APRIL 2, 2009



This past week has been very hectic for Officials in the public and private sector. There is no slowing down in terms of activities to ensure that Saint Lucia survives the economic turbulence that is affecting every nation at this time. I always feel that there are many advantages in being small. Small is manageable. It is against this background that I am confident that with prudent management of our affairs, we will be able to ride the storm. I see a lot of advantages in being small if we apply ourselves. In pass weeks, I have been stressing the need for creativity in every aspect of our lives. It cannot be business as usual. We have to think out of the box. We have been using these phrases for a long time. Now it is time for action.

While the world is advancing in the use of technology, especially in the use of the Internet for education, business, leisure and a multitude of other purposes, Saint Lucia lags behind. We are yet to make effective use of technology. The need for a Ministry or Agency to drive the process of Innovation and Technology cannot be over emphasised. We must engage the minds of the brightest and the best in the establishment of a platform that will take into consideration the new age realities of doing business. We cannot continue to use the same old tools when cutting edge technology is available.

I applaud the efforts of Officials of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Economic Planning & National Development and the National Consultative Council who collaborated in organising a “Consultation on Saint Lucia’s economy in the light of global economic challenges” which was held on March 31 and April 1, 2009 for making a serious attempt to open up the dialogue to the various stakeholders. The views and recommendations of leaders of Trade Unions, Private Sector, Civil Society and Government were freely expressed. It is expected that several recommendations coming out of the meeting will be reflected in the final budget presentation. The meeting was taken very seriously and it was interesting to note that the Prime Minister was present at the meeting for most of the first day. A number of Ministers participated during the course of the two day consultation.

This is a very challenging time in our history and it necessitates input from everyone who has a contribution to make; the issues relating to the economy encompasses every aspect of our existence. There should be no battle against the recruitment of willing persons to share their expertise and take on the challenges head on. Poverty is one of our greatest challenges, if not the greatest. The group comprising the POOR must not be allowed to expand as in its expansion there will be social instability and crime will definitely increase. Crime must be rooted out at all cost. This threatens the livelihood of every member of our society. Our fragile tourism industry is under threat. Fighting Crime should be everybody’s business. Everyone has the ability to commit crime, but it is the awareness of the consequences of Crime that prevents many of us from committing ourselves. It is against this background that the Brainstorming Mastermind Group and the Realtors’ Association (Saint Lucia) Ltd. will be hosting a Free Public Lecture on Tuesday, 7th April, 2009 at the Bay Gardens Inn at 6.00 pm. Mr. Jerome Mayne will deliver the lecture.

It is a tall order to stabilise the economy to prevent closure of businesses while at the same creating new jobs. It is for this reason that it is necessary for us to encourage new employment generating ideas. What will we do differently in 2009 to create new jobs? I will be pleased to receive ideas from my readers and share them in a subsequent article. I have expressed a number of ideas in my weekly articles in recent months. Since poverty has the potentials to explode, creating jobs should be our number one priority. I agree that a call to get back to the land and create a new breed of farmers will generate employment but I am equally convinced that Internet related opportunities can cause many to experience a change in their financial affairs. A simple experiment could be for the government to waive all customs levies on Nutritional Supplements for approved Network Marketing Companies. This simple concession could make the products affordable and generate a few hundred jobs.

What has happened to VOLUNTEERISM? The various government departments must open up their programmes to outsiders who are willing to help. There are thousands of persons waiting for an opportunity to help in areas of their expertise. Where are retirees? Where are the young professionals? There is need for a Crusade that will engage and motivate citizens. Let us start an “Everybody Loves Saint Lucia Campaign”. Bring together volunteers to solve the pressing problems that confront our nation. Government officials must not limit their activities to available funds under the various allocations, the time has come for all to be involved and maybe there are corporate citizens who are just awaiting an opportunity to step up to the table and make their contribution to improving the lot of the poor among us. How about including a Donation Programme in the budget and give companies special incentives for contributing to the fund that will seek to develop the Poor. (For every Dollar contributed to the fund, the contributor gets a tax credit of a further 25 to 50%)

The importance of attracting tourists and investors to our shores cannot be over emphasised and has to be a top priority. Free is not a word that is welcomed by some people but the government can launch the greatest campaign to woo tourists and investors to our island for Free. SLISBA presented a proposal outlining how Tourism & Investment Representatives around the world can promote St. Lucia 24 hours a day for free. Why has this not been tried? It is said that timing is everything and given the financial dislocation being experienced at the moment FREE may be looked at differently.

Keep the Faith, remember always God is in Charge, No earthly condition last forever!

Edward A. Harris
Freelance Journalist
Real Estate CyberSpace Specialist (RECS)

Comments are closed.