CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Apr 25, CMC – The main opposition St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) Tuesday described as “vicious, vindictive and reeking of victimization” the decision of the Allen Chastanet government to drastically reduce its annual subvention to the St. Lucia National Trust (SNT).
In a statement, the SLP linked the move to the SNT’s “principled position on the Dolphin Park at Pigeon Island National Landmark, and the DSH Project and its environmental impacts”.
The SNT is among groups opposed to the multi-billion dollar project claiming that it could lead to the destruction of the eco-system in the south of the island.
“While the Trust has not yet received any written or verbal notification of the same from either the Office of the Prime Minister, which acts as our line ministry, or the Ministry of Finance, based on the Draft Estimates which were circulated to members of the House of Assembly last week, it has become apparent that the Government wishes to take such action,” the SNT said in the statement.In a statement, the SNT said that it “is now sufficiently certain” that the government which will present its first budget to Parliament on Wednesday, proposes a reduction of the annual subvention from EC$700,000 (One EC dollar =US$0.37 cents0 to zero “or effectively a 100 per cent decrease.
In its lengthy statement, the SNT said that it has enjoyed the support of governments through an annual subvention ever since it was established by Act of Parliament in 1975.
“Over the past 20 years, the Government’s contribution to the Trust has been EC$500,000, which has been put towards programmes and operations. Since 2000, this amount was further augmented by a EC$200,000 special annual contribution to help the Trust fund the establishment of its head offices.”
SLP and Opposition Leader Phillip J Pierre said that he strongly condemns the action of the government to cut the subvention of the SNT that was formed 42 years ago.
“The St. Lucia Labour Party wishes to place on record, its support for the National Trust, as the legal entity entrusted with the protection of our environment and patrimony.
“The SLP also re-affirms its non-discriminatory policy on governance, and puts Prime Minister Chastanet on notice, that such acts of pettiness and bullying will not be accepted by the Opposition and the people of St. Lucia,” he said, assuring the SNT that if it wins the next general election, it will restore the subvention.
The SNT said it would also seek the support of its international partners, civil society and the entire St. Lucian populace, home and abroad to advocate on its behalf.