At this week’s media briefing before Monday’s Cabinet Meeting, Prime Minister Honourable Allen Chastanet spoke about plans for the upcoming Budget Presentation 2017-2018.
The Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Economic Growth, Job Creation, External Affairs and the Public Service, says the Government has been engaged in ascertaining the exact fiscal position of Saint Lucia and finding balance.
One of the essential issues the Prime Minister noted which had to be dealt with was the housing of Government offices. The Government has had to deal with several outstanding concerns of poor working conditions and health hazards.
Location- NAS: 2017/3 March/29 March/ PM
“I have been physically going around to the different offices and it is amazing to see the circumstances some of the civil servants are being asked to work under,” noted the Prime Minister.
“People want to see an upgrade in their standards,”
The challenge he said was that the Government was already spending millions on rental payments and constrained in terms of what it could do.
“There is 450 million dollars in payroll. There is very little we can do right now other than try to get more productivity for it. Clearly to do that, physically, the Government is going to have to increase the amount of facilities that we have. We are already spending 44 million a year in rental payments so when you get into your salaries, pensions, you get into 300 million a year in debt financing and then the cost of opening up the Owen King centre, you are already struggling. What we are looking to do is a fiscal budget for this year and a very clear programme for the next four years in terms of how we transition”.
Speaking about the way forward Prime Minister Chastanet says the Government is working on a four year strategic development plan.
The Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers, and various Ministry heads have been engaged for the past several months in Budget preparations and developing a four year plan for the country.