May 15, 2015
SVG signs project agreement with Compete Caribbean

“We can’t allow complacency in thinking, a sense of ordinariness, to keep you going…”

On the cusp of a new project that is set to boost foreign investment in St Vincent and the Grenadines, the Prime Minister asserted that he expects nothing but cooperation {{more}}from the team at Invest SVG.

On Tuesday, May 12, an agreement was signed between the Government of SVG and Compete Caribbean, a private sector development programme, which will see some US$220,000 being directed toward training staff at Invest SVG to “strengthen the institution.”

Speaking about the project, which is set to last 14 months, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said: “We have to bring to the table real, new ideas and disruptive thought processes… to attract investment [and] create wealth and jobs.

“I am hoping that we will not have within Invest SVG a resistance to disruptive ideas, which are going to take us to a new level. We can’t be spending this money… as window dressing.”

Gonsalves said that although Invest SVG has done well in its operations so far, this new project is an acknowledgement that there is still room for improvement.

“There are not going to be miracles; you are not going to find Invest SVG walking on water,” countered the Prime Minister. “But we expect them, that when they are in the water… they would not drown!”

Confident that this project with Compete Caribbean will bring about fresh ideas, Gonsalves said that all stakeholders should be mindful that new ideas should also be accompanied by action.

“There are many men and women who say there is a necessity and desirability for new ideas,” he noted. “When you ask them ‘what is the new idea,’ there is no new idea. It’s just that they are in love with the idea of new ideas!”

Sylvia Dohnert, executive director of Compete Caribbean, said that the programme is funded by the Government of Canada, the UK’s department for international development and the Inter-American Development Bank, in partnership with the Caribbean Development Bank; and works with governments across the region to “do legal, regulatory and administrative reforms.”

Dohnert also highlighted how important foreign direct investment is for economic growth, generating employment and developing new sectors that may not already exist within a country.

Citing JAMPRO (Jamaica) and Beltrade (Belize) as highly successful examples of Compete Caribbean involvement, Dohnert said that the programme benefits all 15 of the Cariforum countries, as well as others in the wider region.

“We are confident that this project will yield very positive results,” she asserted.

Director of Invest SVG Bernadette Ambrose-Black said that she is pleased with this new project that is aimed at improving the investment attraction climate and business climate locally; and pointed out that foreign investment has been on the increase since 2011 and is also projected to increase for 2015.

Prime Minister Gonsalves further pointed out that SVG has a good investment climate, with the World Bank having allocated us very good scores in many areas of investment – including building permits (ranked sixth in the world), ease of connection for electricity, repatriation of profits and legal frameworks.

He also spoke of other foreign investment programmes, including Pink Sands Resort in Canouan, the development of the Mt Wynne/Peter’s Hope area, and leads being pursued in the Grenadines.

Gonsalves also made mention of marijuana for medical/pharmaceutical usage and educational tourism.

“We have to look for things beyond existing boundaries, beyond those constrained by a colonial mind!”(JSV)