Early Signs of Christmas

CHRISTMAS might well be five weeks away but the early signs of the festive season are already evident. The plethora of advertisements on various media and in businesses-places seems to suggest that the earlier, the better – for sales, that is.

Aside from the sights of the season, there are also the songs, which have already been resurrected on the airwaves. Some radio and television stations have already begun their Christmas promotions, too. The safe bet is that Saint Lucians are preparing to usher in the Christmas season albeit not one as white as the carol says.

In many cases, this is the time for many people who would have been unemployed for much of the year to make a last-ditch effort to land a job. As trying as the times are, many people just refuse to spend Christmas without a few dollars flowing through their hands.

With unemployment climbing to new heights recently, it would stand to reason that many vacancies would open up to cater to the busy festive season. A few weeks of work to tide an unemployed person over the season would be a Christmas blessing.

But beyond the Christmas season, during which government usually creates some level of employment through the National Initiative to Create Employment (NICE), there really needs to be a greater push on the part of the public and private sectors to drum up investment for the island’s workforce. After nearly four years in office and over 5,000 jobs said to have been created through NICE, unemployment still remains a hot potato for this government.

Three weeks ago, The Jamaica Gleaner reported that a US$ 300 million investment that includes a facility for the assembly of motor vehicles was being earmarked for an economic zone in Spanish Town, St. Catherine. The three-year investment programme comes via a joint venture between Gulfray Americas and China National Automotive Industry International Corporation.

Over the next two years, the Spanish Town Free Zone is expected to be built and more than 10,000 direct and indirect jobs are expected to be created, with 2,500 of them being high-level jobs.

With St. Lucia’s Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) board set to begin accepting applications as of January 1 one can only hope that the island gets that level of investment coming its way. While iron-clad oversight of the CIP continues to be a sticking point, the island does need a huge injection of foreign direct investment (FDI).

This Christmas, the three wishes many Saint Lucians might have on their minds could well be jobs, jobs, jobs.

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