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Unemployment tops seven Government priorities for 2005

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Monday, January 17, 2005 - The government of the St. Lucia is hoping to make a significant dent in the unemployment figures this year. In his New Year’s address delivered on the weekend, Prime Minister, Hon. Dr. Kenny Anthony announced that reducing unemployment was at the top of seven national priorities for 2005.

The second priority according to Dr. Anthony is to finalize Saint Lucia’s entry and participation in the Single Market and Economy, whilst the third is to intensify the fight against crime.

“Priority number four is to meet the challenge of hosting the World Cup; Priority number five is to intensify our efforts to repair, and rehabilitate our road infrastructure. Priority number six is to prepare the Banana Industry for the inevitable transition to a tariff only trading regime; and Priority number seven is to improve our water supply and in particular, ease the plight of the Dennery communities,” Dr. Anthony said.

In reducing unemployment the government has decided to employ four strategies, which include intensifying investment in tourism, encouraging more investment in the Information Technology Sector, particularly Business Process Outsourcing, encouraging self-employment through the establishment of small businesses; and fourthly, expanding opportunities in public sector construction.

According to the Prime Minister, the Tourism Sector is unquestionably a great absorber of labour and investment in this sector, and is exceedingly promising: “The Sandals Chain has already announced the construction of the new Beaches Property on the Pigeon Island Causeway. According to Sandals, some 250 persons will be employed during construction and on completion some 600 persons are expected to be employed. On January 27, a consortium of local and foreign investors will provide details of their plans to construct a luxury condominium resort/marina at an estimated cost of US$120 million again, near the Pigeon Island Causeway”, the Prime Minister announced.

That project, according to the developers is expected to provide 500 bedrooms in 220 luxury condominiums in a resort setting. It is estimated that 500 jobs will be created during the construction phase and a further 500 tourism related jobs after the resort is opened.

The Prime Minister also pointed to the creation of additional jobs as a result of the expansion and construction of some hotels among them, Discovery at Marigot Bay, Calabash at Marisule, Plantation Beach at Cas-En-Bas, Bay Gardens Hotel, Coco Creole, and the “Coconut Bay” in Vieux Fort, formerly Club Med, which when re-opens in February, some 300 Saint Lucians are hoping to be employed there.

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