CASTRIES, St Lucia — Leader of the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM), Therold Prudent, said that Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony’s 2013 budget address lacked sustainable program initiatives for Saint Lucia.
The LPM said that Anthony repeatedly used the global economic downturn as an excuse for his government’s lack of innovative vision and revealed problems in the social and education sectors that would never have reached such disturbing proportions if addressed while he was prime minister between 1996 and 2006.
“Instead,” Prudent said, “the prime minister continues to engage in unprofitable investment initiatives, such as the Saint Lucia Jazz Festival, the outrageous cost of which may have contributed to a reduction in subsidy on rice, sugar and flour.”
In the 2013 budget, Anthony revealed that “lower than anticipated revenue and grants resulted in the widening of the deficit position.”
“This statement reflects the incompetence of the current administration and should not be taken lightly,” according to Prudent.
He added that, in the 2012 budget, Anthony detailed how he would finance spending and provided the actual source of grants and the amount of projected revenue. In this budget he combined the revenue and grants figures to cushion the impact of the estimated $181.97 million deficit that he does not want to explain to the public.
The LPM said it perceives this strategy as typical of an underperforming administration.
“Furthermore, if the Anthony administration took accountability seriously, he would have realized that based on revenue trends throughout the year, the projected revenue target will not be met,” Prudent said, adding that it should have taken measures to curtail expenditure to avoid a current account deficit of $45.56 million, which has plummeted from a surplus of $59.2 million for the previous 12 months.
Another point identified by Prudent in Anthony’s current budget address is that, according to the Saint Lucia Labour Market Needs Assessment, 60 percent of the labour force lacks secondary school education.
“Let’s not forget,” stated Prudent, “that Dr Anthony was special advisor to the Ministry of Education at the age of 28; let’s not forget that Dr Anthony was minister for education from 1980 to 1981; let’s not forget that Dr Anthony worked as a professor at the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies for many years; and let’s not forget that Dr Anthony had a ten year stint (1996 to 2006) as leader of the country. So, the admission by Dr Anthony that 60 percent of our labour force does not have secondary level education in 2013 is disgraceful.”
Prudent said that the borrowing of funds by the administration to boost employment must be sustainable and should inject the type of economic growth that our communities desperately need.
“In his budget address, Dr Anthony specifically stated that the aim of his government is to cure the deficit and that it can be done by, and I quote, ‘Implementing growth, enhancing expenditure and tax reform measures.’ We all know what eventually happened; the deficit increased. While we admit that financing growth-enhancing program initiatives requires borrowed funds, the Anthony administration has failed miserably by not ensuring that the majority of the programs become community resources after the funds are depleted,” said Prudent.
The LPM asserted that, if the electorate is not proactive in monitoring the business of government, the country will suffer from social upheaval in the near future.
Therefore, Prudent urged all Saint Lucians to educate each other on matters that are obstacles to the provision of “bread and butter” to the people. This, he believes, will add significant value to efforts to become a self-sufficient nation by slashing our food import bill.
He added, “Saint Lucia operated at a loss last year due to the continued horrific leadership and the mismanagement of our limited resources, and we cannot afford to allow this to continue because it will eventually deter external assistance from reaching our shores.”
Prudent said that the time to be diligent and demand answers from the Anthony administration is now, or better days will become La Charité.
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