Restructuring the Economy
There should be a fundamental restructuring of the economy. Its competitiveness must be improved by eliminating redundancy and duplication and making the delivery of services more efficient.
It is unwise to move from an economy based primarily on bananas to one based exclusively on tourism. Sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing must be encouraged and actively supported, and the necessary linkages with the tourism sector developed.
Government must target the development of value-added products, and make use of the island's strong international presence as a tourism destination to expand the export markets for locally manufactured products.
Encouraging and facilitating foreign investment should never involve a trade-off with the patrimony of the country or the rights of the citizenry.
Attracting High Value Investments
The Government should not sell Saint Lucian citizenship or passports to finance development. Saint Lucia's attraction as a good place for investment should be based on the quality of its human resource, the efficient functioning of telecommunications service providers, electricity services, water and waste management services, financial services, legal services, the level of national security, and the responsiveness of Government agencies to the needs of the investor. Making improvements in these areas should be the focus of the government as it seeks to attract quality, high-value investment to the country.
Increasing Competitiveness by Improving the Ease of Doing Business
Saint Lucia has been steadily losing ground in the Ease of Doing Business rankings published by the World Bank every year. This provides an indicator of the ease with which investors and business owners are able to access important services in the country. Some critical impediments to investors continue to stand out, and these are difficulties with (i) enforcing contracts, (ii) resolving insolvency, (iii) registering property, (iv) getting credit and (v) protecting minority investors. A determined and sustained effort must be made to significantly improve our performance in these areas and make it much easier for business to be transacted in the country.
Green and Blue Economy and new Ecosystem-Based Services
Transitioning to a green economy holds significant potential for the national economy and the country. In addition to stimulating growth, there are co-benefits for (i) the tourism industry from better, niche marketing of the country and the creation of new, attractive possibilities in eco-tourism, (ii) the agriculture sector from improved food security through more efficient food production, (iii) the fisheries and marine sector from more strategic and sustainable use of ocean resources, (iv) the rural economy through new value-added products employment opportunities, and (v) the environment through more responsible management of our scarce natural resources. This should be a key component of government economic policy.
Investment in the Work Force
The employability of the work force must improve and this should be addressed through the comprehensive reform of the education system, with particular attention paid to curricula that facilitate the development of soft skills such as communication, networking, dispute resolution, teamwork, creative thinking and problem solving.
Every effort must be made to increase the productivity of the work force, and this should be tackled through a tripartite effort involving the Trade Unions, the Business Sector and the Government.
Strategic Government Interventions
Government must make consistent strategic investments in education, research, development and innovation, and the overall development of our human resource (human capital formation). It is particularly important that government creates an environment that supports innovation and encourages our citizens, especially our young people, to 'think big' and to break down any barriers or ceilings that they may have been told restrict their success.
The entrepreneurial impulse of our citizens must be stimulated by putting in place the requisite supporting policy and creating an incentives regime that allows promising start-ups the opportunity to grow and develop.
Local investors should be entitled to the same level of support and attention that is provided to foreign investors.
Areas like renewable energy, information technology and the creative industries have significant potential to develop into important growth and employment-generating sectors for the economy. Targeted support should be provided by Government to these sectors.
Greater Efficiency in the Delivery of Public Services
The delivery of Public Services should be made more efficient through training, business process improvement and the use of information technology.
The approval process for the permits required to establish a new business in Saint Lucia must be streamlined. This process must be brought in line with international standards to increase Saint Lucia's competitiveness as a preferred location for doing business.
Government as a Consumer and a Catalyst
Government has a very important role to play in stimulating the domestic economy. One of the ways it can do this is by consuming local goods and services. It should be an established government policy that government procures as many goods and services from local sources as possible.
The economic incentives regime should be transparent and fair. It should clearly identify the areas in which Government is seeking to promote economic activity and the levels of support it is willing to provide. Government incentives should always encourage productivity, efficiency, expansion and job creation.
In the tourism and other sectors, the incentives regime should reward companies that purchase an increasing percentage of locally-produced goods and services.