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St Lucia’s Mardi Pwete a staple of consequence

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By Caribbean News Global fav

TORONTO, Canada – The regular Tuesday sitting of the Parliament of Saint Lucia has become a staple of consequential borrowing to facilitate the economic development and governance of Saint Lucia, albeit, the side shows most venerated by parliamentarians in their performance to constituents – working in their interest.

At the sitting of the House of Assembly on Tuesday, March 19, 2024, parliament authorized several bills and instruments.

Government secures budgetary financing from IDA

The minister of finance to borrow an amount of Special Drawing Rights (SDR)30,500,000.00 (the loan) from the International Development Association to finance the Saint Lucia Sustainable Recovery Development Policy Financing; which translates to “a loan facility from the International Development Association (IDA) for budgetary support to enhance government operations and improve efficiency.”

$80 Million committed to enhancing sporting infrastructure

Parliament authorized the minister of finance to guarantee an amount of XCD80,000,000.00 (the loan) from the 1st National Bank Saint Lucia Limited (the Bank) to the National Lotteries Authority to assist with the financing of a youth and sports infrastructure programme.

“The National Lotteries Authority (NLA) will oversee the execution of rehabilitation works on several sporting facilities throughout Saint Lucia. The Mindoo Phillip Park, Marchand Grounds, Gros-Islet playing field and Daren Sammy Cricket Grounds will receive immediate attention to expedite Saint Lucia’s preparations to host group stage matches in the upcoming ICC Men’s T-20I Cricket World Cup tournament in June, 2024. Also, the funds will be invested in targeted youth programmes facilitated by key government agencies and NGOs.”

Historic women’s parliament caucus established

Parliament approved the establishment of the Women’s Parliament Caucus (herein referred to as the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus of Saint Lucia).

“Establishing the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus of Saint Lucia aligns with the prime minister’s vision to improve gender equality and promote gender equity in Saint Lucia.

The Women’s Parliamentary Caucus of Saint Lucia is bipartisan and comprises past and present women parliamentarians. The Caucus shatters the glass ceiling for women aspiring to pursue careers in politics and serve in the Legislature. It will build capacity among women parliamentarians in Saint Lucia, improve access to resources from global gender advocacy organisations and provide a dedicated forum for gender-based policy development and issues affecting women and local marginalized groups.”

Department of tourism new tourism development fund

Parliament authorized the minister of finance to establish a special fund to be known as the Tourism Development Fund for the purpose of facilitating the operations, tourism development and tourism marketing of the department of tourism.

“By having a dedicated fund, the department of tourism ensures a consistent and sustainable source of funding for its operations, development initiatives, and marketing efforts. This stability allows for better long-term planning and execution of tourism-related projects.

“The fund aggregates various revenue sources, including allocations from parliament, penalties, levies, grants, and fees. This diverse range of income streams provides the department of tourism with flexibility in financing different aspects of tourism development and marketing according to its priorities and needs.

“With a dedicated fund, the department of tourism can invest in initiatives aimed at improving tourism infrastructure, enhancing tourist experiences, and promoting sustainable tourism practices. This can lead to the development of new attractions, preservation of cultural heritage sites, and improvement of tourism facilities, all of which contribute to the growth of the tourism sector.”

Community Tourism Agency, CARICOM Development Fund sign agreement – Funding for the development of four Community Tourism Projects

Subject to the Tourism Development Fund to facilitate the operations, tourism development and tourism marketing of the department of tourism; a GIS [Government Information Service] report by Virgil Leonty, outlined that “ local tourism projects will benefit from a financial agreement between the CARICOM Development Fund and Saint Lucia’s Community Tourism Agency.”

Consequence to signing the agreement on March 6, 2024, the CARICOM Development Fund will provide $2.4 million while the government of Saint Lucia will inject the sum of $385,000. This latest agreement between the CDF and the Community Tourism Authority is the final component of a package of projects planned for Saint Lucia, valued at $8 million, the report said.

The agreement will allow for the development of four tourism projects, part of a plan to revitalize community tourism:

  • The building of a shrine to honour the victims of the violent attack on the Castries Cathedral,
  • The upgrade of the Morne Lay-by,
  • The revitalization of the Denney Fish Fiesta; and,
  • A sea moss project in Praslin.

Chief executive officer at the CARICOM Development Fund, Rodinald Soomer, offered glowing praise for the concept of community tourism.

“We would like to replicate this as a model program across the region because of the way it integrates so many important elements of product and service development for tourism,” Soomer added. “It focuses on bringing the benefits of tourism to communities so that the multiple effects begin at the community levels rather than having the benefits trickle down to communities; and through product development, the program provides opportunities for the creation of new livelihoods and the enrichment of existing ones.”

The parliament bills under consideration included insolvency; land and house tax (amendment).

Strengthening the insolvency bill proposes extra protection for home owners came up for second reading in the Lower House. Nonetheless, the debate was deferred to a subsequent sitting of parliament.

However, Prime Minister Pierre reiterated that “his administration is fighting to give everyday Saint Lucians the protection they need to keep their homes and avoid foreclosures; proposes to strengthen the Insolvency Bill to provide additional layers of home-owner protection for Saint Lucian mortgagors who encounter financial challenges.”

Land and House Tax (Amendment) to provide tax breaks for residential property owners went through its final stages in the Lower House on March 19, 2024.

“The amendment exempts local residential property owners and Sports Saint Lucia Inc., from paying property taxes for the year 2023.”

The explanation outlines:

“The economic realities faced by everyday Saint Lucian households continue to influence the policy interventions devised by the prime minister and his cabinet. The government proposes to provide more tax relief to residential property owners in Saint Lucia. […] The proposed amendment to the Land and House Tax Bill will collectively save local residential property owners millions of dollars.”

A sitting of the Senate scheduled for Monday, March 25, 2024, at 10 a.m., to ratify the Lower House, onward to signature by the Governor General.

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