Saint Lucia’s new Prime Minister, Philip J. Pierre, has been telling how his administration’s investment policies are influenced and shaped by those of the island’s first Nobel Laureate, Sir W. Arthur Lewis, who won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1979.
Pierre spoke in Dubai in early-December, where he’d been invited as a guest at the 2021 Annual Summit of the Global Citizens Forum; the theme of the Summit was “The Future in Motion”.
As the first guest in a round-table discussion, PM Pierre was asked to outline his government’s approach to international investment and his country’s future prospects.
He noted that the small island of 238 square miles (616 square kilometers) with 175,000 inhabitants “made our mark on the world” through its two Nobel Prize-winning laureates, Sir Arthur Lewis (1979) and Hon. Derek Walcott (1992).
The prime minister observed that Lewis’ economic theories were “applied and respected globally” and that Walcott’s classic poem Omeros (which won him the Nobel Prize for Literature) “links a trojan war with the fishermen” of the Caribbean region.
He said “Both were Global Citizens” and offered a link between Lewis’ economic theories and his administration’s investment policies.
A former business consultant with a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of the West Indies (The UWI), Pierre is also the island’s current Minister for Economic Development and the Youth Economy.
He addressed “what Lewis advocated by way of putting surplus labor in the lesser-developed world in touch with global capital, to develop a new economic model that would be better for the people…”
Pierre said, “To my mind that was Impact Investment that sought to infuse capital and labor to better improve the people’s quality of life.”
Linking Lewis’ theory of Investment by Invitation to his administration’s approach to the Citizenship By Investment Program (CIP), he said the aim is the same: attracting capital and putting it to work for the people’s direct benefit.
He explained, “This is where I see the CIP program as well, in terms of accessing capital through investment to improve the lives of people of the region.
“I see it (CIP) as also playing a major role in attracting investment for the entire region.”
PM Pierre, who was Deputy Prime Minister with responsibility for Trade, Industry and Commerce, International Financial Services, Infrastructure, Air and Sea Ports between 2011 and 2016, also says he’s “seen and heard enough” in the past six years to “better understand how best to put our CIP program to work in the interest of Saint Lucians…”
He noted the island had “a late start” in 2015, but experiences at home and in several other Caribbean jurisdictions urge caution.
According to PM Pierre, “What’s important to us most is our reputation… We need to be transparent… We need to protect our country’s reputation…”
He explained that Saint Lucia’s CIP approach would be “within the context of our investment portfolio that will naturally allow investors to earn a profit …
“But we also want to improve the lives of our people, so investments have to be in an industry that will improve people’s lives.”
Pierre also explained his philosophical approach to the economics of attending to the people’s social needs.
He said: “When you improve people’s lives, then the people themselves come to support the program because they will come to see it has a direct impact on their quality of life and standard of living – and they, by extension, will support the program.”
“So,” he added, “with our CIP program, we aim to use money derived from investments towards people’s projects…
“And we’ll also give investors the chance to have a good rate of return …”
The Saint Lucia PM and his counterpart from Antigua & Barbuda Prime Minister, Gaston Brown, were among the leaders from developing and small-island states invited to the 2021 session of the annual event.
The Future in Motion summit has developed a reputation of its own as a platform for global citizens and according to the organizers, “is set to be one of the global community’s most exciting Annual Summits.”
The organizers say it’s aimed at “annually gathering the world’s leading minds to connect and engage on the world’s most pressing challenges, celebrate important milestones in global citizenship, and unlock new opportunities for an empowering future.”
The Forum also allows participants to “connect and engage with a global network of extraordinary leaders” that includes “Heads of State, leaders of Civil Society, top-tier economists, acclaimed artists and athletes, philanthropists and entrepreneurs.”
This year’s forum took place in Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Sunday and Monday (December 12 and 13).
While in the UAE, Prime Minister Pierre also attended the Rewired Summit hosted by UNICEF and Dubai Cares.
This Rewired Summit seeks to explore new approaches and innovative solutions to education challenges.
Back home and looking ahead, Prime Minister Pierre says he’s confident his participation in the Global Citizens Forum at the end of 2021, “will pay dividends in 2022 and beyond.”
He says his participation in the Global Citizens and Wired summits in Dubai, alongside his visit to the Saint Lucia booth at the World Expo, “was a worthwhile visit that gave us more global platforms to show what we can do and impress the world with our fine quality products.”