Elections are around the corner and regardless of the criticism within our ranks who have their concerns regarding the current administration’s management of the country, the evidence of performance is noticeably clear. The UWP administration has addressed the needs of the country in a systematic manner from 2016 to March 2019 just before the pandemic struck our shores. St. Lucia was literally booming, unemployment had fallen, tourism skyrocketed, and many projects were at the brink of fruition.
The US$250-million-dollar Sandals Project was four months in the making with full approval from the DCA, but by way of manipulation, St. Lucia witnessed the first-ever lawsuit where the DCA was taken to court. This unusual legal interference became the downfall of one of the largest and most expensive hotels ever to be built on the island. This further resulted in 800 construction workers being unemployed for 24 months.
The construction of the police headquarters and the judiciary complex suffered a similar fate when the National Trust was used to delay the project. These two obstacles resurrected after the opposition carried out protest marches against the DSH Project and the St. Jude’s Hospital creating as it were an atmosphere of confusion. The HIA Terminal also received its fair share of criticism and demonstration by the opposition, however, better sense prevailed, and the project moved forward with a level of lost time. The other area of discontentment surfaced when Ojo Labs and Intel IBO came on the scene as the opposition endeavoured to create a difference between that project and the Step Program.
The Covid-19 situation though very dramatic, was diligently handled by government and today the current numbers have been significantly reduced. Performing the balancing act between lives and livelihoods, government walked a very thin line, by closing and opening the country in a level-headed manner and today, St. Lucia has benefitted enormously from those wise decisions. The infrastructural works on island created major employment for several hundred St. Lucians who would have been otherwise unemployed. The construction industry by way of new homes has created a windfall for hardware owners on island and today it remains extremely difficult to find the three major commodities for construction and i.e., steel, cement and lumber.
The American tourism market has now reached 81% of pre-Covid-19 numbers causing 11,000 of the 14,000 displaced workers to be back on the job and next week with the arrival of Celebrity Cruise with 2000 visitors will be another step in the right direction.