St Lucia parliament convenes Tuesday to approve extended ‘State of Emergency’, tourism stimulus and NIC bill

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By Caribbean News Global contributor

CASTRIES, St Lucia – The parliament of Saint Lucia will convene Tuesday, April 21, 2020, 10 am, primarily, “parliament extends for an additional period commencing from the 27th of April, 2020 and ending on the 31st day of May, 2020, in accordance with Section 17(6) of the Constitution of Saint Lucia, Cap. 1.01, the Constitution of Saint Lucia.”

This, however, should not overlook the projected assessment of COVID-19 containment, law and order, vis-à-vis democracy, and upcoming general elections. The developments in St Kitts and Nevis is instructive with kinship to Saint Lucia.

St Lucia’s prime minister to extend ‘State of Emergency’ to May 31

Included at this sitting are bills by the prime minister entitle “ *National Insurance Corporation (Amendment) – first reading and another by the minister for tourism, information, broadcasting, culture and creative industries, *Tourism Stimulus and Investment (Amendment) – first reading.”

The order paper states “ *It is the intention of the ministers to seek leave of the House to enable these Bills to go through all its stages at this Sitting.”

This sitting follows March 23, 2020, when the Governor-General of Saint Lucia Sir Emmanuel Neville Cenac, acting under Statutory Instrument No. 39 of 2020 — Constitution of Saint Lucia — Proclamation for Declaration of State of Emergency, and the parliament of Saint Lucia dual sittings Tuesday, March 24, 2020.

Constitution of Saint Lucia – Resolution of Parliament extending declaration of emergency[8219]

This sitting warrants as detailed for “Resolution of Parliament Approving Declaration of State of Emergency passed as Statutory Instrument, No. 40 of 2020 that approved the state of emergency that was published in the Gazette on the 23rd day of March 2020 as Statutory Instrument, No. 39 of 2020 containing a declaration that a public emergency has arisen as a result of the occurrence of 2019-n COV, an infectious disease commonly known as COVID 19 for a further period of 26 days commencing from the 31st day of March 2020 and ending on the 26th day of April 2020.”

Tourism Stimulus and Investment (Amendment) Bill 

  • “2. The purpose of the Bill is to amend the Tourism Stimulus and Investment Act, Cap. 15.03 (principal Act).
  • “3. Clauses 1 and 2 of the Bill provide for the short title and interpretation.
  • “4.Clause 3 of the Bill provides for an amendment of section 3 of the principal Act (Application for an Approved Development) by deleting the words “31 March 2020” and by substituting the words “ to the 31st day of March 2021”, thereby extending the application period for an approved development for an additional year.”

NIC Amendment Bill (1) 

  • “2 The purpose of the Bill is to amend the National Insurance Corporation Act, Cap. 16.01 (the Act).
  • “3. Clauses 1 and 2 of the Bill provide the short title and interpretation.
  • “4. Clause 3 of the Bill amends section 2 of the Act (Interpretation) to provide a new definition for the term “economic relief programme”.

Economic relief programme

Besides, St Lucia’s COVID-19 ‘social stabilization plan’ – the NIC amendment act – “economic relief programme” means a plan of action established under section 65A to provide financial assistance to insured persons.”

In the light of both amendments it is noteworthy to revisit, “ All in, the ‘Social Stabilization Plan’ has no parallel of social and economic forbearance to that of other Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) or that of the other CARICOM Member States and opposition leader Philip J. Pierre, extraordinary measures for extraordinary times.

“The prime minister of Saint Lucia and minister for finance recited that: “The focus of the social stabilization is two-fold: (A) the persons who have completely lost their income and (B)  the more vulnerable persons in our society: the elderly, persons on the poverty list and persons waiting to be on the poverty list.”

Subject to that is NIC amendment act – “part 5A economic relief programme – “Economic relief programme 65A – 65F” and note “65G, the minister may make Regulations for all matters — (a) required or permitted to be prescribed under this Part; (b) relating to an economic relief programme.”

Projections

While the government of Saint Lucia has mentioned a ‘Social Stabilization Plan’ and now requests the NIC amendment act to allocate funding; and Tourism Stimulus and Investment bill to facilitate approved development for an additional year, the government is stalemate on a competent stimulus plan, to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, during the extended ‘State of Emergency,’ the government has scheduled (pending unforeseen circumstances) the last week of April – May, to table the 2020/21 budget address and estimates of revenue and expenditure.

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