The first ever Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Business Council retreat began on Monday in Saint Lucia, under the theme: “Converging the development agenda together.”
President of the OECS Business Council Gorden Charles said the council will focus on enhancing customer satisfaction. Charles said 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 added 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 explained: “sits on top of each of the various entities.”
The private sector council will address collective challenges among the entities in each OECS member state, which will have one representative on the Business Council. The Council will look at common issues affecting the region’s business environment thereby benefitting the consumer.
The inaugural 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: “The real success of this involves actual people and organisations getting together.”
He said the private sector in the OECS is 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,” he said.
Venner stated 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, said, 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,” he said.
Jules said 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