By Caribbean News Global contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia — A sitting of the House of Assembly is scheduled to commence at 10:00 a.m. today with papers to be laid by prime minister and minister for finance, economic growth, job creation; external affairs and the public service, minister for tourism, information, broadcasting, culture and creative industries; minister for commerce, industry, enterprise development and consumer affairs; and minister for equity, social justice, empowerment, and local government.
Motions for consideration include borrowing by means of advances not exceeding EC$55 million from commercial banks, for six months charged on and paid out of the consolidated fund.
The second motion seeks parliament authorisation to borrow US$ Six million by way of credit from the International Development Association for capital expenditure for the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) regional health project.
Bills down for consideration include the fiscal incentives (Amendment) Act; and the Millennium Heights Medical Complex (Amendment) Act.
Tuesday’s sitting follows the Senate scheduled December 3, 2019, at 10:00 a.m. for the most party to apply government majority onward to the statute.
Leader of the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP), Philip J. Pierre recently outlined the consequences of an increasing debt scenario.
“Debt is increasing at an alarming rate in our country. As we speak, our country’s national debt is five billion dollars. Of this amount, the United Workers Party (UWP) government has already incurred more than $1.3 billion in the three and a half years since they were elected. I am sure that you are aware of the debilitating effect of high debt on our sister Caribbean countries, Barbados being the most recent example.
The high level of debt incurred in the last three and a half years has been largely on account of misguided policies and poor fiscal responsibility.
Take for example the Hewanorra International Airport (HIA) redevelopment project.
The government is borrowing $600 million without any public tender for this project. Let me be clear, the SLP is not against the improvement of our international airport. We were at a very advanced stage working with the World Bank on a Private Public Partnership (PPP) arrangement for this project without placing any debt burden on the people. Instead, the government cancelled the PPP arrangement and is borrowing $600 million to finance the project.
Consider for a moment how $600 million used differently can transform the economy of Saint Lucia. It would create a greater multiplier effect with many sectors benefitting including housing, infrastructure, health, education, and improvements to the country’s climate resilience.
We must never forget that debt has to be repaid, and this avoidable debt of $600 million is now a burden placed on our children and grandchildren.
A government of the SLP would contain the level of borrowing by undertaking debt that is necessary and productive, and in so doing avoid compromising the future of the country and wellbeing of future generations of Saint Lucians.”
In a previous address entitle: Our country is in chaos, Pierre stated:“The prime minister, of course, appears confused about the priorities of his government and is not helping his case in building a resilient country when he is so reckless, borrowing money that he need not.
“Meanwhile, the prime minister is faced with trying to repair and fund a horrible healthcare system; the country’s crumbling infrastructure; absence of affordable housing, and; an education system in crisis.