Castries, Saint Lucia: Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, who also serves as Minister for Finance, Economic Development and the Youth Economy, Philip J Pierre, presented the Appropriations Bill and also delivered his Budget Policy address that detailed the government’s transformative agenda for the 2023-2024 financial year.
The debate on the Appropriations Bill is carded for April 27 and 28, 2023.
Prime Minister Pierre emphasised the decline in unemployment rates and stated that the latest unemployment rate on December 22 was 19%, with youth unemployment at 25.9%. Both being the lowest since 2010.
While announcing the budget, he stated that he is pleased to report that the economy of Saint Lucia is projecting real GDP growth of 18.1 percent in 2022, followed by a group of 12.2% in 2021.
He highlighted that this performance was reflective of strong performances in all sectors of the tourism industry and growth in manufacturing and the agriculture sector.
The development happened in the accommodation sector, and restaurant sub-sectors were the largest contributors to the 2022 real growth of 18.2 percent of the GDP.
“Of the total, 10.8% points were accommodation and Food, Services, tourism grew by 58%, stay over arrival 78.7% while cruise arrival has increased by 273.8%; this development will due to the removal of all COVID-19 protocols is in September 2022,” PM Pierre highlighted.
As per Prime Minister, the second largest contributor to growth was wholesale and retail activity. This sector grew by 23.7% and contributed 10.6% of total real GDP growth. The growth in the sector represented 2.5, 2% of the 18.2% growth.
Further, the finance minister outlined that telecommunication services were the third largest contributor to the 2022 GDP growth; this sector contributed 4.4% of total GDP and grew by 56% and represents 1.58% of total growth.
Manufacturing was the fourth largest economic sector; that sector grew by 11.4% in 2022 and 4.2% in 2021, and the 11.4% growth was the highest growth since 2007. This sector’s contribution to GDP was 3.4%, according to the statement shared by the Prime Minister.
In the end, PM Pierre noted that agriculture, which was the fifth largest sector, grew by 9.8%, following declines in 2021 and 2020. Its share of GDP was 1.6%.
During his address, Prime Minister Philip J Pierre noted that the parliament would be working for the growth and betterment of the country and its people and would make such choices which would benefit both. He noted, “The strategic choices for the 2023-2024 budget will focus primarily on three areas Health, National Security, and economic sustainability – the theme for this year’s budget.”
During the budget, Prime Minister addressed some crucial sectors of the nation, including healthcare, education and tourism.
While stating about the healthcare sector, the Finance Minister mentioned that as a government, the first responsibility is to ensure the safety of the people and access to quality and affordable healthcare.
He also linked crime with healthcare and assured that the government would work to enhance the sector. He then compared the healthcare sector in the previous administration with the present’s and mentioned. “During the last administration has left this government, the citizens of this country deserve a much better healthcare system, and this government has committed itself to ensure they get it, and our primary, as well as a secondary goal, was to provide healthcare systems which will be improved over time.”
He added that high on the government’s agenda is the completion of St. Jude Hospital and improvements in the operations of the OKEU Hospital, which our success is pursuing. This strategic choice will require sound and prudent management of the country’s financial resources and contributions from everyone.
The Prime Minister also shed light on the COVID-19 situation in Saint Lucia and the CARICOM region. While highlighting the post-COVID situation in the region, the CARICOM region experienced a more vibrant piece of economic recovery from the covid-19. Pandemic estimates show that most CARICOM territories recorded positive economic growth rates in 2022, driven by strong.
“In the tourism-dependent economies since the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, Guyana, Saint Lucia and Barbados recorded the highest growth rates; Saint Lucia recorded the second highest growth rate after Guyana,” he shared.