By Caribbean News Global contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia – At the first sitting of the second session of the twelfth parliament to convene on Tuesday, March 29, 2022, acting governor-general, His Excellency Cyril E. M. Charles will deliver his inaugural throne speech. The House of Assembly will meet at 10:00 am, followed by the Senate at 10:30 am. Later that same day, prime minister and minister for finance, economic development, and the youth economy, will present the estimates of revenue and expenditure to the House of Assembly.
Throne speeches in keeping with norms and precepts provide much detail. In this case, it is expected to outline the agenda/platform for the government of Saint Lucia’s national security, legislative, social and economic policy for 2022/23. The speech is expected to sketch a mandate to pursue socio-economic policies, reiterate the government’s commitments to a safer, more inclusive country towards economic growth, and layout specific priorities.
Finance minister to present estimates of revenue and expenditure 2022/23
Following the throne speech, the standing finance committee will meet in closed session at 02:00 pm, “to discuss the estimates of revenue and expenditure 2022/23 after which, the prime minister and minister for finance, Philip J. Pierre will present the estimates to the House of Assembly at 04:00 pm, … designed to support the growth and development of all Saint Lucians,” says the OPM press release.
In a March 18 press release, the office of the prime minister outlined “the poor decisions of the previous administration have led to a 24 percent contraction in the economy, placing Saint Lucia in the unenviable position as the sixth-worst performing economy in the world. This burdensome reality is now being reflected by a 60 percent increase in public debt between the period 2016-2020 and a debt-to-GDP ratio of 90 percent,” OPM continued. “Having issued over $185 million in direct finance contracts for roads, payable in five years, and $154 million in payables due to local vendors.”
The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) is projecting gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 9.1 percent across its 19 Borrowing Member Countries (BMCs) in 2022, accelerating the region’s economic recovery which started in 2021: “while Saint Lucia’s economy grew by 6.8 percent.”
The CDB has promised closer collaboration with the government of Saint Lucia to facilitate economic recovery and build resilience as the country navigates the COVID-19 pandemic and other development challenges.
Management consultants and economic observers are expected to scrutinize the finance ministers’ inaugural estimates of revenue and expenditure 2022/23. Comparisons will be drawn relative to the fiscal, economic and development strategy/model outlined, examine the SLP manifesto, and contrast current domestic and global events.
In the face of inflation, healthcare [a new COVID – BA.2 variant] national security challenges and efforts to re-energise the economy, experts will examine the pillars of the economy – taking into consideration new and existing projects, and how Saint Lucia is expected to be positioned in the new economic environment.
The social-economic review will likewise provide the counterbalance and examine the composite, towards the clear intent of government priorities.
Related: St Lucia in a deep hole
Moreover, the debate on the estimates of revenue and expenditure is “the thriller” most persons look towards, as parliamentarians tend to outline what’s budgeted for their ministry and constituency, notwithstanding political gamesmanship.
“The debate will commence on Wednesday, March 30, 2022, from 10:00 am,” the OPM has advised.