By Caribbean News Global
CASTRIES, St Lucia – Sixty-nine days ahead of the constitutional mandate, to which parliament shall be dissolved on July 11, 2021, and general election held on or before October 11, 2021, a sitting of the House of Assembly is scheduled for Tuesday, May 4, 2021. The outcome will cause more frustration, suppression and civil liberty breach ahead of general elections.
Prime minister Allen Chastanet is expected to table a motion for the extension of the state of emergency (SOE) to October 16, 2021. (see order paper)
Papers to be laid by the prime minister include:
- Statutory Instrument No. 67 of 2021 – COVID-19 (Prevention and Control) (Prohibition of Assembly) (No. 4) Order
- Statutory Instrument No. 68 of 2021 – COVID- 19 (Prevention and Control) (Physical Distancing) (No. 4) Order
- Statutory Instrument No. 70 of 2021 – Excise Tax (Amendment of Schedule 1) (No. 6) Order
- Statutory Instrument No. 71 of 2021 – National Savings and Development Bonds Act – Resolution of Parliament to Raise Funds by the Issue of Savings Bonds.
Minister for commerce, industry, enterprise development and consumer affairs, Bradley Felix, is expected to present, Statutory Instrument No. 69 of 2021 – Price Control (Amendment) (No. 6) Order.
Prime minister Chastanet is also expected to table the following Bills for consideration:
- Counter-Trafficking (Amendment); First reading
- Companies (Amendment); First reading
- Money Services Business (Amendment); First reading
- Tourism Stimulus and Investment (Amendment); First reading.
Minister for tourism, information, broadcasting, culture and creative industries, Dominic Fedee, will present the tourism stimulus and investment (Amendment) for first reading.
In keeping with the extraordinary borrowing of the government of Saint Lucia Statutory Instrument, 2021, No. 71 dated April 26, 2021, is testament to the Unrealistic estimates of revenue and expenditure for 2021/22, that opposition leader, Philip Pierre qualified as ‘a direct failure of the Chastanet-led administration.’
- Statutory Instrument No. 71 of 2021
National Savings and Development Bonds Act – Resolution of Parliament to Raise Funds by the Issue of Savings Bonds, reads:
The minister of finance may raise, by the issue of savings bonds inside and outside of Saint Lucia, money up to the amount of XCD2,400,000,000, for financing such capital or other expenditure and for such debt refinancing, as he or she determines;
AND WHEREAS it is further provided under section 4 of the National Savings and Development Bonds Act, Cap. 15.25 that the bonds shall be issued in such form and on such terms and conditions as the minister of finance directs;
AND WHEREAS the minister of finance considers it necessary to raise, on the Regional Government Securities Market or through private placement at a maximum rate of 7% — (a) the amount of XCD237,200,000 for financing the 2021/22 Budget; (b) the amount of XCD383,700,000 for refinancing existing debts; …
Financing the budget
Caribbean News Global (CNG) previously examined the estimates and termed it a “gangster capitalist” document – consistent with a patchwork of uncertainty.
For clarity on government instruments, including bonds and treasury bills; reference, subsection financing the budget of $1.639 billion.
Further, Saint Lucia’s GDP contracted by 20.4 percent in 2020, after a further contraction of 0.1 percent in 2019. There is a current deficit of $232,491,500 and an overall financing gap and deficit of $383 million or an estimated 7.9 percent of GDP.
The official stock of public debt increased by 10.4 percent to $3.773 billion by the end of 2020. According to the multiple opportunities to rebased debt-to-GDP ratio, it is estimated at 86.5 percent at the end of 2020.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) reports 74 COVID-19 related deaths as of April 30. The new cases bring the total number of cases diagnosed in the country to date is 4552. Active cases in the country to date is 110. And, as of April 29, 2021, a total of 24, 266 individuals have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 2,232 individuals have received the second dose.
According to prime minister Chastanet: “I can’t focus on elections until I know I have the COVID thing well in hand but constitutionally we are required to call elections by a certain date which is October 12,” he added. “My hesitation about calling elections, it’s not about being scared, it is about the safety of everyone.”
In keeping with the utterances of prime minister Chastanet, his most recent comments fall squarely to that of ‘augmented reality”. This is aligned to hands-on day-to-day campaign activities and the copycat playbook of June 5, 2020, general elections in St Kitts and Nevis, which is unfolding in Saint Lucia.
The prime minister cannot escape that his temporary authority, driven primarily to the “curtailment of freedoms, civil liberties amid death and COVID-19 in Saint Lucia,” is an indictment of what can be termed “maladministration and incompetence” in more ways than one.