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Contact: Primus Hutchinson

Monday, March 17, 2003 – An appeal has gone out to members of the private sector to play a more visible role in the operations of the Chamber. Speaking at the Chamber’s first quarterly general meeting, Thursday, Chairman of the Saint Lucia Chamber of Commerce, Guy Mayers, explained the need for members of the private sector to develop a collaborative approach towards the operation of the organisation in an effort to assist the Chamber to maintain its influence on the Saint Lucian economy.

Mayers believe that there is need for a strong private sector organisation to help address the many issues facing the country and to assist in promoting and sustaining the local micro-economic environment.

“Government needs a strong private sector with the capacity and ability to engage them in economy policy debate and make substantive contributions to national development. Our goals and objectives as we all realise are the same. We want to promote and sustain a healthy, political, economic and social environment in which free enterprise and ethical business practice can flourish in harmony with the development of the entire Saint Lucian community,” Mayers said.

The Forum also provided its members the opportunity to dialogue with Prime Minister and Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs, Honourable Dr. Kenny Anthony.
In his address to the members, Dr Anthony reminded them of the global economic conditions, which he says are very worrying considering the possibility of a war in Iraq and the world economy slipping deeper in recession.

“I have not hidden the fact. I have said so repeatedly, that we have been under tremendous fiscal pressure because of the significant drop in revenue to maintain government services. And you will understand that if your tourism suffers, if you continue to lose export income from your bananas, despite the growth that you have experienced, if you experienced a down turn and you cannot collect the same amount of consumption taxes or taxes on international trade, then obviously you are going to suffer on the fiscal front” Dr. Anthony said.

The Prime Minister said that the country is faced with immense risks and the possibility of war in Iraq is causing the government to lose several millions of dollars, due to subsidized fuel. This he explained may mean that in the next few days, adjustments will have to be made to deal with the existing situation.

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