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PRESS RELEASE – In terms of formulating a worthwhile policy aimed at wooing foreign investors, the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM) affirms that the presentation of the Tourism Stimulus and Investment Bill in the House of Assembly last Tuesday was perhaps the most significant step ever taken by the government to combat the scourge of unemployment in its two and a half years in office.
However, while this initiative is one of many that could be employed to boost the prospects of positive economic activity in Saint Lucia, the LPM has sounded a word of caution to the people of Saint Lucia that they should temper their excitement over the government’s latest pronouncement pending tangible proof that the strategy which it intends to employ both at home and abroad proves effective.
In bolstering its advice to the nation, the LPM points to a number of historical instances in which Dr. Kenny Anthony has made similar pronouncements which promised much, but, yielded little in terms of improving Saint Lucia’s economic outlook and thus reducing the rate of unemployment in the country.
A case in point, says the LPM, 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 the following:
– Exemptions on a percentage of the quantum for tax purposes for institutions that finance hotel construction
– An increase in the Tax Holiday to twenty (20) years
– A relief on the normally sacrosanct Property Tax, Vendor’s Tax and Alien Landholding License
-The fast-tracking of the permitting process from ground-breaking to construction
– An investment tax credit equivalent to the percentage of the initial capital expenditure
However, in spite of all the above, the results proved that Dr. Anthony has largely 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 Saint Lucia is the right fit for them.
Moreover, a closer examination of his performance in government proves that Dr. 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 Saint Lucia. Dr. Anthony should have known back then that such an initiative—especially at a time when thousands of Saint Lucians were unemployed and could not possibly acquire the spending power to purchase discounted plywood, galvanize, cement, etc.—was perhaps an exercise in futility.
However, while most observers may have missed Dr. Anthony’s own admission that his administration had grossly miscalculated the effectiveness of the programme and was now convinced that job creation should be the focus of his government, the same cannot be said of the LPM, which has vowed to vigorously highlight the inadequacies of Dr. Anthony’s leadership.