The Cabinet of Ministers Meets With St. Lucia Manufacturers Association Face to Face!!!

The government of St. Lucia continues to demonstrate its commitment to forging a working relationship with the Productive Sectors of the economy with its most recent consultation with the St. Lucia Manufacturers Association held at the Cara Suites Hotel on Tuesday, 21st January 2003.

The pillars of our economy are very volatile and the only way we can sensibly approach the future is by giving each sector all the necessary support to ensure that no one is left behind. The present situation is one of uncertainty, never knowing what tomorrow may bring. There is no good news these days, so at all times we must be prepared to respond. Our productive pillars are Agriculture, Tourism, Manufacturing and Services.

Every area of activity is expected to perform at its best and in this regard the government has seen it fit to pay attention to the state of affairs in every sector. Manufacturing is currently faced with the problem of open competition without any hope of assistance of restrictions on imports. The days of governments intervention to protect manufacturers will soon be over. Generally speaking, it is over.

It is no longer business as usual. It is very definite that many of our current manufacturers will cease to exist when the flood gates are opened.

Government must spare no effort in ensuring that those plants that can survive the onslaught of competition be given every opportunity to upgrade and expand to meet the challenges of trade liberalization. Globalization must take on new meaning for our manufacturers. In seeking out market opportunities globally, it seems to suggest that some new industries must be found. The area of Services which hitherto was not given much recognition must be pursued as many now engaged in manufacture may have to redirect their energies in the area of Services.

At the risk of repeating myself, I must reiterate that there is urgent need for an audit of manufacturing firms to inform us about what we are producing and how efficiently. The big question is, how many firms can survive and what steps are needed to take them to the next level of reaching for the Global market. This exercise should be undertaken throughout the OECS. There is too much duplication of efforts. We need to rationalise the industries of the OECS. Article 56 was an agreement before its time. It should be interesting to revisit the experiences of Article 56.

My gut feeling is that it is not too late to seek towards strengthening some industries by mergers across borders, allowing a centralized manufacturing operation with the distribution being undertaken by previous manufacturers. Pasta products is one examples. I gave an address to the attendees at a manufacturing week luncheon in St. Kitts and I drew their attention to the possibility of the main Pasta Plant in St. Lucia serving the Windward Islands and the other in St. Kitts serving the Leewards. Could you imagine the impact of that one decision? The several little plants who can hardly meet their payroll could become distributors of their own brand manufactured by the regiona-lised plants and for the first time make a real profit. This story is the same for many other products. As a result there will be the possibility of greater demand for interisland shipping.

We must unleash our creative capacity. I agree with the arguments put forward with the Bureau of Standards. One particular benefit is the protection of our market from the import of inferior goods. In the meantime, our manufacturers must equip themselves to produce goods of acceptable standards. It is not an easy road for our manufacturers. New areas must be identified with the minimum delay. While we are trying to get ready to move to the starting line, many international companies are already at the starting line.

I alluded earlier to the fact that Services are still evolving. Again, we must hasten to get on board - there should be a group of people going out there and identifying new areas for our Entrepreneurs to embark upon. There is a lot to be done to give our productive sectors a head start. We need a commitment in the areas of Research and Development and Project Identification.

In conclusion, I witnessed an occasion on Tuesday 21, January 2003 that brought great joy to my heart as someone who always felt that the manufacturers should represent their own interest and today they are standing tall and have achieved a level of recognition for their struggle from the government. They must now seek innovative ways to respond to the challenges of WTO, FTAA and whatever else.

Keep the faith. God is in charge!


Rotary Club of St. Lucia - South Celebrates 27 Years of Service

It was an evening to remember when Rotarians from the three clubs in St. Lucia, namely Rotary Club of St. Lucia, Rotary Club of Gros Islet and Rotary Club of St. Lucia - South gathered together at the Juliette's Lodge in Vieux Fort to celebrate the 27th anniversary Charter Dinner of the Rotary Club of St. Lucia - South on Saturday 25th January, 2003.

In keeping with the motto of Rotary International and to which all clubs members subscribe - "service above self," the gathering was brought up to date with the activities of the club by President Ferguson John. He stressed the point that inspite of the size of the club, the members were united in their efforts to bring relief to the poor and needy in the community.

Past President Mike Thorn, Assistant District Governor represented the District Governor and stressed the need for all clubs and the nation to support the flag sale which is intended to complement international fund raising efforts of Rotary International to finance the Polio Plus Programme which is slated to eradicate Polio from off the face of the earth by the year 2005.

The Guest Speaker was Mr. Noorani Azeez, General Manager National Skills Development Centre. He stressed the need for collaboration between his organization and the membership of Rotary Clubs in St. Lucia. He remarked that already his organization is in direct contact with a few members.

The Master of Ceremonies for the evening's proceeding was Past President Cassius Elias, PHF, who did a wonderful job of involving the attendees in the proceedings. The four hours programme included a raffle and jokes by Rotarian Peter Bernard.

The attendees were treated to Southern hospitality and the management and staff of Juliette's Lodge provided an ambiance and menu to the satisfaction of all.

The Directors and members of the Rotary Club of St. Lucia - South extend and invitation to business and professional persons in the community to get involved in the work of Rotary. The club meets on Wednesdays at 12:30 pm at Juliette's Lodge, Beanefield, Vieux Fort.


Guyana - St. Lucia Association plans to be more visible in 2003

President Gene Neptune, her Executive and Coopted Members are bent on ensuring that their Association takes its rightful place in the St. Lucian community. The executive members meet regularly at the Green Parrot Hotel on the Morne. It was a well attended meeting held on Tuesday 28/1/03. Plans were put in place to expand membership and forge alliance with similar Associations. The main agenda item of the meeting was the finalizing of arrangements for the hosting of the 33rd Anniversary of the Republic of Guyana scheduled to be held at the Castries Comprehensive School on Sunday, February 23, 2003, commencing at 5:00 pm.

The ceremony's highlight will be the recognition of prominent Guyanese who will receive awards for outstanding contributions in many areas of the society.

In the meantime, the Executive Committee members will hold another meeting at the usual venue on Tuesday 11th, February, 2003 at 6:00 pm and a General Membership meeting will be held at the Castries Comprehensive School on Saturday 15, February, 2003 at 5:00 pm sharp.

The current Executive Committee members are: Ms. Gene Neptune-President, Mr. Kayum Fozil - Vice President, Mr. Motielall Singh - Secretary, Mrs. Alyson Chester - Treasurer, Mr. David Christopher - P.R.O., Committee members Messrs: Shafeek Abdool, Shamsundar Jarbandon, immediate past president - Mr. Bishnu Tulsie, Ex-officio member - Mr. Lokesh Singh, Honourary Counsel of the Republic of Guyana to Saint Lucia. Information about the association could be requested from Mrs. Alyson Chester - Treasurer, telephone 451 8392.

February 1, 2003