By Karleen Greenidge
Today, my goal is to stimulate some awareness in our country as to the fact that we already have many of the resources we need to create wealth and prosperity for our families.
Those are the God-given attributes of inheritances from the sweat of our forefathers, grandparents and parents to which we need to add our foresight, vision, knowledge, guidance, counsel, patient diligence and divine wisdom.
Our citizens must wake up, smell the coffee and be determined that although we go overseas to increase education, income sources and attain an understanding of the wider world, that numerous opportunities abound for us right in our own backyard.
Here, we do not necessarily have to put up with prejudices of race, colour, class, language, religion — all we need is the determination to work together to bring about the changes.
All politics and religion aside, at the end of the day, we are all related in some way and are confronted with the same issues.
By and large, our family lives are driven by the same expectations of food, clothing, shelter, security and income.
As all over the world, much of our lands are family-owned. It is for us to believe and understand that even though we inherit, land especially was not meant to lie dormant, but from the time of creation, it was to provide that same food, clothing, shelter and security.
My brothers and sisters, it is time that we are able to use it for that purpose. Too much of our land is tied up in unnecessary family squabbles, through jealousy, pride, selfishness, hatred, cruelty and self-destructive sentiments.
Often, relatives return home from overseas, expecting to make a change, but are greeted with the same old backward thinking of those who are not prepared to see things differently. What a shame! Sometimes they are forced to return overseas.
If we are supposed to be a Christian and God-fearing society, unless we wake up and do something while we are alive and able, our children and grandchildren will be grossly affected.
Many of our family land-owners are plagued for years by lack of funds to conduct the processes necessary to develop lands.
1. We have a number of lawyers and practicioners who are now versed in mediation. Let us begin to consult them regarding our undivided or abandoned family property.
2. Our country has a number of surveyors who can work with us to guide and assist in charting the course of action.
3. We have the Lands and Survey Dept., Land Registry, Development Control Authority, engineers, Ministries of Infrastructure, Housing, Lands, etc. utility companies, architects, contractors and real estate consultants.
4. Everyone would acknowledge that the main hindrance in development is finance. This is the deciding factor where our Ministry of Finance must play a meaningful role in creating the enabling environment to catapult this process. Just in case our present banking system is already too heavily burdened, let us look outside the box.
5. Quite apart from attracting tourism development and other incentive projects, I believe that the time has come for us to have a dedicated investment bank of the sort that would finance the sub-division of privately-owned land right through the development processes, thereby making plots of various sizes, for various uses, available to
St. Lucians. They would undoubtedly have their hands full.
6. The economic effect would be felt in balancing our land prices, construction costs, house rentals, providing a maximization of land use, and resulting in property tax revenues, small business job creation and stability, steady economic growth throughout a wider cross-section of our communities and population.
All we need is for brethren to decide to dwell together in unity, cut away all of the divided family and competing relatives crap, political divisions, corruption, and just do what is necessary for our people and the common good of our country, through authorities and institutions working together with citizens.
The world is full of well-intentioned, reputable, investors who simply need the right business proposal and environment.
We need the right structural framework that could eventually be emulated by some of our Caribbean islands while we remain always the beautiful Helen of the West!
This is not an impossible dream as long as we are determined to honestly work towards breaking down the barriers that continue to stand in the way of doing business in St. Lucia.
I say, it can happen now. What say you?
(Call Karleen Greenidge at 758 460 4568. Real Estate Consultant, International Property Manager, Former Banker, President of National Association of Realtors, Member of Development Control Authority, National Commercial Bank Board, International Real Estate Institute.)