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JUNE 6 ELECTION DAY

Image of Dr. Kenny Anthony

St Lucians will go to the polls on June 6 to elect a new government. The date was announced tonight by Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony in an address to the nation.

The following is the text of that address

ADDRESS TO THE NATION BY HON. DR. KENNY D. ANTHONY

PRIME MINISTER & MINISTER FOR FINANCE, ECONOMIC AFFAIRS, PLANNING & SOCIAL SECURITY

Fellow citizens, I address you tonight on the date for the next General Election in our country.

As you are probably aware, the fifth anniversary of the last General Election is November 28, 2016. Our Constitution says in section 55(2) that “Parliament unless sooner dissolved shall continue for five years from the date of the first sitting of the House after any dissolution and shall then stand dissolved.” This would mean that General Elections are constitutionally due for the latest, three months after the first sitting of Parliament, which was held on January 05, 2012. In effect, the Government would have had until April 05, 2017 to call General Elections.

However, I have decided in the interest of our country to call the General Election several months ahead of its due date to ensure peace, stability and certainty in our country and its affairs. The Opposition United Workers Party has agitated for elections for months and on our side, the Saint Lucia Labour Party says, “we are ready.”

PASSAGE OF BUDGET

You would have noticed that while there was a debate on the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for the Financial Year 2016/2017- which of course, most members of the Opposition did not attend- there was no presentation of a Budget Address. The explanations for what appears to be unusual, are rather simple.

Section 79(1) of our Constitution requires that the Minister of Finance prepares and lay the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure “before or not later than thirty days after the commencement of the financial year.” In turn, section 79 (2) of the Constitution provides for an Appropriation Bill to be introduced in the House of Assembly to authorize expenditure from the Consolidated Fund. These are the two fundamental requirements established by the Constitution to allow expenditure by the Government. Clearly, we need to ensure that any expenditure by the Government is fully authorized. And we have done so!

Given my decision to call the General Election just after the passage of the Appropriation Bill 2016/17, I felt it best that the Government elected by the will of the people in the General Election which I am about to announce, be given the opportunity to present, within a reasonable period after the General Election, its economic and policy proposals by way of a Financial Statement to the House.

Incidentally, that was the view I held and expressed way back in 1997 when General Elections were held on May 23, 1997, just after the presentation of the budget in that year.

THE ISSUES

We come to this juncture after four years of collective effort and sacrifice. These past four years have been a period of adjustment for our economy and indeed, for all of us.

I remain eternally grateful to you for the support and understanding that you have shown for the adjustments we have made to ensure that our economy became stronger, better, and more resilient. Some of our measures were not always popular but it was never in doubt that the measures were implemented in the best interests of our country. By our common will and collective efforts, we saved our country from the IMF.

The results of our efforts have now begun to yield fruits.

Our economy has returned to growth. Last year, it grew by 1.3%.

We have reduced our fiscal deficit from 9.6% of GDP in 2012 to 3.1% in 2015. This is a remarkable reduction by any measure.

Our current account surplus increased to $73.8 million in 2015/16. We also registered a significantly improved performance in the primary surplus, which grew to $45.3 million in 2015/16 from $3.7 million in 2014/2015.

Unemployment is finally trending downwards, from a high of 24.5% to 20% in the last quarter. There was a net increase in the number of employed persons by 3.8% to 77,131. In the Fourth Quarter alone, our Labour Force grew by 5,220 persons. It is clear we are the only Government with a plan for jobs! We need to continue on our path.

Tourism arrivals continue to increase steadily. For the first time ever, we surpassed the one million mark for combined stay-over and cruise passenger arrivals.

The construction sector expanded by 7.4%.

Manufacturing too, is on the rebound. The sector grew by an estimated 13.7%.

Agricultural production, though uneven, is rising, with banana exports surging by 35.3%. Many of us may not be aware, but Saint Lucia is the only Windward Island still exporting bananas to the United Kingdom.

Investment has also returned to our country.  Currently, two major new hotels are under construction. Some 700 Saint Lucians are employed at the Royalton at Cap Estate; another275 are employed at the Harbour Club in Rodney Bay. When the Royalton is completed, some 650 to 700 Saint Lucians are expected to find jobs. In the next few days, I expect a sod turning ceremony will be held to signal the construction of the new hotel, Sunset Bay Hotel, at “Sabwisha”, in Choiseul. The developers have already paid for the land.

The local private sector too is investing in our country again. Unicomer Limited, the parent company of Courts (Saint Lucia) is constructing its new headquarters. The Dayana Centre in the City Centre is nearing completion.

The public sector too is also playing its part! A sod turning ceremony has already been held to confirm the commencement of the Administrative Complex in Vieux Fort. Two new bridges, one in Thomazo and the other in Canaries are about to commence construction. Plans are now at an advanced stage for the commencement of the Secondary Roads Improvement Project to pave the way for the expansion of the Choc to Gros Islet Highway. The European Union has confirmed financing of a new bridge at Piaye and the reconstruction of the Venus Road in the Anse La Raye Quarter.

The prospects for the health sector are promising.

The creative industries have begun to take shape; youth and sports are in good hands.

We continue to educate the children of Saint Lucia to equip them to be the future drivers of our country’s destiny. We provided our students from Form 3 to Form 5 in our secondary schools with Laptops. We plan to extend this programme to Form 1 of all our secondary schools.

We are well on our way to diversifying our energy needs by developing alternative sources of energy.

All over the country we are opening modern, state-of-the art Information Technology Centres to give all Saint Lucians free access to computers and high-speed internet for learning and entrepreneurship.

Our country is, once again, proud, resilient and on the move! However, it is also delicately poised, and all of these gains and the sacrifices we have made to get us here can be quickly undone and reversed by recklessness and irresponsible actions.

DELICATE CHOICES

One such example is the recent opportunistic and bizarre proposal by the leader of the United Workers Party on VAT.

The leader of the UWP, at a recent meeting on the Boulevard, stated that his Party will do an “immediate reduction and ultimate removal of the dreaded VAT.” He added: “We will find a more creative way and less onerous way of raising revenues generated by VAT”. These are his words, not mine.

So in the mind of Allen Chastanet, VAT is “dreaded” and yet, at a Town Hall Meeting in Gros Islet last night at which some twenty persons were in attendance, he told his audience that “VAT is the best and most effective tax in the world. No argument”. Now, which is it? Ask yourself, why this incredible about turn and inconsistency?

In 2015/2016 our country earned $346.37 million dollars from VAT. It is this revenue that pays for our nurses, doctors, teachers, police officers, civil servants, and repays our debt. For every 1% reduction in VAT Revenue, the country loses $7.0 million dollars. The question then is this: what are the new “creative” measures, what are the new taxes that Allen Chastanet plans to impose on the people of Saint Lucia to make up for this staggering loss of $ 346.37 million dollars in revenue?

In 2007, Sir John Compton announced in his only Budget Address before his death that his Government will introduce VAT. He said so in these words:

“Madam Speaker, I wish to draw to the attention of this Honourable House that VAT is not a tax with which we are unfamiliar. We currently have on our books a  number of transaction taxes such as the consumption tax, hotel accommodation tax and the travel tax. It is more efficient to bring all those taxes under a single legislative and administrative structure that would widen the tax base while easing the burden of existing taxpayers. The VAT will not be another tax, but a replacement for some existing taxes. It will be a broad based comprehensive and simplified system of taxation on transactions. During the course of this financial year, we will be consulting with you on an appropriate schedule for implementation of this modified tax system.”[See Page 42 of the Budget Address, 2007/2008]

Sir John’s successor, Hon Stephenson King, in his 2011 Budget Address, reiterated Sir John’s comments promising to introduce VAT in April 2012.He prepared draft legislation and engaged civil society on the merits of VAT.

Apparently, the wisdom of Sir John Compton in announcing the introduction of VAT in 2007, was conveyed to his successor, Hon Stephenson King, but somehow not to King’s successor as leader of the UWP, Allen Chastanet, even though he was part of the Cabinet that made those decisions.

Our Government believes that VAT has settled reasonably well. It is not perfect. Adjustments may well be necessary from time to time but our number one priority must remain the creation of new jobs. And this will be the continuing focus of a new Labour Government.

We believe that more money must be put in the pockets of Saint Lucians by reducing on the number of persons who pay personal income taxes, reducing corporate income tax to encourage even more investment, and ensuring a fair and just property tax regime. We believe that our revenue base must be protected to pay for hospital care for our people, pay our teachers to educate our children, provide more access to university education for our young people, and to protect our elderly, our poor and our vulnerable.

These are the issues before us.

DECISION TIME

Fellow Saint Lucians, the die is cast!

The decision time has arrived!

Today, I advised the Governor General to dissolve the Parliament of Saint Lucia, and to issue “Writs of Election” to pave the way for the General Election.

The General Election will be held on June 06, 2016. Nomination day will be May 27, 2016.

Good night and may God bless and protect each and every one of you and our island home, Saint Lucia!

I thank you.

5 Comments

  1. It is a good thing the time between the dissolution of the House and the elections will be as short as Constitutionally possible. A longer time for campaigning would be useless anyway, as apart from the usual promises, neither party can claim to have anything meaningful to say to sway the minds of the electorate, especially independent-minded voters.

    Why on earth would the PM make such a big deal about Cobstitutional correctness on the timing of the elections vis-a-vis the timing of the budget? If the PM really wanted to be faithful to the Constitution and to his principles, all he needed to do was call the elections before the passage of the Appropriations Bill. Why go through the shenanigans of a Throne Speech and a farcical ” debate”on the Appropriations Bill and then beat your chest about upholding principle? How different is the PM’s actions to those of Dr. Lewis in 1997? The only difference is there is no budget address. What if the UWP should win? Will there not be another Throne Speech and a new Appropriations Bill?

    Surely, St. Lucia can do much better than what’s on offer in this election. If it was not for Taiwan, the SLP would have little to show for its term and yet despite this the UWP has not been able to put the Government under any serious pressure. That 5 to stay alive campaign is nothing more than a papyshow! It is neither original, nor substantive.

    Now the government has turned more sod in shaky constituencies in one month than farmers did over the past 5 years! What a sad state of affairs.

    Wake up St. Lucia. We can do better than that.

    1. Besides the SLP panic mode of calling elections early on a deteriorating situation with the UWP caught racing to fill in its slate of candidates, there is great political mischief and insensitivity written all over the selection of that political date.

      Firstly, as a former educator the calling of elections on a CXC examination day shows how unsuitable and how misled George Odlum was. Either the young voters will be inconvenienced to the point of denying them of their right to vote, or their parents to take them wherever they have to before or after voting.

      Next, the electoral department appears to be in cahoots with the incumbent government with a statement suggesting that Sunday is the last day for registration. Can this error-prone ever get anything right?

      Watch the failure list of our stupid SLP officialdom. Rochamel, for $48 million lost, Black Bay lost of land valued at $86 million, and Grynberg $150 million paid out, all with Saint Lucia showing nothing for these losses. CIP has an implicit or built-in national debt burden for this and the next government each time someone signs up for it. The first CIP outing created an international crisis, with the entire country having egg on our faces. Who then of a sane mind, wants five more years of such mounting failures? Who?

      What’s wrong with us? When will we grow up? Why are Saint Lucians so damn tolerant of such blasted mounting failures?

  2. O HAPPY DAY WHEN THE HEAVENS ARE OPEN AND THE SONS OF THE CREATOR WILL BE FOLLOWING THE STAR TO THE PROMISE LAND.

    A POEM
    FOR Dr. KENNY DAVIS ANTHONY

    THE PROMISE LAND.

    Oh let me scatter my life to the wind
    my breath to the sun,
    let the moon reflect my present and future
    my advance struggle
    to enter into the future world of heroes.

    As my soul sought this promise land
    I climb to the top of the world,
    I stood as heaven envelope my ruptured day
    and lighten my descending night,

    My life was made strong by the wind
    My breath shone bright with the stars and sun.
    The moon let flow it’s milky-way
    that nurture me with royal honey
    in the promise land.

    DR. KENNY DAVIS ANTHONY

    THE LORD THE CREATOR IS SAYING TO YOU:
    Have not I commanded thee?
    be strong and of a good courage;
    be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed:
    for the Lord thy god is with thee
    whither-soever thou goest.

    Kenny a man full of wisdom, and compassion,
    one who reverence God and seek his face,
    in good or bad times.
    REMEMBER
    The stone which the builders rejected,
    the same is become the head of the corner:
    this is the Lord’s doing,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes?

    O Lord God, and Father, we are thankful that you have filled the hearts of your choosing leader with wisdom and overstanding for that we sing your praise we are so very thankful dear Lord.
    You have filled our hearts with Your redeeming grace, dear God, that we have something to shout about.
    We have something to sing about because Lord, we who were once in darkness under the U W P have become light and truth bearers being guided by the light of the STARE . “AMAZING GRACE, HOW SWEET THE SOUND THAT SAVE A WRETCH LIKE ME! YES Lord WE SEE THE LIGHT OF THE STARE SHINING OVER OUR HEADS AND WE FOLLOW THE LEADING OF THAT LIGHT LORD GOD.
    WE WERE ONCE BLIND BUT NOW WE SEE We thank you Lord. We praise your mighty name. Blessed be the rock and stare of our foundation.

    .

    .

  3. @ Prophet…….Have you lost your freaking marbles you idiot. What a fool believes,no wise man has the power to change. Again I think you running low on your meds ,do you want me to call your prescription in? Deck deck.

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