Published On: Tue, Apr 23rd, 2013

Greater accountability during and after budget debate

Saint LuciaCASTRIES, St Lucia -- After reflecting on the poor quality of debates in Saint Lucia’s House of Assembly in recent years, the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM) has called on the governing Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) and the parliamentary opposition United Workers Party (UWP) to raise the level of discourse at the budget debate for 2013/2014.

Speaking on behalf of the LPM, Melanius Alphonse said that as long as the debates are laced with personal attacks and do not speak seriously and directly to the issues currently plaguing the Saint Lucian society, it should be clear to citizens that the elected parliamentarians are more interested in self-serving partisan antics than in new ideas that will advance the interests of the country.

According to Alphonse, parliamentary debates were not designed to enable political parties to refight the last election by waging a savage war of attrition and personal attack at each other.

Rather, the purpose of having an ‘Honourable House’ is to offer each parliamentary representative the opportunity to give an intelligent account of their stewardship and to offer reasonable and adequate justification as to why they intend to support, or oppose passage of any given bill, including the 2013/2014 budget.

Alphonse said that, since such has not been the case in Saint Lucia’s House of Assembly, this upcoming debate might be an opportune moment for those on the government side, who often huddle together like sheep in defence of political interest, to explain to the people of Saint Lucia, line by line, why so many goals in the 2012 budget were never realized.

In addition, it would be very interesting to see the government side offer justification as to why the SLP administration may include new proposals when it could hardly meet its stated goals of funding and implementing items from last year’s budget.

On the other hand, Alphonse insisted that the onus is also upon the UWP to oppose the budget not merely because it is traditional for opposing parties to do so.

Rather, the UWP, if it intends to raise the level of discourse during this year’s budget, must justify its opposition with fresh ideas that demonstrate that it has a better plan for putting Saint Lucia on a path to sustainable economic development.

Speaking on the role of the LPM in this year’s budget, Alphonse stated that, while the LPM does not currently hold seats in parliament, this does not handicap or inhibit the LPM from contributing to the budget.

The LPM, he said, has a forward-looking approach that is driven by the ability to articulate practical solutions to the nation’s problems, and that it intends to offer a vigorous and educated response to this year’s budget.

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