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BusinessFocus July / Aug
BusinessFocus July / Aug
BF July/Aug 2012
Contents FEATURE 65. The Budget, VAT & the Labour Code 66. The 2012-13 Budget 70. How the budget affects you 72. Business from the Budget 80. VAT 86. The Labour Code
REGULARS 04. Editor’s Focus 06. Business Briefs Business Tech 08. RIM launches new BlackBerry Curve 10. Building the domestic Internet ecomony 14. Lowering your ink bill 16. What technology to use for your type of technology Money Matters 18. E-Banking 20. Doing more with less 22. World Bank approves for ICT infrastructure 24. A plan for Caribbean pensions 26. Investors missing from global financial reform 28. Moody’s & Standard and Poor downgrade CDB Economy & Trading Focus 32. Businesses cannot be left out of business 36. CARICOM delegation to US to protest rum exports 37. Red Stripe to grow their own raw materials
In The Know 50. Customer service & the company’s bottom line 52. Expo 2012 54. Please don’t go 56. Employers can force retirement 58. The tip of the marketing iceberg 60 Family businesses: conflict of interest 62. Selecting a guard company 64. Don’t be worried about the next generation Torism Focus 88. The SLHTA AGM 94. Bizz Buzz Health & Wellness 96. Wise up to Dengue 98. Events 2012 100. Major Moves 102. New Company Registrations
40. Environmental Focus 42. Business Spotlight BusinessFocus July / Aug
Anxiety, Expectation and Hope…
BUSINESSFOCUS Business Focus magazine is published every two months by Advertising & Marketing Services Limited (AMS), Saint Lucia. Publisher / Managing Editor: Lokesh Singh email@example.com Project Coordinator: Alex Foster - firstname.lastname@example.org Graphic Designer: Cecil Sylvester Advertising Sales: Cennette Flavien - email@example.com Hudson Myers - firstname.lastname@example.org Webmaster: Advertising & Marketing Services Photography: Advertising & Marketing Services Ashley Anzie | MASL
These are changing times - of mixed anxiety, much expectation and all-round hope for good, for better, or for the best - as businesses consider the 2012-2013 Budget ahead of the upcoming Labour Code and Value Added Tax (VAT). Businesses have opportunities to tap into millions identified for local projects, many of which we highlight in this issue. The Ministry of Commerce also received a healthy allocation to engage and encourage businesses to do better business in St. Lucia. The public and private sectors can use these new and ongoing opportunities to develop the more sound business relationships necessary for the State and the nation to be rescued from the perils of economic dislocation or dismemberment looming on near shores and distant horizons. The Labour Code has been long in coming. The local Private Sector and trade unions have had thorough engagement with the State. The Chamber of Commerce sought out and got sound external legal advice and influenced hundreds of changes to the original draft. The final draft represents the tripartite efforts of Labour, Capital and the State - and it’s also the most advanced Code of its kind in the Caribbean. When implemented, it will not be perfect and will surely be revisited time and again. But the Code is the end result of one of the longest consultative processes the island has known. Anxiety and expectation also surround the coming of the VAT. Businesses still have quarrels with the speed of implementation and consumers fear it will bore deeper holes in their pockets. But, as with the Labour Code, legal mechanisms exist for ongoing consultation beyond the implementation date.
Contributors: Earl Bousquet | Stan Bishop Pilaiye Cenac | Michael Chastanet | Dr. Tanya Destang-Beaubrun ECFH | First Citizens Investment Services Keitha Glace | Faithaline Hippolyte | Rashid Jean-Baptiste Marvin Kane | Dr. Annette Rahael | Brian Ramsey Sir Ronald Sanders | SLHTA | Fern Smith | Embert St. Juste St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce | Bevil Wooding Editorial, Advertising, Design & Production: Advertising & Marketing Services P.O. Box 2003, Castries, Saint Lucia Tel: (758) 453-1149; Fax: (758) 453-1290 email: email@example.com www.amsstlucia.com, www.stluciafocus.com Business Focus welcomes contributions from professionals or writers in specialized fields or areas of interest. Reproduction of any material contained herein without written approval, constitutes a violation of copyright. Business Focus reserves the right to determine the content of the publication.
As usual, in this issue we bring you, the current and future members of the St. Lucia business community, up to date with the latest economic, commercial, financial, business, trade, local, regional and international issues relevant to us. We can only trust that we have accomplished, once again, our business of focusing, through the following pages of words and images, on what is important for you and for business.
Issue No. 64
Budget VAT & the
On The Cover: Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony after delivering the Budget Address 2012-2013
Lokesh Singh Publisher/Managing Editor
BusinessFocus July / Aug
BusinessFocus July / Aug
GTM Recorded Growth in 2011
CIBC Opens New Branch in Rodney Bay
First Citizens Takes Over Barbados Bank
The Guyana and Trinidad Mutual Life Insurance Company (GTM) Limited, which also operates in St. Lucia, has recorded an after tax profit of $499 million for 2011, with General Manager, Roger Yee, saying they have experienced significant growth over the years. This he says is based on the fact that Guyana is not affected by the current financial crisis and does not depend on tourism to develop. Yee says during last year they recorded a surplus of 89 million while gross premium was marked at over $1 billion. He noted that GTM which has served Guyana for a number of years will continue to offer its services to the public and will also seek to improve the delivery of insurance policies. Asked about competition in the local economy, Yee says GTM can be viewed as insurance partners and not competition. Also he is anticipating continued growth based on the competence of their sales agents. The regional company operates in Jamaica, St. Lucia, Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago.
Business people in the north are doing business with CIBC Caribbean at a new location – The Mardini Building at Rodney Bay. The branch opened on May 21st to a steady stream of enthusiastic customers lining up to be among the first to be served on its opening day. CIBC First Caribbean Country Manager, Mauricia Thomas-Francis, said the new location enabled the bank to better serve customers in a more spacious and elegant atmosphere. In addition, she said, it also featured several amenities to enhance the customer experience. These include: a state-of-theart Internet and telephone banking kiosk with access to the bank’s website, as well as touch-screen offerings. In addition to ATM and night deposit facilities, the bank also offers a coin counter to speed-up checking coins. According to Mrs. Thomas-Francis, “The satisfaction of our customers is our priority. Therefore we need to be solutions-oriented and in every interaction we need to create value for our customers.” She said she harboured “no doubt” that her bank’s team at the new location would deliver on the customer satisfaction expected, as she’d already seen what they were capable of.
Regional financial institution Bank of NT Butterfield and Son Ltd. announced it had reached an agreement to sell its Barbados subsidiary, Butterfield Bank (Barbados) Ltd., to Trinidad & Tobago’s state owned bank First Citizens. Pending regulatory approval, the sale is expected to be completed in the third quarter of the year with gross proceeds of US$45 million, Butterfield and First Citizens said in a joint statement. Butterfield Bank (Barbados) Ltd. provides retail, premium and business banking and lending services, merchant services, and credit and debit card services in Barbados. It employs 114 staff members at its main office in Bridgetown and five additional banking centres across the island. The bank had assets of US$308 million and customer deposits of US$270 million at December 31st, 2011. First Citizens' acquisition of Butterfield bank (Barbados) represents the first acquisitive expansion of its full service banking business outside of Trinidad and Tobago. The company currently offers investment services in Barbados, St. Vincent and St. Lucia through its subsidiary First Citizens Investment Services and has assets of almost US$5 billion and equity of over US$800 million.
BusinessFocus July / Aug
Annual NCF Telethon a Great Success The local business community played a great part assisting the National Community Foundation (NCF) to go over the top at its 10th Annual Telethon held earlier this year by surpassing its target of $200,000. NCF Executive Director, Julianna Alfred, says the business community “played a significant role, as usual, and this year we have scored over EC$261,000.” Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Economic Development and Social Security, Dr. Kenny Anthony, who attended the event, also commented positively on the contributions of St. Lucians, including businesses. He said he was “very proud of the way Saint Lucians came out despite present economic hardship to give for the benefit of the less fortunate.” “I am so pleased and thrilled that we could have all come together, because the National Telethon is one activity which touches the humanitarian impulse in all of us and it’s a wonderful feeling to see groups from all around the island volunteering their time to the NCF,” he added. “We Saint Lucians have a great heart, we have a great spirit, we are very generous and we understand what it is to be unfortunate and what it is for people to go through trauma of one kind or the other and I think this is the kind of occasion when the best of the human spirit comes out in us,” the PM said. The funds raised at the annual telethon are used to support the work of the NCF, particularly in providing scholarships to qualifying students and medical assistance to many citizens.
LIME is Giving Away $500,000!!
LIME has launched a new mega promotion that gives its customers the opportunity to win a grand total of half a million dollars worth of cash and groceries. Dubbed ‘BIG Money,’ the promotion allows LIME customers to enter a series of draws for chances to win $1,000 in cash and $500 worth of groceries from Super J everyday running until March 31, 2013. “On a daily basis, we will have customers winning not only serious sums of money, but also groceries from Super J in our BIG Money promotion!” said Head of Marketing & Communications, Laurencia Cadette. “With half a million dollars in cash and groceries just waiting to be won, BIG Money is the most exciting and thrilling offer around, and it gives our customers a really worthwhile goal to aim for. It’s a further demonstration that we are living up to our promise to continually give back to our customers by creating ways to help them save and giving them more value for money, with the kind support of our partners, Super J IGA.” Sariah Best-Joseph of Super J IGA says, “We are proud to be teaming up with LIME for the BIG Money promotion. We are happy to be part of a promotion that allows customers to benefit from the best in products and services, along with great savings, from both Super J IGA and LIME.”
CAL Flies Direct to London from Barbados Caribbean Airlines direct service between Barbados and London, Gatwick, has started on June 30, 2012. The twice-weekly service, operated by the 767–300ER fleet, departs Barbados as BW900 on Tuesdays and Saturdays and returns as BW901 with a non-stop service departing out of London on Wednesdays and Sundays. With the introduction of these services, Caribbean Airlines will now offer direct flights to London from Port of Spain six days a week, further facilitating onward connections regionally as well as into and out of South and North America. "Barbados has long been and continues to be an extremely popular Caribbean destination popular amongst UK tourists, thus Caribbean Airlines, as the regional carrier, is particularly excited to shares its unique brand of Caribbean warmth with passengers to the beautiful island of Barbados," the carrier said. CAL also serves Antigua and recently re-introduced regional service to St. Lucia using its George FL Charles Airport in Castries.
BusinessFocus July / Aug
BlackBerry Aims to
Tighten Hold on
Launches New Curve Smartphones BlackBerry developers, Research In Motion (RIM), made no bones about it. It is coming back for leadership of the lucrative world market for smartphones with its sleek and more advanced BlackBerry Curves, officially unveiled in Cartagena, Colombia. The new phones, which were unveiled by senior RIM executives before a group of Latin American and Caribbean journalists at a hi-tech launch at the Hotel Sofitel Cartagena Santa Clara, should push BlackBerry's take of the market from the 77 million subscribers it now has around the world with 650 carriers in 175 countries. The new BlackBerry Curve 9320 and 9220 smartphones feature all the marketleading messaging and social network capabilities, which RIM's Regional Managing Director for the Americas, Rick Costanzo said have helped to make BB smartphones very popular in Latin America and the Caribbean. "Designed to be easy to use and easy to own, these new models each offer the longest battery life yet in a BlackBerry smartphone, allowing users to make the most of their day," Costanzo told the launch. Constanzo, who oversees the strategy for all RIM operations in Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as the United States, said the new smartphones come with the new BlackBerry 7.1 operating system (OS), which supports features such as mobile hotspot (Wi-Fi sharing), and parental control - a new on-device feature that provides parents and guardians with simple options to help protect children by restricting access to specific functions, features and applications. The more advanced Curves, which allow its users to easily interact with their social network in real time, using preloaded BusinessFocus July / Aug
apps for Facebook and Twitter, had senior journalists from the Dominican Republic, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, and of course Jamaica, which is regarded as the leader in BlackBerry use in the Englishspeaking Caribbean, in rapt attention as RIM officials explained the technical details of the new BBs during press demonstrations. According to RIM officials, the Curve 9320 and the 9220 offer the best keyboards in their class for quick and easy typing, with a new dedicated BBM key that allows the user to connect to the popular mobile social network in an instant. Both of the new Curve smartphones feature a built-in FM radio that does not require a data plan, but only the 9320 comes with a flash for the upgraded camera. The unveiling pushed the Latin America and Caribbean region ahead of the rest of world, but it was obvious that bringing the BlackBerry Curves to the market so early after the launch of its prototype BlackBerry 10 was a closely guarded secret by the Canadian company. Plans to bring the new BBs to market and reposition the company started with an advertising campaign, which RIM officials said was the first for Latin America and the Caribbean, a smartphone market where it dominates. Speculation was rife that BlackBerry was depending on the launch of its new BB10 operating system, expected to hit the market later in the year, to help in retaking some market share. But the critics and analysts were all wrong as RIM executives said launching of the new Curves was just the start of "new things for the telecoms giant."
Wes Nicol, RIM's Managing Director for the Andean Countries and the Caribbean, in an interview with a select group of journalists following the launch, said smartphones will outsell feature phones in the Latin American and Caribbean market this year, "which is a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs to work with and we had to make sure that we put as much value in the packages we offer," suggesting that was one of the driving forces behind the launch of the new BB Curves. The once mighty BlackBerry has been having difficulties recently in keeping up with Apple's iPhone and brands that run the Google Android software, and has even seen a plunge in RIM's stocks as the company tries to keep up with its rivals. The slow pace of upgrades to BlackBerry's technological capabilities has been one of the factors blamed for its fall in market shares. New president, Thorsten Heins, was earlier this year given the mandate to restructure and turn around the company, although critics said the mandate was coming too late. However, RIM's Constanzo made it clear that the Canadian company would continue to concentrate on quality and not quantity. "We don't do anything halfhearted and we are in this game to win; we are not about to go soft, and we will retake leadership (of the smartphone market) and remain very committed," Constanzo said. In St. Lucia, LIME welcomes the BlackBerry Curve 9320 to its line of data enabled services and the new phone will be available in store from July. Grace Silvera, LIME Regional VP for Marketing & Corporate Communications said, "We continue give our customers the latest and best technology.â€?
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BusinessFocus July / Aug
Building the Domestic Internet Economy By Bevil Wooding The concept that local access to the internet gives users global reach is well understood. This consumer paradigm is, in fact, most prevalent, as users routinely go to the internet to get something, typically from a foreign source. The notion that satisfying local needs can create global opportunities is, however, less prevalent. The producer paradigm, where users in a jurisdiction are encouraged to leverage the internet as a platform for publishing content and deploying services, needs to become more prevalent. For local users, internet access should firstly be a portal to a domestic network that gives access to local content, enabling local transactions, reinforcing local values, empowering local communities and developing the local economy. This is something internet users in the developed world take for granted. A user in New York expects to easily find a list of the best coffee shops in his neighbourhood. A user in London expects to be able to go online to get the latest bus schedule. In each case, the user expects to go on the global internet to satisfy a local need. This should be no different for users in the developing world.
infrastructure, legal and regulatory environments that support development of the internet ecosystem. The importance of this enabling environment was recognised in the Declaration and Action Plan of the UNâ€™s World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), which emphasised that a trustworthy, transparent and non-discriminatory environment was essential for the use and growth of ICTs in the developing world. However, awareness of the need for a proper support environment does not make it any less of a daunting task for policy makers. Even as best practices emerge from countries that have successfully crafted policies to facilitate ICT-based development, there is no single magic plan. Every jurisdiction needs to define its own best practice. In this regard, the role of regulators and regulation itself must be re-evaluated. Regulators must shift emphatically toward a more development-focused philosophy as they seek regulatory reform in key areas, such as the regulation of communications services and infrastructure; data privacy and protection; cyber-security; intellectual property rights; public infrastructure; internet governance and general principles of competition.
Local content, applications
For information and communication technologies (ICTs) to deliver on their promise of economic and social development, it is essential that countries adopt enabling
Encouraging branding, packaging and ultimately, utilising locally-developed content, applications and services is fundamental to the development of the local Internet
Local is global
The beauty of the internet is the unprecedented efficiency with which it serves the diverse information appetites of so many across the world. However, even though any individual can now potentially reach a global audience, the internet landscape remains unevenly dominated by the cultural and economic powerhouses of the world. Like an imbalance in trade, an imbalance of content can come at a heavy and deleterious socio-economic price. For developing markets, like those in the Caribbean, it can drown out indigenous content and restrict local economic opportunities. As more national and corporate budget allocations go toward improving internet connectivity and increasing access; and in the maddening rush to give more students and young people laptops, tablets and smartphones to get connected, we must now ask: whose internet will these new users be connecting to? Will the next wave of Caribbean internet users be able to easily access indigenous literature, art or news? Will they find perspectives and values that are familiar? Will they be able to access services, to easily buy and sell goods, in their currency, fulfilled by their financial institutions, covered by their laws? Many countries do not have satisfactory responses to these questions and are becoming aware that they should. BusinessFocus July / Aug
economy. Countries can debate the merits of nationally coordinated initiatives versus uncoordinated market efforts to support local innovations and content development. No one can argue that a multi-faceted approach is necessary to create a comprehensive and sustainable local content industry. Initiatives can span from online government service delivery, to support for e-transactions. It includes digitisation of critical national archives from libraries and warehouses and the creation of globally-accessible online repositories. It covers media houses making the transition from print and live broadcast to online and on-demand access to content. It also involves software developers and entrepreneurs building applications and businesses that leverage the power and reach of the web.
Human capacity, creativity Perhaps the most important enabler to drive development of the domestic in-
ternet is the availability of a creative and competent local human resource pool. It takes people to transform the internet from being just a set of interconnected computer networks into a living, dynamic social network where ideas, experiences, expertise and life can be exchanged. This living internet is built on innovators, and pioneers, individuals, businesses and institutions, who are not content to simply follow the status quo, but to constantly push it to its limits, and ultimately, ensure that it is relevant to their needs and objectives. A first goal of governments, academia and civil society groups must be to increase literacy and participation in the ICT sector. Non-ICT organs can play a major role in facilitating both capacity building, and paradigm shifting required for people to believe that their contributions actually matter. Local stakeholders are best positioned to fashion the local internet. They already contribute by printing newspapers; running radio and television stations; creating music, art and films; building businesses;
delivering government services; conducting research and mobilising around common interests. The task is now to fully leverage the internet to amplify and extend the impact of these stakeholders. We can harness creative local resources to produce relevant local content, riding on local infrastructure, governed by local legislation, transacting in the local markets, to meet local needs. This is the local internet, and the key to building a robust, technology-driven economy. About the Author Bevil Wooding is an international strategist, innovator and technology ambassador. Follow on Twitter: @bevilwooding and Facebook: facebook.com/bevilwooding
Karib Cable Set to Enter Barbados
Regional telecommunications company, Karib Cable, will invest B$65 million to expand into Barbados, pledging to build a fibre-optic network on the island and start offering services there by the end of the year. The telecoms provider will offer a triple play package of broadband Internet, cable television and fixed line telephone servic-
es to both corporate and residential customers. Karib Cable was founded in St Vincent & the Grenadines in 1996 and has since then already expanded operations into Antigua and St. Lucia. Both Digicel and LIME are already present in Barbados, but Managing Director of Karib Cable, Kelly Glass, said his company would be targeting 50 percent of the Bajan market. "Karib Cable has the financial, operational and technical capability as well as the regional presence to compete in the local telecommunications markets in a meaningful manner," said Glass at a media launch in the country last week. "We will show this through the provision of improved service offerings to the island, and better value for money to the people of
Barbados." The investment arm of the Barbados government also said Karib Cable's plans will bring more business to the country. "By improving our telecommunications network, Barbados will improve its ability to attract, win and sustain investment for Barbados," said Wayne Kirton of Invest Barbados. "The new network will enhance Barbados' reputation as being one of the world's pre-eminent international business centres." Invest Barbados also said the Karib Cable plant will be manned by Barbadian nationals who will have "intimate knowledge of the Barbados market, its culture and the people." The company has said that the design, building, and operation of a fibreoptic cable to run services in the country will lead to 200 new jobs. Karib Cable already serves over 50,000 customers. Courtesy: Jamaica Observer
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Columbus Expands its Fibre Barbados based Columbus International, which operates as Flow regionally, has bought out all remaining shares in two telecommunications companies that will see it expanding its operations in Barbados and St Lucia. Columbus, a diversified telecommunications company, entered an agreement with Caribbean Fibre Holdings which has allowed it to get all issued and outstanding shares of Antilles Crossing in Barbados and Antilles Crossing Holding Company that is based in St Lucia. In doing so, Columbus has bought out its direct competitors, TeleBarbados and Tele-St. Lucia, in those islands. Under the agreement, Columbus will get TeleBarbados' fibre-based telecommu-
nications network in that island and also have access to its licences. This will allow it to "provide domestic and international voice services, Internet exchange services, managed data network services, domestic and international telecom services, various wireless spectrum services" and other offerings, the company said in a release. Also, Tele-St Lucia, which was acquired under the agreement, will provide Columbus with similar services here in St. Lucia. "The acquisition of TeleBarbados marks a significant milestone in Columbus's entry into the Barbados telecom marketplace," said Columbus CEO, Brendan Paddick, adding that Columbus will be investing heavily in Barbados over the next two to three years. The company plans to roll out a series of corporate data, connectivity and information technology services under the brand Columbus Business Solutions, Paddick said.
Columbus wants to offer the "full triple play of broadband Internet, digital landline telephone and advanced Internet protocol-based video services under the brand name, Flow," he said. Columbus is prepared to make an immediate significant investment in Barbados, Paddick said, as the company recently announced a US$225 million credit facility. This investment will see the launch of several advanced consumer and corporate services and the creation of hundreds of new high technology jobs, the CEO said. What's more, there will be lower prices that will lead to "a more competitive Barbados in the global economy." Columbus International currently operates in Trinidad, Jamaica, Grenada and Curacao providing digital cable television, broadband Internet and digital landline services.
Four Practical Steps to a Website Redesign Take a good, hard look at your website. Could it do with a summer makeover to boost sales? "Radical redesigns are a great way to transform your site into a beautiful new butterfly." Here are four of practical steps toward a fresh redesign:
are winners, make sure you don't lose them in a redesign! Think it through. "For example, if you remove a page that has a higher number of inbound links, you could lose a lot of SEO credit, which could decrease keyword rankings.
1. Benchmark your current metrics. First, get a clear picture of your site's performance history. Assess factors such as:
3. Design your site around personas. Cre-
Number of visits/visitors/unique visitors
Number of new leads/form submissions
Total amount of sales generated
Inventory your assets—and protect them. Once you know what site features BusinessFocus July / Aug
ate fictional representations of your ideal customers—and craft your content around those personas. To build buyer personas:
Segment by demographics. Give each buyer type a name, job title, company, etc.
Identify their needs. What problems are these personas trying to solve? What do they need from you?
Develop behavior-based profiles.
Are they active on Facebook, Twitter? What search terms do they use? How do they use your products?
4. Build in calls to action. Create relevant calls to action at your site, based on the personas you've developed. Offer product demos, free trials, or start a contest. The Point: Fresh starts create new options. Done well, a site redesign can open up great new opportunities for engaging prospects and clients alike. Are you game? Don't know where to start? Let our team of professionals help you emagine the possibilities.
BusinessFocus July / Aug
By Rashid Jean-Baptiste
Lowering Your Recurring Ink Bill One complaint I hear a lot from small and medium sized business owners is “we print way too much and the cost of ink is just so expensive.” When I hear this complaint I cannot help but sympathize because I am fully aware of how much ink can cost. Ink is referred to as ‘Black Gold’ for Hewlett Packard (HP), the leading printer manufacturer. Their business model has primarily been to sell low cost printers and generate a strong and recurring revenue from selling ink cartridges for these printers. It is possible to buy refilled or remanufactured ink cartridges, which are cheaper, but I have become wary of these cartridges based on past experiences. So in this article, I will put forth a few alternative suggestions on how to decrease on your recurring ink bill.
Fill Out Forms On Your Computer Most times when we need to fill out a form which already exists on the computer our tendency is to first print the form then fill it out. In some cases we have no choice because we are not able to edit the form electronically because of its format or a signature is required which cannot be done electronically. But there are cases when only text data is required on a form and all of it can be entered electronically. Also, with a little extra work we can overcome the challenges of a form being in a format which is not editable and a form with a signature requirement. For the first challenge we can use a free web service from www.pdftoword. com to convert our non-editable document to a Microsoft Word document. The most common non-editable document is in PDF format and being able to convert BusinessFocus July / Aug
it to a Microsoft Word document makes it easily editable because of the ubiquity of Microsoft Word. For the second challenge of a signature requirement you can use a freely available graphics software like MS Paint and draw your signature with the mouse pointer. The image created can then be saved and inserted or copied into the document at the exact location where your signature is required.
Receive Faxes Via Email Not all multifunction (print/scan/copy/fax) devices have this feature but it is worth it to invest in one which is able to send all received faxes to an email address. You can then turn off the automatic printing of received faxes and only those which absolutely must be printed can be printed. The email address used can be that of the office administrator or receptionist who would then be responsible for forwarding the received fax to the appropriate recipient.
Fax From Your Computer A lot of times we need to fax documents which are already stored on our computer to a recipient. In those cases the first question I would pose to the recipient is if it is possible to just email them the document. In some cases the document must be faxed and for the majority of multifunction devices it is possible to send faxes directly from your computer. The user manual which came with your multifunction device should explain how to do this or you can always get help from your IT administrator or consultant.
Manage Workflows Electronically It is worth examining various work or paper flows through your business with an eye to doing all the paperwork electronically. Examples of these workflows are vacation requests or expense approvals. Instead of having to print out all these forms in order to get the appropriate signature or review it makes more sense to have this paperwork flowing electronically between your employees.
Create A Virtual Private Network (VPN) This solution is applicable to businesses with multiple physical locations. There are times when electronic documentation from the various locations needs to be sent to the main location and on most occasions this documentation is sent via fax. In such a situation a VPN will make all the different locations seem like they are all on the same computer network. What this means is that the staff at the main location can connect to the computers at the other locations and obtain the electronic information that they require on their own. Therefore, there is no need for information to be faxed. Please seek the advice of your IT administrator or consultant for details on implementing the above suggestions. About the Author: Rashid Jean-Baptiste is the Managing Director of West Technology Group Inc., an IT services provider company based in St. Lucia. Prior to this he spent over ten years in senior IT roles at Microsoft Corporation.
AWARD WINNING RUMS FROM ST. LUCIA DISTILLERS
BusinessFocus July / Aug
By Keitha Glace
What Technology to Use for YOUR Type of Business? Websites
Before computers, the Internet, Google and smartphones, what did business owners do to market, advertise and run their business? Sometimes I look back to earlier days in my career and I can’t forget the first time I tried moving a cursor up to the upper right of the screen by lifting the entire mouse and physically moved it along the desk till I got to the edge and I turned around and said – “I have run out of space – now what?” Or during my first web development class my teacher, with a heavy Israeli accent talking about web pages but all along I kept hearing “wet” pages. Sixteen years later, how my life and the world has changed thanks to technology! Now there are touch screens and hand movements that you have to learn that make you feel like you’re in a Sci Fi movie. I have written articles about embracing technology and not resisting it. However not all business owners or business types are on the same leg of their journey towards totally accepting this new age of gadgets and terminology. The new ways of doing things are just changing so quickly that frankly it is hard to keep up, and can be overwhelming and intimidating to many people. Here are a few guidelines in selecting what type of technology to consider when reviewing what you can do to take your business further. BusinessFocus July / Aug
Consumers tend to take a business more seriously if it has a website. Sometimes they just want basic information e.g. where are you located, what are your rates, what are your hours of operation, do you offer XYZ. With limited marketing dollars some business owners may pass on this now crucial marketing asset. That’s a mistake. Think carefully before you say it’s not needed. There are other avenues to explore such as an online directory, to gain greater visibility and showcase what you have to offer, and which have the flexibility to update your information, provide specials and savings and get your online presence working for you. You can capture a whole new market that might not have known about your existence.
Mobile Web In a nutshell, if your business services need to be accessed by consumers who are on the go and not tethered to a computer, then your online web presence needs to be mobile or smartphone friendly. Example of some companies within that category would be restaurants or hotels or anyone in the entertainment business. Consumers want to make a reservation, want to know about your last minute deals or offers, where is the next party – and they want to have access from anywhere at anytime – instant gratification.
Social Media & Text Messaging Want to engage and interact with your target audience? Utilize social media. It is engaging and as real time as it can get. Great for non-profit organisations wanting to get new members, educate the public about their causes, their accomplishments, projects, etc. It is free – but it will require time. Young entrepreneurs with limited dollars but a cadre of friends and an active network of texting and “bbing” buddies (is that an official word now?) only need a few clicks on their handsets and they are off and running. At the end of the day, if you are still confused as to what is the best technology to utilize for your business, you can always ask for advice. The key is that whatever option you select, be consistent but be flexible. You may not reap the benefits right away but as we all know, Rome was not built in a day or as we nowadays may say Google was not born overnight – or was it? About the Author Keitha Glace is the owner and Managing Director of GlaceGrafix.com and the St. Lucia Business Directory – Slooogle.com. She has been providing advertising and marketing services, specializing in online products and solutions for clients worldwide since 1998.
CaribbeanJobs.com, said to be the region's number one recruitment website, has announced the launch of its mobile website alongside a plethora of new features including a complete website redesign, education platform launch, events calendar, and interactive employer profile pages. Since 2005, CaribbeanJobs.com has pioneered online recruitment in the region and innovation has always been the key to its success in Trinidad and across the Caribbean, the company said in a statement. "This marks the launch of Trinidad's first mobile website for jobseekers, meaning people can search and apply for jobs and our 900 plus employers can reach their candidate base anywhere at any time," said Richie Kelly, general manager of CaribbeanJobs.com. "The way that people search for jobs has changed and continues to change," said Kelly. "Our re-designed site and mobile website will provide our clients access to over quarter of a million jobseekers every month."
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E-Banking: The Convenience of Convenience There is no denying that computers have made our lives a whole lot easier. Computer technology and the extent of its utility continue to experience a rate of exponential growth. Growing numbers of persons from across the globe have become more Internet savvy and with the click of a mouse have become increasingly comfortable with the world at their fingertips. Every day people are more willing to conduct daily activities using the computer and more willing to bank online. Electronic Banking, or E-Banking, is the birth child of growing customer expectations, and has automated the once manual banking process. It allows customers to access account information and conduct transactions from a remote location, such as at the office or at home, using a computer or personal electronic device. Several financial products and services are available, and with the advent of securetransaction technologies, confidence in E-Banking continues to grow. This growing confidence has prompted a number of fiBusinessFocus July / Aug
nancial institutions to invest in Electronic Banking facilities, including online banking, telephone banking and mobile banking. Bank of Saint Lucia has embraced the E-Banking model and offers a comprehensive suite of Convenience Banking products and services, perfect for the person on the move, and designed to be functional and fit seamlessly into the daily routine - saving both time and money! It includes the largest ATM & cash dispenser network in St. Lucia, complete online banking, telebanking, mobile banking and point of sale services. The benefits of E-Banking to the customer include: the ability to access your information anytime, anywhere; flexible 24/7 banking with no time constraints; real time instantaneous banking; and secure, encrypted transactions. Debit cards, credit cards, automated teller machines (ATMs), cash dispensers, online banking, telephone banking, point of sale services and mobile banking have all made life so much easier with added convenience for
both private and corporate customers. Financial institutions also benefit from the growth of E-Banking facilities, including increased efficiencies due to automation and lower operating costs; reduction in paper consumption and wastage with the move to more paperless banking; improving monitoring of the customer base; and a greater global customer reach through expansion of the financial services industry. As technology continues to evolve, new products and services will emerge limited only by financial institutionsâ€™ ability to innovate - making what was previously deemed impossible â€“ possible. As St. Luciaâ€™s largest indigenous financial institution, Bank of Saint Lucia is committed to providing customized products and services tailored to growing expectations of customers. For more information contact Bank of Saint Lucia at (758) 456-6000, or the Online Support Centre at (758) 456-6999, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Doing MORE with LESS
Increasing Your Disposable Income!
Whether you are a senior executive or an entry-level worker, we all have to prioritize our spending because our income is limited. This is the fundamental economics law of scarcity. We have unlimited wants and needs, but limited resources to satisfy them. Whilst there are many ways to legally increase our income, this article provides a few easy to follow techniques to smartly increase your disposable income.
Debt Management Avoid the dreaded “debt trap” because once in, it can prove extremely difficult to get out. Keep a structured monthly budget that clearly identifies income and expenses. This will highlight areas of overspending like that weekly “after work lime” and also areas we can allocate more money to, such as the rising credit card bill. Making minimum payments towards your credit card balance is one sure way to fall into and stay in the debt trap. Credit cards are designed to keep you in debt with their attractive minimum payments, occasional, ever so timely offer to skip a payment plus the surprise “rewards” of increases to your limit for being a “good” customer. Credit Card debt is among the highest cost debt available, with interest charged at an average 21-22.5%, but because of its convenience it is easy to abuse. Wherever possible, pay off credit card debts or at least apply a lump sum towards repayment to accelerate payoff and reduce interest paid. Definitely pay more than the minimum required.
Supermarkets We are all guilty of going to the supermarket without a list, and coming out with ice cream in the freezer, snacks in the pantry but no diapers for baby. Shopping with BusinessFocus July / Aug
a list is the best way to remain focused at the supermarket. Wherever sensible, purchase in bulk, but it makes no sense to buy that nicely packaged set of hot dog condiments unless you plan to open a hot dog stand outside your home. There is a high probability these items will expire before they are completely consumed. Take advantage of reward cards wherever possible. Be aware of all participating stores where the card can be used and USE IT EVERY TIME. When there is a sale on necessities, take that opportunity to stock up. Consider no name brands when brand is not important, but do not sacrifice quality where it matters.
poor fuel economy. Keep your car tuned as clogged air and fuel filters and old oil significantly impair the performance and fuel economy of your engine. Purchase fuel injected cars as opposed to carbureted cars. Maintain your fuel level above a quarter tank as gas evaporates from the tank faster when low and in high temperatures. Practice filling up at ½ tank and on mornings when temperatures are cooler. Where possible and sensible, purchase general car parts from auto parts suppliers instead of “dealers” as there are significant possible savings.
Some of us have two, three or more cell phones, and most are on prepaid plans. This is no surprise since the majority of commercials and promotions target prepaid customers, as these plans are more profitable to mobile phone providers than postpaid. Per-minute rates on prepaid plans are generally higher, sometimes over triple the rate on postpaid, and postpaid plans also offer cheaper international call rates to nominated numbers. To avoid giving away money to phone companies, consider the average amount of time you spend on the phone and purchase a postpaid plan that suits you. These are but some cost saving techniques we can all practice to stretch our hard earned dollar. It may not be practical to attempt all at once but if we plan appropriately we can reduce our debt and expenditure, and increase our available disposable income to satisfy more of those unlimited wants and needs.
Avoid trendy fashions that will go out of style quickly. Stick with the basics and mix and match. Take advantage of sales on clothing you’ll use often such as work clothing. When shopping overseas, visit brand outlets for bargains on quality items on sale. Never purchase expensive items on impulse. Think over each expensive purchase for at least 24hrs. Compare local prices with online prices but remember to pay off the balance of your credit card if used.
Insurance Shop around each year before renewing your home and car insurance. Insurance brokers are good at finding you cost saving deals. Reassess your need for whole life insurance coverage e.g. if your children are on their own, your spouse is working and the mortgage is almost completed, you may be able to consider reduced coverage.
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BusinessFocus July / Aug
World Bank Approves US$25M for Caribbean ICT Infrastructure
Grenada, St. Lucia and St. Vincent in First Phase The World Bank recently approved a US$25 million financial package for the first phase of a Caribbean Regional Communications Infrastructure Programme that will provide 27 million people with access to better and affordable broadband services. According to a World Bank press release, this first phase of its 10-year Information and Communications Technology (ICT) programme will focus on Grenada, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, with other Caribbean countries joining at a later stage. The package includes a US$3 million grant to the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) to coordinate the regional programme; a US$10 million credit to Grenada; a US$6 million credit to St. Lucia; and a US$6 million credit to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the release said. These credits from the International Development Association (IDA) have a final maturity of 40 years, including a grace period of 10 years for Grenada, St. Lucia and St. BusinessFocus July / Aug
Vincent and the Grenadines. World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean, Françoise Clottes, noted that a sound regional connectivity and ICT-led innovation system is vital for the region’s growth. She described the programme as a “unique opportunity to put in place critical infrastructure and skills to capitalize on the transformative power of information and communication technologies to promote growth and open new job opportunities to Caribbean citizens,” the release said. She added that she hoped other countries in the region will take advantage of the opportunity to join the programme. By improving the communications infrastructure, the programme aims at fostering regional economic development and growth, the release said. It was noted that the Caribbean is serviced by an extensive, complex, and robust submarine network, but that significant gaps remain and connectivity disruptions are hindering economic growth.
There is little investment in broadband networks venturing beyond the main urban centres and many rural areas remain largely unserved, the release said. Furthermore, the lack of emergency communications networks leaves the countries exposed to major disruptions in communications services in the face of emergencies. According to the World Bank, this first phase will include technical assistance and funding to: improve the regional connectivity infrastructure by expanding broadband connectivity; promote ICT-led innovation and related activities that will leverage the regional broadband infrastructure to foster employment, as well as growth of a robust regional Information Technology (IT) and IT-enabled services industry and build capacity of the governments to implement, coordinate and monitor the programme at the national level.
CDB Giving Over US$300,000 for Caribbean Development Database
The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) is to provide the equivalent of US$399,165 to the CARICOM Secretariat for implementation of DevInfo in Anguilla, Barbados, Grenada, Montserrat and St. Lucia and the OECS Secretariat. DevInfo is a system developed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
It provides methods to organise, store and display data and metadata in a uniform way with simple and user-friendly features for producing tables, graphs and maps for inclusion in reports, presentations and advocacy materials. The latest version allows for information to be presented at the smallest geographic level available, such as communities and villages. It is also web-enabled, so that data can be easily disseminated via the Internet. The five borrowing member countries of the CDB will benefit from financing from the bank for the DevInfo database system, which is expected to harnesses the power of advanced information technology to compile and disseminate data related to human development, as reflected in the
Millennium Development Goals. This will constitute Phase 1 of the collaborative intervention involving CDB, UNICEF and CARICOM. The lessons learnt from this phase will inform Phase 2 for the remaining CDB borrowing member countries, according to a release from the bank. UNICEF will focus on data capture data analysis and the compilation of indicators within the ministries and agencies which feed the DevInfo application. CDB and CARICOM will address technical challenges to DevInfo implementation by supporting training in each country and regionally. The bank will focus on three key areas – advocacy and ownership, planning, and training. Courtesy: Caribbean360.com
BusinessFocus July / Aug
A Plan for Caribbean
Pensions Photo: Professor Compton Bourne, Executive Director, Caribbean Centre for Money and Finance (CCMF) and CCMF Research Fellow Dr. Anthony Birchwood, during an interview at CCMF, the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Caribbean governments should look at adjusting the limits pension funds can invest overseas for better risk management. This is the view of Professor Compton Bourne, Executive Director, Caribbean Centre for Money and Finance (CCMF) and CCMF Research Fellow Dr. Anthony Birchwood. Recently, the CCMF hosted the Caribbean Business Executive Seminar themed "The Future of the Pension Industry in the Caribbean" at the Hyatt Regency (Trinidad), Port of Spain. Bourne, speaking at the CCMF, the University of the West Indies, St Augustine, said for pension schemes generally in the Caribbean, there was a maximum limit to be invested overseas. "While it satisfies the requirement to use locally generated funds to develop the domestic financial system it also raises a problem of increasing investment risk when the portfolio grows," he said. He said one of the cardinal principles in finance was that you diversify your investment and "do not put all your eggs in one basket." He pointed out that the larger the sum of money, the less the ability of the domestic economy to absorb those funds with the same degree of "risk freeness." Bourne pointed out that in Latin American countries, where the limit for pension funds to invest overseas was 20 percent, many have moved to 30 percent to allow for a "little more latitude" and managing of risk. Birchwood said while you want to safeguard local investors the domestic economy did not have sufficient instruments, and this was a "big dilemma" faced by small economies. He noted that currently interest rates internationally were BusinessFocus July / Aug
low but in the future they could be higher and therefore more attractive to put funds abroad. Bourne said typically interest abroad are a few points lower than locally and "typically the draw is safety." He noted that Central Banks invest in US treasuries even when the interest rate is 0.05 percent. "Safety is a prime factor in investment decisions," he added. Bourne said while domestic financial firms may argue that they have the capacity to absorb investment from pension funds they are betting on their own risk management opportunities and "might be too optimistic." He noted there was the issue of where the pension funds were being invested and the quality of the investment decision. "Whether you are putting resources into relatively safe investments," he added, noting that you could potentially "lose everything" such as the case with the collapse of the CL Financial Group, which had many pension funds in various instruments by the conglomerate. Bourne pointed out that even with "wise investments" with capital safety pension funds could still be affected by changes in the financial market. He noted that social security schemes such as the local National Insurance Scheme (NIS) in Trinidad & Tobago was the baseline pension for many people and how it is structured and managed is "very critical." He said there was an issue as to the extent to which social security schemes would invest so heavily in government, adding that many regional schemes hold a
significant proportion of their portfolio in government bonds of treasury bills. "And we have seen in the region that many of them are also beginning to make loans to other quasi-government bodies and sometimes marginally government bodies," he said. He noted in Barbados recently there was the issue of NIS investing in a large hotel project. "It raised quite a few eyebrows," he recalled. Bourne noted that companies had to find investments with a sufficient flow to pay pensioners at the agreed level. He said this was an issue of governance and stressed that pension schemes should have representatives who are beneficiaries and potential beneficiaries. On the public service pension scheme, where you work, retire and then get your pension, Bourne said individual governments had to be able to sustain taxes at requisite levels and balance with other obligations. He said this was usually not a problem but with an aging population, there are greater demands on pension payments. He also pointed out that the greater the unemployment the smaller the income tax space. On the regulatory system for financial institutions in the region Bourne said while "not that weak" they were "far from perfect." He noted in Jamaica about 15 years ago there were â€˜pension clubsâ€™ that appealed to the public to invest and in almost every instance "resources were lost." He said these schemes were outside the ambit of the regulatory authorities, in any system there would be loopholes, and the regulators were in a "catching up game."
Another Microfinance Company Comes To Saint Lucia First there was one, now there are two. First was Microfin, which established its presence on the island several years ago. Now, Axcel Finance has landed on the island’s shores. Traditionally, microfinance provides access to loans and other financial services for small businesses and entrepreneurs unable to meet the requirements set by commercial banks and other lending institutions. Axcel Finance, which officially launched in St. Lucia on 2nd May 2012, is now offering to tap the Eastern Caribbean islands by offering residents and small businesses access to immediate funds for daily needs or business working-capital. Axcel, which specialises in loans, hire purchase and small business financing, stated that they are a company with unique features of providing fast turnaround on small loans at competitive rates. They described their presence in Saint Lucia and Antigua as an “answer to call” during very difficult financial times. The company also embraces a policy of community reinvestment and operating in the best interest of the markets it serves. “Our aim is to ease the burden of these hard economic times, so that each and every individual who benefits from one of our loans is able to improve their financial situation and pursue their ambitions
with more confidence and pride,” said Olaf Fontenelle, Head of Operations for Axcel. Hon. Emma Hippolyte, Minister for Commerce, Business Development, Investment and Consumer Affairs, welcomed the company and supported Axcel’s initiatives for enterprise development and small business credit facilities. The Hon. Phillip Pierre, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Infrastructure, Port Services, and Transport, said at Axcel’s launching that the presence of the company would help to “ease the financial burden of regular St. Lucians and thereby contribute to the overall national agenda of alleviating poverty.”
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BusinessFocus July / Aug
Says Investors Missing from Global Financial Reform Investors should be placed at the heart of global financial and accounting standards, says the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and Grant Thornton in a new report. However, the pair warns that investors' views on shaping future standards are not being heard. They also say that the piecemeal, fragmented way in which solutions to global economic uncertainty are proposed and the lack of focus on investors in the reform process prolong global economic fragility. The report, "Putting investors at the heart of the financial system," is based on a series of roundtables for investors and investor representatives held in markets around the world. The report proposes seven steps to improve matters. "Investors should be the primary focus for global financial and accounting standards, yet their voices are not being clearly heard," says Sue Almond, Technical Director at ACCA. "Investor opinion is not seen as a reference point against which to prioritise issues, nor does it drive an agenda for a continuous improvement in transparency and measures to meet the needs of shareholders. Investors don't always speak with one voice and the investor community opinion isn't necessarily homogenous, but this doesn't mean all voices should be ignored." However, there are steps that can be taken to improve the position: 1. Setting an integrated reform agenda with investors' needs at its heart. Investors would like to see new and improved accounting, auditing and corporate governance standards developed in a more integrated manner. Reform proposals need to be based on a solid understanding of investors' needs and priorities. 2. Continuing to develop globally consistent standards. Global consistency is essential for inBusinessFocus July / Aug
vestors with global portfolios. Investors seek comparable information on financial statements and the application of audit and accounting standards. 3. Broadening the reports issued by companies. Integrated reporting is seen as representing an opportunity to fill some information gaps. Its closer alignment of risk management and performance could enhance investor confidence in management's ability to perform in future. 4. Spreading high standards of corporate governance. The adoption and enforcement of corporate governance frameworks and codes is patchy globally. Wider adoption is seen as valuable by investors. In some regions, improved corporate governance was seen as the highest priority for improving investor confidence. 5. Expanding assurance provision and auditors' reports. There is a desire for more information on the audit process and any issues identified, as well as information on the effectiveness of a company's management and corporate governance. Investors would be willing to pay for greater assurance if it provided more value. 6. Enabling greater investor participation in setting the reform agenda and developing new standards. Investors are keen to raise their profiles with standard setters and regulators to ensure their needs are prioritised when reforms to the financial reporting system are debated. 7. Sharing opinions to encourage further progress. Investors are keen to share opinions and ideas among themselves, to encourage the wider adoption of best practice. They are also supportive of greater dialogue with the auditing profession to in-
crease understanding of the challenges that each party faces. "The investor round-table discussions organised by ACCA and Grant Thornton provide a springboard for further debate," says Steve Maslin, a partner at Grant Thornton. "Investors are willing to explore new approaches to developing financial reporting reforms. They support the concept of a more integrated process that emphasises the interrelated nature of accounting, reporting, auditing and corporate governance standards and regulations. They fully endorse the prioritising of investor needs, ensuring that any proposals for reform begin first with a sound analysis and understanding of the challenges investors face and their most urgent priorities for improvement. ACCA and Grant Thornton will explore means of facilitating further debate, and continue their efforts to bring the views and interests of investors to the forefront of that debate. Policymakers, standard setters and professional bodies alike must put investors' needs at the heart of the agenda to enhance the accountancy profession." Sue Almond Technical Director, ACCA
Steve Maslin, Partner at Grant Thornton
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First Moody’s, Now S&P Downgrades CDB Caribbean Development Bank rocked by second credit rating downgrade in less than a month.
Less than a month after Moody’s downgraded the credit ratings for the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) by one notch from Aaa to Aa1, Standard & Poor’s has also lowered the financial institution ’s prized AAA rating by one notch to AA+. However, the downgrade (which came on June 12) left the long-term outlook stable. According to a statement by Standard & Poor’s, the downgrade was due to weakening in the CDB’s risk management. “The downgrade reflects our view that CDB’s risk management is not commensurate with other ‘AAA’ rated multilateral lending institutions, particularly given its size and regional economic weakness,” the Wall Street-based credit ratings agency cautioned. The ratings agency also accused the CDB of having failed to comply with one of its internal liquidity policy guidelines, and borrower concentration remains high. “The stable outlook reflects our expectation that despite weaknesses in the risk management framework, the bank’s financial position will remain in line with its rated peers and that the very strong shareholder support will persist,” Standard & Poor’s said. BusinessFocus July / Aug
Borrower concentration has historically been high for CDB, and stresses have emerged because of the prolonged economic weakness in the Caribbean, S&P noted. In May, following the downgrade by Moody’s, new chair of the CDB, Dr. Kenny Anthony, the Prime Minister of St Lucia, charged the bank’s management to make every effort to stabilise and prevent further erosion of its credit rating, and to strive to reverse the negative outlook and return the bank’s credit to a higher rating threshold,” Anthony said. Some of the reasons for the downgrade included the heavy reliance in recent years on borrowing with bullet maturities and the bank’s non-compliance with its own liquidity policy for the last five years. Dr. Anthony, in his address to the 42nd Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the CDB, noted: “In the opinion of Moody’s, those shortcomings are inconsistent with the standards associated with Triple A-rated banks and reflect deficiencies in the management of the bank’s assets and liabilities and in its financial planning.” Anthony advised that despite the CDB’s ability to service its debt in a timely
manner, immediate steps must be taken to ensure that the bank is re-elevated to the Triple A credit rating, given the heavy reliance of the region on the financial and operational strength of the CDB and the important role the bank plays in development of member states. As such, Dr. Anthony made three recommendations. The bank must: (1) Move quickly to create a dedicated risk management function; (2) Adopt comprehensive asset-liability management policies; and (3) Carry out other necessary reforms to ensure that all its fundamentals get back on track and are sustained. An urgent call was also made for the examination of all available strategies to address the CDB’s weak capital adequacy ratio, in an effort to stabilise the bank and prevent further erosion in its credit rating, thereby reversing the current negative outlook The CDB has experienced recently a change of senior management and a number of senior positions are in the process of being filled. The bank is also reviewing its risk management and capital adequacy frameworks, which are expected to be completed by the end of 2012.
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BusinessFocus July / Aug
Canada Invests $800,000 to Assist Region Fight Crime
Canada says it is providing assistance to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries in their fight to deal with crime. Minister of State of Foreign Affairs, Diane Ablonczy said Ottawa is providing Barbados with Ballistics Identification Equipment. She said Canada is also establishing a Regional Integrated Ballistic Information Network (RIBIN) for the Caribbean Basin, with an initial investment of CAN$800,000 (US$797,700). Ablonczy said the funds will be used to purchase equipment that the Royal Barbados Police Force can use to link crimes, guns and suspects, both locally and throughout the Caribbean to other IBISequipped sites. She said RIBIN would help CARICOM states “identify and track bullet casings through ballistic identification and information sharing” and that it would
lead to more successful investigations and prosecutions for crimes committed with firearms. “Security issues in the Caribbean are of great concern to Canada, and have an impact throughout the hemisphere. Transnational criminal activity not only undermines democracy, prosperity and the rule of law within our hemisphere, but also affects the safety of Canadians and the security of Canadian interests at home and in the region,” she said, adding “insecurity in the hemisphere affects us all; so it is also true that improved security will benefit us all.” Ablonczy said Canada is also providing two million dollars (US$1.9 million) in the crime effort, adding that it is funded by Canada’s Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program (ACCBP). The ACCBP supports
Rescue For Over 18,000 British American Policyholders A decision taken last year to recapitalise the Eastern Caribbean operations of the collapsed British American Insurance Company (BAICO) has made it more attractive to investors. Dr. Denzil Douglas, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance for St. Kitts and Nevis, reported that the decision to pump US$30 million from the Liquidity Support Fund into recapitalising BAICO's traditional insurance business and preparing it for sale was now bearing fruit. Dr. Douglas said a number of bidders had demonstrated an interest in purchasing the recapitalised portfolios of BAICO's business, and they were now being enBusinessFocus July / Aug
gaged with a view to concluding the sale transaction during the course of the current year. The recapitalisation decision was taken by the governments of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU), led by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), to assist policyholders who suffered immensely as a consequence of BAICO’s collapse. Dr. Douglas reported that 18,700 policyholders would benefit from this important step with St. Kitts and Nevis having 3,960 beneficiaries, the second largest number of beneficiaries in any one country in the ECCU.
countries in the Americas to prevent and respond to threats posed by transnational organised criminal networks operating throughout the western hemisphere, Ablonczy said. She said the IBIS TRAX-3D systems are being implemented by Forensic Technology Inc. Regional Security System of the Eastern Caribbean, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Justice Section, and were deployed in January. “IBIS TRAX-3D is an excellent tool for helping police link firearm crimes and identify suspects,” said Robert Walsh, president of Forensic Technology Inc, noting that “as more Caribbean countries join RIBIN, more evidence of transnational crime is gathered, thereby enriching the network and providing more investigative leads for police.”
Dr. Denzil Douglas, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance for St. Kitts and Nevis In assessing the kinds of insurance policies which were to be recapitalised and sold, traditional policies including whole life, endowments and term life policies were identified. However, Home Life Service, Ordinary Life and Universal Life policies have also been included, Douglas noted. The Liquidity Support Fund is derived from the CARICOM Petroleum Fund, which was established by Trinidad and Tobago in 2004 to provide relief to CARICOM Member States experiencing economic hardship, resulting from persistently high international prices for crude oil and petroleum products.
Risky Returns on Caribbean Government Bonds Current risk in Caribbean government bonds is not adequately reflected in yields, says Fortress Fund Managers. The huge losses suffered by investors in the recent St. Kitts and Nevis debt exchange signals a need for government debt issues in the Caribbean to adequately compensate investors for the risks involved. This suggestion was sent by the Barbados-based Fortress Fund Managers in their recently issued first quarter report on the performance of their funds over the first three months of 2012. In their report on their Caribbean High Interest Fund, Fortress noted that indications were that the St. Kitts and Nevis debt restructuring could see bonds drop 70 to 80% in value post-restructuring. The fund managers likened the situation for investors in these bonds to the hardships being suffered by investors in Greece, who similarly saw the face values of their bonds
plummet as part of a massive debt write down to help stabilise that failing Eurozone economy. In their report, Fortress said it was “still quite concerned that prices of some Caribbean government debt fail to reflect their true risks – especially with the examples of Greece and St. Kitts right in front of us.” Fortress, which carries a mix of private and public equities in its various portfolios, said these recent events underscored the importance of yields that were set at a level that offered appropriate compensation for risks taken. In its report on its Caribbean Growth Fund, Fortress noted that Caribbean stocks retreated slightly during the first quarter as some major companies reported lacklustre earnings as business conditions remained challenging in some sectors. The fund manager highlighted the challenges faced by the commercial banking
sector as a result of loans offered during the relative buoyancy of 2007 and 2008, which were now non-performing. Fortress noted that the banks now had to set aside reserves against these non-performing loans, which was reducing their earnings power. Fortress said, while the ability of these banks to earn money was improving, it was happening slowly as the institutions were “still fighting headwinds.”
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ECONOMY & TRADE FOCUS
By Sir Ronald Sanders
Businesses Cannot be Left Out of Caribbean Business!
The countries of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM), with the exception of Guyana and Suriname, are each experiencing a severe decline in their economies. The small Leeward and Windward Islands are worst affected, and so too is Barbados. Governments are struggling to find ways in which to spur economic activity that could produce growth. Meanwhile, unemployment and poverty are growing. Unemployment is highest amongst the youth, making for an alarming situation. Presenting a lecture to students of the University of the West Indies recently, I received the greatest applause and nods of approval when I lamented the fact that there were now many graduates of the university who were unable to find jobs that correspond to their level of qualifications, if they could find any jobs at all. Governments reach decisions with little or no input from the private sector. In this regard, many Caribbean countries are like pressure cookers, waiting to explode. Only migration and remittances from family BusinessFocus July / Aug
abroad are easing the pressure. But, even these valves are not sufficient to relieve discontent completely. In many cases, this has led to borrowing from local statutory bodies, such as national insurance and social security schemes, to fund capital projects and even to pay wages and salaries. Governments have also borrowed from local banks causing them to carry the greatest risk if there is a default. A few governments have also borrowed from the Government of the Peoples Republic of China and while many of these loan agreements have not been made public but are said to be concessionary, they have added to the burden of national debt and will have to be repaid in the future.
Where is the Caribbean business community in all this? They appear not to be involved at all. Indeed, in some CARICOM countries, the only involvement of the business commu-
nity in the present difficulties is that some of them are seeking greater concessions from governments. The recent Landell Mills report to CARICOM Heads of Government on the restructuring of the CARICOM Secretariat points out that the regional private sector is “fragmented and divided” and many “key private sector players do not even bother to get involved.” This situation is not good for the region, or for the private sector. It is not governments that trade; it is businesses. Therefore, the business community throughout the region should have a keen interest in the meetings of CARICOM trade ministers and meetings of heads of government. The decisions they reach have a major impact on business and on the capacity of businesses to contribute to economic growth and development. Yet, there are no regular and structured meetings between Caribbean governments and the Caribbean private sector. In other words, governments reach decisions with little or no input from the private sec-
tor which they all proclaim is “the engine of growth.” It is telling that the member countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the European Union Commission regularly consult the private sector of their countries recognising fully that the rules to which they agree, or set, are meant to facilitate businesses on which their economies depend for growth, employment and prosperity. The Landell Mills report states what should be obvious to all: “The private sector’s views on what works and what does not and on where priorities lie would be invaluable.” For some reason, it does not appear obvious to many CARICOM governments. They treat the private sector with suspicion. Only Barbados has a system of consultations with the private sector in joint meetings with trade unions, but even these meetings are not attended by the “key private sector players.” As the report says, the officials who attend these meetings “are often not business people themselves.” The latter point suggests that serious business people see little point in engaging governments that fail to act on
the proposals they put forward. The report recommends “regular small and informal meetings, possibly over dinner. In our experience an informal arrangement is the best way of building up relationships and getting busy executives to open up on a freewheeling basis.” There is merit in this idea provided it is done in an open and transparent manner. If not, it will lead to allegations of favouritism, discrimination and marginalisation from others who are not invited. The report dismisses the notion of structured meetings, including a council of representatives of governments and the private sector. But such a council is necessary and it would be well attended if it comprised heads of Government and leading business figures from across the region. Both groups would want to be sure they are dealing with persons who can make and implement decisions. Of course, businessmen will cease to attend meetings, whether it be small working dinners or a council, as soon as they get the first inkling that nothing is done as a result of the discussions. How to achieve a higher level of confidence between governments and the
private sector is a challenge. Each group needs the other if the economies in which they operate – and indeed the Caribbean Single Market – are to be advanced so as to create jobs, reduce poverty and to grow. In 2009, as head of the Jamaican-based company, Grace Kennedy, Douglas Orane told a regional private sector body, “The CARICOM region needs to go through a process of self transformation.” Nothing has changed since then. The vibrant Jamaican private sector is well placed to propose a basic plan for the regional business community’s involvement in, and contribution to, the region’s economic progress. With the help of the new Jamaica government, such a plan could be a basis for wider regional discussion, refinement and adoption.
Businesses cannot be left out of business. About the Author: Sir Ronald Sanders is a business executive and former Caribbean diplomat who publishes widely on Small States in the global community. www.sirronaldsanders.com
BusinessFocus July / Aug
ECONOMY & TRADE FOCUS
OAS Fosters Business Links Between Central America and the Caribbean A gathering representing billions of dollars in business interests from Central America and the Caribbean was hosted by the Organisation of American States (OAS) in Trinidad and Tobago recently. More than 60 business leaders from Central America and the Caribbean met in Port of Spain to discuss new opportunities for partnerships and expanding business between the two regions, as well as challenges to trade. Convened by the Assistant Secretary General of the OAS, Albert Ramdin, and hosted by the government of Trinidad and Tobago through the Minister of Trade and Industry, Stephen Cadiz, the meeting was also addressed by the President of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli. The forum was used to identify opportunities for investment and partnerships in several countries. Barriers to business, including transnational business registration laws, visa restrictions, port congestion problems, taxes, duties and tariffs were, also discussed.
Top conglomerates, public and private companies, business families and government representatives and ministers attended as well as regional airlines, manufacturers, producers, associations and banks. The major trading blocs of the two regions were also present at the meeting, represented by the Secretaries General of Central American Integration System (SICA), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Association of Caribbean States (ACS). Cadiz said of the meeting, "This gathering proves that investment capital is available, so options and opportunities must be generated. We are, therefore, making a solid commitment to working together to overcome these challenges to business. We need to do more and smarter business in this current global economic environment." Ramdin said the vision behind the meeting was to use international trade and business diplomacy to "generate more
Assistant Secretary General of the OAS, Albert Ramdin opportunities for employment, increase earning potential, economic growth, alleviate poverty and improve security." According to Ramdin, "If we hope to improve the quality of life for citizens of both regions, we need to be practical and proactive. Central America and the Caribbean face similar challenges. If businesses succeed in these regions, it means a better standard of life for people." The first meeting of CEOs of both regions was held in El Salvador last year and resulted in the strengthening of business partnerships and new investments. The Port of Spain meeting was expected to result in more strategic investments. Meanwhile, the government of Guatemala offered to host the next meeting.
Standard & Poorâ€™s Says Debt on Rise in Caribbean The major rating agency says the global financial crisis has had a big impact in the tourism-dependent Caribbean. Standard & Poor's says in a new report on the Caribbean that economic growth and foreign direct investment has slowed while public debt has increased. It says external public-sector debt for the region rose to 29 percent of gross domestic product last year, up from 20 percent in 2008. Caribbean governments increased public-sector debt sharply in response to the financial crisis, to 57 percent of GDP by the end of 2011, according to the ratings agency. The rating agency's report also says BusinessFocus July / Aug
that Caribbean countries are more vulnerable to external shocks due to low savings rates, persistent account deficits and a high reliance on outside financing. The debt ratio is over 100 percent in countries like Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, Grenada and Barbados. Several countries have arrangements with the International Monetary Fund to provide economic stability. In another report, S&P said the Caribbean is in the difficult position of relying on US and European economic growth. "The sluggish recovery in the US owing to still highly indebted consumers and high unemployment, and a recession in Europe
have held back external demand." Many countries in the Caribbean attempted expansionary fiscal policy to fight the 2008-2009 global recession but ended up increasing debt and not achieving a turnaround in GDP. "We estimate that net general government debt in the Caribbean reached an estimated 45% of GDP in 2011, up from about 30% pre-crisis," said the rating agency. "The Caribbean's now higher debt levels - projected to remain above 40% of GDP - are hard to manage, given the absence of monetary and exchange rate policy flexibility and more subdued growth prospects."
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ECONOMY & TRADE FOCUS
CARICOM Delegation to US to Protest Rum Exports Rum is CARICOM’s largest agriculturebased export industry, which generates an estimated US$500 million in foreign exchange and well over US$250 million in tax revenues. Rum producers in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) are getting high-level support in their protest against subsidies that are giving foreign rum producers in the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) preferential access to the United States market. Following two high-level visits mounted by CARICOM delegations to Washington in March and April to plead the CARICOM rum producers’ case, reports are that the next step could be a case before the World Trade Organisation (WTO) if there is little success from the meeting with the US Trade Representative, Ron Kirk, on Capitol Hill this month. CARICOM countries that have been exporting well-known rums to the United States for decades are lobbying against heavy subsidies being given to British spirits producer, Diageo, in the USVI because its rum and spirits have preferential entry into the US as they are recognised by the mainland as regional products. BusinessFocus July / Aug
The complaint is that authorities in the Virgin Islands have given Diageo generous tax and other incentives and helped the company to build a brand-new heavy-duty distillery that would produce and export Captain Morgan Rum to the United States much cheaper than many of the spirits made by the CARICOM bloc’s producers.
The bloc also said that they believe that the level of incentives granted to Diageo might be in breach of WTO rules. Their argument is that the subsidies offered by the USVI to the multinational rum producer Diageo are inconsistent with WTO rules because they make use of discriminatory taxation, offer export subsidies, and use
such subsidies to cause adverse effects to the interests of other WTO members, in this case being the CARICOM members. The CARICOM producers argue that excise taxes collected from the production of rum in the USVI are remitted back to the USVI for development purposes through the US government’s ‘cover-over’ programme, which remits 98 per cent of all excise duties raised on rums sold in the US back to the US territories of Puerto Rico and the USVI. Concerns are that Caribbean producers will see their presently significant share of the US market wiped out by subsidised products, and other large international distilling groups seeking to locate in the USVI and Puerto Rico to seek a similar advantage. In 2010, the remittances amounted to approximately US$450 million and major multinational producers are being offered extremely generous concessions, subsidies and long-term support by the USVI and Puerto Rico in exchange for the companies agreeing to site their distilleries and production facilities in their territories in order to secure the US territories a greater amount of this ‘cover-over’ support.
Red Stripe to Grow Own Raw Materials in
Jamaica Brewer moves to replace up to 70 percent of imports Red Stripe plans to grow raw materials locally in Jamaica, with an aim to replace 70 percent of imported inputs by 2020. "We are looking at establishing commercial agreements with farmers, using a blend of two to three large farmers with 800 to 1,000 acres along with several small farmers, to grow cassava and sorghum to brew our beer," said Red Stripe Head of Corporate Relations, Marguerite Cremin, about the initiative called â€œProject Grow.â€? It is a move replicating parent company Diageo's investments in supply chain rationalisation for its breweries in Africa. This came as the beer market tightened, forcing brew masters to reshape future competition by turning to edible food crops such as cassava, sorghum and maize as cheap and reliable sources of raw materials compared to imported barley. Cremin, while still working the numbers in relation to the level of investment, said the project is a win-win situation for the company, domestic farmers and the economy, pointing out that many Jamaicans will become involved in producing raw materials for the local brewery. "It will enable us to significantly reduce the cost of our raw materials while giving us greater control of this most critical input," she said, adding that valuable foreign exchange will be saved and much needed employment created for Jamaicans. "Most importantly," she said, "the project will sustain the agricultural sector in the coun-
try from which we draw strength and grow our business." Diageo launched a similar project in Ethiopia recently. The project will develop a scalable contract farming model that connects smallholder farmers with large, dependable, commercial markets in a mutually sustainable and rewarding manner, says Nick Blazquez, Diageo president of African breweries. "It is in line with our commitment to generate shared value with the economies and communities in which we operate," he said. Piggy backing on Diageo's success in Africa, where such projects are said to have the potential of supplying as much as 70 percent of raw materials, Cremin said the Jamaica initiative will be on a phased basis. "We are looking to replace 15 to 20 percent of our raw materials by 2014 and 70 percent by 2020," she stated, noting that 7,000 acres of the crop will be required to cover that 20 percent of raw materials and, "if you do the maths, we will need to develop 35,000 acres in order to produce 100 percent of our raw material needs." Replicating the African model, in respect of the choice of crop to be used, Cremin said, "We are looking to use cassava and Sorghum, which are very suited for brewing our quality Red Stripe beer. We expect to utilise different varieties and strains of the crop, so we will cultivate the top five producing seeds from the 15 known," she said, noting that they are tar-
geting the red, yellow and white coloured seeds. In the Ethiopian project, Diageo's Meta Abo Brewery signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the country's major organisations, bringing together the diverse expertise of these parties. The initiative "is a direct result of Diageo's continued efforts to invest in and explore new ways to secure sustained holistic growth through partnership and collective action," he said. Cremin said that while the Jamaican brewer will be learning from the experience of its counterparts in Africa, it "will bring all the relevant local farming associations into the mix to ensure the use of local expertise and the success of the project." In this regard she said the objectives of the local initiative are consistent with those of the parent company as expressed by Diageo's Blazquez, who has pointed out that "local sourcing is a well established inclusive model that benefits the end-to-end supply chain."
Photo: Marguerite Cremin, Head of Corporate Relations, Red Stripe BusinessFocus July / Aug
ECONOMY & TRADE FOCUS
How Bush Could Make Billions for Jamaicans Lemongrass (or fever grass) plants can potentially contribute billions to the Jamaican economy. The grass, known by many as a key ingredient in ‘bush’ tea, can be used in personal care products, household products, pet care and animal feed as well as in food and beverages, according to the Scientific Research Council (SRC). Many of these products use the essential oil found in the grass. "The demand for essential oils has grown significantly to correspond with the growth in the health and wellness industry," says the SRC. "An entrepreneur can gross $4.8 million from a one acre farm annually." But despite the global demand for lemongrass essential oil and the relative ease with which the plant grows in Jamaica, it
is not produced commercially. Banyan Creations, makers of personal care products and candles, imports about 65 percent of the lemongrass oil used annually, said production supervisor, Latoya Lawrence. "But this happens because the local supply is inadequate," she said. Although importing the oil is much cheaper, Lawrence said Banyan Creations would use only local suppliers in an effort to support the Jamaican economy. However, most of the potential earnings would come from exports. The US imported US$7 billion in 2006, according to the 2008 JEA Market Brief on Essential Oils. This is a 21 percent increase from 2002. The UK imported US$6.32 billion of the essential oil mixture for food and drinks that year.
The personal care products market was estimated to be worth US$6 billion in Europe and the US in 2010, the SRC says. Specialty food and drink sales in the US and Europe were estimated to be worth US$7 billion in 2009 with the spa and wellness market in the US valued at an estimated US$9 billion in 2005. Lemongrass is easy to farm, said SRC Executive Director, Chadwick Anderson, noting that it can be reaped three to four times a year without replanting. Replication of this and similar activities across the rest of the Caribbean could significantly increase economic opportunity and employment. Courtesy: Jamaica Observer
3.5 Million Euro Coming for EPA Implementation The implementation units housed in the various Caribbean Forum countries that signed on to the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU) are to receive a further 3.5 million euros to push the advantages of the trade agreement. The Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) signed the EPA with the EU in 2008. It is a single negotiated agreement which governs how the two regions will cooperate on a wide range of trade-related issues. CARIFORUM countries, which comprise the countries of the Caribbean Communities (CARICOM) and the Dominican ReBusinessFocus July / Aug
public, have been allocated the funds to be used by the countries’ national EPA implementation units; for administrative, technical and other support for national focal points and for technical assistance assignments to advise on or to assist in taking advantage of opportunities under EPA. The funds, which will be made available through an EPA Standby Facility, will be administered under a contribution agreement between the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the EU for the 3.5 million euros. The implementation period of the facility will be thirty-six months. However, the two parties may agree to an extension.
Other directly relevant activities to be undertaken by CDB under the terms of the agreement include public education/ awareness campaigns and interventions aimed at improving the results generated from grants awarded under the EPA facility. Courtesy: Caribbbean360.com
Dominica to Inject $8 Million into LIAT Prime Minister Roosevelt Skeritt The government of Dominica has pledged to pump a cash injection of $8 millon into regional carrier LIAT, half of which is expected to be delivered by the end of June. The move was revealed by Dominica Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skeritt, who made the disclosure at the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Heads meeting in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Just recently, the airline suffered $35 million in losses after its maintenance hanger, an aircraft, tools, the operations office and several other offices were destroyed by fire of unknown origin in Antigua. According to Prime Minister of Antigua & Barbuda, Baldwin Spencer, his Domini-
can counterpart is committed to delivering on his promise of assistance. Spencer said the Skeritt administration has been expressing these sentiments for a while and felt the time was right in light of the recent events. “The idea, according to him, is to invest some $8 million into LIAT in terms of equity and he is prepared to disburse four of that almost immediately,” Spencer told the media. “Clearly, this represents tangible support, particularly at this time.” Spencer added that a number of other countries, including St Lucia, have also expressed interest in supporting LIAT after the recent fire at its headquarters in Antigua. He noted that the added support at
this juncture is critical. “I would hope as we go through this crisis, which has developed by virtue of this unfortunate burning of the maintenance building, hangar and all other areas of LIAT, that it will bring us together in terms of addressing some of the deep-rooted problems that LIAT would have been encountering over a period of time,” the Prime Minister said. LIAT’s management continues to work with the investigative authorities in Antigua as well as the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) to determine the cause of the fire.
2010s will be the Decade for Latin America & the Caribbean IDB President Predicts in New Book A new book released in the USA by the head of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has argued the 2010s will be the "decade of Latin America and the Caribbean." In his book, “The decade of Latin America and the Caribbean: A Real Opportunity,” IDB President, Luis Alberto Moreno, argued that in the coming years, the region's recent gains will be "locked in and the average citizen will be more prosperous than ever before in the history of the hemisphere." In practical terms, Moreno suggested that if average growth rates remain close to five per cent per year - as has been the case recently - per capita income could double by 2025. And in its foreword, United States Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, described
the book as a roadmap for continued progress and a blueprint for the decade, saying Latin America and the Caribbean holds the "power of proximity" in US foreign policy. The IDB President said such a jump would significantly reduce income inequality "and, hopefully, eradicate once and for all the extreme poverty that still affects one in eight people in Latin America and the Caribbean." Clinton said the book "addresses both our greatest opportunities and our most acute challenges, from strengthening education, encouraging innovation, and promoting universal opportunity to bolstering democratic institutions and fostering clean growth - what he calls the long list of unfinished business," she said Moreno has called for a new way of looking at Latin America and the Carib-
bean, with a perspective that emphasises the region's strengths but without neglecting its weaknesses. He urged that this new look focuses on opportunities without ignoring risks. The view of this being the decade of the region, he added, has grown out of dialogues with his colleagues on the executive board of the Washington-based IDB, its professional staff, and high-level officials, businesspeople and academics in the Americas and in other regions he has visited as IDB chief. "This forecast, notwithstanding, we need to be clear that success is not guaranteed, the conditions in the countries of the region are not homogeneous, and public policies must take into account the distinctive features of each economy," he said. BusinessFocus July / Aug
Hotels Benefit from Green Waste and Compost Management Training
In an info-packed session at the Bay Gardens Inn in April, Landscaping, Maintenance and Housekeeping personnel from nine St. Lucian hotels increased their knowledge of green waste management practices and of the concepts of improving sustainability through simple stewardship of their work and own environment. The project was organised by the Travel Foundation, a UK based charity that works to help the UK outbound tourism industry and destinations become more sustainable. In a project funded by the Centre for the Development of Enterprise with the collaboration of the Solid Waste Management Authority in St. Lucia, participants
learned about simple ways to adopt cost saving, environmentally friendly practices with a particular focus on composting. Composting provides a beneficial way to deal with disposal of landscaping, kitchen, plant and vegetable wastes – turning the organic ingredients into a nutrient rich material that helps improve soils and therefore help reduce use of chemical fertilizers. This further lessens the strain on landfills by reducing the physical quantity of garbage and the production of harmful landfill gasses that occur when vegetable waste decays. It is a great way to create a useful product and protect the environment at the same time. Participants asked many questions about the practicality of the measures and systems as there was high enthusiasm, but there was also some level of concern about space requirements, cleanliness and possible rodent and pest issues, and demands on staff. During the session, it became clear that concerns were well answered and the benefits were well established; the enthusiasm to get started was obvious.
The session ended with a flurry of arrangements for follow-up appointments on properties around the island and an emphatically convincing demonstration of how very simple it is to set up composting in a surprisingly small space. Training and implementation was to continue in the coming weeks across the island, at the various participating hotels.
LIME Commits to a Greener Workplace Earlier this year, LIME commenced installing eco-friendly fuel cell generators at its cell sites in various parts of the island as part of its commitment to help protect the environment. Now, the company is working on a major new green energy initiative that will result in the air conditioning units in all its offices being replaced by a new energyefficient system. Vice President for Country Operations, Chris Williams, says LIME is working towards deploying the new airconditioning units throughout its premises beginning this year. His announcement coincided with the commemoration of World Environment Day on Tuesday 5 June. LIME staff in St. Lucia and around the Caribbean marked the day, under the theme “The Green Economy: Are You Part Of It?” by BusinessFocus July / Aug
wearing green clothing and accessories. “Basically, we are looking at introducing a new environmentally friendly airconditioning solution involving the use of programmable units that can be personalized by our staff for their own comfort and to suit their needs,” Chris explains. “They will also result in better air quality, greater efficiency and substantial energy and cost savings. That’s a plus for the environment and, more importantly, for our colleagues’ health and productivity as well. In 2008, LIME installed the first ever environmentally-friendly Palm Tree Cellular Tower in St. Lucia. Located high up on a ridge in Monchy, the 71-ft structure is shaped like a palm tree with a trunk and palm fronds at the top, and was designed to provide enhanced mobile coverage to
the north of the island. It can withstand up to category 5 hurricanes and blends with the island’s natural landscape. In a further demonstration of its commitment to promoting green energy and protecting the environment, LIME recently assisted Customer Service Representative, Erland George, in his journey to the 6th World Youth Congress and the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development held in Brazil. Erland is St. Lucia’s Youth Ambassador.
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BusinessFocus July / Aug
Kurt’s Construction Services Inc. Building On Its Reputation Since its establishment in 2004, Kurt’s Construction Services Inc. has been building more than just structures. In the past eight years the company has been building on its reputation as one of St. Lucia’s most dynamic, cost-efficient and reliable construction enterprises. During the course of those years, Kurt’s Construction Services Inc. has been involved in a number of projects, primarily within the hotel sector. Some of the major projects the company has worked on include Discovery at Marigot Bay, Cotton Bay Village, Cap Maison Resort and Spa, and Sandals Grande St. Lucian Spa and Beach Resort. These days, the company is undertaking work at the Jalousie Plantation and the new National Hospital currently under construction. Sole proprietor and Managing Director, Kimron Kurt Mondesir, told BF recently that the company specializes in building construction, project management and construction management. The company also recently began designing building plans and now offers “design/build” as part of its construction services. So just how much a part is Kurt’s Construction Services Inc.’s input in these iconic and idyllic projects? “In most cases, the management of the hotels would have us do the structural aspect of the project while they employ their own mechanical and electrical and other contractors,” Mondesir said. “But as of late, I have been contracted as the general contractor. So I would have my own electriBusinessFocus July / Aug
cal and plumbing guys as well. So, more or less, I am not a sub-contractor but a general contractor.” Kurt’s Construction Services Inc. also undertakes projects in the residential sector. Mondesir, who also serves as Project Manager, says a dedicated team of individuals ensures that all projects undertaken by the company are built with quality in mind - from scratch to the finishing touches. Four highly-skilled supervisors, three office assistants and between fifty to one hundred project employees (depending on the scope of work undertaken) all ensure that customer satisfaction lives up to expectations. “We are known for delivering on time. This is key. We take each project seriously, not just in terms of quality but the pace at which we work as well. It takes a lot of planning since it’s never easy to balance quality and time because anything that affects the quality of the project can affect the time factor and cost of the project as well. So it’s always important that we try to create that balance as it relates to quality, time and cost,” Mondesir told BF. Recognizing that the construction industry is a crucial sector that spurs a significant level of economic activity, Mondesir says government’s intention to invest heavily in the sector as part of the island’s post-Tomas recovery process is a step in the right direction. If those projects cited by Dr. Kenny Anthony in his 2012/2013 Budget Address do come to fruition, the sector stands to benefit tremendously.
Another important dimension that Kurt’s Construction Services Inc. has added to its toolkit of late is that of being environmentally-conscious. Building environmentally-friendly homes is fast becoming a key component in the “Go Green” thrust these days. As such, Kurt’s Construction Services Inc. has forged partnerships with companies in the United States who share such ideas with the company. Building along those lines, Mondesir said, is a new approach that his company is aggressively pursuing. “I think this is one of the areas that St. Lucia as a whole can benefit from given the fact that there is so much talk about climate change. However, I don’t think it’s something that has been fully accepted here in St. Lucia but I believe that in time to come it really will stand out. If we are proactive enough, we can take the lead in that regard,” Mondesir explained. Kurt’s Construction Services Inc. uses the latest technologies to keep clients abreast with the progress of their projects. In that way, clients get to be an intimate part of the overall project at every stage. The company also has a professional relationship with stakeholders, thereby making a project delivery seamless. So if you’re looking for that company that gets your construction project delivered on time, with the best quality standards and value for money, give the crew of Kurt’s Construction Services Inc. a call today.
CONSTRUCTION SERVICES INC.
Building Construction Project Management Construction Management Renovations â€“ Commercial, Industrial & Residential We offer on-time delivery on projects.
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Tel: (758) 451-6033 Fax: (758) 452-1056 Email Managing Director, Kimron Mondesir firstname.lastname@example.org BusinessFocus July / Aug | 45 www.kurtsconstructionltd.com
Insurance Brokers Ltd. Growing From Strength To Strength It would definitely be unfair to say the road that S&A Insurance Brokers Ltd. has taken over the past decade has been an easy one. What is fair, however, is to recognize that it remains a company willing to metamorphose whenever necessary to make its journey a better path. Since its incorporation in 2002, with Shoen Medard and Angus Charles as partners, the company has set its sights on being the best in the field of insurance. Charles ended active involvement in 2009, paving the way for Shoen’s wife, Albina, to join the company. Shoen now serves as Managing Director of the company. Albina Medard officially assumed the position of Manager (Administration) in 2010. She recently gave BF the scoop as to just what goes on at the little insurance company hoping to make a big difference. S&A Insurance Brokers Ltd. offers motor, property and liability insurances but that’s just the beginning of what the decade-old company really does. “We are insurance brokers and we negotiate the best insurance policies and premiums for our customers. It’s not like when you go to your insurance company where the premium quoted is what you must pay. When you come to S&A Insurance Brokers Ltd. to insure a vehicle, a boat or other property such as private or commercial, fire and indemnity, we look after your interest. We provide all forms of insurance services, except life and health insurance,” Medard explained. Medard says S&A Insurance Brokers BusinessFocus July / Aug
Ltd. shops around for the best quotes and repayment plans that suit its clients’ pockets. They also do follow-ups on clients’ policies and provide vital advice to clients who may not be too au courant with the trends and inner workings of the insurance business. From its early beginnings, S&A Insurance Brokers Ltd. has had to come to terms with the reality of a fast-paced business environment. From its first branch on Mary Ann Street in Castries, its dedicated staff have maintained a high standard of efficiency despite limited resources. According to Albina, certain structures needed to be put in place to bring the company up-to-date with the technological age. “Prior to my joining the company, our customer base grew primarily through networking or word of mouth about the range of services that we offer, and the other value added components that make us stand out. Everything was done by the book, literally. But as the good word got around and our client base grew, we recognized the need to aggressively institute more effective mechanisms that redound to greater efficiency,” Albina told BF. In May 2010, the company took a calculated risk by opening a second branch on Clarke Street, Vieux Fort. Between the two branches, a nine-member staff base now ensures that customer satisfaction remains an essential part of the reputable business relationship that S&A Insurance Brokers Ltd. has been able to forge with its many satisfied clients over the years.
“We strive to maintain quality customer service at all times,” Albina stressed. “While we recognize that the nature of this business is dynamic with a number of larger players, we recognize that our philosophy to provide an excellent service that keeps our customers satisfied could give us the edge. As such, we strive to maintain a one on one relationship with our customers. In our line of business, complacency is definitely not an option.” So just who and what qualifies as being part of S&A Insurance Brokers Ltd’s portfolio? As Albina tells it, motor vehicle coverage formed the lion’s share of the company’s business as at 2009. A concerted effort was subsequently made to concentrate more intensively on the other forms of insurance within the company’s portfolio. Nevertheless, she believes that given the landscape of the local insurance business, motor vehicle insurance remains the dominant aspect of the insurance market. For now, though, the husband and wife team that oversees seven employees seem confident that despite whatever challenges that may come their way, S&A Insurance Brokers Ltd. can only grow from strength to strength. And that is the sort of confidence for which they’re willing to take out an insurance policy. So let S&A Insurance Brokers Ltd. take all the hassle out of getting a good policy for you by contacting them today. For more info, email: email@example.com
S & A Insurance Brokers Ltd - Brokers for the following insurance services: Motor Insurance
Property Insurance (private and commercial)
Fire, Theft, Burglary Insurance
S & A Insurance Brokers Ltd.
10 Maryann Street, P.O. Box GM611, Castries Tel: 1 (758) 452-4342 Fax: 1 (758) 451-8655
Clarke Street, Vieux Fort Tel: 1 (758) 455-4234 Fax: 1 (758) 454-8615
BusinessFocus July / Aug
Delivering The Caribbean To Your Door
Caribbean Couriers Brokerage Services Ltd. may be just a few months in business but make no mistake – its team comes with a wealth of experience. Incorporated in February 2012, the company began operations in May taking over LIAT’s QuikPak Service. According to Managing Director, Trevor Matthews, the idea stemmed from LIAT’s intention to outsource. As an employee, Matthews always had interest in running the local end of things and even indicated this to LIAT some years ago. Matthews saw his opportunity, especially since four employees would be made
redundant at the end of January at LIAT’s Cargo Bond in Vigie. “We took everyone that would have been affected and incorporated them within the new company, so every one of us is a director of this company: three financial and one non-financial,” Matthews told BF. “We took the money LIAT gave us in the redundancy package and invested it into the new company.” “We do all the sales of LIAT QuikPak throughout the LIAT network, from Santo Domingo in the north to Guyana in the south. We leave out St. Thomas, St. Croix and San Juan due to security reasons and we are yet to establish a good customer base in Curacao. We sell QuikPak Service to every other territory and do deliveries on behalf of LIAT in St. Lucia,” Matthews explained.
Items that qualify for QuikPak Service range from documents such as passports and personal items to anything that is deemed legal and strategically possible to get to the customer. The company is also trying to incorporate a brokerage service this year in an effort to give its customers a one-stop-shop service. Matthews added that apart from superb value added service, they also offer the best competitive rates. “Given our years of experience, we were able to make a smooth transition. We are hoping to build on the confidence from our customers over the years. We expect to be number one and will stop at nothing less than doing just that.”
Sole Agent for
Customs Brokerage Also Provided Efficient, Dedicated & Reliable Service
Contact us today: LIAT Cargo Shed, Vigie, Castries, P. O. Box RB2312, Rodney Bay, Gros Islet Tel: (758) 456-0455 / 452-5399 [Office] 1 (758) 285-1445 / 1 (758) 485-3719 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Delivering The Caribbean To Your Door” BusinessFocus July / Aug
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BusinessFocus BusinessFocus May July // June Aug
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IN THE KNOW
Customer Service and the Company’s Bottom Line
By Fern Smith How often have you heard the common refrain, “this company has such poor customer service.” You are probably, right now, nodding your head in agreement. Good customer service is essential for and contributes to long-term business success. Customer service begins with trained store personnel whose main aim is to satisfy the customer. In a highly competitive environment where customers have a variety of options to choose from, one of the determining factors for customer retention is directly related to the company’s customer service. How do you rate your company’s customer service? A company’s business, sales, profit and marketing efforts all depend on customers. Firstly, your company must provide goods or services that your customers actually need or want. Customers will purchase your goods or services because they believe that there are benefits to be derived from their use. It follows that your front line personnel should be equipped with all the information that will be necessary in conveying to the customer that they have made the right choice to come to your store. Store personnel must embrace the company’s vision for success if they are to be effective in the delivery of customer service. More importantly, how a company treats its employees is how they will treat their customers. Take care of the employees and they will take care of the customers. All departments within an organization should work collectively for the success of the whole. One of the main goals should BusinessFocus July / Aug
be to achieve customer loyalty. In essence, customer service is the ability of your store personnel to interact positively with customers while assisting them in making informed choices. The aim from initial contact is to encourage repeat visits and purchases, which is imperative for long-term profitability of your business. Patterns of one time buying should be of concern to companies as this may mean customers are not satisfied with the level of service that they receive. Many businesses have been plagued by bad customer service. They have underestimated the importance of achieving excellence in this area. It manifests itself in the following ways: • Not dealing effectively with customer complaints when they arise, customers are met with uncaring attitudes. • Disclosing internal company issues to customers when a good or service is not provided satisfactorily (example, telling the customer the reason a product is not in your store is because the warehouse forgot to deliver it). • Customers calling into a company are passed onto multiple persons within the organization before they finally get to their actual contact. • Partially serving one customer and then attending to another (customer is not satisfied that they have been helped before store personnel moves onto the next customer). • Being rude and indifferent to custom ers who are asking lots of questions about products or services because they
want to make informed choices. • Selling items to customers that they don’t really need, just to make a sale. • Not giving your full attention to customers because of distractions while serving them (distractions include: store personnel are on their cell phones, talking to other store personnel, typing away at the computer). Many times, customers don’t bother to complain about bad service, they just won’t return to the store. The “Technical Assistance Research Programs Institute (TARP) found that, on average, one out of every four customers is dissatisfied enough with customer service to switch suppliers. More than 90 percent of these unhappy customers will never again buy from that company and will tell at least nine other people about their negative experience.” (Anderson/Dubinsky, 2004, p. 243.) It is far cheaper to keep current customers than it is to invest in new ones. “Studies have shown that it is five to six times more costly to attract new customers than to keep current ones.” (Anderson/ Dubinsky, 2004, p. 244). Bad publicity affects your bottom line when customers switch to competitors for a positive experience and satisfaction. This results in decreased sales, thereby leading to a fall in revenue, not to mention decreased market share. This is in fact crippling for any business in the long run. Company image will also be damaged as customers associate it with incompetence. “Research indicates that customer dissatisfaction directly affects employee
turnover. That is the more dissatisfied customers a firm has, the less likely employees are to stay. Replacing salespeople who leave increases recruitment, selection, and training costs. In addition, opportunity costs arise from lost sales during the departing salesperson’s absence from his or her territory.” (Anderson/Dubinsky, 2004, p. 245). It is very difficult to change negative perceptions. The competition will be on highest alert to fill the empty gaps. Bad customer service together with a host of other problems may lead to a company’s eventual demise. Customer advocacy is not beyond a company’s reach. In its simplest form, it is being proactive in anticipating the needs or concerns of customers before they arise and finding solutions to them before customers are adversely affected. With effective training programs, it can be accomplished and will contribute positively to the bottom line which every company is concerned about. Good customer service habits to adopt are listed below: • Refer to customers by name, if they are regular patrons to your business. • Make sure the customer is fully satisfied before moving unto the next customer. • Listen attentively to customers.
• Follow up on customer queries and complaints providing amicable solutions. • Offer alternative products or services if what the customer is asking for is not available. • Be sure to inform your customers about new product or service additions to your business. • Charge customers prices that were initially agreed upon (don’t price gouge). How does excellence in customer service help the company’s bottom line? There is the benefit of passing on the positive experience to other customers who will be delighted to patronize the business, because the attitude of the “customer comes first” dominates. The ripple effect will be increased purchases and market share which will translate into increased profits. A growing customer base may mean expansion for a company as well, as they will need to serve their markets more efficiently. The competitive edge will be gained by the firms who are willing to invest in their customer relations. In conclusion, customers are better informed and demand more for the buck, they will indeed patronize the companies that offer quality in products and services and excellence in customer service.
A business needs customers to survive. Customer service should always be at the forefront of company policy. In fact companies should always be looking for ways to improve upon it to better serve customers. Feedback from customers can be used to help companies make the best of customer training programs that they may have in place. Therefore, make excellent customer service a priority in your organization as it contributes positively to the bottom line.
Reference Text Personal Selling: Achieving Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty by Rolph Anderson and Alan Dubinsky (2004) About the Author: Fern Smith holds a Bachelor's Degree in Business Management with a Minor in Marketing. Her work experience spans over a decade in the hospitality industry and the distribution and retail sector in St. Lucia. She is an avid reader of diverse topics, some of which include management, marketing and inspirational literature.
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BusinessFocus July / Aug
IN THE KNOW
Saint Lucia’s Best Showcased at Expo 2012
By Stan Bishop
Some of Saint Lucia’s best goods and services were the focus of a three-day national exhibition held in May. Expo 2012, an initiative organised by the Office of Private Sector Relations, was held at the Union Industrial Estate from Thursday, May 24 to Saturday, May 26. At the core of the first-ever-held national exhibition for St. Lucian exporters was the thrust to showcase some of the best goods and services local manufacturers and other service providers have to offer for export. The chosen theme for the trade exhibition was “Expect, Experience, Export The Best of Saint Lucia” and organisers seemingly went all out to assemble a wide cross-section of local goods and services to fit the theme. On display were fifty-seven exporters from across the island, all of whom proved that innovation and excellence in quality and service are alive and well in St. Lucia. From food items to furniture and fashion to music, the many attractively-decorated and well-stocked booths at the exhibition were the buzz of activity as the venue became flooded with patrons hoping to take in the tastes, sights and sounds that made up Expo 2012. Speaking at the formal opening of the exhibition, Jacqueline Emmanuel, Director of the OPSR, said positioning St. Lucia as an exporting nation for both quality goods and services remains a top priority. As such, a Trade Export Promotion Agency was set up to facilitate the necessary institutional infrastructure to afford the island the opportunity to pursue export development. Any such endeavour, Emmanuel BusinessFocus July / Aug
added, redounds to significant economic growth and sustainable development for St. Lucia. She also called on all St. Lucians to be part of the rewarding experience that bears a national significance. “We recognize that to become a successful exporting nation we must have a paradigm shift towards promoting the best goods and services at home and abroad,” the OPSR Director said. “We must expect the best, experience the best and export the best, and this is an undertaking that all St. Lucians must be involved in.” According to Emmanuel, the three-day trade show is the genesis of that aggressive national endeavour to expect, experience and export the best the island has to offer. She believes that by bringing together all the stakeholders, exporters, buyers and consumers under one roof for three days has to potential to create unlimited awareness for local goods and services. The long list of companies that participated in Expo 2012 includes:
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Baron Foods Ltd. Saint Lucia Distillers Ltd. Tenderoni Foods St. Lucia Marketing Board Windward and Leeward Brewery Ltd. Paradise Springs Perry Bags Caribbean Metals Ltd. Wilrock Solar Dynamics Karib Cable Topstone Fabrication Ltd. Viking Traders Ltd, Du Boulay’s Bottling Co. Ltd. Ferrands Food Products Ltd. East Caribbean Financial Holding Co. Ltd. Eden Herbs Emrand Henry Kuumba Designs Alcina Nolley Finola Prescott ChemSolutions Leather Bank Soap VigaMoss Island Interactive The Oncology Centre Saintlu Metals Jaeylu Designs Rafferty Intimates CDN Jewellery and Accessories
While commending the high level of quality products and services on show, the OPSR Director challenged the exhibitors to continue reaching for even higher standards of excellence in their respective trades. Complacency and laurels of past performance, she suggested, are no longer prescriptions for the volatile global market environment that obtains today. She also cited other regional territories that have developed their own national expositions that have since gone on to become major national events attracting international attention. Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Barbados are some of those territories and Emmanuel is hopeful that Expo Saint Lucia soon becomes a biennial event that attracts similar attention. “With adequate support and commitment, St. Lucia’s export exhibitions have the potential to become major and international events. In fact, it is necessary that such an event (as Expo 2012) be hosted periodically in order for it to become truly
munity and the people of St. Lucia and it will proclaim boldly to the world that we have come of age, and henceforth in the future St. Lucian products and services will be able to hold their own and compete shoulder to shoulder with the best from anywhere in the world,” Hon. Hippolyte said. Hon. Hippolyte expressed her delight at the hosting of the national business development initiative, coining it “a true example of public/private partnership.” The minister added that in an age where trade liberalization is a crucial factor that determines the fates of many business ventures, St. Lucia needed to respond positively. As such, a National Export Development Strategy (NEDS) was actively pursued. “NEDS focuses on sustainable export growth and on mainstreaming trade into the broader development framework. It also articulated the need for a Trade Export Promotion Agency (TEPA) for St. Lucia to promote a positive image for St. Lucian
the St. Lucia business calendar. Through this medium, we hope to bring St. Lucia, as well as regional and international, buyers together with local producers to create trade relationships,” Hon. Hippolyte said. Also present at the Expo 2012 opening ceremony was Senior Advisor (Market Intelligence) at the Caribbean Export Development Agency (CEDA), David Gomez. During his brief remarks, Gomez stressed the need for proper branding within the region. The international markets, he indicated, flourish on the basis of aggressive brand marketing albeit the Caribbean region offers a wide array of products and services that are of equal and/or better quality than those offered elsewhere. Gomez believes that choosing to compete with product against brand in the international arena is a recipe for failure. He also called on producers and service providers to be more innovative and original in their respective businesses as uniqueness is a major fea-
successful, for example, for it to attract the right buyers and build the skills of the exporters through continuous exposure,” Emmanuel explained. That sentiment was also expressed by Minister for Commerce, Business Development, Investment and Consumer Affairs, Hon. Emma Hippolyte. In a statement read by her Permanent Secretary, Brenda Yorke, Hon. Hippolyte said the exhibition was “grounded on the bold proposition that strong domestic sales and business performance is a vital precursor to achieving export potential and improving competitiveness.” Expo 2012, she added, will put the world on notice that St. Lucia has quality products and services that are on par with the international competition. “This showpiece is a collaboration between the Government, the business com-
products and services,” Hon. Hippolyte said. “(It also) helps companies to access technical assistance, facilitate the procedure for exports, including coping with the red tape even in the CSME and guide smaller companies towards an export orientation.” The Commerce Minister also announced that government will seek to create a climate of increased competitiveness and productive employment through mobilizing investment within the country. Government, she added, will provide the necessary incentives to local producers and service providers when the need arises. Like Emmanuel, she too foresees the enormous potential that lies ahead for Expo Saint Lucia. “It is our intention to make Expo Saint Lucia the premier trade exposition in Saint Lucia and the OECS, and a highlight on
ture that will redound to increased export potential. The CEDA official also announced that there are a number of benefits and programmes that CEDA administers that exporters can tap into. Gomez was also one of the facilitators who participated in training workshops for the exhibitors. Two other facilitators, Cora Lowe of CEDA and Alicia Stephen of OECS Export Development, also participated in the training workshops. A new and comprehensive trade portal, www.exportall-stlucia.com, was also launched at Expo 2012. Dubbed the virtual shopping mall for “all-Saint Lucian” goods and services, the portal is a useful medium where local and international audiences can browse through the broad range of St. Lucian goods and services being offered in the market. BusinessFocus July July//Aug Aug
IN THE KNOW
Please Donâ€™t Go! By Faithaline Hippolyte
The Need to Keep Valuable Employees Turnover occurs when employees leave a company, and can be either voluntary or involuntary. When employees leave, they take with them their knowledge, skills and abilities that contributed towards the goals, profit and performance of the organisation. Turnover also lowers productivity, since you have less persons to accomplish the same amount of work. The pressure of increased workload imposed on the employees who stay, can lead to low employee morale, which can affect productivity even more and also customer service. This in turn can affect sales and profit. There is also the cost of recruiting new employees and that of training new employees. In addition, there are separation costs including administrative processing, and the payment to the departing employee for whatever legal benefits that are due. Turnover rates can be measured by dividing the number of separations by the average number of employees, multiplied by 100. This can be done over specific peBusinessFocus July / Aug
riods such as monthly, quarterly or yearly. Note that the more frequently you examine turnover, the better chance of taking steps to keep it from getting worse, before too much time has elapsed. Another valuable metric in the fight against turnover is the first year turnover percent, which is calculated by dividing the number of separations who were less than 12 months, by the total number of separations, multiplied by 100. After investing time and money into recruiting employees and training them, an employer expects to receive several years of productive work from this employee. When the employee leaves in less than 12 months, the companyâ€™s investment in their recruitment and training does not yield the expected return.
Possible Solutions Some ways you can get clued in as to what is causing turnover in your company, is by performing exit interviews (surveying em-
ployees who have left as to the reasons why they left); or stay interviews (surveying current employees to find out what makes them stay, and what would entice them to leave). The following are some possible issues that may arise from your research, and suggestions on how to address them: â€˘ Recruiting & onboarding: Start with proper recruiting, for example, through interviews, reference checks and pre-hire tests; take steps to ensure that the person hired is the right fit for the job. In addition, before persons are hired, give a realistic job preview, explaining both the attractive and not-so-attractive aspects of the job so that new employees have realistic expectations. Also having well-structured orientation programs would help new employees get better integrated into the job, the company and the organisational culture.
• Career development & training opportunities: Encourage promotion from within the company; provide training and educational opportunities to employees in-house or subsidise the cost at external institutions. • Benefits & compensation: Ensure salaries are competitive for your industry, and provide benefits beyond basic wages, such as medical insurance. Also explore low-cost incentives such as time off. • Supportive managers & supervisors: Provide training to managers and supervisors about how to effectively provide guidance, coaching and when necessary discipline to employees.
It is interesting to note that in some cases, where an employee is destructive, has a negative influence on their co-workers, or their performance is costing the company in terms of excessive errors, the cost of losing this employee may be lower than the cost of keeping them. Nonetheless it is imperative in order to maximize the profitability of the company that steps be taken to retain employees; and in the case of the destructive employee, it may have been possible to take steps to ensure that such an employee was not hired in the first place.
About the Author: Faithaline Hippolyte is a freelance writer. She holds a BSc. in Management Studies, and is a Certified Senior Professional in Human Resources. Find some of her other writings at www.amazon.com, including Kindle books for instant download.
• Communication & organisational culture: Develop a culture where employees feel free to air their grievances and give their opinions. Keep employees well informed about what is happening within the company. Also encourage employee events to encourage morale – they can be of a purely fun nature, or geared toward volunteerism to help the community.
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IN THE KNOW
FORCE Retirement Caribbean employers are noting a landmark ruling by the UK Supreme Court that has outlined the powers that employers have to force workers to retire. The British court unanimously dismissed an appeal by a solicitor who was told to retire by a law firm just after his 65th birthday. Leslie Seldon, a partner at the firm, wanted to continue working, but his request was turned down. Part of his partnership deed was aimed at ensuring succession at the firm. Mr. Seldon argued that the decision to make him retire at Kent law firm, Clarkson Wright and Jakes, which came before the default retirement age was abolished in October, was age discrimination. However, his appeal was turned down, signaling that fairness between generations was a legitimate aim for employers. In this case, the employer argued that there were legitimate aims for its retirement policy. They included: Ensuring younger workers had the opportunity of becoming a partner after a reasonable period; facilitating planning by having a BusinessFocus July / Aug
realistic long-term expectation as to when vacancies will arise; and limiting the need to expel partners for poor performance. The court said that employers needed to give particular consideration to whether a â€˜public interestâ€™ was served when telling anyone to retire. "All businesses will now have to give careful consideration to what, if any, mandatory retirement rules can be justified in their particular business," the judgment said. Yet this could include reasons of succession and letting workers go at a certain age because of poor performance, so not having to dismiss them. However, it referred the case back to the employment tribunal to rule on whether 65 was an appropriate age for Mr. Seldon to be told to go. Mr. Seldon told the BBC that he "felt up to working". He said his motivation in taking the case was financial, with life expectancy increasing but the generosity of pensions falling. Niki Walker, partner at law firm, Taylor Wessing, said that the ruling provided some clarity for employers. "Employers can gain comfort from the fact that they
can rely on employment being shared out among generations, and it is also legitimate to preserve the dignity of older workers by retiring them," she said. "However, it is still not clear what is the correct age to retire somebody." Legislation which came into force fully in October stops UK employers from compulsorily retiring workers once they reach the age of 65. However, business groups have argued that employers have been left in limbo, fearful of asking workers aged 65 or over to leave the business for fear of being accused of ageism. Age UK, which took on the case on behalf of Mr. Seldon at the Supreme Court, welcomed the fact that the ruling made the law clearer and that people could not be retired just because of "stereotypes" of age. Meanwhile, barrister Caspar Glyn QC said: "The case now provides a menu for the astute employer to follow, that means that whilst the gate has not been shut, it has been narrowed."
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IN THE KNOW
The Tip of the Marketing Iceberg
By Pilaiye Cenac So, you’ve successfully completed a qualification in marketing… Congratulations. That was step one. Step two: Find that job to put your knowledge to the test. Step three: Gear up for the real world. Please note that not all departments will welcome you with open arms – some business executives actually believe that marketers are glorified salespersons. You will need to silence the naysayers: Prove that a marketer can do more than just come up with a few clever sales promotions and rack up an advertising bill never before seen at the company. Here are a few guiding tips.
tions with customers. Ask and you will receive… 4. Know your competitor: Do you know who’s stalking your customers? There are direct and indirect competitors. For instance, if you’re into the restaurant business, supermarkets are your indirect competitors. Pay attention to the less obvious rivals, lest they sneak up on you. 5. Pursue loyalty, not just satisfaction: A loyal customer can help your company acquire more customers. A customer who is merely satisfied may be more easily lured away by other offerings. Invest in fostering loyalty.
1. Choose your market. You can’t please everybody in St. Lucia, all the time, and you’d drive yourself insane trying to do so. Segment the 166,000 population and choose the groups you think would derive the most pleasure from dealing with your company.
6. Don’t compete on price only: Other dimensions such as support/customer services, relationships, value and quality pull customers in. Your sales managers and sales persons may be tempted to slash prices as the sales acquisition strategy, but this could lead to brand devaluation if done too frequently.
2. Know your customer: Can you pick your customer out of a line up? You should be able to identify the people who pay your bills. Market information is not always readily available in St. Lucia, but there are ways for your company to collect vital customer information.
7. Measure, measure, measure: Prove all things. How did your last marketing effort affect the bottom line? You need to know. Unless you do, many executives (especially those in accounts) will continue to regard the marketing department as the place where money goes to die!
3. You don’t have all the answers. Ask! The answers to your questions are not all found in those textbooks you studied from. Those answers are out there – in other departments, in customers’ heads, in frontline employees’ day-to-day interac-
8. Handle the brand with care: The brand is a living, breathing entity. You nurtured it with time, money, energy, and you could kill or seriously wound it in one fell swoop. Therefore, put on those kid gloves…
BusinessFocus July / Aug
9. Use many channels of communication but keep the message consistent. Say the same thing in different ways and choose media depending on your target markets’ preferences. 10. Make sure staff have the required knowledge/skills: Internal marketing is important: educate your staff and get their buy in. It’s not a good look when customers know more about your products/services or are more passionate about them than your employees. 11. Appreciate negative feedback: Don’t ignore customers who have something negative to say about your offering/ company. They’re probably voicing what others think but don’t have the courage to say. Those complaints can provide information to give your company an edge. 12. Deliver on your promises: In St. Lucia, someone who makes promises and then proceeds to play the dodging game is a bòbòlis, a bluffer. When a company does not follow through on its promises the sentiments are just as negative. Who wants to do business with an untrustworthy company? About the Author: Pilaiye Cenac is an entrepreneur. Her qualifications include a BSc. in Psychology and Sociology and an MSc. in Marketing. She is also a PMP® and a published writer. One of her companies, In Tandem, focuses on low cost approaches to enriching the customer experience.
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BusinessFocus July / Aug
IN THE KNOW
Conflict of Interest By. Dr. Annette Rahael
In the opening stages of a consultation with a business family, the family business (FB) leader, usually the CEO, outlines what she or he thinks are the pressing issues facing the family and the business. At times the difficulties as perceived by the family business leadership are not the real problems. Often, as I gather my own data, additional concerns come to the fore. One subject that is often overlooked by family members is conflict of interest. Family members usually do not view any and all investments by shareholders as a conflict of interest. They reserve that term for shareholder involvement in competing companies in the same industry and they apply it to active shareholders, who work in the business and passive shareholders who do not. When family members apply such a narrow definition of the term, they exclude instances that cause their fellow shareholders to look askance at them. How is it not a conflict, some ask, when a senior family manager in a business owns shares in another operational business? Surely that reduces time, energy and focus spent on the family business and that is a conflict, they maintain. They cite also participation in activities like civic, business, political and sporting bodies that seem to consume the active shareholders and wonder if they are getting the best effort from that family member. BusinessFocus July / Aug
Conflict of Focus Of course, the manager in question is always quick to point out that his involvement in the other company is limited and does not take away from his focus on the family business. Plus, says the active shareholder, “I am working very hard in the FB for the financial good of all and other shareholders get the same or sometimes better returns than I do. My salary and bonus do not reward me sufficiently and the passive shareholders are out there making their own money in addition to what I am making for them.” As always, there is validity in the two opposing views. Yes, financial compensation is a driving force behind the outside involvements of active shareholders and that is not the whole story. By virtue of growing up in a business family, some people develop entrepreneurial qualities that have them chafing at the bit to “do their own thing” and not be hamstrung by having to consult with other shareholders. These people often complain to me about the conservatism of their fellow shareholders and the unwillingness to take risk. Here is the thing—¬a shareholder in a family business is not his own man or woman, free to do as he or she pleases. This applies to both active and passive shareholders. Joint ownership carries responsibilities to attend to the common good.
There are consequences to the FB if active shareholders plunge into activities which dilute their attention, and these impact the financial wellbeing of the FB, and family trust. Passive shareholders likewise should not leverage their participation in the FB for their personal gain. Often, investment opportunities come the way of FB shareholders just because they carry the right last name or because they are privy to business information that they would not ordinarily obtain were it not for their ownership interest in a FB. Before following any such lead, a responsible shareholder needs to reflect honestly on the source of the opportunity; the impact his or her involvement will have on the business, and come clean with the family. But that is not enough. The family needs to have a conflict of interest policy in place which explicitly covers a host of situations for both active and passive shareholders. These include relationships with suppliers; the exchange of goods and services between companies in which shareholders have an interest: the impact of external activities on the performance of a manager; path for submission and approval of new business and even regular reporting on passive investments. Indeed, I have sometimes recommended the equivalent of an Integrity Commission for families in business together. It hearkens to my belief that in FBs, transparency dispels suspicion and engenders trust.
Consequences & Prevention There must be repercussions for those who break the rules. If a family has implemented a conflict of interest policy and a shareholder is found in breach, a penalty must be applied. One such consequence is that the offending shareholder is forced to render his shares in the FB subject to the buy-sell provisions. And as always, the aim is to prevent this last ditch outcome. One way is to financially reward active shareholders appropriately. FBs need to stop underpaying family members in the business, even as they demand more of them. Yet another way is to encourage joint ventures between the FB and family members who have the urge and ability to run their own show. This serves a dual purpose of fostering that entrepreneurial spirit and growing the FB for the good of all. Additionally it allows that family member to access the collective knowledge of the family business organisation. What is the point of having a family business that has endured for generations and has the scars to show for this if we do not share the benefit of these learning experiences
with family members, whether they work in the FB or not? However, a family member cannot simultaneously obtain a salary from the FB and scratch his itch to independently own and operate another business. Even those who subscribe to the narrowest definition of conflict of interest could cede this. Courtesy: Business Guardian
About the Author Dr. Annette Rahael is a family business advisor based in Trinidad.
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IN THE KNOW
Selecting a Guard Company By Brian Ramsey Private security services have become a part of everyday life in the Caribbean. The frequency of incidents of criminal acts has led to a situation of unease so that organisations, whether companies or residents associations have turned to private security contractors to provide protection. As the demand has risen, so has the number of private security contractors. For some, selecting a company amongst the plethora of offerings is simply a matter of choosing the lowest price. The question is however; does lowest price provide the best value? The statement that, “you get what you pay for” is as true in the guarding industry as it is in any other business enterprise. Indeed what contracting organisations should be seeking to do is to select a security service provider that combines quality with a favorable price so that you get the “economically most advantageous offer.” So how do you assess quality in the context of a guarding company? There are four key elements that underlie quality in any guarding service: 1. The capability and motivation of the actual guards; 2. The planning and supervision of the guards; 3. The technical, operational and human resource infrastructure sup porting the guarding personnel; and 4. The track record and philosophy of the company. As someone faced with the task of selecting a guard company, what can you look for to help determine if the guards would be capable? You should consider the following factors: • Recruitment practices • Background checks • Testing of reading & writing ability • Psychometric evaluations • Training • Content BusinessFocus July / Aug
• • • • •
Duration Examinations Officer Compensation Wages All other benefits (uniforms, retirement, health insurance etc) • Leave policy The above are factors that would point towards a security service provider who is likely to provide guards that are capable. By checking the background of potential employees the security company is seeking to ensure that the persons they hire would not be a liability to the company or the customer. Some security companies in the Caribbean simply require a potential employee to get a Police Certificate of Character; however that certificate only tells you that the person has not been convicted of a crime. But they might still be a bad person. A background check goes deeper to uncover those persons you do not want because of their affiliations. By selecting a company who tests their guards reading and writing ability you know that you are getting a company whose staff can understand your written instructions and notices. By hiring a company that trains their guards you know that you are getting someone who has a basic understanding of what their functions are. It is important however to not simply accept what someone may write in a tender proposal, after all people may sometimes say anything to get a job. Rather, you should have the bidding company provide details so that you can see a structured staff selection, recruitment and training procedure. It is said that “even good people can perform poorly if they are not properly directed,” and that is why it is important to assess the supervision provided. In seeking to determine if the supervision will be adequate you should examine:
• • •
Frequency Duration Purpose. What exactly will the supervisor be doing when he visits? In addition, does the company take the time to prepare comprehensive written instructions to be followed by the guard on your site? Again, as in all things you would want proof, so can they provide samples of similar instructions. The guard on your site is the individual who interacts with the public, your customers and your staff and so it is critical that individual is capable of delivering a quality service. However, it is also important that the company can provide support to that guard in the event of an emergency, or provide support to you in the event of a problem. It is for these reasons that you need to assess the technical, operational and human resource infrastructure supporting the guarding personnel. Finally, it is important to determine if the track record of the prospective security service provider substantiates the other capabilities that he has shown in your assessment. It is by examining all these elements that you will be able to select a security service provider that combines quality with a favorable price so that you get the “economically most advantageous offer.” About the Author Brian Ramsey has a B.A. in Accounting & Management, along with an MBA in Finance and over 25 years in the Caribbean security field. He is the Regional Development Director for Amalgamated Security Services Ltd., which is the parent company of Alternative Security Services St. Lucia Ltd. They operate in Grenada, Barbados, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago.
Cocktail Campari Berry Ingredients: 1 part Campari 1 part cranberry juice Â˝ part orange juice Shake all ingredients and pour into it in a chilled cocktail glass.
Campari Orange Passion Ingredients 1 part Campari 1 teaspoon brown sugar 3 parts light orange juice Some crushed ice Prepare the drink in a tall glass. Place orange and brown sugar in the glass and crush to a pulp. Add crushed ice. Add the Campari and orange juice, and gently stir. Garnish with a red cherry.
July / Aug Distributed by Brydens & PartnersBusinessFocus Ltd.
IN THE KNOW
Laverne Auguste Presenting her Experiential Field Research
Worried about the Next Generation?
By Marvin Kane Recently my good friend and colleague, Linda Samuels, invited me to sit on a panel of professional business people and entrepreneurs at the Sawyer Business School at Suffolk University in Boston. The purpose of the gathering was their experiential/ field research presentation of their business plans by four of Linda’s Executive MBA students. The members of the panel were there to listen, take notes, ask questions and make suggestions for the path forward. We were, after all, working professionals who presumably had taken our share of hits, gotten up off the canvas, persevered and kept going. I was honored to be invited.
College or College of Hard Knocks There is a presumption among those entrepreneurs of my generation who did not go to college that the lessons learned in the so called “College of Hard Knocks” are far more valuable than those learned in college. Not true! If I had been half as prepared to start my business as Linda’s students will be, I would have made fewer mistakes, lost less sleep and made more money. No matter how comprehensive a business plan is, you can never totally BusinessFocus July / Aug
avoid the hardships of starting and growing a business. Linda’s students know this. That’s why their plans include an exit strategy. When I jumped into my business I didn’t know what an exit strategy was. I did what the Vikings used to do. I landed on foreign soil and burned the lifeboats. I couldn’t “exit” if I wanted to. So much for the “College of Hard Knocks.”
St. Lucia’s Gift to the World Back to Linda’s Executive MBA students. Meet Laverne Auguste from St. Lucia. Because her success depends largely on being first to market it would be imprudent for me to discuss the details of Laverne’s business. You will have to wait until she graces the cover of Entrepreneur Magazine. I will say this: She will create jobs and raise the standard of living first in St. Lucia, then throughout the Caribbean and quite possibly the rest of the developing world. Why do I say that? Because she has “it” – that combination of talent, passion and resilience that fuels all entrepreneurs. A young woman with her intelligence can succeed at anything. But she didn’t choose just anything. She chose something that she is passionate about and believes in.
It was her passion and commitment that inspired her to name her company after her grandmother, Martha Auguste, who instilled values in her as a child and even today, is a major influence in her life. The fire is lit; it won’t go out.
My Takeaway Listening to Laverne talk about her business was inspiring. Her plan was thorough and thoughtful. It covered every foreseeable contingency. It was also eye opening. I came home, pulled out my business plan and chuckled to myself. Let’s just say I had left some things out; like burning the lifeboats. I will be going back to my plan and reworking it. About the Author: Marvin Kane is the Founder and President of Kaneworks, Inc., a Boston based web design and production company. The company's mission is to design websites for its clients that communicate their strengths and promote their assets in a clear, concise and powerful way.
Labour Code BusinessFocus July / Aug
The St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce $400,000,000 Industry and Agriculture's
Summary of the Budget Statement for the Financial Year 2012/2013 $200,000,000 $0
Recurrent Budget Deficit Expenditure
Building Opportunities for Our Common Future
2012/2013 Sources of Revenue
Proceeds from Bonds:
BusinessFocus July / Aug
St. Lucia Chamber of C Performance of the Economy in 2011
Total Budget: EC$1,457,859,100 Recurrent Revenue: EC$922,135,621 Recurrent Expenditure: EC$962,938,100 Current Deficit: EC$ 40,802,479
2012/2013 Sources of Revenue Total Revenue EC$1,457,859,100 Recurrent Revenue EC$ 922,135,621 Capital Revenue EC$ 723,382 Grants EC$ 105,325,849 Proceeds from Bonds EC$ 15,802,479 Treasury Bills EC$ 25,000,000 Loans EC$ 388,871,769
• • • • • • • • •
Central Government Fiscal Operations
Summary of the Budg
2010 growth revised from 4.4% to 0.6% 2011 economy grew by 1% Construction sector grew by 2.1 % Tourism arrivals contracted by 3.9% Stay-over arrivals declined by 0.4% Visitor expenditure declined by 7.4% Banana production fell by 55% Banana exports declined by 70% Earnings from banana exports declined by 68% • Manufacturing sector grew by 1.6% • Inflation 2.8% compared to 3.3% in 2010
• Overall fiscal deficit widened to EC$254.4ml or 7.6% of GDP • Overall fiscal deficit in 2010/2011 was EC$166.5 • Capital expenditure: Increased by 34% to EC$402.6ml • Total revenue and grants was EC$928.8ml • Current revenue grew by 6.1% • Total expenditure grew by 13.7% to EC$1,183.3ml • Current expenditure grew by 5.1% to EC$780.7 million
2012/2013 Recurrent Budget Account
$600,000,000 $400,000,000 $200,000,000 $0 Recurrent Revenue
Recurrent Budget Deficit Expenditure BusinessFocus July / Aug
Proceeds from Bonds EC$ 15,802,479 Treasury Bills
• Public debt rose to EC$2,273.2 billion • Debt to GDP ratio 68.5% • Economic growth is projected at 2.5% in 2012/2013
BROAD POLICY OBJECTIVES ENUNCIATED Three point plan for Economic Recovery: • Jobs Creation • Construction Expansion • Fiscal Consolidation
A. Job Creation 1. The introduction of the National Incentives to Create Employment (NICE) 2. The Single Mothers Employment Programme (SMILES) BusinessFocus July / Aug
3. The Youth Empowerment Programme (YEP) 4. Support for the Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurship Programme (YAEP) 5. The continuation of the Short Term Employment Programme (STEP)
B. Construction Expansion 1. A Construction Stimulus Package 2. Removal of all duties and taxes on selected items 3. For eighteen month period, removal of stamp duty 4. Provision of serviced lots through NHC and financing from SLDB 5. Proposal to have Legal and Banking Fraternity to lower related costs 6. Reducing financing costs for construction 7. Interest rate of 5% for five years for
new construction for individuals and businesses 8. Joint ventures or partnerships
C. Fiscal Consolidation 1. ntroduction of Value Added Tax 2. Revising taxes on personal & corporate incomes 3. Increase in personal income tax allowance from $17,000 to $18,000 4. Reduction in corporate income tax (to be announced) 5. Adjusting the application fee for Alien’s Landholding Licenses, increase from $1,500 to $4,050 6. Reforming the Property Tax Regime 7. Exempt homes valued at less than $100,000 8. Revenue collected in constituencies will be allocated to that constituency
Recurrent Expenditure: EC$962,938,100 Current Deficit: 9. Revising the policy on fuel pricing 10. Implement a modified version of the fuel pass through mechanism and will now take place every three months
RELIEF MEASURES The Minister of Finance decided to offer debt relief in a number of areas as follows: • Reducing debts owed to the State and state enterprises • Relief to patients indebted to Victoria & St Jude’s Hospitals • Relief to customers of WASCO • Helping the hotel sector with outstanding HAT
SECTOR ISSUES OF NOTE
(a) Revised incentives for Manufacturing and Tourism (b) Making it Easier to do Business Programme (c) Creation of a Commercial Court (d) Establishment of a Business Incubation Programme (e) Establishment of a National Trade Export Promotion Agency (f) New licensing regime and tourism incentives (g) Investment in the Creative Industries sector (h) Increase in quota for poultry farmers (i) Increase in the level of fuel rebate for fishers (j) Increase in the annual quota of fuel for fishers (k) Tax credit for water harvesting
EC$ 40,802,479 (l) Suspension of Airport Development Levy (m) Review of Hewanorra Airport Redevelopment Project (n) Flat excise tax of 15% on hybrid vehicles (o) Tax concessions to firms that undertake energy audits (p) Extension of hours of services by government agencies (q) Electronic payment facility to be operational by November 1st, 2012.
VALUE ADDED TAX The Prime Minister and Minister of Finance revealed the following on the much awaited definitive Policy Statement on Value Added Tax (VAT).
2. A standard VAT rate of 15 percent and a rate of zero percent will be charged on certain goods and services.
3. Hotel sector and related services, a reduced rate of 8% will apply until March 31, 2013
4. A threshold for registered tax payers
Proceeds from Bonds EC$ 15,802,479 of $180,000 per annum will be Treasury Bills Loans
Goods to be exported Goods for sale at duty‐free shops Fuel Fresh eggs Uncooked pasta Water Electricity
6. Some of the following goods and services will be exempted from payment of VAT, but this list is not exhaustive: (a) Domestic residential rental (b) Educational services (c) Financial services (d) Insurance services (e) Medical services (f) Religious services (g) Local transportation services (h) Postal services (i) Certain agricultural inputs (j) Certain food items for example: (i) chicken, (ii) certain types of fresh or chilled fish, (iii) milk, (iv) butter, (v) potato, (vi) certain types of fresh or chilled vegetables, (vii) certain types of peas and beans, (viii) certain types of fresh fruit, (ix) rice, (x) flour, (xi) cane sugar, (xii) certain types of preparations for infants, (xiii) unsweetened biscuits, (xiv) bread, and (xv) table salt. 7. The standard VAT rate of 15% will be charged on medical supplies and import duty on medical supplies will be removed.
1. VAT will replace consumption tax, hotel accommodation tax, motor vehicle rental fee, mobile cellular telephone tax and the environmental protection levy.
Recurrent Revenue Capital Revenue
(a) (b) (c) (d) (e) (f) (g)
8. The approach to dealing with transition issues; Government in conjunction with SLASPA, would allow free storage at the ports for a three month period. Registered businesses that have existing storage facilities will be afforded the option of converting those facilities into bonded warehouses during the transition period. 9. A special VAT Refund Account will be established to facilitate the timely processing and payment of refunds to tax payers.
5. A VAT rate of zero percent will be legislated on certain supplies:
BusinessFocus EC$ 388,871,769
July / Aug
6.0% GDP Growth
4.0% 15.0% 3.0% 10.0% 2.0% 5.0%
How The Budget Affects You! expenditure as well as the Prime Minister’s policy statement have all been discussed. Taken from Embert St. Juste’s presentation at the First Citizens seminar, this article examines aspects of the Budget that deals with strategies, implications and prospects. By Embert St. Juste
Budget Incentives, Strategies and Implications
Mr. Embert St. Juste, Director of Research and Policy for the Ministry of Finance, Economic Affairs, Planning and Social Security gave a presentation at a seminar sponsored by the First Citizens Investment Services on June 6th. His presentation, which drew much discussion and debate, looked at the island’s recent macroeconomic performance, the 2012/13 Budget highlights, strategies and incentives for economic recovery and fiscal consolidation, implications of budgetary measures and the prospects for St. Lucia’s economy.
The 2012/13 Budget was conceived within the context of the ongoing global debate of the need to find the right balance between fiscal austerity and growth. There is a clear need for Government to implement policies that will stimulate growth and create employment. However, Government’s ability to pursue expansionary fiscal policies is severely constrained by the high debt to GDP ratio and widening fiscal deficits.
The content of the May 8th 2012-2013 Budget presentation has been widely circulated and the estimates of revenue and
The budget seeks to find a balance between austerity and growth by providing a plethora of stimulus measures, while laying the foundation for the fiscal belt-
BusinessFocus July / Aug
tightening that is required. It is recognized that over the short-to-medium term, the expansionary fiscal measures are likely to result in increases in debt. However, the trajectory of the debt is expected to turnaround as soon as growth picks up. Growth enhancing/job creating capital expenditure will also feature during the period under review.
Strategies for Economic Recovery Several short-term job creation programs have been identified. They include: • NICE ($35M); • HOPE ($5M); • Koudmen Sent Lisi ($3M); • Constituency Development Program ($12M); and • STEP ($4.5M) These programs will be made sustainable by providing training through national apprenticeship and placement programs. Relationships will also be developed with the private sector to secure their participation and the government will subsidize employ-
ment in the private sector. The Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurship Program has the potential for boosting agriculture production and transforming the sector in the medium-to-long term. Also to be considered are the linkages between stimulating construction and job creation.
Stimulus for the Construction Sector Government’s stimulus package will have a direct impact through Government’s construction-related investment expected to cost $290M, and also indirectly by stimulating private sector investment. Much of the construction-related stimulus should emanate from the private sector as persons are expected to take advantage of lower prices of construction materials and lower borrowing costs.
Incentives for Economic Recovery Incentives outlined in the Budget for economic recovery include: • Removal of all duties and taxes on selected construction materials; • Removal of stamp duties on mortgages; • Provision of serviced lots with financing from the St. Lucia Development Bank (SLDB); • Lower interest rates on bank loans for construction; • Increase in personal income tax allowance; • Amnesty for settling debts owed to state-owned-enterprises; and • Assisting hotels with outstanding Hotel Accommodation Tax (HAT). Incentives have also been extended to the productive sectors, especially manufacturing and tourism.
Improving the Environment for Doing Business Measures for improving the environment for doing business include: • Export Promotion (TEPA); • New Licensing Regime for Tourism Development; and • Business incubation.
Strategies for Fiscal Consolidation The need for fiscal consolidation is clear given the high and rising public debt level and the possible deleterious effects that this could have on growth. The main revenue measures to be considered in 2012/13 for fiscal consolidation include: • Introduction of Value Added Tax (VAT) to strengthen the revenue base and simplify the tax system; • Increases in application fees for Alien’s Landholding Licenses; and • Reform of Property Tax. While the reform measures are expected to generate additional revenue, expenditure restraint is necessary if fiscal consolidation is to be realized.
Implications of Budgetary Measures While the budgetary measures are clearly designed to stimulate growth and generate employment, these objectives are being pursued against the backdrop of a difficult external environment that is hostile to small countries like St. Lucia. Currently, all our major productive sectors are facing daunting challenges: • Tourism faces weak demand in major source markets, high fuel costs are negatively impacting on airlift, high operating costs by hoteliers and heavy room-rate discounting; • Agriculture faces Black Sigatoka, loss of preferential market and high cost of inputs; and • Manufacturing faces low external demand, high cost of inputs and high financing costs. While some of these issues are externally driven, the solutions are long-term in nature (e.g. high energy cost). The budget seeks to create an environment that is conducive to the development of the private sector by enhancing incentives, removing some of the impediments for doing business, creating demand through job creation and improving the infrastructure, among others. While these measures are expected to worsen the fiscal situation in
the short-to-medium term, they are expected to result in higher rates of growth. With the expected turnaround in the global economy over the medium term, fiscal consolidation is likely to be achieved. However, major downside risks remain, such as the expected increase in debt which may not necessarily result in higher growth. The question then becomes: How does Government ensure that its debt-financed expenditure is growth enhancing? In other words, how can Government expenditure become more efficient in creating employment and generating economic growth that is sustainable? This is one of the major challenges that must be addressed.
Prospects for St. Lucia’s Economy Growth over the medium term is largely contingent on the pace of the global recovery. In recent weeks, major concerns have been raised about the slowing down in the recovery of the global economy. This situation has been exacerbated by the deepening banking and debt crisis in Europe and the slowdown of growth in China and India, two of the main drivers of global growth. In 2012, growth in St. Lucia will be largely driven by public sector construction, although private sector activity should pick up towards the latter part of the year. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is likely to remain subdued as global liquidity remains tight. Major challenges remain for tourist arrivals as demand in the main source markets remain weak. At the moment, attention is more focused on issues such as the upcoming US presidential elections, the London Olympics, as well as the Euro Zone debt crisis. The Prime Minister predicted GDP growth of 2.5% in 2012, but economic activity may fall short given the absence of any significant drivers of growth in the first half of 2012. Activity is expected to pick up towards the end of the year.
BusinessFocus July / Aug
Business From The Budget Projects that Could be Business Opportunities The billion-dollar Budget presented by Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr. Kenny Anthony on May 8th 2012 included millions of dollars worth of local business opportunities. Following is a list of some of the opportunities that have arisen from the 2012-2013 Government Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure.
CONSTRUCTION OF HOSPITALS NEW NATIONAL HOSPITAL: Long-delayed construction of the New National Hospital commenced in July of 2009 and is scheduled to be completed in December 2012. An allocation of $32.4 million has been included in this year’s budget for that purpose. In order to ensure the smooth transition from the Victoria Hospital to the New National Hospital, a number of commissioning activities must be effectively undertaken before the new facility becomes operational and they are being prepared for. A Commissioning Team has been established and tasked with the responsibility of transferring Victoria Hospital to the New National Hospital where it becomes a functioning organisation that provides a well-planned and improved level of service to the population that it serves. ST. JUDE’S HOSPITAL: St. Jude’s Hospital reconstruction is another ongoing priority government project. Government says it is committed to mobilising the resources required to bring the reconstruction works to completion. Since the commencement of the renovation work, there has been a number changes in strategy and expansion in the scope of the work. This was necessary to ensure that the work being BusinessFocus July / Aug
undertaken was compatible with the critical needs of St. Jude’s Hospital, but also to facilitate improvements in clinical services. Government hopes that, as promised, all major works will be completed by August 31, 2012 to facilitate testing and commissioning prior to the relocation of St. Jude’s Hospital from the George Odlum Stadium. When complete, the reconstructed facility at Cantonement will remain the permanent home for St. Jude’s Hospital. Government has approved a budgetary allocation of the $15.9 million required to bring this project to completion.
STIMULUS PACKAGE FOR FIRST-TIME HOME OWNERS An 18-month national stimulus package for first-time home-builders has been announced and is most likely to attract much business to the construction sector as the Government seeks to ignite the sector into action. The Construction Industry Stimulus package will come in four main parts. It will: (1) Remove all duties and taxes on selected items related to the construction of homes and or buildings. Items include sand, cement, lumber, plywood, steel bars, rods and paints. (2) Stamp duty will be removed - specifically the 0.25% on loans for construction of commercial or residential properties. (3) Serviced lots will be provided through the National Development Corporation (NDC) with funding from the St. Lucia Development Bank (SLDB).
(4) There will be lower legal and banking fees. In addition, banks have agreed to loans for first time homeowners or construction at 5% interest per annum over five years, with the interest rate to resume to what it would be after the period. A wide range of types of construction-related projects are covered under this package, including repairs, extensions, renovations and entirely new constructions. Further opportunities are also available for businesses, as there are 17 houses to be completed in the Fond St. Jacques postTomas rehab scheme. A NATIONAL HOUSE REPAIR SCHEME is also planned that will see government assisting with house repairs for most needy citizens and several possibilities have also been identified, including Trouya (Bois d’Orange), Bexon and South Castries, for possible development.
TAX CREDITS FOR BETTER WATER MANAGEMENT, PLUS AMNESTY The government is encouraging development of rainwater harvesting island-wide and is offering discounts and tax credits for companies capturing rainwater for reuse. It is encouraging commercial houses and ordinary households to better store and save water. To start the national rainwater harvesting practice, this year the government is offering tax-free importation of equipment for harvesting for two years, starting July 2012. The government has also promised a tax credit in the third quarter to companies that retrofit their operations to capture and use rainwater for non-essential operations. The government is also offering an amnesty for per-
BusinessFocus July / Aug
sons owing water bills or who have been engaging in illegal water connections. For one year, effective June 1st 2012 to May 31st 2013, three categories of persons will benefit from the amnesty: customers with illegal water connections and also existing WASCO accounts, persons with illegal water connections but no accounts with WASCO and customers being charged for water that they infrequently receive.
Valley and River Doree areas will also be considered soon. Complementing this is a sum of $3.27 million for the acquisition of lands owned by the former St. Lucia Banana Corporation (SLBC) in the Mabouya Valley.
REWARDING ENERGY EFFICIENY
$13 M FOR ICT EDUCATION PROJECTS Government expects increased momentum in the implementation of the ICT Programme in the island’s schools during the current financial year. This programme primarily seeks to improve the learning and teaching process in rural schools and provide the necessary skills to increase competitiveness in the job market through the employment of Information and Communication Technology. ICT offers tremendous possibilities to enhance students’ learning, develop teachers’ professional capability and strengthen institutional capacity, and government’s allocation to this initiative will be implemented through grant funding provided by the EU in the amount of $12.3 million.
YOUTH AGRICULTURAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP PROGRAMME The Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurship Programme, a project pioneered by the former administration, will receive support of $1.15 million, to be sourced from the CARICOM Development Fund and the Government of Saint Lucia. The main purpose of this project is to establish an entrepreneurship incubator programme geared at involving at least 150 young entrepreneurs in agriculture. The project aims to ensure the effective and efficient use of a number of parcels of land totaling about 685 acres, owned by Government, which currently are under utilized. The Ministry of Agriculture has identified lands in the Anse Ger, Beauséjour (Vieux Fort), Balenbouche and Roseau areas. The Mabouya
BusinessFocus July / Aug
REDUCED TAXES ON HYBRID VEHICLES
Government says it is committed to increasing energy efficiency in the work place. But while steps have been taken to phase out incandescent light bulbs and replace them with the more efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs, there is still significant room for improvement in the use of energy in the commercial sector. Government advocates that more efficient cooling systems, motion activated lighting, and better use of ambient lighting are all simple measures that can be taken to reduce national energy consumption. This will become even more important if the price of oil, on which the island still relies for electricity generation, starts to increase again on the world market. As a first step towards increasing energy efficiency, the government will provide a tax concession for one year, effective September 2012, to any business house that undertakes a comprehensive energy audit of its operations, with a view toward improving the energy efficiency of its operations. The Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards will also be mandated to develop standards for energy efficiency for major electrical appliances and to encourage the importers of appliances to display energy efficiency labels on them.
The transport sector is overtaking the electricity sector as the main user of fossil for energy in St. Lucia, thus making it important for the government’s efforts at increasing energy efficiency to also focus on that sector. Government says it will reduce the duties and taxes on hybrid vehicles that do not depend solely on gasoline or diesel to run. It will therefore reintroduce incentives it offered six years ago and introduce a flat Excise Tax Rate of 10% for a period of eighteen months, on all hybrid vehicles imported into St. Lucia.
INCREASING INTERNET ACCESS
This year, an ambitious three-year programme will commence to provide free wireless Internet access to all communities on the island. The programme will be executed in phases. The first will involve using existing human resource develop-
ment centres, community centres and libraries as WiFi hot spots, from where residents of the respective communities will be able to access free wireless internet. The second phase, which will be initiated toward the end of the financial year, will see a widening of the coverage area, with a focus on communities that have been identified in the 2010 Census as having poor Internet penetration. Government says it is also committed to assisting in realising wireless broadband connectivity and will engage network providers in seeing how such services can be fast tracked to the public.
INCREASING LOCAL MARKET SHARE FOR POULTRY PRODUCTS St. Lucia continues to consume more poultry products than the local industry can produce. As a result, the government is willing to increase the local share of the market, but insists it must be satisfied that the local producers can meet the challenges they face for improving production. During his budget presentation, the Prime Minister announced a major policy adjustment concerning the marketing of poultry products. He said some CARICOM countries are self-sufficient in poultry products and nearly all have found ways and means to protect their chicken producers and contain importation into their respective countries. In St. Lucia, the industry has gone through its challenges, but it has emerged to become more confident and more mature. The quality of the products remains unquestioned, as good as that produced anywhere. Currently, 20% of the market is allocated to local producers of chicken, amounting to approximately 2.1 million pounds of chicken annually from local sources that importers of chicken have to purchase in order to have a license to clear their imports. Where there is insufficient local supply to meet that requirement, a letter is issued to the importer indicating that there is no local chicken on the market, so the Ministry of Trade can issue a license. As of May 2008, no such letters have been issued to any importers of chicken, which might indicate that the local producers have achieved the quota allocation. Currently, some 30.3 million pounds of chicken are consumed annually. Of that amount, 28.2 million pounds is imported and 2.1 million pounds is made up by local production in the market. However, of the 28 million pounds of imported chicken, chicken backs constitute 17 million pounds (61%) and premium parts make up the remaining 11 million pounds, or 39% of total imports. Chicken backs do not form part of the quota system. In any event it would be very difficult to produce this quantity of chicken backs, given the weight ratio per chicken. Chicken backs also remain the main source of protein for the poor. The government proposes to increase the quota of the local producers on July 1, 2012. As a result, the quota would move from 20% to 30% of total purchases of poultry products. If the government is satisfied that the poultry farmers can resolve all the challenges to increasing their production, then they will consider increasing the quota to 40% of market share on July 1, 2013.
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BusinessFocus July / Aug
Saint Lucia! Government launches a Construction Industry Stimulus Package to encourage would-be first-time home owners to build with reduced financing costs. The construction sector has been buzzing about a Construction Industry Stimulus Package about to be implemented by the government, which has also attracted much interest in the business community and especially among persons yet to build their first home. Presenting the proposal during his May 8th Budget Address, Prime Minister Dr Kenny D. Anthony said Government’s priority was “to increase investment in the construction sector - directly through government programmes and indirectly through policies which stimulate private investment.” “Construction and rehabilitation of housing” were identified as “important aspects of the government’s investment initiative to address an urgent need, while at the same time providing earning opportunities for working people.” In these circumstances, the government sees the construction sector as the one with “the greatest potential to stimulate the economy, reduce unemployment and enhance growth prospects.” The sector is also seen as having capacity for stimulating economic activity, which will, in turn, generate employment and growth. It is also expected to result in expansion in physical capacity. The government is pursuing the new package, recalling the booming construction sector in 2006/2007 that resulted from hosting some of the ICC Cricket World Cup matches in Saint Lucia, during which unemployment was recorded at 14.6%, BusinessFocus July / Aug
while the economic growth rate was one of the highest for that decade. The PM said that Government took the decision “because it understands the difficulty that Saint Lucians experience in going through the process of constructing new homes, given the high prices for construction materials and the difficulty in obtaining financing for this basic need.” This new initiative is due to come into effect in August and will last 18 months. The Construction Industry Stimulus Package will have four components: 1. Removal of all duties and taxes on selected items related to the construction of homes and commercial buildings. This applies to sand, cement used for construction, lumber (including plywood), steel bars, rods and paints. 2. Stamp Duty will be removed for the eighteen month period (specifically the Stamp Duty of 0.25% on loans for residential and commercial mortgages). 3. Government will provide serviced lots available through the National Housing Corporation, with financing to be made available through the Saint Lucia Development Bank. 4. Banking and legal costs will be lowered to encourage home construction in an effort to catalyze economic activity. To reduce the overall costs of construction, the government has asked the banks to lower interest rates on loans for this purpose. The Bankers Association responded with a detailed proposal for mortgages to first-time home owners. The Bank of Saint
Lucia (BOSL) has also agreed to provide loans for construction purposes, along the following lines: 1. The loans will be provided at an interest rate of 5% per annum for a five year period, after which the rate would return to the market rate then prevailing over the following five years; 2. The specific purposes for which loans will be provided by the bank are on new construction by individuals and businesses in the private sector and by public sector entities. Eligible projects will include housing, general construction, physical expansion of industrial and commercial plant, manufacturing, warehouses, commercial buildings, small boutique type tourism properties, as well as land development projects which include a substantial housing component; 3. Loans for bankable projects involving joint ventures or partnerships where international funding is provided could also be considered. The loans would only be for new projects and activities, and will not apply to refinancing of existing projects. The banks would apply their usual prudential assessment criteria when considering loan applications. The PM also urged would-be investors “to take full advantage of these opportunities to achieve their home building or commercial objectives, improve the economic climate, expand employment opportunities and contribute to a new, post-recession era of growth and prosperity.”
Ministry Unveils $18M Basket of Goods for Commerce, Business Development and Investment Minister for Commerce, Business Development, Investment and Consumer Affairs, Emma Hippolyte, unveiled an $18 million budget to promote commerce business development and help jumpstart the economy. The minister said the Ministry’s focus this year will be to improve the business environment and stimulate export-led growth. The $18,165,000.00 is a 22% increase over the $14,302,272 in the 2011- 2012 budget. Under Recurrent Expenditure, a Trade Advisor and Legal Officer is to be hired, while $14,661,992 will be spent on Consumer Affairs, with $13 million allocated for the Government Supplies Warehouse and $725,000 for the Bureau of Standards. The Small Enterprise Development Unit [SEDU] will increase its staff complement from six to nine to better serve Medium, Small and Micro Sectors, which comprises 76% of businesses in St. Lucia.
For Investment Coordination, an allocation of $210,246.00 has been made for staffing the Investment Coordination Unit. For Capital Expenditure there is a budget of $5,941,030.00 for 11 projects, six of which are new and five continuing. This represents an increase of 37% from last year’s budget. An initiative entitled Business Improvement for Growth [BIG] will focus on Export Development, Enabling of the Business Environment, Support for Micro and Small Enterprises, Enhancing Public Image, and the Development of the Services Sector. The Services Sector will receive $176,783 for development work, with the Ministry working in collaboration with the Saint Lucia Coalition of Services Industries on a comprehensive development strategy for the Services Sector in Saint Lucia. The Industrial Development Assistance programme is allocated $213,486 to, among other things, seek to develop local
world-class enterprises to drive Saint Lucia’s competitiveness in global markets in the medium-to-long term. Some 25 firms in the food and beverage, furniture and the textile sub-sectors will benefit under this programme. Under Export Development, $2,845,000.00 will be used for the implementation of the National Export Development Strategy. Other activities to be implemented include establishment of a National Trade Information Network, a Business Incubation Programme, support for Importation of Indigenous Natural Dyes and Pigments, Development of an E-Commerce Policy and Strategy, a Vendor Development Programme, Establishment of National Certification Body, Development of a National Investment Policy and Enhancement of the Investment Environment.
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BusinessFocus July / Aug
WASCO Still Under
Recovery What the passage of Hurricane Tomas in October 2010 served to do, uncannily, was to underscore the fact that the provision of a water utility is the most involved process among all utilities on Saint Lucia. When the deadly storm struck on October 31, 2010, the entire water supply system on the island was damaged significantly, including the multimillion dollar John Compton Dam, which services most of the north of the island (the Hill 20 system covers the Babonneau area). Ironically, the network that was least compromised was that of Fond St. Jacques, Soufriere, where the effect of the hurricane was so brutal that residents were forced to abandon their homes and evacuate the area. Initial assessments by professionals at the Water And Sewerage Company, Inc. (WASCO), the Ministry of Communications, Works, Transport and Public Utilities (now, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Port Services), and independent engineers estimated that it would take, at least, three months to restore the water supply to pre-Tomas levels of reliability. However, WASCO crews worked assiduously during the days and nights that followed, defying logic, reason and expectation to ensure that the first signs of recovery in the water supply sector were evident within three weeks after the storm. Unlike the provision of other utilities that either line established roadways or depend on wireless technologies for connectivity, bringing portable water to the BusinessFocus July / Aug
population involves a complicated process that begins off the beaten paths deep in the interior of the island. Treacherous terrain, the lack of roadways and threatening conditions, including swelling rivers and the presence of venomous creatures, are only the beginning of the challenges faced in getting water into every household. Then, there is the transportation of lengths of pipe needed to take raw water from catchment areas to treatment facilities. Many times, these pipes, weighing hundreds of pounds in some cases, have to be carried into those areas, physically. The water production process begins with getting to the source of the water: rivers. Water intakes, also known as dams, are built across the span of those rivers at strategic points to impound a high enough volume of water that can be conveyed to WASCOâ€™s treatment plants for purification. Lengths of pipe are joined from the intakes to the treatment facilities and secured in trenches excavated under river beds and through difficult terrain to ensure they do not buckle and break under high water pressures. Distribution lines are run from the various treatment plants to the water networks they serve around the island. Households, commercial enterprises and government facilities are then connected to those distribution lines using varying sizes of pipes, depending on the consumersâ€™ water use requirements. During Hurricane Tomas all water sup-
ply systems were damaged and some destroyed completely. WASCOâ€™s rural systems suffered the greatest damage. The company began the process of rehabilitating its network but, with a price tag of over EC$20 million to restore systems to pre-Tomas levels looming and the lack of finance, priority had to be given to the areas most affected and those supplying the largest section of the population. Invariably, the John Compton Dam became one area of focus given its dependence by over 60% of the population; another was Canaries, where the devastation of the system left residents cut off from a pipe-borne water supply for weeks. With assistance from the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, the Canaries system was rebuilt a few months later. WASCO engineers took that occasion to design a gate-and-pulley mechanism to assist in desilting intakes, which is being replicated in other parts of the island. The Canaries system is one of just a handful of water supply systems restored, fully, after the deadly storm. To date, most rural systems remain makeshift, intakes comprising mainly of boulders and sandbags to dam water in impounding ponds. The major difficulty with this arrangement is that whenever it rains and rivers swell, those sandbags and boulders are washed away leaving little water to be transmitted to the treatment facilities for production. In addition, loose
soil matter along the banks of rivers get eroded and enter the raw water streams creating turbidity levels that most of the company’s treatment facilities are unable to handle. These problems result in frequent interruptions to the water supply, especially in areas served by rural systems. The underlying difficulty facing WASCO is that of finance. While many consumers have expressed a willingness to pay a higher price for the provision of a more reliable supply of water, the island’s lone water utility remains powerless to act - a situation arising from the legislative framework governing the water company’s operations. WASCO is regulated by two agencies - the National Water And Sewerage Commission (NWASC) and the Water Resources Management Agency (WRMA). The NWASC was established under the Water and Sewerage Act (Act no 13 of 1999) to carry out the government’s policies regarding the use of water resources and the collection and disposal of sewage. The NWASC is also charged with reviewing and approving applications for tariff increases submitted by the water company and for determining the levels by which water rates can be increased. The WRMA falls under the Ministry of Agriculture and is responsible for granting licenses to abstract water from water courses and underground sources. The WASCO 1999 Act has been replaced by the Water and Sewerage Act (Act no 14 of 2005). However, there are some issues surrounding the licensing of WASCO to conduct its business within the regulations adopted under the new WASCO Act which have to be resolved. The Health Ministry also has oversight for monitoring the water supply and sewerage services offered by WASCO and to take appropriate action to deal with public health infractions. Although the cost of setting up water infrastructure and the infrastructure itself remains highest among utilities on the island, WASCO is the only company that cannot adjust its rates due to the laws governing its operations. Notwithstanding the rise in the cost of fuel and other inputs over the years, water rates have not changed since 2000, when Cabinet decided on a 100% increase in the price of water. Before that increase, water rates had not been adjusted since the mid-late 1980s. This situation may explain why the cost of producing water today, is significantly higher than the price charged at the domestic rate. With a negative cost-price variance, it’s no wonder that WASCO faces major financial difficulty and is unable to perform regular maintenance and improvements to its systems. There are many improvements that need to be made in the process involved in providing a consistent, safe and reliable water and wastewater service to the public, and a tariff adjustment would help. The reality, though, is that persistent financial woes render WASCO unable to improve its water supply system which translates to consumer frustrations island wide. And what about the damage to the water infrastructure caused by Hurricane Tomas? Still, WASCO is trying to secure the necessary funding to restore those systems to pre-Tomas levels. BusinessFocus July / Aug
Highly Technical Team Administers VAT Implementation During its official press conference to fully demystify the significant aspects of VAT implementation, the VAT Project Office also took to the opportunity to formally present the technical team charged with the mandate to mobilize the citizenry and prepare the country for the implementation of the Value Added Tax (VAT) in Saint Lucia from September 1, 2012. The VAT Implementation Project Office falls under the purview of the Ministry of Finance, and as such was formally introduced by Permanent Secretary Finance, Isaac Anthony. Tax Administrator and Chartered Accountant, Adria Rose Sonson, is at the helm bringing to the office a wealth of experience. As Deputy Comptroller of Inland Revenue Department, Ms. Sonson has also served as Chairperson of the Department’s Legislative Review Committee as well as St. Lucia’s representative on the Technical Working Group of the Caribbean Organization of Tax Administrators and Secretary to the Insurance Appeal Tribunal. She was also Inland Revenue’s Representative on the cabinet appointed committee to ensure that St. Lucia successfully complete the phases of the Global Forum Peer Review, with a specific focus on process transparency in exchange of tax information. Providing guidance to the Technical Team, Steering and Operations Committees on all project components, the new VAT Coordinator is also responsible to ensure an extensive and thorough stakeholder engagement programme that touches all aspects of the implementation process. Customs Specialist, Brian Wardrope, is responsible for the modification of customs procedures, forms and systems, pursuant to the collection of the VAT on imports. His role is integral to the development of transitional rules and procedures consequent upon the implementation of the VAT system. Mr. Wardrope advises the project team on all matters relating to the Customs and Excise Department. He also advises on the current arrangements for any modification of existing provisions for importers, exporters, manufacturers and BusinessFocus July / Aug
other customs clientele. As Chief Economic Analyst within the VAT Implementation Project Office, Fleur Simmons directs the conduct of analyses on the impact of changes in tax policy on economic activity, government revenue, prices and competitiveness. Ms. Simmons provides counsel to the Operations and Steering Committees and chairs the Social Policy Committee, on various fiscal policy issues. As the Inland Revenue Specialist, Augustus Amedee, Chartered Accountant spearheaded the development of the relevant forms, guides and other material for use by potential VAT registrants and provided quality assurance on the appropriate legislation for the introduction of the VAT system. He was also integrally involved in providing guidance on the ideal organizational structure for the establishment of the VAT Unit and the development of operations manuals needed to administer the VAT. He is also engaged in the development of training for the business sector. The process of communication between the VAT Project Office and its diverse constituents is coordinated by Lisa Goodman. Ms. Goodman is a seasoned tax officer; she has given many years of service to the Inland Revenue Department especially in the area of customer service and taxpayer relations. Ms. Goodman’s role will prove vital in the development and delivery of an extensive public education campaign. This communication thrust also includes training for VAT registrants and their accountants, sectoral talks, seminars, lecturers as well as traditional and new media outputs to ensure a pervasive public outreach programme on the implementation of the VAT. With the support of our PR consultants, Right Angle Imaging, Ms. Goodman will ensure that the VAT Team meets its mandate of educating the Saint Lucian public and ensuring a high level of awareness on VAT and VAT related issues. As the Financial Consultant employed with the Project Office from March 2011, Ms. Rita Hawkins, Chartered Accountant, has a wealth of experience in the VAT en-
vironment having worked in the UK as a VAT Consultant for more than 15 years. As a former business owner she is also well versed in issues related to local business. Providing administrative support to the team is Ms. Joan Justin and Ms. Joshann Charles. In formally meeting local press, Coordinator Adria Sonson issued a call for mutual facilitation and cooperation, mindful of the specific mandate of the VAT Project Office. “Part of our mandate is public education; inherent in that mandate is an appreciation for the process of engagement and mutual facilitation so that as a country, we can implement VAT as seamlessly as possible. It is important to understand we are not here to accommodate intrigue and speculation. We are well past that. Our role is to tell you what you need to do to prepare. On that you can depend,” she said. The Project Office can be contacted at 468-1420 or by email to the Communications Officer, Lisa Goodman at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
New VAT Coordinator Adria Rose Sonson
The VAT Team
…That the following Goods and Services will NOT be taxable under the VAT?
Goods on which no VAT will be paid: • EDUCATION SUPPLIES • FRESH CHILLED OR FROZEN UNPROCESSED/RAW CHICKEN AND FISH • DIAPERS FOR BABIES AND ADULTS • MILK (Evaporated and powdered) • BUTTER • MARGARINE • COCONUT OIL • UNSWEETENED BISCUITS • TABLE SALT • UNCOOKED PEAS AND BEANS • UNCOOKED RICE • BREAD • BABY FORMULA • AGRICULTURAL AND FISHING INPUTS (approved by the Ministry of Agriculture)
• FLOUR • EGGS • UNPROCESSED VEGETABLES, FRUITS AND GROUND PROVISIONS • VEGETABLE SHORTENING • SUGAR • FRESH POTATOES • UNCOOKED PASTA • CANNED TUNA, MACKEREL AND SARDINES • EXPORTS • FUEL • TOILET PAPER • CONDOMS AND CONTRACEPTIVES • RESIDENTIAL ACCOMMODATION
Services on which no VAT will be paid:
Imports not taxable:
• • • • • • •
• An unconditional gift of goods to charities or government • Goods imported by diplomats • Goods imported by returning residents • Personal eﬀects of a passenger • Goods and services imported during disaster by NEMO
• • • • •
For further information contact us at: Tel: (758) 468 1420 Email: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.vat.gov.lc
Financial Services International Transport Services Residential Rent Electricity Water Educational Services Medical, Dental, Optical and Veterinary Services Sale of unimproved land and land for agricultural purposes Religious services Trade union services Local transportation Postal services provided by the state (excluding courier services) Services by a facility directly to aged, indigent or disabled persons
BusinessFocus July / Aug
VAT delayed by a month to October 1st 2012 Prime Minister, Dr. Kenny Anthony has told Parliament and the nation that the Value Added Tax due for implementation on September 1st will now take effect a month later, on October 1st 2012. This is to provide adequate time to address ‘anxieties and concerns’ and to ensure that systems are in place and working to administer the VAT. Dr. Anthony called on the private sector to take engage the VAT Implementation Office on all issues and concerns. He noted that $778,870 was set aside to provide assistance to the small business sector. This includes VAT-ready accounting software and associated training programmes in Gros Islet, Castries and Vieux-Fort.
Chamber Supports VAT But Has Concerns Too The St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce has reiterated its long-standing support for the Value Added Tax (VAT), but is also still concerned about several aspects. Executive Director, Brian Louisy, in a letter to Chamber members last month, said that the Chamber’s Board of Directors and its Secretariat “have been paying close attention to the process of VAT introduction to St. Lucia from the commencement of discussions on the subject in 2004, consequent upon the presentation of the OECS Tax Commissioners Report.” Louisy said the Chamber, “has long lamented the narrow tax base supporting the country’s development and advocated for a more broad based tax system which captured a larger pool of contributors.” Thus, he said, “The Chamber’s support for VAT has been longstanding and unquestioned.” He said, however, that the Chamber’s reservation “has always been with the detail which we have constantly asked for from Government.” He noted, “The Chamber has since 2004 had a proactive approach to VAT and even in the current circumstance, while we openly state our difficulty with the shotgun approach being adopted by Government, we continue to BusinessFocus July / Aug
engage the VAT Implementation Unit to arrange information-sharing forums for our members...” Louisy said the Chamber “offered and continues to be willing to help disseminate information, train and prepare businesses, provide feedback on concerns and contribute in any way possible to the VAT implementation process in St. Lucia.” But, he pointed out, “It is our duty to express clearly and loudly our concerns and points of view as it is only out of contending perspectives that true wisdom be found.” Louisy told members the Chamber remained “extremely concerned with the approach proposed by Government for dealing with stock on hand, as it will cause serious injury to firms who will have to foot the consumption tax and VAT on top of it.” He said suggestions that firms should “run down their stock” were “naïve and impractical.” The Executive Director said that Chamber’s suggestion “is that GOSL provide a consumption tax credit for stock on hand.” If a reasonable solution is not arrived at, he said, “The business community will surely protect their interests the best they can.” Louisy noted that, “Ultimately the
decision to introduce VAT and its implementation date, method and policies reside with the elected Government.” According to Louisy, “The Chamber supports the introduction of VAT and we think that, notwithstanding its drawbacks of raising the cost of business and the attendant administrative costs, the expansion of the tax roll is positive. We would have preferred to see fewer items on the zero rated and exempt list, as well as the elimination of a few more nuisance taxes. “Yet we retain strong reservations about the implementation strategy which Government has embarked on, namely: Four months lead time, short preparation period for Customs, Inland Revenue and Treasury Departments to get ready and put the systems in place for a smooth implementation, the short training period for public sector and inadequate preparation and support for SME sector.” He urged Chamber members to “study the draft legislation closely, review the VAT Guide which the Chamber has provided, to speak to colleagues in other islands and attend the Chamber’s VAT preparation sessions” and to “be prepared to flood the VAT Implementation Office with queries if need be.”
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BusinessFocus July / Aug
VAT Must be Backed by Economic Engines to Propel Needed Growth
By Michael Chastanet
Hardly anyone can deny that eventually VAT will have to be implemented - for several reasons, despite the fact that if one revisits the islands that have implemented VAT, all experienced the financial difficulties, whereas St. Lucia is the only island which grew by 4% in 2011. St. Lucia is the only state that remains out of the VAT loop, and, as the Prime Minister advised, the remaining territories are questioning the validity of the various taxes on imported goods. But well-known and respected local tax accountant and head of the local accounting firm Stewart & Associates, Geoff Stewart, a practical and knowledgeable individual, spells out the way forward very clearly. Taking Stewartâ€™s concerns seriously, it leaves the Prime Minister between a rock and a hard place, as the consumer will bear the brunt of the system and, by extension, those of us having to implement the VAT will also be under pressure, as we shall be obliged to pay a tax the consumer cannot contribute to. A very practical solution at this time may be for Government to implement an BusinessFocus July / Aug
interim across-the-board Sales Tax of, say, 3% to ease the squeeze - the reason being that the consumer simply does not have the means to pay any more on anything at this time. Government generously offered an amnesty on income tax arrears for delinquent persons and it would be interesting to note what percentage of the public were able to fulfill this generous offer. Consumers do not have the cash and the banks are simply not lending. To the best of our knowledge, a foreign bank on island recently wrote off $45 million in bad debts. Will this financial institution take any further risks in loaning out such funds? Even larger business enterprises which appear to be functioning satisfactorily will come under pressure, creating more hardship. The difficulty which exists is simple: the general economy is too weak at this time to absorb the medication required. Six years ago when the economy was buoyant, we may have been able to ride the storm. But, at this time, it will be very difficult and government needs to be super-cautious, as the backlash on this
administration could be unpleasant. The present economic situation is not a reflection on this administration, but upon a lingering recession and government has no option but to work diligently with all the stakeholders, from top to bottom. The tourism industry is our lifeline and any new taxes will certainly destabilize the industry, so the cookie will crumble. What more evidence do we require when companies like American Airlines have filed for bankruptcy and American Eagle having to close its operations at George Charles Airport on August 31, 2012, sending all employees home. An unoccupied hotel room remains the most perishable item as the revenue lost cannot be recouped; and the same will apply to hotel occupancy taxes when rooms are not occupied, ultimately affecting government revenues. It is indeed a vicious circle which is not easy to manage or navigate. Take the following example: From April 30, 2012 the Almond Village in Barbados (which comprises some 400 rooms) was closed down, as the shareholders could no
longer absorb the millions of dollars in losses. Most of the forward bookings for that hotel happened to be within the British market and Virgin Atlantic quickly arranged to move all those passengers to Mexico. The reality is that Mexico can operate their hotels at half the cost that we can in St. Lucia, so they were able to accommodate the stranded British tourists at rates we could never imagine. This is the difficulty that the tourism industry faces as we are competing against countries on the international market with labour costs that are way below ours. We witnessed the same scenario in the banana industry. What we need now are engines to propel the growth that the government needs to generate to keep the economy going, apart from the expected VAT collections. Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony is a bright and charismatic individual and has the capability of travelling to Trinidad and inducing the Government and entrepreneurs in that country to participate in some major infrastructural programmes on the island which are capable of being self financing. Three examples of such projects (that I have publicly offered before) are: (a) Erection of two cruise ship berths along the Bannanes strip of the Castries Harbour; (b) Another cruise ship berth at Vigie, adjacent to the Coast Guard station encompassing tourism-related activities on the 17 acres of land lying idle; and (c) A highway from Dennery to the north to be serviced by tolls. To expect St. Lucians to find millions to keep the economy going with limited growth is impractical when financial institutions are simply not lending. The situation is very serious and all St. Lucians need to fully understand what is taking place. We have indicated on more than one occasion that the Short Term Employment Programme (STEP) should be coupled with the agricultural industry to make the programme more productive; and that will also increase the number of workers being employed. As employers, we are prepared to engage some STEP workers at this time to assist government and the savings of state funds can probably be used for other important works. We would all love to see our people enjoying higher salaries, but the old saying that “Half a loaf is better than none” needs to be seriously considered. The situation worldwide may not deteriorate forever, but we simply have to tighten our belts during the harsh period and not allow ourselves to become over despondent. We did not create the recession and we are too small to even think of fixing it. Things will settle down, but patience, understanding and common sense must be exercised. About the Author: Michael Chastanet is a well known St. Lucian entrepreneur, Chairman of Consolidated Foods Limited and a former Chairman of St. Lucia’s National Development Corporation.
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a i c u L ode t n i Sa our C Lab
The St. Lucia Labour Code, now being published ahead of passage, has been on the road to implementation for over a decade. Conceived during the first Labour Party administration after the 1997 General Elections, the task of proposing a way forward was assigned to the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO): to design and draft a code for the consideration of the Government of Saint Lucia. The ILO assigned the mammoth task to Dr. Rose Marie Belle Antoine, a Barbadosbased Trinidad-born University of the West Indies (UWI) academic versed in Labour Law and a host of other related legal subjects. Dr. Antoine undertook several visits to St. Lucia collecting data for analysis. She reviewed volumes of related aspects of the Laws of St. Lucia, interviewed the tripartite organs involved (Labour, Government and Employers) and otherwise farmed the vast fields of data available at widely disparate locations. At the end of a lengthy, laborious exercise, Dr. Antoine submitted to the ILO a first draft of the St. Lucia Labour Code that was ultimately provided to the Government of Saint Lucia and the other interested parties.
Coming to Life Debate and discussion continued through the first term (1997-2001) of the Labour BusinessFocus July / Aug
Implementation Set for August
Administration and continued into its second term (2001-2006). But it was during its second term that the Code started coming to life. Dr. Antoine and the government engaged the social partners as the Ministry of Labour prepared to enact the Code, and the Code became the subject of meetings across the business and industrial landscape. The voluminous document (covering thousands of pages) went back and forth, to and fro, up and down the chambers of Labour and Commerce, in what must go down as one of the lengthiest periods of public consultation in St. Lucia, rivaled only by the consultations associated with the drafting of a new St. Lucia Constitution. The local trade unions hardly had any problems with the Code, most being more concerned about when it would be implemented and how it will be policed. The historical pro-labour sentiment of the Labour Party - plus the fact the Prime Minister was himself a trade unionist representing both teachers and farm workers - contributed to the expectations among workers and their unions that the Code would be some sort of Ten Commandments to local employers. The Trade Union Federation (TUF) largely supported and advocated introduction of the Labour Code and heralded it as a most positive and progressive step by the pro-labour Kenny Anthony administration. Not so the employers, however.
Consultations The St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce, responding to members’ concerns about the provisions of the Code and its expected demands on them, hired external counsel to review the Code and advise. After a long series of expansive (and expensive) consultations, the Chamber’s Caribbean lawyers came up with hundreds of concerns and questions they insisted had to be addressed and answered before the Chamber could agree to its implementation. When the Chamber’s lawyers outlined their very long list of concerns and questions, Dr. Antoine’s engagement by the ILO had long ended. However, as the principal architect of the code, she continued to engage the contending forces, responding to their queries, addressing their concerns, clarifying their doubts, meeting and talking, month after month, in a seemingly unending cycle of consultations and discussions. By the time the Labour administration’s second term came to a constitutional end, not only were the employers in the Chamber opposed to the Code, but they were led by the island’s leading hotel chain, with the then opposition UWP latching on in stout opposition. Dismissals, lay-offs, demonstrations and other forms of political hard ball prevailed over the Code as the December
2006 General Elections approached. The government came under pressure to put the Code on the back burner until after the election, as the trade unions stepped back from the front line.
Election Potato The Labour Code was on the road again, this time as a hot election potato. Pushed on the back foot, the Government opted not to be seen as being forced to ditch the Code as a result of political pressure from the opposition. It opted instead to go to Parliament and pass the Code at the very last sitting before the 2006 General Election. The Code was introduced in the Parliament and passed by the Government’s majority, its implementation to be pursued, hopefully, after the election. But that was not to be. The Labour Party lost the election – and the whole ball game changed. The UWP administration kept the Labour Code on the back burner throughout its term (2006-2011). It allowed employers and business interests all the time they needed to peruse and consider the terms and conditions attendant to the Code. It had been a very long road. The trade had unions called, year after year, for the Code to be brought back to the table, if not the front burner, but to no avail. The employers, however, were concerned about what the Code would cost them. The Compton and King administrations both adopted the attitude that there was no need for any rush to implement the Code, which they regarded as being ideologically bent in favour of improving the state and status of workers. Sensing where the government stood, the trade unions muted their demands, concentrating instead on more bread-andbutter issues concerning their dwindling memberships.
Return of the Code This situation prevailed throughout the UWP’s term until its defeat at the polls in November 2011, ushering the return of a Labour Government – and the return of the Labour Code. The Labour Party had promised, in its 2012 Election Manifesto, to complete the con-
sultation process and implement the Code if elected. Having won, it was widely expected (especially among the trade unions) that the new administration would have implemented the Code by or on Labour Day (May Day) May 1st 2012. But instead, on that day, Labour Minister Dr. Robert Lewis announced the Code would be implemented by or on August 1st (Emancipation Day). There hasn’t been much talk since the Labour Minister’s announcement. The Code has been in circulation since May for public scrutiny before it is taken back to the Parliament for final passage and implementation. Now, with its ultimate passage and implementation merely weeks away, the Code is once again on the road - and in the air.
Employers’ Support Employers and businesses have contributed to the reshaping of the St. Lucia Labour Code into what it is today, with the knowledge, from experience, that mechanisms exist to address any future concerns that may arise during implementation. The St. Lucia Employers Federation (SLEF) says it has no problem with the Code. Executive Director, Joseph Alexander, says employers “can live with the Code” because they “supported its introduction all along.” In mid-May, Alexander recalled that the trade unions and the SLEF “had several negotiations over the years” and they “have agreed that should there be major issues of disagreement, such issues would be taken to the Parliament.” The trade unions haven’t complained, but some are somewhat concerned that the government hasn’t arrived at a definite minimum wage figure for low-wage earners and unskilled labourers. However, the Code being circulated makes provision for establishment of a Minimum and Equal Wages Commission, which shall deliberate on proposals and make recommendations. The last UWP administration is known to have toyed with a figure of EC $750.00 as the minimum wage, but the figure was not pursued.
Opposing Interpretations Historically, employers and employees have had opposing interpretations of the Labour Code, the former looking at the costs, the latter at the benefits. But Dr. Antoine and others associated with the Code that is now law, insist that it sought, from its very inception, to strike a workable balance between the needs and expectations of both employers and workers, with the government also playing its part as both a social partner and an enforcer. The debates, discussions and consultations have been long and many and that has sometimes been at the cost of the historicity and value of the exercise and the resulting document. Unlike other Caribbean states, St. Lucia’s labour laws transcended both English and French Law and Codes. Dr. Antoine’s exercise also involved pulling labour-related aspects from a wide range of laws to concentrate them into one location. The result has been the production of a unique document like no other – the most modern in the Caribbean. It also contains all the hallmarks of a model to be examined by others wishing to upgrade labour laws in a transparent and democratic manner that involves all the main actors and players over sufficient time.
Subject to Scrutiny As with every new law, the Labour Code will, after expected full passage by or on August 1st, be subject to the scrutiny of the legal hawks on all sides of the tripartite social partnership. Businesses will weigh the costs; workers will weigh the benefits; and the Government will have to balance the equation. But in the end, after the necessary tweaks and adjustments, industrial relations on this island will be guided by a set of laws and regulations, all gathered in one place, in a Code that is the most modern in the Caribbean and most all-embracing, as was the intent of its original author.
BusinessFocus July / Aug
“More Collaboration Needed,” President Tells AGM By Stan Bishop
The way forward for the local tourism industry took on new meaning this year when the Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association held its Annual General Meeting. The SLHTA’s 48th AGM was held on 18th May at the Royal by Rex Resorts and organisers and other stakeholders were on high alert as to what the next few months’ fortune for the industry will be. During the closed session, SLHTA President, Karolin Troubetzkoy, explained that the past year had been one of trying circumstances that affected both the island as a viable destination and the many companies trying to stay above water. “We have still not found the firm footing which will enable us to boast of any significant degree of recovery and renewal,” Troubetzkoy said in her address. “Prognostications predicated on blind optimism, lack of understanding of the real impact of tourism on small island developing states and an unwillingness to truly collaborate in the implementation of solutions leave us ill-prepared to deal with surmounting challenges. “The cosmetic growth in visitor arrivals, the seasonal buzz in business activity and general misconceptions of global economic recovery are misleading many to think that we are out of the woods. This could not be further from the truth, particularly as the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) continues to lament the fact that 2011 was one of the most challenging years ever experienced by the global travel and tourism industry.” Troubetzkoy cited a World Travel Market 2011 Industry report which suggested that the best places to visit this year are Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico and Argentina. These countries, the report indicated, were shortlisted based primarily on their investment in infrastructure and natural beauty. The Caribbean’s tourism pie, Troubetzkoy said, is also being gunned for aggressively by the Maldives, India and BusinessFocus July / Aug
the other Asia-Pacific regions that seem intent on upping the stakes. The SLHTA President’s comments came against the backdrop of reported sporadic increases in arrivals to the Caribbean during the past year. Such growth and good fortune, she indicated, were realized primarily in countries such as the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Mexico, the Bahamas, Jamaica and Barbados. Visitors, Troubetzkoy, noted, are being influenced by destinations that offer bargains and discounts which often results in a decline in the amount of dollars visitors spend, slimmer profit margins and decreased investments. Nevertheless, the SLHTA remains committed to pursuing and implementing aggressive marketing initiatives designed to ensure that Saint Lucia’s place in the tourism realm remains both viable and dynamic. Despite such commitment, there are some inevitable setbacks, she pointed out. “As the Association struggles to make its presence felt in destination marketing campaigns and efforts to secure airlift, there continues to be great room for improvement in bridging the divide between the needs of the industry and the actual campaigns implemented,” Troubetzkoy explained. “Over the year, however, the SLHTA has made much progress in sharing its opinion on marketing strategies and have made many recommendations for others.
Perhaps the most significant shortfall in this area is the absence of greater input from members in the accommodation subsector. “Absence of basic information such as occupancy levels, booking forecasts and willingness to participate in co-funded endeavours all conspire to dilute the impact of our contribution to these marketing strategies. While our appointment to the post of co-Chair of the Marketing Committee of the Saint Lucia Tourist Board, the appointment of three other SLHTA representatives on this Marketing Committee and the establishment of the SLHTA’s Market-
ing and Product Development Committee are all accomplishments for us to be proud of, we would welcome more consistent input from our members. Often the lack of timely input and lack of response to emails sent hinder and prevent us from optimizing the advantage of these accomplishments.” Coupled with such deficiencies, she added, is the thrust by governments within the Caribbean region endeavouring to balance their respective budget deficits and gain political mileage. Nevertheless, Troubetzkoy contends that with tourism being the key revenue-generating sector within the Saint Lucian economy, a more concerted effort needs to be displayed by all stakeholders if the industry is to build on its appeal to attracting visitors. The trickledown effect of the tourism dollar is another crucial factor that Troubetzkoy indicated needs to be given greater focus. Speaking to the issue of good marketing, the SLHTA President said the nature of the global economic climate calls not necessarily for a reduction in advertising dollars dedicated to stimulate interest in St. Lucia as a destination. Instead, she persisted, the key to the way forward calls for doing business in a manner that incorporates all stakeholders who stand to win if a ‘thinking outside of the box’ approach is adopted. “We need to challenge ourselves to grow the sector, strengthen linkages and nurture fledgling industries which also show potential for growth over the longterm, like agro-processing, service-based industries, niche-based manufacturing and the creative industries. As an Association and a country, we need to explore more aggressively how we strengthen our competitiveness through reduced taxation, greater human capital development, more efficient business processes, reduced bureaucracy and a collective commitment to more innovative, eco-friendly and sustainable business practices. The Association continues to lobby policymakers and business partners at all levels, sharing our realities and pleading for careful thought because any miscalculations at this point can have detrimental long-term effects on our growth and contribution as a sector,” Troubetzkoy said. And in the true spirit of collaboration, the SLHTA this year strengthened its relationship with the Office of Private Sector Relations. That renewed partnership with
the OPSR, Troubetzkoy said, is necessary and will redound to exploring greater funding opportunities for industry members such as small hotels, sites and attractions and other allied members with an interest in promoting their respective goods and services. Last year, St. Lucia recorded a 0.4% decline in arrivals, accounting for 1300 less visitors choosing the island as their destination to live the legend. Any further decline in arrivals this year, many worry, can pose grave consequences for an industry that provides as much as 12,000 jobs directly and 30,500 jobs indirectly within the local context. During the AGM’s open session, various stakeholders within the sector raised key issues that affected their systems of operations. Many say they remain fearful that this year will prove an even greater difficulty to staying afloat. Many say they are being forced to make even more drastic cuts than usual to remain sustainable. This year, external influences, such as the effects of the Air Passenger Duty (APD), the London Olympics, the upcoming general elections in the United States, the penetration of emerging markets, airlift and climate change all stand to conspire against any significant gains the industry stands to realize. Internally, too, concerns such as taxation of the industry, standardization, safety and security, increasing costs of operations, absence of certain skills development programmes, regulation of tourism-related services and community participation are posing a challenge to the survival of the industry. The soon-to-be-implemented 8% Value Added Tax within the tourism sector is also a major concern to many. If anything, Troubetzkoy says there is still light at the end of the tunnel. “Rest assured, there are no quick fixes to the problems facing our industry as the issues which threaten us are many in number, complex in nature and far reaching in scope,” Troubetzkoy emphasized. “Solutions will only come out of effective public and private sector partnerships, sharing of information and the application of increasingly scarce resources more effectively. The Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association reiterates its willingness to work with all stakeholders to generate the level of strategic thinking needed to improve the yield from tourism and strengthen its social and economic value.”
This year’s Annual General Meeting was held under the theme, “Tourism: A Hand in Hand Partnership – Now More Than Ever, We Need Each Other.” SLHTA President’s Gala Ball & Awards Following the AGM, there was the prestigious President’s Gala Ball held at the Sandals Grande St. Lucian Spa and Beach Resort that Friday evening. In attendance were SLHTA president Karolin Troubetzkoy, SLHTA’s Board of Directors, Tourism Minister Hon. Lorne Theophilus, industry experts, top-level management and recipients of the Most Outstanding Staff Award. Guest speaker, the Honourable Sir K. Dwight Venner, delivered the feature address to the ballroom audience that numbered close to two hundred people. Three individuals were bestowed the prestigious Crystal Awards and the distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award. They are: • St. Lucia Distillers Ltd. – recipient of the Allied Member Crystal Award for years of dedicated service to St. Lucia and the SLHTA. • Mrs. Joyce Destang of Bay Gardens Resorts – recipient of the Hotelier Crystal Award for her community contribution and philosophical support to the SLHTA, her employees, and St. Lucia as a destination. • Mr. Craig Barnard, President of Sunswept Resorts – recipient of the Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award for his longevity in the hospitality service and his dedication to the industry. A number of hoteliers also awarded their members of staff for outstanding performance and dedicated service. Below is a list of the awardees and the respective hotels where they are employed. • Cheryl Gustave – Bay Gardens Beach Resort • Elijah Jules – Jade Mountain • Romula Francis – Anse Chastanet • Ashley Chung – Sandals Grande • Urban Wilson – Sandals Halcyon • Thaddeus James – Cap Maison • Prisca Simon – BodyHoliday, Le Sport • Cornelia Felix – Fond Doux Holiday Plantation • Randy Hall – Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort • John Mc Donald – Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort • Gordon Michaud – Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort BusinessFocus July / Aug
Tourism Minister Focuses on Marketing Strategies at SLHTA AGM
Tourism Minister Lorne Theophilus Tourism Minister, Lorne Theophilus, gave his first address to the wider membership of the Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association (SLHTA) at the AGM. He reported a 15% increase in arrivals throughout the months of January to March, when compared with a similar period in 2011. That, he said, was a combined effort of hoteliers and the St. Lucia Tourist Board. “2012 has the potential to be a very good year, but there are the challenges we must overcome,” Theophilus commented. He defended the new Value Added Tax saying, “The role of hoteliers in the introduction of the VAT is an important one.” He went on, “Coping with the changes requires trust in each other, patience and innovation. It is my view that the best days of the industry are ahead of it. I call on all to work together as we seek to reshape this vital industry and business.” Firstly, he said, there’s a need to remain focused on the agreed marketing strategy in all major markets. A decision had been made that the primary focus would be on the romance market, with family and the BusinessFocus July / Aug
soft market secondary. “All the evidence suggests that the romance market is very resilient and this fits nicely with the strong reputation St. Lucia has developed over time in this market segment,” the minister said. Secondly, improvement was necessary when it came to airlift, particularly from the US market. “The current prices to St. Lucia on any of our major carriers from the US is simply too high,” he stated. “This undoubtedly is negatively impacting demand and hence the performance so far.” The third area the tourism minister focused on was the “brand awareness of St. Lucia” that he said was “currently high and positive in the marketplace.” However, the minister felt that a new tagline for marketing promotions that is all embracing and reflective of the destination needs to be developed. He added that the time had come for concerted effort to be made in identifying and developing new markets, and that greater attention would be paid to emerging markets such as Brazil and Rus-
sia, which was linked to Cabinet’s decision to remove visa requirements for Russians wishing to travel to St. Lucia. He also said Canada was a source market that deserved careful attention. Theophilus said EC$45 million had been allocated to the SLTB for marketing activities, while $5 million had been devoted to product development. “All our marketing efforts will be in vain if the product we are promising is found wanting,” he said. “The need to concentrate on product development is central to the success of the industry. This is why the Ministry of Tourism will be paying special attention to the introduction of standards throughout the industry and the commencement of a process of licensing.” He concluded that, “The tourism sector is far too important to allow a few to dominate all sectors of the industry while the rest of the domestic population are reduced to mere spectators or do not feel that they have a stake in the industry and hence no reason to fight to protect it.”
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Royal Caribbean Returns Year-Round Cruise Calls to St. Lucia Port Castries will experience increased year-round cruise calls for the upcoming season 2012/13 thanks to the inclusion of 17 additional calls and 36,000 passengers from Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines’ Jewel of the Seas. These newly added calls will increase projected off-season calls for 2012/13 by over 50% with an estimated economic impact of US$6 million dollars. In 2011, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines announced changes to its Southern Caribbean itineraries resulting in a redeployment of its traditional year-round calls to St. Lucia, the effects of which are currently being felt by local cruise stakeholders. The decision was made after a series of discussions between the Ministry of Tourism, Heritage and Creative Industries, St. Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority (SLASPA) and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. “In a year of continued economic uncertainty, this is very welcomed news,” said Sean Matthew, General Manager and CEO for SLASPA.
“The fact that Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines will be calling on Port Castries with these additional calls is a reflection of the great relationship that exists between St. Lucia and the line, and of course their confidence in our product.” The Jewel of the Seas has a gross registered tonnage (GRT) of 90,090, is 965 ft long by 106 ft wide with a draft of 28 ft, classifying it as a Radiance Class Vessel. With the total guest capacity of 2,502 and 859 crew, she will be one of two cruise vessels calling during the off-season. The ship will sail from San Juan, Puerto Rico, offering year-round options with three Southern Caribbean itineraries in the Summer and Autumn 2013 seasons, and two itineraries in the Winter and Spring 2013-14 seasons. Departing every Saturday, the seven-
night, round-trip itineraries include calls at a range of ports throughout the Windward and Leeward Islands, including St. Lucia, St. Kitts, Antigua, and the USVI., as well as St. Maarten, Barbados, Aruba and Curacao. “St. Lucia is a very strong market for cruise lines and this most recent development is testimony to that,” said Dona Regis, Director of Marketing and Product Development. “What is most gratifying to all of us who have worked hard to build this sector is the fact that Port Castries and St. Lucia is considered amongst the leading cruise ports in the Caribbean. Our demand as a port of call continues to grow and SLASPA remains committed to working with local public and private partners to sustainably develop this important sector.”
High Taxation Hurting Regional Tourism Caribbean governments have been taken to task for their increasing “appetite for taxation of the tourism industry” which is eating into the sector’s earnings. President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), Josef Forstmayr, has accordingly urged countries in the region to overhaul their tax policies or risk losing visitors to other destinations. Forstmayr addressed the undue hardships being imposed on the industry at the 16th annual Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference (CHTIC) held in early May at the Sheraton Puerto Rico Convention Centre. Far from responding positively to previous concerns expressed by tourism players, Forstmayr, who is Managing Director of the Round Hill Hotel and Villas in Jamaica, said government taxation has “continued to increase unabated”. “We hear of new policies that tax not BusinessFocus July / Aug
only the private sector but also our visitors directly. These masquerade under such names as airport improvement taxes, tourism enhancement fees and, by far the worst of all, the dreaded UK’s Airline Passenger Duty (APD),” he said. “Increased taxation is regressive. Our governments must make a serious effort to review their taxation policies on the tourism industry. It is time now to remove or at least reduce excessive consumption taxes on our visitors, not to increase them. “It is also time to rethink old policies which call for an increase of these taxes. Our industry is based on competitive pricing and our visitors will simply choose other destinations which may provide better value,” Forstmayr added. The hotelier also called for meaningful tax incentives to attract the investment that is needed for the Caribbean to main-
tain its appeal and competitiveness as a world-class destination. Forstmayr said that failure to ease the tax burden on the industry will not only result in less revenue for the hotel and tourism sector, but will negatively affect the wider economy due to tourism’s links to domestic manufacturing and agriculture. The CHTA head stressed that travel and tourism is the region’s most vital export and the fastest way to create jobs and grow the economy.
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BusinessFocus July / Aug
TEMPO Coming Soon to St. Lucia
Chevron Concludes Caribbean Pullout TEMPO is coming to St. Lucia. Yes, the popular US-based Caribbean TV network is already on our screens across the island, but now it’s coming to set up shop - right here in Sweet Helen. That’s the word from Frederick Norton, Founder, Chairman and CEO of TEMPO, which will be celebrating its seventh anniversary in November. Norton, during a recent visit, said the station has been working on the island for quite some time and it has been decided that the time is right for TEMPO St. Lucia. Local TEMPO representatives, Bashana Dayes, and Ashelle Hippolyte, are already doing ground work and the CEO had special praise for his local team, who he described as among the best any network would want. Said Norton about the plans for TEMPO St. Lucia, “We’re very happy and very encouraged by what we’re about to do in St. Lucia, including working with the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, straight from the Prime Minister’s Office, to expose St. Lucian artistes in particular.” He said TEMPO’s main headquarters will remain in New Jersey, but the St. Lucia branch will be the first to be established in the English-speaking Caribbean. He explained, “We operate throughout the Caribbean through our partners but St. Lucia will be the first island where we will be building a presence on the ground, with offices, country representatives and the like.” The TEMPO CEO said St. Lucia had been chosen “because St. Lucia is a great representative of everything Caribbean. It’s just a great place – great Caribbean people, great Caribbean vibe… Just a really good place to start. It’s got a lot of tempo. Every time I come I feel the tempo. There’s a lot of love for the brand in St. Lucia and some of the most amazing artistes are there too, just waiting for exposure.” Norton also indicated that while St. Lucia will be the first, it would not be the last TEMPO headquarters or branch in the Caribbean. He revealed that “in the next quarter or so,” he plans to launch similar projects in other Central American and Caribbean territories. TEMPO already exists in Costa Rica and his plans are to extend to Panama, as well as to Guyana, Surinam and Belize. BusinessFocus July / Aug
Chevron has divested its last remaining assets in the Caribbean with the conclusion of sale of its fuels marketing and aviation business in The Bahamas, Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos to RUBIS. The French multinational energy company Vitogaz, a whollyowned subsidiary of RUBIS, will acquire a network of 39 retail stations, eight aviation facilities, six fuel terminals, one joint operation at the Lynden Pindling International Airport in The Bahamas and a commercial and industrial fuels business. These assets, according to a release from Chevron, are in addition to another sale by Chevron in July 2011, whereby RUBIS purchased 174 service stations operating under the Texaco brand, an equity interest in an associated refinery operation, propriety and joint-venture terminals and aviation facilities. This regional divestment of assets by Chevron follows a consolidation trend started in 2009 when it withdrew its motor fuels operations across the eastern United States. At that time Chevron said this move was part of a long-range strategic plan that took into account the realities faced by the global economic downturn and focused the company on its areas of strength. While the California-based oil and gas giant continues its retreat from the region, French multinational, RUBIS, is projecting strong growth in 2012 based on these acquisitions. The company's 2011 annual results, obtained by Guardian Business, reveals a "new record" fiscal year with 30 percent growth in volume and 27 percent in net profit. In 2011, the report also stated that RUBIS spent nearly $331 million in investments and acquisitions, either paid or initiated, providing further clues into the price tag of assets in the Caribbean. The "promising integration" of the Caribbean zone purchases positions RUBIS as one of the leading independent operators in the region, the report added, with acquisitions in The Bahamas specifically listed as a driver of revenue going forward. "Following on from these recent years, opportunities for external growth continue to appear, providing the group with new prospects for growth," it stated.
UWI School of Business Launches ‘Biz Booster’ for Entrepreneurs
Stake in CGM
US-based Arthur J Gallagher & Co has doubled its shareholding stake in regional insurance broker, CGM Gallagher Group to 80 per cent. Gallagher purchased 38.5 per cent of the shares in CGM Group in 2007, when it was controlled by the Joseph Matalon led ICD Group of Jamaica. The company announced the transaction yesterday without disclosing details except to say that the existing CEO, Matthew Pragnell, and his associates will continue to lead its operation from its head office in Kingston. "We began this partnership in December 2007, and since then CGM's spectrum of high-quality services and significant Caribbean presence have become a valued component of Gallagher's international operations," said Gallagher's chairman, J Patrick Gallagher, Jr. "We are pleased to expand our ownership interest in such an outstanding organisation as we continue to successfully grow our footprint in this region," he said. CGM also has offices in Barbados, St. Vincent, St. Lucia and Grenada and is licensed to operate in Antigua, Anguilla and Dominica, with correspondents in Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, the Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao Islands and Puerto Rico. Gallagher, an international insurance brokerage and risk management services firm, is headquartered in Itasca, Illinois, has operations in 17 countries, and offers client-service capabilities in more than 110 countries around the world through a network of correspondents.
The Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business of the University of the West Indies in Trinidad officially launched the first Caribbean Commercial Business Incubator in May at its Mt. Hope Campus. The business incubator, called the Biz Booster, provides a catalyst for the development and growth of businesses that would increase national and regional prosperity. Before the official start of the launch, all key stakeholders from the private and public sectors working collaboratively with the business school, signed a memorandum of understanding seeking to unite their talents and resources to accelerate the pace of success for the potential pool of entrepreneurs. Speaking at the launch, Prof. Miguel Carrillo said that the business incubator was not a new idea, but the difference with their concept was it would be supporting an entrepreneur through all stages of growth. Carillo said this new concept would facilitate entrepreneurs to grow their business three to five times more annually. Incorporated in that new concept is a customised incubator model for entrepreneurs. “The most critical challenge for any entrepreneur is to achieve growth,” Carillo said. “So we would help them start up, assist them in making accurate decisions and, most importantly, hold their hands until they have the capacity not only to be financially independent, but have the capacity to design and orchestrate growth and attract international investors.” Carrillo said this initiative is not limited to graduates, but the wider community who are talented and motivated. The entrepreneurs, he said, must possess the right attitude, social and creative skills, ethical with high energy, just to name a few. Their business must have the potential to achieve global status, employ requisite strategies, attract national, regional and international markets and have resource capabilities. In the first week of July, Carrillo said the Arthur Lok Jack GSB will host a competition called the Entrepreneur Venture Challenge for interested entrepreneurs to showcase their talents and innovative ideas. Some would then be selected for Biz Booster. The second event would facilitate six different conferences in technology where entrepreneurs again would have the opportunity to showcase their high-technology innovation and be selected. The aim of Biz Booster is to provide an opportunity for entrepreneurs with innovative ideas to start growth-oriented international businesses. The aim is also to:• graduate at least six companies every year; • generate in the first 36 months revenue from graduated companies of more than $9.5 million; • generate at least 100 new jobs in the first 36 months; • graduated companies must export at least one-third of their total products and services. BusinessFocus July / Aug
HEALTH & WELLNESS
Wise Up To
Still a Concern in St. Lucia By Dr. Tanya Destang-Beaubrun Dengue fever, also known as “break bone fever” is a viral illness that is transmitted by the day-biting, Aedes mosquitoes. Mosquitoes remain infected all their lives and can in turn pass on infectivity to their eggs. Dengue may be caused by one of four serotypes of virus; hence it is possible to get dengue fever multiple times. However, an attack of dengue produces immunity for a lifetime to that particular serotype to which the patient was exposed. After being bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus, the incubation period ranges from three to fifteen (usually five to eight) days before the signs and symptoms of dengue appear. Dengue starts with sudden onset of fever and chills, headache, pain upon moving the eyes, and low backache. Painful aching in the legs and joints occurs during the first hours of illness. The temperature rises quickly, sometimes as high as 104 F (40 C), with relative low heart rate and low blood pressure. The eyes may become reddened. A flushing or pale pink rash comes over the face and then disappears. The glands (lymph nodes) in the neck and groin are often swollen. There may also be a generalised rash. Patients only transmit dengue when they are febrile and bitten by Aedes (Stegomyia) aegypti mosquitoes, or (much more unusually) via blood products. The classic dengue fever lasts about two to seven days, with a smaller peak of fever at the trailing end of the disease (the so-called "biphasic pattern"). Clinically, the platelet count will drop until after the patient's temperature is normal. Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF) is a more severe form of the viral illness. Cases of DHF will show higher fever, BusinessFocus July / Aug
variable hemorrhagic phenomena including bleeding from the eyes, nose, mouth and ear into the gut, and oozing blood from skin pores, thrombocytopenia (low platelet count in the blood). In severe cases, there are symptoms such as headache, fever, rash, and evidence of hemorrhage in the body. These petechiae (small red or purple blisters under the skin) usually appear first on the lower limbs and the chest, and in some patients, it spreads to cover most of the body. Other symptoms may include bleeding in the nose or gums, black stools, or easy bruising are all possible signs of hemorrhage. This form of dengue fever can be life threatening and can progress to the most severe form of the illness, Dengue Shock Syndrome. Because dengue fever is caused by a virus, there is no specific medicine or antibiotic to treat it. For typical dengue, the treatment is purely concerned with relief of the symptoms. Rest and fluid intake for adequate hydration is important. Aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs should only be taken under a doctor's supervision because of the possibility of worsening hemorrhagic complications. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and codeine may be given for severe headache and for the joint and muscle pain (myalgia). It is important to prevent this disease by protecting against mosquito bites, or bredding.
General Measures for Preventing Mosquito-Borne Diseases • Wear long-sleeved clothing and trousers, and apply effective mosquito repellent containing DEET to exposed parts of the body & clothes.
• Use mosquito screens or nets when the room is not air-conditioned. • Place a mosquito coil or electric mosquito mat / liquid near possible entrances, such as windows, to prevent mosquito bites. • Prevent the accumulation of stagnant water by doing the following: - Put all used cans and bottles into covered dustbins. - Change water for plants at least once a week, leaving no water in the saucers underneath flower pots. - Cover tightly all water containers, wells and water storage tanks. - Keep all drains free from blockage. - Top up all defective ground surfaces to prevent the accumulation of stagnant water. • Use of sprays and insecticides to kill mosquitoes and their larvae is encouraged. These are cheap preventive measures compared to the high costs of hospitalization and danger to human lives. About the Author: Dr. Tanya Destang-Beaubrun, MBBS (UWI), IBCLC, is the Director of Integral Health Care Medical Clinic at the Rodney Bay Medical Centre where she works as a Family Practitioner and Lactation Consultant. For more information, please contact her at (758) 452 8621 or (758) 45-DOKTA (36582). www.rodneybaymedicalcentre.com
Water and your Body
Do YOU know when are the best times to drink water? Patient: Doctor, why do I need to urinate so much at nighttime? Doctor: Gravity! Gravity holds water in the lower part of your body when you are upright – your legs swell. When you lie down your lower body - your legs, ankles and feet – become level with your kidneys. It is then easier for your kidneys to remove the excess water in your body. Patient: I know I need a minimum amount of water to help flush the toxins out of my body, but when is the correct time to drink water? Doctor: Well this is very important. Of course you should drink any time you feel thirsty, but certainly drinking pure natural water at certain times will help maximize its effectiveness on the body. Follow this as a guide: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.
Drink TWO glasses of water after waking up. This helps activate your internal organs. Drink ONE glass of water 30 minutes before a meal. This helps your digestion. Drink water with a snack. Often you are actually thirsty and dehydrated instead of hungry. Drink before and after a workout. This avoids dehydration – but don’t drink too much too quickly or you could induce stomach cramps. Drink water with medication if allowed. This helps with a quicker absorption into the body. Drink a glass of water before taking a bath. This helps lower your blood pressure. Drink ONE glass of water before going to bed. This helps prevent nighttime leg cramps as well as avoid stroke or heart attack. If you are ill, drink more! “Plenty of fluids” is an age-old solution that works! BusinessFocus July / Aug
events 2012 CANTO – 28TH CONFERENCE & TRADE EXHIBITION 22nd – 25th July 2012 – Hyatt Regency Hotel, Miami The Caribbean Association of National Telecommunication Organisation (CANTO) is again hosting the Caribbean’s premier telecommuntications event for industry professionals, operators, academics and regional governments. The interactive conference will also have over 100 technology suppliers, systems, products and ICT services vendors showcasing their products and services. For further info: www.canto.org
CARILEC’s ENGINEERS CONFERENCE 22nd – 25th July, 2012 – Punta Cana, Dominican Republic The conference seeks to facilitate members as they deal with the implications of dynamic change in the industry. It will set the stage to find ways to mitigate the impact and ensure survival and constant improvement of the industry. This event also features a trade show of exhibitors, players in the industry from the Caribbean, the US, UK and beyond. For further info: www.carilec.com
THE AFRICAN & CARIBBEAN BUSINESS EXPO 4th – 10th August 2012, London This expo is an opportunity for investment and business in Africa and the Caribbean - both for African & Caribbean businesses looking to build links with new business partners from around the world and also for UK and European businesses looking to build links with investors or business partners from Africa and the Caribbean. There will be a programme of business seminars and networking events and a business matching service to ensure that delegates meet the exhibitors who match their interests. For further info: www.aacbe.co.uk
FIME INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL EXPO 8th – 10th August 2012, Miami Beach Convention Centre, Florida FIME hosts its annual international medical trade show featuring four medical industry sectors: technology, products & supplies, services and equipment. The expo coincides with FIME's Educational Conference which is a three day seminar forum for medical professionals. For further info: www.fimeshow.com
LA CUMBRE 5th – 7th September 2012, Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, Waldorf Astoria Orlando, Florida La Cumbre, the Americas' travel industry summit is an annual 3-day event for professionals of the leisure, corporate and MICE travel segments. It comprises of a Tourism Branding Forum followed by short scheduled business meetings and great opportunities to network with other travel industry professionals. For further info: www.lacumbre.com
CARILEC’S RENEWABLE ENERGY FORUM 18th – 19th September, Bermuda This forum provides a platform for energy leaders and experts to share their views on the issues pertinent to energy programmes, policies, technologies and investment opportunities. For further info: www.carilec.com
BusinessFocus July / Aug
events 2012 CARIBBEAN MEETING & INCENTIVE TRAVEL EXCHANGE (CMITE) 20th – 23rd September, Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall, Jamaica This event is for buyers and sellers of incentive travel serving the Caribbean meeting and incentive market. It is an appointment-based event that is invitation only - apply online. For further info: www.caribbean.incentivetravelexchange.com
GUY EXPO 27th – 30th September, National Exhibition Centre, Sophia, Guyana Guyana’s largest trade and investment expo showcases locally produced goods and services and offers business associates the opportunity to meet, network and negotiate with international companies and establishments, providing a platform for local and foreign businesses. This year’s theme is “Strengthening the Tradition, Embracing the New”. For further info: www.guyexpo.net
FCCA CRUSE CONFERENCE & TRADE SHOW 1st – 5th October, Curacao For many cruise executives, destinations, suppliers and tour operators, the annual FCCA Cruise Conference & Trade Show is the premier industry event of the year to meet with key industry players, analyze trends and discuss current issues. Nearly 1,200 cruise industry partners attend each year. For further info: www.f-cca.com
CARILEC’S HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGERS CONFERENCE 4th – 5th October, Dominica This conference is specifically geared at targeting human resource personnel who are functioning in a senior or managerial capacity in their company. It provides stakeholders with the opportunity to examine issues relating to the competency needs and the skills sets required to function effectively in a modern work environment. Special emphasis will be placed on strategies adopted by the participating companies in integrating their technical, human, institutional and technologically skilled workers. For further info: www.carilec.com
CARIBBEAN RUM & BEER FESTIVAL 2012 2nd – 3rd November, Grenada Cultural Centre, Grand Anse, Grenada This will be the 3rd Caribbean Rum & Beer Festival, bringing together a selection of fabulous regional and international rum and beer products to share with an appreciative audience from across the globe. For further info: www.rumandbeerfestival.com
65TH ANNUAL GULF & CARIBBEAN FISHERIES INSTITUTE (GCFI) 5th – 9th November 2012, Santa Marta, Columbia The GCFI will be comprised on oral sessions and poster sessions. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Ratana Chuenpagdee. The special sessions and workshops are on: Innovation & technology to improve survey capabilities, developing strategies for management and conservation, and invasive lionfish control and management. For further info: www.gcfi.org
BusinessFocus July / Aug
Caribbean Airlines Ltd (CAL) has brought on Clive Forbes as the new General Manager of Jamaica operations. Forbes replaces Will Rodgers, who has been Acting General Manager at the airline since February 2011. Forbes comes to Caribbean Airlines with an extensive background in general management, business development, sales, marketing and operations. The new airline boss also worked for many years at several large Jamaican and Caribbeanbased corporations in the fields of telecommunications, food and beverage and transportation (maritime). His last position before joining CAL was as General Manager of the Caribbean Shipping Association. In announcing his appointment, CAL stated that: “With a BSc. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Project Management certification from the University of New Orleans, Forbes’s management skills and diverse experience are the right mix to accelerate the growth and development of the airline.” Recently, Trinidad and Tobago Transport Minister, Devant Maharaj, revealed to the media that he had specifically requested Air Jamaica's Director, Dennis Lalor, to look at ways to reduce expenditure with respect to Air Jamaica's operational costs. He also disclosed that he would be travelling to Jamaica in the near future to meet with his Jamaican counterpart to discuss "synergies" that could be used to improve the profit position of the airline.
Ernie George has been appointed the Assistant General Manager at the award winning Coco Resorts in a newly created position. Focusing on the F&B and upgrades at the newly rebranded KoKo Cabana Caribbean Bistro while assisting in the BusinessFocus July / Aug
overall running of Coco Palm as assistant to the Chairman, Managing Director and General Manager, Mr. George offers a vast experience in hotels from operations to front of house. His experience both on island and overseas compliments the mantra the 103 boutique room property offers. Upgrades to the property, a new gym, an all-inclusive programme and enhanced entertainment are only some of the responsibilities he will undertake. Mr. George recently served as General Manager at Stonefield in Soufriere as well as positions with Coconut Bay and Sandals. Appointed Financial Controller at Coco Palm, Ms. Sonia Marquis joins the Accounts department overseeing Coco Palm and KoKo Cabana. Born in the UK with St. Lucian parentage, Ms. Marquis brings a wealth of over 12 years experience in financial accounting, from both London, where she was educated, and here in St. Lucia. Working with Chase, Skeete and Boland for 8 years as Office Manager and Head of Accounts Department, the knowledge gained and practical familiarity in Systems Controls audits, in a diversification of industries now acts as a great asset for overseeing both the resort and restaurant. Ms. Marquis is responsible for the financial functionality of Coco Resorts on a day-to-day basis, encompassing all areas of accounting from financial to forecasting, reporting and managing daily cash flows. In an ever challenging economy and as St. Lucia prepares for VAT, Ms. Marquis continues to work closely with directors and other heads of departments in enabling excellent team work to ensure efficient internal controls to promote an effective operation. Wayne Marius has been appointed as the Cost Controller at the award winning Coco Resorts working along with the Financial Controller in both the implementation and maintaining controls at the property. Mr. Marius brings 18 years of hotel accounting experience of which his vast knowledge will be an asset to Coco Resorts. He holds
a Bachelor Degree Pathway Level 2 in Hotel & Tourism Management from GULL (Global University for Lifelong Learning), a Diploma in Hotel & Tourism Management from UWI - Bahamas Centre for Hotel & Tourism, and a Diploma in Accounting for Hospitality Industry from ICS (International Correspondence School) in California. His experience to date includes Head Cashier/ Cashier Supervisor at Rex Royal St. Lucian Hotel, Cost Controller Sandals La-Toc Golf Resort & Spa in St. Lucia and Purchasing Manager Sandals Regency Golf Resort & Spa.
Digicel St. Lucia welcomes new Country M a n a g e r, Holly Hughes-McNamara. A St. Vincent native, Holly joined Digicel in 2009 in the role of Chief Financial Officer for Digicel’s Eastern Caribbean markets of Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, BVI, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Prior to joining Digicel, Holly served as Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer with the Karib Cable Group before training in Audit and Assurance services with PricewaterhouseCoopers and Pannell Kerr Forster in St. Vincent. Holly holds a first class honours degree in Accounting and Financial Analysis from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the UK. She then qualified as a Chartered Certified Accountant through the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) where she is also a fellow. Holly takes over from Geraldine Pitt who after ten years with Digicel has decided to move on to pursue other interests. Speaking about the new role, Holly said; “I am very excited about my new role as Country Manager here in St. Lucia. As a Caribbean native, I am thrilled to be leading a fantastic team of people in a company which is constantly adapting to deliver on our customers’ needs and our promise of best value, best service and best network – it is very rewarding. Just look at Digicel’s track record – I am honored to be a part of the Digicel journey.”
MAJOR MOVES Coco Reef, a Bermuda Resort, where he successfully grew market share from well below, to well above market rate. Please join The Landings in welcoming Lyle Pauls to St. Lucia.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, James Chang, has been appointed to replace Tom Chou as Ambassador of Taiwan to St. Lucia. A career diplomat for nearly thirty years, Chang has previously served in the UK, the USA and the Philippines, and has more recently served as the ministry’s spokesperson since 2010. Chang will replace outgoing Ambassador Tom Chou, who has been in St. Lucia for over five years.
The Landings St. Lucia welcomes Lyle Pauls as General Manager. Lyle joins The Landings late June and brings his expertise from managing luxury hotels in the Caribbean, Canada and the United States. After his early start in the hospitality industry as a Sous Chef at Banff Springs in Canada, Lyle moved from food and beverage to the rooms division in two Westin hotels before accepting the post of Hotel Manager in the 1,100 room Sheraton New Orleans. In 2000, he became General Manager in W and Westin hotels in Chicago and then New York. His hotel opening experience includes the Westin Providence, the W New Orleans, and most recently the Carlton Savannah in Trinidad, where he hosted Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II during the 2008 Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting. Lyle's Starwood expertise includes being named "Hotelier of the Year"' winning "Highest Year over Year GOP Improvement" and winning "Best Sales Team" after running twenty-two consecutive months of positive REVPar gains. He is a Six Sigma Black Belt and was deployed numerous times to head up service and defect challenges. Most recently, Lyle Pauls managed
Former Cabinet Minister, Menissa Rambally, has been appointed to the post of Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York. At 36 and the holder of a BSc. in Business Administration, the new ambassador has been to almost every peak of political endeavour. Ms. Rambally rewrote the pages of Caribbean history when she was elected to the St. Lucia Parliament on 23rd May 1997 at age 21, making her one of the youngest elected members of parliament throughout the English-speaking Commonwealth in the 20th century. Three years later at the turn of the century, she became the youngest person in contemporary Caribbean politics to hold full ministerial office, first presiding over the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation, and later the Ministry of Social Transformation. Over the past five years, Ms. Rambally has worked full time in the wider Caribbean region as a political consultant and social policy advisor on social programmes and initiatives. One of her celebrated achievements was overseeing the creation of a system of local government in Barbados that resulted in the setting up of Constituency Councils across the island. The new head of St. Lucia’s Diplomatic Mission in Canada as Consul General is Michael Willius. The holder of a BSc. in Management Studies from the University of the West Indies, Consul General Willius is an accomplished and experienced management practitioner.
He has held some very strategic positions in both the public service and statutory corporations including serving as an Agricultural Economist in the Ministry of Agriculture, Trading Manager (St. Lucia) for Caribbean Agricultural Trading Company, General Manager for the Saint Lucia Marketing Board, Managing Director of Packaging Solutions Ltd. and Chief Executive Officer (St. Lucia) of the Free Zone Management Authority. Willius has also served as President of the Rotary Club of St. Lucia South, President of the St. Lucia Industrial and Small Business Association (SLISBA), a Director of the National Development Corporation, a Director of Windward & Leeward Brewery Ltd., Chairman of the Southern Tourism Development Corporation and as Chairman of the Southern Development Corporation. The new face of Saint Lucia’s Foreign Mission to the French Caribbean Territories of Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guiana (based in Martinique) is Consul General, Yasmine Walcott. Ms. Walcott is the holder of an undergraduate degree in Public and Private Law, a Bachelor’s degree in International Law, a Master’s degree in International Law and a Diploma in International Public Administration, with all these studies done in France. Ms. Walcott has served St. Lucia in a multiplicity of positions. She represented St. Lucia proudly at the Miss World beauty pageant in South Africa in 1994 and she was the Managing Director of Executive Club Caribbean Ltd. She has also served as Marketing Officer of the Saint Lucia Tourist Board both in Atlanta Georgia and St. Lucia, as well as a Project Officer with the Office of Private Sector Relations (OPSR) and the National Authorizing Office (NAO). Yasmine Walcott has also held the positions of Executive Director of the St. Lucia Medical and Dental Council, Project Manager at Almond Smugglers Cove, Public Relations Officer at Sandals Regency and as a teacher at Saint Joseph’s Convent.
BusinessFocus July / Aug
NEW COMPANY REGISTRATIONS COMPANY
NATURE OF BUSINESS DIRECTORS
E-Z Cash St.Lucia Limited.
To finance small loans
Lansiquot Enterprises Inc.
To engage in national and international business enterprise, trade and services, real estate development, property management and importation of goods
Andre Lansequot Winston Lansiquot Harrigan Lansiquot Antonious Weekes David Lansiquot
Helen Wireless Inc.
Zephrina Cazaubon Bertram Cazaubon
Smile Patrol Inc.
Janique Delmar Davina Lee
He Peng Fast Food Limited
Su Wenxiong Cao Baicheng
Worldwide2U St. Lucia Ltd.
General & logistics services
Tropical World Incorporated
Margarite St. Marthe
Stone Culture Limited
Importation of and sale of natural stones Ramachandra Thippaiah & buildings materials. Processing & instal- Kamala Narayanswamy lation of stone & building materials.
Plasse De Ste. Lisi Realty Inc.
Real estate sales, property management and car rental
Georget Enterprise Limited
Real estate development, merchandising and import & export of French products
Shazi Chalon Eugene Jean-Luc
Priestley Designs Ltd.
Sarah Anne Priestley
Brickstone Corporate Services Inc.
Provide corporate and fiduciary services
Duane K. J. Jean Baptiste Julia Shamini Chase Irvine Springer
New Generation Entertainment Inc.
Entertainment & promotions
Lindon Kurt Elibox Katama Edwin
Roadgrip (Bahamas) Limited
Road works, engineering services, mapping and construction
Maurice Gordon Roger Morley
Aqua Tec (St.Lucia) Inc.
Wholesale and retail of pool supplies and equipment and maintenance.
Frank Bruce Armstrong Neville Byron Warren
Excel Marketing Services Ltd.
Publishing, printing and marketing
Roots Tropical Food Distributors (St.Lucia) Ltd.
Import and export of food, meat & liquor
Nicholas Bayne Patsy Mathurin
Orsini Caribbean International Ltd.
Consultation and construction
Shevlin & St. Croix Holdings Ltd.
To acquire by purchase, exchange or otherwise land/immovable property in St. Lucia. Land developers.
Janelle St Croix
BusinessFocus July / Aug
NEW COMPANY REGISTRATIONS COMPANY
NATURE OF BUSINESS
Kanel Investments Limited
Property investment & property development
Phillipe Ricardo Valbon Lorraine Debra Glace
Aquinuas Fish & Seafoods Ltd.
Selling fish & sea foods
Aquinas Selkirk Francis Aquinus Augustin Lucombe
La Digue Investments Limited
Property investments & property development
Gillray M. Cadet
St. Boswells Properties Ltd.
Property holding company
Veronica Francis Joseph
Alamoe Car Rental Solution Inc.
Rental of automobiles, leasing & servicing
Wayne Mc Diarmed David John
Dr Azmina Long & Associates Limited
Dentistry and related services, general medical services
Villa Bella Ltd.
Real estate Investment
Christian Richings Irene Richings
Electrical Installations and Maintenance Services (E.I.M.S.) St. Lucia Ltd.
Electrical installation services
Anitanja Lawaetz Inc.
Manufacturing, retailing, & designing of jewellery
Anitanja Lawaetz Kolin Fernand
Profitable Ventures Inc.
Andrea Hinds-Holder Linton Lloyd Delaire
Hope Electrical & Telecom Services (St. Lucia) Ltd.
Installation, construction and mainteStephen Hope nance services in the telecommunications Catherine Sealys sector Cleopatra Anthony Phylis Atherton Gail Sooknarine-Ragoo
To carry on the business of wholesale and retail of general merchandise.
Pan-American Life Insurance Company of To carry on the business of insurance in the Eastern Caribbean, Ltd. all its form in St.Lucia, the OECS territories and elsewhere.
Bruce Gilbert Parker, Jr. Carlos Fernando Mickman Paul Thaddeus Engeriser
Law Solutions Inc.
Legal consultancy, property development and any other related business.
Veronica S.P.Cenac Renee Cenac
Construction & Industrial Products Ltd.
Marlon Alcee Rashree Jerbandon
Sales & manufacture of construction and Industrial products
Real estate investment
Frederick Devaux Nicholas Devaux
Caribbean Oncology Associates Inc.
Research and treatment of cancer
Sarah Louden Ramesh Kumar MD Shirverna Louisa Camsell
BusinessFocus July / Aug
NEW COMPANY REGISTRATIONS COMPANY
NATURE OF BUSINESS
JAF Consult Inc.
Consultation of development of land
Consultation of development of land
West Coast Construction Services Ltd.
Open Garden Incorporated
To operate restaurants, grocery shop and Guoshan Liu sale of general merchandise. Minli Yang
A&W Leasing (St.Lucia) Limited
Property holding company
Alexander Mackenzie Geddes
Integrated Security Solutions Limited
To carry on the business of offering general security services in St. Lucia.
Industrial Metal Craft (IMC) Ltd.
Windward Import, Export and Trade Inc.
Importing and trading of apparel, costumes, merchandise and related products.
Lee Unit Ltd.
Wholesale and retail
Jun Li Jiang Bo Fan
Source 1 Reality Ltd.
Property sales, rental and management.
Bonham Leybert Greaves
Innovative Concepts Ltd
Real estate development
David E.M. Du Boulay Richard Du Boulay
Tradestar Distributors Inc.
Importing, wholesaling, retailing and distributing of goods.
Anthony A.G. Greene Daarsrean C.G. Greene
Caribbean Couriers Brokerage Services Ltd.
Paul Trevor Matthews Nea Greaves-Louis Indera Paul-Matthews Kim Smith Osmand Fannis
BusinessFocus July / Aug
The Budget, VAT & the Labour Code