Human and Economic Assessment of Impact - Saint Lucia
Sep 19, 2020
Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Saint Lucian economy was projected to continue along its growth path that has been ongoing since 2016. The economy was forecasted to grow at around 3.2% in 2020, building on the 4 previous years of growth. This growth was to be driven by the largest economic sector, services, more specifically the tourism industry, which is broadly responsible for 65% of output. The tourism sector accounted for 50.8% of total employment in 2018.
To mitigate the possible impacts of the pandemic, Saint Lucia used a three phased approach: health, social stabilisation and economic recovery, detailed in the body of the report. It's social and economic relief programme was launched on April 29th and included temporary income support of between $500 and $1,500 per month through the National Insurance Corporation (NIC) for contributors and non-NIC contributors for an initial period of three months and set to expire in July; a moratorium on bank mortgage repayments (principal and interest) for both individuals and entities for a period of six months through September; suspension of all rent payments for six months for those occupying government-owned commercial units; provision of direct support to local indigenous farmers to sustain their livelihoods, among others.
As the potential for a global second wave increases and the return of tourism is likely to be protracted, this report makes a series of additional recommendations to support the island’s social and economic recovery, including the expansion of the agricultural extension services to provide agricultural inputs to encourage self-production; the implementation and targeted delivery of a “family food basket” to provide support to the most vulnerable families; the expansion of the Disability Benefit to include adults and victims of sexual abuse and gender-based violence; a strategy to designate firms processing remittances as essential services; and the expansion of home-schooling programmes to help address the gap in learning opportunities as academic recovery is an important imperative.