In the midst of the Royal Family visit, life goes on in Saint Lucia – and public attention this week is not on the Royal Couple but on what’s in the Budget to make life better for the average citizen.
Minister for Finance, Economic Development, and The Youth Economy, Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre will table the Appropriations Bill 2022/23 in the House of Assembly today (Tuesday, April 26th, 2022).
It will be the Prime Minister’s first Budget Address and largest, EC$1.8 billion, which will be presented this afternoon to start the policy debate on the 2022-2023 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure. The record EC$1.8 billion expenditure will be financed by recurrent revenue and grants of $EC1.3 billion and loan financing of $EC0.5 billion.
Saint Lucians are expecting the Prime Minister to unveil a package of proposals and initiatives to improve the livelihoods of citizens.
In this year’s budget, no new taxes or increases in taxes are expected. Proposals in this year’s budget are expected to remove over 10,000 taxpayers from the income tax net. In the SLP‘s 2016 Election Manifesto there were plans to exempt persons earning up to $4000 from paying income tax. These taxpayers should be expecting some relief if not all of what was promised.
An important area of interest in this year’s budget is a plan for the Youth Economy. The prime minister and minister of finance is expected to detail the level of assistance available to young people wishing to start their own businesses.
Also anticipated are the government‘s plans for the completion of St Jude’s hospital and the Hewanorra International Airport Redevelopment Project, two public infrastructural projects that have gone horribly wrong.
The participation of the Leader of the Opposition (LOO) in this year’s budget debate remains uncertain. Controversy has arisen regarding the time at which the Leader of the Opposition makes his contribution. The LOO has demanded that he speaks last, while the Leader of Government business in the House, Ernest Hilaire is insisting otherwise. The convention is that the LOO speaks after the Minister of Finance delivers his budget address.
Let’s hope this year’s budget debate is not overshadowed by Chastanet’s petulance. The National Television Network (NTN), the Government of Saint Lucia’s social media page, and radio via Rhythm FM 95.5 are expected to carry the debate live.