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2005 New Year’s Address To The Nation By The Honourable Dr. Kenny D. Anthony

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January 16, 2005


Fellow St. Lucians,

If the passage of time and the closing of each year cause us to be reflective, introspective and self-critical, the dawning of each New Year brings with it new hope and promise, fresh optimism and perspectives, anticipation and expectation, the emergence of new challenges and the re-emergence of old ones. Ultimately, the objective measure by which this new hope, promise and opportunity will be fulfilled during the course of 2005 will invariably depend on our individual and collective approaches and attitudes as a people and as a nation.


Last year at this time, I indicated that there was “A Basis For Optimism.” Indeed, that was the theme of my 2004 New Year’s Address to the Nation. During the past year we worked assiduously to achieve the goals and objectives identified as national priorities. Some we did achieve and others, despite our best efforts, we could not bring to fruition. Irrespective of our shortcomings and failures, 2004 was a year during which we as a government and people were able to build on our past successes, consolidate our recent gains and strengthen our foundations for the future.

There were also moments of profound anguish and deep sadness. In June, the nation mourned the passing of Sir George F.L. Charles, who was our first Chief Minister, a stalwart of the labour movement and the founding father of the Saint Lucia Labour Party. Then, in September, the nation also said farewell to Mr. Winston Cenac, QC, who served as Prime Minister during the period 1981-82.

The country also lost Mr. Desmond Skeete, the late Chairman of the Saint Lucia Tourist Board, who was also a central figure in the St. Lucia Jazz Festival and a key player in St. Lucia’s successful bid for the Cricket World Cup.

A number of cultural personalities also departed the scene. Folklorist Florita Marquis said goodbye, so too did Egbert Mathurin, Ruby Yorke, Lucia Peters-Charlery and Avy Mathurin. And who can forget the tragic and untimely passing of Jany Williams -- artist, 2004 Calypso Monarch and Caribbean integrationist. Although they are no longer with us, they have all left footprints in the sand of time and bequeathed us a legacy of achievements to be emulated and built upon by succeeding generations of Saint Lucians. We must not forget them.


In 2004, Nature also unleashed its deadly fury, both regionally and internationally, with destructive and catastrophic effect. The 2004 hurricane season was one of the most intense, with at least four major hurricanes leaving in their wake a path of devastation and destruction. Ivan unleashed a reign of terror on the region.

Our sister island of Grenada suffered the brunt of the storm. Hurricane Ivan’s devastation of Grenada last September is estimated to have set the island back some 25 years. Never has our generation seen such utter devastation, such destruction of property and displacement of lives.

Saint Lucia willingly extended a helping hand. To date, the Public and Private Sectors have extended support to the people of Grenada to the value of E.C.$1,881,141.00. I am pleased to advise you that the accounts which NEMO opened in our banks have yielded a further sum of EC$113, 957. Your generosity has answered a great need. I hope to deliver this amount to the Grenadian Government on February 21, 2005, with the request that it be directed to assisting the poor in rebuilding their homes.

But if Ivan was terrible, then neither words nor figures can properly describe the effects of the tidal wave caused by an earthquake below the sea in the Indian Ocean on Boxing Day last year. Over 160,000 persons have perished, one third of whom are children; five million are homeless and millions more are searching for the missing, their lives and livelihoods shattered by this catastrophic natural phenomenon.

The global response to the disaster has been unprecedented. Governments have responded to the appeals for aid with budgeted pledges and contributions. People the world over have responded with a massive outpouring of generosity that reminds us of the great depth of our humanity and offers reassurance that international solidarity continues to live in the hearts and minds of people the world over. The response of humanity to the worst disaster in this century reminds us that we are each other’s keepers and that no matter the distance, we the inhabitants of this planet are also each other’s neighbour.

Saint Lucia will join its sister states in the OECS and contribute to the humanitarian effort underway in the affected countries.

Fortunate, So Far
So far, we have been fortunate. True, we have had to contend with Land Slippages in Boguis, Black Mallet and Tapion. True, we have had to contend with the damage caused to our coastal communities by Hurricane Lenny. But, by and large, we have been spared. Even as we give thanks to the Almighty that our country came away relatively intact, we must nonetheless ask ourselves this question: Are we fully prepared for a major disaster?

If by “fully prepared” we mean whether government institutions such as the National Emergency Management Office (NEMO) and non governmental organisations such as the Red Cross are prepared, then the answer will be in the affirmative. But governmental preparedness in economies as small and fragile as ours does not provide a sufficiency of resources to adequately deal with the aftermath of major disasters.


It is for this reason that I have to remind you of the need to have adequate insurance coverage on your properties. The changing weather patterns is enough cause to worry.

It is estimated that just below thirty five per cent of all households in Saint Lucia carry insurance coverage. Moreover, the majority of these properties are insured only because of financial obligations to banks and other finance companies that insist on such coverage. In effect then, those who most need insurance coverage do not have it.
I want to urge you to act now in getting the insured household percentage up from 35%. I want to challenge you to strive at a 60% figure for this year, no matter how painful the financial cost. An insurance premium can make the difference between a comfortable life on the one hand and a struggle to start all over again on the other hand.


I now wish to report to you, albeit briefly, on the performance of the economy since the last Budget in April.

Notwithstanding the spiraling international oil prices, and events surrounding the protracted war on terrorism, developments within 2004 suggests considerable expansion in economic activity. This expansion builds on the growth momentum experienced in 2003 when the economy grew by 3.7 per cent. The latest data indicates that the improvements experienced have been led by the growth in the tourism sector, supported by growth in the banana industry, and the construction and manufacturing sectors. There was also an improvement in the fiscal position of the central government, as measured by it current account savings for the first half of 2004 compared with a deficit in the comparative period of 2003.

Buoyancy In Tourism

Leading indicators point definitively to a recovery in the tourism sector up to the end of November, 2004. Total visitor arrivals increased by 17.9 per cent to 699,014 when compared to visitations for the similar period of 2003. This was attributable to the global economic recovery underway in major tourist generating markets and the relative safety of the Caribbean region. Stay over arrivals increased by 17,199 or 6.6 per cent, while cruise passengers and arrivals by yachts increased by 26.9 per cent and 13.5 per cent respectively. Strategic marketing, increased airlift and the continued strength of the Euro and Pound Sterling against the US dollar have contributed to this positive performance, which resulted an 8 per cent improvement in bed-nights overall.

Rebound In Banana Production

In the Agricultural Sector, despite the effects of Hurricane Ivan, banana production rebounded by 30 per cent to over 32,000 tonnes by the end of the third quarter of 2004. This speaks volumes for the recovery efforts for that vital industry which provides important employment to our rural communities. Increased rainfalls and yields from tissue culture plants were the primary reasons for the upturn in the production and exports of banana. In addition to the increase in export tonnage, the continued strength of the Pound Sterling against the US dollar contributed to higher banana revenue of $41.2 million compared with $32.5 million for the same period in 2003.

Increased Output In Manufacturing

Up to the first half of 2004, the value of output in the manufacturing sector had already grown by 3.6 per cent to $67.8 million, following a contraction of a little less than 1 per cent in the corresponding period of 2003. This sector continues to be resilient in the face of intense competition. Our manufacturers continue to hold their own.
Expansion In Construction Activity
The construction sector also experienced considerable expansion in both the public and private sector. Indeed, there was a 16.8 per cent growth in the importation of construction material supported by a more than doubling of credit to the private sector. While more indicative of future construction trends, the number of building applications approved by the Development Control Authority also increased sharply in 2004, when compared with 2003.

Increase In the Value of Imports

Increased economic activity is also reflected in the movement in imports. Data up to the end of the third quarter of 2004 indicated a 3.2 per cent increase in the value of imports, despite a dip in the second quarter. The value of imports of consumer goods rose by 16.8 per cent.

Return To Surplus On Current Balance

The fiscal performance of the cental government as measured by the level of government savings improved. By the end of the first half of 2004 the current balance moved from a deficit of $6.6 million to a surplus (savings) of $10 million, as current revenue surpassed current expenditure. The overall deficit narrowed by 55.7 per cent to $38.9 million, largely occasioned by the halving of capital expenditure to $53 million.

Overall, I expect that our economy will register a growth rate of not less than 3.3% in 2004.


What then, will be our national priorities this year, 2005? The Government has identified seven (7) priorities this year:
Priority number one is to reduce unemployment;

Priority number two is to finalize Saint Lucia’s entry and participation in the Single Market and Economy created by the Caribbean Community;

Priority number three is to intensify the fight against crime and secure a reduction in 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.


How, you may ask, will Government reduce unemployment? The Government will employ four strategies.

First, it will intensify investment in tourism;

Secondly, it will continue to encourage more investment in the Information Technology Sector, particularly Business Process Outsourcing (BPO);

Thirdly, it will continue to encourage self-employment through the establishment of small businesses; and
Fourthly, it will expand opportunities in public sector construction.

Unquestionably, the Tourism Sector is a great absorber of Labour. Investment in this sector 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. According to the developers, “It will provide 500 bedrooms in 220 luxury condominiums in a resort setting. It is estimated that this project will provide 500 construction jobs and a further 500 tourism related jobs after the resort is opened.”

Discovery at Marigot Bay is under construction and will bring new life to Marigot. The Harbour at Rodney Bay is now finally cleared for construction and will add a new dimension to Rodney Bay. Calabash at Marisule, is also under construction. Soon, Plantation Beach at Cas-En-Bas beach will open its doors for the business. It is expected that at least 100 Saint Lucians will be employed on that property when it is operational.

But that is not all. Existing hotels that plan to expand include Bay Gardens, which also operates Bay Gardens Inn. Coco Creole, is working night and day to complete its almost 100 additional rooms. The former Rainbow Hotel, has re-entered the market as “The Village”. Renovations are to start at the Rex St. Lucian sometime this year. The former Club Med in Vieux Fort is now expected to re-open in February under its new name “Coconut Bay”. Some three hundred Saint Lucians will be employed there.

I am now in a position to give you an update on the status of the Praslin Bay Resort Project. The developers recently advised Cabinet that:

1. They have completed the purchase of land at Praslin Bay for the construction of a hotel complex, golf course, condominiums and a marina;
2. They have completed and signed an agreement with the Government for the lease of the Queen’s Chain needed for the Project;
3. Phase 1 of the project, valued at U.S.$112 million dollars is scheduled to commence in May 2005 and comprises the following:
(a) Construction of a 225 room Starwood Westin Hotel comprising of 125 core rooms and 50 two (2) bedroom apartments;
(b) Preparation of 60 building plots; and
(c) Construction of golf-course on lands already owned by Praslin Bay.

Like many of you, I do hope that the investors deliver on their promises of investment.

Investments In Infrastructure

There will too, be major investments in infrastructure in the coming year. Currently, the Government has embarked on the rehabilitation of fifty-five roads island wide from Des Barras in the north to Delcer in the south. This is in addition to the roads under construction in Monier, Dennery North and Deglos. The long-awaited rehabilitation and re-paving of the East Coast road, that is, the road from Castries to Vieux Fort, will commence by the end of this month. So too will construction commence in mid year on the improvements to the Castries Gros Islet Highway, to ease congestion and to prepare Saint Lucia for World Cup, 2007. Construction will also commence on the new Psychiatric Hospital in the first half of this year. Major drainage projects are underway in Castries and Anse La Raye.

These activities will test our patience. They will cause considerable disruption to the flow of traffic. I plead for your understanding in the months ahead.


In the first quarter of this year, the CARICOM Single Market and Economy will become a reality. A new economic and political geography will descend upon our shores, heralding the creation of a true CARICOM Community where people, goods and services will eventually move without restrictions.

Saint Lucia and the remaining member states of the CARICOM community have been given a year during which they are expected to put their house order. This year’s grace should be used to re-orient our thinking to the new reality that is quickly closing in on us. The debates and discussions are continuing and more will have to be done to better explain the advantages of the CSME.

But even as the education process continues and the integration process takes shape Government, Private Sector and Civil Society must prepare mentally for the eventual coming to being of a CARICOM community without frontiers. Reciprocity will be at the heart of the CSME. The CARICOM community will eventually become one job market to be exploited by all the citizens of the member states. So just as Saint Lucians will be free to explore job opportunities in the other states of the Community, so too will the citizens of the other states of the Community be free to explore job opportunities in Saint Lucia. Likewise, Saint Lucian investors would also be free to seek investment opportunities elsewhere in the region but must also expect to face competition at home from regional investors. This is the inescapable reality of this age whose hour has come at last.


At the international level, the processes of globalization and trade liberalization continue apace.

The reality of a new trading regime for our bananas on the European Union market looms large on the horizon. In 2006, the vestiges of the old banana trading regime based on preferential access will be swept away and replaced by a tariff only system. The leveling of the playing field would then be complete. Although the hour is neither of our choosing nor of our making, the introduction of a new banana trading regime will impose new rules of operation. Whatever these new rules, it is clear that the survival of the local industry will ultimately depend on our farmers’ ability to improve quality, cut cost even further and increase competitiveness.

Certainly, the further enlargement of the European Union is sure to dilute our banana interests and increase battle fatigue among European Union countries that are still committed to protecting for us, market access. For our part, the Governments of the Windward Islands will endeavour to do all in their power to ensure the survival and continued viability of the industry. Our survival will depend on the level of tariffs introduced by the European Union. In order to retain our place in the market place, it would be necessary for the European Union to place a high tariff on banana exports to Europe from our competitors in Latin America and Africa. We will continue to provide both technical and diplomatic support but we can do only so much, the task of becoming and remaining internationally competitive is a responsibility our farmers also have to share.

In other words, our farmers too must take responsibility for the development and survival of the industry. In this regard, I am encouraged by and I applaud the recent acknowledgement by the Manager of the Tropical Quality Fruit Company (TQFC) that 2004 was a good year for bananas. As Mr. Serieux correctly noted, successful recovery can only be achieved if there is a consistency in the improvement of quality and increases in production. He is right too, that farmers must see the industry as being bigger than themselves and that they must see themselves as the ones to drive the changes, rather than depend on the continued good will of the European Union.


In the past, I have spoken of the joy and pride felt by all of us when the announcement was made that Saint Lucia would be the venue for the prestigious Blue Group in the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup. This means that our Beausejour Cricket Ground will play host to the largest and most boisterous group of fans in the World Cup. But even more importantly, it also means that our country will receive global media exposure of incalculable value in the world’s premiere tourism markets.

All Hands On Deck For World Cup

Our Government established a company, known as World Cup Saint Lucia, to plan and prepare for this event and this year we will see the unfolding of our World Cup 2007 programme. We believe that the World Cup provides us with a unique opportunity to unite our country. All hands must be on deck for Saint Lucia to deliver on its promise to host The Best Cricket World Cup Ever. The Cricket World Cup represents the largest single endeavour that our country would have undertaken, and everyone must be mobilized and committed for us to succeed. Within the next four weeks, approximately twenty sub-committees will be established to provide strategic support to our efforts; and soon thereafter, there will be a volunteer registration programme to enlist further support.

Resolving Accommodation

We have already unveiled the first of a series of initiatives to allow Saint Lucians to benefit economically from the 2007 World Cup. The Cricket World Cup (Tourism Accommodation), Incentives Act, which was enacted in Parliament last year, will facilitate the expansion of our hotel stock. Already, there are encouraging signs that this strategic incentive is having the desired effect. These investments notwithstanding, we will still fall short of the expected demand.

In order for us to meet our room target, we must increase the numbers of home-stay type accommodation. Consequently, the second element of our facilitation programme will involve the provision of incentives to boost the Bed and Breakfast Sector. This is where we anticipate the majority of Saint Lucians will derive benefit, and already, many persons have been inquiring about the possibilities in this area. I hope to announce incentives for this sector in the 2005 Budget.

New Opportunities For Local Business

There will be opportunities for local businesses. I recently wrote to the Board of Directors of the ICC Cricket World Cup W.I. 2007 Inc. requesting that they provide more information on these prospects, and even more importantly, that they make it possible for local entrepreneurs to compete fairly when the occasion presents itself. This is an issue that occupies our attention and I want to give our private sector the assurance that we will seek to protect their interests.

Changing Our Attitudes

The Cricket World Cup is about changing our attitudes as a people --and this is where the real challenge lies. I have little doubt that the venue development team will transform Beausejour Cricket Ground into one of the best venues ever to host a Cricket World Cup match. I am confident that with some creativity and planning, we will solve our traffic management problems. And I know that a combination of traditional hotels, bed-and- breakfast accommodation, and if required, cruise ships, will allow us to cater to the needs of our visitors. What concerns me, however, is the softer side of our preparation. The media exposure that we get from this event will make us or break us. If we portray Saint Lucia as a safe, clean, organized, efficiently run country, with industrious, skilled, pleasant, courteous, honest people, committed to achieving and delivering the highest levels of service, then the world is our oyster. We would have demonstrated our class to the rest of the world and our ability to compete with the best of what the world has to offer. Conversely, if the images that go out of our country depict a crime-troubled nation, littered with plastics and other garbage, and populated with indifferent, lackadaisical, impolite persons who do only as little as they need to get by, then we would have set our development back immeasurably and perhaps irretrievably.

Sending The Right Signals

We recognize that as a Government there is much that we need to do and do differently to send the right signals that we are ready for 2007. The Cricket World Cup will require a sea change in the way both Government and the public sector operate. I am committed to making these changes and I will charge my Cabinet to lead by example. It cannot be business as usual. However, the private sector and all Saint Lucians must also undergo a radical attitudinal change. Our private sector must become more proactive and aggressively pursue the opportunities that will become available. The competition will be regional and international firms that know no commercial boundaries, and we must demonstrate that our products and services are as good as, if not better than, anything available outside. Our people must rise above the mundane, mediocre and moribund and show the world that this 238 square mile gem that has produced two Nobel laureates, skillfully presided over the Presidency of the United Nations in a period of global war and conflict, and has made it on the World Listing of Heritage Sites, must be something special after all. We have to do as our 25th Anniversary of Independence theme implored us: “We Must Take Responsibility for Our Country’s Development.” There will not be a better opportunity or stage for us to do this. Let us embrace the challenge in the way that I am confident we can.


One of the main concerns of St. Lucians during 2004 was that of crime.

As I said throughout last year, I do share the concerns of everyone regarding crime. I have also said, time and again, that we need to tackle crime head-on, we need to take the fight to the criminals and we need to take back our neighbourhoods. I have called time and again for the police to take back our streets, to increase their presence on our streets. I am glad to note that in recent times there has been a visible improvement in the patrolling our streets by police officers and that is encouraging.

I have said time and again too, that despite all that we have done, we will not make one dent in the fight against crime until and unless the Police Force rids itself of corrupt elements, until and unless a still-disappointed public has been persuaded to trust the police, until and unless the drug economy is disrupted.

I know that the vast majority of our police officers are trying very hard. They want us to trust them and believe in them. They need our confidence and support.

But let me make one thing clear. We cannot ever eliminate crime altogether. Crime can only be reduced and controlled. That is why, in this New Year we will continue what has begun, but we will also take new steps.

In this context, I repeat again for public information that we will introduce legislation in parliament early this year, jointly with other OECS countries, to empower judges of the Supreme Court to grant authority to the Director of Public Prosecutions to intercept communications of drug dealers, whether by telephone or otherwise.

I also want to see this year a greater use of the Proceeds of Crime Act. There are people whose level of wealth is not supported by any legitimate or visible employment and it is hoped that the Tax Department and the Police will send a strong message in 2005 that such persons will not be given the opportunity to use their ill-gotten wealth.

Abuse of court procedures and endless delays are also among the things I hope will be tackled this year. It is necessary to enact legislation to ensure that trials take place as speedily as possible, without the legal maneuvering that now allows for simple matters to remain for years within the court system.


The final issue that I wish to address concerns the provision and supply of water.

Unquestionably, there is an overriding need to resolve the issue of supplying safe and reliable water to many of our communities. Some communities have suffered unduly.

Take, for example, the community of Dennery North. This community experiences a deficiency in supply due to low yields that are exacerbated during the dry season. During the rainy season there is high turbidity as a result of inadequate treatment facilities. In order to fully resolve the problems in Dennery North, it would be necessary to provide a new source of supply to feed the transmission lines. The Tournesse River has been identified as an alternative source.

It is estimated that the development of the Tournesse source will cost approximately EC$12.5 million. Government is actively engaged in resolving the issue of funding to develop this source. Understandably, the residents cannot wait until the Tournesse source is developed. In the interim, the Government understands that it must provide some measure of relief to the residents. Government will, therefore, seek to maximize the production capacities of the existing sources and improve the water quality in the distribution system. This will be done this year at a cost of EC$3 million.

Dennery North apart, we must resolve the issue of supply to the Castries Basin and Gros Islet. The first phase of the new pipeline should be operational in the next few weeks. But this will not be enough. The Government is now completing a major financing proposal with the World Bank which hopefully will address these problems to allow a sufficient supply of water to our citizens, meet the needs of the new investments in the north and satisfy the requirements of World Cup 2007. Water, therefore, has to be a major priority this year.


As the year unfolds, one date will assume great significance for us. It is February 14. And the significance does not lie in association of February 14, with Valentine’s Day, the feast of lovers. As of this year, the date, February 14, should be etched in the psyche and imagination of all Saint Lucians. On that date, World Heritage status will be bestowed on our beloved national landmark, the Pitons. From then on, what has long been a national treasure, will now become the common heritage of all humankind. For this purpose the Director General of UNESCO will travel to Saint Lucia to bestow this special honour. I cannot think of any better way to infuse a sense of pride, joy, achievement, nationalism and patriotism into all Saint Lucia, a week ahead of the observance of our Twenty-Six Anniversary of Independence.
Fellow Saint Lucians, from the look of things 2005 will, unquestionably, be an eventful year. I pray for peace, prosperity and goodwill as we meet the challenges head on.

I thank you and wish you, as always, God’s blessings.



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