“Tough Decisions to Tackle National Debt”

“Tough Decisions to Tackle National Debt”

Press Release:-As part of his Budget Address on Tuesday May 9th 2017, Prime Minister Honourable Allen Chastanet spoke to the subject of tackling the national debt stating clearly that the Government will not let another term go by without decisive action.

Speaking about the Government’s Fiscal Strategy, the Minister for Finance, Economic Growth, Job Creation, External Affairs and the Public Service, said the Government has developed a Medium Term Debt Management Strategy (MTDS) to address this situation.

The Prime Minister admitted that the current debt burden has hindered Saint Lucia’s ability to accumulate buffers and to implement fiscal policies to spur the economic growth needed to place the country on a more sustainable path.  Solving this problem, said the Prime Minister, is a shared interest for all stakeholders in the economy.

Among the initiatives undertaken by Government is determining whether the performance of statutory bodies and affiliated agencies justifies continued support of these agencies.

Said Prime Minister Chastanet: “There may be instances where a merger of agencies, or an elimination or reduction of transfers is the most suitable option. In some cases the environment has evolved, and the purpose for the creation of these agencies no longer exists. In other instances agencies may be better placed to operate as private institutions and allow market forces to set rates and determine the true cost of operations.”

The Prime Minister first spoke to the decision taken by Government with the Saint Lucia Tourist Board.

“Upon assuming office my Government took a decision to close the Saint Lucia Tourist Board and to establish the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority. This has resulted in the reduction of administrative expenses from $8.6 million in 2016/17, to $5.6 million programmed for the 2017/18 financial year.”

Other agencies whose operations and performances have been reviewed and a determination will be made on their continuation in their current form in the coming weeks and months; these include The Saint Lucia Marketing Board which the Prime Minister informed the House of Assembly was no longer the primary “farm gate” purchaser across the island.  

“Currently, it handles approximately only 2% of the total produce of farmers.  Consecutive years of losses have now rendered the Board virtually obsolete although its liabilities continue to burden taxpayers.”

Another entity which has drawn the concern of Government is The Saint Lucia Fish Marketing Corporation and the Government Supply Warehouse. The Prime Minister also gave the House of Assembly information about Radio Saint Lucia, stating the station continues to accumulate liabilities which could possibly be inherited by Government.

“Like the Marketing Board and the Fish Marketing Corporation, the factual matrix upon which RSL was established has changed,” admitted the Prime Minister.   

“When RSL was established there were few avenues for disseminating information to our citizens. The radio was the most widely used tool for mass media and there were very few other radio stations. Madam Speaker, the current climate is far different; the internet, television, cell phones have taken over in terms of communication. The airwaves are saturated with radio stations, and multiple avenues exist for Government to get its message across to its citizens. We must therefore revisit the question of the role of RSL in this current climate. My government will reorganize the GIS to more effectively disseminate government information and its programmes.  The company currently known as RSL will be closed, and the relevant programs will be restructured to take advantage of the new technologies for information dissemination.”

The Prime Minister then explained that the Saint Lucia National Trust has been advised to revise its business model to become financially independent.

The Trust is charged with conserving the natural and cultural heritage of Saint Lucia,” Prime Minister Chastanet informed Parliament. “It is an advocacy group and is responsible for developing the sites which have been vested in it. The Government has supported the Trust through an annual subvention as well as through the vesting in the Trust, premier heritage sites.  These valuable national assets can and should be leveraged to generate more significant revenue to sustain its operations, and thereby the Trust is being asked to revise its business model to become financially independent. As a result, the annual subvention will be discontinued. However, the government will continue to provide support to initiatives the Government believes has merit in supporting the development objectives of the state.”

Another agency under assessment is the Saint Lucia Postal Service with a consideration for privatization.

“This is not a decision we will take lightly,” noted the PM, “but one which we must consider given the requirements of the times and our dire fiscal situation. Privatization will accomplish two things – it will force the organization to review its operations and become more efficient, and the value of the services will face market forces and be priced accordingly.”

As the Prime Minister announced the agencies being reviewed he also stressed that these decisions are not easy to make.

“These tough decisions are necessary if we are to begin to turn our economy around. Subventions and grants to state affiliated agencies should not be a black hole into which money is poured,” he noted, “but rather should be viewed as investments which should produce returns of relevant, quality services to the people of Saint Lucia.”

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9 Comments

  1. sharon terrell
    May 13, 2017 at 1:10 pm Reply

    Some governments have a spending disease,they see monies they go crazy,we have ro save monies.To much wastage,and the worst part of it is i never see what these millions of dollars the prior administration claimed they spent did for st.lucia.We have to curb on our spending we spent to much, we have to save for the rainy days we need to cur back.So Mr prime minister i support the motion.

    1. Anonymous
      May 13, 2017 at 11:11 pm Reply

      🖒

    2. Anonymous
      May 14, 2017 at 2:42 pm Reply

      The party leaving office, cleans out the coffers so the winning party will have nothing to work with, monies are transferred to private accounts to third parties so they cannot be caught. This is what has been going on, the country is being milked all the time.

  2. Anonymous
    May 13, 2017 at 4:57 pm Reply

    CHEWPS BATISE

  3. Anonymous
    May 13, 2017 at 10:37 pm Reply

    Very good decision Mr. Prime minister. We are now being logical in our thinking and actions. You are really interested in our financial state. Please continue to be strong. Our ececonomy need you.

    1. Anonymous
      May 14, 2017 at 11:14 am Reply

      But he is the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. If he wasn’t interested in our financial state that would be scary at the least! We disparately have to get out of this rut of accepting mediocrity in this country or politicians will continue to run circles around our feeble minds. We have to demand more of them.

  4. Anonymous
    May 13, 2017 at 10:38 pm Reply

    Agree

  5. peoples choice
    May 14, 2017 at 8:15 pm Reply

    Way to go. Bravo. Do what has to be done to save this country.

  6. Anonymous
    May 21, 2017 at 2:26 pm Reply

    I totally agree Mr. Priminister, this country is in a crucial state financially and it will take crucial decisions to help reach a state of stability. You are brave and stronge and you have nothing to loose, the others were afraid to do what you are doing which should’ve been done years ago, because all they were concerned with was winning the next election and pleasing the ignarance of our people with sweets, which only tastes good in their mouth and gives no nutrition, no long term benefits. Run the country like a man in charge of his house and not like a pedophile handing sweets to kids ignorant of what’s going on. Strong language but that’s what some governments are doing as they fool the masses with handouts and enjoy all the tax payers money and do nothing beneficial for the country.
    This government is finally doing something

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