That is the view of a senior minister in the government of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. Timothy Harris, who holds the portfolios of International Trade, Industry, Commerce, Consumer Affairs, Agriculture, Marine Resources and Constituency Empowerment.
As Harris and leaders in the local manufacturing sector in St. Kitts examined current challenges and opportunities for this sub-sector of the economy, he pledged his unremitting commitment to foster a dynamic and productive relationship with the private sector, to the benefit of the country as a whole.
Dr. Harris recently met with the new Chairman of the St Kitts and Nevis Manufacturing Council, Mr. José Rosa and Mr. Calvin Cable, Executive Director of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce. Dr Harris was accompanied by Permanent Secretaries, Charleton Edwards and Ashton Stanley.
At the meeting Mr. Rosa outlined the plans of the Manufacturing Sector for 2012 and sought an update the government representatives regarding the Partial Scope Agreement involving Guyana and Brazil, to which St Kitts and Nevis is seeking accession.
While Harris thanked the private sector representatives for the meeting and for their continuing strong support for the constructive engagement and partnership between public and private sector, he also commented on the importance of this national partnership, saying that “as far as the country’s development is concerned, especially at this time of economic difficulties and the last three years of negative or negligible growth, it is such collaboration that would open the doors to job creation and development.
He further stated that “since the Government’s own efforts are constrained by its structural adjustment programme with the IMF, we must look to the private sector as the propeller of growth and development.”
The partial scope agreement which is still to be signed is one element of that positive partnership in which the government is facilitating market access to Brazil in particular. “This facilitation is a critical plank of the expansion plans of several private sector entities, particularly the larger manufacturers in the enclave export manufacturing subsector”, explained Harris.
“Recognizing its importance we have done all that we can to negotiate an agreement, win the support of Brazil, Guyana and the CARICOM Community for our accession to the partial scope agreement”, added an optimistic Dr Harris.
He said the agreement is now with the government of Brazil for signature. From there it goes to Guyana’s representatives in Brazil for signature and then finally it will come to St. Kitts for signing. “The resident Brazilian Ambassador is seized of the urgency of this agreement and he has advised me that he is communicating with his capital on this matter,” stated Dr. Harris.
“We are anxiously awaiting an updated communication. At our end, all that we were required to do, have been done. We do not control the operation of the bureaucracies in the other jurisdictions but we are confident that they are seized of the importance of this agreement to us,” the Senior Minister further explained.
Dr Harris told the private sector officials that the continuing development of the local indigenous manufacturing sector was a matter of concern to Government and the Manufacturing Council. “We want the local manufacturers from our agro – processors, our bottling companies etc to be a vibrant part of national life.”