As the country heads into election mode how prepared are the opposing candidates to contest that election?
The St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) is again calling on the government to head to the polls.
During the debate on the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for the financial year 2021/22, this week, Opposition Leader Phillip Pierre argued that the reckless spending over the last five years has left the country with a debt to GDP ratio of 102%, as cited by CDB.
He said that Saint Lucians and future generations are now burdened with debt and nothing to show for this Government’s excessive borrowing.
According to Pierre, with over $400 million borrowed in the name of COVID-19 relief, very few Saint Lucians have benefited.
Speaking on the allocation for health in the budget estimates, Pierre asked, why the authorities were not getting involved in more ‘aggressive community testing’ in tandem with vaccination.
“Our testing still remains low when compared to the other islands,” he said.
He asked: “What is acceptable ratio for tests compared to positive results.”
Referring to the R factor, he said: “Has the government made adequate preparations to vaccinate 70% of the population, so as to achieve herd immunity.”
Pierre added: “The sorry tale of the COVID deaths and the 4, 000+ cases is directly related to the government not caring for the health care system on our island.”
He said that over the last three years, the government has spent in excess of $20 million for consultancies and commission in the health ministry.
The opposition leader wanted to know who these consultancies were being paid to. “Are these fees being paid to friends and foreign consultants? Pierre asked. “The $20.3 million over the last three years and the proposed $18 million to be spent for consultancies in the ministry of health.”
He said the government continues to show contempt for local professionals in the health sector “who successfully commissioned the OKEU Hospital in 2021, at a cost less than $20 million.”
He said that more than $38 million allocated to consultancies could have been better utilized to upgrade health facilities across the island, health care services “and improve working conditions of nurses, doctors and other health providers.”
Pierre said that the SLP believes in the competency, skills and ability of the “professionals in the Saint Lucia health sector and will always put them first.”
The opposition leader said that an SLP government “would enter into meaningful consultation with all social partners …so we could deliver to the people of St Lucia packages and deliver an economy that puts them first.”
Stating that the estimates did not cater for the wellbeing of public and civil servants and other persons in the community, Pierre argued: “These estimates …are just a set of figures presented by a government that has lost its way.”
He said that after four years and more the government now realizes that “the time of reckoning is nigh and now they have to account to the people of St Lucia.”
Pierre exclaimed: “We cannot support these estates …and we call on the government to dissolve this honourabale house and call general elections for the people of St Lucia to decide on the fate of the country.”