The small opposition Lucian Peoples Movement (LPM) has cautioned St. Lucians to temper their excitement over the government’s latest plans to combat rising unemployment pending tangible proof that the strategy can prove effective.
In terms of formulating a worthwhile policy aimed at wooing foreign investors, the LPM affirms that the presentation of the Tourism Stimulus and Investment Bill in the House of Assembly last week was perhaps the most significant step taken by the government to combat the scourge of unemployment in its two-and-a-half years in office.
However LPM Leader Therold Prudent says while this initiative is one of many that could be employed to boost the prospects of positive economic activity, St. Lucians should employ a wait and see approach to ensure its effectiveness, based on the record of the Anthony administration.
“We can point to a number of historical instances in which Dr. Anthony has made similar pronouncements which promised much, but, yielded little in terms of improving St. Lucia’s economic outlook and thus reducing the rate of unemployment in the country.
“A case in point, is the disappointing 2007 Cricket World Cup, which bore the seal of approval of the Anthony Government and to which enormous financial resources were allocated.
“The grab bag of incentives for foreign investors and the banks included exemptions on a percentage of the quantum for tax purposes for institutions that finance hotel construction, an increase in the Tax Holiday to 20 years, and a relief on the normally sacrosanct Property Tax, Vendor’s Tax and Alien Landholding License.”
Prudent said government also offered the fast-tracking of the permitting process from ground-breaking to construction, and an investment tax credit equivalent to the percentage of the initial capital expenditure.
However, he said in spite of all of this, the results proved that Prime Minister Anthony has presided over a series of Labour administration blunders from 1996 to 2006 and from 2011 to the present, which has failed miserably to convince foreign investors that St Lucia is the right fit for them.
Moreover, he said a closer examination of his performance in government proves that Prime Minister Anthony enjoys repackaging old ideas from his 2004 budget, among others, even if the results have proven to be less attractive than the policies, which are often crafted on paper and proudly presented as “revolutionary” ideas at the various sittings of parliament.
The LPM further argues that a substantial portion of the economic roadblocks which Dr. Anthony continues to experience, stems primarily from his insistence on applying political measures to what is an economic problem.
“Another case in point is the Construction Stimulus Package, which was essentially a grand political ploy to detract from the government’s inability to seriously address the issue of unemployment in St. Lucia.”