Address by Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony to the 5th Annual General Meeting of St. Lucia Marine Terminals Limited
ADJUSTING TO GLOBAL REALITIES
ADDRESS TO THE 5th ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF ST. LUCIA MARINE TERMINALS LIMITED
ADHERING TO GLOBAL STANDARDS
Hon. Minister of Communications, Works, Transport and Public Utilities, Ministers of Government, Members of Parliament, Chairman and Board of Directors of St. Lucia Marine Terminals Limited, Shareholders, Distinguished Guests:
This 5th Annual General Meeting of St. Lucia Marine Terminals Limited (SLMTL) is being convened at a time when maritime trade is being influenced by heightened security concerns, a wave of privatization, mergers and acquisitions by major shipping lines. These and other realities impact significantly on our maritime sector and challenge us to formulate appropriate strategies in order to gain a competitive advantage. Both SLASPA and SLMTL are compelled to conduct constant reviews of cost elements and focus on increased productivity and efficiency, utilizing technology and strategic alliances.
As we strive to adhere to changing global standards, we should endeavor to establish our own benchmarks with respect to critical success factors like safety, quality and security. The International Maritime Organization’s International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) code, which came into force on 1st July 2004 is one such imperative for Caribbean ports. The primary objectives of the Code are:
(1)the establishment of an international framework involving cooperation between contracting governments, government agencies, local administrations and the shipping community and port industries;
(2)the detection of security threats and the implementation of preventive measures against security incidents affecting ships or port facilities used in international trade and to establish the roles of diverse government and non government parties for ensuring maritime security.
SAINT LUCIA ISPS COMPLIANT
It is noteworthy that Saint Lucia did achieve ISPS compliance, albeit at a significant cost. To date, SLASPA has spent about USD1.5 million on security upgrades at our ports and estimates that this figure will be doubled over the next five years. We cannot fail to adequately respond to increased global attention concerning security at our seaports and airports. This entails the introduction of leading edge technology like underwater surveillance, metal detectors, CCTV and patrol boats.
Some regional territories have spent millions of dollars on the procurement of X-ray inspection systems designed to facilitate the comprehensive inspection of containers and cargo packages to prevent the smuggling of drugs, weapons, explosives and other contraband. Naval escorts for cruise ships and protective cordons for ships in port is also becoming standard practice.
A PAPERLESS PORT
The local maritime industry continues the drive to design a port community system linking stakeholders in the industry by moving towards a paperless port and enhancing efficiency via information communication technology. In this regard, the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA++) project, with SLMTL as the pilot site is commendable. The primary aim of this project is to implement an imports/exports processing system, which maximizes efficiency within the Customs clearance process, provides an efficient service to the trading community, and ensures an effective control and collection of revenue. Moreover, this system will provide quality information for decision-making as well as more concise statistical data on trade.
A SAFE AND SECURE ZONE
In the days ahead, demands will be made on the Division of Maritime Affairs of the Saint Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority which was established in 2000, following an amendment to the SLASPA Act, No. 10 of 1983 and the Shipping Act, No. 11 of 1994. The primary objective of the amendments was to allow the Authority to administer the Shipping Act.
The Division of Maritime Affairs has the responsibility of representing the interests of Saint Lucia on Maritime matters, serves as the national focal point to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and ensures the fulfillment of the State’s obligations in respect of the maritime conventions to which Saint Lucia is party. The Division is also responsible for advising Government on maritime/shipping related policies and their implementation.
The recently announced air surveillance security system established by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago provides a timely opportunity for collaboration with Saint Lucia and other neighboring territories. Such a collaborative approach serves to enhance not only national security but makes the region a more safe and secure zone.
The Caribbean region is poised for further growth and development and our responsiveness to world trends is inextricably linked to our survival. Challenging times calls for profound and creative thinking. Consequently, we must endeavor to create the kind of infrastructure and operating environment that will ensure our successful participation in the world market. As a region, we must prepare for the implementation of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), since trading will be liberalized to create increased threats as well as opportunities. Saint Lucia will also have to capitalize on opportunities afforded by the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME). Therefore, the issue of maintaining a well-trained workforce becomes of paramount importance. It is imperative that all parties including SLASPA, the Customs & Excise Department, the Maritime Division, the Goods Distribution Free Zone and the Shipping Association of St. Lucia Inc. collaborate with central government to meet the challenges of the region and pursue strategies that will redound to the benefit of Saint Lucia.
A SLMTL A PRIMARY TRANSSHIPMENT PORT
To better position St. Lucia Marine Terminal Ltd, as the primary transshipment port in Saint Lucia, the Saint Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority must undertake the upgrading of the existing finger pier that is approaching the end of its useful life. On the part of government, work continues on the upgrade of our inland transportation linkages. With the reconstruction/ rehabilitation of the Vieux-Fort to Soufriere road and other projects, it is intended that the major towns of Vieux-Fort, Soufriere and Gros – Islet will benefit from an improved road network linkage with the Capital City, Castries. Government will continue to support creative initiatives that are intended to foster the development of the South by incorporating existing facilities. To this end, Port Vieux-Fort is strategically located in the heart of Saint Lucia’s newest industrial frontier. Given the port’s proximity to the under utilized Hewanorra International Airport, the Industrial Free Zone, the Goods Distribution Free Zone, the Vieux-Fort Industrial Estate and the largest Fisheries Complex in the Eastern Caribbean, there is potential for collaborative approaches which could be the catalyst for the sustainable growth and development of southern Saint Lucia. We must create opportunities to boost the light manufacturing center of Saint Lucia, since increased exports will provide backhaul cargo for shipping lines that call Vieux-Fort. Thus, a more vibrant manufacturing sector will contribute to increased throughput at our ports.
A FACILITATOR OF INTERNATIONAL TRADE
Bananas continue to be the main tangible export from Saint Lucia. The Port of Vieux-Fort is the port from which all bananas are exported from Saint Lucia. Bananas accounted for 27% of breakbulk cargo at the Port for the year ended March 31st 2004 and 39% in the previous year.
The importance of the maritime industry is fully acknowledged by the government of St. Lucia. It is a significant economic multiplier for prosperity at a national and regional level, since it is a facilitator of international trade, which is a major revenue earner. Moreover, the industry is a facilitator of other revenue earning streams, such as tourism and agriculture.
I understand that SLASPA is formulating a strategic plan that will include SLMTL. This is a necessary undertaking in order that the Port Authority align internal operations with the external environment. The overriding objective should be to so position the Authority that it will anticipate changes and adapt in a proactive manner. This positioning is of paramount importance since Saint Lucia’s sustainable development hinges on the maritime industry.
Therefore, I would like to encourage the Council, directors, management and staff of SLASPA and SLMTL to continue striving towards greater effectiveness and efficiency at our ports, with the assurance of Government’s critical support. I would like to congratulate SLMTL for having another successful year of operation and urge the Board of Directors and management to be proactive in light of the dynamic nature of the maritime industry.
It gives me great pleasure to address this 5th Annual General Meeting of St. Lucia Marine Terminals Limited and I trust that this will be a fruitful meeting.
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