Is St Lucia a better place in 2021 than 2016?

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Leader of the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP), Philip J Pierre (L) and Prime Minister Allen Chastanet

CASTRIES, St Lucia – Little is written about the key performance indicators (KPIs) that Saint Lucians should judge an administration on. The socio-economic issues plagued by Saint Lucians existed pre-COVID-19 and with the proliferation of the pandemic, it will be a significant challenge for leaders to restore the nation. The culture of “rum and chicken” politics has plagued many generations, and Saint Lucians should look to some sort of metric to judge administration performances.

The United Workers Party (UWP) administration postulated a wide range of recommendations to address many of the challenges faced by Saint Lucia in their 2016 manifesto. It will be up to the electorate to decide whether their performance has been up to par with the promises highlighted in that manifesto. The following material will explore various KPIs of governance, between the pre-2016 election and pre-2021 elections, to determine whether the current administration achieved their stated goals.

Labour force

The current administration has repeatedly claimed that they have reduced unemployment. However, from the numbers available at the Saint Lucia Statistics Department, there were 82,954 Saint Lucians employed in March 2016 prior to the last general elections of June 6th 2016 versus 76,370 Saint Lucians employed in March 2021. This represents a fall of 6,584 persons and is primarily a result of many Saint Lucians removing themselves from the Labour market.

The real unemployment rate without the reduction of labour force removal would be closer to 30 percent. Therefore, should the current administration really boast reducing the unemployment rate given that they have presided over an 8 percent drop in the number of Saint Lucians employed during their 5+ year term?

Debt rating

The current administration appears to be celebrating the Saint Lucian debt rating at CariBBB- ; which is lower in June 2021 than it was in June 2016, when the rating was CariBBB. Saint Lucia’s debt rating was reduced by CariCRIS in July 2020. Therefore, despite the claims of better economic management by the current administration, CariCRIS never raised Saint Lucia’s rating during their administration and at the end of their term in 2021 Saint Lucia has a lower debt rating than at the beginning of their term in 2016.

Corruption rating

There have been repeated concerns about corruption within the current administration such as Pajoah LetterTransparency International maintains corruption ratings for 180 countries and thus has shown that Saint Lucia’s Corruption Rating has increased under this administration. In 2014, the last rating prior to the 2016 election, Saint Lucia’s corruption rating had increased from 29 least corrupt to now 45 least corrupt, and thus, reflecting the increasing corruption rating during this administration tenure.

Ease of doing business

Saint Lucia has also had a deterioration in the Ease of Doing Business Rating falling from 78 in 2015 to 93 in 2020. Despite the current prime minister indicating that as a businessman he would make it easier for persons to do business in Saint Lucia, it is clear from the World Bank ratings that this was not achieved given the drop in the ratings.

GDP per Capita

GDP per Capita is a metric that breaks down a country’s economic output per person and is calculated by dividing the GDP of a country by its population. From the IMF’s 2021 data, Saint Lucia’s GDP per capita in 2021 is USD $9,820. This is in contrast to Saint Lucia’s GDP per capita in 2016 which was USD $10,610. Therefore, the GDP per capita has fallen by 8 percent over the current administration’s tenure.

While COVID-19 has been a key reason for the economic decline, this was compounded by the current’s administration focus on failed tourism projects such as DSH. The prime minister failed to mention DSH once again, in his July 5th address to nationindicating that even he does not see a future for Desert Star Holdings (DSH).

Debt as percentage of GDP

Saint Lucia has increased debt stock significantly over the past 5 years. The 2020 ECCB report showed that Saint Lucia’s debt has grown much more than any other ECCU island. While Antigua’s debt increased by $370 million from 2016 to 2020, Saint Lucia’s debt increased by over $900 million from 2016 to 2020. Saint Lucia’s increase in debt was close to 250 percnt greater than Antigua’s debt over this administration tenure.

Has the current administration mismanaged Saint Lucia’s debt burden and created a crisis that future generations will pay for decades to come?

Crime incidence

From the data on the Saint Lucia Statistics Department, there has been a significant increase in a variety of crime categories from 2015 to 2020:

Conclusion

As Saint Lucians get ready to head to the polls on July 26, 2021, we need to reflect on whether Saint Lucia is in a better place in 2021 versus in 2016. The task at hand for managing Saint Lucia’s socio-economic woes will be onerous by any administration who will be elected soon, and the electorate should seriously consider various KPIs for casting judgement.

Now, the question remains: How do we ensure a brighter future for our beloved Saint Lucia?

 Source: The St. Lucian Analyzer

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