Castries, Saint Lucia, Thursday, November 18, 2021: — After mismanagement of five COVID loans by the previous administration, Saint Lucia can no longer easily access international funding – at least, not like before, so says Prime Minister and Minister for Finance and Economic Development Philip J. Pierre.
The PM revealed earlier this week that Saint Lucia can no longer borrow on the international money market, thanks to the previous administration’s mismanagement of funds made available, especially for fighting COVID-19.
PM Pierre told parliament on Tuesday that the previous UWP government received five loans totaling $323.8 Million from four existing international creditors.
He also revealed that, “As of July 31, 2021, the former government had used $301 Million — meaning that of the COVID-19 borrowings, this government only benefitted from $19M of these loans.”
Pierre said his administration “is able to draw down on a $10M US loan from Taiwan.”
According to the PM, “We have found a situation where government expenses have to be financed from rollover financing, bond financing and treasury bills.”
He revealed that “For the last three months and before the next budget cycle begins, we have no access to institutional lending as was available to the last government.”
The prime minister also noted that “management of the debilitating effects of COVID-19 – and in particular, the presence of the Delta Variant — has compounded the challenges” faced by the current government.”
Fortunately, he said, the country “has managed to stabilize the in-country spread of the virus” and “initial indicators are that we are doing a lot better.”
However, he warned, “we must not drop our guard and remain vigilant by following the prescribed COVID-19 protocols to avoid any resurgence of the virus.”
He thanked the first responders, doctors, and nurses “for their efforts in the COVID-19 battle” and urged citizens to “get vaccinated in order to hasten the return to normal life and commerce in Saint Lucia.”
Meanwhile, with Christmas approaching, the government and health authorities are also again urging Saint Lucians to avoid complacency about lowering numbers and ensure respect for protocols to prevent any spike in the island’s COVID numbers over the holiday season.