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(SNO) – Prime Minister Allen Chastanet is touting a positive economic outlook based on a recent report on Saint Lucia by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Writing on his Facebook page this morning (Oct. 22), Chastanet said “a 3.7 percent growth” is projected for Saint Lucia by the IMF.
He said Saint Lucia’s economic trajectory has been “positively assessed” by the organisation in its published World Economic Outlook October 2018, which takes into account the global factors that affect a country’s performance.
“According to the IMF, Saint Lucia’s GDP growth was three percent in 2017, sustained by robust activity in several sectors,” Chastanet wrote. “Favorable external conditions, coupled with hotel expansions and the addition of new flights, generated a strong recovery in tourism, with stay-over arrivals rising by 11 percent, the fastest growth in the Caribbean.”
While Chastanet reviews the IMF’s assessment which he calls positive, Opposition Leader Philip J. Pierre has expressed concern about the pace of the economy, particularly what he calls the country’s “unsustainable debt path”.
Pierre made his concerns known on the state of the economy and other issues in his address as political leader at his Saint Lucia Labour Party Annual Conference held at the Laborie Boys Primary School on October 14, 2018
Pierre said in June 2016 when the UWP were handed the reign of government, Saint Lucia’s debt was decreasing and the country was able to meet its obligations to creditors.
“The Labour government was always mindful that excessive debt and huge deficits would undermine our quest for a better life for our people. In fact, the IMF had noted that ‘the Chief reason for inequality and rising poverty rates is unsustainable debt,'” Pierre said.
The Labour government, Pierre said, ensured that deficits were in decline but when Chastanet’s United Workers Party (UWP) returned to power, he accused them of ending many fruitful projects and accumulating “unsustainable debt”.
“We reduced the recurrent deficit from nearly 9% to 3.5% of GDP in less than five years, our fiscal position was improving, with overall debt on the decline. Our country was on the verge of an economic take off after years of UWP mismanagement in the period 2006-2011.
“There were multi-million investments underway: Royalton, Harbor Club and scheduled to start were new hotels including Range. The Gros-Islet Highway and Feeder Agricultural Road Programme were ready to commence. Hewanorra Airport redevelopment, the Southern Administrative complex together with the Soufriere Square and Old Trafford development, and several other projects would have created several jobs and improve the quality of life for the people. All these were brought to an abrupt end and instead the government embarked upon a reckless accumulation of unsustainable debt.
Pierre bashed the government’s “careless” borrowing, disclosing in his address that the national debt will exceed $4 billion by end of this fiscal year.
“Comrades, many countries regionally and internationally have found themselves in economic difficulty due to high debt levels. By the end of this fiscal year our national debt will be over $4 billion,” Pierre said.
He added: “This debt is a commitment placed on our children and their children. Why is the government putting our children’s future in doubt by useless borrowing? In addition to the half billion dollars for Hewanorra Airport, $13 million to build a road for a foreign firm DSH, another $32 million for the Parker Company for services that can be done by local professionals? All these loans without the approval of the parliament. The Saint Lucia Labour Party condemns this careless borrowing and warns the government of the hardship they are imposing on future generations. ”