PRODUCTIVITY FUND TO HELP CO-FINANCE PRIVATE SECTOR INNOVATION
Through the work of the NCPC, the Government of St. Lucia is in the process of establishing a Productivity and Competiveness Fund. The fund (grant-based), which will be accessible by September 2015, is poised to be a catalyst that specifically co-finances the private sector to implement solutions or initiatives that enhance productivity and competitiveness within the Saint Lucian economy.
During the 2014/ 2015 budget address the Government of Saint Lucia committed EC$500,000 towards this fund. Since then the NCPC, Compete Caribbean along with the Government have collaborated on the design of the fund. As part of the process, consultations were held with the private and public sectors on the areas that the fund should target. It was agreed, generally, that projects focussed on the following will be considered: • Re-engineering work processes to create more value for the enterprise. • Directing of efforts to innovate products, services, business processes etc. • Increasing access to national and international markets. • Enterprises with green technology upgrades that lead to production and energy efficiency. • Enterprises for innovative solutions to business challenges which enable them to be more efficient and cost effective. • The promotion of cost savings and revenue generation opportunities.
Guidelines on which the fund will operate include: • Registered St. Lucian private sector company, (a Saint Lucian having 65% voting rights in the company). • The proposed fund will specifically deploy an indirect transmission mechanism, co-financing service providers. • The fund will provide co-financing of EC$100,000 or less. • The fund will fund capital goods and assets of up to 40% of the project cost, and • The fund has a hybrid grant disbursement mechanism mixing up front disbursement and resultsbased payments.
To access the fund applicants will need to demonstrate a level of commitment whether in cash or in kind. Capital accessed via the fund can be used for activities and items such as staff time costs, technical assistance, and capital goods required to design, pilot or implement a new service. The fund, however, cannot be used as working capital, as an investment on equipment not directly related or critical to the project, or the purchase of real estate.
The establishment of the NCPC Productivity Fund is a large undertaking with the objective of enhancing both productivity and competitiveness in St. Lucia. The fund is one that will back positive ideas and innovation within the private sector, bringing with it a much needed productive impact on the country’s competitiveness climate.