Is Chastanet losing steam on ease of doing business?

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Dear Sir:

There was a time when the Saint Lucia Chamber of Commerce and Allen Chastanet – one prompting the other – hounded the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) administration because they were dissatisfied with Saint Lucia’s performance in the World Bank ‘Ease of Doing Business Report’.

The Chamber of Commerce and Chastanet acted as if the Ease of Doing Business Report was an economic missile closing in on Fair Helen.

In 2011 Saint Lucia ranked 53 in the world and number one in the Caribbean in the survey and the 2012 report put Saint Lucia at 52 in the world for the ease of doing business; highest in the Caribbean, followed by Antigua and Barbuda at 57 and Dominica at 65.

The late Gerard Bergasse, president of the Chamber at that time when Saint Lucia topped the Caribbean in the rankings. Brian Louisy was executive director then and still is now.

When the World Bank reported that Saint Lucia had dropped two places from 51 in 2012 to 53 in 2013, the Chamber was quoted in the local media as saying that the drop was a consequence of Saint Lucia doing nothing to improve the island’s ranking.

Mind you, at 53 in the world, Saint Lucia was still number one in the Caribbean islands surveyed. Bergasse was quoted making this unenthusiastic statement: “These changes are down to the fact that we have done nothing. We have taken no action. So, we are very confident that our work with the government will produce results in the 2014 report.”

The government Bergasse spoke of was the SLP government, elected in late November 2011, and replaced by the United Workers Party (UWP) on June 6, 2016.

In 2013 Saint Lucia was still the top-ranked CARICOM country for ease of doing business, placing 53 worldwide, out of 185 nations.

As of June 1, 2016, Saint Lucia stood at 78 in the world. By 2017 the island dropped in the global rankings from 78 to 86, out of 190 countries. Saint Lucia dropped in all categories, with the main contributing category being “Getting Electricity”, which slid from 29 to 56.

On the Doing Business 2015 Fact Sheet, the World Bank reported that Saint Lucia was among six of 12 economies in the Caribbean that implemented at least one regulatory reform.

Saint Lucia’s global ranking has dropped from 91 in 2018 to 93 among 190 countries, its lowest, according to the 2019 Ease of Doing Business Report. Jamaica at 75 is the highest -ranked Caribbean country.

The latest from prime minister of Saint Lucia, Allen Chastanet is this sneaky comment recently: “The good news is we have not lost any position relative to the Caribbean; the bad news is the Caribbean continues to lose against the rest of the world.” What?…

In October 2015 when Saint Lucia ranked 77 globally, the then opposition UWP issued a statement “…Saint Lucia did not do as well as the government said it did. In fact, we declined in the ranking by negative four. This proves that the Kenny Anthony administration cannot be trusted and continues to piss in our eyes and call it rain.”

Also, prime minister Chastanet admitted recently, that high debt is impacting Saint Lucia’s economic performance. But hasn’t the Chastanet led administration raised the debt since the June 2016 elections?

Castries East Constituency

Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP)

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