Monday, 10 June 2013

2013: THE MONEY CURSE Pt 3 - BRIGHT SPOTS, Ltd. A Limited Liability View of St Lucia's Future

Look on the bright side. If we fail, we could market the island as the closest place on earth to Hell...

Big construction projects slowed or stopped in the last five to seven years. Public sector construction, one of the drivers of the economy is down 31.5%. Stay over visitors, another driver, down 1.8%.

And you’re thinking, “Muthaflogga! You said this was an article on the bright spots.” It is. We’re in the dark moving toward the light. Things are pretty bad, we have to admit.

But would you believe that even though the number of visitors went down, the amount they spent went up by 2% to $1.55 billion. It’s as though we threw away the cheapskate tourists and exchanged them for better spenders.

Banana production is up 25.2%, but of course, it was practically nothing before that, because of the Black Sigatoka crisis. There was nowhere to go but up. Agricultural exports are up 40.1% as crop diversification takes effect – that is a real, unmitigated bright spot. Chicken production is up, too. But egg production is down. Hmmm....analyze that!

Saving the economy, one drink at a time
There was a 23% bump in production (not export) of alcoholic beverages. Other food and chemical manufacturers also helped boost the sector. Unemployment is still above 20%, but it’s down from over 22%.
Grants were lower than expected but still up over $325 million. If the fact that donors are waiting to see if they can trust Labour as much as they couldn’t trust Flambeau has anything to do with it, Labour wasn’t saying.

There was a $59.2 million surplus for 2011/12 and $45.5 million for 2012/13. Or were those deficits?

Subsidies for rice, flour and sugar have been cut in half from $18.2 million. Government is throwing $2.2 million of the savings at the poor and indigent so that they don’t have to listen to the opposition make an eight cent increase on a pound of sugar sound like the end of the damned world.

The NICE program aimed to generate 2500 jobs and exceeded that. Job placements amounted to 1740. STEP UP provided 8704 jobs at a cost of $5.6 million.

The construction stimulus – well, it’s too early to talk about that and plus, the likes of Clinton Reynolds and others still think it’s incomplete.

“The full effects should be seen and felt later this year,” Kenny promised. “The discerning consumer must look out for better prices.” Some dealers, apparently, are not passing on the concessions and savings that government wants you to have. An estimated $16 million in government revenue has been foregone so that construction can bounce back.

The department of planning is doing a road map for the next 30 years. There will a big consultation about it.

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