The St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture has voiced its grave concern over the recent spate of gun related incidents on the island and more particularly the unprecedented prevalence of gun related displays in Vieux Fort.
The year has seen an extremely high level of gun violence and murders in St. Lucia. The scenes of gun fire making the rounds on social media, reflect poorly on our country, and can have devastating consequences for the country’s image as a safe and peaceful place to live and an ideal holiday destination. This continued blatant and regular incident of gun fire threatens the lives of everyday citizens going about the regular normal lives and as well as their safety even in the comfort of their homes.
The St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce, has been one of the voices constantly lamenting the state of lawlessness in the country and continues to call for strategic collective action. The threat to lives and livelihoods is real as sections of Vieux Fort have now become “no go zones.” This cannot be allowed to be the norm. The Chamber has called upon the authorities to move decisively to arrest this type of occurrence.
The Chamber reiterates its previous calls, for the Government and Police to demonstrate responsible leadership in addressing this matter. While the cliché “crime is indeed everybody’s business,” has been stated on numerous occasions, the prime responsibility lies with the State, and the provision of safety and security is the most important and fundamental responsibility and obligation of any Government.
In that context, the Chamber believes that decisive and targeted action on the part of the Police and fully supported by the Government is required to bring back a sense of order and normalcy to the nation and Vieux Fort in particular. The entire community is suffering, and the impact will grow if not arrested speedily.
For its part, the Board of Directors of the St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce Industry and Agriculture urges the Business Community and nation by extension to remain vigilant at this time and to take all necessary precautions within reason to protect themselves, team members and their property.
The St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce Industry and Agriculture wishes to remind its members that Carnival Monday and Tuesday are not Public or Commercial Holidays. Yet, we suggest to members and the wider business community that in the spirit of Carnival and as has been the tradition, employers should give their employees time off on Monday 18th July and Tuesday 19th July 2022 so that they can participate in Carnival celebrations on those days. This should be done at your own discretion as a show of goodwill.
Carnival is a national cultural activity and the Private Sector as the main sponsor of this event, should feel proud of their contribution and continued support, thus allow their staff time to enjoy and participate where possible.
The recently held workshop, "Understanding Financial Statements", held on June 30th, 2022, was well received by the membership and wider business community. The continued drive by the Chamber to improve the financial literacy of members and the wider business community is part of its strategy to help improve access to finance.
With better managed businesses led by Executives who are comfortable with "financial and accounting speak", business will be better placed to present much more enlightened proposals to their financiers, giving them the confidence that the proposals are credible and come from well managed firms.
With continued support from the German Sparkassenstiftung for International Cooperation, the Chamber has been able to bring this most important and valuable workshop to Members. The Chamber is continuing to put plans in place for it to deliver in short order the more intense "Finance for Non Financial Managers" two day workshop later this year.
The current global consumer price increases commenced during 2021 consequent upon the reopening of economies around the world when the Covid-19 Pandemic appeared to have abated in 2021. A variety of reasons underlie the recent and continuing situation of escalating consumer prices. Some of these include, global supply chain bottlenecks, increased cost of shipping, increasing energy prices and severe labour shortages in supply markets, as well as adverse weather conditions related to the global warming phenomenon.
Supply Chain Bottlenecks are occurring around the world, caused by situations such as, power shortages in China, a lack of truck drivers in the United Kingdom and the USA, backlogs at the ports in Germany, a shortage of empty containers and a general inability to obtain raw materials worldwide. Increasing energy prices, from the cost of electricity to wholesale gasoline prices, compounded by the Ukraine Russia conflict affecting production and supply form one of the world’s largest oil and gas producers, are among the issues driving an increase in consumer prices, as firms struggle to keep up with the rising cost and pass it on to consumers. Added to all the foregoing, is the severe labour shortages that have exacerbated the situation, as job growth slows, and eligible workers exist the labour force.
The effect of the above has been transmitted throughout the world and in St. Lucia, one of the most open countries, (to trade) has felt the impact with citizens and businesses experiencing an increase in the cost of doing business and the cost of living.
The effect has been compounded upon the difficulties that citizens and businesses have experienced from the two years of the Covid-19 Pandemic. Businesses in particular, have been struggling, to survive, maintain staff levels and reorganize their operations.
All organizations are in business to create value for customers, shareholders and stake holders. With a profound understanding of this fact, the Chamber, continues to help its members and the wider business community, provide value to their customers. This must be done through producing quality and valuable products and services. To deliver on this objective requires effective and productive operations systems as it is not uncommon for there to be misalignment between the operations system and the output levels that the organization desires.
During the month of July, the Chamber will therefore host two highly impactful training programs that will seek to address two critical issues faced by countless businesses currently. The first “Achieve Improved Operational Performance and Productivity” to be hosted July 25-26, will be offered to businesses keen to provide and produce products and services which create value for Customers in the most efficient manner. The tools, knowledge and skills to be discussed and shared in this workshop will expose participants to effective techniques for bringing about significant improvement in productivity and operational performance of their business. Participants will learn how to examine their organization’s processes; analyze areas where weaknesses exist, identify shortcomings, and focus on improving them. Registration details may be accessed at
The Second Workshop will address the issue facing organisations worldwide; “Strengthening Your Inventory and Supply Chain Management Performance.” This workshop will explore the fundamentals and essentials of inventory and supply chain management as well as explore their role in supporting the competitive strategy of the firm. At this workshop, scheduled for July 28th and 29th, participants will be exposed to tools, and strategies used by best practice firms in management inventory and supply chain management. Participants will be given an opportunity to identify and share challenges in their own organizations and have the group work in teams to develop solutions. The Event details may be accessed at https://stluciachamber.wildapricot.org/event-4863920
Both workshops will be delivered by Dr. Harvi Millar President of Management Technologies. With over 30 years of experience, he is a leading consultant and training facilitator in strategic planning, business performance improvement, leadership skills development, productivity improvement, total quality management, and customer service.
The Chamber is confident that both workshops will provide participating organizations, with critical tools necessary to help improve the competitiveness in the global arena. It should be noted that subject matter and skills to be learnt are valuable skills for both public and private sector actors.
Executive Director of the St. Lucia Chamber, Brian Louisy, ended his one year stint as Chair of CARICHAM, that is the Network of Caribbean Chambers of Commerce, at the end of June 2022, when the Annual General Meeting of the body was held.
For the first time a Featured Speaker addressed the Meeting which was very well attended by close to ninety percent of the Member Chambers.
Louisy with the help of the CARICHAM Coordinator presented a comprehensive report of the progress of CARICHAM and its many activities that it hosted during the year.
Louisy however took time to stress the need for CARICHAM members to give of their time and spoke to the need to examine expanding the Executive Committee so there would be more hands on deck to carry out the ever growing work program of CARICHAM.
Louisy also highlighted two very important ongoing projects: The first is the Center of Excellence funded through the UNDRR ARISE program, that will seek to provide a suite of resilience building resources to CARICHAM Members Chamber companies.
The other initiative is the Intereg funded private sector building program, that will finance four critical actions, (1) assistance in meeting the costs of the CARICHAM Coordinator, (2) develop a Training Platform in support of a "Common Offer of Services" to our Members,(3) create a network of support for the provision of Psychosocial Support to the business community and (4) explore and identify the ideal legal framework that CARICHAM should take to deliver the kind of support Members expect.
Louisy also spoke to the rising interest of many agencies, public and private as well as the donor community in working with CARICHAM as a legitimate and representative voice of the private sector in the region.
He urged the members to continue to support the organization as this was the best way to reap value and benefits from it. He thanked his Executive Team for their support, mentioning, the Vice Chair, Misha Lobban-Clarke of the Barbados Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Immediate Past Chair, Dr, Dax Thackway, of the Trinidad and Tobago Energy Chamber. He also thanked Lizra Fabian of the Dominica Association of Industry and Commerce and Andrew Satney former Executive Director of the St. Kitts and Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce who served as Ex-Officio Members of the Executive Committee on his request, providing guidance and support.
CARICHAM elected a new Executive Committee for the 2022 will be led by Mr. Jayant "Anil" Padarath of the Suriname Chamber of Commerce. Vice Chair is Ms. Petipha Lewis-Smith of the Grenada Chamber of Industry and Commerce, with Brian Louisy serving as the Immediate Past Chair.
In June of 2020, in the middle of the COVID-19 global pandemic, Massy Stores (SLU) informed the public of the myriad of challenges which the unusually high demand for various products was having on the global food supply chain. Massy Stores’ core business is supermarket retail and much of what the company sells is imported. As such the company noted the impact of this global demand on food prices, which were already increasing at that time. The company used the opportunity to advise the public that there could be more price increases in the future, given the extent of the supply chain challenges and the elevated demand for goods.
Some of the main pain points from the start of the pandemic worsened in 2021, and with them came more price increases from suppliers, some almost weekly. These continued price increases are a direct result of many factors affecting the ability of manufacturers to produce goods and services and to meet the rate at which these are being demanded. Some of these factors include insufficient raw materials, high cost of raw materials and labour shortages. This was further compounded by increases in shipping, freight and other costs associated with getting products to their respective destination and constant delays with transit of products due to port backups.
This situation is not a Massy Stores or St. Lucia specific issue, as supermarket retailers across the globe and businesses in other sectors are facing the same supply and price challenges.
Martin Dorville, Manging Director of Massy Stores explains that retailers are at the end of the supply chain and, in large measure, price takers. Therefore, the situation which has unfolded over the last two years has brought with it very little room to negotiate and little to no control over the rate at which supplier prices are going up.
“No geographic space has been spared the challenges of COVID-19. While we have been very prudent (since May 2020) in absorbing much of the supplier price increases in part and in some cases totally, the situation spiralled in 2021 and beyond, to the extent where it is no longer possible to do so, without seriously affecting the viability of the business” says Mr. Dorville.
With the war in Ukraine, the situation has worsened. Russia and Ukraine are among the world’s main breadbaskets, accounting for a huge share of the world’s exports in several major commodities, including wheat, vegetable oil and corn. The prices of these commodities, which are base ingredients in many products, reached their highest levels ever, in March this year. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said “its Food Price Index, which tracks monthly changes in international prices for a basket of commodities, averaged 159.3 points last month, up 12.6 percent from February”. This is predicted to have primary and second order impact on the price and availability of key consumer staples and food production products. The rise in oil prices which the war has provoked is also increasing transport and production costs, while the conflict has already begun to disrupt shipping world-wide.
Amid these constantly evolving challenges, which are greatly impacting overall business costs and prices of products across a range of categories, especially food, Massy Stores SLU continues to work diligently to find solutions and ways of bringing food to the St. Lucia market at affordable prices.
Mr. Dorville says, “We are focused on working closely with our suppliers, both local and international, to ensure we can maximize order fulfilment, while looking for more deals and opportunities, where possible, to help alleviate the pressure on customers during this difficult time. We also continue to search for value brands that will give our customers lower cost options. Importantly, our relationships with farmers and local manufacturers who supply our stores have also been enhanced. We remain grateful that our customers continue to make us their supermarket of choice. We are resolved to maintaining an adequate supply of good quality, wholesome food products for the nation and providing them at fair market prices to customers.”
Massy Stores SLU remains committed to observing and ensuring the highest ethical standards in all business activities and adhering to all government regulations that govern business operations in St. Lucia.
As the country goes through this very challenging time in its history, an area of priority for Massy Stores SLU is continued investments in programmes that benefit the agricultural sector (especially farmers) that promote food security and environmental sustainability.
“We continue to care about what happens to this nation during this crisis and we are in for the long haul.”
The latest Chamber Business Performance Survey has been launched! Members are hereby implored to give some time to complete this survey.
The BPS is the only regular thermometer of business and economic performance and permits the Chamber and interested members to remain ahead of the curve. It is based on your insights we can have meaningful and informed discussion with Government.
Our ability to respond to current challenges in the economy through strategic advocacy, strong leadership and innovative services hinges on us having the inside edge on the performance of our members, their outlook and perspectives on the economy.
Only through more members responding to the Quarterly PBS can we develop a meaningful data set, which provides the critical insights that are extremely useful for decision making. We are working continuously to organize the analysis so that members can use them for their own purposes.
Please take some time to complete this survey and help arm the Chamber with the important information for more effective Advocacy and Representation of your interests.