Number 897 • Friday, January 6, 2012

PM Douglas Admits ‘All is not Well’ in SKN
By L.K. Hewlett
Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas
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According to Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas, “all is not well” in the Federation and the people are facing “hardship” brought on by government’s fiscal policies.

In his January1st New Year’s Address to the nation, PM Douglas admitted that despite positive strides made in different sectors, all was not well in the Federation. While he acknowledged the difficulties caused by the global economic crisis, Dr. Douglas also conceded that the slew of austerity measures imposed on the citizenry following the January 2010 general elections have caused “hardship” for the people.

“As your leader, I am not prepared to play politics or to bury my head in the sand and claim that all is well…Hence, I have no hesitation in saying that I know the global crisis has inflicted some pain on our people and indeed on people all over the face of the globe. I also know that the measures that we were forced to introduce to protect our people and reduce the risk of economic mayhem and devastation, have created some difficulties and hardships during this period of adjustment,” he said.

PM Douglas said despite the negative impact on the population’s financial and social well-being, were it not for the imposition of said austerity measures, the country would have been in an even worse position than it is at present.

“I am also persuaded that we would have been much worse off if we had not introduced he measures or if we had sat idly by and done nothing. Moreover, I am convinced that the sacrifices that we have borne as a people have not been in vain. As a result of the pre-emptive and creative policy initiatives of the Government, we can look to the future with hope and optimism.”

The PM’s 2012 Budget revealed a decline in government revenues and decreased performances in almost every sector during 2010. Un-employment, however, increased during the same period while national output declined by 2.7%.

Dr. Douglas said he expects that when statistics are prepared for 2011 they would show that the country’s growth rate would move out of negative territory and that this year the economy would grow by 1.5%.

“The signs in the key sectors of the economy are quite heartening. In Tourism, for instance, stay-over arrivals are expected to increase by 5.9% in 2011 and expand even further this year. Cruise ship arrivals which crossed the half million mark in the 2009-2010 season is expected to jump to a massive 650,000 in the 2011-2012 season.

“In addition, the manufacturing sector, which reported a decline of some 19.6% in 2009 grew by 2.2% in 2010 and is expected to have grown by some 6% in 2011. This improved performance is expected to continue into 2012. Similarly the construction sector, after declining in 2010 and 2011 is expected to grow by 3 percent in 2012,” he said.

The Prime Minister promised to assist the youth, entrepreneurs and low-income earners during 2012 with housing schemes, land sales for farmers, and construction projects.

“We also expect that a number of other growth enhancing initiatives will serve to propel the economy in 2012. We will make additional lands available to commercial farmers … We are also pleased that the SIDF will step up its activities in relation to the funding of small businesses, including young entrepreneurs, through the Development Bank and other local financial institutions. The SIDF will also introduce a new construction financing programme that would assist low income families encountering difficulties in meeting the down-payment requirements for the acquisition of new homes.”

He continued, “We are also very pleased that a number of major projects will continue to be implemented in 2012. In particular, we have been advised that construction activity will continue at Kittitian Hill and will be boosted significantly during the course of this month so that by year end some 90 rooms, a spa and golf course should be in operation as part of the first phase of the project. We are also quite heartened that a range of projects involving hotels, condominiums, villas and other tourism-related residential units are being implemented and will continue throughout this year and beyond.”

PM Douglas encouraged persons to put aside petty differences and focus on the task of economic recovery. He said he is confident that the program for economic recovery that the Labour government has enunciated will help the nation overcome every short-term difficulty or challenge and “will bring great benefit to our people over this year and well beyond”.