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St Lucia needs prudent financial management, says new PM

St Lucia needs prudent financial management, says new PM
Philip J. Pierre (GP)

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CASTRIES – The St Lucia government on Tuesday said that the island’s debt at the end of July was EC$3.93 billion (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) and for the next three months, it will have no access to institutional lending.

Prime Minister Phillip J. Pierre told Parliament that the last administration had been reckless in its financial management.

“As of July 31, 2021, the former government has used EC$301 million, meaning that of the COVID-19 borrowings, this government only benefitted from EC$19 million of these loans. My government is able to draw down on a US$10 million loan from the Republic of Taiwan,” Pierre told legislators.

“We have found a situation where government expenses have to be financed from revenue, rollover financing, and bond financing, and treasury bills. For the last three months and before the next budget cycle begins, we have no access to institutional lending as was available to the last government,” said Pierre, who is also Finance Minister.

Pierre, expressing the state of the country’s finances when his St Lucia Labour Party (SLP) administration came to power on July 26, said St Lucia now requires prudent financial management to avoid falling into “a financial abyss”.

In a breakdown of the debt, Pierre told parliament that the public debt was estimated at EC$3.932 billion, local payables EC$154 million, design finance contracts EC$184.5 million, unpaid land acquisition EC$60 million and EC$27 million owed to the University of West Indies.

“Other balances due by ministries, example, Ministry of Economic Development is indebted for work done under the Constituency Development Programme (CDP) is EC$4.18 million, even if the grant allocation by the Taiwanese was provided to cover CDP payments,” Pierre said.

He said the former government, which was headed by Allen Chastanet had received five loans totalling EC$323.8 million from four existing international creditors.

Pierre said that his administration’s first 100 days in office “underscores our sworn commitment, regardless of circumstances, always to put the St Lucian people first”

Prime Minister Pierre said that despite the challenges, he remains optimistic about the future. (CMC)