Better Days are Coming!



Media Statement – November 16, 2011 

The following is the text of the Statement by Hon. Philip J. Pierre, Deputy Political leader of the Saint Lucia Labour Party, on the presentation of the SLP’s Policy Statement on Stimulating Business and Investment: 


The SLP government, between 1997 and 2006, had the enviable record of attracting several new, major investments into Saint Lucia. Saint Lucia’s very high business ranking of 27th in the world by the World Bank for Ease of Doing Business was the result of strategic measures put in place by the SLP to provide a favourable environment for investment in the country. Contrast this with the last five years under the UWP. There have been no new investments into our country during this period and the investors who were primed to do business in our country in 2006 have all now abandoned their plans and left.

The Saint Lucia Labour Party has an excellent track record for attracting investment and facilitating business and we will do this once again when we are re-elected into office. Our goal is to restore confidence among investors and local business people that Saint Lucia is the best place to do business.

 Promoting Investment 

An SLP Government will revamp and refocus the NDC so that it concentrates solely on investment promotion and business facilitation. NDC will become a national investment promotion corporation, and no longer will have responsibility for real estate in Vieux Fort, managing factory shells or running Pointe Seraphine. Instead it will focus exclusively on building our country’s image as a preferred location for investors and seeking out and generating new investments in strategic sectors with high value-added and employment-generating potential.  We will also engage our Ministry of External Affairs and our Foreign Missions directly in attracting investments from new and emerging markets. 

The SLP government will develop a new comprehensive and innovative investment strategy and review the investment incentives regime so that there is a better balance between taxes and incentives. We will also carry out a review of all the processes involved in doing business in Saint Lucia and where appropriate, undertake business process reengineering to remove all unnecessary impediments and bureaucracy. Our goal is to make Saint Lucia a hassle-free investment and business location, the best of its kind in the Caribbean. 

Stimulating Business 

During our next term of office, our Labour government will concentrate its efforts on stimulating local entrepreneurship, educating our work force so that we can become more competitive, and expanding our export sector.

 Capital will be made available to assist local SMEs to become export-ready and to take advantage of opportunities created by the EPA and the OECS Economic Union.  We will provide a tax credit to local companies that invest in research and development that is aimed at improving the competitiveness and quality of their products.  We will also provide a window of financial assistance to SMEs to help them with training, the preparation of business plans, feasibility studies and marketing. 

The SLP will work with the Chamber of Commerce and other partners to provide support and encouragement for youth entrepreneurship, particularly in areas like the Creative Industries and the ICT sector, which our Party has targeted as new growth areas. 

An Improved Tax System 

The next Labour government will continue the work we started in our last term of improving our tax system and ensuring that it acts as a stimulus for growth and development. 

When we were previously in office, the SLP government reduced the rate of Corporate Tax from 33.3% to 30%.  During our next term of office we will further reduce the rate of Corporate Tax for large businesses from 30% to 25%, and lower the rate for Small and Medium-Sized businesses from 30% to 20%.  

Our Party wants to ensure that economic growth in Saint Lucia is accompanied by new jobs. This is why we intend to introduce an “Employment Tax Credit” that will provide tax incentives to new companies that generate a minimum number of new jobs.  Any new company that employs at least 6 people, who are paid a minimum of $24,000 each per year, will receive a two-year tax holiday. New companies that employ at least 10 people who are paid over $24,000 per year will receive a three-year tax holiday. 

Additionally, SMEs with a start-up capital base of less than $500,000 will be exempt from the payment of Corporate Tax for their first 5 years of operation. 

Our Party recognizes that in these difficult times, many people and businesses have fallen behind in their tax payments and have accumulated large penalties and interest on their arrears. These people are avoiding the Inland Revenue Department and some are even opting to shut down their businesses because they just cannot pay the penalties. An SLP government will put in place a Tax Amnesty for a specified period that will involve the removal of penalties and interest on outstanding liabilities, providing the outstanding principal liability is settled within the set time.  In this challenging period, it is important for us to give our citizens every chance to keep their businesses afloat.  

Also, we will consider the introduction of legislation to remove the Stamp Duty in cases where a borrower moves to another financial institution to secure re-financing of outstanding loans for their business. 

The next SLP government will create an office of “Tax Ombudsman” to assist taxpayers who cannot afford to hire lawyers and accountants to resolve their differences and disputes with the Inland Revenue Department. 

National Credit Bureau 

The SLP recognizes the importance of enhancing liquidity and transparency in the financial services sector. This is why the next Labour government will establish a Credit Bureau to provide a platform for development in the domestic financial sector. 

The National Credit Bureau will disseminate information to facilitate increased access to credit and the expansion of lending facilities. It will also cause a reduction in the cost of lending and prevailing interest rates by helping to mitigate some of the credit risks. 

We expect the National Credit Bureau to help in reducing incidents of fraud and money laundering and eliminate the need for interbank credit checks and other bureaucratic and time-consuming measures. 

International Financial Services 

Our Party believes that the international financial services sector still has potential for creating high-end jobs, generating foreign investment and increasing government revenue. 

This is why we will strengthen our regulatory resources to ensure that applications for licenses can be processed within timeframes that meet worldwide industry standards. We will enhance the AG’s Chambers to provide resources for the passage of legislation to keep Saint Lucia on the leading edge of this industry. 

The Ministries of Finance and External Affairs will be empowered to negotiate desirable Double Tax Treaties and Tax Information Exchange Agreements, and our overseas Missions will be sensitized about the sector so that they can promote Saint Lucia as a safe and attractive jurisdiction. 

Most importantly, however, it will be the goal of the next Labour government to work closely with the private sector to re-establish Saint Lucia’s reputation for transparency, efficiency and integrity in dealing with investors. 

Better Days are Coming!





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