention to introduce a tourism stabilization and investment bill and a yachting services bill during this session of parliament.
She stated: “To enact a tourism stabilization and investment bill, which will incorporate a range of new incentives aimed at expanding our island’s tourism accommodation plant. These incentives will exist for a period of five years only and will be similar to the sunset provisions enacted in the run up to Cricket World Cup 2007.
“This bill will grant a special tax holiday of 25 years and possibly 30 years in the areas designated for special development. It will also grant some of the incentives that are allowable under the Special Development Areas Act, Cap. 15:29, but which are not currently available under the Tourism Incentives Act, Cap. 15:30.”
She further explained that “these incentives will be provided solely for investment into new room expansion and new properties. The underlying intention is to expand our room base. We must prepare for the future uptake in visitor arrivals when the world economy regains its momentum.”
As part of its legislative agenda, the government of Saint Lucia will also commission a review of the Electricity Supply Act, Cap. 9:02. This, she said, will be done in an effort to firstly, modernize the laws to provide for the entry of independent producers of renewable energy and secondly, to allow for the establishment of a new independent regulator for the energy sector.
In addition to the draft bill to establish a governance structure for the new national hospital, the government of Saint Lucia has signaled its intention to undertake an ambitious legislative agenda for the health sector. A health records bill, a mental health bill, as well as a nursing practitioners bill, will be introduced during this session of parliament.
On the issue of strengthening and securing the integrity of the electoral process, the governor general said: “Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, legislation governing our electoral process should not be left for enactment on the eve of a general election. This only induces suspicion and cynicism. My government therefore intends to proceed with the several amendments to the Elections Act, Cap 18:04, Revised Laws of Saint Lucia, 2006, as recommended by the Electoral Commission. Additionally, my government is desirous to keep its commitment to the electorate and will enact new legislation to:
(a) Render it unlawful for individuals who have committed crimes from participating in elections without frank and full disclosure of their criminal record to the electorate;
(b) Make it necessary for all intending candidates to declare whether they are in possession of a passport issued by another country or state and if so hold allegiance to another state contrary to the constitution of Saint Lucia; and
(c) Stiffen penalties for those persons who engage in bribing voters on elections day and otherwise.”
It is anticipated that the new legislation for the tourism sector will boost investor confidence.
The new laws in the health sector will seek to modernize Saint Lucia’s delivery of health services and will coincide with the opening of two new national hospitals.
Recent experiences in Saint Lucia and the region have also highlighted the need to strengthen electoral laws, so as to sanitize the electoral process and minimize the abuse of public trust.