A plan which was elaborated on eight years ago to divide Saint Lucia into four separate economic quadrants will be revitalized to form part of a national development plan for the country.
Commerce, International Trade, Enterprise Development, Consumer Affairs and Investment Minister Bradley Felix revealed this to delegates of the First Brazilian Parliamentarian and Business Mission to Saint Lucia yesterday at a Business Forum held at the Bay Gardens Hotel.
“This Quadrant plan will be revitalized as part of the national development plan and will be unveiled in the coming months,” he said.
It was the late Prime Minister John Compton who first announced the Quadrant plan in his first and only budget presentation after the United Workers Party won the general elections of 2006. But Compton never had time to implement it. Dissension set in within his government over relations with Taiwan and China followed by his illness and death in September 2007.
Although incoming Prime Minister Stephenson King had indicated an intention to pursue the quadrant plan, nothing happened and the United Workers Party was voted out of power in 2011. But it appears that there is still support in the UWP, now back in government, for the quadrant idea.
That plan identified economic drivers or initiatives for each economic zone. At the time it was said that the implementation of these initiatives would lead to the achievement of high rates of economic growth, create employment and business opportunities and ensure the revitalization and socio-economic sustainability of the towns and communities in each quadrant.
Felix explained that there will be initiatives and reforms that will complement the National Development Plan for the country such as reforms to the ease of doing business so Saint Lucia could continue to be one of the best countries in the region to do business in.
A task Force has been established to oversee the Ease of Doing Business Reforms . It is made up of senior officials from the private and public sectors. According to Felix since he assumed responsibility of the task force he had restructured it to ensure greater responsiveness and effectiveness to pursuing the ease of doing business agenda . There is also a special unit within the Department of Commerce responsible for coordinating the Ease of Doing Business Reform Agenda.
Cabinet, to date, has endorsed a three year strategy for implementing reforms on selected indicators in the Ease of Doing Business Report.
Felix added that other reforms to date include a collaborative network between private and public sectors on issues affecting the private sector; establishment of a Commercial Division of the High Court; streamlined processes and electronic interfacing between the Saint Lucia Air and Sea Port Authority and the Customs and Excise Department; an Online Import Monitoring System through ASCUYDA for processing licences for restricted imports under the External Trade Act; an electronic risk management portal between the Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards and the Customs Department, among other things.
“To complement all these reforms I also hold quarterly meetings with private sector organizations so I can get a first hand update on the concerns of the private sector as well as feedback on the services provided by the government,” Felix said.
He added that the micro and small enterprise sector, which constitutes about 80 percent of firms in Saint Lucia, is an important pillar of the growth strategy of the government and part of the national development model.
“This sector is what gives expression to the creativity, resourcefulness and drive of the ordinary people of the country. The sector also forms the cornerstone for the growth of new enterprises that will eventually become exporters,” Felix said.
The Minister added that to provide comprehensive support to small businesses, the Department of Commerce and Enterprise Development had partnered with the Small Business Association of the Americas, the Organization of American States and the University of Texas in introducing the Small Business Development Centre Model into Saint Lucia.
“In addition the Department will be introducing an electronic platform through which all government interventions provided to, not only the small business sector but to medium and large enterprises will be monitored,” he said.