Budget Statement 2012 : Building Opportunities for our Common Future

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured today, to address this esteemed House of Assembly, and by extension the people of Saint Lucia, within our shores and throughout the Diaspora, wherever their enterprise has taken them. This statement on our island's finances and our socio‐economic agenda is being given at exciting though challenging times the world over. The Government, which I have the privilege to lead, has had to wade through turbid, if not murky, waters since its formation in December last. We have come to bring better days to Saint Lucia, to find that path towards success, sustainability and social stability. We have, come not only to craft and change policies, but crucially to implement the common will of the people. We have come to build a state that is strong, stable and sustainable. Mr. Speaker, to achieve this, we must be methodical, we must manage differently, we must be visionary, we must be willing to cast aside non‐enriching traditions, divisive and regressive attitudes and improper practices. We must imbue ourselves, each one of us in our own way, with a zeal, a drive and a love of country. Our ambition, our collective will and desire, must be to be "simply the best" in everything we do. For Mr. Speaker, the continued appeal in today's world means that as a small, open economy and society, we must be ever mindful of how easy it is for us to become irrelevant. We must define our relevance in this world. We must compete more than we ever have, create more than we ever have; and yet cooperate more earnestly than we ever have. This 2012/2013 statement on Government's socio‐economic policies and budgetary proposals will focus on how we can redefine and reconstruct our economic space to promote much needed growth, how we can engender confidence in our society, to be more productive, effective and participatory, while maintaining social peace.

1.1 The Courage to Believe, to Act

Unquestionably, Government needs to build back confidence in the state, and the ability of the state to act responsibly. Government must be able to pay its sovereign debts, protect the rule of law, ensure that revenues collected in the name of the people are spent as best as they can be spent, and promote investor confidence. These elements of good governance and confidence in a fair and caring state gives pride to its people, gives surety to the investor, gives freedom of mind and energy to the youth, gives a level of trust to all actors, residents and non‐residents. This is a social contract that we have signed and must deliver. In these arid days, Mr. Speaker, better days invariably requires that we find better ways. That path through the desert means that we must identify what oases we can maximize as we move towards unleashing the untempered waters of sustainable growth. It means that we must provide measures in short term to tackle unemployment, reign in on our fiscal management, and review meticulously, existing modes of doing business. In the medium term, investment promotion and facilitation must take centre stage as we must induce foreign direct investment flows. Also, we must reskill, retool and refocus our human resources as we seek to promote growth, and create new jobs in existing and new sectors.

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