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St Lucia’s never-ending nuance

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By Caribbean News Global fav

TORONTO, Canada – An idiosyncrasy of the fact nowadays is rare, tied up in announcements and snippets far removed from communication, transparency and accountability. The ethos of development strategy and governance is now different in retrospect to campaigns. The social conscience and ideology of nationalism is lost in quick fixes, deals and unanimous support from government legislators (customarily) in one sitting of parliament.

The Saint Lucian society has become increasingly polarised and, according to a senior cabinet minister – selfishness – is adored, as a staple of legislators and senior government officials. The appeal for respectful disagreement is no more. It’s easily forgotten in the path of avoidance.

Understandably, the responses from the government and the opposition party have been unthinking and politically convenient. The preference is satisfying a visible side – providing a political response – irrespective of good policy or moral leadership.

Saint Lucia, a small and dependent island, deserves much more than a fractured society, a cohesion / non-cohesion by proxy for the perception of well-being indifferent to law and policy.

Lawlessness and criminality

In a time of lawlessness and criminality at all levels, justice is dualistic, while the institution of power is stacking ideological support and promoting political gains.

This includes pandering to the loudest voices and extremists – visible and harmful. Tolerating and empowering such is the result of Vieux-Fort (a case in point) – paying the price for successive societal infractions and failures. The (non) response is consuming the island.

Silence characterises the efficiency of the powerful. The experience of legislators and law enforcement is negligible.

A good snapshot

A free society steadfastly upholds the values of democracy and freedom, peace, and stability, while observing objective and internationally recognized facts.

Deepening and elevating a comprehensive strategic partnership and building a strong economy are sold on the respective efforts of social and economic principles, and strategy. Implementation is everything!

Bringing about core innovative plans and strategies is vital for sustainable development to create high-quality jobs, raise incomes, and increase employment through economic growth.

A highly skilled workforce for the 180,000 people in Saint Lucia requires a well-developed institutional framework, infrastructure networks, communication and technology services, a range of financial services and incentives for investors are fundamental for domestic, regional and international investment.

Saint Lucia’s debt-to-GDP ratio, inflation and unemployment collectively offer a good snapshot of a country’s economic strength.

The 2024/2025 budget address states:

“Public debt at the end of 2023 was $4.7B increasing the debt-to-GDP ratio to 72.9 percent. Interest payments increased by 17.2 percent to $331.3 million representing 25.4 percent of current revenue.”

“Growth trajectory as preliminary estimates show that Saint Lucia’s GDP grew by 2.2 percent for the year 2023.”

“In relation to prices, domestic inflation is expected to lower to around 2 to 2.5 percent in 2024.”

The economic and social review of 2023 reads:

“Prices and unemployment – Inflation Rate (period average) 2022: 6.4 percent 2023:4.1 percent and unemployment rate 2022:16.5 percent 2023:14.0 percent.”

The year of infrastructure

In the year of infrastructure, the government is committing revenue from the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) to build affordable homes for Saint Lucian citizens.

In the current despatch of Caribbean CIP, there is acute anxiety. With Saint Lucia ‘standing out’ – the financial framing provides for useful insights into structured approaches and modelling.

Housing

“Areas initially earmarked for housing development are Rock Hall, where land clearing has commenced. In Cas-En-Bas, Gros Islet, the National Housing Corporation has received DCA approval for the construction of multi-family complexes with 15 two-bedroom apartments with construction to commence this year. NIPRO is currently in discussion with two developers for the construction of 100 affordable houses in the Massacre area. The project has been modified to include the availability and sale of middle-income housing lots.”

“The term infrastructure does not only refer to roads, bridges, drains, and culverts but extends to:

Digital public infrastructure – civil status registry, e-government services, telecommunication connectivity, government accounts.

Housing Infrastructure – housing and land rationalisation.

Health Infrastructure – hospitals, wellness centres.

Education Infrastructure – school facilities and sporting facilities.

Economic Infrastructure – hotels ports, airports, public buildings, innovation hubs.

Agriculture Infrastructure – fishing facilities, jetties

“Social Infrastructure – citizen security, community centres.”

Road network

“The road network problem is compounded by most developers’ failure to meet their obligations to build roads that are of the required standards; Gros Islet, the most populous region, will require road repairs and upgrades costing over $100 million.

“Funding these roads from local revenue or traditional loan funding sources will negatively impact our debt-to-GDP ratio. Hence, the government has entered negotiations with a Private Sector Developer to fund, in the first instance,$200 million towards our National Road Development Programme.” ~ 2024/2025 budget address.

Focus on raising money, May 7, 2024, parliament authorized the minister of finance to raise bonds by (a) the issuance of XCD64.1 million in new bonds at the rate of 7.5 percent; (b) the re-issuance of XC$477.3 million in fixed rate notes and bonds, through the Regional Government Securities Market and private placements at a maximum rate of 7.5 percent.

Saint Lucia’s economic pillars, principles and strategy seem centred on “Investment Projects” – “Other Investments” (see budget address (2024/2025) – primarily tourism-related, resort air and sea ports development, including the BPO sector.

The housing repair programme (Taiwan Funded); the government’s 2024/2025 initial house programme and road repairs is a dent, branded by experts as baby steps. A significant levelling-up is required to impact significant development and progression.

Making policy that manifests results is what political leaders, business leaders and lobby groups should be doing.

As previously stated:

“Should a 12-month run on “development projects” and “infrastructural projects” hold steady, with a “decent housing market nationwide” with a mortgage-payment-to-income ratio – experts suggest the economy will strengthen, low unemployment and low inflation will stabilize, and make Saint Lucia the preferred island in the Caribbean region.

“To help alleviate housing deficiencies and supply constraints, accelerated construction, administrative procedures, mortgage and finance – are not suitable for and – at the direction and control of the political class. The current characteristics are caught in a vicious circle, that impedes domestic and external formalisation and, in turn, diminishes development.”

CNG Insights

In a Mosia that requires the exhibit of financial stability and resiliency, the principles of communicating and promoting safety and soundness are keys for effective transmission and execution.

Policymakers and their decisions must be communicated decisively to the public – here and now – how economic thinking and policy redound to the benefit of the general public. Shaping thoughts, hearts and minds, and communicating shocks and vulnerabilities are challenges that face the dynamic and interconnected world.

Monitoring risk helps cushion adverse events and warning factors that have the potential to become severe. Allowing time to focus on or actively conduct financial and economic system improvements potentially affecting resiliency, policy execution and communication.

Addressing Saint Lucia’s economic concerns is the endgame to ensuring financial stability. In this light and that of regulation consideration and the toolbox available – promoting sound economic policy, strategy and execution plans that do not operate in a vacuum, fulfils changing economic conditions.

@GlobalCaribbean  fav

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