Victorious UWP Election Celebration Rally at Micoud
PRIME Minister Allen Chastanet says his new government has already started working towards fulfilling the promises his party made to the electorate during the recent political campaign that won the United Workers’ Party (UWP) a convincing 11-6 victory over the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP).
During a victory rally held on the Micoud Playing Field last Sunday, Chastanet said that since being sworn in as Prime Minister last Tuesday, he has been meeting with government officials and investors.
In declaring last Sunday the official end of his party’s election campaign, Chastanet called on all Saint Lucians to work together to bring about the change the country needs. Raising the socio-economic standards of citizens via the creation of sustainable employment was one of Chastanet’s campaign pledges, one he says he is keen on delivering.
“The urgency is now,” Chastanet told thousands of supporters. “People are suffering now. We must bring relief to the people of this country now. That is why as soon as the Cabinet is sworn in we will start fulfilling the promise of “5 To Stay Alive”.
One of the promises made in the “5 To Stay Alive” campaign pledge concerns the contentious Value Added Tax (VAT) implemented in October 2012 by the last administration. During the campaign, Chastanet pledged to initially reduce the VAT rate, which currently stands at 15%, and eventually replace it. That process, he said, has started.
“We’ll be announcing shortly – and I have the experts here – as to how much we’ll be reducing VAT by in the first instance,” Chastanet said. “The experts are going to be working with me as to how we can now take VAT off the backs of Saint Lucians.”
Other immediate measures the Prime Minister promised to implement include waiving medical fees at hospitals for pensioners earning less than $1000, people unemployed or living below the poverty line. Another is waiving property taxes for three years for people who either lost their jobs or businesses.
“Those are the easy things,” Chastanet noted. “The difficult road ahead is that our country is in trouble. Our government has spent a lot of money and spent it on a lot of things for politics. We have a hard road ahead.”
Most of Sunday’s programme was spent on entertainment by many of the island’s top soca artistes and calypsonians, including Menell, Ashanti, Ricky T, Superman HD and Teddyson John.
The seventeen UWP candidates also appeared on stage to express thanks to their supporters, many of whom told The VOICE that while the former government had done its part in many ways, the country needed a fresh approach to dealing with key issues.
Like the other UWP candidates who contested the last general elections, Chastanet expressed gratitude to the thousands of supporters encountered on the campaign trail and who eventually cast their ballots in the UWP’s favour on June 6.
Chastanet said the UWP’s road to victory at the recent polls began three and a half years ago when the party decided to coalesce around a common cause. The provision of quality and affordable health care, globally-competitive education, a safe society, economic security and alleviating and eliminating poverty, he said, were key among his party’s priorities for citizens.
“Every conversation that we have had since that journey started has been about the people of Saint Lucia,” Chastanet said.
Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Stephenson King also concurred with Chastanet, saying that the new government will not squander the people’s confidence nor five-year mandate. King chided the opposition SLP, accusing them of mishandling the affairs of State.
King said the new government now has “to fix a country that is broken.” He added that the previous government had ruined the economy and neglected the health and education systems. The new era ushered in last week, he said, will remedy these issues.
“We have to take care of our people,” King said. “We have to take care of the children of this country who have been suffering throughout those years of Labour and give to them what they need.”
King also called on Saint Lucians to dismiss rumours about the UWP already experiencing friction following their recent win at the polls. Some of these rumours concern the assigning of ministerial portfolios by Prime Minister Chastanet, with unconfirmed reports about some Cabinet members demanding key positions.
“There are already rumours that are spreading about infighting within the United Workers’ Party,” King said. “As long as Stephenson King is within the United Workers’ Party, there shall be no infighting because we are committed to serving you, the people of this country.”