Categorized | News, Regional

Opposition stages walkout

By Ernie Seon

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Apr 4, CMC – Opposition legislators walked out of the St. Lucia Parliament on Tuesday in protest at the decision of the Speaker, Leonne Theodore-John, not to allow for a debate on an opposition motion regarding the controversial Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP).

Opposition Leader Phillip J. Pierre had questioned the absence of the motion from the Order Paper at the start of the sitting forcing an immediate apology from the Speaker over her failure to notify the Parliament of the change.

But she told legislators that that she had written to the Member of Parliament for the Castries South constituency, Dr. Ernest Hilaire explaining that the motion would be deferred for a subsequent sitting of the Parliament.

SLU ParliamentBut an infuriated Hilaire complained that he only learnt of the change ‎when he arrived at the Parliament building on Tuesday and it was improper for a motion which was circulated to members to be altered at short notice.

But the Speaker indicated that making the adjustment was nothing new, as it had been done several times before.

She further explained that the request for the motion to be deferred to a subsequent sitting had come from Prime Minister Allen Chastanet.

Theodore-John sought to give the opposition and more specifically, Hilaire the assurance that the motion would be discussed at a subsequent meeting, but could not be accommodated given the day’s extensive agenda.

Despite her explanation, and her efforts to continue the proceedings Hilaire insisted that he be allowed to speak on the deferral, and after a number of exchanges across the floor, the opposition parliamentarian, who is the St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) lead spokesman on the CIP led his colleagues out of the Chamber.

Speaking at a news conference later, Pierre told reporters “about eight weeks ago, the Honourable Member for Castries South informed the Speaker that … a negative motion would be tabled in the House… to negate the changes done by the government on the CIP programme.

“We had discussions with the Speaker and all was in order. When the Order Paper was released for the meeting this morning we noticed that the matter of the motion by the Member of Castries South had disappeared from the Order Paper.

“It was there up to last night, but this morning it disappeared. All the processes and the procedures required for the laying of a motion in the House was met by the Member of Castries South. The notice of six days was given and there was absolutely no reason why the motion should be removed from the Order Paper on the morning of the sitting of parliament,” Pierre said.

Pierre said that when Hilaire sought further clarification on the process by which the motion will be debated, given that this is the last sitting before a new parliamentary term begins, the House denied any discussion.

“We believe that the government simply does not wish any debate on the Citizenship by Investment Programme and has refused to provide any information on the CIP as required by law.

“The SLP believes that this latest move by the government is testimony to the vindictiveness and undemocratic nature of the UWP (United Workers Party) government and its desire to stifle free speech,” Pierre said.

“We intend to continue to show the people of St. Lucia that this government is vindictive, is dictatorial, it abuses power. If it can do that after less than one year in office, we can imagine what can happen when they are in power for a longer period,” Pierre said.

But the government has dismissed the allegation with the Minister for Economic Affairs, Guy Joseph, telling Parliament during a debate on the amendment to the Crown Proceedings Act, that the opposition walk out over the CIP motion was only a sham.

He said the opposition walkout had been planned since the Parliament would have been informed of the decision regarding the failed Rochmel development project under the former SLP government of then prime minister Dr. Kenny Anthony.

The amendment to the Act ensures that all financial arrangements to be carried out in project development by the Minister of Finance must first receive the approval of Parliament.

Under the CIP, as in the case of several other Caribbean countries, foreign investors are provided with citizenship of the island in return for making a substantial investment towards the future socio-economic development of the island.

Leave a Reply

TMR print pages

Newsletter

Archives

https://indd.adobe.com/embed/2b4deb22-cf03-4509-9bbd-938c7e8ecc7d

A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

By Ernie Seon

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Apr 4, CMC – Opposition legislators walked out of the St. Lucia Parliament on Tuesday in protest at the decision of the Speaker, Leonne Theodore-John, not to allow for a debate on an opposition motion regarding the controversial Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP).

Opposition Leader Phillip J. Pierre had questioned the absence of the motion from the Order Paper at the start of the sitting forcing an immediate apology from the Speaker over her failure to notify the Parliament of the change.

Insert Ads Here

But she told legislators that that she had written to the Member of Parliament for the Castries South constituency, Dr. Ernest Hilaire explaining that the motion would be deferred for a subsequent sitting of the Parliament.

SLU ParliamentBut an infuriated Hilaire complained that he only learnt of the change ‎when he arrived at the Parliament building on Tuesday and it was improper for a motion which was circulated to members to be altered at short notice.

But the Speaker indicated that making the adjustment was nothing new, as it had been done several times before.

She further explained that the request for the motion to be deferred to a subsequent sitting had come from Prime Minister Allen Chastanet.

Theodore-John sought to give the opposition and more specifically, Hilaire the assurance that the motion would be discussed at a subsequent meeting, but could not be accommodated given the day’s extensive agenda.

Despite her explanation, and her efforts to continue the proceedings Hilaire insisted that he be allowed to speak on the deferral, and after a number of exchanges across the floor, the opposition parliamentarian, who is the St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP) lead spokesman on the CIP led his colleagues out of the Chamber.

Speaking at a news conference later, Pierre told reporters “about eight weeks ago, the Honourable Member for Castries South informed the Speaker that … a negative motion would be tabled in the House… to negate the changes done by the government on the CIP programme.

“We had discussions with the Speaker and all was in order. When the Order Paper was released for the meeting this morning we noticed that the matter of the motion by the Member of Castries South had disappeared from the Order Paper.

“It was there up to last night, but this morning it disappeared. All the processes and the procedures required for the laying of a motion in the House was met by the Member of Castries South. The notice of six days was given and there was absolutely no reason why the motion should be removed from the Order Paper on the morning of the sitting of parliament,” Pierre said.

Pierre said that when Hilaire sought further clarification on the process by which the motion will be debated, given that this is the last sitting before a new parliamentary term begins, the House denied any discussion.

“We believe that the government simply does not wish any debate on the Citizenship by Investment Programme and has refused to provide any information on the CIP as required by law.

“The SLP believes that this latest move by the government is testimony to the vindictiveness and undemocratic nature of the UWP (United Workers Party) government and its desire to stifle free speech,” Pierre said.

“We intend to continue to show the people of St. Lucia that this government is vindictive, is dictatorial, it abuses power. If it can do that after less than one year in office, we can imagine what can happen when they are in power for a longer period,” Pierre said.

But the government has dismissed the allegation with the Minister for Economic Affairs, Guy Joseph, telling Parliament during a debate on the amendment to the Crown Proceedings Act, that the opposition walk out over the CIP motion was only a sham.

He said the opposition walkout had been planned since the Parliament would have been informed of the decision regarding the failed Rochmel development project under the former SLP government of then prime minister Dr. Kenny Anthony.

The amendment to the Act ensures that all financial arrangements to be carried out in project development by the Minister of Finance must first receive the approval of Parliament.

Under the CIP, as in the case of several other Caribbean countries, foreign investors are provided with citizenship of the island in return for making a substantial investment towards the future socio-economic development of the island.