Below is a statement from Rayneau Gajadhar, chairman of the National Competitiveness and Productivity Council (NCPC).
Ever since the announcement of the establishment of the NCPC, there have been several comments, some positive, some negative, but all important in the context of the discussion we need, on how to improve competitiveness and productivity.
This council was finally appointed after years and perhaps decades of recommendations. While we have been waiting for its formation, we have suffered even greater in terms of our own competitiveness and our levels of productivity.
We have reached the point where we are left with no choice but to get the discussions and debates centred on Saint Lucia’s level of productivity and competitiveness. However, we need to note that this council will not create magic for competitiveness and productivity.
This is not its role. It is not here to take business people by the neck and choke them into paying higher wages. Nor is it here to hold workers by the collars and force them to produce more for the same or less money.
Our role is simple, yet important: to bring all the issues to the table, discuss them, and formulate recommendations based on priorities set by stakeholders and the government. It will be our role to provide the best recommendations we can to the government, the private sector, the trade unions and all the other entities that will have an input in enhancing our national competitiveness and productivity.
But even though we are so named, addressing the issues of competitiveness and productivity is not and cannot be the sole responsibility of the council. Other agencies also have their individual roles to play in tackling the issues of productivity and competitiveness.
On behalf of this council, I welcome all contributions to this important national discussion and debate. In the end, our recommendations must be both practical and applicable. We have to be creative and innovative. Outputs must be based on facts and figures instead of emotions and sentimentalities.
This is not about which government is in office or which company stands to win or lose, or which workers stand to get more pay or produce more than others. This is about all of us being in this together. All of us are involved and we need to work together.
The clock is ticking while we are talking and arguing about what to do and where to start. Let’s make a good start.