The long-awaited St. Lucia Power Breakfast sponsored by 1st National Bank of St. Lucia did not disappoint the fifty plus attendees. Led by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and the Youth Economy, Mr. Francis Fontenelle, and his most able Colleague, Jemma Lafeuille, the information provided to business leaders was comprehensive insightful and extremely relevant.
A tasty yet healthy breakfast preceded opening comments by Chamber Executive Director, who contextualized the rational and objective of the Power-Breakfast and words of welcome by Mr. Fletcher St. Jean, Managing Director of 1st National Bank, Sponsor of the event. Mr. St. jean reiterated the longstanding yet growing footprint of 1st National Ban the first indigenous bank on the island.
The Ministry of Finance duo provided, to an eager audience, a thorough and articulate overview, global landscape, recent performance of the economy, and an insightful and thoughtful outlook for the St. Lucia Economy. Ms. Lafeuille highlighted the global influences and issues that weigh heavily on the worlds’ economic outlook and that of St. Licia’s main trading partners. The Meeting was advised that the first half of the year had been positive but headwinds of Ukraine/Russai War, battles with inflation in developed countries, and rising interest rates were compounded by instability in the Mid-East leading to concerns over likely increases in oil prices as factors that have tempered St. Lucia’s economic prospects going forward.
St. Lucia enjoyed a healthy winter tourism season with the bonus of a major spike in cruise ship arrivals as tourism continued to rebound to Pre Covid-19 levels. Meanwhile, inflation at home appeared to have cooled down compared to 2022. While on the downside challenges in agricultural production consequent upon tropical storm Bret and lack of availability of airlines seats into St. Lucia during the months of July, August and September, were also cited.
Ministry of Finance highlighted as positives, improvements in Government budget performance and reduction in the nation’s debt to GDP ratio alongside the narrowing of the current account deficit. Bank liquidity remained high while non-performing loans rate also increased. Credit to the business community has not increased.
The Business Community lamented the poor enabling environment within which they operated with the general absence or poor quality of business and trade facilitation services from critical institutions. The lack of support for the private sector in general, from the public sector was raised key Ministries appearing to be missing in action. The privates sector stressed the need for the public sector to work with the private sector to advance the economy and that the crisis of implementation and progress from key agencies appears to now be endemic and the accepted modus operandi. Services, facilitation and support from the Ministry of Commerce, the Corporate Registry, Land Registry and Customs and Excise were particularly highlighted.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance was implored to use his good office to encourage and mobilize the key institutional infrastructure agencies that should be facilitating private sector development and business to start to work with the private sector as customers and partners rather than in an adversarial manner.
The Meeting concluded with the Chamber Executive Director, thanking 1st National Bank for being there for the Chamber and the Business Community in ensuring this important dialogue was conducted. Mr. Louisy also profusely thanked and applauded the Ministry of Finance Team for engaging and participating, in a forthright manner, in disseminating explaining and presenting crucial data to the Business Community in an understandable manner.
Attendees too, were congratulated on turning out to the Power Breakfast and assertively participating and engaging in the dialogue.
The St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture is located at Orange Park Commercial Building, 1st Floor, Bois D’Orange, Gros Islet.
Advocating on behalf of members with the public sector. Increased visibility and credibility. Business training and education information sharing and networking.
A chamber of commerce is an organization of business owners and entrepreneurs who promote the interests of their local business community. Chambers of commerce provide access to valuable resources, discounts, and relationships that help businesses save money and market their products.
Chambers of Commerce will act to promote public policies that are in the best interest of business, in general. Specific Chambers of Commerce may also attempt to promote policies that serve specific industries or geographic locations.