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Chastanet Questions Amendments to National Economic Fund

“We must not allow CIP to be turned into a slush fund!” Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Allen Chastanet

The Opposition United Workers Party says it is immensely concerned about the SLP Government’s proposed amendments to the Economic Fund Act which came up in yesterday’s House of Assembly meeting.

According to the party the Amendments to the Act removes oversight of funds from the Citizenship by Investment Programme and gives direct access to the Cabinet of Ministers.

“This move is alarming and should be of concern to all citizens, as the United Workers Party Government in establishing the fund in 2019 made sure the National Economic Fund Board was put in place to manage the use of the funds to safeguard transparency and accountability,” the party said in a statement.

The party claimed that the legislation related to the National Economic Fund is to ensure good governance, transparency and accountability which were not adequately addressed in the CIP Act of 2015.

Leader of the Opposition and UWP Political Leader, Hon. Allen Chastanet
Leader of the Opposition and UWP Political Leader, Hon. Allen Chastanet

Leader of the Opposition and UWP Political Leader Hon. Allen Chastanet questioned the latest move by the Government:

“We must look at these changes closely because it has serious implications for us as a country,” said the Leader of the Opposition.

He added, “When we established the National Economic Fund it was to make sure we had checks and balances in place and that the funds were properly managed with clear guidelines in place as to how the funds should be used. This is monies outside of the Consolidated Fund, proceeds of our country’s CIP programme, and we must guard its use to ensure the people of Saint Lucia are getting those benefits. This change proposed by the Government clearly shows that the SLP Government will continue its pattern of deceit and hypocrisy, as there was so much said about the Fund when it was established in 2019. We cannot sit by and allow CIP to be turned into a slush fund at the whims and fancies of the Cabinet. It has to be managed properly with all the requisite attention to accountability. Why remove oversight and checks and balances on CIP Funds? There are a lot of questions that have to be answered.”

The Leader of the Opposition noted that there will be close monitoring of this latest Amendment.

“We view this latest move with indignation,” Hon Chastanet added. “There is no argument that can justify this. It cannot be a case of accessing the funds in a timely manner because we proved this was possible when the Board provided emergency relief funds to benefit the agriculture sector, help clean-up and restore the road network and provide support to individual households impacted by the passage of Hurricane Elsa.”

“We will also be looking at whether this goes through all stages because one of the areas the SLP criticized while in Opposition was items coming to Parliament and going through all stages in one Sitting,” Chastanet said.

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