By Anicia Antoine
(GIS) — The Government of Saint Lucia has embraced the opportunity presented by the COVID-19 pandemic to accelerate the implementation of some critical reform initiatives.
The government has put in place an economic resilience plan as part of a three-prong response strategy that seeks to chart a comprehensive roadmap for Saint Lucia’s recovery.
The Economic Recovery and Resilience Plan, budgeted at an estimated cost of $548 million, is the collective effort of a multi-stakeholder committee comprising private and public sectors and civil society.
The objectives of the resilience plan have been aligned to six pillars including reducing the impact of both global and domestic economic contraction on the economy, protecting the poor and vulnerable, and driving economic activity through the commencement and continuation of public sector capital investment projects.
Chief Economist at the Department of Finance’s Research and Policy Unit, Janai Leonce, explained that pillar one is focused on providing a suite of fiscal policy interventions—such as incentivizing the commercial banking sector—to lend to medium, small and micro enterprises to enable private sector business continuity.
“It speaks to how you can offer assistance to the business community and how you can offer assistance to the poor and vulnerable because both are critical as you lay that foundation to rebuild,” he said.
Chief Economist at the Department of Economic Development, Tommy Descartes, elaborated on the third pillar, which aims to protect the poor and most vulnerable and mitigate further deterioration in the quality of life.
“The social interventions are really geared at making sure that we curtail the negative impact of COVID-19, so we’re expanding the number of households who are currently on poverty assistance—the benchmark is about 3600 households. That is being led by the Ministry of Equity.”
As more households may fall below the poverty line as a result of COVID-19, priority attention will be given to households that are currently on the waiting list as well as individuals who were unemployed pre-COVID-19 and are now in desperate need of public assistance.
The Government of Saint Lucia has already commenced several of the initiatives under the Economic Resilience Plan.