Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has said that Saint Lucia is poised to benefit from over US$1.5 billion in foreign direct investments over the next two years.
Speaking to Watch Radio NYC, Chastanet said that policies introduced by government after coming into office “are working”, although it will take about three years before the true effects start to show.
“We are seeing that the economic growth projections of two percent or higher, we’re on track for that. We have over US$1.5 billion of foreign direct investment that’s committed to come to St. Lucia over the next two years,” he said.
“We’ve been successful in securing loans for a new police headquarters, a new police station in Gros Islet, $100 million for new roads, [and] $45 million for feeder roads to help our farmers. We’ll be announcing very soon, the commencement of the airport and we’re also looking to do the highway between Daren Sammy Stadium and Dennery,” he stated.
Chastanet also noted that since coming into office, statistics have shown that unemployment has dropped by eight percent.
“That’s huge,” he said.
Meanwhile, the prime minister mentioned plans to upgrade the capital city and eight villages on the island in a bid to boost local business.
“We’re looking aggressively at Castries in terms of revitalising Castries. We’re gonna be putting monies into the development and the upgrading of eight villages. So, Gros Islet, Anse La Raye, Canaries, Soufriere, Choiseul, Laborie, Micoud North and Dennery South – those fishing villages. We will be spending significant amounts of money in fixing up the sidewalks, getting road signs in and the purpose of that is to help grow small businesses [and to] make those fishing villages much more attractive…” he said.
On the issue of taxation, the prime minister stated that, “Government was increasing the level of taxation, because it was broke. And so we think that what government needs to understand is that the way that it must earn more money is by growing the economy because if you just keep increasing the tax rate it becomes uncompetitive and what happens is people find ways not to pay the tax. So if you have a lesser tax rate people are more willing to pay it and then people will have more money in their pockets and they’re spending more. Businesses now hire more people; bring more things in and even the construction sector starts taking off.”
The tourism and agriculture sectors will also receive attention, Chastanet said.
“So we’re at the beginning. The good news is that the initial policies that we’ve had as the government are working. The other piece of good news is that we have major investments coming in. So we’re hoping to go from 4,000 hotel rooms to 6,000 hotel rooms,” he said.
“We’ve already seen banana production go from 12,000 to 30,000 tonnes. Fresh produce is now on the uptake. We’re seeing that our manufacturing sector, our rum and our drinks are growing. And those are all great signs and as the economy continues to grow and consumption continues to grow,” he said.
As part of a strategy to reduce youth unemployment, Chastanet mentioned the intention to convert Radio Saint Lucia into a recording and video studio to serve as part of a course at Sir Arthur Lewis Community College.
Watch Radio NYC serves the St. Lucian diaspora in New York.