by Devonne Cornelius
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Fresh from a comprehensive election win on Monday, Dr. Ernest Hilaire says the Saint Lucia Labour Party government will focus on course correcting the national economy and address issues of unemployment, land ownership and support of small businesses.
In an exclusive interview with WINN FM’s Devonne Cornelius on the popular ‘Voices’ Talk Show today, Dr. Hilaire said the first order of business is to assiduously assess the country’s fiscal health.
“We need to have a very quick assessment of the state of finances in the country,” Dr. Hilaire said. “We need to find out where we are in terms of debt and revenue and how best we can stabilize the economic situation in the country especially in the context of COVID-19.”
Dr. Hilaire successfully retained the Castries South seat in a lopsided election victory on Monday where the SLP earned 13 of the 17 electoral seats contested.
Dr. Hilaire emphasized that the COVID-19 Pandemic’s negative impact on the St. Lucian society was far reaching. Lost jobs, small business closures and the general health of the nation have been tested. He believes a national resuscitation effort is required to initiate the recovery.
“We need to jump-start certain sectors,” Dr. Hilaire said. “It’s not all about the big resorts in the tourism industry but a lot of the small businesses that are really the backbone of life in our island. We already announced that we’ll be making a line of credit of $25 million for some of those businesses.”
He said his focus will be on improving and providing access to employment, skills training, affordable housing, and community infrastructure in his constituency and across the island of Saint Lucia.
While the SLP claimed 13 of the 17 seats, the incumbent United Workers Party managed to retain two seats, including former Prime Minister Allen Chastenet.
Two independents earned their seats including another former national leader, Stephenson King and Richard Frederick.