Saint Lu­cians go to the polls June 6

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By STAR Re­porter

In an ad­dress called “The Die is Cast” prime min­is­ter Kenny An­thony wasted no time on Thurs­day evening in in­form­ing lis­ten­ers about the pur­pose of the ad­dress.

“Fel­low cit­i­zens, I ad­dress you tonight on the date for the next Gen­eral Elec­tion in our coun­try,” he started off by say­ing.

“Fur­ther, as you are prob­a­bly aware, the fifth an­niver­sary of the last Gen­eral Elec­tion is Novem­ber 28, 2016. Our Con­sti­tu­tion says in sec­tion 55 (2) that Par­lia­ment un­less sooner dis­solved shall con­tinue for five years from the date of the first sit­ting of the House af­ter any dis­so­lu­tion and shall then stand dis­solved. This would mean that Gen­eral Elec­tions are con­sti­tu­tion­ally due for the lat­est, three months af­ter the first sit­ting of Par­lia­ment, which was held on Jan­uary 05, 2012. In ef­fect, the Gov­ern­ment would have had un­til April 05, 2017 to call Gen­eral Elec­tions.”

The prime min­is­ter went on to in­form lis­ten­ers that he had de­cided “in the in­ter­est of our coun­try to call the Gen­eral Elec­tion sev­eral months ahead of its due date to en­sure peace, sta­bil­ity and cer­tainty in our coun­try and its af­fairs.”

He also pointed out that the op­po­si­tion United Work­ers Party had ag­i­tated for elec­tions for months and “on our side, the Saint Lu­cia Labour Party says, we are ready.”

Dr. An­thony then ad­dressed the de­lay in the pre­sen­ta­tion of the bud­get ad­dress fol­low­ing the de­bate on the Es­ti­mates of Rev­enue and Ex­pen­di­ture for the Fi­nan­cial Year 2016/2017.

“The ex­pla­na­tions for what ap­pears to be un­usual are rather sim­ple,” said Dr. An­thony.

Ac­cord­ing to the prime min­is­ter Sec­tion 79 (1) of our Con­sti­tu­tion re­quires that the Min­is­ter of Fi­nance pre­pares and lays the Es­ti­mates of Rev­enue and Ex­pen­di­ture ‘be­fore or not later than thirty days af­ter the com­mence­ment of the fi­nan­cial year’. In turn, sec­tion 79 (2) of the Con­sti­tu­tion pro­vides for an Ap­pro­pri­a­tion Bill to be in­tro­duced in the House of Assem­bly to au­tho­rize ex­pen­di­ture from the Con­sol­i­dated Fund. These are the two fun­da­men­tal re­quire­ments es­tab­lished by the Con­sti­tu­tion to al­low ex­pen­di­ture by the Gov­ern­ment.

“Clearly, we need to en­sure that any ex­pen­di­ture by the Gov­ern­ment is fully au­tho­rized. And we have done so,” said An­thony adding “Given my de­ci­sion to call the Gen­eral Elec­tion just af­ter the pas­sage of the Ap­pro­pri­a­tion Bill 2016/17, I felt it best that the Gov­ern­ment elected by the will of the peo­ple in the Gen­eral Elec­tion which I am about to an­nounce, 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.”

In list­ing on Thurs­day his gov­ern­ment’s achieve­ments Dr. An­thony an­nounced that the econ­omy had re­turned to growth and fis­cal deficit had been re­duced from 9.6% of GDP in 2012 to 3.1% in 2015.

“Our cur­rent ac­count sur­plus in­creased to $73.8 mil­lion in 2015/16,” said the prime min­is­ter who also boasted of a re­duc­tion in un­em­ploy­ment from 24.5% to 20% in the last quar­ter.

Gains in tourism, con­struc­tion, man­u­fac­tur­ing and agri­cul­ture were also touted.

Be­fore ar­riv­ing at the all-im­por­tant an­nounce­ment Dr. An­thony also spoke of job cre­ation and the is­sue of VAT.

Fi­nally the mo­ment of truth: “Fel­low Saint Lu­cians, the die is cast! The de­ci­sion time has ar­rived! 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 06, 2016. Nom­i­na­tion day will be May 27, 2016.

Dr. Kenny An­thony: Prime Min­is­ter of Saint Lu­cia and Leader of the Saint Lu­cia Labour Party.

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