WILL Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony really announce the date for the next general elections tonight?
Public announcements by the ruling St Lucia Labour Party of tonight’s meeting on the Castries Market Steps, have given no indication that he will, but there has been widespread speculation that the Prime Minister will use the occasion to ring the election bell.
The feeling in the opposition United Workers Party (UWP) camp up- to last week was that Anthony would announce June 27 as election day, but one party source told THE VOICE yesterday that having called the date before Anthony did, the Prime Minister may now go for a week or two before or after June 27.
Said our source: “Prime Minister Anthony is like a little boy. Look what he did with the budget. Obviously afraid of giving the opposition a platform in the House of Assembly to criticize his government, on the eve of elections, he simply cancels the budget statement. He never likes it to appear that he has been upstaged. So while we believe he had intended to go for June 27, the fact that we have spilled the beans, his beans, he will not like it, so he will change the date”.
Be that as it may, UWP speakers at recent public meetings have loudly declared their readiness for the poll. And the war of words between the two major parties continues unabated. Yesterday, the UWP took Anthony to task, accusing him of “playing silly games” with the minds and emotions of the St. Lucian population.
This came after the SLP announced that its meeting tonight would focus on SLP’s plans and vision for Saint Lucia and that Prime Minister Anthony would announce the “Top Fifteen Pledges” of the SLP to the electorate for the coming election.
The SLP announcement came only days after Chastanet had announced a five point plan—called “Five to stay alive”– to bring economic relief to St Lucians, including a promise to reduce, then eliminate, the value added task imposed in October 2012.
Chastanet said in a statement yesterday that all St. Lucians should turn their backs on “the latest attempt by Prime Minister Anthony to resuscitate his flagging popularity and political fortunes, by promising a bounty on the eve of the calling of general elections”.
Chastanet said it was reprehensible for a Prime Minister and Minister of Finance to refuse going to Parliament to present an official budget, but would now offer to substitute this with 15 “political trinkets” in the form of plans and promises by a future Labour Government.
“This is a continuous game of deception being played out by a Prime Minister, who knows he is no longer held in high regard and trusted by the majority of citizens. If Dr. Anthony had solid plans and programmes for the country, he would have followed up the laying of the Appropriation Bill in Parliament with the presentation of a much needed Budget. But, he knows that the Opposition was planning to unmask the shortcomings of any such package, so, following our presentation of the “Five to Stay Alive” Programme, he now says he has 15 trinkets to offer the people of St. Lucia. This is scandalous and reprehensible behaviour, on the part of a Prime Minister”, Chastanet said.
He insisted that the PM’s pledge of 15 trinkets was a mere reaction to the positive feedback the country has given to the opposition party’s “Five to Stay Alive” initiative. “We came, under no pressure whatsoever, and outlined five measures to ease the strain on the most vulnerable in society. Dr. Anthony knew of all these hardships and never sought to address and remedy them. He saw nothing wrong with poor people being turned away from Victoria Hospital because of previous indebtedness. He has stubbornly refused to reduce or eliminate the VAT. He has starved the educational system of resources to provide adequate nutrition and transportation to our children and he has made property ownership a major burden for first time home owners.
St Lucians have become immune to the promises and deceit of the Labour party. St Lucians have not forgotten the lie disguised as a promise to inject 100 million dollars into the economy immediately. We have not forgotten that five years later absolutely nothing has been done about our astronomical unemployment rate, increased crime and spike in the cost of living, despite his party’s ridiculous chorus of jobs, jobs, jobs.
St Lucians are a resilient people, an un-forgetting people, and wool will not be pulled over our eyes by the master of illusions this time around. The United Workers Party has consistently shown that with proper plans come, delivery. Our five simple, effective points under the torch will light our way slowly but surely back into delivery of much needed relief to our ailing country. Five to stay alive, simple, tangible, effective and most of all; doable in the short term with long term results.
Leader of the Opposition Gail Rigobert also had her take on Anthony’s proposed measures. She said yesterday: “The Castries Market Steps is not the place for a Prime Minister and Minister of Finance to outline meaningful fiscal measures. Dr. Anthony should convene a sitting of Parliament and present his programmes as part of a budget that could be evaluated and debated by both sides of the Chamber and in the full glare of the public of St. Lucia”.