CASTRIES, St. Lucia, May 20, (CMC) – The ruling St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) has unveiled a 15-point program, which it said, it would carry out if re-elected to office in the upcoming June 6 general election.
SLP leader and Prime Minister, Dr. Kenny Anthony, told party supporters, last night, that the program will help his new administration create a new St. Lucia.
The 15-point program promises to reduce unemployment to at least 15 per cent over the next four years, with Anthony telling supporters that the aim is to ensure that employment opportunities are made available to more people on the island, especially the youth.
“If you think we can’t do it, look at our history. We brought it down by five per cent and we are going to bring it down again. If we brought it down by five per cent, therefore, bringing it down another five per cent is in our grasp. We are going to do it through a combination of measures,” he reasoned.
He said there were also plans to construct at least 2,000 new hotel rooms, noting “already for this five years, we will be constructing nearly 900 rooms in this time of hardship.
“So as this economy picks up and galvanizes, we believe not only can we bring down that unemployment rate, but we can bring investments to construct that 2,000 rooms to provide work to our people.”
Anthony said that his new administration would construct a new highway, linking the north and south of the island, and would open up also the east coast for new development and opportunities.
In addition, the new 15-point plan will allow for a reform of the tax system with Prime Minister Anthony promising also to increase the threshold from EC$18,000 to EC$30,000.
He said persons earning EC$2,500 will not be required to pay income tax, a situation that would cover at least 3,500 workers.
“That is what I mean by putting money in the pockets of people, so that you can better face the challenges of life,” he said, noting that pensioners would also receive an additional deduction of EC$4,000 on their personal income.
He added they would also no longer be required to pay income tax, if they earn over EC$40,400 per annum.
The 15-point plan also makes provisions for assisting students, with Anthony promising to establish a tertiary education trust fund, which he described as “revolutionary and unique”.
The fund will receive a financial allocation of three million dollars, hoping to total EC$15 million within the next five years.
There are also plans to transform the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College (SALCC) into a university, and Anthony said there were also plans to help young business people.
“Our Labour Party app was made here in St Lucia and we didn’t have to go overseas and, that’s my point, these young people, who are working in our services sector, needs recognition. They need help.
“They too must get incentives, just like the hoteliers, just like the manufacturers, because they are the generation of the future and this Labour Government will give them a special regime of incentives so that they can be a part of this economy,” the SLP Leader promised.
The plan also looks at developing the creative arts industry, improving the health care and agricultural sectors and dealing with the impact of climate change.
The prime minister also indicated that a new SLP administration would pass legislation, guaranteeing and securing the rights of St. Lucians in accessing beaches on the island.
“It must remain the property of the people of St. Lucia. I must make sure it is done to save and protect the patrimony of this country for the generations yet to come,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP), today, said it welcomed the announcement of the June 6 election date by Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony and said it was confident of winning the poll.
“We are settled and perfectly poised to win the next election with a comfortable margin,” the party said in a statement, even as it complained that Anthony had not followed tradition and allowing for a minimum 21-day period for campaigning.
Anthony, in his radio and television broadcast announcing the date, also indicated that Nomination Day will be May 27 and that he had until April next year, under the constitution, to call the election.
The campaign, according to the UWP, for control of the 17-member Parliament will be 18 days.
“This time around all the factors are coming together to ensure that the party is ready for victory at the polls. It is a fact that the SLP (St. Lucia Labour Party) has been a national disaster. Their every initiative has been at a devastating cost to the people of St. Lucia — rich, poor and middle class,” the UWP said.
It added that the ruling party has failed to bring transparency, accountability, growth, jobs and has failed on almost every other election promise it has made.
“St Lucians have not forgotten the lie, disguised as a promise, to inject EC$100 million (One EC dollar =US$0.37 cents) into the economy immediately. We have not forgotten that five years later, absolutely nothing has been done about our astronomical unemployment rate, increased crime and spike in the cost of living,” the UWP statement said.
The SLP said that St. Lucians are a resilient and un-forgetting people, and “wool will not be pulled over their eyes by the master of illusions this time around.
“The United Workers Party has consistently shown that with proper plans, come delivery. Our policies under the torch will lights our way, slowly but surely, back into office to deliver much needed relief to our ailing country,” the UWP added.
The party said that in the fight to rescue St. Lucia from the “destructive hands of the SLP, changes have to be made and the UWP is ready to make that change.
“Our party has constantly been hitting the ground and shaping structured policies to build a new St. Lucia. The United Worker’s Party encourages every St. Lucian to make the right choice and, come June 6th, 2016, to place their confidence in this new United Workers’ Party,” the party added.
In the last general election, the UWP won six of the 17 seats that were at stake.