“We call on the Allen Chastanet administration to clarify their role and relationship with the government and indicate the cost of the services of retaining the local representative of Ernst and Young in St. Lucia,” Opposition Leader Phillip Pierre said in a statement.
The SLP said that over the past few weeks, St. Lucians have been made aware that the accounting firm, has become heavily involved in shaping economic policy for the government.
The claim is being made despite earlier assurances from the Office of the Prime Minister that the Ernst and Young was involved in the retraining of budget staff to deal with the new requirements and changes required for the implementation of the proposed 2017-18 budget.
However the opposition is contending that the accounting firm was engaged in doing a tax audit for the government.
“Reports indicate that Ernst and Young were paid EC$620,000 (One EC dollar =US$0.37 cents) for an exercise of questionable value. Now, the same firm has been granted a consultancy to help the Government prepare the 2017/2018 budget. Representatives of the firm attend and participate in budget meetings. To date the people of St. Lucia have not been told the cost of the services of Ernst and Young,” Pierre said.
He said that it is unprecedented for an accounting firm to be so heavily involved in the domestic affairs of a country and a government.
“Moreover, the engagement of Ernst and Young says that the UWP (United Workers Party) regime has no confidence in the public officers in the Ministry of Finance.
“Never before has a Government abdicated its responsibility to craft a budget as this Government has done. If the Government wanted help to craft its budget, it could easily have secured the services of the regional agency, CARTAC, at no cost to the people of St. Lucia,” Pierre said.
The SLP said it was calling on Prime Minister Chastanet “to indicate the cost of the services of retaining Ernst and Young and clarify his relationship with the local representative of Ernst and Young in St. Lucia”.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Chastanet in a comment to reporters Monday on the state of the economy and the need for urgent adjustments asserted that the island has a problem of having no fiscal space.
“If you take how much money government has borrowed so far and what the cost of financing that is, -if you assume that we are going to continue running a deficit government of a tune of about EC$200 million, all we will be able to do is maintain the 82 per cent debt to GDP (gross domestic product) that we have and potentially it might go higher,” Chastanet sid.
He said it was necessary to restructure the country so that the money that is being spent will generate growth.
“The only way we can turn this thing around is by growing the economy and then putting a freeze on the existing costs that we have,” said the Prime Minister, who is also Minister for Finance, Economic Growth, Job Creation, External Affairs and the Public Service.
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