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Prime Minister Anthony Expresses Mixed Feelings for 2003

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Contact: John Emmanuel

Wednesday, January 08, 2003 – Prime Minister Honourable Dr. Kenny Anthony says despite the many challenges of 2002, St. Lucia was able to weather the storms and to survive and overcome the odds. In his New Years Message, delivered on January 7th, 2003 Dr. Anthony expressed gratitude to banana farmers who returned to their farms as soon as the winds of Tropical Storm Lili had abated. He also paid tribute to leaders and members of the labour movement for the remarkable discipline and understanding which they displayed over the past year.

“There has been no other sector which has shown a greater understanding of the requirements of the time than our public sector unions. Our unions have shown a remarkable maturity and a heightened sense of national commitment through their decision to allow the country to recover from the economic shocks of the previous year. The labour movement has also shown tremendous maturity in the manner in which it has participated in the major economic debates of 2002,” said Dr. Anthony.

Government for its part he said had understood the imperatives of the day and had sought to play a greater role in investment through its public sector development programme in the face of declining private sector investment. He pointed out that in 2003 a number of projects are to be formally commissioned. “Among the projects which we hope to formally declare open in 2003 are the following, the Bordelais Correctional Facility, the Union Primary School, the Ciceron Technical Secondary School, Fire Stations in Dennery and Gros Islet and the Vieux Fort Police Station. At the same time work continues on the new Vieux Fort/Soufriere Highway. We also hope to begin construction of the new Psychiatric Hospital later this year. Indeed in the next two weeks, the government will formally sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of the People’s Republic of China in this regard.”

The Prime Minister expressed mixed feelings over the prospects for 2003. He sighted the re-opening of what was formally Club-Med and the establishment of a new Beaches Hotel both in the south of the island as positive developments. However he pointed to developments beyond government’s control that threatened the early successes of these initiatives. He made mention of increasing tension in the Middle East over a possible decision by the United States and its allies regarding a war with Iraq.

According to Dr. Anthony, “if such a war is unleashed, we will be immediately faced with a repeat of many of the difficulties which followed the September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. There will be a reduction in travel by US citizens and the citizens of allied countries, there will be continued fear of retaliation from pro-Islamic quarters, the economies of the major production centres already in deep recession may suffer setbacks as a result of a war and most critically, there will be an increase in the price of fuel with all its attendant consequences.”

Another major challenge facing the country in 2003 will be the matter of crime. Dr Anthony admitted that limited success was achieved in 2002 and that different and more resolute approaches will have to be defined in 2003.

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