Parliament Office Has No Answer.
WILL there be a debate on this year’s budget? And will the Prime Minister present a budget statement in the House of Parliament as usual?
Concerns have been raised about the lack of a date so far for the anticipated debate on this year’s budget, the last before the island votes to elect a new government. Up to yesterday there was no indication from anywhere when that budget statement would be delivered.
This is somewhat unusual. In the past, St Lucians were always informed via the media of the dates for the debate before the passing of the Appropriations Bill in both houses of parliament.
This has not been the case this year. The Appropriations Bill went through its final stages in parliament on Tuesday making it possible for government to start spending the $1.4 billion budgeted amount for the 2016/2017 fiscal year.
The parliament office, when contacted, could not provide a clear answer, stating that so far it had had no information regarding a schedule for debate on the budget, or when the budget statement would be presented in the House of Parliament.
“The Prime Minister will provide more information on that matter next week,” a source in the Prime Minister’s office told The VOICE yesterday.
But there was the widespread expectation that the budget statement would have been presented Tuesday and the debate take place today and tomorrow. It is believed that it was in anticipation of this that the Opposition scheduled a public meeting for the William Peter Boulevard for tonight, to respond to the budget.
A UWP statement had promised that the William Peter Boulevard would be ”transformed into the people’s parliament” to dissect the 2016/2017 budget. It had promised that parliamentarians would make addresses in which they would highlight the budget’s deficiencies and its lack of feasibility.
Tonight’s meeting was also expected to hear UWP speakers present new and innovative policies to stimulate advancement for St. Lucia on a sustainable path to development.
That meeting will go ahead as scheduled, the VOICE understands, while the ruling St. Lucia Labour Party will travel to Choiseul to hold a public meeting in support of its incumbent candidate for the district, Tourism Minister Lorne Theophilus.
Whenever the budget is presented, it will be the latest it has ever been delivered in St Lucia.
Last year the budget went through the House of Assembly without debate after parliamentarians on both sides failed to speak after the Estimates of Revenues and Expenditure were presented by Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony.