Political Leader's Message
My fellow Saint Lucians,
The time has come once again when we are called upon to make a decision about the future management and direction of our country. Four and a half years ago, you exercised that cherished right and voted decisively to place the stewardship of our country in the hands of the Saint Lucia Labour Party. It is a responsibility that my Party accepted with humility and a profound understanding of the responsibility with which we had been entrusted.
The task ahead of us back then, in December 2011, was to rescue an ailing economy that had been brought to its knees by the effects of a global economic crisis and a reckless UWP administration that had spent the previous five years fighting with itself and squandering the precious resources that it had inherited when it assumed office. We had to try to revive investor confidence in our country, because we had gone from a situation of almost unprecedented growth and investment between 2001 and 2006, to complete stagnation and zero foreign direct investment between 2007 and 2011. Every single sector was in crisis. The banana industry, in which our administration had invested heavily between 1997 and 2006, was at its death bed from Black Sigatoka infestation. Our national infrastructure was in ruins as a result of the inability of the UWP administration to effect the necessary repairs after the passage of Hurricane Tomas and the dysfunction of the Ministry of Communications and Works at the hands of an ineffective minister. The tourism industry had made little progress, despite the bluster of the then minister and the squandering of millions of dollars on failed promotions, gimmicks and exorbitant revenue guarantees to airlines. Our country’s standing in regional and international circles as at an all-time low because of the number of outrageous political scandals that had become synonymous with the UWP administration. That was the sobering and somewhat depressing reality that confronted my Government in December 2011.
In the last four and a half years we have worked diligently and relentlessly to improve the fortunes of our country. This was difficult and required a significant amount of understanding and sacrifice. We had very little resources to work with. Gone were the days when the banana industry could be counted on for hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign exchange. It took time to convince foreign investors that the sins and bad habits of the previous UWP administration were a thing of the past. We had to wean people of the idea that getting paid via dubious contracts to do shoddy public works was an acceptable way of rewarding political loyalty. We had to reduce a growing fiscal deficit and tame a rising Debt-to-GDP ratio without resorting to the employee retrenchments that some of our Caribbean neighbors had been forced to use. Most importantly, we had to ensure that we did not have to turn to the IMF for help to solve these problems because we understood the excruciating hardship that an IMF austerity programme would cause for our citizens.
I am very proud of the commitment, dedication and hard work of my Government during this term of government. Never has a Government had to do so much with so little, and we have delivered. Unemployment is trending downward once again, in the direction in which our Government left it when we demitted office in 2006. Our economy has rebounded, and the positive growth of 2015 is set to continue in the years ahead. We have skilfully restructured our economy away from a total reliance on bananas to a more diversified platform of tourism, agriculture, services, construction, manufacturing and promising new sectors like energy and information technology. We have closed the fiscal deficit and stopped the rapid increase in Debt-to-GDP. We have repaired the outstanding damage from Hurricane Tomas and recovered from the impact of the devastating 2014 Christmas Eve trough. We have addressed long-standing problems in our water sector and created new exciting opportunities in the energy sector. We have extended social safety nets to provide relief and support for single mothers, the elderly, the differently abled, the unemployed, and the poor. We have started a revolution in the education sector by equipping our students with laptops and internet access so that they can compete with young people anywhere in the world. We have restored investor confidence in our country, with large, new investments in the hotel, energy and real estate sectors. We have returned decency, transparency and accountability to the workings of Government. Our standing in the regional and international communities is at an all-time high, with Saint Lucians heading major regional institutions and our ministers highly regarded for their work in critical negotiating theatres. That, my fellow Saint Lucians is the track record that we present to you and ask that you use to determine our suitability to continue to hold the trust that you reposed in my team in 2011. A review of the promises that we made in Our Blueprint for Growth will reveal that once again, we have not only fulfilled most of those promises, but gone above and beyond and implemented several additional measures meant to build a better Saint Lucia.
But it is not just on the strength of our past record that we now seek a renewal of your confidence. We are not a Party that rests on its laurels or dwells on its past achievements. We are constantly searching for ways to move our country forward and improve the lives of our citizens. The proposals that we make in this 2016 Manifesto are all designed to build on the solid platform that has been constructed to catapult our country into a new, exciting and successful future for every one of its citizens. There are measures in this manifesto to create new jobs, many of these in new sectors, that will appeal to every category of worker. There are policies to continue the recovery in our economy and propel us on a path of sustained economic prosperity. There are ideas that will help our young people realize their true potential and be able to compete with young people anywhere in the world. There are proposals to ensure that the social fabric of our country is strengthened and that our education, health and social services are able to serve us effectively well into the future. There are recommendations that will strengthen law and order, improve national security and ensure that every woman, man and child in our country can once again feel safe and secure. There are plans to protect our natural environment and help us develop resilience to the defects of climate change and other extreme weather events.
The proposals in this manifesto are practical and are rooted in a profound understanding of our people, our culture and the needs of our country. They come from a Party that has proven its sincerity and its capacity to deliver. They are made by a group of men and women who have demonstrated their integrity and honesty and their commitment to putting country and people before self. The pledges in this manifesto come from a Party that is with you, for you, for Saint Lucia. We ask that you honour us, once again, with a responsibility that we take very seriously – to work together with you for a better Saint Lucia. We promise to cherish that trust, that responsibility and to always work in your best interests and the interests of our country. I thank you.
Kenny D. Anthony
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