ST. LUCIA-BUDGET-Opposition legislator says budget “has nothing for St. Lucians

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CASTRIES, St. Lucia, May 12, CMC – Opposition member of parliament for Dr
Hilaire, has criticised Tuesday’s budget presentation by Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet saying that the package has nothing in it for ordinary St Lucians.
“If anything the budget takes away a lot of what people in St Lucia depended on as safety nets,” Hilaire said Thursday during his contribution to the on-going budget debate.
By way of example he mentioned the distress fund, laptops for children and the firing of National Initiative to Create Employment (NICE) employees.
Hilaire said the Prime Minister had mentioned several hotel projects, all of which started under the then administration of the St Lucia Labour Party (SLP).
“It really makes you wonder exactly what new is in the budget,” the Castries South MP declared.
“What new in the budget we are seeing is the creation of more unemployment – the closure of RSL, the closing of the Fish Marketing Corporation, the closing of the Marketing Board and it leaves a lot to be seen as to exactly what this budget will deliver,” Hilaire stated.
In his contribution to the debate, Opposition leader Philip J. Pierre, expressed concern about the imminent closure of loss-making Radio St Lucia (RSL).
The planned closure of the station was announced by Chastanet during his budget address, stating that the station along with other state agencies continue to be poorly managed and were a serious debt burden on Government.
He said in the case of the state radio, a debt of EC$3.5 million (One EC dollar =US$0.37 cents) had been accumulated. He said that some of the staff would be integrated wherever possible as part of the Government Information Service.
“I am concerned about the human element – it’s people who work there,” Pierre said.
Adding that there must be concern about the employees at the state-owned radio station, their future and their families.
According to the Castries East MP, it is not just a matter of closing the radio station.
The opposition also questioned whether the government has an appropriate plan in place for addressing the concerns of the workers at RSL.

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