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The main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) is calling on the Kenny Anthony administration to provide a report on the state of the local economy.
The party is also calling on the government to come up with possible solutions to the many issues confronting the island, especially as it relates to the current economic crisis.
UWP leader Allen Chastanet made this call at a press conference held earlier today. Chastanet said the time has come for government to stop hiding the truth.
He urged that Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony and his government come clean on what is really causing the economy to continue to move in a downward spiral.
The political leader said the government seems intent on talking about everything else, but not dealing with the state of the economy, which in his opinion should be a key priority.
“None of us are seeing any turnaround. There are no signs of new investments, no signs of any expansion of any major company in this country,” he added.
Chastanet said his party is concerned that a recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) report indicates that the local economy has contracted by 1.1 per cent this year.
The IMF had said St. Lucia had already contracted by 2.4 per cent last year. Chastanet said this trend is troubling particularly when it comes to creating new opportunities for locals.
“We’ve heard no statement by the government regarding this report and everybody is at a complete lost as to what is taking place in this country,” he added.
According to him, the silence by the current administration is very troubling and all St. Lucians should therefore demand that the government provide a report, so as to understand the situation.
“In essence we have had three consecutive years of contraction. I would strongly suggest to you that three years of contraction is a deep depression,” Chastanet asserted.
The UWP leader questioned the state of negotiations with the civil service. “Are we expecting that whatever decision they will make, will be made retroactively?” he again questioned.
Chastanet believes that there should be a special parliamentary session, similar to the Ebola session, to update the country on the state of the economy.
“The government needs to face up to the fact now that we are in crisis and this hiding cannot go on for longer. We need to know how we are going to solve this problem,” he stressed.
Chastanet said in meetings with Customs and other officials from various government departments, the UWP have recognised there has been a further contraction in tax revenues. This, he said, is also another issue to be worried about, because more spending is being done and less revenue being collected.
The political leader also shed some light on the cost of fuel. He said the world prices for fuel has dropped from US$105 to US$77 per barrel, but this drop has not reflected anywhere in St. Lucia.
Chastanet also referred to the “Ease of Doing Business Report” where in 2011 St. Lucia was at number 53 and the second highest in the Caribbean. However, in the 2015 report St. Lucia ranking dropped 47 places and the island is now ranked eighth in the Caribbean.
The UWP leader said this is symbolic of the government’s failed policies that continue to worsen the current economic situation that the island is faced with.
In providing some recommendation in helping to solve the current financial crisis, Chastanet said freezing government expenditure and improving the efficiency of current spending are necessary.
He said government must also freeze public debt and work on strategies to stimulate real investment.
Chastanet advised that government start renegotiating some of the debts, because too many of them are short term.
Chastanet claims that government is using EC$150 million annually on interest payments and rakes in $850 million alone in revenue annually. St. Lucia currently faces an approximately EC$3 billion debt.