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Ministers Pierre and Hunte Dialogue with St. Lucians in New York & New Jersey

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Contact: John Emmanuel

Tuesday, September 30, 2003 - The Government of St. Lucia is moving full speed ahead to create the environment that would lead to an expansion of economic activities, as a means of cushioning the impacts of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) on the local economy.

That was the underlining theme of comments from Minister for Tourism, Commerce, Investment and Consumer Affairs Honourable Phillip J. Pierre, who along with other senior government officials, recently addressed over 250 St. Lucian nationals at a town hall meeting of St. Lucian nationals in New York on Saturday, September 27, 2003.

According to Director of Information Services-Embert Charles, who was at the meeting, Minister Pierre, noted that “the advent of the FTAA would result in the removal of certain taxes on imports which would lead to a loss in government revenue and stiff competition for local manufacturers.”

Minister Pierre added that “St. Lucia and other Caribbean governments must avoid becoming too insular in their approach to the FTAA, relying solely on their small tax base to finance development, but rather improve on the standards and quality of products.” He cited the work of the St. Lucia Bureau of Standards which facilitates the improvement in the quality of products.

Addressing nationals on the status of the social-economic development in St. Lucia, Minister Pierre noted that “government is continuing to invest resources in the police force to combat criminal activity, adding that every new crime is one too many.”

The St. Lucia nationals engaged the Minister in debate on a wide range of issues including the status of health care facilities, procedures for accepting material and financial assistance from overseas groups, the environmental levy and the debate on the amendment to the criminal code. He urged all St. Lucians to become tourism ambassadors for the country.

His Excellency Julian R. Hunte, now President of the United Nations General Assembly, informed the meeting that it would cost the St. Lucia Government about EC$0.5 million to hold the presidency of the UN General Assembly. Senator Hunte said the other contributions from Caribbean countries and international organizations are also very significant to the running of the office. He urged the gathering to make use of the St. Lucia Mission and informed them of ways in which they could assist in the development of the country.

His Excellency Senator Hunte and Minister Pierre apologised on behalf of Prime Minister Honourable Dr. Kenny Anthony who was unable to attend the meeting as he took ill the night before. The Meeting was chaired by Ambassador Anthony Severin. Present were St. Lucians from New York, New Jersey and also St. Lucian Staff at the United Nations and the St. Lucia Mission.

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