Can’t we all just get along?

Prime Minister Kenny Anthony (l) and Opposition Leader Stephenson King at House of Assembly yesterday.

They certainly did get along. After heated debates in the House of Assembly last year between former Prime Minister Stephenson King and the then Leader of the Opposition Kenny Anthony, the House convened its first sitting yesterday morning with unusual compliments from both sides. The name-calling, harsh words, and walk-outs were replaced by pats on the back!
Dr Anthony, who last year during his party’s election campaign accused the ruling United Workers Party of not doing enough to advance the economy announced in a press conference held in his Office last Friday that his government plans to recycle this year’s budget.
Evidence of his announcement was seen yesterday while complimenting the former King administration for negotiating EC$15 million towards the repayment of loans obtained by the St Lucia Development Bank (SLDB). Anthony announced that his administration will honour the deal and advised members to support and approve the loan.
According to Anthony, the purpose of this loan is to finance lending programs in respect to agriculture, industry services, low income housing and student loans.
“Such loans will be provided to students of financially disadvantaged households who are pursuing tertiary education programs
offered by regional and extra-regional institutions,” said Anthony.
Of course, opposition members were all in agreement to the approval and with the sitting starting on a good note, the Leader of the Opposition could not resist the opportunity to return compliments to the governing St Lucia Labour Party.
“I must take the opportunity to commend the Prime Minister on seeing wisdom in a decision that was taken by the previous administration to facilitate the development of the very critical sectors in our community,” King said, while urging the government to pay particular attention to education. “One critical area I believe we must pay attention to is in the area of education —and one of the things we found out in our administration was the fact that there were many
St Lucian children who had a great desire to promote themselves educationally but because of economic and social conditions. Despite their ability, they were denied the opportunity to access institutions of higher learning.”
Dr Anthony further presented to members for approval another loan agreement signed by the previous administration for US$5 million to SLDB to repay a loan from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) for on-lending to approved sectors of the economy.
The PM also moved a motion to grant his ministry the permission to borrow
an amount of US$2.8 million from the International Development Association for the purpose of assisting in financing the OECS Eastern Caribbean Regulatory Authority Project (ECARA).                 Again, Dr Anthony credited the agreement by the former UWP administration and commended their efforts while noting that the terms and conditions for all loans were negotiated generously and deserving support from all sides.
The sitting also saw the swearing in of Parliamentary Representative for Castries North-East, Guy Joseph who agreed with the government for supporting ECARA.
“I am happy that the ministry of finance still proceeded in seeing that the loan was negotiated and today I know that from my information, I know that there are sufficient countries to move on with this project . . .  We have seen the success of ECTEL regulating the telecom sector–and I don’t think the same can be applied to the electricity sector but I believe that with a regulatory authority in place, we
should get benefits as a country and as a region,” said Joseph.
Five committees were approved in the House including, Public Accounts Committee which is chaired by the Leader of the Opposition; the Standing Order Committee, chaired by the Speaker of the House; House Committee; Committee of Privileges, chaired by the Speaker of the House;
and the Regulations Committee. Members of
both sides make up the committees mentioned above.

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