UWP’s First 100 Days
PRIME Minister Allen Chastanet’s announcement at his Monday night press conference that his government had fulfilled all but one of the five to stay alive promises during its first 100 days in office has not been embraced by the opposition St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP).
The government was sworn into office on June 14. The following day marked its first working day as a government, which means that the 100 day milestone is today.
Chastanet, prior to forming the government, did promise relief to St. Lucians in the first 100 days in office.
“Guaranteed reduction and eventual elimination of VAT, reduction in vehicle licences fee; targeted amnesty on all outstanding hospital bills. In the first 100 days, you have my assurance that the school feeding and transportation subsidies will be doubled. The UWP will immediately halt property taxes,” Chastanet said, outlining his party’s ‘five to stay alive promises’ while on the campaign trail.
However, in the party’s 2016 manifesto, the five promises were tweaked a little. For instance, it mentions a 50 per cent reduction in the increases to the vehicle licence fee that the former government had applied.
Regarding the targeted amnesty on all outstanding hospital bills, Ubaldus Raymond, Minister in the Ministry of Finance, told reporters this week that it’s a hospital procedure.
“I have already spoken to the former Permanent Secretary and we have already discussed the way forward with it. We said it would be a targeted amnesty, not everyone would benefit from it. We are looking at specific patients with bills at the hospital,” Raymond said.
The immediate halt to property tax, as promised by Chastanet within his government’s first 100 days in office, has not been fulfilled, contrary to the Prime Minister’s Monday night statement that all but one of the five promises have been fulfilled.
According to Raymond, that promise will come into effect in January of next year.
Also unfulfilled is the reduction promised in the Value Added Tax. However, the Prime Minister has announced that this may come by the end of next month as he is still awaiting a report from Ernst & Young, an auditing firm with offices here.
Leader of the Opposition, Phillip J. Pierre, said that the Prime Minister’s account of the first 100 days in office was “bitterly disappointing” and lacked any substance, any commitment to keep promises made, offered no way forward to meet global challenges.”
Said Pierre at a press conference on Tuesday: “The first action which the Prime Minister promised was an assessment of the economy to be undertaken by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) on the state of the economy. This was promised to be delivered as soon as possible. After 100 days, there is no report for the people of Saint Lucia to review. The SLP insists that this assessment be based on figures prepared and presented by the Ministry of Finance. The Saint Lucia Labour Party calls on the Prime Minister to immediately make the report or any other report prepared by the Ministry of Finance available.”
According to Pierre, the UWP, when in opposition, assessed the state of the country and offered its “Five to Stay Alive” to be implemented immediately upon assuming office.
“Let us assess what was achieved,” Pierre said, “starting with number one: The immediate reduction and ultimate removal of the dreaded Value Added Tax. Nothing has happened!
“Number Two: The reduction in vehicle license fees by 50%. Instead, there was a 50% reduction of the increase.
Number Three: We will double the school feeding and the school transportation subsidies, nothing has changed in the school feeding and school transportation subsidies.
Number four: Which Chastanet said was very dear to his heart. “The United Worker’s Party will have a targeted amnesty on hospital fees owed to Victoria and St. Jude’s Hospital. It is unacceptable that a person who is unemployed or is a pensioner feels degraded to go to the hospital because they cannot pay their bill. What kind of Government? What kind of man does it take to be able to impose that kind of wickedness on the people of this country?”
Pierre said nothing had been done on this. With respect to property tax Pierre said nothing had happened with that promise as well.