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St Lucia government admits to immense chaos in the business community

  • Taiwan’s International Co-operation and Development Fund (ICDF) has partnered on a four-year project from June 2023 to June 2027 with a geographical focus on Soufriere, Laborie, Dennery and Castries.

By Caribbean News Global contributor

CASTRIES, St Lucia – In a press release August 17, 2023, the ministry of commerce announced the launch of a “Community Business Revitalization Project,” hitherto, admits to immense chaos in the business community. The said ministry will also host the opening ceremony on August 22, 2023, at the Public Service Training Institute, Union, Castries.

“Micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME’s) in Saint Lucia have been a major concern to government policymakers given the immense chaos that the business community has experienced in recent years, through the COVID-19 pandemic, distortions in trade supplies and the escalating costs of commodities,” said the ministry of commerce in a belated confession of the obvious.

“The Community Business Revitalization Project aims to provide much-needed financial relief to the small business community and reinvigorate and modernize the way in which MSMEs operate in Saint Lucia.”

On Wednesday, August 16, 2023, the consumer affairs department advised that the consumer complaints hotline is now open, “to register any valid consumer-related concerns or complaints,” adding “If the prices of goods on shelves do not reflect the anticipated 12.5 percent reduction in Value Added Tax (VAT), please reach out.” […]

SLA August 17, 2023 At 8:01 am commented:

“Why don’t consumer affairs employees get their lazy butts out of their chairs and go audit the businesses themselves? St Lucia isn’t so large that it’s unimaginable to do so. This is all just virtue signalling at the end of the day.”

Earlier this week, a news reporter attempted to question the minister for commerce, manufacturing, business development, cooperatives and consumer affairs Emma Hippolyte, on the matter of price gouging.

The response is open to more than one interpretation, inexactness: “ … Kill it, Keele it, Keel it”  … for the time being  … You don’t want to go there.”

Investigations? Hold that thought …

“Investigations have revealed that there is a noticeable lack of business thrust and development which compromises the sales figures of MSMEs within the communities earmarked for assistance under the project,” the ministry of commerce continued, relying on the generosity of Taiwan.

“Consequently, the ministry of commerce in collaboration with Taiwan’s International Co-operation and Development Fund (ICDF) has partnered on a four-year project from June 2023 to June 2027 with a geographical focus on Soufriere, Laborie, Dennery and Castries.”

The core objectives of the Community Business Revitalization Project are:

  1. To strengthen the ministry of commerce’s capacity-building skills and competencies to provide the necessary coaching, guidance and mentorship to MSMEs;
  2. To aid MSMEs in communities to market and strengthen product design;
  3. To help encourage MSME’s to develop branding and promotion of their product.

Creation of jobs within communities?

“It is anticipated that the project will facilitate the creation of jobs within communities, ensure steady income flows, reduce vulnerability because of proper risk management tools, and increase investments in human capital,” said the ministry of commerce.

Meanwhile, prime minister, minister for finance, economic development and the youth economy, and minister for justice and national security, in a communique on July 31, 2023, presented “three ways to lowering costs for Saint Lucians.”

VAT amnesty on imported medical equipment [August 2, 2023 – August 1, 2025]

“The VAT amnesty on imported medical equipment will incentivize medical practitioners to procure radiological and clinical equipment needed for vital medical exams such as CT scans, MRIs, ultrasounds and mammograms.

“Local doctors can expand their offerings to their clients at more affordable rates avoiding Saint Lucians costly travel expenses to overseas countries. Increased availability of these medical exams at lower costs will save Saint Lucians money and improve the health of the nation.”

VAT amnesty on select building materials [August 2, 2023 – August 1, 2025]

“Home remodelling and renovation projects will be more affordable for the average Saint Lucian. Contractors will also benefit from the reduced cost of building materials for medium to larger construction projects. Consumers will benefit from a 12.5 percent reduction in the cost of building materials as a direct result of prime minister Pierre’s VAT amnesty.”

Amnesty on VAT arrears [August 2, 2023 – August 1, 2024]

“The Tax Amnesty on VAT arrears offers companies, business owners, employees, and property owners the opportunity to settle their tax arrears with a 100 percent waiver on penalties, interest, and collection fees up to financial year 2021. More than $200 million in outstanding VAT arrears, which includes penalties and fines, can potentially be redirected back into the economy.”

Related Links:

St Lucia government botched policy

St Lucia legislates selective 12.5 percent VAT reduction for two years



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