Q: What is your vision for the economic development of Saint Lucia and what are your most immediate priorities economically?

A: Saint Lucia is just emerging from a very debilitating economic contraction, [but] when you have a crisis it also provides you with opportunities. So we have decided to rethink our economic strategy, particularly into the medium term. It means, therefore, that we have had to engage in adapting certain kinds of fiscal measures to contain expenditure, but, at the same time, to emerge leaner, stronger and more focused.

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I think we have accomplished those objectives and our economy is now stronger and better poised for the future.

As part of the overall stocktaking we have [carried out], we have understood that the environment for investment has changed, and changed in a way no one expected, and [we have done this] very quickly. So we have decided to join other Caribbean countries and introduce a ‘Citizenship by Investment’ programme, but in a more focused and more measured way. We’re not just in the business of issuing passports merely to earn revenue. We want people who become our new citizens to have a very real connection with our country.

Of course, we are pitching at a higher end of the market deliberately, because we are also keen to send out the message that we’re not interested in joining the pack as a whole.

Q: There’s been an economic downturn in Latin America and the Caribbean recently. How has Saint Lucia been affected and how can you counteract it?

A: The first thing is that we are on our way to recovery after an economic contraction for the past couple of years and perhaps a downturn in our growth rates. In fact, we experienced a negative growth rate for at least two to three years. We have now bounced back.

Obviously, consistent with our own efforts to reprioritise our key economic initiatives, we have searched for new areas of investment to facilitate those initiatives that I spoke of earlier.

We are now making incentives available to prospective investors that we have never made available before, so that, quite apart from creating an enabling environment, there are new initiatives on the way.

Saint Lucia also continues to develop very strong ties with the Caribbean and with Latin America. This process is under way and we want to accelerate those ties because we think that there are huge opportunities for tourism, particularly from South America.

So there is huge potential, but the key factor is going to be [air travel], and I think our government agencies are now working with some of the airlines from South America to facilitate this.

So Saint Lucia will continue to work very closely both with Latin America and of course our Caribbean community, because the economic challenges we have had over the past years have required extremely close co-operation between Caribbean countries, and Saint Lucia has been no exception in that regard. There are some things that we can do together collectively as a region – for example, the promotion of tourism – but there are other things that we can do to tap into the experiences of other countries individually that we need to do.

I’m confident about the future and I have no doubt that Saint Lucia will find its place in the Caribbean and in the wider world.