Opposition leader says budget does not inspire hope

Opposition leader says budget does not inspire hope
Opposition Leader Dr. Gale Rigobert
Opposition Leader Dr. Gale Rigobert

Opposition Leader Dr. Gail Rigobert has said the budget presented this year does not contain any firm policy that could trigger change and development on the island.

During her presentation on the budget debates, Dr. Rigobert said it does not “inspire hope” and she stressed that there is no single strategy included in it, which is tailored towards arresting the unemployment situation and tackling ‘bread and butter’ issues. Worst of all, she said the high fiscal deficit is far from being addressed.

The opposition leader said the fact that Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony has already highlighted how much of a burden the public sector employment bill is to his government, is an indication that they will press for public servants to go home or reduce salaries.

Either way, Dr. Rigobert said if such a move is to be taken, it will affect thousands of households, especially since the public service sector represents a large number of the working population on the island.

She said plans to reduce public servants’ salaries by five per cent may take effect and registered her disappointment with the administration for contemplating such a move.

During most of her presentation, she quoted statistics from the 2013 Social and Economic Review, which she explained is a clear indication of the financial situation the island is faced with. The report, she said, speaks frequently about downturns, contractions, decrease and reclines.

“Whether we are speaking about growth or debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio or the unemployment figures, the tale is a stark one, the realities troubling…and though those on the other side have tried their very best to numb the reality of the hardships that currently confront this country, the figures tell the truth,” she added.

Dr. Rigobert said the figures tell a troubling tale of a budget that was laid before the House last year and the inability of government to deliver on a promise made to the people of Saint Lucia. The government, she said, is “masking the reality with all kinds of excuses and explanations, but the truth is that a promise was made to the people, as spelt out in the budget, and the government failed to deliver.”

“Things are hard in Saint Lucia. Let us not endeavour to pull wool over the eyes of the people when the country has found itself in an economic crisis…the truth is embedded in the figures therein,” she stressed.

Preliminary estimates of the economic review indicates that the growth of the economy contracted further in 2013 by 3.3 per cent, while most of the productive sectors recorded declines in 2013, led by the construction and trade/distributive sectors.

As it relates to the decrease in construction activity, Dr. Rigobert said the stimulus package introduced by government failed to achieve growth levels of construction activity. The opposition leader believes that this downturn in the construction sector and lower activities in both the public and private sector, all led to greater of unemployment on the island.

“Regrettably the budget that was presented last year and the figures presented in this year’s estimates do not reveal to this honourable house and the people of Saint Lucia any innovative measures to correct the unemployment problem in this country,” she added.

The political leader said people have families and children to feed and want to see improved conditions in Saint Lucia, but this could only happen if the government addresses the current financial crisis. This could lead to better avenues of investment and the creation of jobs that will be sustained for generations to come.

Shifting her attention to government’s borrowing, Dr. Rigobert said while there is information that the administration has been borrowing, there is no clear evidence to show how the money was spent.

“The question must be asked: borrowing to do what? There is no inherent danger in borrowing necessarily, it is that what you do with the money that is borrowed,” she posited.

She believes that the money borrowed should have been pumped into the productive sector, which could have helped to generate revenue for the island, while creating employment.

“What is the borrowed money being used for? Are we borrowing to feed the endless consumerism of this government or is the government borrowing to finance productive enterprises that would realise themselves the multiplying effects of generating jobs that they promise, but by the government’s own admission in the very pages before us, everything seems to be on a downward,” she argued.

However, she cited the fiscal performance of central government, which showed improvement in 2013/2014 and preliminary estimates indicate a reduction in the overall deficit from $320.6 million and 9.2 per cent of GDP in 2012/2013, to $208.0 million 2013/2014.

“I am not sure the government has yet been able to convince us that this is by any feet of their fiscal innovation necessarily, but perhaps a pure accident of their inability to borrow on the regional and international market. This is worthy of a further interrogation and in the spirit of transparency and good governance,” she stated.

Dr Rigobert advised government to have an honest engagement with the people of Saint Lucia on the current situation.

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26 COMMENTS

  1. when kenny was dancing where were you lucian watch your bread and butter now vat on butter

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  2. Is Gail waiting until her party is in the majority to present her better ideas, her solutions? Does she not know that she needs to participate in the successful governance of our country, even in her current capacity?
    These are critical times: it's not about talking down every proposal, while having no better plans to present!
    Come on Gail, this administration is providing you access to all the tools, information and facilities that the constitution prescribes for your Office, (which y'all did not do!). Use your own considerable capacity, do the best you can in the interest of St. Lucia! Don't be a mere mouthpiece for Allen Chastanet, who is so, so far below your pedigree. Oppose what is genuinely questionable, by all means, but do co-operate when you need to, in our better collective, national interest! Eh bien!

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  3. It is no wonder the public sector wage bill is under stress, when they have created all the useless posts in NICE and STEP and SMILES...what did they expect? They keep on making some retarded policies and hurting the country in the long run. The monies that you invested in NICE, STEP and SMILES, could have been utilized better!

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  4. Kameron it is time that you realize that A-B and Bambi are just party hacks. They are just doing their jobs just like Jadia and others. they will have no good or substancial contributions to this post. They will applaud the efforts of the government at any chance while criticizing everything coming from any opposition. When they can't criticize them then they just call them names.

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  5. Bambi don't be a hypocrite who seems to know much more but reveals less. The Public Servants had already agreed to a wage freeze. Due to the vindictiveness of this government they forced them to take a 4% increase. Still saying to them that whosoever didn't want it to write to them.

    Now ask yourself why was this term included in the contract? In any event it was to discourage them from not accepting and to know for sure who were the individuals who did not accept. Which government would be so cruel to their people. What ever is done in bad faith will always end up bad. Now tell me isn't this lunacy in authority?
    I dare one of you fly by night party hacks to challenge.

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  6. A--b,What is the problem ?Dr.Rigobert's contribution was way beyond your ability to understand much less analyse and produce an intelligent rebuttal?
    That is true. Way ,way above your intellectual ability.
    No surprise you remain mum.
    Go back to school.

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  7. Everyone knows thing is not rosy in St.Lucia and beyond.Check our neighbors.We all saying the public sector is a burden but government is the biggest employer and rightfully so.Government do not have the luxury as the private sector to retrench workers just so without implications.So if we all in a bind instead of reducing the public service as many who are economically viable are selfishly suggesting i think half a loaf is better than nothing.If sacrifices have to be made to get off of the situation lets all bite the bullet for a year or two to reduce the fiscal deficit.I hear a lot of talk but no practical suggestion.Is the opposition holding on selfishly to workable solutions while we all rot hoping to implement them if they get in power in the future.I want to remind them they were part of the problem as they left office two years ago.Union leaders with any brain would rather a salary freeze or cut to mass retrenchment.If they have better ideas the government must listen and implement them.We cannot reduce the public service at this time regardless what the chamber of commerce say.

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  8. Say what you will. Dr. Rigobert's reply is perhaps the most solid and soundly argued economic-based reply ever presented in the House of Assembly, ever. What we do not know is the fullest extent of the effectiveness of any alternatives she may have. What may be happeining in the background is that her advisors may have been working with her in real time.

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  9. she is correct! This was an excuse riddled budget. Not that it should be celebrated. But these guys came in on such a high in 2011, and now seem so beaten and broken! Did anyone see PEP? What happened to PEP? The guy looks broken and ministryless? Is the Governing Party going to send PEP to represent the People of ANSE LA RAYE CANARIES again? Worste budget ever!

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    • Pep's election was based on singing ability and not much more. Did someone say a rolling minstrel show? A circus?

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  10. Good job Dr. Rigobert. Don't allow these jokers who we presently call ministers to intimidate you.

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  11. Sigh, she really looked Gail but the chick on stage is far better looking....lol!!

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    • They don't, do they, AB? Don't worry they will eventually get it, albeit late!!

      This woman should really get a wig or something...she looks most unbecoming with that ball head.

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  12. Instead Dr. Gail Regobert get ready for the Budget debate she went and joined Kassav.......OMG did you guys see her on stage.

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    • I wonder to what extent does one accept any of what some people have to say about a presentation on budgetary and economic matters, when they themselves do not know bull foot from bull cow about either. For that matter, most have not gone to any school that teaches either of those subjects. CXC does not even give those passing its exams the basics or any handle on these matters either.

      By the way, the LOO was not dancing away when she was giving her speech. Right? So what has that to do with the speech? It is a very sad reflection on the state of our maturity as a people when we always pivot away from the serious issues and double down on the trivia, and then vote on the basis of the trivia swimming between our ears.

      When will we as a people, damn well grow up? I don't know. She is not a man. So why must she act or behave like one, or please or fall in line with our male or female stereotypes? She shows that she has a life other than politics. Didn't she? Stupid.

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  13. In my humble opinion, Stephenson King's contribution in the house was far more substantive than that of Dr. Rigobert's. I think hers was more about grandstanding and pandering to her base (UWP supporters). Additionally, I think her inexperience was very apparent.

    You may comment but I do stand by my opinion.

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    • Lol I said the same thing. I called my son and said look at Gail Rigobert on stage. Hahahaha what a look a like, lol.

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  14. What happen to your trip to Barbados? Did it pay off? And tell us, how was it helpful in your own presentation on the budget?

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    • Garcon what are you trying to say? You mean there is no grey matter left in that big head? You making me think the money spent
      on sending you to high school was a waste.

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    • I thought they went to purchase economic medication.What happened? They eh get?

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