Opposition leader Allen Chastanet has not only blamed the government for him not speaking at last week’s debate of the 2022/2023 Estimates of Expenditure in the Lower House of Assembly, but has described the situation as “the greatest example we’ve had of injustices taking place.”
Chastanet, on a Facebook post last week, took credit for government’s presentation of the largest annual budget in the history of the island (EC$1.8 billion). He also took credit for the government announcing it will honour salary increases agreed between the Government of Saint Lucia and the Saint Lucia Trade Union Federation in July 2021.
“It is because of the success of the past government this government can present the largest budget and pay increases in salaries and increase subventions. I want to see this government do well but if this government continues to come after me on a personal basis and gets detracted from what they are supposed to do, they are going to fail, Chastanet said.
Prime Minister Philip j Pierre Monday told reporters that Chastanet has himself to blame for opting not to make his contribution in the House last week.
Pierre said Chastanet’s actions which led to him not debating the budget was “childish antics” since he had the Estimates a week before the House met, which would give him ample time to prepare a contribution.
Chastanet claimed he went for lunch on the day he was supposed to speak and that he intended to speak on his return. He further claimed that government, to prevent him from making a contribution to the debate, prevented four of their most senior ministers from speaking.
The incident drew much public debate on social media where Chastanet, on one hand, was roasted for ‘ducking’ the debate, and on the other hand supported for the action he took.
Members of the House of Assembly reported that Chastanet was repeatedly presented with opportunities to speak but chose not to.
“I met with him (Chastanet) together with the Speaker on the first day to discuss when he would speak. He had the opportunity to speak on the entire Wednesday and he did not speak. On the Thursday morning I met with him again together with the Speaker to ask and beg him to speak, he insisted that he had to be given right to speak last or he will take his chances,” Hilaire said.