Above: St Lucia
By the Caribbean Journal staff
St Lucia’s government has officially launched the new National Competitiveness and Productivity Council.
St Lucia Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony, who was the featured speaker at the council’s inaugural meeting, said the council brought to the fore “the uncomfortable truth that increase in wages in Saint Lucia, has not resulted in a commensurate increase in productivity.”
To illustrate his point, Anthony referred to a paper recently delivered by Dr Wendell Samuel of the International Monetary Fund during the recent high-level growth meeting in the Bahamas.
“Focusing on Saint Lucia, Dr. Samuel demonstrated that public sector wages have grown at a much faster pace than the private sector to the point that private sector wages have decoupled from wage levels in the public sector. Using 1994 as his base year, he observed that public sector wages have increased steadily, to the point that the gap between rates in the public sector is significant, meaning, among other things, that rates in the public sector have grown at a much faster pace than the private sector but it has not yielded any significant growth in productivity,” he said. “The gap in wage rates dipped slightly in 1997, climbed thereafter, but dipped again below private sector wages in 2001, only to climb steadily from 2003 to the present.”
Further, Anthony said, there remains a “significant mismatch between unemployment and available skills,” something Samuel argues limits productivity growth and employment.
This problem requires urgent attention, Anthony said, and the council will be responsible for raising the awareness about the importance of increasing St Lucia’s competitiveness to its economic well-being.
The council is chaired by Rayneau Gajadhar and members of the private and public sectors, trade unions and civil society.