Welcoming the Holidays
By Edward Harris


   It is beginning to look and feel like the Holidays are here already in the Caribbean, early sunsets, rainy conditions and all that makes you feel like being home for the holidays. Those of us living away from our native land who want to be home for Christmas must have arrived at that decision and took action to purchase our airline tickets a long time ago, as all airline seats  en route to the Caribbean onward of December 15, are overbooked. I take this opportunity to share with you a few words of caution. Be early for your flight check in as I suspect many passengers will be left behind as the traffic is extra heavy this year. I will be home for Christmas and New Year holidays and am looking forward to catching up with old friends, especially the BV posse.

   I understand that the place to be at this time of year is Georgetown, just arrive, of course with lots of US Currency and there is everything you need to purchase at internationally competitive prices, better than New York. Don’t be surprised by the foregoing statement, our Caribbean businesspersons are going to the source and buying direct from Mainland China. Gone are the days of lots of heavy suitcases, packed with goodies bound for Guyana. The trend is now reversed, your bags will now be solid packed on your return.


   As usual my eyes are always on the prize and that is the private sector – the engine of growth. Lots of interesting things are happening throughout the region as we get ahead at our own timetable, working on our own agenda – the CSME.

   The 100 million TT dollars Caricom Trade Support Programme targeting the manufacturing sector of the region comes at a time when competitiveness is the buzzword. It is not grant funding, it is interest free loan funding and Trinidad based companies are excluded. This fund will only attract serious participants as they will only borrow the funds when they are dead serious about their companies’ chances for competing in the market place.


   The Private Sector in St. Lucia is alive and well. The St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture celebrated its 120th Anniversary with its AGM on Wednesday, November 24 and the President’s Dinner and Awards Ceremony - 2004 on Friday, November 26, 2004. I had the pleasure of participating in the programme of activities and am pleased to report that it was a resounding success. The President’s Dinner and Awards Ceremony was held at the Royal St. Lucian, Reduit and was attended by more than 250 guests. Mrs. Thecla Deterville heads the Chamber for a second terms and a well-rounded core of reputable male and female businesspersons assists her. The year 2005 is very likely to see the Chamber occupying new premises and the possibility on breaking ground for a building of their own.

   The Chamber scored some big successes during the past year including the successful collaborative effort with the St. Lucia Manufacturers’ Association when a Trade and Services Exhibition to mark the 25th Anniversary of St. Lucia’s Independence was hosted in the Vieux Fort area and attracted capacity crowds. Jazz on the Square was a great success and a Dale Carnegie Course was hosted. The Trade Mission to St. Marten and Tortola was a success.

   Dr. Edwin Carrington, Secretary General of Caricom was the Guest Speaker at the Annual General Meeting on 24/11/04 and shared many thoughts on the progress being made with the Caricom Single Market and Economy. It is important to note that there are two elements of the CSME. There is 1. the Single Market and 2 the Single Economy. Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and Jamaica are well advanced in the process of the Single Market and other States are moving ahead for December 31, 2005 implementation. St. Lucia’s Prime Minister, Hon. Dr. Kenny Anthony will be the Chairman of Caricom Heads of Government when this important event will take place. In the meantime, the list of skilled persons to be allowed freedom of movement of skills was expanded at the last Heads of Government conference held a few weeks ago. On the issue of the Single Economy, this is a complex issue and is likely to be implemented in 2008. The currency issue is a pressing one and the experience of the smaller States within the OECS should be an inspiration to the larger States.


The Commercial Houses are gearing up for strong sales this season and everything seems set to produce such results, here in St. Lucia and many other States in the region. Friendship and Goodwill at Christmas are best expressed with the exchange of gifts, dining, entertaining and simply having fun. All these activities have their source in commerce.


In the region, this Festive Season will be special as in spite of the disastrous hurricane which ravaged Grenada, Bahamas and Jamaica,  and the earthquake which terrorized Dominica, there are many things to be thankful for. Those who have survived must be thankful for life and life calls us to celebrate. The Bible says “In all things, give thanks!”


No home should be without a BIBLE, a CONCORDANCE OF THE BIBLE and a COMPUTER. As the years go by some needs become greater. We need inner strength by reading the Bible on a daily basis. We need to study and understand the Bible. A concordance will help to study subject areas and a computer will open up the world of information to you and keep you in tough with business associates, family and friends. These three items are indispensable for dynamic living in today’s world. I hope this information comes at a time when you are still in the planning stages of your gift list. In most cases the entire family can share in the suggested gifts.

Keep the Faith, God is in Charge!!!

Edward A. Harris
Freelance Journalist: Business & P. R. Consultant: Realtor:
President of the Guyana – St. Lucia Association