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Growth enhancing effects of innovative technology, externalities and the adoption of lower cost production techniques, as factors for economic growth were underscored at the launch of National Competiveness Week.
Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony in his address at the opening emphasized that these are all important factors that will help to trigger growth and development for the local economy.
However, he noted that beyond these measures, there is a dire need for change in people’s habit towards work. Dr. Anthony believes that St. Lucia must become more accountable and responsible.
“All I have really said is that we need to change our attitudes toward work. This change in attitude must begin at the home, school and the world of work. If we all resolve to do what it takes to become more effective and efficient, then we would see the fruits of our efforts,” he stated.
Anthony urged St. Lucians to focus on the solutions, rather that the negatives and ensure that they play a role in the process in improving productivity here. “Let us put aside the things that divide us, be politics, religion or even disagreements and lets us join hands as a nation to bring our country forward,” he added.
According to the prime minister, it has now become a norm where people blame others for their shortcomings and failings. This he said should not be allowed to continue. Anthony said St. Lucians needs to develop a culture of willingness to implement tasks that are assigned to them.
“We need to be able to set targets and work towards achieving them and to constantly follow up to ensure that progress is being made,” he advised.
The prime minister noted too that there is also a need for persons to be willing to become leaders and managers and willing to provide the direction necessary to ensure that we remain on target.
Leaders he said must also be inspiring, able to motivate to get the job done, be courageous and take the right decisions no matter how hard or unpopular they may be.
“I challenge each of you here today and throughout the country to implement/undertake an activity that leads to productivity improvement starting today and see the results in a week, a month and even a year’s time. Enhancing productivity calls for deliberate attempts on our part.”
Anthony said with the advent of social media, plenty time is spent wasted. “Does the level of work produced justify the wages that are paid?” he questioned.
This question was directed not only at employees, but supervisors, managers and even the owners of businesses and in the case of the Public Service, at directors and permanent secretaries. Anthony said the question also applies as well to ministers and all other functionaries of the state.
He applauded the Saint Lucia National Competitiveness and Productivity Council (NCPC) for the work it has been doing. The theme chosen for this week activities is: “Enhancing Productivity is our Responsibility is a call for action individually and collectively.”
READ PM ANTHONY’S ENTIRE SPEECH BELOW: “TIME TO ACT ”
First of all, let me say how pleased I am that the dialogue we started a year ago on productivity has continued and is beginning to bear fruit.
The drive for increased productivity means that we are committing ourselves to excellence in our efforts, undertakings, and our work places, whatever our station may be. To do so individually and collectively would be a paradigm shift of major proportion.
I applaud the Saint Lucia National Competitiveness and Productivity Council (NCPC) for undertaking this monumental and unpopular task.
Secondly, let me applaud the NCPC and its hard working Secretariat in putting together the Productivity Awareness Week, no doubt an ambitious undertaking to give meaning to a concept that seems to attract a fair measure of cynicism.
The theme chosen for this week: “enhancing productivity is our responsibility”is a call for action individually and collectively.
The Council has put together an agenda for the week that caters to both the private and public sectors.
I am also pleased that our youth is involved and have been given the opportunity to give “their take” on the discussion on productivity.
CONCEPT OF PRODUCTIVITY
I agree, without reservation, that the concept of productivity is sometimes, not an easy one to comprehend much less to accept.
Generally, productivity is defined as the ratio between the output produced and the inputs used in producing that output. Outputs and inputs can be goods or services, as the case may be.
It measures how efficiently the production inputs such as labor (employees/workers), capital, land, etc are utilized in an economy or a firm to produce a given level of output. The most common measure of productivity is that of labor. However, we can measure the productivity of any input be it capital, land, etc.
In addition to the definition of productivity, we know too well that there are factors that do affect productivity within a company, public service or for that matter any unit of decision making including, of course, the units of governance within the state.
We need to constantly ask ourselves basic questions. At the technical level, we need to ask, are we using the latest technology? Are we undertaking the necessary research to ensure that we can adequately compete with our neighbours regionally or even at the global level? Is there a demand for our products or services?
SECTORS OF THE ECONOMY
The situation with the banana industry is well documented and is a clear indication of our inability to compete effectively.
Saint Lucia is holding its own with regards to the tourism industry even in the face of steep competition. However, we need to be concerned about our product offering, customer service and our ability to be at the cutting edge of technology. The same holds for the manufacturing sector and all the other sectors of the economy.
None of us should exempt ourselves from the hard questions, uncomfortable as the answers may be.
WE CANNOT EXCLUDE OURSELVES
At the organisationallevel, are the roles well defined? Do we take responsibility for the tasks assigned to us and do we do them with integrity, honestly and on time?
With the advent of social media, do we spend time on our phones or on facebook? Does the level of work produced justify the wages that are paid? And this question is directed not only at the employees but at the supervisors, managers and even the owners of businesses and in the case of the Public Service, at directors and permanent secretaries. It applies as well to ministers and all other functionaries of the state.
Then too there are the personnelfactors. Without a doubt, having the right person in a given position is just as important to get the job done as well as providing continuous training, good working conditions and the right compensation package.
The finance factors cannot be overlooked, as it is the life-blood of the organisation. Proper control needs to be exercised over the fixed and working capital; there needs to be too proper financial planning to ensure that there is a fair return on investment.
The management factors are the most important in the discussion on productivity. This speaks to proper supervision and the ability to motivate staff to produce at optimum; working more efficiently to achieve the tasks at hand.
Managers must be competent, have good judgment, and be willing to take risks. They should be able to make optimum use of resources to produce output at minimum cost, while at the same time utilizing cutting edge technology.
Other important factors in the discussion on productivity include location and marketing of products or services, proper understanding of the laws, practices and procedures regulating or influencing decision-making.
You cannot change what you do not know exists!
PRODUCTIVITY AND GROWTH
There is a clear connection between increased productivity and the growth in a given economy.
Research has shown that, in the long run, economic growth is driven by productivity and, therefore, total factor productivity consists of growth-enhancing effects of innovation in technology, externalities and the adoption of lower cost production techniques. It has been suggested that in more developed countries, the growth-enhancing effects of productivity account for more than half of overall economic growth, and in some instances even higher, while in developing countries about one-third of growth can be attributed to productivity.
LOWER LEVELS OF PRODUCTIVITY
As we all know, the Saint Lucian economy contracted in 2012 by 1.3 percent and in 2013 by 2.3 percent. Even before that period, international agencies had suggested that one of the factors that explained the slow growth was the lower levels of productivity.
The National Competitiveness and Productivity Council (the NCPC) has undertaken an exercise to measure productivity levels in Saint Lucia for the period 2000 to 2013 at the macro level in the first instance. We will have a presentation on the results a little later this morning.However, permit me to talk briefly on that assessment.
This preliminary report suggests that productivity levels in Saint Lucia are on the decline.Productivity fell by a staggering 6.0 percent in 2012 and by 3.0 percent in 2013. The report also suggests that our levels of productivity are below those of other small states that we are benchmarked against.
Having said this, our levels are better than some of our counterparts. This should not give much comfort because the evidence suggests that we have stagnated a bit while they are on an upswing trend. If we do nothing, those other countries will soon surpass us.
Obviously, to improve productivity, we have to measure it, elusive as some may think it is. Measurement provides a quantitative and qualitative evidence of where you are, helps set targets and provide the impetus to improve on productivity growth. I therefore congratulate the National Competitiveness and Productivity Council for starting this process.
This productivity awareness week provides us all with the opportunity to dialogue on the issues that affect productivity and the measures that we can undertake to improve.
I know it’s a discussion that can be uncomfortable but its necessity ought not to be denied.
As a nation, we must become more accountable. The norm these days is to pass the buck, blame others for our shortcomings and failings. Passing the buck has become habitual, almost an art in our society. In everything we look for scapegoats.
We must develop a culture, a habit of willingness to implement tasks that are assigned to us. We need to be able to set targets and work towards achieving them and to constantly follow up to ensure that progress is being made.
We need persons willing to become leaders and managers and willing to provide the direction necessary to ensure that we remain on target. Leaders must also be inspiring, be able to motivate to get the job done, be courageous, take the right decisions no matter how hard or unpopular they may be.
ATTITUDES TOWARDS WORK
All I have really said is that we need to change our attitudes toward work. This change in attitude must begin at the home, school and the world of work. If we all resolve to do what it takes to become more effective and efficient, then we would see the fruits of our efforts.
It is now time to focus on the solutions; all of us have a part to play. Let us put aside the things that divide us, be politics, religion or even disagreements and lets us join hands as a nation to bring our country forward.
LET’S BE PRODUCTIVE
The Council is made up of all the actors that are needed to put aside all differences to get the job done along with the rest of the country.
Let us take advantage of this week, and let’s be productive, let this be the start of this journey.
I challenge each of you here today and throughout the country to implement/undertake an activity that leads to productivity improvement starting today and see the results in a week, a month and even a year’s time. Enhancing productivity calls for deliberate attempts on our part.
It is with great pleasure that I now declare the Productivity Awareness Week to be officially open.