Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony
By Caribbean News Now contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia — In an address to the nation on Thursday night, Saint Lucia Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony said he had decided to call a general election on June 6 – several months ahead of its due date, to ensure peace, stability and certainty in the country and its affairs.
“Today, I advised the governor general to dissolve the Parliament of Saint Lucia, and to issue writs of election to pave the way for the General Election. The general election will be held on June 6, 2016. Nomination day will be May 27, 2016,” Anthony announced.
General elections in Saint Lucia are constitutionally due at the latest three months after the first sitting of the current Parliament, which was held on January 5, 2012. In effect, the government would have had until April 5, 2017 to call general elections.
“The opposition United Workers Party has agitated for elections for months and, on our side, the Saint Lucia Labour Party says, ‘We are ready’,” Anthony said.
Anthony continued that, given his decision to call the general election just after the passage of the Appropriation Bill 2016/17, he felt it best that the government elected by the will of the people in the general election be given the opportunity to present, within a reasonable period after the general election, its economic and policy proposals by way of a financial statement to the House.
He noted that the country is delicately poised, and all of the gains and the sacrifices made to get there can be quickly undone and reversed by recklessness and irresponsible actions.
“One such example is the recent opportunistic and bizarre proposal by the leader of the United Workers Party on VAT,” Anthony said.
He pointed out that the political leader of the United Workers Party (UWP), Allen Chastanet at a recent meeting stated that his party will do an “immediate reduction and ultimate removal of the dreaded VAT”, adding, “We will find a more creative way and less onerous way of raising revenues generated by VAT.”
“These are his words, not mine,” Anthony said.
In 2015/2016 St Lucia earned $346.37 million from VAT, which pays for nurses, doctors, teachers, police officers, civil servants, and repays debt.
“The question then is this: what are the new ‘creative’ measures, what are the new taxes that Allen Chastanet plans to impose on the people of Saint Lucia to make up for this staggering loss of $ 346.37 million dollars in revenue?” Anthony asked.