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 Hon. Philip J. Pierre

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Minister for Commerce, International Financial Services and Consumer Affairs

Parliamentary Representative for Castries East

Citizens of St. Lucia and particularly my brothers and sisters of Castries East. During my Christmas Greetings last year, I told you that at that time my feelings were torn between the tragic situation at Black Mallet and developments in the constituency.

This year, I am pleased to report that the relocation of residents is completed and the agreement on the final resettlement package except for a few cases has been completed. The work on the Castries Marchand River is nearly completed and the flooding experienced has now ceased. I want once more to express my appreciation to the people of Black Mallet, Maynard Hill and Tou Rouge for their understanding and patience during these trying times.

When in May 1997, the people of Castries East through democratic means gave me the privilege of representing them in the House of Assembly, I promised them always to report to them on my stewardship. During this time of goodwill I wish to report on the promises made during my Christmas Message last year.

You may recall that I promised repairs to the Cacoa Girard road. I am pleased to report that those repairs have been completed.

The Entrepot Multi-Purpose Court has been fenced and the Children’s playground completed. The enclosed playground is being maintained by the National Conservation Authority. We intend with private sponsorship to install swings and other activities for the enjoyment of the children in the area.

The installation of street lights continued during the year and areas in Bocage and Rock Hall were provided with electricity for the first time.

The infrastructural development of the constituency was enhanced with the re-surfacing of the Entrepot/Water Works and Ti. Rocher/Bocage main roads. Apart from repairs to the main roads, a number of footpaths leading to the Jerusalem area in Bagatelle, Rock Hall, Pavee, Entrepot, Bois Cachet were constructed. The residents of these areas can now access their homes without getting their feet muddied.

The Marchand Police Station, a promise of over fifteen years is now a reality and a State of the Art. Modern complex at Bagatelle is now completed, and will be officially opened on January 07, 2001.

The Marchand Women’s League are delighted with the commencement of the construction of a Multi Purpose Centre at Entrepot. This project, a promise for over twenty years is now a reality and despite the misguided utterances of a few individuals, a retaining wall costing over $300,000 is 95% complete and the uninformed predictions and land slippage of doom have not materialized.

The elderly citizens – residents at St. Lucy’s Home also received some comfort when the Financial Centre Corporation on a request by the District Representative donated a vehicle to the Sisters that sufficiently manage the home. This vehicle brings some comfort to the residents and Staff of the institution.

I want to thank Mr. Robin Kelton, Chairman of the Financial Centre Corporation, the Chief Executive Officer – Mr. Lisle Chase, Deputy Chief Executive Officer – Mr. Anthony Bristol and Staff for this gesture of good will. Further improvements to the physical facilities at the St. Lucy’s Home will be undertaken by the Basic Needs Trust Fund next year.

The students of the Bocage Secondary School and the Entrepot Secondary Schools must be complimented for their successes at the CXC Examinations and the Secondary Schools Basket Ball Competition respectively.

I am pleased to announce that a contract for the building of a feeding facility at the Marchand School has been awarded by the Ministry of Education, and hopefully the students will be able to receive meals under the school feeding programme next term.

This year, I was privileged to be given responsibility by the Prime Minister for the portfolios of Commerce, International Financial Services and Consumer Affairs after serving in the Ministry of Tourism. I was particularly pleased that the Taxi Certification Programme and the Duty Free Incentive Programme for taxi drivers are now benefiting the taxi drivers of St. Lucia.

During this year the commercial and manufacturing sectors settled, after the readjustments necessary by the implementation of the final stages of the CET. Manufacturers benefited through reductions in Consumption Taxes caused by the retooling allowances and manufacturing inputs were exempted from payment of the Environmental Levy. An industrial policy prepared by the Commonwealth Secretariat after extensive discussions with local manufacturers is now complete with the necessary cost implication.

The manufacturing sector seems to be re-organizing itself with the formation of a Manufacturing Association. Manufacturers are continuing to re-engineer their production methods to handle the export market. There were notable successes by three firms in exports. Baron Foods expanded with exports to Africa. St. Lucia Distillers and Windward and Leeward Brewery and Harris Paints also increased their exports. Next year the Ministry will continue to work with manufacturers in enhancing their products with quality standards through continuation of training, fiscal incentives and general support in dealing with globalization.

The Small Business Sector expanded in the Year 2000 and over ………. small entrepreneurs were granted incentives and funding for expansion sourced through SEDU – and Agency of the Ministry. This sector continues to have great potential and several small business owners have benefited from training courses facilitated by SEDU.

Expansion and diversification of the manufacturing sector in 2000 was marked by the announcement of the commencement of the Helen Call Centre. Over 350 workers have been selected for prospective employment,. I want to complement the Directors of Helen Television for their foresight. This industry is the way of the future, and the Ministry with the collaboration of Cable and Wireless has formed an E-Commerce Committee to initiate the introduction of the E-Commerce activity in St. Lucia. I am sure that several more St. Lucians will be employed in the Information Technology Industry. Next year we will continue work with the National Development Corporation in the promotion of the IT industry.

In the area of financial services, St. Lucia made steady progress despite the international pressures from the OECD and the Financial Stability Forum and the FATF. These organizations have launched an onslaught on International Financial Centres in the developing countries of the region. However, our industry became fully functional in March this year, and our partners continue to have confidence in the Government of St. Lucia.

93 International Business Companies and two Insurance Companies are now registered. We are presently reviewing an application from another Insurance Company, and an International Bank has been given consent to register. Eight St. Lucian firms now operate as Registered Agents. It is expected that the Financial Services Industry will expand in 2001 providing high quality employment for several St. Lucians.

We will continue to defend our right to diversify our economy by joining with other Caricom States in opposing any negative moves by international bodies, while ensuring that our jurisdiction remains pristine with proper regulation and extensive due diligence procedures.

A National Consultation on a Draft Consumer Protection Bill was held in May and it is hoped that legislation will be passed in 2001. The Consumer Affairs Division made several interventions leading to the education and protection of Consumers in a variety of goods and services.

Dealing briefly with matters relating to the Bureau of Standards, the Metrology Act was passed and the education drive towards the conversion from the Imperial to Metric System of weights and measurement will begin next year. The Bureau continued its work in formulating standards for commerce and industry and standards for several products ranging from chicken to concrete blocks were published this year.

You will agree that the Year 2000 was an exciting year at the Ministry and a rewarding year for the constituents of Castries East. I want to thank all the quasi-government agencies for their cooporation in 2000. Special mention must be made of the Castries City Council, National Conservation Authority, the Poverty Reduction Fund, the Basic Needs Trust Fund, the Ministries of Communications and Works, Education and Sports and other government Ministries. The leadership and staff of all those concerns helped in making these achievements possible.

I want to thank the Hon. Prime Minister and my Cabinet colleagues for their support, and also the Permanent Secretary and Staff of the Ministry of Commerce, International Financial Services and Consumer Affairs for their efforts in 2000.

Finally, to the constituents of Castries East, I thank you for your prayers, co-operation and good-will. I wish you prosperity now and in the future.

Have a Merry and Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year.


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