“If we do not deal with the unemployment problem we are in a serious mess” – Director of Chamber of Commerce

“If we do not deal with the unemployment problem we are in a serious mess” – Director of Chamber of Commerce
Brian Louisy. Photo credit: article.wn.com.
Brian Louisy. Photo credit: article.wn.com.

Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce Brian Louisy has proposed measures to be considered by the private sector and government which he believes can improve the country’s economy, while pinpointing what he considers inefficiencies in the 2014/2015 National Budget.

He was speaking at a First Citizens Investment Services organised 2014 Budget Review Seminar on Monday, June 2 at the Rex Hotel in Rodney Bay.

Addressing an almost 25 percent unemployment rate, Louisy said stimulating business activity, increasing linkages between sectors and building climate change resilience are some key ways government and the private sector can strengthen the economy.

On the issue of unemployment, the executive director said that urgent action is needed to help create sustainable and fulfilling jobs, particularly for the youth.

“If we do not deal with the unemployment problem we are in a serious mess as a country. I think it has been very clearly stated in the budget that government recognises that issue.

“I have traditionally been not very supportive of the programmes like STEP and NICE and SMILE but if you really think about it, if you think seriously, you would probably understand that in the current environment we need to do what we can for those persons on the margin. I have spoken grimly about borrowing money to employ persons in particular jobs, but what is the cost if we do not do it,” he said.

Louisy criticised the recently presented budget for not giving a “strong enough signal” as to where “we’re going to get some sustainable jobs.”

He was adamant that there needs to be an identification of different scopes of employment in order to better things.

“Some people have thrown us back to the issue of agriculture, as being not just an economic sector but a social sector that helps retain persons in the communities…. I think we probably need to look a little closer and further at that component as far as unemployment goes,” he said.

Louisy, in agreeing with a point made earlier in the forum by Ministry of Finance Permanent Secretary Reginald Darius, said that a mismatch of skills is also a contributing factor to the island’s unemployment problem. This occurs when job opportunities exists but much of the population is not qualified for these vacancies.

“I think we need a little more focus on that. [The Sir Arthur Community College], they actually give people high level skills – skills that are marketable,” he said.

Louisy believes that the country needs quality craftsmen who are able to get the job done efficiently.

“There was a time we were importing persons from St. Vincent to do tiling because the quality of work and the productivity was so high … I don’t think we are focusing on producing master craftsmen – high quality persons who will get the job done because they are the best,” he said.

He stated that this matter needs to continue to be resolved.

“… We need to look at that in terms of bridging that gap and I think that is how we will deal with some of the unemployment issues,” he said.

Another recommendation made by the director was making it easier to do business in St. Lucia. He said that while he agrees that changes are necessary to improve the investment climate to attract more long term investment, the manner in which business is conducted here needs to be revisited.

“Yes the investment climate needs to be improved, but what is more important is the business environment in which you operating because you are bringing an investor here and he cannot do a good job, he cannot turn a profit because the business environment is too difficult, too cumbersome, too costly. This is why the chamber has for the last few years set out a single agenda item – making it easier to do business in St. Lucia,” he said.

“…Unless we deal seriously and aggressively with the business environment we are not going to get far in promoting and sustaining investment, because investors speak to each other,” he said.

Louisy added that if the processes of doing business are not improved the country is being denied of real improvements within the sector.

“We need to look at it seriously. It cannot be the typical support… we have some very practical problems.”

In relation to tourism, the island’s highest income earlier, the director said that continued investment is needed. He believes also that linkages between that sector and others, need to be identified and strengthened.

Climate change resilience is another issue Louisy said will in time affect tourism.

Today’s 2014/15 Budget Review Seminar saw deliberations by a panel of both local and regional private and public sector officials.

First Citizens Investment Services Regional Manager Carol Eleuthere Jn Marie, Head of Research at the company Vangie Bhagoo-Ramrattan were among those who made presentations.

Deliberations were held on the content and implications of the budget along with proposals for a way forward for St. Lucia.

Among the topics covered were the global and economic performance and macro economic review of St. Lucia and the Eastern Caribbean.

More on this forum in a future publication.

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16 COMMENTS

  1. well, we need to make sure the over spending of the govts stop, they hiring consultants and over borrowing what the country cannot make back. Being in charge of a business or home you spend within your means not what you cannot make back to pay your debt. Both UWP and SLP hire every time they come in power commission spending money and not doing anything about it. Stop that nonsense . See about the country. The more your people cannot spend the more your country goes down, Lets change that.

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  2. Bron Bron i strongly agree with u. Everyone is having kids with no means of support yet blame the world. If u cant support how are they going to support 2or 3.

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  3. Its funny how all these politicians have solutions to all our probs and how to run the country smoothly,yet still when they are elected into power they do the is the same crap. Nothing is never being done all their big ideas and plans now become the same excuses we always hear from politicians. So spear me the crap. St.lucia is just doomed as far as i see it all dam politicians are for themselves not for those who elect them. So sad after Sir John no one can run this tiny island. None of the so called leaders for either party. They don't feel what the poor feel the majority came in politics well off and will still be well off wen they are done with us. The poor have to see for themselves. Rich getting richer and the poor geeting poorer

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  4. The problem is never the Prime Minister but is whether he listens to things that are reasonable or not. Power and party politics are the killers of this country. There are these set of people who want to be in charge at all cost and this is what our country is suffering from. We need to take a serious stand and rid them from our midst.

    The reasonable thing to do is to grow our economy not to cut wages since those are the same wages which fuels the economy. People often say that St. Lucia has money based on new car sales. People take loans for these cars for if they don't the bank doesn't make money and we know the rest of the trickle down implications.

    We need to focus on investments and create avenues so that the youth can be schooled in relevant skills which would support private sector expansion. What is critical now is that this Government get off their asses and go look for investments. They know what the problem is. If we cannot have a government who can start doing this then they need to resign and give someone else a chance. Everybody has been saying this we don't even need Brian Louisy to tell us. IF you don't believe this then you are all tricking yourself. That thing about asking people for suggestions is just a cop out and time buyer used by the government. Is the government taking anybody's advice? Whether Brian, Chastanet, Mine or Yours? No. All they do is criticise everybody.

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  5. I'll do you one better mr louisy, if only we had listened wen ashanti had dat kaiso "Lucian population" if only we'd still listen, the people who cannot afford to make more than 1 are the people having 4 and 5, most young ladies by the age of 21 already on their 2nd baby,bringing another life into the world is more than just having sex, the kids need school,clothing,shelter,jobs st lucia is only a small country with no natural resources whatsoever,no mother country to depend on where will the jobs come from for the nearly 4000 leaving school every year,it just doesn't make sense, theres only so many business places in lucia where will the employment come from? the public sector? it's already overcrowed, nobody wants to make the tough decisions labour or uwp, no one can save us, no man, its just going to get worse.........

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    • bron bron - i cannot recommend your post enough. This is the real structural problem - too many breeding without the means to support the child in a loving and solid environment.

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  6. The so called businessmen needs to enter the ring of fire. Is Chas a businessman? I'm not sure. He might not be.

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  7. ta my sentiments exactly. Why does every lawyer believe itz his/her divine right to run this country. They should gv us a break. They are ALL filthy rich whiles we getting poorer. The laws not helping us the avg. man make progress. We need our econmists, businessmen and maybe civil engineers to step in and help build this country. Those lawyers are clueless. They rotten thieves and liars

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    • My God! We are in $#!## street. If we rehash the obvious without taking ourselves through the milestones to eventual reduction in the unemployment rate, but we are going to get there by way of a purely academic institution, will we get the desired results? Are you people serious? Really? If the answer is "yes", then why has this approach not worked already?

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      • Agreed. He has said nothing here that has not been said before. That makes him a genius? Well, I never in my entire life thought that Saint Lucians were so dumb!

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  8. The day he becomes the Prime Minister his intelligence will be thrown out the window and borborl/borborlism will be in season. Look around you....black folk can't handle power wisely.

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  9. Our problem in st lucia is a grave one. however this was inevitable. We have a culture of electing people who are lawyers, doctors, friends and family to run our country.. We need business men incharge of our economy. People who would use our money to invest and create jobs for St lucians. What is the use of having $40M in the bank when you can use that $20M to invest and make a profit of $5M per year while providing jobs for many and helping the economy. All our present and past governments have been doing is shuffling money around like they are playing a chess game..

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  10. Why is this man not the Prime Minister? This man is not a borborlist and above all he is supremely intelligent!

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