Is St. Lucia a Better Place in 2021 than 2016?
Little is written about the key performance indicators (KPIs) that St. Lucians should judge an administration on. The socio-economic issues plagued by St. 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 St. Lucians should look to some sort of metric to judge administration performances.
The 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 pre-2016 election and pre-2021 elections, to determine whether the current administration achieved their stated goals.
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 verses 76,370 Saint Lucians employed in March 2021. This represents a fall of 6,584 persons and is primarily as 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%. Therefore, should the current administration really boast reducing the unemployment rate given that they have presided over an 8% drop in the number of Saint Lucians employed during their 5+ year term?
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.
There have been repeated concerns about corruption within the current administration such as Pajoah Letter. Transparency 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 29th least corrupt to now 45th 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 $9,820 USD. This is contrast to Saint Lucia’s GDP per capita in 2016 which was $10,610 USD. Therefore, the GDP per capita has fallen by 8% 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 nation, indicating that even he does not see a future for DSH.
Disbursed Outstanding Debt
Saint Lucia has increased disbursed outstanding debt significantly over the past 5 years. The 2020 ECCB report showed that Saint Lucia’s Total Public Sector Disbursed Outstanding Debt has grown much more than any other ECCU island. While Antigua’s disbursed outstanding debt increased by $370 million from 2016 to 2020, Saint Lucia’s disbursed outstanding debt increased by over $900 million from 2016 to 2020. Saint Lucia’s increase in disbursed outstanding debt was close to 250% greater than Antigua during 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?
· Number of murders has increased from 26 in 2015 to 52 in 2020 despite the Prime Minister’s claims that he would be able to keep Saint Lucians safer than the prior administration.
· Total number of reported crimes has increased from 17,619 in 2015 to 18,794 in 2020.
· Unlawful possession of cannabis has increased from 93 in 2015 to 105 in 2020 despite the current administration indicating that they planned to legalize Cannabis during their term.
As Saint Lucians get ready to head to the polls on July 26th, 2021, we need to reflect on whether Saint Lucia is in a better place in 2021 verses in 2016. The task at hand for managing St. 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?
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