ON April 13, the St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce Industry and Agriculture had an opportunity to present to the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Allen Chastanet, its 2017/2018 Budget Submission.
Attending the meeting with the Prime Minister was Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Dr.Ubaldus Raymond, and Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance, Cointhia Thomas.
The Chamber, after a series of consultations with its members, identified eight key priority areas for action. The Chamber fully supports the Growth Agenda of Government and believes returning the economy to a sustainable growth path is critical.
The Chamber thus recommended the establishment of a Growth and Investment Council, using the Jamaica Model; this Council will work with Government in not only attracting investment to St. Lucia, but identifying and removing the obstacles to investment and growth. This Council should be bipartisan and include a wide cross-section of national institutions, all sharing the objective of growing the St. Lucian economy.
The Chamber also indicated its support of the Government’s stated goal of doubling GDP in the next ten years, yet strongly believes that Government needs to be committed and work in a systematic fashion to remove the long identified structural impediments to long-term growth. Action in the following areas was identified as priorities:
• Legislative Agenda
• Promotion and increased support to local investment
• Prioritize Agricultural Development
• Trade Facilitation
• Managing the Cost of the Public Service
• Tax Reform
• Education and Skills
• Debt Management
The Chamber looks forward to the 2017/2018 Budget Statement as well as the presentation of the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure to assess the policy position of the Government and it will continue to monitor developments in those key areas and advocate for deliberate Government action.