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International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This 2018 Article IV Consultation highlights that the GDP growth in St. Lucia reached 3 percent in 2017, sustained by robust activity in several sectors. Favorable external conditions, coupled with hotel expansions and the addition of new flights, generated a strong recovery in tourism, with stay-over arrivals rising by 11 percent, the fastest growth in the Caribbean. Backed by strong tourism inflows, the current account balance strengthened. Unemployment declined from 21.3 percent in 2016 to 20.2 percent in 2017, but youth unemployment remains high at 38.5 percent and labor force participation has fallen. The short-term outlook is favorable, but prospects beyond that are sobering. GDP growth is expected to remain buoyant in the near term.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This 2019 Article IV Consultation explains that St. Lucia’s near-term growth prospects are favorable, supported by large infrastructure investment and robust tourist inflows. However, longer-term growth continues to be impeded by high public debt, lingering vulnerabilities in the financial system, and structural impediments to private investment. Diminishing policy buffers further weaken the country’s resilience to external shocks against the backdrop of aprecarious global outlook. Completion of long pending legislative initiatives, alongside stronger regional and domestic financial oversight, should provide banks with incentives to strengthen their balance sheets and increase the efficiency of financial intermediation. There is also a need to draw on supervisory and regulatory tools to respond to emerging risks from rising overseas investments of the banks and the rapid expansion of lending by credit unions. The authorities are recommended to should step up efforts to address the institutional, financing and capacity gaps in its climate and disaster response strategy. Supply-side reforms are needed to unlock potential growth by improving the business environment, reducing energy costs, enhancing labor productivity, and further diversifying the economy.