Letters & Opinion

2019/2020 Appropriation Bill – Sensible and Fair

The 2019/2020 appropriation bill has been laid and as usual, the opposition remained in an opposing mood which is the norm for a group of individuals who have been campaigning from day one of their loss. The current budget was professionally composed and well-articulated by the PM and his ministers and all going to plan, St. Lucia will witness a decidedly new direction. The decisions highlighted will put aside the lackadaisical approach of addressing the implementation of a budget commitment, as so often, we have witnessed the intentions to implement, but for whatever reason or reasons, it simply did not materialize. Two glaring examples at hand are the city of Castries and its environs where both areas remained a deteriorated basket case with garbage, blocked drains and vendors doing as they pleased. Today, the mayor has addressed those issues and employed over 150 city police to protect our citizens and visitors which is a norm in any civilized country. The Castries Market which has been a disgrace for years and years is well on the way to attaining the greatest upliftment ever seen, whereby, the vendors who deserve better will now have an area they can be extremely proud of.

The delay in some of the major projects is no fault of the current administration as St. Lucia is a democratic country and must abide by laws. The US $200mil project by Sandals Resorts was delayed based on a court case between The Landings and the DCA over a technicality which hopefully can be settled shortly. The demolition of the old prison to make way for a state-of-the-art police headquarters and six criminal courts to streamline our judiciary and improve on our security was blocked through the courts for questionable reasons. The SAB RICHARD development at Choiseul was delayed by unnecessary criticism and demonstrations by the opposition who actually introduced the project and its developers to our shores. It has taken time to streamline this concern but the project will move on. We are all familiar with the demonstrations by the opposition in respect to the DSH project by way of court cases and demonstrations and again a developer who worked almost 18 months with the former administration but suddenly became an enemy. These are the man-made hurdles experienced in developing a small island state, but this kind of opposition will be addressed and eventually better sense will prevail.

Despite all these hurdles we have witnessed a growth rate of 3%, a reduction in the nations, deficit and a robust government revenue stream despite a $50mil. VAT reduction by way of 2.5% from the normal 15% VAT requirement. The nation’s infrastructure has been given major attention by simply placing a $1.50 per gallon tax which has permitted the Ministry of Infrastructure to enjoy an unprecedented revenue stream to make life easier for a Ministry always scrambling for handouts. This revenue stream will permit an island-wide road rehabilitation program to proceed unimpededly. The John Compton Dam, the new Hewanorra International terminal, the new water treatment plants at Dennery South and Vieux Fort respectively will receive major upliftments. The intensive cultivation of our banana industry has been fully supported by our farmers based on strong demands from the British market and locally from Massy Supermarkets and the various hotels on island.

A simple glance at the progress in Soufriere speaks volumes. It was the vision of the current PM who dismantled the old Soufriere bridge prior to the 2011 general elections and worked on the design of a new bridge which was a breath of fresh air to the residents of that town. Today, the Hummingbird Project which commenced under the UWP administration was shelved by the SLP and reopened under the UWP administration some 15 days ago drawing unprecedented local and foreign participation. A facility which now permits a large portion of the visitors to the south not having to encroach on the limited beaches at Ti Kaye, Anse Chastanet and Sugar Beach but more importantly the local operators at the Hummingbird Beach can now share in the tourism spoils of the nation. Additionally, Soufriere is now in the throes of completing a state-of-the-art bus terminal with all the ongoing frills. The Soufriere grounds are now witnessing a top of the line synthetic football field together with volleyball and tennis facilities and on completion, similar facilities will be extended to other towns and villages in an effort to address the needs of all those areas which have suffered for years due to lack of attention.

— Ulric W. Price

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