The 2022/23 has been crafted in the context of a post Covid-19 era with all its accompanying challenges. Alongside these is, that the Budget was presented immediately after a General Election that swept the Opposition into Office.
These two factors have strongly dictated the contents of the Budget and the approach taken therein. The Prime Minister had a fine balancing act to perform, and generally performed well.
The harsh realities of a Post Covid-19 Economy where substantial spending took place (heavy borrowing) on health, social support and infrastructure projects took place simultaneously with a dramatic decline in revenue and economic activity. These have handcuffed the Government’s spending capacity, while forcing its hand in an attempt to meet increased social needs forced upon by Covid-19 related shutdown leading to higher levels of unemployment and disappearance of income earning opportunities.
Of course the platform presented at the Election has also dictated some economic and social policies evident in the Budget.
While the entire Private Sector may be relieved that the Philip J. Pierre Government did not impose any new taxes, as was done in other jurisdictions. The low low keyed attention given to crime in the budget Speech as a bit of a surprise when one considers the rash of killings and robberies taking place over the last eighteen months, in particular.
Many in the private sector would have also welcomed greater attention and ambition in the areas of renewable energy and climate adaptation.
Increasing agricultural production in the face of global inflation, supply chain difficulties, and the Russia/Ukraine war with its potential and expected impact on food supplies, would also have been useful.
The Private Sector should particularly been excited about the Tax Amnesty offered and those with this issue should be moving posthaste to take advantage.
There is of course significant interest in the many projects mentioned in the project and the private sector would be hoping that these projects will lead to significant spend within and through the existing local economy so some impact will be felt by business and employment.
Interventions that should help stimulate the economy include:
Construction Projects, Tourism Iniatives particular Community Tourism, Youth Economy actions, Agriculture and Fisheries programs.
Of Special Note "No New Taxes".
Tax Amnesty Tax Amnesty for Personal and Corporate Sector - Waiver of penalties and interest on taxes prior to 2020 except for:
Personal tax allowance has increased from $18,000 to $25,000
Tax bands will be decreased from 4 to 3
One should however pay attention to There is a huge Budget Deficit of $505,124m to be financed by borrowings.
• Millenium Highway expected to cost EC$76.01m, commencement date not indicated.
• Gros Islet Highway and Secondary Road Improvement-Discussion with Kuwait Fund for the reinstatement of the original project financing of EC$32m.Commencement date not indicated.
Private Sector Construction in Tourism-
Export Capacity Enhancement Initiatives.
The capacity of the public service to implement and execute the Agenda of the Elected Government remains a concern. The inherent resistance to change that has emerged with the public sector will be challenge for this Government as it has been to successive Governments.
The entrenched interests of public servants must be overcome with some enlightened self interest, The Public Sector must embrace and engages in innovative practices, the use of technology to increases efficiency and productivity where an enhanced customer experience is the ultimate objective.
The nation cannot afford to not change and embrace the rapidly changing economic and social environment. The very existence of St. Lucia as a nation that provides a decent quality of life for all citizens is at stake.
The St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture is located at Orange Park Commercial Building, 1st Floor, Bois D’Orange, Gros Islet.
Advocating on behalf of members with the public sector. Increased visibility and credibility. Business training and education information sharing and networking.
A chamber of commerce is an organization of business owners and entrepreneurs who promote the interests of their local business community. Chambers of commerce provide access to valuable resources, discounts, and relationships that help businesses save money and market their products.
Chambers of Commerce will act to promote public policies that are in the best interest of business, in general. Specific Chambers of Commerce may also attempt to promote policies that serve specific industries or geographic locations.