Tuesday 29 September, 2020

Govt removes one Tourism Bill as Opposition criticizes another

First Deputy Leader of the SLP Hon Ernest Hilaire, Prime Minister Hon Allen Chastanet

First Deputy Leader of the SLP Hon Ernest Hilaire, Prime Minister Hon Allen Chastanet

Update: Government has now removed three Tourism bills

Last night, Minister of Tourism Hon Dominic Fedee defended the Tourism Levy Bill from opposition criticism in a video address to the nation.

This morning, Prime Minister Hon Allen Chastanet announced that the bill was removed from the Order Papers in the Senate to allow for further review:

"After careful consideration, our Government has determined that some sections of the Tourism Levy Bill may seem ambiguous, thus giving rise to a certain level of misunderstanding and misinterpretation. Our Government is not insensitive to some legitimate concerns that have been expressed in that regard.

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This Act was always intended to help our small tourism-related businesses and is too important a piece of legislation to be misunderstood. This legislation is intended to complement what we are doing with village tourism, the marketing of our brand and other destination enhancement programmes to further incorporate and provide benefits to small and medium-sized tourism and hospitality businesses.

Notwithstanding that this policy initiative has been extensively discussed for the last three years, we want to make sure that there is clarity in the intent and language of the legislation. Hence, we have decided to remove it off the Order Paper for the Senate at this time to allow the opportunity for further review.

Our small tourism businesses are a very important sector and it is therefore equally important to us and them that we get it right; that the legislation meets its objectives and ensure that the Bill is a true representation and reflection of the Government’s policy intentions."

First Deputy Leader of the SLP, Dr Ernest Hilaire reacted on his Facebook page saying: "My joy of learning that due to the public pressure and advocacy of the Opposition, that the dreaded Section 27A of the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority (Amendment) Act would be reviewed, appears to be short-lived.

I have now read the Prime Minister's Press Release, where he states that it is the Tourism Levy Bill that will be withdrawn! That one was passed just before 3 am, while you were asleep.

Surely, he made a mistake. Please tell me he made a mistake. Yet again another mistake. Can you withhold the Saint Lucia Tourism (Amendment) Act? That's the one the public takes issue with. It is the hoteliers that takes issue with the Tourism Levy Bill."

The Leader of the Opposition had a different reaction on his Facebook page: 

"Saint Lucia, our voice has been heard.

After exposing the Government’s deceitful attempt to yet again amend the laws of Saint Lucia at 2.10 am on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, I must inform the public that the bill which was presented to the Parliament has been placed on hold.

It is evident that the Prime Minister, filled with fear, crumbled under the immense pressure from both the Opposition and members of the public. Indeed, he knew that his actions were unjust and another vile, corrupt and surreptitious scheme hoping to sneak onto the pages of our law books.

Does the Prime Minister have no moral compass or conscience?

However, here is the news I have for you. I am duty-bound to represent the interests of my fellow brothers and sisters of this great country. I was elected by the people of this nation to ensure transparency and good governance prevails, making certain that the integrity of Saint Lucia is not compromised by any dictatorial rule.

Allen Chastanet, think again! I wish to remind you that I am ever vigilant and watching every attempt to deceive and oppress the people of Saint Lucia with these underhanded and unscrupulous acts. I will not allow dishonest practices to go unnoticed, unannounced and swept under the carpet.

What is done in the dark at 2.10 am, shall come to light!

To my fellow Saint Lucians, press on, let's reclaim our Saint Lucia. We must continue to agitate for what is right because to be silent is to be complicit in Allen Chastanet’s and his party’s vindictive and callous ways."

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