(PRESS RELEASE VIA SNO) – As I mentioned in my response to the 2018/2019 budget in the parliament, this budget is nothing but a list of dreams and aspirations with no strategy for their realization.
There were many instances of budget pronouncements for which no financial provisions were made in the annual estimates.
This was a budget with little substance and will do little to improve the lives of the unemployed and citizens looking for better and affordable health care.
The Prime Minister’s continues to show little understanding of the country’s public debt. Shockingly he appears unaware that he cannot reduce the public debt of the country by having a statutory body borrow money rather than central government. In fact he spoke of reducing the government’s public debt by having SLASPA to borrow the funds for port improvements.
Deferred Finance Contracts also are debt and I am once more calling on the Prime Minister to come to Parliament for a guarantee to pay for the roads built in Micoud.
The Prime Minister in his 2018/19 budget address has committed to increasing the price of gasoline by at least $1 per gallon a direct consequence of an increase in the excise tax on gasoline. So much for no taxes. The Prime Minister has ignored the negative impact of the increase on the livelihoods of Fisher- folk.
After almost two years in office the government is no closer to announcing a credible mechanism for the funding of the new Owen King EU hospital. No serious effort has been made to discuss the administration of the National Health Insurance Scheme.
The Prime Minister has wasted another opportunity in his 2018/2019 budget to come clean on the future of the St Jude’s hospital project out of respect for the lives of citizens of this country.
Our worse fears on the CIP have been realized. We warned the government not to interfere with the CIP programme as conceived by the Saint Lucia Labour Party, now according to the US State Department the entire programme may be in jeopardy.
The Prime Minister in his closing remarks in the budget stated he accepts personal responsibility for a number of matters relating to the Range Development in Black Bay and CIP issues. The Prime Minister explained that he is concerned that the CIP Approved Applicants who were revoked had to have their names published. In other words it is not our business who gets our citizenship and who is revoked. It is interesting that the PM did not express concern about the fact that the CIP Unit had apparently granted citizenships to persons whose due diligence had not been completed.
Only last night, it was carried on HTS News that the US has expressed concerns that our CIP Unit does not have autonomy and is subject to political interference. What does that mean? Who is interfering in the CIP approval process?
The Prime Minister now has to answer more questions:
– Who gave the directive to the CIP Unit to grant these citizenships?
– What are the nationalities of these six (6) revoked individuals?
– Are they in possession of Saint Lucian passports?
– What has been done to recall these passports?
– Why have some persons who have been revoked not Gazetted?
The Saint Lucia Labour Party wishes to inform the Prime Minister that contrary to what he said, it is not the Regulations that provide for persons who are revoked to be Gazetted but the CIP Legislation. His comments that the CIP Unit is reviewing that policy is noted.
The Prime Minister should take note that the Saint Lucia Labour Party will vigorously resist any attempt by the Government to change the legislation to further undermine the integrity of the CIP Programme and indeed the safety and security of the people of Saint Lucia. The People of Saint Lucia demand transparency on the CIP and no further amendments should be made to hide things and the money being made from the people.