(PRESS RELEASE) – In recognition of its 40th Independence Saint Lucia showcased the innate skills of its people and their overwhelming accomplishments. Despite its many successes there are challenges that impede the country’s ability to realize its full development potential.
Saint Lucia is forced to grapple with the effects of low growth, poverty, unemployment, inadequate health care and rising crime just to name a few. These conditions have been compounded by the adverse effect of global economic conditions. Notwithstanding these inherent challenges, the Government is committed to the development of a clear roadmap to economic and social prosperity. To this end, the Government has engaged in long term planning to chart a clear path towards economic growth. This forms part of a concerted effort to devise innovative and transformative strategies to achieve national development goals.
The national planning ecosystem involves an intricate process that generates a long range term development plan, a medium term development plan and sector plans. These plans ultimately inform the Public Sector Investment Programme and Annual Expenditure Budget of Government. The initial attempt at long term planning commenced in 2008 with the formulation of a National Vision Plan which was a spatial development plan that divided the island into four quadrants (North-East Quadrant, Southern Quadrant, West Central Quadrant, North West Quadrant). It was envisaged that this plan would serve as a roadmap for the development of each quadrant. Thus governmental and non-governmental agencies would use this development framework to guide the selection and development of individual projects consistent with the national vision.
As part of a change in policy, a National Vision Commission was created by Cabinet in 2014 to lead a consultative visioning process that would conclude with the creation of national development plans. Civil Society and the citizens of Saint Lucia formed an integral part of this process. The Commission convened several consultations throughout the island as part of the effort to fulfill its mandate. In the final analysis a national development plan remains on the development agenda. Notwithstanding, the process of national development has continued over the years through a top-down and a bottom-up approach which led to the formulation of seven (7) priority pillars that support national development.
These pillars are as follows:
1. Building Productive Capacity and Expanding Growth Opportunities;
2. Social Transformation, Building Social Resilience and Social Capital;
3. Building Strong Institutions that are a Platform for Growth and Development;
4. Infrastructure, Connectivity and Energy;
5. Adaptation for Environmental Sustainability, Climate Change and Disaster Vulnerability Reduction;
6. Enhancing the Labour Force through Education, Training and Workforce Development; and
7. Improving Health and Wellness.
In the absence of an endorsed national development plan the Medium Term Development Strategy (MTDS) serves as an interim measure to provide a focused approach to the immediate development challenges of the country over the period 2017 – 2022. It is a policy instrument formulated to strengthen the local economy.
The development of the MTDS creates the avenue for extensive scrutiny of limitations and potentials to develop suitable strategies to propel growth and development.