CBD/ECCB Di­ag­nos­tic Re­port urges Gov­ern­ment to un­dergo Struc­tural Re­forms

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By

An­gel­ica O’DonoghueHolder

“Over the last five years the per­for­mance of Saint Lu­cia’s econ­omy has been gen­er­ally weak with only real out­put av­er­ag­ing neg­a­tive 0.4 per cent.” This was the dec­la­ra­tion of Sen­a­tor Dr Ubal­dus Ray­mond as he met with the me­dia on Thurs­day to dis­close the CDB/ECCB di­ag­nos­tic fis­cal re­form re­port on Saint Lu­cia.

Ac­cord­ing to Dr Ray­mond, “The CDB made a pre­sen­ta­tion to the Min­istry of Fi­nance on Wed­nes­day, pro­vid­ing a di­ag­no­sis on the fis­cal stand­ing of Saint Lu­cia, and pro­vided var­i­ous rec­om­men­da­tions based on what they found.”

The CDB, along with Dr Ray­mond, Min­is­ter in the Min­istry of Fi­nance, made the draft re­port pub­lic at the press meet­ing. In his re­marks, the min­is­ter in­di­cated, “There needs to be a com­pre­hen­sive re­form . . . the debt level is too high.”

Ac­com­pa­ny­ing him was CDB’s Di­rec­tor of Eco­nomics, Dr Justin Ram, who broke down the highly an­tic­i­pated draft re­port on the eco­nomic state of the is­land. As alarm­ing as the fig­ures pre­sented were, the di­rec­tor noted that there are ways to make sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment. “Fo­cus on re­forms that will pro­mote growth of the econ­omy,” was a point he re­it­er­ated dur­ing the press brief­ing.

He also noted ar­eas that should be looked at in­clud­ing fis­cal con­sol­i­da­tion in the form of rev­enue re­forms that im­prove ef­fi­ciency and col­lec­tions; struc­tural re­forms to im­prove com­pet­i­tive­ness and in­crease growth, and strate­gic li­a­bil­ity man­age­ment aimed at con­tain­ing the cost of debt.

Though the pre­sen­ta­tion was de­tailed, one as­pect of the rev­enue re­form re­port struck a chord with the me­dia hud­dle. The rec­om­men­da­tion of re­duc­ing the list of VAT-ex­empt and zero-rated goods did not sit well with the re­porters present.

How­ever, the sen­a­tor ad­vised the me­dia that though the gov­ern­ment ea­gerly an­tic­i­pated the CDB/ECCB re­port, it should be clear that the re­port does not rep­re­sent the gov­ern­ment’s poli­cies. “We want to gather suf­fi­cient in­for­ma­tion that we can use as build­ing blocks in en­sur­ing that we de­vise the cor­rect pol­icy when that time comes,” Min­is­ter Ray­mond ad­vised.

Concluding his re­marks on the draft re­port, Sen­a­tor Dr Ray­mond as­serted that the joint CDB/ECCB re­port will be used as a guide for the gov­ern­ment to pur­sue its three-point eco­nomic plan for the coun­try: in­creas­ing eco­nomic growth, re­duc­ing cost of liv­ing, and de­creas­ing the high level of debt.

Dr Justin Ram (mid­dle) Di­rec­tor of the Caribbean De­vel­op­ment Bank talks to Sen­a­tor Dr Ubal­dus Ray­mond on a num­ber of fis­cal re­forms to aid in this coun­try’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

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