Lindsay Grant Speaks Out On Fairness and Opportunity
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
September 11th 2009
At a landmark address before the Chamber of Commerce, PAM Leader Lindsay Grant began to outline PAM’s vision for change. During his poised and articulate delivery, Grant provided substantial detail on PAM’s vision pertaining to four critical challenges facing the Federation. One of the issues Grant highlighted was PAM’s vision for a level economic playing field. Grant seeks to advance policies that put more opportunity in the hands of Kittitians and Nevisians.
“Let me state categorically from the onset – the People’s Action Movement is not opposed to foreign investment, but foreign investors are not to be given favour over local entrepreneurs and local industry,” Grant told the Chamber. “As a matter of policy, we will move to level the playing field. Locals cannot be expected to compete in the same economic space and environment and not benefit from the same concessions. To do otherwise will continue our dependence on foreign investment at the expense of local innovation.”
Grant cited problems in the construction industry where local contractors have seen their profits erode thanks to Labour’s tax concessions to competing foreign entities. Grant said concessions to foreigners are also harming our tourism industry. According to Grant, “Large non-national hotel operators get many concessions that are not available to local operators who have to compete for the same conference and leisure dollars.”
After articulately describing the problem of preferential treatment for foreign companies, Grant went on to describe the solution.
“PAM holds the position that leveling the playing field of private sector investment, where locals have access to the same concessions, as foreign investors will foster local entrepreneurship, and at the same time, invite foreign investment is critical,” said Grant. “Here, we seek to promote an investment climate where a prospering and well-established local private sector will challenge foreign entrepreneurs to provide responsible investment. In this regard, we are of the view that equal concessionary benefits for local entrepreneurs will provide an appropriate thrust to the business climate in the Federation.”
In addition to leveling the playing field, Grant also argued that good government reforms that seek to root out corruption and bring about transparency and accountability are critical to ensuring that companies owned by Kittitians and Nevisians can compete.
“Members of the Chamber, it is our position that Good Governance and its principles of transparency and accountability, must inform the policies and programs I speak of today,” said Grant. “In other words, PAM regards lip service to transparency as unsatisfactory- the business community and citizens at large, must not only hear the words, but also see the hands of their leaders.”
Grand concluded with a firm commitment to the people of the Federation, “The People’s Action Movement, within the first 6 months of a new PAM administration, will introduce into law – the Freedom of Information Act, the Integrity in Public Life Act, and the Anti-Corruption Act. As a Party, we hold such legislative force to be the necessary step towards prudent economic management ““ our local business community must finally be confident in both the management and opportunities, which exist in our Federation.”
PAM’s Vision for Economic Fairness, Justice and Opportunity can be found on PAM’s website, www.pamforchange.com. PAM will release an even more detailed vision for change in its forthcoming election manifesto.