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PM Chastanet says IMF report shows Saint Lucia is “turning a corner”

By SNO Staff

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(SNO) – Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet believes a recent report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) shows that Saint Lucia is turning corner and his administration is on the right track with fiscal and policy measures delivering results.

An IMF mission visited Saint Lucia from October 29 to November 8 and in its 2019 Article IV Mission statement said that Saint Lucia’s near-term growth prospects are “favourable, supported by large infrastructure investments and robust tourist inflows.”

“Growth picked up in 2019 with record growth in tourism activities more than offsetting a contraction in construction. Preliminary information also shows a further improvement in the current account,” the report stated.

It pointed to a decrease in unemployment and stated that near-term growth prospects are favourable, albeit with downside risks.

Chastanet pointed out that over the last three years, his government has put a lot of efforts in restructuring the economy “with an emphasis on some of our critical macro-economic numbers.”

“We have definitely turned a corner, in that we are starting to see some of those numbers stabilize,” he noted. “What is incredibly encouraging to us is that this information is coming out just as the Government is about to embark on our major capital investment programmes. So it means that these successes that we have obtained have been through fiscal and also general policy initiatives. As encouraging as the statements from the IMF are, there is still a tremendous amount of hard work to be done.”

However he said tht the government must remain focused on its goals.

The Prime Minister added that the Government must remain focused on its goals.

“We need to create a more efficient Government and the e-platform will help us achieve that,” he remarked. “We will continue to push the continued investment in infrastructure, roads, the airport, the cruise ship terminals, the new container port, the north south highway, the work taking place in the water sector. All these are critical in order to be able to develop the capacity. We must ensure that the investments, local and international, private and public sector, do materialize and create benefits for all.”

The Prime Minister said that the Government is further encouraged by the decline in unemployment.

“Even before we get those major projects going we have already seen a decline from 25 percent to 18 percent,” he said. “Also youth unemployment is down 10 percent, from 44 percent to 34 percent. With some of the additional expansion with existing and new call centres, the jobs that are going to be created in construction and the continued growth of small businesses, we think that by next summer we will see a further reduction in our unemployment numbers.”

The Prime Minister also took note of the concerns of the IMF regarding public debt and impediments to growth.

“The IMF has pointed to some areas where the Government needs to stay focused and we have been focused on these areas and on managing our debt which is why we put in place measures to collect revenue to meet our debt obligations,” the Prime Minister added. “Overall, however, this is a sign that what we doing is working and we have to keep Saint Lucia on this positive path.”

Click here to read entire IMF report. https://www.imf.org/en/News/Articles/2019/11/18/mcs111819-st-lucia-staff-concluding-statement-of-the-2019-article-iv-mission

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