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NEC examines mitigation measures of possible US/Iraqi war on economy

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Contact: John Emmanuel

Wednesday, February 26, 2003 – Concrete proposals are expected to be presented to government in coming weeks on possible measures which could be implemented to cushion the effects of a likely United States/Iraqi war on the island’s economy. On Tuesday, representatives of the National Economic Council (NEC) met at Sandals Saint Lucia with social partners to consider possible mitigation measures in the wake of increasing tension on the international scene.

The request for the Council to examine the matter came directly from Prime Minister and Minister for Finance and National Security, Honourable Dr. Kenny Anthony. However NEC President, businessmen and accountant, Richard Peterkin, indicated that given the NEC’s underlining mandate to help in spurring and stimulating social and economic growth, preliminary discussions with council members were already underway.

According to Peterkin, “Because of the fact that were going to deal with the likely effects of a possible western/middle-east war, we included people from specific companies or lines of endeavour that will be able to help us in discussing that even though they themselves may be in fact represented by wider organizations.”

Peterkin went on to note that, “Given the fact that the island purchases millions of dollars in oil annually and that those figures have been on the increase over the years, we felt examining it was a must. The matter is a complicated one and we started to do some research on it. It is a complex issue and not that easy to deal with as the formula that Government uses which provides a pricing of oil locally and Government’s revenue from the sale of oil is something that takes a little bit of research and as a grouping we are in the middle of examining that.”

The two-day meeting also sought to come up with recommendations that will be presented to the Kenny Anthony administration for possible inclusion in the 2003/04 national budget, expected to be presented shortly. “For years, governments present and past have asked for submissions from the social partners in respect of things they would like to see included in the budget, a bit of a wish list in some instances. This is clearly an indication that the government to some extent is not the only one to come up with what they see as priorities and if there are some good recommendations that can be entertained then they will be,” said the NEC President.

The NEC was launched in September of 2002 and comprises a broad-base membership representative of all social partners. The Council is at the moment engaged in the process of developing a national economic strategy document which will guide its operations.

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