Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre committed his administration to using all available resources to combat gun violence in a New Year’s address to the nation.
He recalled that in 2023, Saint Lucia witnessed an alarming increase in gun-related homicides, particularly among some young males fueled by an imported gang culture.
Last year, the Island recorded 75 homicides, seventy of which the police classified as murders.
“We are committed to attacking that problem with all available resources and call on the support of the public and all social and Non-Government Organizations,” Pierre, responsible for National Security, declared.
“We will continue to empower the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force with the technical, physical, and human resources they need to detect and solve criminal activity,” Pierre said.
He also spoke of improving the timely dispensation of Justice with the commencement of the construction of the new Halls of Justice during this fiscal year.
Pierre said the facility would provide a suitable working environment for Judicial Officers.
However, he explained that society plays a role in the battle against crime.
“The society as a whole must encourage values that will steer our youth from the false hope and gains of a life of crime to productive pursuits that will redound to the benefit of everyone,” the Prime Minister observed.
He pledged the Government’s support and availability for constructive dialogue on improving citizen security.
Regarding the economy, Pierre asserted that the Government’s economic and social policies have positioned the economy on a solid path to sustained economic growth.
He said notwithstanding the impact and pressures of global inflation, 2023 had been a good year for Saint Lucia.
Pierre disclosed that the economy had stabilised post-pandemic and, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is projected to record economic growth in 2023.
“We are very optimistic about the continued growth prospects for 2024.However, we must proceed with caution as there are some downside risks,” the PM noted.
In addition, Pierre called on his compatriots to muster the courage to put aside petty differences, recognise what binds them together, show consideration for each other, and compassion for the less fortunate.
“Let us resolve in 2024 to reach out to each other with a greater sense of charity, love, understanding, and friendship,” he advised.
“We must recognise that working together as one nation, one people, with a common purpose is the only viable pathway for our country to attain inclusive, meaningful, and sustainable development. We must resist the destructive forces of division and embrace the uplifting spirit of unity as we work together to build a more equitable and inclusive society,” the Prime Minister stated.