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Beating a dead horse: The impact of CSME


When foreigners come to St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) and build businesses and do well, we complain. “Why are they here?” “Why are they doing so well?” Like many other countries in the world, SVG has its own bit of corruption, but local businesses which are already established and new ones now have an opportunity to advance-and it is baffling that so few are seizing the opportunity to improve, grow, and expand.{{more}}

Since talks of the Caribbean Single Market Economy (CSME) began a few years ago, many of St.Vincent’s employers seem to be behind the proverbial eight ball, with some citizens still thinking all this “nonsense” about global competition and the need to treat people like paying customers will soon fade. Oh, the tangled webs we weave . . .

What are the implications of being complacent? Here are just two considerations:

Vincentian workers will compete against more qualified, more savvy individuals-and lose. St. Vincent is not the collection of families it was decades ago, who took care of each other. We now have an influx of people from other islands and other countries, and those people are changing the demographics of the island.

In particular, they are bringing skills that some locals may not possess. Coupled with that is the addition of foreign business owners who come to the island looking for the most qualified workers. If the local workforce does not understand and exhibit basic professionalism and competencies, the jobs will be given to foreigners. What would be worse still, companies may even recruit on other islands to fill positions. This trend is already evident in the construction industry, where St. Vincent has already had to import construction workers for projects because locals were just not available or willing. It’s only a matter of time before other industries follow suit.

Businesses will close or lose significant market share. This may seem a doom-and-gloom projection, but it’s more of a reality check. Businesses have been taking advantage of Vincentian consumers for decades. Too many goods are simply overpriced and too many services suffer from service that is practically nonexistent, or deplorable at best! Some business owners have held monopolies on some industries for so long that locals are strapped to find another choice for what they want. Remember when we had only one phone company? Now, Vincentians can choose what phone company they want to use and switch again if they don’t like the price or service they are getting. And, remember when buying a car was a very big deal and only families with money could do so? The introduction of the “sketel,” or cheaper Asian imported cars made life a lot easier for regular working-class people who just needed a reliable mode of transportation.

Other examples are all around us, but those who are slow to learn or refuse to adapt will sit and watch St.Vincent prosper and not be a part of it. No, it will not happen overnight as many internal social and political issues will make the trend difficult to see. But it is happening and one day we will all wake up and wonder who is behind the economic engine of the small island, because it will not be us.

Karen Hinds President/CEO – Workplace Success Group,
Toll Free: 1-877-902-2775;
Tel: 1-203-757-4103
Creator of The Workplace Success Program (TM)