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GROWTH PROMISED

P.M. Delivers Budget Statement.

Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony arrives at the House of Assembly last Tuesday. [Photo: Stan Bishop]
Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony arrives at the House of Assembly last Tuesday. [Photo: Stan Bishop]

PRIME Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony as Tuesday predicted a positive growth outlook for the country this year despite two straight years of negative growth however certain proposals made by him for this year have created a buzz around the country.

The forecast was made during his almost three hour long statement on the Appropriation’s Bill Tuesday in the House of Assembly.

The Prime Minister’s calculations come on the heels of a call by opposition leader Dr. Gail Rigobert, the day before for him to give ordinary Saint Lucians some degree of economic relief having faced, so far ,three plus years of a Labour Party government under which the economy has yet to show any improvement.

Saint Lucia’s economy declined by -1.9 in 2013 and -0.7 last year. However the Prime Minister stated that data points to a return of growth this year, citing growth in the tourism and transport sectors.

But the Prime Minister’s optimistic prognosis is somewhat tampered by a mixed performance of the agriculture sector in which banana exports to the United Kingdom declined while improvements were recorded in the output of other crops and in the production of livestock and eggs, along with improvements were seen in the fisheries sub-sector.

With construction and manufacturing remaining below the levels expected last year it is the unemployment situation that appears to be an albatross around the neck of the Anthony led administration, because despite the numerous efforts by government to contain unemployment it increased slightly to 24.4 percent last year from 23.3 percent the previous year.

But the Prime Minister seems to take solace in what he says is government’s commitment to ensuring that Saint Lucia’s fiscal position becomes sustainable, viewing this as a necessary condition for sustainable economic growth.

“I am happy to report that we have made further strides towards achieving this objective,” he said, adding that there was a marked improvement in the fiscal operations of Central Government in 2014/2015, building on the improvement seen in 2013/2014.

According to Dr. Anthony the overall deficit narrowed to $138.8 million in 2014/2015 compared to $213.5 million in 2013/2014.

“This is a reduction of 35 percent in nominal terms. As a ratio of GDP, this translates to an overall deficit of 3.7 percent compared with 5.8 percent in the previous year. In other words we have secured a reduction of 2.1 percentage points,” the Prime Minister said, noting that a current account surplus of $43.1 million was recorded compared with a current account deficit of $0.7 million in 2013/2014.

“This improvement reflects favourable revenue performance that is consistent with efforts by the government to broaden the tax base, improve administrative efficiency and contain and reduce most categories of non-wage expenditures,” Dr. Anthony said.

But what really has Saint Lucians talking following the Prime Minister’s Tuesday night’s presentation are the reforms and adjustments he proposed for this year.

For instance he changed the VAT regime by including an increase in that tax threshold to $400,000 from $180,000 and raised the Customs Service Charge rate on imports from five percent to six percent. Another talking point was raising the charge on fuel purchased by LUCELEC by fifty cents. This is already generating island wide debate with many of the view that their electricity bill will increase significantly.

Micah George is an established name in the journalism landscape in St. Lucia. He started his journalism tutelage under the critical eye of the Star Newspaper Publisher and well known journalist, Rick Wayne, as a freelancer. A few months later he moved to the Voice Newspaper under the guidance of the paper’s recognized editor, Guy Ellis in 1988.

Since then he has remained with the Voice Newspaper, progressing from a cub reporter covering court cases and the police to a senior journalist with a focus on parliamentary issues, government and politics. Read full bio...

6 Comments

  1. Kenny, the lawyer, at the helm of finance is a perfect example of “A square peg in a round hole”.

    With so many qualified accountants and economists on the island, it’s mindboggling that Kenny Anthony would continue to assume a responsibility that he’s clearly ill-equipped to handle.

  2. Not only the Finance Ministry, but the head of the Government. He’s made a mess since he took over this time around.

    1. It would a lot more realistic if the banner headline read instead of “Growth Promised”, it read “Growth COMpromised”!

      Saint Lucia has suffered from this most obvious incarnation of the “Peter Principle” ever since this man took over as Minister of Finance. The stupid greying stooges in the party’s hierarchy see no other person who can lead them. Saint Lucia therefore is condemned to their ignorant and illogical myopia.

      See the litany of failure in. Frenwell, BlackBay, Grynberg, and the VAT. The financial illiteracy, ignorance and egregiousness has increased geometrically from $48 million, to $86 million and to $500 and still counting. As such, each financial blundering is several times LARGER, and the DAMAGE and the COST dwafting the previous one.

      The members and constituency branches of the SLP continue to saddle this country with their economic and business cretin. Without shame ,they continue to put a stranglehold on the transformation of the economy, as the irksome and burdensome financial cost of their abysmally low sense of responsibility and patriotism, that each passing day this obvious square-peg remains in office, continues to mount

  3. The economic barometers are fine
    The Financial Oceans are gale or tempest free- to near dolrum like stillness
    The bounty of the moneyed seas are as nurturing as the wild Sargossa.
    The ship of state is as sturdy as robust Congolese Mohagany and Teak

    The only problem is the CHARISMATIC leader
    t
    Come on, youre selling PABLUM to the breakfast tables of Mandigos when they are expecting Steel Cut whole Irish Oats

    but Cro- Magnon in our eagerly anticipated political renaissance
    All the above “yellow BRUTUS daggers’ are offering, is a CULT OF PERSONALITY
    as blame and resolution for our economic quagmire.
    The LA_BOO of the Troumasse is good for tilling in Banana fields –
    but is so Cro- Magnon when juxtaposed to St. Lucia’s eagerly anticipated political renaissance.

    Please critique the MESSAGE instead of the MESSENGER
    Or is the lazy flicker of the Flambeau too dim to glean the document?

  4. If this and future Governments are really serious about growing Saint Lucia’s economy, they need to focus on one critical metric: growth in the number of business start-ups and the survival and growth of these business over the long-term. That’s about it! Government can pump as much money as it wishes into the economy, but so long as this does not generate new and growing export-related businesses then we will never achieve sustainable economic growth. More export-related businesses are the key to the creation of more decent jobs and more foreign exchange; more decent jobs put more money into the Consolidated Fund and into general circulation; more money in circulation help businesses to expand and so the virtuous cycle of growth continues.

    Once we accept the axial importance of creating more, sound, more successful businesses then we need to move to answer the HOW of the matter. And it is here that we will come face-to-face with the reality of our circumstances. The simple truths are: we don’t have the businesses we need for the 21st Century; we don’t have the entrepreneurially-minded persons to generate these businesses; those who have the requisite business acumen are frustrated by the bureaucracy of government and a risk-averse banking system.

    My major disappointment with this budget is that it is not sufficiently focused on addressing these core issues and it is very short on innovative ideas.

    How about a Business Innovation Challenge Fund targeted at 5th and 6th formers in our schools?

  5. ……..the new credit paradigm for start-ups: a sousou with a deferred contribution plan. seriously,….this is a very enterprising idea!…funding sources?……use your imagination!!

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