ECCU, OECS and Dept. of Finance Host Dialogue on Growth Action Plan in Saint Lucia

Against a bleak global backdrop characterized by slow to stagnant economic growth, members of the ECCU and ECCB converged on St. Kitts and Nevis during March for the Inaugural Growth Dialogue aimed at addressing the economic decline in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) over the past two decades.

The forum which was held under the theme, “Working Together to Achieve Higher and More Inclusive Growth in the ECCU” afforded Social Partners the opportunity to directly engage the Monetary Council of the ECCB and other key development partners (namely OECS, World Bank, CDB) on the issue of economic growth and development, by identifying key challenges which they presently face and pinpointing opportunities which should be prioritized as part of the Growth Action Plan.

In his overview on the performance of the ECCU, ECCB Governor Timothy Antoine, highlighted the slow   economic growth of the ECCU and noted that it was an opportune time for the region to collectively “ defend our vital economic interests and advance the well-being of our people [,] especially our youth.”

The Dialogue on the ECCU Growth Action Plan, which was held in Saint Lucia on  September 5 as a  follow-up to the Growth Dialogue held in March sought to solidify the Growth Action plan by reaching a consensus on key regional and more particularly national action points that will address growth challenges and promote further economic growth, competitiveness and employment within the ECCU.

Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Senator the Honourable Dr. Raymond commended the ECCB and the OECS for initiating and spearheading this timely discussion on economic growth within the sub-region. He said,



Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Senator the Hon. Dr. Ubaldus Raymond

“This one-day consultation on growth, though small, is a critical element of a broader strategy on achieving greater, sustainable growth within the ECCU.  […]

Saint Lucia, and by extension the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union is at a critical juncture in its history, particularly on the heels of the economic difficulties of the recent past, and a future filled with uncertainty occasioned by, inter alia, de-risking, more frequent and extreme weather events, and geopolitical developments such as Brexit. In this moment, it is imperative that our leaders both locally and regionally, band together and find common cause, stand tall and take decisive and collective action to protect our economic interests and advance the well-being of our people. “


Similar national consultations are scheduled to be held across the ECCU during the month of September. The ECCU and the OECS Commission will work with national focal points to host these interventions which will bring together a network of policymakers, youth leaders and activists, private and public sector representatives, civil society organization representatives and  religious bodies to name a few.


Participants at Dialogue on the ECCU Growth Action Plan


Enhancing the Business and Innovation Climate: Dialogue Facilitating Private Sector Development and Economic Growth

An initiative has begun in St. Lucia to determine what sectors, policies and regulations could spur St. Lucia’s competitiveness and drive inclusive long term economic growth.

The Dialogue for Private Sector Development and Economic Growth held on July 27th at the Finance Administrative Centre was driven and facilitated by Compete Caribbean through its local focal point the National Competitiveness and Productivity Council. 

Attendees at Private Sector Dialogue

Attendees of Dialogue for Private Sector Development and Economic Growth

In his address Minister for Finance Senator Dr. Ubaldus Raymond, noted the timeliness of the initiative coming as St. Lucia lagged behind in productivity and innovation.

He lamented that “Unfortunately, St. Lucia is no longer ranked first place in the region in the World Bank’s Doing Business indicators. This situation is further compounded by low levels of productivity and innovation, as well as lack of competitiveness”.

The Minister noted that government has been working on a Private Sector Development Strategy and a National Export Strategy in its efforts to stimulate economic growth.

L-R - Senator Dr. Ubaldus Raymond, Michelle Charles, DPS, Dr. Sylvia Dohnert and Lisa Harding.JPG

L-R – Senator Dr. Ubaldus Raymond, Ms. Michelle Charles (DPS Education),  Dr. Sylvia Dohnert (Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility) and Lisa Harding (CDB)

Dr. Raymond added that “The Government is therefore committed to leading the process by creating the enabling environment which will support private sector-led growth. This support will be channelled through the NCPC and other agencies of government in collaboration with our development partners such as Compete Caribbean”.

Mrs. Fiona Hinkson of the National Competitiveness and Productivity Council detailed the successes of the NCPC in advancing the island’s competitiveness and noted her organisation’s readiness to facilitate the dialogue.

The NCPC Executive Director expounded on the functions of her organisation noting that “We actively research on factors and principles of productivity and competitiveness in order to inform policy, project design, and dissemination of key indicators”.

Fiona Hinkson - Executive Director of National Competitivity and Productivity Council

Mrs. Fiona Hinkson – Executive Director, NCPC

Dr. Sylvia Dohnert, the Executive Director of Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility said this private sector development program has agreed to fund three projects that will lead to meaningful reform or the institutional strengthening needed for business growth in St. Lucia. Similar offers are being made to other OECS States.

She noted that one call for proposals “is at the national level in each country and is about a policy or regulatory reform or institutional strengthening projects that St. Lucia wants Compete Caribbean to fund.”

The Compete Caribbean Program was launched in 2011, with a view to increasing productivity and stimulating private sector development in region. Building upon the successes of Phase 1, Phase II (2017-2020), funded by the Inter-American Development Bank, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development and the Caribbean Development Bank is intended to further facilitate private sector development and economic growth in the region.

The second call for proposals targets clusters with bias towards job creation. Dr. Dohnert described clusters as “groups of firms that do things together. In the first phase of COMPETE Caribbean we found them to be very powerful, over 5000 jobs were created through 8 clusters that we supported”.

Dr. Sylvia Dohnert of Compete Caribbean.JPG

Dr. Sylvia Dohnert- Executive Director, Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility

A deadline of August 31st has been set for the receipt of submissions. Proposals for clusters can be submitted directly to Compete Caribbean (  Proposals for policy or regulatory reform and institutional strengthening should be forwarded to the National Competitiveness and Productivity Council:

The Executive Director,

National Competitiveness and Productivity Council,

4th Floor, Finance Administrative Centre

Pointe Seraphine

Castries, Saint Lucia

Further details can be obtained by downloading the Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility Call for Proposals  or from the NCPC via e-mail or telephone 468-1587.




Compete Caribbean and NCPC To Host PSD Forum on Innovation and Economic Growth in Saint Lucia

Dialogue for PSD and Economic Growth

According to the recent IDB publication “Engine of Growth?”, Caribbean enterprises are performing worse than those in the Rest of the Small Economies (ROSE).  It was estimated that average sales and employment growth of Caribbean firms was only 40 percent and 66 percent, respectively, of ROSE comparators.   Further, Caribbean firms’ performance has worsened over time, and most firms are stagnant, with the proportion of stagnating firms increasing from 50 to 87 percent from 2010 to 2014. It is in this context, that governments and local, regional and international development agencies have been intensifying efforts to support private sector development as a catalyst for growth.

Compete Caribbean is intended to support the region in increasing productivity and Caribbean firms’ contribution to economic growth.  Phase I of the Compete Caribbean (2010-2017), formally concluded at the end of February 2017. According to an end-of-program evaluation, Compete’s 101 technical assistance projects that involved national regulatory or policy reforms, institutional strengthening, and direct support to the private sector and knowledge production generated over 12,000 jobs in the region, increased revenues of firms and clusters by USD$153m (41%), and increased overall exports by USD$37m (23%). Phase II  (2017-2020) is a joint initiative of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Caribbean Development Bank.

In an effort to support the region in increasing productivity levels and Caribbean firms’ contribution to economic growth, Compete Caribbean and Saint Lucia’s National Competitiveness and Productivity Council (NCPC) are collaborating to host an important dialogue titled “Stimulating Private Sector Development and Economic Growth”.  Executive Director of Compete Caribbean, Dr. Sylvia Dohnert, says this dialogue is an important milestone for the Caribbean region.

“The intention is to not only sensitize stakeholders on the state of private sector development (PSD) in the region and the importance of PSD for economic development but similarly to increase awareness of current private sector development best practices and solutions that have achieved successful outcomes in other countries. We are elated to be collaborating with the NCPC on this initiative. We look forward to working with all stakeholders to create an environment which is increasingly competitive and in which businesses are able to flourish” she said.

Dr. Dohnert elaborated that the Forum provides a strategic platform for the private and public sector, civil society and academia to discuss national PSD priorities within the context of technological change and innovation.

The dialogue will feature presentations on The Imperatives for Innovation, as well as inspiring examples from the Caribbean region that demonstrate how to use innovation to stimulate development and growth. Representatives from local and regional agencies are expected to attend this event. These include members of professional associations, financial institutions, entrepreneurship associations, academia, non-governmental organizations and the public sector.


Creative Ways of Funding Your Business

Business Funding- Magnet

Saint Lucia is characterized by a youthful population. This means that thousands of young persons are entering the labour force yearly. As such, job opportunities for young persons are very limited and this has resulted in a youth unemployment rate of 38.4% in 2016. The answer to this crisis lies within entrepreneurship. Young persons are usually creative in their ways of thinking and solving problems. As such, this creativity can be used to create business opportunities for themselves as well as creating jobs for other young persons.

In order to start and operate a business, funding is essential. Securing financing, however, in this tough economic climate can be challenging due to the high risk levels involved in starting and operating a business. More importantly, entrepreneurs are required to have collateral in order to borrow. This, while proving to be problematic for potential young entrepreneurs should not be a deterrent.

Many successful business owners have started their business from scratch with little funding. For example, British business man- Chris Dawson has shown that selling goods from a suitcase can lead to big things, founding The Range (homeware) in 1988. His chain of discount stores made £88 million profit in 2014. Entrepreneurs are usually creative in nature and can come up with innovative ways of funding their ventures.

Young entrepreneurs will have great business ideas but because of lack of capital are discouraged to execute the plan. It is important to note that if the business idea is not comprehensive and well thought out, no amount of money will turn it into a success. Therefore, if an entrepreneur has a business idea but may have little money, that should not be a constraint to starting the business. This may require long days with little sleep. However, those who want it bad enough will make it happen.

The following are some tips on how to start your business with little funds:

Tell everyone about the business. Inform everyone that you know about your business including friends, family, business contacts and past colleagues. Call, send emails, attend free networking sessions also make the business known on social media. Friends and family can help you spread the word, and past colleagues can introduce your company to their professional contacts as well. This type of grass roots marketing can introduce your business to a much larger audience.

Get ready to work hard. When you are starting a business with little to no capital, you must be prepared to dedicate everything that you have into making the business a success. This involves cold calling, handling customer support, dealing with billing and accounting and other parts of the business. You may have to wear many hearts in order to start off the business.

Look for strategic investors. Strategic investors are the best type of investors you could find for your business because their interests align with your start up.  In assisting your business, there is some benefit to their business. For example, a hair dresser with a huge salon may give a nail technician some space to set up, either at a concessionary rate or free of charge. This is a way of marketing the hair salon to the clients of the nail technician and thus helping to expand the business.

Start at home.  Bill Gates successfully started his business in his garage. Depending on the line of business, a great way to save money is to run your business in a location that will not require you to pay extra rent. It will not look glamorous but will help you to get the job done without spending extra money.  In recent years, the Taiwanese government has been encouraging entrepreneurs to start businesses at home. This is a way of helping them decrease on their overheard costs which ensures the survival of the start-up business.

Start part- time. If you will need a steady income to meet your financial obligations, it is therefore advisable to start the business as a part time venture. Do not quit the job until the part time business has a steady flow of customers and profits.

Although it is true that generous funding, a team of investors, or family with deep pockets can make starting a business venture easier, not having money should not be a deterrent. If you are confident that you have a product or service people want, don’t allow the lack of money to dissuade you from your business goals. By pivoting, grinding it out, getting creative, and differentiating yourself, you can bootstrap your way to a successful business.

A Healthy Body is A Productive Body


The idea of productivity seldom conjures up thoughts of eating healthy and staying fit. The truth however, is that without a healthy body, one cannot be productive. Generally when we speak of productivity, reference is made to improving on time management, working efficiently, and making effective use of our scarce resources. 

It is also critically important for the country’s workforce to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Our people are an important endowment that Saint Lucia is blessed with and making productive use of our human resources is essential in promoting productivity as well as competitiveness.  Therefore, we need a workforce that is well qualified and healthy.

In today’s fast-paced world, the idea of eating a balanced diet and maintaining an exercise regimen can seem like a luxury rather than a necessity. However, in the long run, taking the time needed to eat well-balanced meals and to exercise regularly increases productivity.

Studies recently conducted at University of Los Angeles have found that many individuals employed within the business sector are falling sick due to poor diets and the lack of exercise. The result of this is ultimately a loss of productivity within organisations due to days lost as a result of persons being away from work.

Within the publication ‘Smart Business’, Dr. David Heber, professor of medicine and director of the UCLA Centre for Human Nutrition states,

‘By not being active, many are losing muscle and putting on fat because they tend to eat the same amount of food that they ate before. Skipping meals doesn’t really help (either) because your body tends to compensate later. Also, by skipping meals, you often don’t get the vitamins, minerals and protein that you need. The end result is that you lose muscle and gain fat, usually around the middle. This leads to a lot of serious problems. An example of which is ‘metabolic syndrome’. This is a form of high blood pressure, high blood fats and high blood sugar. It occurs in about 50 percent of people between the ages of 40 and 60. It can lead to heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and cancer.’

What can we do about this? Dr. Heber believes the solution is a simple one- eat a healthier diet, (which means a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables), and exercise about 30 minutes a day. He stresses that from a business perspective, an employee’s health is vital to productivity. For this reason, people should not skip lunch due to a meeting, or ignore sleep with the intention of finishing a report.

‘The brain requires blood glucose, or sugar from food and it also needs the protein that you find in foods. So when people don’t eat, the number one thing that happens is that they become less energetic, less able to think clearly and less able to do their jobs. Productivity will go down when you’re not eating properly. Nutrition is very important for mental activity, maintaining productivity.

For those employed within a profession that demands physical activity, it is even worse. Anyone employed in such a job requires very good nutrition, exercise and rest or they will lose the muscles needed and possibly suffer an injury’.

Although employers can play a major role in encouraging their employees to be healthier, the onus truly lies on the individual to recognise that performing at full potential requires attention being paid to one’s health.

Recently in a post for called ‘Productivity Hacks- It’s All In The Eyes’, entrepreneur Richard Branson discussed how his eye sight at one time limited his productivity.  He found a solution through the use of reading lenses. Even with this being the case, Branson still practices certain measures that as a businessman enable him to function positively and productively throughout the day. He writes,

‘As so many of us spend hours glued to our mobile, laptop or tablet screens, if you aren’t careful you can damage your creativity as well as your eyes. By resting your eyes from the screen you can also relax your mind and create the space to come up with new ideas.

Look at your emails in bursts, don’t constantly check them all day or you will never get anything done. Manage your mobile, don’t let it manage you. And remember to look after your body – including your eyes! You’ll soon see you get lots more done, feel healthier and can read all about it’.

About the National Competitiveness and Productivity Council (NCPC)

Established in October 2013, The National Competitiveness and Productivity Council (NCPC) is responsible for the identification of key issues related to competitiveness and productivity in Saint Lucia.

The NCPC and its Technical Secretariat is committed to providing the necessary advocacy and research to produce timely and effective recommendations to policymakers on issues that affect both competitiveness and productivity on island. For more information about productivity or on the NCPC, visit ,call 468-5571/5576 or send an e-mail to


Is increasing productivity the solution to the economic woes of Caribbean SIDS?

Economic context of Caribbean SIDS


Economic Conditions in several developed economies have improved considerably since the 2008 financial crisis. This is in contrast to most countries within the Caribbean where the characteristics of high debt, chronic poverty, little to no growth and high unemployment persist.

Most of the Caribbean islands belong to a special grouping of islands commonly referred to as Small Island Developing States (SIDS). SIDS are a distinct group of developing countries facing specific social, economic and environmental vulnerabilities. The commonality in these islands lies in the development challenges which they face; these include: small size, limited natural resources, remoteness from large markets, and vulnerability to natural disasters and economic shocks. The economic growth and development of SIDS has been slowed by high communication, energy and transportation costs. Additionally, public administration and some private sector functions are disproportionately more expensive within SIDS in comparison to developed countries. This is due in part to their smallness and the lack of opportunities to enjoy economies of scale. The smallness of SIDS make it difficult and almost impossible for government policy to have any significant impact on their economic situation.  

The external current account balance for many Caribbean SIDS has deteriorated significantly during the latter half of the last decade. This was mostly as a result of the decline in tourism and related receipts, rising energy prices and other commodity imports, and the loss of preferential market access. High levels of public debt built up from prolonged fiscal deficits and slow growth have also plagued Caribbean economies. Sustained fiscal consolidation complemented by structural reforms is now required to remedy Caribbean economies. In layman’s terms “The economic reality within Caribbean SIDS can only improve if we reduce our public debt and borrowing by making changes to how we do certain things in our economies.”

One option available to Caribbean SIDS which is likely to encourage economic growth is increasing productivity. Improving productivity is one structural reform which can be considered low hanging fruit for the region. Economic growth and productivity are intricately linked, and research has shown that increasing productivity will unlock economic growth, allow for efficiency gains and allow for a better allocation of resources in an economy. A number of countries have already recorded successes by pursuing a regime of improved productivity. Regionally some of the larger countries such as Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago have made significant strides in improving productivity and competitively; whilst internationally India and the Republic of Mauritius have helped to advance their respective economies through improvements in productivity.   

What is productivity?

It is important to not confuse productivity with production, output or efficiency. The concepts are all linked but one is not synonymous with the other.  Productivity describes the relationship between outputs and inputs. Simply put, productivity is a measure of how well an individual, organisation, industry or country converts input resources (labour, materials, machines etc) into goods and services. An increase in productivity occurs when an increase in output occurs with a less than proportionate increase in inputs, or when the same output is produced with fewer inputs.

Productivity is interpreted at three broad levels: the national level, the sectoral level and the enterprise level. The national level which is the broadest level is the aggregate of all the sectors within an economy. At the national level the state is required to create an environment conducive to productivity enhancement. The sectoral level relates to specific segments of an economy, such as agriculture or financial services; whilst the enterprise or individual level is the smallest unit for understanding productivity and refers to either an individual or entity.

A relationship exists among the three levels, as the enterprise level is the building block for the sectoral level, and the sectoral level the building block for the national level. Any improvement or deterioration at the lower levels will result in a comparable change at the national level. It therefore stands to reason that interventions which are made at the enterprise level are sure to result in some change at the national level.

Do increases in productivity benefit the economy?

Empirically, it has been proven that there is a positive correlation between productivity increases and economic growth.  However, the gains are not automatic, but are derived from a combination of well-targeted, strategic interventions. Measures meant to generate growth must be directed at both the public and private; and attention given at all the levels of productivity.  

The benefits from productivity are realisable at all three levels and are by no means mutually exclusive. Productivity gains at the enterprise and sectoral levels will redound to productivity gains at the national level.

Productivity improvements at the enterprise and sectoral levels should result in increased profitability, business growth and increased competitiveness for the related businesses and sectors.

 Advancements in productivity increase a businesses’ profitability as additional goods and services are produced with the same level of inputs, or the same level of goods and services is produced from fewer inputs. The result is a greater net output, as either the total output has increased or the total input     has decreased. The higher net output presents an opportunity for growth to businesses and industries. The savings created from the reduced requirement on input can be re-invested into new projects and product lines. The benefits to an economy from business growth are two fold; business growth may require the business to hire new employees thus creating employment, and growth will result in increased revenues for the business/industry, therefore the potential for greater tax revenue for governments. Businesses and industries will also enjoy enhanced competitiveness as their business processes would now be more efficient therefore creating the potential for price reductions for their goods and services. All three of the above gains will benefit the local economy as they create the possibility for increased tax revenue as a result of the rise in economic activity.

The gains from productivity at the national level are similar to those at the enterprise and sectoral level but are aggregated for the economy as a whole. The primary gains from increased productivity at the national level lie in: resource re-allocation, efficiency gains and increased competitiveness.

The higher output of goods and services, together with reducing levels of inputs, increases the wealth of the country and drives economic growth.  The very notion of increases in output implies that the net effect would be an increase in the country’s gross domestic product.

In so much as productivity is not the same as efficiency, there will be efficiency gains in an economy once productivity has increased. Furthermore, the decrease in demand for some inputs will mean that these inputs must now be redeployed elsewhere in the economy.  Once these inputs are engaged, and do not remain idle, this will cause a further increase in output.

Efficiency gains are perhaps one of the greatest benefits of increased productivity. As explained above, more will be able to be accomplished with fewer resources, a factor particularly important for most Caribbean SIDS in recent times given resource constraints. The new found efficiency will allow countries to redirect resources to reduction of public debts or resources can possibly be channelled into activities intended to stimulate investment and therefore grow the economy.

The increased productivity for businesses and sectors will make the country as a whole more competitive both regionally and globally. The products and services offered by the country then become more desirable on the global market. Improved competitiveness not only protects current jobs, but will attract some of much needed foreign direct investment which will create additional jobs and greater opportunities for employment at all levels.

Overcoming the economic conditions of high public debt, high unemployment and low growth is a hugely daunting task. One cannot expect such change overnight, nor will it come quickly and easily. The path to an improved economic condition will be challenging and will require patience and discipline. A comprehensive package of economic reforms is needed to address the deficiencies which exist in Caribbean economies at present. One critical transformation will be the pursuit of increased productivity.  Raising productivity and ultimately, economic growth cannot be avoided on the journey to achieving sustained economic growth. Equally important, productivity cannot be pursued half-heartedly, but must be pursued in full and in earnest to enjoy the many gains which are present.

Article written by Mr. Cecil Charles, Economist, Department of Finance

Make Yours a Productive Online Meeting

Businessman working on laptop in his office.Business meetings are an important part of any organisations daily schedule. Whether liked or loathed, research shows that senior decision makers spend an estimated 65 percent of their time in mandatory meetings with different departmental heads. Such meetings are usually vital as they update attendees on work schedules and progress. However, as many of us know, even if not intentional, business meetings can eat away at crucial work hours.

With the advent of the online meeting, many believed that unnecessary hours spent around a conference room table would be a thing of the past. Although some of the negatives related to ‘conventional’ meetings have been eradicated by way of the new technology, online meetings harbour other complications.   For example, with participants of online meetings being in various locations, telecommunication and technological problems often arise. Connectivity issues and communication delays are two of the most common problems that occur. Also, it is sometimes hard to keep a meeting structured with multiple participants speaking at the same time. Thankfully however there are some practices that can help make online meetings more productive.

Online Meetings Need a Clear Agenda

Even ‘traditional’ meetings should have a clear agenda. A meeting with a vague purpose often leads to confusion and a lot of wasted time. So never hold an online meeting without one. Make things easier for everyone by preparing a formal agenda which details all of the key issues to be discussed in the meeting.  Also clearly state the expected roles of each participant in the meeting.  Send the agenda out at least 24 hours before the scheduled meeting start time, and seek acknowledgement of the agenda from each participant.

Appoint a Moderator

A meeting without a moderator is likely to go off-track. By appointing a moderator, you have given somebody the authority to control proceedings. No one can speak without the moderator’s permission. It will also be the moderator’s job to keep everyone focused on the topic. This is particularly important during an online meeting since the chance of miscommunication is greater due to Internet connectivity and audio/video quality.

Prepare Your System In Advance

Ask all the participants to restart their computers at least 20 minutes before the meeting gets underway. Also, make sure your camera and microphone are working fine, and your meeting software supports multiple participants. For one-on-one meetings, you can go for a standard video calling service like Skype. But if there are multiple participants, a specialized application like ClickMeeting, which gives you the ability to conduct online meetings much more professionally is recommended.

Limit Distractions

Distractions can easily cause miscommunication in online meetings. To avoid them, make sure all your participants are sitting in a closed and well-illuminated room with a clear background. Also, it’s better to use headphones and a collar mic instead of your laptop’s mic to ensure clear communication.

 And In Conclusion…

Once your online meeting concludes, make sure a summary of all the meeting notes are sent to the participants. List the action points identified for each agenda item along with the name of the person responsible for its delivery. Ask all the participants to acknowledge the meeting notes and confirm their understanding.

Conducting online meetings with people in different locations can be difficult to manage, but advance preparation, good structure, and tight moderation can bring about a productive success.  If done right, well-communicated, online meetings can become an extremely effective platform for connecting your company stakeholders and employees, whilst saving you telephone and other conventional communication costs.