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Saint Lucia’s MTDS being updated for greater resilience

An updated Medium Term Development Strategy (MTDS) 2021 – 2026 will soon be launched to replace the 2020 -2023 version. The update is being conducted by the Department of Economic Development. The department says this is a proactive response to changes in Saint Lucia’s socio-economic environment due to the Covid-19 pandemic, also to provide measures to cushion external shocks such as rising prices due to conflict in Ukraine and the update will reflect the priorities of a new administration.

“I am a firm believer in planning and in particular medium-term planning so that we break out of this short-term cycle where we are focusing only at the electoral level and that political cycle. Our countries do need to embed economic diversification strategy and it has to take on the long haul perspective” said Dr. Keith Nurse, Principal SALCC

The stakeholder engagement for updating Saint Lucia’s Medium-Term Strategy (MTDS) 2021 – 2026 got off to an encouraging start with stakeholders from the public and private sectors, NGOs, and Civil Society Organisations.  Permanent Secretary in the Department of Economic Development, Claudius Emmanuel, said due to significant changes in the socio-economic landscape locally, regionally and internationally, and taking into consideration the priorities for the new administration, it has become necessary to update and strengthen the MTDS over a longer period.

“Resilience to climate change and resilience from a financial point of view are very important imperatives as we look at making the country competitive. As we know as a small island developing state we are vulnerable and so to the extent that we can adapt and mitigate it would redound to our robustness as a country going forward…Because in the context of Covid and what’s happening globally, the Ukraine war, for example, we are getting negative impulses in terms of rising prices. So it’s important that we ensure that the necessary fiscal space is being safeguarded and that we remain competitive.”

Restrategizing to get Saint Lucia on a sustainable path of recovery is at the core of the MTDS. Stakeholders representing areas such as education, productivity, and agriculture highlighted their importance at the planning table in the formulation of an updated MTDS.

“In that regard education is absolutely critical. In fact, education policy is innovation policy because the requisite human resources, the right training, the right background, the right perspective, you cannot implement any of the plans,” said Dr. Keith Nurse, Principal – Sir Arthur Lewis Community College

“The National Competitiveness and Productivity Unity is very important to this process because when you speak of the Medium Term Development Strategy for Saint Lucia, productivity and competitiveness is a cross-cutting issue which affects all sectors, it’s very important” said Fiona Hinkson, Director – National Competitiveness and Productivity Council.

“The agricultural industry supports the food industry. So it’s very important for the Ministry of Agriculture and the agricultural sector to work with the government of the day to ensure that, one, there is food security, meaning it’s available but also to ensure that it’s affordable,” according to Andre Barry Innocent, Ministry of Agriculture.

Areas such as infrastructure, health, social protection, and citizen security with continue to remain a dominant feature of the MTDS.

“Infrastructure is very important to the economic development of any society of any country. Because, infrastructure is what speaks to your roads, your bridges, your means of communication, and if your means of communication is not maintained, or upgraded, as needs be with economic development, then essentially the economic fabric of the country, of your society crumbles,” asserted Albert Jn Baptiste, Chief Engineer – Ministry of Infrastructure.

“Health really affects all sectors. If you don’t have a healthy workforce your economic sector will suffer. So even when we look at our social protection, we need healthy people” according to Lorraine Blanchard, Health Planner – Ministry of Health and Wellness.

“Social protection spans all of our other sectors within the economy. It is not a standalone sector that the Ministry of Equity has to deal with but rather something that is cross-cutting. Something that will engage persons from the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and of course Ministry of Finance and Economic Development” said Beverly Ann Poyotte, Director of Human Services.

“So we want everyone to understand that we are in this together. We want everyone, society, and the law enforcement agencies as well to know that it is only together we can accomplish and ensure that Saint Lucia is safer” according to Elvis Thomas, Assistant Commissioner of Police – Southern Division.

The MTDS 2021 – 2026 is scheduled to be presented to policymakers in November 2022 and will replace the 2020 – 2023 version.

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