By Caribbean News Global contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia – Delivering his 2020 New Year’s address on Sunday under the theme ‘Now is the Time’ prime minister of Saint Lucia, Allen Chastanet announced several infrastructure projects and investments to accommodate so-called ‘growth’.
“The undisputed fact is that our economy has recorded growth in every single year since we took office. I make this point to emphasize the fact that history shows that Saint Lucia always prospers under a United Workers Party (UWP) administration. We have a track record laid down by our founding father Sir John Compton of consistently developing this country,” the prime minister said.
He continued, “The most recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) assessment on Saint Lucia described our growth prospects in the near term as favourable and projected that the commencement of our imminent infrastructural projects will substantially boost growth in the 2020-2022 period.”
However, the IMF staff concluding statement of the 2019 Article IV Mission on Saint Lucia reads: “Saint Lucia near-term growth prospects are favorable, supported by large infrastructure investments and robust tourist inflows. However, longer-term growth continues to be impeded by high public debt, lingering vulnerabilities in the financial system, and structural impediments to private investment. To enhance economic resilience in an increasingly precarious external environment, near-term policies should focus on rebuilding fiscal space and addressing risks to financial stability. Concerted efforts are also needed to mobilize climate financing and unlock potential growth through supply-side reforms.”
According to the prime minister, “Several of our signature projects are underway especially in the southern part of the island. We are excited about the airport redevelopment project, our first FBO Private Jet Facility is now operational and the rebuilding of St Jude’s Hospital continues at a rapid pace.
“The Pearl of the Caribbean project had quite an auspicious start on National Day with our island’s first international horse racing event which attracted media, investors, and visitors from all over the world and has created an unprecedented buzz about Saint Lucia, regionally and internationally.”
“Our cruise tourism arrivals have hit record numbers and stemming from the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) we signed with Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean Cruises we expect a visiting team to look at the proposed projects to improve the quality of Port Castries and a new cruise home port in Vieux Fort.
“Meanwhile, we are substantially increasing our hotel room stock. Following negotiations and the securing of the several approvals, the physical hotel projects are set to start, among them: the Hyatt project in Choc Bay, a Dreams and Secrets Hotel at Cannelles and the highly-anticipated Cabot Saint Lucia, a game-changing project for the Caribbean golf industry, ” he explained.
“The upgrading of feeder roads, the rehabilitation of the West Coast Highway and the building of an East Coast highway to more easily connect the north to the south; and thereby address the traffic congestion on the Gros Islet Highway. The financing of these projects is being provided by the Taiwanese, the CDB, and other developmental agencies with the loans supported by the fuel and airport tax,” he said.
“The ministry of infrastructure’s road rehabilitation programme will cost – EC$110 million, the Millennium Highway and West coast road – EC$130 million, the Cul De Sac Bridge – EC$30 million, Choc Bridge- EC$22 million and the Feeder Roads – EC$50 Million. Nearly $350 million. Making this the largest such investment in Saint Lucia’s history.”
The prime ministers narrative of investment continues:
“One of our biggest success stories has been in the manufacturing sector. In the last three and a half years we targeted this sector for employment and investment generation:
- Caribbean Quality Meats Ltd., a poultry processing plant is soon to begin operations in Dennery.
- Invest Saint Lucia has also partnered with a Jamaican company, “Itel- B-P-O Smart Solutions” in developing a 20,000 sq. ft. factory shell set to be operational by April at the Hewanorra Free Zone, which will create even more employment in the south.
- A US$30 million expansion is currently underway at St. Lucia Distillers Limited. Similar expansion works are planned at the Windward and Leeward Brewery. Attention is also being paid to the restoration of the coconut factory in Soufriere.”
“Invest Saint Lucia has also been facilitating homeownership for all Saint Lucians. Two residential developments—one in Bois Jolie, in Dennery and the other in Beauchamp, Micoud are currently underway at prices that are accessible to working middle income Saint Lucians especially the youth. Our Government also has major Housing projects earmarked for La Clery, Rock Hall, Talvern, Belair, Anse Ger, La Ressource, River Doree, and Canaries.”
“We are currently constructing a 90-bed facility that will cater for both inpatient and outpatient services,” [The St Jude Hospital site] he added, “Though the Dennery Polyclinic had to be redesigned because of inadequacies in the original plan, we anticipate work will start soon on the redesigned facility.
“Also on the way is the construction of healthcare centres in Anse La Raye and Micoud, the contract for which was signed on Tuesday [this] week.”
“We remain committed to the multi-pronged strategy to significantly reduce crime. And despite attempts to derail plans to build a new Police Headquarters, we will move forward with the new structure at the old prison site in the first quarter of 2019.”
Engage in 2020
“In 2019, I have had the privilege to meet with many of them to exchange ideas and truly hear their voices. I look forward to more engagements in 2020 with Saint Lucians from all walks of life.
“I must take a moment to assure Saint Lucians,” said the prime minister, “that despite the empty accusations and spreading of false news that seems to pervade our society of late, our government remains committed to Good Governance and Transparency.”
In closing, he said: “I know you feel that our country is on the move. You feel Saint Lucia beginning to rise once more, as a leader and a nation unafraid to take bold choices. I know you feel the growing buzz in our country and that the region and the world is keeping an eye on us. We must not get distracted. We must remain inspired by the Saint Lucia we love. We know and we can feel: “Now is the Time: Let’s do this together.”