We can only boost Industry by Opening the Lines of Communication

The clock ticks away and time races on bringing about changes that are impacting on our daily survival.

The need for good governance and the involvement of civil society cannot be over emphasized. It has everything to do with out collective readiness. The role of the media is seriously challenged to ensure that civil society understands what is going on at the Local, Regional and Global level. The all important aspect of trade. The ongoing negotiations, and what can be expected to accrue to us.

This is the age of market access and competitiveness, trans and multinational corporations, maximising exposure and gaining economies of scale. While these developments have been moving ahead elsewhere, we in the small states are still to begin talking with each other, sharing ideas, polling our resources, utilizing the power of the stock market and other means of raising finance. We are stuck in the system of borrowing at high interest rates which in many instances cannot respond to the demand such borrowing make on certain types of business such as the hotel industry and large scale manufacturing.

By the time the FTAA is established by 2005, the WTO will almost be there. This means an initial Trading onslaught from Latin and South America, the USA and Canada on the Caribbean to be followed by the rest of the world.

The current crop of leaders at all levels has to be aware of the fact that they cannot do it alone. All available resources have to be mobilised. The idea of locking themselves away from the rest of the people within the community is no longer acceptable. There must be an open door policy that will encourage contribution of fresh ideas, breaking technology information, etc. I have always promoted the idea of Town Hall discussions where the people will come together and share with leaders of Industry and government.

Leaders must avail themselves to the people and report on developments within their sphere of activity.
A worrying situation is how attempts to contact some professionals within the private and public sectors, entrepreneurs included, they too can be difficult if not impossible to reach.

Time is money. Many times after several phone calls, explanations to their secretaries, you end up without making any contact. In many cases the window of opportunity is lost. There are many instances where the person at the top is the only one that the caller feels comfortable to deal with. Unfortunately whether imagined or real it is a human tendency to seek audience with persons at the top and maybe justifiably so decisions are for decision makers to make. In the consultancy business, clients want to meet the movers and shakers.

We must understand that St. Lucia is not the only destination and when investors visit our shores we should give them a red carpet welcome without discrimination. Our leaders must have an open door policy and treat every caller with the respect he or she deserves. It seems to me that where there is significant pressure on the management of an organisation an effective P.R. Manager should be appointed.

People who are placed in positions to deal with the public especially when it comes to attracting business for the nation, cannot afford to discriminate. You never know when the person whom you pay no attention to, because of their consistency will bring home the prize. Our local Consultants must be looked upon as linkages with the investment world. Until now we have seen no initiative being taken to mobilize this group of professionals and practitioners to ensure that they are encouraged to contribute to the process of introducing investors to our country. There is a move afoot by SEDU in collaboration with the National Coordinating Committee to bring together local consultants to form an Association of Consultants on December 19, 2002. I advise consultants to contact SEDU to ensure their participation. In the meantime, I feel that the NDC should place on their website information on consultants in the many fields of specialisation so that potential investors can get the feeling that St. Lucia is geared to provide support services to them.

To effectively bring on board persons in our country with the ability to promote investments the lines of communication have to be opened to all such persons. Consultants have a special case as they rely on bringing investors and facilitators together to earn a livelihood. We must do unto others as we would desire of them to do to us. Empathy seems to be a word that no longer exists. It is necessary to view each attempt to communicate as an opportunity to do business. Investors need answers and they need them in a hurry. I am very concerned about the potential for lost opportunities if something is not done to improve communication. Too much time is wasted and needless telephone calls which increase cost.

There are simple things that must be done if we are to get up to speed with positioning ourselves to take advantage of the limited opportunities that could come our way.

Let us seek to mobilize persons of like minds. Let us use technology and encourage others to get on board and share experiences. In the absence of money, co-operation is vital. The burden is lighter when the load is shared.

A lot of us may not realise that authority is a lethal weapon. With authority, there is responsibility and an important one is to "SERVE." How healing it is when someone is desperate, maybe get an opportunity to make a financial contribution to his existence and the person who holds the key refuses to respond. Think about it. It is like visiting the doctor and by just speaking with him you are well. That is the power of communication.

As we move forward in a process that we all have a stake, let us begin to give an effect to our status as stake holders by involvement - leaving no one behind, respecting each other as we proceed.

God is in control - let us do the best we can to bring joy to our fellowmen and glory to Him.
Keep the faith! He is in charge!! Edward Harris - Free lance Journalist