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.