CASTRIES, St. Lucia – The St. Lucia government Wednesday said it would present an economic recovery and resilience plan for the island on Sunday, even as the main opposition St. Lucia Party (SLP) accused the government of wasteful spending.
In a statement, the government said that Prime Minister Allen Chastanet said that the plan is part of his administration’s structured and long term response to the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The plan was prepared by the Ministry of Finance with recommendations from the Economic Recovery Multi-Sectoral Committee, comprising representatives from the private sector, trade unions and employers.
“That body was tasked with making recommendations to prepare an Economic Recovery and Resilience Plan given the adverse effects, that “lock down” and physical distancing measures have had on earnings of all sectors within the economy.
“The government is aware that no segment of our country has been spared from the COVID-19 pandemic and there has been the loss of household income and job security with many St. Lucians on the breadline,” the statement said, adding that the government has taken immediate measures to address some of these issues including the income support programme and the national feeding programme.
“The COVID-19 Economic Recovery and Resilience Plan primarily seeks to curtail the impact of both global and domestic economic contraction is having on the business sector, drive economic activity through public sector capital investment projects, protect the poor, marginalized and most vulnerable segments of the St. Lucian population, accelerate reforms that will build the resilience of the private public sector, strengthen the Health System and continue to build a resilience of St. Lucia,” the statement noted.
But the SLP in a statement posted on its official Facebook page reminded St. Lucians that soon after coming to office in 2016, Prime Minister Chastanet had informed the country that the island ‘is broke”.
“In the years and months after the Prime Minister made those fiscal pronouncements, he proceeded to manage the affairs of St. Lucia in a manner that directly contradicted this statement. In fact, he managed St. Lucia like a country that is rich in natural resources such as oil, gold, diamonds, etc. with the wealth accruing to a very small subset of the population. We will describe this as a ‘cabal economy,” the SLP added.
’The party said that the government had not implemented programmes to assist ordinary citizens and those engaged in the small and medium enterprises, but appears to be engaged in “transferring wealth from the taxpayers …to family, friends and foreigners associated with the government”.