I watched the March 17th debate in parliament in awe while the opposition had great difficulty in grasping what the PM explained re the nation’s finances. It is all well and good to oppose, but when it comes to finances there is only so much one can do to convince disinterested parties. The world and by extension St. Lucia have entered the worst financial crisis for over 100 years, but above and beyond the financial fallout, most nations were forced to borrow to remain buoyant and address the billions required to support their economies and medical issues. Every nation today has witnessed the contraction of their economies not knowing when their 2019 status will be regained.
The vaccine has finally arrived and the number of Covid related cases have been on the decline where investors have started unfolding their plans. Between June 2021 and August 2021, St. Lucia will witness a dramatic change in visitor arrivals including the resurgence of the cruise industry. The biggest gains in St. Lucia during this crisis has been the hardware industry where sales have gone through the roof, but unfortunately, the cost of materials has also sky rocketed. A brief research on the reasons for this increase has been two-fold. First, affluent individuals who were able to spend thousands of dollars on travel and on leisure time used those funds to enhance their homes, make extensions and some have actually built new homes.
Secondly, as a result of the continuous lock downs, transportation was reduced dramatically and millions of containers which should have been returned to major manufacturing countries like China, USA, South and Central America and Europe were unable to receive those containers on time, therefore as a result, manufactured products remained at several warehouses awaiting shipment. This scenario will take some months to unfold and unfortunately this has created a supply and demand situation which has seen an overall cost increase of some 26% in shipping costs and 36% on most imported goods.
On another note, the millennium highway which has been of great concern to motorists will receive its first face lift come April 15th as the tenders have finally been awarded.
The old Daher Mall which remained an eyesore for years has been finally addressed by way of a partnership between Government and a private investor. Construction officially starts on April 15th.
Marquis Estate which comprises of some 500 acres will be taken over by Government and the land will be divested into lots to our farmers similar to what transpired when Model Farms were created in the Roseau Valley during the Geest era. All the road enhancements within that area in recent times will serve the farmers well. I do hope that some of your columnists who claimed they have not seen any form of progress in St Lucia may now be willing to revisit what has been done.