A joint Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) report has indicated an economic growth of 1.2 percent for Saint Lucia in 2015, with a preliminary forecast of a 1.1 percent growth for 2016.
In revealing some of the contents of the report today, Minister in the Ministry of Finance Senator Dr. Ubaldus Raymond, pointed to a “ glaring” observation in the document that notwithstanding the recent improvement in the fiscal performance, without certain adjustments, public finances remain unsustainable.
The Minister made the comments at a news conference this morning.
Director of Economics of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Doctor Justin Ram was also present at this morning’s news conference at the studios of the Government Information Service (GIS).
Raymond told the gathering this morning that according to the document, in the last decade average growth in the economy of Saint Lucia was point nine percent.
“Over the last five years the performance of Saint Lucia’s economy has been generally weak with real output averaging negative .4 percent,” he disclosed.
The Minister observed that in its conclusion, the report notes that assessment of the fiscal situation shows that there is tremendous scope for improvement.
He said that the government was still in the process of reviewing the document and is awaiting a further report from international auditing firm – Ernest and Young.
Raymond explained that the purpose of the news conference was to inform media and public of the latest developments regarding the thrust towards a comprehensive economic agenda for Saint Lucia.
He noted that part of that agenda is to stimulate economic growth and development.
He said the objective of the joint CDB/ECCB report was to secure a diagnosis of the state of the economy before all the government’s tax proposals can be fully implemented.
Raymond said that in the interim, the new Allen Chastanet administration has executed a large part of its “Five to Stay Alive” plan, including a reduction in the increase of vehicle licence fees and an increase in school transport and feeding programmes.
He said the amnesty in personal property tax will commence in January 2017, while a promised reduction in Value Added Tax (VAT) will be announced next month.
Raymond told the media that the administration’s economic plan to which it is committed, hinges on three policy directions – reducing cost of living, spurring economic growth and curtailing the high level of debt.
He asserted that the joint CDB/ECCB report is a guide to achieving those goals.