THE current trajectory of Caribbean Economies of “high unemployment, low productivity, high debt and high brain drain” among other maladies needs to change.
This was the common thread coming out of a panel comprising of Invest St. Lucia CEO and Chairman Roderick Cherry and Pinkly Francis, respectively, Jameson Alphonse of Green Haven Fresh Farms, Denell Florius of Eco Carib and Senator Dr. Adrian Augier of Landmark Events.
Panel discussions on topical issues have replaced the usual Guest Speaker component of recent Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting and the November 29th 2018, 134th Annual General Meeting, Panel Discussion proved to be extremely potent and engaging.
The Discussion Topic; “Invigorating the Local Investment Climate” exposed the consensus view that deliberate action is required so the role, need and opportunity for Local Investment to create wealth and over all national welfare for St. Lucians, can materialize.
All panelists lamented the absence of critical support and facilitatory thinking that could unleash pent-up potential investment interest among the local citizenry.
From a high tax policy environment that strikes at the start of the business process rather than at the profit end, to an environment where the best brains leave or did not return to the economic space, panelists proposed practical changes.
Identifying as impediments the non-existence of minimal support, financial or otherwise, to brave startups that were being wooed by foreign Silicon Valley enclaves to an almost moribund public sector system focused on its own survival, the speakers argued that these issues needed attention urgently.
Panelists insisted that there is need for St. Lucia to embrace modern and rapidly-changing technology, as young St. Lucians remain innovative, intelligent, creative and talented, yet the national investment policy did not sufficiently seek to tap into this pool.
Also highlighted was the importance of venture capital and angel investment, as well as the reintroduction of the pioneer status concessions and a faster embrace of the new financing tools that were already in use with the availability and portability provided by the internet.
Chamber members remained engaged and enthralled by the conversation, calling on the Chamber to ensure the deepening of this dialogue so that real and beneficial action and change will take place urgently.
Questions and comments from the floor supported the panelists and their call for Government and St. Lucia, as a whole, to recognize the fundamental changes that are required to facilitate the investor and entrepreneurial spirit that abounds in St. Lucia. (Chamber of Commerce)