By Caribbean News Global
CASTRIES, St Lucia – Parliament on Tuesday, May 30, 2023, will borrow “XCD$2.4M via the National Savings and Development Bonds Act, with crime and zero-sum politics St Lucia’s alternative reality, features the infamous judge and jury – St Lucia’s Bazooka Speaker – Mea culpa “through my fault.”
The new borrowing is scheduled “by the issue of savings bonds inside and outside of Saint Lucia, money up to the amount of EC$2.4M 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 Act that the bonds shall be issued in such form and on such terms and conditions as the minister responsible for 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 interest rate of 7 percent per annum —
“(a) the amount of EC$32,100,000.00 for financing the 2023/24 budget; (b) the amount of EC$433,500,000.00 for refinancing existing debt; […].” Statutory Instrument 2023, No.
As with the previous administration, Tuesday’s sitting of parliament is no different to the pattern of government borrowing to finance the budget and infrastructure development, albeit with major objections from the then-opposition and current government.
Notwithstanding, Tuesday’s sitting seems particular about “two motions”: 1. United Nations Sanctions (Counter-Proliferation Financing) (Amendment) 2. Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) followed by Bills down for consideration:
At Tuesday’s sitting of parliament, St Lucia’s Bazooka Speaker – Mea culpa “through my fault” is expected to follow his undertaking, given to the Court Monday, May 15, 2023:
It is ordered …
The LOO will be at liberty to carry out his duties in the House, in furtherance to: “The application for the injunction is adjourned sine die; The cost of an incidental to the applicant shall be cost in the cause; That the substantive matter shall be set down for hearing late July 2023, and the parties have liberty to apply.”
Relentless crime and lawlessness
Saint Lucia continues to record homicides at an alarming rate, 35/37 (depending on who is counting), alongside cases of rape, and armed robberies.
The weekend of May 20/21 reports four shootings, two murders,[…] and May 27-29, 2023, The Royal St Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) is reported to have confirmed investigations into two homicides and a suspected drowning.
Deeply concerning, are failed attempts to address the growing insecurity in the country, notwithstanding, The Regional Security System (RSS) re-deployment in Saint Lucia, more police vehicles, increased budget and resources; and the Suppression of Escalated Crime (Police Powers) Act 2023.
Following the Caribbean Federation of Police Welfare Associations, 12 AGM in Saint Lucia May 24-26, 2023, the vice president of the Caribbean Federation of Police Welfare Associations (CFPWA) Sean Mc Call, reportedly communicated that:
“The reality is we are overworked and underpaid – that is one of the key issues,” he continued.“For instance, what if an officer is on the job – 12, 13, 14 hours, doing more than 40 hours a week and has an error of judgement, will the Commissioners take that responsibility or would he leave that officer at the mercies of the court?”
Further to the matter of “safety precaution” St Lucia’s passport office in disarray – offering Saint Lucian’s “apologies” in exchange for passports, the entrepreneurial services of nationals offering services to seemingly “disenfranchised nationals”, is a thriving ‘little business’.
Last week, the minister for finance, economic development and the youth economy and minister for justice and national security, Philip Pierre, advised that the infamous custody suite (a detention facility for persons arrested by the police), will be rebuilt and completed in 2024. The infamous structure was demolished by the previous administration. Also, work on the Vieux Fort police station and the Halls of Justice is expected to commence this year.
Earlier this year the CCJ welcomed Saint Lucia to its appellate jurisdiction, said in part:
“On behalf of the CCJ, I extend my sincerest congratulations to the people of Saint Lucia on this momentous occasion,” said Justice Adrian Saunders, president, Caribbean Court of Justice.
The CCJ advised that it, “looks forward to serving the people of Saint Lucia as we do all the states and people of the Caribbean Community and in particular, those of Guyana, Barbados, Belize and the Commonwealth of Dominica, whose final appeals we hear.”
Considering the government’s continued borrowing, crime, and zero-sum politics, the essentials of freedom and liberty, safety and medical services are paramount.
Zero-sum politics and healthcare
Healthcare and related services continue to be a “bugbear” made no easier by the divergence of government information and policymakers’ statements.
‘Improving healthcare outcomes’ was a feature in this year’s throne speech as the “second major priority area,” stated in part:
“I am pleased to report that work is progressing well on the St Jude Hospital Reconstruction Project, and my government is confident that the people of Saint Lucia and especially residents in the south, will be given the long overdue St Jude Hospital before the end of this parliament.
“[…] The ministry of health will also commence the issuance of health cards to citizens as soon as the UHC’s Health Information System is completed this year.
“My government will also secure additional financial support for the health services provided by OKEU and St Jude Hospitals.
“My government will, therefore, be strengthening the health system with additional resources to ensure that it is in a state of preparedness in the event of any future health pandemic.” Throne Speech 2023.
Last week Ahmed Al-Khateeb, minister of tourism for Saudi Arabia and his delegation visited Saint Lucia, (part of a Caribbean Tour, inclusive of Barbados, Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines) and reportedly held high-level discussions […]
“A highlight of the visit was a tour of the existing operations at the St Jude Hospital and the St Jude Hospital Reconstruction Project to explore areas of cooperation.”
- GOSL unveiling of St Jude hospital ‘progress report’ equates to mind-bending
- St Jude reconstruction resumes in S.T.E.P methodology
- St Jude Hospital Reconstruction Project: 13 years of an ongoing national disgrace
Meanwhile, ‘Saint Lucia makes its debut at the General Committee of the 76th World Health Assembly in Geneva’ is said to “represent (s) the Caribbean and allows balance among sub-regions, “ the government report added. “Minister for health, wellness and elderly affairs, Moses Jn. Baptiste has been providing exemplary representation during the Assembly.”
The government report continued: “This year, the region was well represented with full participation at the 76th World Health Assembly. This ensured that our health priorities and concerns are expressed, discussed and documented on the global scale for support and necessary action.”
2.5 percent ‘health and security levy’ effective July 21, 2023
The government of Saint Lucia policy statement 2023 introduced a 2.5 percent ‘health and security levy’ effective July 21, 2023, (Effectively, VAT returns to 15% currently at 12.5%), giving meaning to:
“The pursuit of universal health care coverage remains the framework within which my government seeks to provide quality, affordable, accessible, and equitable health care.” Throne Speech 2023.
Saint Lucia’s life expectancy as reported may become a hindrance to the government’s Universal Health Care (UHC) initiative, should the ill logic of attaining 80 years – remains the sunset age for free medical services on the island.
In Saint Lucia’s alternative reality of borrowing, crime and zero-sum politics, parliament on Tuesday is conceivably a watershed.
Related: Parliamentary Papers, May 30, 2023