GROS ISLET, Saint Lucia — Inclusive growth that generates jobs and opportunities for all citizens in Saint Lucia was at the center of a high-level national conference hosted yesterday by the Government at the Bay Gardens Hotel.
The conference is part of the Caribbean Growth Forum (CGF), a two-year regional platform for dialogue to foster higher levels of economic growth with opportunities for all in the Caribbean.
The CGF is a partnership between the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and Compete Caribbean, with support from the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
The CGF builds on existing partnerships and involves stakeholders from the public and private sectors, academia and civil society, as well as the Caribbean Diaspora. Over 200 participants from the public and private sectors, youth, academia, media and civil society joined the conference to talk about the key factors that have the greatest potential to increase growth in Saint Lucia.
Participants discussed ways to strengthen the investment climate, upgrade education and develop skills that improve competitiveness and generate higher-paying jobs. They also addressed key actions needed to improve logistics and connectivity –especially by making key infrastructure services more affordable and efficient– including information technology, transportation and electricity.
“The Government must enact reforms that allow us to competitively and efficiently provide services to the business sector and the wider public. The private sector too must be brave and innovative; it too must face up to the realities of this new and different world. It too must make a paradigm shift in its thinking, in its approaches, in the ways that it does things. It is vital that the options that the Government faces at this time are understood by all,” said Dr. the Hon. Kenny Anthony, Prime Minister of Saint Lucia.
Like other small island states, Saint Lucia is challenged by frequent natural disasters, its small size and the associated lack of economies of scale, and its vulnerability to external shocks.
The one-day CGF event included remarks by Prime Minister Anthony; Sir Dwight Venner, Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank; and a joint statement by CGF donor partners.
“Compete Caribbean, as a private sector development program, sponsors the Caribbean Growth Forum because it is confident that this methodology of public-private dialogue is an effective way to build consensus around an agenda that will support a competitive private sector driving growth throughout the region,” said Sylvia Dohnert, Executive Director of Compete Caribbean.
“The Caribbean Growth Forum brings a non-traditional approach to the greatest challenge currently faced by the region – creating sustainable growth – by building a national, action-oriented dialogue involving all segments of society, and coupling it with a transparent accountability mechanism. A thriving economy that generates sustainable growth and greater opportunities for all Saint Lucians must be a shared responsibility among all stakeholders,” said Andrea Gallina, Caribbean Growth Forum Coordinator for the World Bank.
The CGF event in Saint Lucia follows the launch of a local chapter in the Dominican Republic, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines over the last three months. Dominica and Saint Kitts and Nevis will organize similar events in February, while Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, and Jamaica are planning to hold national events later this year.
The first phase of the initiative will be completed by June 2013 with the production of an action plan by each of the 15 Caribbean countries participating in the Forum. The action plans will include concrete policy recommendations that would then be implemented by each country. Interested citizens will have a continuous opportunity to learn more about and engage in the CGF via the social media channels.