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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Opposition says St. Lucians taken for a ride by new government

By CMC - Wednesday, May 16th, 2012.

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, May 16, CMC – Opposition Leader Stephenson King says St. Lucians have been left with a feeling of deception and labour pains following the presentation of the 2012-13 national budget by the St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) government that had campaigned in the last general election on a promise of “better days” ahead”.
In a statement Wednesday King said that after heightened curiosity in anticipation of Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony’s first budget presentation which was adopted by parliament last Friday, St Lucians have been left asking: “where is the Salaison?” (The French creole for the word “meat”).

He said that the first indication that the promised “better days” would instead be manifested as “bitter days” came during the throne speech by the island’s Governor General, Dame Pearlette Louisy, which began with the now famous words: “I would have liked to bring you some great news; some glad tiding which would set your world to right. Alas, this is not the case; the world is in turmoil, restless and uncertain”.

King said that St Lucians having experienced the disappointment of what is now referred to as a “stale food budget” are making demands for the salaison in the 2012/2013 budget.

He said instead of delivering on the promise of jobs, jobs, jobs and “better days”, Prime Minister Anthony is now informing citizens that the island’s economy is on a “slippery slope”.

King said that the government must now inform St. Lucians how it intends to deliver on a number of promises including the immediate injection of EC$100 million (US$37.03 million) into the local economy; the provision of a laptop computer to all secondary school students; the implementation of universal health care and a mini stadia in every town and village on the island.

The former prime minister said that given the recent announcement that the government is determined to introduce the Value Added Tax (VAT) on September 1, he is recalling Anthony’s earlier objection to the VAT as being “oppressive to the poor and  to workers”.

King said that given the challenging months ahead, he was calling on the government to reduce unnecessary expenditure including trimming the size of the Cabinet.

“This includes the unnecessary hiring of highly paid consultants and political advisors, at the expense of tax payers and the creation of the post of Executive Director for a former government minister at a salary of EC $12, 000 (US$4, 444) per month at the Soufriere Regional Development Foundation.

“The Kenny Anthony Government must cut back on its obsession in creating “jobs for the boys” and deliver on the wild promises which it flashed before St. Lucians ahead of the last general elections.

“It is now time that Kenny and his ministers stop their “mirror dancing” and provide St. Lucians with the salaison which they have come to expect based on the promise of “better days”, King said.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Anthony urged St. Lucians to find ways and means of rescuing the economy from its “very slippery slope” and rise to the challenge of getting the country back to work.

In a four hour presentation of the EC$1.4 billion (US$518 million) budget, Anthony who is also Finance Minister, painted a grim picture of the state of the country’s finances, even while expecting the economy to grow by just over two per cent with investment in construction and tourism.

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