Castries Saint Lucia:
The first ever OECS Business Council retreat began on Monday July 20th 2015, under the theme: “Converging the development agenda together.”
President of the OECS Business Council Gorden Charles says the OECS Business Council will focus on enhancing customer satisfaction. Charles says besides looking at their own internal structure they will also consider key interventions such as the high cost of transportation, the cost of energy across the region and access to financing along with strategies such as the ease of doing business thereby providing a less expensive environment for suppliers of goods doing business in the OECS which will benefit the consumer in the long run.
Charles adds that all business entities such as chambers of commerce, manufacturers associations, coalition of services, as well as hotel and tourism associations are being been further integrated, becoming part of what is known as a private sector council in each island which as Charles explains: “sits on top of each of the various entities.” The private sector council which will address collective challenges among the entities in each OECS Member State will have one representative on the OECS Business Council. The OECS Business Council will look at common issues affecting the region’s business environment thereby benefiting the consumer.
The inaugural OECS Business Council retreat reinforced the point that a strong and vibrant representative body of the private sector is extremely necessary to the success of the OECS Economic Union. Sir K Dwight Venner, Governor of the ECCB shared this view with the OECS News Link: “The real success of this involves actual people and organisations getting together.”
He says the private sector in the OECS are contributing in a very tangible way by setting up an institution consisting of layers which will be in the thick and thin of the integration effort which is what it should be:
“These things don’t depend of governments alone in fact if they were governments alone they would not have been successful. So the private sector provides the real deal in getting these things done because you need services and goods crossing borders, you need businesses being set up in different countries, business partners in different countries getting together to produce using the whole space. So a strong and vibrant representative body of the private sector is very necessary to the success of the Economic Union in which we are now engaged.”
Sir K Dwight Venner, Governor of the ECCB
Sir Dwight states that the region needs development of the private sector for if there is more production and export of goods, there will be more foreign exchange and therefore, if organised properly, one will be able to import things that the consumers need at a lower price.
Dr. Didacus Jules, Director General of the OECS says in keeping with the vision of the OECS Economic Union the newly established OECS Business Council will enhance the region’s attraction as a better place or better economic space for doing business:
“The council has a tremendous role to play. The OECS Business Council provides an opportunity to bring all major business players to the table for them to begin to shape an autonomous voice that can speak to governments with authority regarding the types of policies and incentives and infrastructure whether it will be regulatory or physical that is required to improve the ease of doing business in the OECS.”
Dr. Jules says notwithstanding the competition among businesses, the only way the region can truly achieve the objective of a single economic space is if the private sector is able to act in a unified manner, looking at the bigger issues and working together, ensuring that business can be done easily, smoothly, efficiently and to the benefit of the consumer ultimately.
The OECS Commission and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank will play a supporting role in having the OECS Business Council set up on a proper footing.