CI Shorts: St Lucia's leader on getting the economy right

St Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet at podium

Caribbean leaders made full use of their stay in London outside their time at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

St Lucia’s Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet, was the guest speaker at a Caribbean Council reception held at the House of Lords. He took the opportunity to outline some economic plans for his country to the business community and diplomats at the gathering.

Like other Caribbean leaders at meetings held in the fringes of the CHOGM activity, Prime Minister Chastanet criticised the one-size-fits-all approach to global financial treatment – taking middle-income nations out of concessionary lending and aid categories – and the impact this has on them.

“The reason they [global lending institutions] keep getting it wrong,” he told his audience,” is they keep trying to have one prescription for all of us.”

Mr Chastanet, who was a businessman before going into politics, spoke of putting a micro policy before the macro policy for his country’s economic strategy

He said that figures on how the region’s tourism and agriculture industry had been doing, instead of exploring its growth potential, was “like driving in a car with a rear-view mirror view”.

Prime Minister Chastanet outlined his idea of thinking about the maximum potential of tourism in terms of the economic return per acre of land. He said that, by comparing GDP and the size of the tourism industries in Barbados, the Bahamas and Aruba, he could see St Lucia’s potential in putting together “a compelling product”.

One of the ideas he outlined to his audience was to develop St Lucia to become a headquarters hub for oil industry people and their families zoning in on Guyana as it moves into its newly-found oil wealth

He said that the Taiwan-funded redevelopment of the country’s airport would help develop his administration’s potential.

“We want to earn our own way,” the St Lucian leader told the gathering. “We’re not looking for a handout.”

 

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