Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet, has described as ‘complete rubbish’, claims that cash-strapped Saint Lucia is selling out to foreign investors.
“If I am a person who has wealth outside of Saint Lucia and I am looking to invest that money somewhere, I wan to get the best potential return I have,” Chastanet explained to reporters on Monday.
He suggested that an investor looks to get the biggest return from the least risk.
According to Chastanet, Saint Lucia is competing against a number of other places in the world to attract funds.
“The great thing that has happened is that given the instability that is taking place in the Middle East right now, there are investors who consider the Caribbean a safe haven and maybe don’t want as high a return that they potentially could have got,” he stated.
Chastanet said this means that Saint Lucia is competing within the region for foreign investment.
“It is for us to determine which investment we want or not,” he declared.
He asserted that ultimately, with unemployment locally running at some seventeen percent, the priority for his administration is investment that will generate jobs.
Chastanet recalled having repeatedly stated his belief that the one added value which this country has and on which the focus should be put is labour.
“So if we want to see the greatest retention of funds in Saint Lucia, it is by getting higher wage rates,” he observed.
However, Chastanet said that the productivity level in Saint Lucia is inadequate.
“So are hearing it repeatedly – we are hearing it from business people, you have heard it from Royalton, you have heard it from other investors here and the former Chairman of the Productivity Council – Mr. Rayneau Gajadhar, indicating that perhaps we should be importing more labour from outside,” he said.
“How do we get our labour force to be more productive? It’s education – we have to do a better job of training our work force in terms of making them substantially more competitive,” Chastanet said.