Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony has lamented difficulties encountered in executing certain powers within an act which governed the National Development Corporation (NDC). These hindrances, he believes, have affected the island’s ability to attract investment.
That act was this week tabled in parliament, which saw the name NDC changed to Invest St. Lucia.
In addressing the House of Assembly, the finance minister explained that while the powers in the old act still exist in the Invest St. Lucia Bill, they were never fully utilised by the ministers who had responsibility for the NDC.
He said he does not believe that this was due to unwillingness on the part of the ministers, but instead, may have been a result of a lack of understanding of the culture in which those powers should have been exercised.
He further stated that the island has suffered due to this.
“Make no bones about it, our competitors are speeding up decision-making investment, we are falling back. We’re slipping away. We were number the one, best place to do business in the Caribbean [and] steadily, we are slipping. We have to remedy that.”
The prime minister further stated that with the current economic environment “where investment is so very difficult to procure, we do have to create an environment to make decisions quickly, effectively and efficiently”.
In that regard, he welcomed the new Invest St Lucia Bill. This piece of legislation gives additional powers to Invest Saint Lucia to carry out its mandate as a “one stop shop.”
“This is why this act is so very important. We must liberate Invest St. Lucia from where it is. Invest St. Lucia cannot be a landlord fighting with ordinary citizens over land all over the place. Once you create a proper mechanism to administer those lands and there is sufficient parliamentary control over it, then I believe that by so doing, you will be able to allow Invest St Lucia to carry out the functions that are vitally necessary for investment,” he said.
Among other bills presented at parliament which were geared at fostering investment was the Tourism Stimulus and Investment Bill, which is primarily aimed at providing greater incentives for investment within the tourism industry.