Today, the role of the government in business is changing rapidly as is the role of the Business Community in Governance. In order for the Chamber to respond just as rapidly, this Priority Policy Document has been developed to lay a foundation for action. It is intended to provide a broad philosophy of action that will guide the Chamber Management Committee and the various Standing Committees toward proactive leadership in the Government policy arena.
A Philosophy of Action on Issues of National Importance
The St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture will take positions on key national, economic, social and political issues facing the business community. The Management Committee will endorse these positions. The Respective Standing Committees and Chamber Secretariat will be prudent in their decisions, taking into consideration as much of the membership opinion as possible before taking a public position. It is inevitable, however, that positions taken by the Chamber will not be universally endorsed by Chamber members. Additionally, we will encourage Chamber members to be active in the national development and political process. We will not however endorse political candidates or political parties.
Issues and Specific Policy Recommendations
National Development and Economic Growth
Well-planned balanced development and economic growth that help existing businesses and attracts new ones is essential to the economic health of a country. The Chamber strongly supports investments and policies that are responsible and will spur sustainable development and long term economic growth in St. Lucia. The Chamber is supportive of the St. Lucia National Export Development Strategy and is keen for its implementation to commence.
Environment and Quality of Life
A sound environment enhances the quality of life in a country and adds to the well being of business. The Chamber encourages and advocates for its members and the entire business community to strive to achieve a balance between business needs with sound environmental protection.
St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture recognizes’ that tourism is an important part of St. Lucia’s economic development. The Chamber supports responsible tourism initiatives that are consistent with National Economic and Social Development Objectives. Tourism must thus contribute to the quality of life of St. Lucians’, allow participation at all levels, i.e. investor, developer, owner and at all management levels, while linking to the wider economy to stimulate growth in other sectors and earn foreign exchange.
The Chamber must remain interested in the quality and state of utilities on the island because water, sewerage, electrical, telecommunications and other services serve as the infrastructure for a successful business community. The Chamber strongly supports cooperation between all utilities and the private sector, seeking to provide reasonable and quality service to the community. As far as energy supplies, the Chamber supports the use of alternative forms of energy and the promotion of energy conservation in both the public and private sectors.
Transportation is a key component of economic development and growth. The Chamber strongly advocates the regular maintenance and upkeep of existing roadways and building of new roads where needed. Improved air and Sea service is crucial to the holistic economic development of St.Lucia. The Chamber is a strong advocate for the development of an effective transportation system.
High quality schools produce high quality workers. The Chamber supports educational policy aimed at improving the quality of education standards and ensuring that it is relevant to the rapidly changing learning and knowledge based global economy. The Chamber will work with and collaborate with all agencies, public and private to provide quality educational opportunities to St. Lucians.
The Chamber strongly supports reasonable corporate and individual tax systems that engender a competitive business environment and stimulates investment. The Tax policy must aim for a broadened equitable tax base that does not create incentives for tax avoidance and evasion.
Employer: Employee Relations
The St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture support’s the introduction of a Labour Code in St. Lucia. The Code should be fair and balanced and protect the rights of employers and employees. The safety, health, employee benefits and other work-related concerns must be addressed and must take account of National realities and capacities.
The St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture believe that business and privately sponsored health plans should be supplemented by Universal Health Care to help address issues of access, and affordability. However the Chamber believes mechanism and independent checks and balances must be put in place to guard against abuse, fraud and cost escalation.
The St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture encourages growth of quality rewarding employment opportunities, which provide fair wages in St.Lucia and seeks to reduce unemployment.
The St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture support the farming industry in St. Lucia especially investment in agricultural diversification. The development of linkages between agriculture and tourism must be explored and farmers provided with the critical supporting measures to continue to engage in this sector that is crucial for balanced regional economic development, curbing rural urban drift and reducing unemployment and the food import bill.