Having accumulated over $3 million in losses plus thousands in unpaid taxes, the Government of Saint Lucia believes its annual subvention of just over $400,000 to Radio Saint Lucia is useless in absorbing those losses.
Prime Minister Allen Chastanet revealed those details during his budget presentation as he announced the closure of the government-influenced radio station.
Chastanet said the station’s “relevant programmes” will be restructured to take “advantage of new technologies for information dissemination”.
“As of March 31, 2017 the company’s accumulated losses amounted to $3,362,725. The company also reported a loss of $515,497 in 2015. The company also failed to meet its statutory requirement by the way of wage related expenses.
“Radio St. Lucia owes the National Insurance Corporation $543,000 for unpaid employee contributions and owes government $231,000 in unpaid taxes. This is an addition to a significant account payable balance and contingent liabilities.
“Madam speaker, the annual government subvention of $417,000 is unable to meet the significant liabilities that are being accumulated by Radio St. Lucia,” Chastanet told the House.
The prime minister said the media landscaped has changed.
“When Radio St. Lucia was established, there were few avenues for disseminating information to our citizens. The radio was the most widely used tool for mass media and there were few other major stations. Madam speaker, the current climate is far different. The internet, television and cellphones have taken over in terms of communication.
“The airwaves are saturated with radio stations and multiple avenues exist for the government to get its message across to its citizens. We must therefore revisit the question of the role of Radio St. Lucia in this current climate.
“Madam speaker, my government will recognise and reorganize the GIS to more effectively disseminate government information and its programming. The company currently known as Radio St. Lucia will be closed and the relevant programmes will be restructured to take advantage of new technologies for information dissemination,” he further explained.
Meanwhile, Information Minister Dominic Fedee has promised to release a statement on the fate of the radio station’s employees.
Reports are that the authorities are looking into the possibility of placing the station’s employees into the public service and use the station’s building for a film and recording/production house.