On Ease of Do­ing Busi­ness in­dex, Saint Lu­cia at all-time low!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

Saint Lu­cia con­tin­ues to slide, ac­cord­ing to the World Bank’s “Ease of Do­ing Busi­ness” re­port. The is­land is now ranked at 101 but the ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of the Saint Lu­cia Cham­ber of Com­merce re­mains hope­ful, while not nec­es­sar­ily ex­pect­ing any im­prove­ment in the next re­port.

In 2013 Saint Lu­cia grabbed the top CARICOM spot for the sec­ond straight year, rank­ing 53rd world­wide. Back then Puerto Rico had placed high­est over­all in the Caribbean, com­ing in at 4 out of 185 coun­tries world­wide.

Fol­low­ing his re-elec­tion as Cham­ber pres­i­dent in 2013, Gor­don Charles had sig­naled his or­ga­ni­za­tion’s in­ten­tion to re-en­gage gov­ern­ment on the Ease of Do­ing Busi­ness rank­ing, call­ing for more de­ci­sive ac­tion. The way Charles stated the sit­u­a­tion at the time, it could no longer be busi­ness as usual. He said the is­land’s low rat­ing on the Ease of Do­ing Busi­ness in­dex had se­ri­ous im­pli­ca­tions for the pri­vate sec­tor, not the least of them its abil­ity to at­tract for­eign in­vest­ment.

“It is there­fore a very hu­mil­i­at­ing ex­pe­ri­ence,” he said at the Cham­ber’s 130th AGM, “that de­spite our in­ten­tions and ef­forts and the many pledges and as­sur­ances of com­mit­ment and sup­port from the gov­ern­ment, Saint Lu­cia has sunk even lower on the EODB rank­ings.”

On Thurs­day the STAR spoke to Brian Louisy about the steps the Cham­ber had taken to rec­tify the prob­lem. He said: “Last week, we had one of our en­coun­ters, with the key agen­cies re­port­ing on what they have been do­ing and the re­sult. A num­ber of is­sues were dis­cussed and I can tell you, for ex­am­ple, where Cus­toms is con­cerned a num­ber of the forms that one had to deal with have been re­scinded.”

Ac­cord­ing to Louisy a new re­port should be out in the next three months at the ear­li­est. How­ever, based on the lag time be­tween when a sur­vey is done and a new re­port comes out, he was not sure whether any pos­i­tive steps taken by Saint Lu­cia would be re­flected. The gov­ern­ment has ap­pointed Min­is­ter of Com­merce Emma Hip­polyte head of a com­mit­tee to en­sure steps are taken to im­prove the is­land’s Ease of Do­ing Busi­ness rat­ing. “I can say from my stand­point,” Louisy said, “that this com­mit­tee ap­pears more se­ri­ous and de­ci­sive.”

He added that re­gard­less of steps taken, it is ac­tu­ally the peo­ple seek­ing to do busi­ness here who must be sat­is­fied. It is they who will de­ter­mine things have im­proved. “So even if the min­istry says we are do­ing this or that, and the im­pact does not reg­is­ter pos­i­tively on po­ten­tial in­vestors all ef­forts will be in vain.”

Brian Louisy has also called for a new at­ti­tude in the var­i­ous sec­tors. “We can­not af­ford to hold on to old tra­di­tions and prac­tices that are ob­vi­ously coun­ter­pro­duc­tive,” he said.

----Toni Ni­cholas

Brian Louisy of the Saint Lu­cia Cham­ber of Com­merce

op­ti­mistic about new com­mit­tee spear­head­ing ini­tia­tives to im­prove the ease of do­ing busi­ness in

Saint Lu­cia.

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