SOME US$48 million is left to be spent under the Constituency Development Programme (CDP), according to Prime Minister Allen Chastanet.
The Prime Minister on Tuesday reiterated the need to shift focus from the usual projects undertaken by the CDP to projects with a more national bearing. He told reporters that directing CDP funds to projects that benefit the country on a whole creates greater economic activity unlike projects earmarked specifically for a constituency.
Chastanet underlined his point by referencing the deficit budget with which government is working, noting that as a result government needs to make sure it is using the CDP funds in meaningful ways. Some of the money, he said, would go towards addressing some of the social problems confronting the country.
“So we will be looking to reallocate funds on nationwide projects. We have the playing fields, the village tourism, (and) there are several projects on a national basis that I would like to see some of those funds used for,” Chastanet said.
Chastanet, who last week explained that the CDP was presently under review, noted that some US$60 million had been obtained under the programme, out of which $12 million has already been spent.
“We have US$48 million left to spend. I would rather look at it from that perspective than looking at it as an allocation for a constituency,” Chastanet said.
“Up until now, what we have been doing is paying from the funds for the projects that the former government committed to without getting the approval of the Taiwanese. They went to the St. Lucia Development Bank, indicated that they had approved projects, and the bank then lent monies to contractors and those projects were implemented and they did that prior to the elections and there was no money in the coffers to pay for those projects,” he added.
According to him, last year the bulk of the money government had been spending was specific to that area.
The opposition St. Lucia Labour Party has been vocal in their reproach of government in the way it spends monies given under the CDP. The party claimed that government ignores them as far as telling them about the funds and also in not confiding in them regarding projects for their constituencies.
However, Chastanet dismissed the SLP’s claims, stating that the opposition sometimes jumps to conclusions of their own making.
“They are continuously trying to create scenarios that are suitable to the rhetoric that they want. We know what we are doing; we are going to make sure that we use the resources that we have for the best interest of the people of this country and for the best interest of the country on a whole,” Chastanet said.
He said he believes in a strong opposition, even though he and the opposition may not agree on some things.
“I question the methodology they (SLP) use but I think it’s a healthy part of our process and I always will do whatever I can to champion the cause of the opposition. I was in opposition, so I know what it is like but I know it’s an important voice to have,” Chastanet said.