Hon. Dr. Kenny D. Anthony in an address to the Fifteen Biennial Convention of the Union of Saint Lucian Overseas Associations on Monday, July 23, 2012 called on the diaspora to play a greater role in the development of Saint Lucia through both public and private investments.
Recognizing the role that remittances play in the ensuring the well-being of many families on the island, the Prime Minister noted that the entire country can benefit from such generosity, if the diaspora pool resources and undertake initiatives geared at bettering communities. A challenge was issued to Overseas Associations to make greater demands on the government to match contributions for works aimed at bettering the lives of citizens.
Dr. Anthony said, “Whereas it is very common for remittance flows to go towards families and private investments, this Government welcomes challenges by Overseas Associations to match funding for approved community and social infrastructure in our towns, villages and hamlets. There are substantial needs to bridge the knowledge divide, particularly in our rural and inner city communities and perhaps this Association could be challenged to identify areas for specific intervention, particularly in health and education, where life changing projects can be collaborated along with the state. The will is there, I know; it must merely be coordinated.”
Dr. Anthony, who was the keynote speaker at the Convention, seized the opportunity to highlight initiatives contained in the 2012/2013 Budget Address through which the diaspora can actively participate in nation building and the economic recovery process. Prime Minister Anthony spoke of the Small Business Assistance Component of the National Initiative to Create Employment (NICE) which would undoubtedly be beneficial to Saint Lucians looking for new opportunities for work and entrepreneurship back home.
“This often skilled, tech-savvy remigrant population is most welcome as it puts us into a position of brain gain. However, we must always remember that for our economy to grow we must be export oriented, seeking continuously to bring, or encourage inward flows of capital. This is the value proposition that we welcome such budding entrepreneurs to espouse.”
Dr. Anthony reminded all in attendance that the “role of our Diaspora will remain a central pillar for moving forward and attracting investment” and urged all to use their positions of influence and contact to transform social capital into fiscal capital for the good of Saint Lucia.