A future Saint Lucia Labour Party Government will not require the fishing community to pay the additional $1.50 fuel excise tax which the Allen Chastanet Government imposed in 2017. That announcement came from the Political Leader of the Party and Leader of the Opposition Hon. Philip J. Pierre in an address at the virtual opening of the Party’s 2020 Conference of Delegates on Sunday 15th November 2020.
When the Government introduced the extra $1.50 excise tax on fuel it claimed that it was to raise revenue for road repairs and rehabilitation. However, the fishing community has opposed the application of the tax to them on the grounds that a tax for roads should not apply to them and that it has made their occupation more expensive. The fisherfolk have also been dissatisfied with the Government’s privatization of the Saint Lucia Fish Marketing Corporation which had been established to absorb their produce.
In his address to the Conference, Hon. Pierre stated: “We will provide to farmers assistance in the provision of inputs, fertilizer and irrigation. As part of the support to farmers, the $1.50 additional fuel excise tax implemented by the government, for road rehabilitation, will be removed for fishers.” The Political Leader’s address outlined some of the policy options that a Labour Government would adopt as the next Government of Saint Lucia.
The assistance to fishers and farmers was placed in the context of the need for food security in Saint Lucia. The SLP Political leader declared: “The Saint Lucia Labour Party believes that food security must be a priority area on Saint Lucia’s development agenda. We have noted the negative effects of COVID 19 on the economy and are firmly committed to providing Government incentives and opportunities for farmers and fisherfolk to avoid continued disruption to their livelihood”.
The virtual presentation of the Opening Session of the Annual Delegates Conference as a television production was a first for the SLP, which has also held two virtual public meetings broadcast on television since the outbreak of the COVID 19 Pandemic in Saint Lucia. The Conference production has been hailed as a success by the viewers home and abroad. In addition to the Political Leader’s Address, it featured endorsements of Philip J. Pierre as the next Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, from representatives of various economic sectors in the country, as well as former SLP Political Leaders, Government Ministers, and representatives of the Youth and Women’s Organisations of the Party.