OPPOSITION Leader Phillip J. Pierre and Castries South MP Ernest Hilaire have called on the government to settle down, run the country, stop bashing the Opposition and, most of all, stop lying to the people.
They listed the crime situation in the country, the flood mitigation programme for Bexon and Marc and the taxes on gasoline as some of the areas the government continues to mislead the citizenry on.
Pierre said that the government, while in opposition, gave the public the impression that crime in the country was caused by things former Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony and former National Security Minister Phillip La Corbiniere either did or did not do.
Pierre added that after one year in office, government is experiencing a crime wave not seen in a long time and, therefore, must be truthful to the people about the situation.
“There needs to be truth and reconciliation,” Pierre said. “This means that the United Workers Party must say to the people that we fooled you. I am asking the UWP to apologize. They made the public believe that crime was because of Kenny Anthony and Philip La Corbiniere. That is why they have to apologize. Many people in St. Lucia, even members of the police force, were of the impression that crime was because of things Kenny and La Corbiniere did.”
According to Pierre, it was even said that as soon as there was a new Minister for National Security, who knows about police work and understands crime, the situation would have changed.
“There must be truth and reconciliation because the people of St. Lucia cannot afford to be fooled all the time. They are fooled on gas prices, they are fooled on Bexon and Marc and these lies just continue in the society. Somebody must say to the government, ‘Halt, you have won the elections, stop lying’,” Pierre said.
He said that while his party does not have any magic bullet that will wipe crime out, it is something requiring interventions at various levels, such as at the level of enforcement, social policy and training.
“If the government does, well the Opposition will be happy, but we can’t afford to sit back and allow the government to lie every step of the way. This government does not understand what it means to speak the truth. Everything the government says are not true — absolutely everything,” Pierre said.
The Opposition Leader said that contrary to what was said by the government about the Labour government’s efforts at flood mitigation measures in Bexon/Marc, it is clear that the interventions recommended toward that effort were from professional international engineers and were formulated after intensive detailed scientific studies, analysis and concurrence with the Caribbean Development Bank.
“The Saint Lucia Labour Party government never viewed the fate of the people of Bexon and surrounding areas as a political football or opportunity to enrich certain selected contractors. The plan was comprehensive, scientific and not driven by political motives and personal ambitions. “We believe that the people of Bexon, Marc and surrounding areas should demand that their communities are respected and the genuine flood mitigation efforts that began in 2012 to alleviate their condition be continued by the UWP government,” Pierre said.
Hilaire said that in 2012, shortly after assuming office, the SLP kept its election promise to reduce the excise tax on petrol to $2.50 per gallon, adding that as world prices fluctuated, the UWP, while in opposition, accused the SLP of hiding $6.80 in taxes on each gallon of petrol.
“With elections on the horizon, the UWP headed by Allen Chastanet held two marches against the ‘hidden tax’ which, they claimed, was causing the price of petrol to be too high. In response to the march, SLP reduced the period of adjustment from three months to three weeks. Price mechanism did not change. They promised to reduce prices if elected,” Hilaire said.
Hilaire added: “Among the first pronouncements made by Prime Minister Chastanet upon assumption of office was that he ‘already signed’ the SI reducing gas prices. That was a lie. The so-called hidden tax was never removed and the pricing mechanism was never changed.”
Hilaire said noting Government hid the new tax in the estimates and it was only upon careful analysis the SLP parliamentarians realized there was going to be an additional excise tax hidden there to be applied to petrol.
“Though raised by the SLP, the Prime Minister and his Minister in the Ministry of Finance refused to acknowledge this during the Debate on the Estimates,” Hilaire said.