Private sector role critical to economic development

Photo shows section of participants at Thursday’s National Consultation on the Economy

ST. KITTS, SEPTEMBER 3, 2010 (CUOPM) – The role of the private sector should play in economic development should not be overestimated.

Addressing scores of participants at the 13th Annual National Consultation on the Economy, St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas said a critically important role is played by micro, small and medium enterprises which account for much of the employment, the building of local productive capacity and fostering of entrepreneurship.

“To illustrate the increasing significance of the private small and medium enterprises in our economy our statistics show that over the period January 2007 to July 2010 over 1000 business license applications were approved by the Ministry of Finance. In 2009 alone 359 such applications were approved. The employment potential of these businesses need to be leveraged and combined with increasing productivity to achieve our economic growth potential to keep the economy afloat in these trying times,” said Dr. Douglas.

He said Government’s laptop initiative for students was not dreamed up in isolation of any strategy for the economic advancement of its people.

“In fact the lap tops will be accompanied by the appropriate integrated training which would have as one of its components the encouragement for young people to engage in internet commerce and self-employment. This is an area that the private sector will also be able to capitalize on as any additional training which our youths acquire can only redound to the good of the workplace and our economy as a whole,” said Prime Minister.

Dr. Douglas pointed out that although the focus of the consultation is on the area of fiscal and financial sector reforms a special section is devoted to Social Safety Nets.

“This demonstrates the caring and compassionate nature of my Government as we are very much aware that in any fiscal or financial crisis that it is the poor, elderly and youths who are the more vulnerable. Therefore it is our aim to ensure that none of our citizens fall through the cracks even as we seek to deal with these very pressing challenges,” said the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.

“To do nothing in the face of our challenges is not an option, for sticking our heads in the sand like the proverbial ostrich would not cause our problems to disappear. We believe that opportunities for comprehensive reform sometimes come disguised as challenges, crises or problems. We are therefore ensuring that these opportunities do not pass us by. Consequently the Government’s reform agenda is now on the front burner as we seek to ensure that all of our policies and operations are upgraded and modernized to operate in the new economy,” said Prime Minister Douglas.

He said it must be borne in mind that the reforms which were being discussed at the National Consultation that are just intended to have a fiscal impact in the form of savings.

“We also intend to introduce reforms that would allow us to use our limited resources to achieve maximum benefits. This is why we are also going to be identifying wastage and looking at ways for increasing productivity. In this regard the work of the Competitiveness Council will be critical. The fact that they will also be presenting today further indicates Government’s commitment to enhancing competiveness in our nation as a pillar for economic development,” said the St. Kitts and Nevis leader.

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