Invest SVG earmarked to receive IDB grant funding
February 21, 2014

Invest SVG earmarked to receive IDB grant funding

Compete Caribbean officials recently held a mission in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in order to assess the possibility of supporting Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in its efforts to strengthen Invest SVG {{more}} – the central institutional pillar in the State’s administration – responsible for bolstering and attracting local and foreign direct investment to the island. The ultimate objective would be to improve capacity building for improving the investment climate and to further economic development within St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Compete Caribbean is a private sector development program that provides technical assistance grants and investment funding to support productive development policies, business climate reforms, clustering initiatives and small and medium size enterprise (SME) development institutions in the Caribbean region. The program jointly funded by the Inter–American Development Bank (IDB), the UK Development for International Development (DFID) and Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD), supports projects in 15 Caribbean countries. Projects in the OECS countries are implemented in partnership with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).

The international business environment has changed rapidly and the need therefore exists for countries to respond to the guiding need of improving their competitiveness. St Vincent and the Grenadines is no exception. The country’s trade performance, in particular exports (as a percentage of GDP), has fallen significantly over the last 10 years. Conterminously, the private sector, comprising mainly SMEs, is constrained by several factors which inhibit its export capabilities and full integration into the global economy. This problem has been further exacerbated by the impact of several exogenous shocks (such as the global financial crisis of 2008) on the economy of St Vincent and the Grenadines. It should be noted that although the island has withstood many of these external shocks, it is still constrained by those very shocks, as well as by limited capacities.

The institutional strengthening of Invest SVG is paramount and a move in the right direction as the agency seeks to fulfil its mandate. The time for enhancing the investment climate is also ripe, given the coming on stream of the Argyle international airport. The aim of this current pilot project is to address the problem by proposing a strategic framework that is not only consistent with the themes of the island’s National Economic and Social Development Plan (NESDP 2010 – 2025), but is also designed to enhance the global competitiveness of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The attraction of foreign direct investment is normally prioritised as an important agenda of national development policy. According to Invest SVG’s executive director Bernadette Ambrose-Black, although this is Compete Caribbean’s third visit to the archipelagic island developing State, it would be the first time in the history of the island that the organization would be implementing a developmental project. It is anticipated that the outputs of this project will enhance the investment climate, thereby contributing towards economic growth, increased export earnings, increased Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and a reduction in the country’s trade deficit.

The Compete Caribbean mission was led by Dr Sylvia Dohnert, executive director of Compete Caribbean and Private Sector Development lead specialist at the IDB; Dr Mario Umana, senior Trade and Integration and Competition specialist, IDB; and Alejandro Carrion, OECS coordinator for Compete Caribbean. It was coordinated by both the chairman, Anthony Regisford and executive director of Invest SVG Bernadette Ambrose-Black. Over the course of two days the team held high-level meetings with the Governor General, Prime Minister, Government Ministers for all the economic focus sectors for which Invest SVG has responsibilities, the director general of Finance and Economic Planning, and the director of Planning. Consultations were also held with both private and public sectors that fall within the purview of Invest SVG.