Despite news this week that the national unemployment rate has declined for the first quarter of 2017, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet is still not happy with the unemployment figures of the country.
According to the Central Statistics Department, 20.1 percent of the population was unemployed from January to March 2017 compared to 21.6 percent in the fourth quarter (October to December) of 2016, while youth unemployment stood at 38.7 percent in the first quarter of 2017 compared to 43.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016.
However, Chastanet said his government has pledged to work towards an unemployment rate of no more than 15% by 2021.
In his maiden Budget Address on Tuesday, May 9, he noted that the country’s unemployment rate has increased “significantly” from 14 percent in 2007 to above 20 percent where it has “stubbornly remained”, while the overall economy has been growing at an average rate of 1.3 percent from 2006 to 2016.
“It is an extremely sad reality that over one-fifth or 20 percent of our productive labour force is unemployed and by extension Madam Speaker this implies unemployed capital in that scenario. This, in effect means that we have substantial capacity for expansion, growth and development,” he said.
He said investments within the coming months will create employment throughout the island, particularly in the sectors of tourism, agriculture and construction.
The former tourism minister said there will be a comprehensive incentives package which will create employment within the private sector and provide much needed support to businesses within Saint Lucia.
Tourism projects that will create more rooms and thousands of jobs, he said, include: The Harbour Club, Fairmont Saint Lucia Resort, The Curio by Hilton, Range Developments (Black Bay), Sandals Resorts International and the DSH Pearl of the Caribbean project.
Chastanet pointed out that the DSH project will transform Vieux Fort.
“No longer will high rates of joblessness plague Vieux Fort and no longer will the people of the south feel like abandoned children. This project will also make use of under-utilised lands in the south, particularly in Beausejour, and create several ancillary industries and linkages with existing businesses,” he said.