Castries, Saint Lucia, Wednesday November 17, 2021:– Prime Minister and Minister for Finance and Economic Development Philip J. Pierre said that the Allen Chastanet administration’s reckless financial management of Saint Lucia left the nation at the edge of a financial cliff.
Addressing parliament yesterday and reporting on his administration’s achievements in its first 100 Days in Office, PM Pierre said, “The reckless financial mismanagement of our country during the last administration is worse than we had initially thought.”
He disclosed that “Under the last administration, Saint Lucia had been left on the edge of a financial cliff, which requires prudent financial management if we are to avoid falling into a financial abyss.”
The finance minister explained, “The former government, even before the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, had already placed the country in a financial mess” and “the situation was worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
He told the House, “The truth is… the Saint Lucia economy was highly indebted and badly managed before COVID-19.”
The PM reported that “The economy of Saint Lucia experienced a negative 23% decline, the highest in the region.”
In addition, he recalled that “Saint Lucia borrowed the most in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Authority (ECCA) and presently has the highest debt portfolio in the OECS, with debt servicing accounting for 31% of total revenue.”
Outlining “the state of the finances of our country when we were elected to government”, the finance minister indicated that as of July 31, 2021, St. Lucia’s debt was as follows:
- Public Debt – $3.932 Billion
- Local Payables – $154 Million
- Design Finance Contracts – $184.5 Million (5years’ repayment)
He also revealed that “Other commitments not accounted for” included “Unpaid land acquisitions” worth $60 Million and $27 Million due to the University of West Indies (The UWI).
“Other balances due by Ministries” he also disclosed, included “The Ministry of Economic Development indebtedness for work done under the Constituency Development Programme (CDP) at $4.18 Million, even though the grant allocation by the Taiwanese was provided to cover CDP payments.”
The prime minister in his address outlined his government’s achievements in the fight against COVID-19 and revealed plans for continuing the unfinished business of Constitutional Reform.