Prime Minister Philip J Pierre has disclosed that over the past three years, Saint Lucia’s economy has experienced double-digit growth rates, though the crime situation remains a matter of grave concern to the government.
Speaking at the recent Bank of Saint Lucia (BOSL) Global Investment Fund launch, he said the data procured from the World Bank and other independent sources predicted that for 2023, growth was between 3 and 5%.
The prime minister noted that there has been marked improvement in Saint Lucia’s “fiscal situation” and in 2022, the country moved from “persistent deficits to a primary surplus”, which demonstrates the “robustness” of the local economy.
He said that while the country’s GDP increased due to heavy borrowing during the Covid-19 pandemic, now, with “prudent borrowing,” government has managed to halt that “rapid plunge that would have led us to unsurmountable or unsustainable debt levels.”
Added PM Pierre: “Our financial paper continues to do well on the regional market, albeit, at competitive rates. Revenue collection is performing steadily.”
Considering the criticisms levelled at government’s economic policies, he revealed: “The Health and Security Levy implemented fully in October 2023, has raised approximately $10.5 million at the Customs and Inland Revenue Department.”
Pierre noted that government has made large investments in security with the police receiving “unprecedented levels of resources at all levels.” He said this includes the allocation of vehicles, drones, improvements on their physical plant, modern crime fighting technologies and increases in manpower.”
Nevertheless, he said, government is concerned with the high incidences of murder, which law enforcement officers have concluded are targeted killings by rival gang members.
The National Security minister stated that government continues “to urge the police to take pro-active and firm legal measures to stem this dangerous trend.”
In the meantime, he said, the authorities continue to fund several crime prevention and intervention programmes.
“We believe that there is need for a whole of society approach to violence of all forms,” PM Pierre added. “We urge civil society to work with state and non-state actors with a view to reducing violence and improving citizen security.”
He said government will continue working towards “improving the social and educational framework and in particular the training and upskilling of the workforce.”
“It is our hope that better social conditions will limit the propensity to lawlessness, particularly among some of our young people,” said Pierre.