According to the National Bureau of Economic Research in America, the global recession ended five years ago (June 2009). So Kennynomics had plenty of time after assuming office to produce a solid recovery for Saint Lucia.
In fact, according to the same Bureau of Economic Research, the worse the recession, the stronger the recovery. In 2014, Dr. Anthony should have had a booming economy by now, right?
Dr. Anthony and Co. touted in 2011 that they could do a better job with the economy of Saint Lucia. They promised better days, foreign direct investment (after scaring them away while in Opposition), $100 million injection into the economy immediately upon assuming office and jobs for every boy and girl. Of course, Saint Lucians bought into the promises of a “revived SLP” coming fresh out of purgatory.
But just one day after winning the General Elections, Dr. Anthony was now singing a different song, saying that, “it will be a difficult road ahead and there will be many sacrifices to be made.” Not too long after, during a national televised address, the same Dr. Anthony was pleading with Saint Lucians to implement some belt-tightening measures to save, because, according to him, Saint Lucia had some bad (no longer better) days ahead. What ever happened to the better days they touted?
In his 2014/2015 Budget Address, Dr. Anthony claimed that he had brought down the national debt of the country but not significant enough to decrease government’s exorbitant expenditure. I get it, any prime minister in his position would always want to give the country hope and to show that he is working hard to make things better. Who wouldn’t do that? But come on, we are living in the age of technology and instant communication. Every recovery would always be better than any recession, no matter how little the recovery. So reducing the debt by so little doesn’t mean much. It’s like rolling on the beach – you are still lying down on sand!
The right measure and comparison for Dr. Anthony’s record is not to compare the recovery to the recession, but to compare Dr. Anthony’s recovery with other recoveries from other recessions in the Caribbean since the Great Depression. By that measure, what is clear is that Kennynomics has produced the worst recovery in the Eastern Caribbean.
Unemployment figures continue to rise after reaching an astounding 24.9 earlier this year. Businesses continue to close as a result of a huge shortfall in sales. This of course happened after Mr. Prime Minister introduced the infamous Value Added Tax (VAT) at 15 percent, causing Saint Lucians to reduce their spending because of a spike in the price of goods and services.
Why would you blame them when earlier, the same prime minister told them to implement some belt-tightening measures to save money? They took his advice and now they are not spending like they use to. Didn’t he know a reduction in spending would mean less revenue collection by the government? Where on earth was he taught such economics – even the average man on the street knows that this is the wrong approach.
Dr. Anthony’s economic performance has been much worse than that of the former Prime Minister Stephenson King – someone who does not have ‘D R’ in front of his name. Real GDP growth under Dr. Anthony has been in the negative region since taking over from the United Workers Party – for someone who gave the country so much hope of better days. Not saying that things were so good under the UWP but at least they saw real GDP growth in the positive figures and at the time, it was the best in the OECS when compared to other island states. Dare I say compare the latest GDP figures with the rest of the OECS?
Despite his rhetoric, Kenny Anthony has failed to deliver for the poor and less fortunate as well. Oh but he invested millions in social programmes because Kenny loves the poor! I know I know! The money does come in handy for some families but IT ISN’T LONG-TERM and there are no returns for the government. So in essence, its good monies put to bad use. The only thing booming under Kennynomics is poverty.
These dismal results of Kennynomics have been produced because all of Dr. Anthony’s economic policies are thoroughly anti-growth, indeed, the opposite of what is needed for long-term booming growth. Instead of cutting tax rates, which provides incentives for increased production, Dr. Anthony introduced VAT at 15%; raised the price of water by 66% (and is due for another increase in January 2015); raised the price of electricity; reduced the subsidies on rice, flour and remove it completely on sugar; increase the list of VAT applicable goods, including fish, ground provisions and peas.
Instead of deregulation, which increases the ease of doing business, and results in reduced barriers to productive activity, Dr. Anthony has been all about increasing regulation – and we wonder why investors are not coming to Saint Lucia. Instead of cutting spending, Dr. Anthony entered office exploding spending during his first two years, and only now wants to restrain by cutting public servants’ salaries by five percent.
And instead of saving money to pay for loans that will soon become mature, he decided to lavishly spend $11 million on a bridge, $5 million on a new home for SSDF, and while he is at it, why not a few more millions on the renovation of the old Golden Hope building which will become his new Comfort Bay, while Saint Lucians continue to pay for his poor handling of the economy.
Oh! Did I forget to mention the hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent to represent Saint Lucia in the Grynberg Affair that he Dr. Anthony is responsible for? What about the exorbitant amount of money being paid to Anthony Astaphan and the courts to get his only formidable opponent in Allen Chastanet out of the way?
If I had access to all these monies, I know I would be spending it differently to make Saint Lucia a better place.
– McKinley Joseph