Members of the Board of the St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture again met with Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office with Responsibility for Commerce, International Trade, Investment, Enterprise Development and Consumer Affairs, Bradly Felix, this Tuesday and discussed a wide range of issues.
This is the third meeting with the minister since he took office and is part of the Chamber’s policy to continuously engage the government on matters affecting the membership of the Chamber and the wider economy.
In particular, discussions were held on the recently-released World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report. The Report disclosed a further slide in the rankings for St. Lucia. As many may recall, it was the Chamber which placed this matter on the national agenda and as such the Chamber expressed its dismay at the continued downward spiral. The Chamber called for a review of the strategy being employed as it appeared to not be producing the desired results. In that vein, the Chamber called for more focused attention — private and public — on one or two specific reforms.
The establishment of the Port Community Single Window was identified as one such possible priority as well as creating a Secured Transactions System and the establishment of a Credit Bureau in St. Lucia. At the meeting, it was generally agreed that there was need for more focus in the efforts. It was also agreed that a process-driven approach to implementing reforms that was supported and facilitated at the highest level of government and across the entire public and private sector was needed.
The Chamber reiterated its concern over the process of introducing legislation, where the opportunity for comment and consultation was not adequately provided for, and urged the Ministry of Commerce to ensure that the draft OECS Harmonized Credit Reporting Bill was treated with differently, especially since its genesis was with the ECCB. The ministry agreed to work with the Chamber on that matter and advised that they would be seeking the ECCB’s assistance in conducting national consultations.
Other matters discussed included the Local Purchase Requirement for Chicken, VAT, and the mounting of a business mission to Taiwan to which the Chamber was invited to participate. The minister committed to continue to dialogue with the Chamber on the various issues which will bring benefit to its membership and the wider St. Lucia economy.