During the IMF-World Bank annual meeting, St Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has stated that the country is facing an unemployment crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The country has also suffered massive unemployment, due to the closure of the tourism sector, all necessitating social and economic relief measures aimed at providing support to the poor and vulnerable, and those directly impacted as a result of the crisis.”
Chastanet said that prior to COVID-19, the country had improved its economic growth indicators. However, the pandemic severely affected the region as it did other nations in the Caribbean.
“Many countries, particularly Small Island Developing States, are trying to respond to the pandemic with large segments of their economy closed down, resulting in reduced revenues. This turn of events has in the immediate term led to the need to borrow, in order to bridge the revenue shortfall and build capacity in the health sector, to respond to COVID-19 related illness and to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.”
The Prime Minister added that despite a decrease in St Lucia's G.D.P, the government had to increase the expenditure on healthcare, such as establishing quarantine and isolation centres, rehabilitating the Victoria Hospital, growing testing capacity, acquiring medical equipment and supplies, hiring additional healthcare workers and maintaining health protocols.
Chastanet noted that they are working on policy responses to reduce the impact of the crisis through the following programs:
COVID-19 Health Response Plan
Social Stabilization Programme
Economic Recovery & Resilience Plan (ERRP)