(PRESS RELEASE) – Ms. Cointha Thomas, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Economic Growth, Job Creation and External Affairs, faced some pointed questions regarding St. Lucia’s Debt and Fiscal position when she addressed the St. Lucia Business Community on Wednesday 3rd October, 2018 at the Chambers’ Executive Luncheon at the Coco Palm Hotel.
Ms. Thomas, accompanied by a strong team that included, Acting Director of Research and Policy Ms. Jemma Lafeuille, Head of the Debt and Investment Unit Mrs Vera Emmanuel and the Budget Director Mr. Claudius Emmanuel, all within the Department of Finance, gave a comprehensive overview of St. Lucia’s Debt situation and the Debt Management Strategy.
Ms. Thomas pointed out that Agriculture Sector had been expected to be one of the drivers of growth in 2018/2019, with an estimated 9.9% growth projected, however, this projection will have to be revised downward due to the passage and damage inflicted by Tropical Storm Kirk. Delays in a number of planned projects are expected to result in contraction in the Construction Sector by as much as 13.1%. However positive outturns are expected from the Hotel & Restaurant and Manufacturing Sectors.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance alerted the Business Community that fiscal deficit is expected to worsen in the short term as a result of high interest payments and claims against the Government in this financial year.
The Permanent Secretary advised that the policies being advanced by her Department including Fiscal Responsibility Legislation, a topic already broached with the Political Directorate would, among other strategic measures, help manage the debt and fiscal situation, all in pursuits of attaining the prudential limits of a debt to GDP ratio of 60% by 2030. This is a target agreed to by St. Lucia as a member of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union.
The Chamber’s Executive Luncheon was well attended and participants were very attentive to the information shared. The Chamber will be making the presentation available to members shortly on its website.