Officials from the Office of the National Authorising Officer for the European Development Fund (EDF) are pleased with the response of the general public to the Special Assistance Programmes that are currently being introduced.

The Laborie Credit Union, a member of the St. Lucia Credit Union League approved three applications from small business persons under the Rural Credit Facility. The signing ceremony took place during one of the Sensitisation Meetings which was held at the Greenfields Inn, La Caye, Dennery on Friday, 21/03/03. Honourable Damian Greaves, Parliamentary Representative, Dennery South was on hand to witness the ceremony. The beneficiaries are females who will be establishing the following businesses:- 1) A Pre School, 2) Further develop a Farm, and 3) A School Supplies Outlet.

Already through the excellent cooperation of the media, information about the programmes is well disseminated. Sensitisation Meetings have so far been held in Laborie, Odsan, La Caye and Gros Islet and will be continuing over the next few weeks in the following communities:

Micoud Friday, April 4, 2003 at 10.00am
Micoud Community Centre
Vieux Fort   Friday, April 4, 2003 at 3.00pm
Vieux Fort Town Hall
Castries Wednesday, April 9, 2003 at 5.00pm
Castries City Hall, Laborie Street
La Fargue Friday, April 11, 2003 at 10.00am
La Fargue Community Centre, Choiseul
Soufriere Friday, April 11, 2003 at 3.00pm
Soufriere Town Hall

Interest in the programmes is gaining momentum and the current list of Financial Institutions, comprising member Credit Unions of the St. Lucia Credit Union League, National Research & Development Foundation (NRDF), St. Lucia Mortgage Finance Co. Ltd, and Bank of St. Lucia will shortly be expanded to include other Commercial Banks on the island. Approximately Forty Million EC Dollars (EC$40,000,000.00) were successfully negotiated by the Government and have been earmarked for the three programmes being introduced at this time.

There are several Programmes being financed under the European Development Fund but for the moment these three initial Facilities are being promoted:

1) The Rural Credit Facility:
Targeted to small businesses and will allow qualified applicants to access Grant Funding of 50% of their business or farm development plan and up to a maximum of Twenty Five Thousand EC Dollars (EC$ 25,000.00) with further financing through Financial Institutions involved in the programme, namely:- Bank of St. Lucia, The Credit Union League, and the National Research & Development Foundation (NRDF). Discussions are on-going with other commercial banks.

2) The Low Income Housing Credit Facility:
To assist Low Income Earners to acquire Land and build their homes. Upon the approval of their loan by a Financial Institution and if the applicants have a yearly income below EC$ 30,000, they will be eligible for a Grant of 10% or 20% of their loan but not exceeding Twenty Thousand EC Dollars (EC$ 20,000.00). Grant will be used in priority, ie:- 1) Purchase of Land. 2) Retrofit / Legal Fees 3) Insurance Premium. This Facility could be accessed from the following Financial Institutions, namely Bank of St. Lucia, St. Lucia Mortgage Finance Co. Ltd. and the National Research and Development Foundation (NRDF) and Credit Unions. Discussions are on-going with other commercial banks.

3) The Private Sector Development Programme:
Targeted to established Medium and Large Sized Businesses, providing assistance in the following areas:
a) Diagnosis of the Enterprise, Grant Funding of 100%
b) Business Plan, Grant Funding of 75%, maximum.
c) Implementation of the Business Plan of 50%, maximum.
The Office of Private Sector Relations (OPSR) is responsible for the administration of this Programme.

Persons interested in participating in the programmes are advised to attend the meetings scheduled to be held in their communities. The Sensitisation Team will be willing to convene meetings with groups / organization upon request.

Signed: Wilfred Pierre
National Authorising Officer for
The European Development Fund
TeL: 468-2178 / 468-2180
Fax: 453-6552