Disaster – changes how we do business in St. Kitts & Nevis

St. Kitts-Nevis Chamber declares it will not be business as usual in St. Kitts & Nevis.

The passage of two category five hurricanes, let alone two in the same season is unprecedented. Each storm ravaged several islands in one sweep.  The reality that both storms passed several miles away from us, did not change the fact that the twin-islands sustained infrastructural damage.  The impact on homes, public buildings, businesses, farms and roads was significant.

Yet it is the direct impact of the storm on other nations that concerns us.

How St. Kitts & Nevis provides for its people

St. Kitts and Nevis receives a substantial amount of supplies through the Port of Miami.  This includes all of our imported food. Retail providers adequately stocked up pre-storm.  Hurricane Irma disrupted the supply chain by hitting the Port of Miami.  Dominica supplies fruits and vegetables; these will be absent from the stands along the Bay Road for months to come.

Building material experienced a hard run as part of hurricane preparedness activities.  Repairs were quickly addressed after Hurricane Irma.  This action further depleted stocks.  Providers were unable to replenish their stocks, before Hurricane Maria plummeted more islands.  Material that was delayed after the first storm, was now further delayed.

These hurricanes were personal to citizens of St. Kitts & Nevis

St. Kitts & Nevis did not sustain a direct hit, but the impact on particular islands made this personal.  Kittitians and Nevisians have close family ties in Anguilla, St. Maarten, the USVI, the BVI and Puerto Rico. The compelling urge to help others in need gripped the Federation placing pressure on existing stock.  Increased demand for water and dry goods brought into question the country’s ability to feed itself.

The main industry of St. Kitts & Nevis was also hit.  Cruise ships began cancelling their calls. Rough seas were the initial cause. The subsequent cancellations were purely a business decision.  With St. Maarten, Tortola and Puerto Rico out of the loop there were insufficient stops on an itinerary. The cruise industry has inserted St. Kitts & Nevis on other itineraries, but the number of inbound voyages, or the lack thereof, has begun to take its toll.

Several islands in the Caribbean serve as hubs to other islands.  Puerto Rico is the regional hub for express mail. St. Maarten served as a hub for cargo shipments. The mail-order business has grown exponentially in St. Kitts & Nevis. The devastation of islands serving as hubs, brought to a temporary halt access to private imports and the importation of temporary shelter supplies.

The list goes on and on…read other views here.

How do we build resilience?

The impact of regional devastation on insurance premiums cannot be overlooked.  Sir Ronald Saunders shared his views on how the Caribbean needs to insure itself against disasters.  Read

As St. Kitts & Nevis grapples with its own situation, lessons from the experience of others can be learnt.  Dominica’s challenges with communication should drive us to build a more robust technology structure.  Barbuda’s total annihilation, should prompt us to look at our building codes and our inventory of shelters.  We must take a deeper look at our own vulnerabilities and put the necessary steps in place at personal, business and national levels.

Inherent in any plan for improvement, is the need to establish a designated fund, enabling us to help ourselves.  The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its in June 2017 report recommends the creation of a Growth and Resilience Fund. The intent is that such a fund will aid in the event of a catastrophic event.  The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, (ECCB), giving consideration to the same subject, covered the matter in a white paper on the matter entitled Sovereign Wealth Funds.

You can contribute to the discussion on disaster mitigation and recovery by submitting your views below.

 

 

Public Procurement

Click on the links below to learn more about this opportunity and to register.

(FOR LAC) CARICOM Public Procurement Protocol 12.05.17

FOR LAC 17 05 17 Model Public Procurement Bill

Presentation on the Community Public Procurement Regime

SKNCIC Celebrates its members…Caribelle Batik

SKNCIC celeMaurice Widdowsonbrates its members…Caribelle Batik’s owner

Maurice Widdowson

SKNCIC embraces the induction of Maurice Widdowson of Caribelle Batik, ushering him into the family of honorary recipients of the country’s highest award – a Medal of Honour.

Easily one of the Chamber’s esteemed historians, Maurice has a rich background of life here in Sugar City where he has had a hand in the transformation of life through engagement with key developmental initiatives such as the Beautiful Basseterre Committee, the St. Christopher Heritage Society (National Trust) among others.

The transformation at Romney Manor speaks for itself.  Since his arrival in St. Kitts back in the early 70s, Maurice has embraced Kittitian life – its culture, its people and its heritage, carving out a business that showcased the positive attributes of life here in St. Kitts.

The St. Kitts-Nevis Chamber of Industry & Commerce salutes Mr. Maurice Widdowson, recipient of a 2017 Medal of Honour.

SKN Chamber Celebrates its Members…Dreamy Weddings

Natalie John

Natalie John, CEO Dream Weddings & Tours

featured speaker for The Wedding Planner Conference, to be held in Roseau, Dominica – June 7-9, 2017

Identified by Times Caribbean, the Wedding and Honeymoon industry is an important niche market for Dominica. Consequently, over the past years, Discover Dominica (DD) has undertaken activities to develop Dominica’s Wedding and Honey Moon product offerings. The seminar will focus mainly on strengthening the development of the Wedding and Honeymoon niche tourism product and building the capacity of relevant public and private sector persons and organizations involved or wishing to become involved in this market, featuring as guest speaker our very own Natalie John.  Read more

 

 

SKNCIC Celebrates its Members…Scotiabank

Scotiabank

Scotiabank has been named Bank of the Year 2016 in St. Kitts and Nevis

by The Banker Magazine.

 

Scotiabank St. Kitts and Nevis was named Bank of the Year by The Banker Magazine. “We are proud of this award because it is a reflection of the hard work of our employees and their forucs on helping our customers become better off”, said Dave Ramsumair, local Country Head.  “We are proud to be known for our customer service and for delivering superior results for our shareholders.”

The Bank was recognized across the region with a significant number of Scotiabank operations being awarded.

The Banker selects winners based on their ability to deliver shareholder returns and gain strategic advantage.  The magazine is the worlds longest running international banking magazine, recognized as a leading source of information on finance and investment around the globe.  The Banker selects one winning bank for each of the 120 countries judged. Over 1,000 applications are collected and the judges select winning banks based on which ones they believe have made the most progress over the past 12 months.

The Banker Magazine Issue: 3496 – 68th Year

SKN Chamber Celebrates its Members….OTI

Ocean Terrace InnSt. Kitts-Nevis Chamber Member snags a prizeBasseterre, St. Kitts – (June 6, 2017) – Ocean Terrace Inn (OTI) continues to stand out in the Caribbean as a leader in sustainable tourism with the property receiving runner up for Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association’s (CHTA) Environmental Sustainability Award. Chris Ghita, General Manager of OTI accepted the award on behalf of the property at CHTA’s CHIEF (Caribbean Hospitality Industry Exchange Forum) Opening Ceremony on June 2, 2017, at the Hyatt Regency in Miami, FL.

Ocean Terrace Inn is extremely proud to receive this top honor, as it reconfirms our positioning to not only be one of the most environmentally sustainable hotels in St. Kitts, but throughout the entire Caribbean,” commented Chris Ghita, General Manager of Ocean Terrace Inn. “OTI is relentless in the pursuit of initiating and promoting eco-friendly and sustainability awareness amongst our guests, the staff and the community. Through a multi-faceted campaign that conserves energy and natural resources; reduces waste to minimize pollution and teaches eco-friendly policies in a local school, OTI uses environmental best practices to positively contribute to tourism’s sustainability and operate the resort in a fiscally responsible and economic manner.”

In addition to being a 2017 CHIEF award finalist, Mr. Ghita served as one of the panellists for the Sales & Marketing Session: Identity Therapy: Analyzing you Business’s Branding Strategy. The session discussed how to develop, cultivate and communicate a unique brand, regardless of the size of the business. Mr. Ghita shared with the audience the evolution of OTI’s branding strategy since the completion of the renovations in 2015 and how he involves everyone on the staff in the ongoing challenge of delivering a product of excellence that is consistent with OTI’s brand message.

Chris Ghita, General Manager of Ocean Terrace Inn discusses how to develop, cultivate and communicate your brand

OTI St. Kitts

Produced by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), the Caribbean Hospitality Industry Exchange Forum (CHIEF) is the premier educational forum for Caribbean hospitality and tourism professionals. CHIEF is where the hospitality industry assembles to connect, learn best practices, share ideas, brainstorm creative solutions to current challenges and build relationships. With three educational tracks covering a multitude of relevant topics, from the sharing economy to sustainability, and interactive roundtable and speed networking sessions, this event addresses issues affecting all businesses. The forum attracts hoteliers, vendors, government officials and industry experts focused on a stronger, profitable and more sustainable industry.

OTI, the intimate 4-star boutique hotel, where the ‘little things’ make all of the difference, was totally renovated in 2015. Ocean Terrace Inn offers state-of-the-art amenities, chic public areas, 34 perfectly appointed air conditioned guestrooms and suites with complimentary Wi-Fi, mouth-watering cuisine curated by International Chefs, and a level of personalized service that sets a new standard to the island.

For more information on Ocean Terrace Inn visit www.oceanterraceinn.com, email frontdesk@oceanterraceinn.com, call 1-800-524-0512 and follow Ocean Terrace Inn on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

Evolving Financial Landscape of St. Kitts & Nevis

Saving, spending and investing money has become more challenging as the rules of engagement continue to change.  De-risking continues. FATCA (our financial relationship with the USA), the Banking Act (orchestrated by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank) and now the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) all play a role in the new era of financial management.

Speaking at the Chamber’s Luncheon in St. Kitts on May 10th, 2017, Mrs. Sylvia Gumbs, Deputy Financial Secretary with responsibility for financial policy, outlined the CRS and its implications for business and personal financial management.  You may read more about this act here.

Trade Impact – St. Kitts & Nevis Perspective

Trade Impact!

Whether we are talking about Brexit, Trump’s strategies to “Make America Great Again”, or bilateral arrangements with another Caribbean or international country, the impact of trade agreements on the smaller islands of the Caribbean is significant and require special attention if we are to achieve any benefits.

When you take into consideration the fact that many of our indigenous products are manufactured on very small scales, making regional trade somewhat redundant, and the fact that trade liberalization came into full force on February 22nd, 2017 – all this while we are still trying to figure out how to benefit from the Cariforum Economic Partnership Agreement, and completing the Brazil Partial Scope Agreement, trade seems arduous at best.

Taking our eyes off the ball can be costly!  Recently a petition for the US Border Wall was filed which, had it been successful would have increased operating costs for the manufacturing sector which provides 10 per cent of the jobs across the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.  What does the US Border Wall have to do with us?  That is a question we are still asking.  Somehow, a US Senator thought it would make sense to have Caribbean islands contribute to the cost of the wall by paying a 2 per cent fee on remittances from the United States.  Every time a relative, corporate headquarters or customers transfers money from the United States to St. Kitts and Nevis, they would incur a 2 per cent fee.  Less than 1 per cent of the estimated 43.7 million persons making up the population of the Caribbean would ever travel to Mexico and less than that would ever see this wall if it is built.  Of all the Caribbean persons living in the United States, however they got there, it is very unlikely that they crossed the border from Mexico to the US.

This was only one of several attempts to disrupt trade relations involving the Caribbean, a situation which clearly indicates that trade experts in the region need to pay attention to what is happening with all countries with whom we enjoy trade relations.

St. Kitts and Nevis has benefited from the Caribbean Basin Initiative upon which it established the enclave sector. In 2000, this bill was expanded into the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Agreement (CBPTA) which expanded trade opportunities for the Caribbean. Since many of the manufacturing entities across both islands are micro enterprises and without the support of an export agency that can provide advice on how to utilize these agreements the benefits of the CBPTA has yet to be utilized by St. Kitts and Nevis.  It is set to expire in 2020.

The CBPTA is not the only agreement to which we need to pay attention, as the requirements of the “rules of origin” for all trade agreements provide options that enable us to qualify for the benefits and also challenges restricting us from achieving qualifying targets.

Other trade arrangements such as the Common External Tariff (CET) that provides protection for trade across the region, is another agreement to which we have signed on, and application of the rules has proven to be challenging as we grapple with the need to improve national livelihoods as our first priority before any allegiance paid to regional trade regimes.

Trade Agreements, therefore, are not just for manufacturing entities.  They impact many other sectors both directly (such as shipping agents and banks) and indirectly (such as retail stores).  Understanding how to maximize these agreements is important to all of

 

Crime Is Personal in small islands

When business owners of small, medium or large enterprises on small islands are attacked, the crime is personal!  Everyone knows either the perpetrators or the victims!  This knowledge is actually a problem in more ways than one.  It unfortunately means that the law enforcement agents also know and are known by the criminals, making everyone more vulnerable in the prosecutorial cycle.

It is difficult in a close knit society to arrest one’s 2nd cousin, (or even neighbour), whose 34 year old mother, enjoys the proceeds of criminal activity provided by a child that is polite and attentive and where the ill-gotten gains appear to be of benefit to younger siblings. The right to provide for and protect one’s family confronts the nation with fire power that outguns local law enforcement and seeks retribution wherever it can be found to exact pain and retain control.

Where we got off the track as a society has become the subject of much debate, concluding that intervention at the community level is the solution to this problem of epic proportions. Whatever the solution, one things is clear – it requires effort from all of us.  The private sector needs sustainable development, providing meaningful job opportunities; the church needs to preach its message of hope that results in improved lifestyles and an enactment of loving one’s neighbour as one’s self; the government needs to rise to a level of good governance that is demonstrated through principled public behaviour and service organizations need to create and fully engage in programs that build societies and create positive role models.

These are the entities we seek to bring together to discuss joint action on crime. Together we can make the difference that individually we would struggle to achieve.  Crime is a societal issue affecting us all!

Join us for the discussion.

 

St. Kitts-Nevis and the WTO TFA

St. Kitts-Nevis WTO TFA

St. Kitts-Nevis moves as the light turns green for implementation of the WTO TFA

What does this mean for the private sector? Signatories to the agreement believe that the major beneficiaries of this agreement is the private sector entities that fully embrace the WTO TFA.  Through improved  global trade mechanisms, new exporters will experience a smoother process that facilitates access to markets otherwise blocked by complicated trade procedures; trade exports worldwide are expected to grow by 20 per cent while associated costs are expected to be reduced by as much as 14 per cent.  WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo’s comments on the entry into force of the agreement here.

The benefits at both the private sector and country level require a commitment to public-private dialogue, (PPD). Governments create the policies that facilitate trade however, benefits can only be derived if the private sector is able to implement those policies and this is most effectively achieved when there is active engagement in the process through consultation and collaboration.

What does the green light mean for us? Upon entry into force of the Agreement on February 22, 2017, St. Kitts-Nevis became accountable for implementing all the procedures filed under Category A.  It also requires us to now submit information under Category B (provisions that will be implemented after a transition period) and Category C (provisions for which we require technical assistance).  

The Agreement means more than this for the private sector.  We have a golden opportunity to enhance our export development strategy by expanding it to include indigenous entities, positioning products in new markets.  The small size of our twin island Federation (St. Kitts and Nevis) does not determine our bench strength ergo our capacity to perform on a global level.  With active embassies around the world, it is time for us to deepen the conversation about the paving the stepping stones for our future in the global trade arena.