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New Speaker To Be Installed Next Week Ahead Of Presentation And Debate On $1.4 Billion Budget

By VOICE Reporter

Government To Borrow At Least $685 Million To Finance Estimates

THE annual Budget Presentation and Debate of the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure will start next week, with the Third Session of the Eleventh Parliament, scheduled for Tuesday, March 20, 2018. But before it all, Saint Lucians will finally see (and hear) who is the new Speaker of the Saint Lucia House of Assembly following the recent confirmation of the resignation of Leonne Theodore-John.

Members of the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. and Members of the Senate will meet at 10:30 a.m., after which both Houses will meet in joint session to receive the traditional Throne Speech — a message from His Excellency, the Governor General, Sir Emmanuel Neville Cenac, his first since his recent appointment following the retirement of ex-Governor general Dame PearletteLouisy.

The Standing Finance Committee will meet in closed session at 2:30 p.m. on

March 20, 2018 to review the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure 2018/2019, following which the House of Assembly will adopt the ‘Report of the

Standing Finance Committee on the Estimates of Expenditure for the financial year 2018/2019.’

The estimates of Revenue and Expenditure – traditionally called ‘The Budget’ — will this year be in the sum of One Billion, Four Hundred and Eighty Seven Million, Five Hundred and Eighty Three Thousand, Two Hundred EC Dollars (EC $1,487,583,200) “as a charge against the Consolidated Fund and other funds of the State of Saint Lucia.”

Sittings of the House of Assembly are also scheduled for Wednesday, March 21,

2018 at 2:00pm and Thursday, March 22, 2018 at 9:00 a.m., during which the debate on the Estimates of Expenditure 2018/2019 will take place.

A report of the Meeting of the Standing Finance Committee will also be presented.

It is expected that the debate on the Estimates will be rather interesting, as the government will; be seeking to borrow at least some EC $685 Million dollars to help finance the $.4 billion budget.

That’s because Motions down for debate include one seeking that “Parliament authorizes the Minister for Finance to raise on the Regional Government Securities Market or through private placement at a maximum rate of 7.25%”, the amount of “Two Hundred Million EC Dollars (EC$200,000,000) for financing the 2018/19 budget, plus Four Hundred and Eighty Five Million EC Dollars (EC$485,000,000) for financing existing debts.”

Another borrowing Motion will seek that “Parliament authorizes the Minister for Finance to borrow Seven Hundred and Fifty Thousand US Dollars (US$750,000.00) from the Caribbean Development Bank’s Special Fund Resources (SFR) to finance the Natural Disaster Management – Immediate Response – Tropical Storm Matthew Project.”

This Motion will also seek Parliament’s authority to ensure: “(a) the interest is payable at a rate of two point five per cent (2.5%) per annum on the amount of the principal withdrawn and outstanding”; and (b) that “the loan is repayable in thirty-two (32) equal or approximately equal and consecutive quarterly instalments on each due date of the 1st day of January, 1st day of April, 1st day of July, 1st day of October commencing on the first due date immediately following the expiration of two years after the date of the loan agreement, or on a later due date that the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) specifies in writing.”

The following bills also down for debate the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic (Amendment) and the National Savings and Development Bonds (Amendment).

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