Are We There Yet? Where are the 2021 Manifestos?

Reference: https://www.economicvoice.com/nigel-farage-unveils-brexit-party-contract-with-the-people/ (Please note that links to all reference articles can be accessed via embedded links)

Five Years and Seven Days since the last general elections on June 6th 2016 and yet neither of the two major parties (SLP or UWP) have launched their 2021 manifestos on the respective websites.. There was been no shortage of rumblings from both sides about their plans but little tangible documented commitments to the Saint Lucian public. When do we expect the 2021 manifestos to be available?

2021 Economic Outlook

The recent World Bank report indicates that while some countries are poised for strong growth in 2021, other countries such as Saint Lucia are going to continue with limited growth. “In 2021, Saint Lucia’s economy is projected to expand only marginally due to the second wave of COVID-19 cases extending into 2021 and delays in the resumption of tourism. Assuming that international travel will gradually restart towards the end of 2021, that private and public sector construction projects rebound, and with the absence of major weather-related events, the economy will rebound strongly after 2022 but will recover its 2019-level only by 2024/25.” Could the Saint Lucian economy have been managed better during the last five years? One possible key contributing factor for Saint Lucia’s slower projected 2021 growth is due to the current administration’s focus on grandiose failed tourism-centric projects (such as DSH) . COVID-19 has clearly exposed the fragilities of the Saint Lucian economy and thus its lack of economic diversification.

The Saint Lucian Analyzer has an essay competition with a top prize of $1,000 for the youth of Saint LuciaWhat suggestions would you have for our leaders to help improve our economic situation and build a more diversified economy that raises the standard of living of all Saint Lucians?”

What are the detailed plans from either party that would help Saint Lucia recover from this dramatic sustained economic slump?

2021 Manifesto Ideas

Incentives for Job Creation

The next administration should provide similar incentives to local companies as have been provided to call centers such as OJO Labs and ItelBPO. “The government of St. Lucia offered to subsidize salaries of up to $1000 for the first six months per every St. Lucian employee and $500 for the following six months.” Incentives to locally owned companies would benefit the Saint Lucian economy much more than work done primarily for the benefit of foreigners as is the case for OJO Labs (which benefits the US real estate market) and ItelBPO.

Avoid Biasing in the Economy

The current administration has biased economic development in Saint Lucia towards tourism related projects such as providing an NIC loan to Cabot at less than 5% interest. While the lowest interest rate offered by the Saint Lucia Development Bank is 6.5% for the Talvern Housing Development. Furthermore, generous incentives have been provided to projects such as to the Pearl of The Caribbean. Interestingly, the current administration failed to even mention any updates on DSH in their most recent forum on June 6th 2021.

Enabling Technology Devices

Ensure that the enabling technology device allows students to be creators of information and not simply users of information. This is currently one of the major challenges with the EBooks resulting limited effectiveness. It would be instructive of the current administration to update their EBooks webpage similar to the CAMDU website.

Revisit Income Tax Bands

The current income tax bands after the most recent updates are as follows:

· The first $0 to $10,000 of chargeable income will be taxed at a rate of 10%,

· the next $10,001 to $20,000, at a tax rate of 20% and

· the remaining amounts above $20,000, at a tax rate of 30%;

In Saint Lucia, the highest marginal tax rate is due at a significantly lower income compared to other jurisdictions such as the United States where the highest marginal federal tax rate is from an income level above $500K USD. Furthermore, it is unclear what tax avoidance strategies are used by the richest Saint Lucians similar to the recent analysis of the richest 25 US taxpayers. “Our analysis of tax data for the 25 richest Americans quantifies just how unfair the system has become. By the end of 2018, the 25 were worth $1.1 trillion. For comparison, it would take 14.3 million ordinary American wage earners put together to equal that same amount of wealth. The personal federal tax bill for the top 25 in 2018: $1.9 billion. The bill for the wage earners: $143 billion.

Revised Education Delivery

COVID-19 has shown has clearly that the current education delivery model does not work and needs to be updated. We should endeavor to have an education delivery model that leverages remote learning more effectively. The Saint Lucian diaspora would be able to contribute more effectively to the education sector. Some key areas to focus on in a revised education model include:

· Move toward mastery-based learning

· Support children holistically

· Help students adapt to the future of remote work

· Rethink school structures and policies.

Crime

Focus on crime prevention and early interventions that give Saint Lucian youth the best chance of rehabilitation. Smarter justice requires cross-government action to reduce the impact of adverse childhood experiences as there is a direct link between contact with the criminal justice system and poverty and inequality. There needs to be an increase in the number of after-school programs as we embark on a revised education delivery mechanism. The dramatic increase in the number of murders over the past few years should not be repeated. This urgent crime problem cannot be addressed by simply boastful promises with no strategic plan.

Health-Care

Both parties (7 years of UWP administrations and 4.5 years of an SLP administration) have been unable to reopen St. Jude’s Hospital after the devastating fire on September 8th 2009. We need a Saint Lucian government to commit to build adequate health infrastructure and supporting processes to address our major challenges with health-care with conditions at Victoria Hospital more akin to a “jail”. Furthermore, despite numerous promises regarding National Health Insurance, it still appears to be in its initial stages. Will the next administration ensure that health care is a top priority?

Conclusion

Perhaps, it is a strategic move by either two main political parties to delay their manifesto launching. Political football is childish and reckless considering the gloomy economic outlook that our island will endure in the coming years. Saint Lucians will look to leaders to provide them reassurance of key issues such as economic management, crime, education and health-care. A contract of faith including goals and objectives provides hope to its citizens and allows the electorate to understand who should provide leadership.

Please reach out to stlucia.analyser@gmail.com with any suggested topics for future articles or if you would like to help write or edit our blogposts. Like or Follow our Facebook Page or at Medium or Twitter or YouTube.

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Critical data-driven research analysis of challenges facing Saint Lucia.

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The St. Lucian Analyzer

The St. Lucian Analyzer

Critical data-driven research analysis of challenges facing Saint Lucia.

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