The United Workers Party (UWP) is expressing concern over what it perceives as the government’s lack of adequate communication with the citizenry on the level of the state’s economic matters.
In a statement to the media, the UWP claims that in recent weeks, there has been a steady stream of ‘untruthful’ statements coming from the Office of the Prime Minister.
The UWP missive states that the most recent issue entails an Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) report, which projects an eight percent growth for Saint Lucia this year.
The island’s major opposition party claimed the headline on the statement from the PM’s office regarding the projection is faulty in its declaration.
According to the UWP, the headline, “Saint Lucia Registers Highest GDP Leap Among ECCU Economies”, is a false statement.
“The United Workers Party is bemused that although this is only an ECLAC projection, the Saint Lucia Labour Party government, in its frantic desire to claim achievements where there are none, is bragging that the eight percent projection was the result of what it called the ‘sound fiscal policies’ contained in Prime Minister Philip Pierre’s maiden budget presented earlier this year,” noted the UWP release.
The release contends that everyone knows the SLP “has done nothing in 13 months to advance Saint Lucia’s economy”.
It adds, “If anything, they have dealt the economy several damaging blows with the stoppage of several projects initiated by the last United Workers Party administration that were sure to have positive impact on the economy.”
According to the UWP, the government’s press statement is both dishonest and disingenuous.
“For instance, they claim that unemployment was at 16.1 percent in the first quarter of 2022 and obviously want to take credit for this. In fact, this information should have come out long before now…because all the work that was going on in Saint Lucia and was started by the UWP began in 2020 and 2021, and consequently would positively impact employment figures in early 2022.” the release stated.
The UWP spokesperson declared, “Again, we make the point that the SLP has made hundreds of Saint Lucians jobless, rather than creating employment.
“The growth rate that we had in 2021 was 12.5 percent and that was because of construction and tourism. Saint Lucia had the second largest growth rate in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the largest in the OECS. In fact, the closest country to St Lucia was Dominica at six percent.”
The UWP further contends that the SLP administration was attempting to take credit for the works undertaken by the former regime.
“We left them with an economy that was on a trajectory to grow by at least eight percent this year,” the release adds. “This growth was to have come from the continuing impact of the many projects started by the UWP such as the Hewanorra International Airport, St Jude Hospital, roads, housing projects etc.”
The opposition argues that for the past 13 months, the SLP administration has “halted these projects”. The UWP states that the citizenry must be told the truth, since “there is no way, we are going to make that eight percent growth that is projected for 2022 after shutting down these projects.”
In addition, for the past 13 months the “government has done nothing to accelerate” issues pertaining to tourism- the island’s main economic driver. The release adds: “One glaring piece of evidence of that is the empty berths in our harbour over the past several months as the cruise ship sector declines. Even with the much-touted carnival that was held in July, our arrivals have recorded the same numbers that we had last year.”
The UWP missive further contends that the “government obviously does not understand that for an economy to grow it must be properly nourished. You cannot take away millions of dollars in investments that were planned for this country, do nothing to replace it, and hope that your economy will grow. It shows a clear lack of understanding about how an economy works.”
The release adds that government has also attempted to use the results of the Chamber of Commerce’s most recent Business Performance Survey to support its dubious claim for economic success.
Quoting from the recent report, the statement said, while “business confidence appears to be on the rise” (its own words), the Chamber has itself warned that “this optimism is however tempered by 78% of respondents forecasting an increase in prices of their goods or services over the next quarter, with 59% of respondents reporting an increase in prices over the previous quarter.”
It added: “There is clearly a threat of inflation which can derail the expansion in consumption and economic activity that can lead to job creation.”
The opposition says citizens are well aware of the SLP administration’s current handling of this aspect of the economy.
Therefore, it states, there is clearly no reason for optimism about the country’s economic fortunes under this government.
The UWP official contends that: “The coming months are bound to prove decisive in this regard.”