Government initiates progressive policy actions
Thursday, March 21, 2024
by Office of the Prime Minister

On March 19, the Government of Saint Lucia, led by Prime Minister Hon. Philip J. Pierre, took progressive policy actions in the Lower House of Parliament to enhance central government operations and advance social and economic development in Saint Lucia.

Government Secures Budgetary Financing from IDA

Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Hon. Philip J. Pierre, continues to lead the post-Covid-19 recovery effort. The Prime Minister has capitalized on a loan facility from the International Development Association (IDA) for budgetary support to enhance government operations and improve efficiency.

The Lower House approved the motion tabled by the Minister of Finance to borrow an amount of Special Drawing Rights (SDR) 30,500,000.00 from the IDA to finance the Saint Lucia Sustainable Recovery Development Policy Financing.

The terms of the SDR policy loan from the IDA are outlined below:

  • The service charge is three-fourths of one per cent per annum on the withdrawn credit balance
  • The maximum commitment charge is one-half of one per cent per annum on the unwithdrawn financing balance
  • The loan is repayable in forty years commencing from the date of disbursement of the loan inclusive of a grace period of ten years
  • The loan is repayable in semi-annual instalments on the 1st day of April and 1st day of October of each year after the grace period

$80 Million Committed to Enhancing Sporting Infrastructure

The Government of Saint Lucia has agreed to guarantee a loan for the National Lotteries Authority (NLA) from 1st National Bank Saint Lucia Limited to finance a transformative youth and sports infrastructure programme. The Lower House approved the motion tabled by the Minister of Finance to guarantee an amount of XCD 80,000,000.00 from the 1st National Bank Saint Lucia Limited to the NLA.

The NLA will oversee the execution of rehabilitation works on several sporting facilities throughout Saint Lucia. The Mindoo Phillip Park, Marchand Grounds, Gros-Islet playing field and Daren Sammy Cricket Grounds will receive immediate attention to expedite Saint Lucia’s preparations to host group stage matches in the upcoming ICC Men’s T-20I Cricket World Cup tournament in June, 2024. Also, the funds will be invested in targeted youth programmes facilitated by key government agencies and NGOs.

The terms of the loan for the NLA are as follows:

  • The loan is repayable in fifteen years in biannual payments of three million, five hundred and seventy-one thousand, nine hundred and ninety-three dollars and seventy-eight cents inclusive of interest at a rate of four per cent per annum for the term of the loan.
  • The Government of Saint Lucia is NOT directly responsible for paying the loan. The NLA is obligated to service the loan. Should the NLA default on the loan, the Government of Saint Lucia will intervene and make the necessary payment(s).

Historic Women’s Parliament Caucus Established

The Women’s Parliamentary Caucus of Saint Lucia is officially established. The trailblazing motion was tabled in the Lower House by the Acting Minister for Gender Affairs, Hon. Jeremiah Norbert. Establishing the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus of Saint Lucia aligns with the Prime Minister’s vision to improve gender equality and promote gender equity in Saint Lucia.

The Women’s Parliamentary Caucus of Saint Lucia is bipartisan and comprises past and present women parliamentarians. The Caucus shatters the glass ceiling for women aspiring to pursue careers in politics and serve in the Legislature. It will build capacity among women parliamentarians in Saint Lucia, improve access to resources from global gender advocacy organisations and provide a dedicated forum for gender-based policy development and issues affecting women and local marginalized groups.

Land and House Tax (Amendment) to Provide Tax Breaks for Residential Property Owners

The economic realities faced by everyday Saint Lucian households continue to influence the policy interventions devised by the Prime Minister and his Cabinet.

The government proposes to provide more tax relief to residential property owners in Saint Lucia. The Prime Minister secured approval of the Lower House to make further amendments to the Land and House Tax Bill to extend the tax amnesty on residential properties.

The amendment exempts local residential property owners and Sports Saint Lucia Inc from paying property taxes for the year 2023. The proposed amendment to the Land and House Tax Bill will collectively save local residential property owners millions of dollars.

The Land and House Tax Bill went through its final stages in the Lower House on March 19, 2024.

Strengthened Insolvency Bill Proposes Extra Protection for Home Owners 

The Prime Minister has made it clear that his Administration is fighting to give every day Saint Lucians the protection they need to keep their homes and avoid foreclosures. To achieve this, the Prime Minister proposes to strengthen the Insolvency Bill to provide additional layers of home-owner protection for Saint Lucian mortgagors who encounter financial challenges.

The Insolvency Bill came up for its second reading in the Lower House however, the debate was deferred to a subsequent Parliament Sitting.

Lower House Empowers Department of Tourism with New Tourism Development Fund

The Lower House approved the motion tabled by the Prime Minister and Minister for Finance to establish the Tourism Development Fund. By having a dedicated fund, the Department of Tourism ensures a consistent and sustainable source of funding for its operations, development initiatives, and marketing efforts. This stability allows for better long-term planning and execution of tourism-related projects.

The fund aggregates various revenue sources, including allocations from Parliament, penalties, levies, grants, and fees. This diverse range of income streams provides the Department of Tourism with flexibility in financing different aspects of tourism development and marketing according to its priorities and needs.

With a dedicated fund, the Department of Tourism can invest in initiatives aimed at improving tourism infrastructure, enhancing tourist experiences, and promoting sustainable tourism practices. This can lead to the development of new attractions, preservation of cultural heritage sites, and improvement of tourism facilities, all of which contribute to the growth of the tourism sector.