STATING that preliminary figures for last year showed that the economy has started to grow by the notable margin of 2.5%, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet on Tuesday predicted even more growth for the local economy this financial year.
However, he warned that such growth, if not accommodated through investment will be temporary, unreliable and unsustainable. He further advised of the need to remove impediments that could hamper that growth.
Noting that last year’s growth was driven largely by a strong recovery in the tourism sector and an increase in construction, wholesale and retail and manufacturing sectors, the prime minister said that the passage of Tropical Storm Mathew in late 2016 tempered overall growth by causing a decline in output from the agricultural sector.
The prime minister’s outlook for St. Lucia for this year, barring any natural disaster, is continued growth.
He said that several foreign direct investment projects in the pipeline are at an advanced stage and are expected to come on stream this year.
He said further, that the construction and tourism sectors are expected to expand with the commencement and continuation of Fairmont in Choiseul, which is expected to commence in the second quarter of this year.
Also slated for this year are the Marriott Courtyard at Pointe Seraphine, Sandals La Source and the Gregg Norman Golf Course, Bay Gardens Residences, Dreams and Secrets in Canelles, Micoud and continued development of the Pearl of the Caribbean Project.
Chastanet said that despite the positive outlook for this year, a number of factors, which he did not highlight, are limiting the economy’s growth potential. However, he believes it is time to take the next step in building a new St. Lucia. Therefore, during this budget cycle, government will concentrate on investing in the people, upgrading the country’s physical infrastructure, improving public sector efficiency and managing the cost of debt.
“These four planks will be critical in positioning St. Lucia and St. Lucians to maximize our growth potential and the benefits to be derived therefrom,” he said.