St. Kitts/Nevis Hosts Successful National Economic Growth Forum

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis held its inaugural National Economic Growth Forum, aimed at identifying possible new areas of economic growth and sustainable development. The one-day event brought together stakeholders from every sector of society with the overarching goal of collectively finding strategies for sustainable and equitable growth and development of the Federation.

The Forum was opened by Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas under the theme, “Transformation is not an event; it is a process.”

Mrs Hilary Hazel, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Sustainable Development, said, “The specific purpose of the Forum is to strengthen public/private sector dialogue, policy development and programme/project implementation to stimulate growth over the short to medium term.”

The Ministry of Sustainable Development and the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport were charged with the responsibility to plan, coordinate and implement the Forum, which was held on Wednesday 23 February 2011 at the Marriot Resort in Frigate Bay, St Kitts. Minister of State, Richard Skerrett, was the moderator of the Forum, which involved a number of presentations by experts from various sectors followed by periods of open discussion.

Sessions drew on input from both the public and private sectors and provided a useful opportunity for private enterprises and individuals to share their perspective on the current and future requirements for stimulating and sustaining growth in the Federation.

Areas considered in the day-long multi-stakeholder dialogue included the cruise tourism sub-sector, stay-over tourism sub-sector, education tourism, resort and villa, financial services and ship registry, agriculture, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) development, manufacturing, small business development, foreign direct investment/foreign aid and loans and the Citizenship by Investment Programme.

The first half of the event saw presentations on the Economic Growth in the Federation by Ambassador Wendell Lawrence; Competing in a Changing Global Environment by Charles Wilkin; Prospects for Expanding the Small Enterprise Sector by Dr. Timothy Harris and Sustainable Development Models by Valmiki Kempadoo.

These presentations generated positive discussion on emerging opportunities for stimulating growth in new and existing areas and prospects for expanding goods and service exports.  A proposal was also made to create a professional wildlife management services company to deal with the growing problem monkeys pose on the island.

The most active discussions came following the post-lunch presentations. Le Grand Elebash used the Christophe Harbour development as a model for facilitating private sector investment; international technology expert Bevil Wooding made a compelling case for the use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) as an essential element for future growth and Michael Julien presented the facts and figures in identifying prospects for expanding goods and services export.

These presentations generated considerable discussion as participants posed questions to the presenters and contributed ideas and perspectives to the Forum. The moderator extended the scheduled close by over an hour to facilitate the dialogue and to consolidate the major discussion points by clarifying Government’s commitment and identifying next steps and tangible actions to be taken.

Prime Minister Douglas, who stayed for the entire day’s proceedings, expressed his satisfaction in the day’s proceedings. He responded to call for greater and more formal public-private sector dialogue by saying his Government would continue to facilitate multi-stakeholder dialogue and other practical mechanisms to ensure that the Federation is set on a sure course to sustainable development.

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