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(PRESS RELEASE) – Calls for local Investors to be treated more seriously and provided with a “Local Investor Window” were some of the sentiments coming out of the Chamber of Commerce hosted Open Forum with Investment Minister Bradly Felix held on Tuesday 24th October at the Finance Administration Center, brought with the compliments of Flow.
The Chamber of Commerce conceived Open Forum on Investment, brought the Minister with responsibility for Investment and his Technical Team to have an intimate conversation with Chamber of Commerce members on this most sensitive and important subject.
The President of the Chamber Martin Dorville started the discussion going with a strong opening statement calling for Government to provide the requisite support to local investment to compliment Foreign Direct Investment.
He pointed out that the local business community is not against the provision of incentives to Investors, the Chamber believed that all incentives and concessions be “performance based” and not open ended.
In a most powerful contribution which resonated with many present, an investor observed that for a small investor to wait 15 months for an approval, promoted as taking three months, was not acceptable and that his company was “scared” to invest in new and additional projects due to that experience.
Other firms noted that they had never been the recipient of incentives, yet they remained in business and continue to invest heavily in St. Lucia, while a plethora of foreign investors have entered the market over the years and have been recipients of incentives and concessions.
Recommendation were made on ways existing businesses could be incentivized and supported, including through the Inland Revenue Department applying refunds owed in one area to taxes owed in others as it was almost impossible to receive tax refunds. Special efforts to fast track DCA approvals for local investors was another recommendation, in addition to extending tax credits for hiring University Graduates to the hiring of Graduates of SALCC Associated Degree programs.
A number of other important issues were raised during the Meeting and it became very apparent that more of these types of fora were needed to explore the needs and requirement of local investors who were keen to expand and grow their business in St. Lucia. The Chamber and the Ministry agreed to continue their dialogue in pursuit of “Making St. Lucia the place of choice to do business.”
Members of the Chamber can get the full report of the Meeting by contacting the Chamber. For more information please contact the Chamber Secretariat at [email protected] or Tel 452-3165.
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