Samoa and the British Virgin Islands this morning left other leaders in the region with concrete examples of what it means to foster enabling environments for joint private and public partnerships as a way to create sustainable economies.
Minister of Finance of Samoa, Faumuina Tiatia Faalantane Liuga told a high-level meeting at the three-day SIDS conference on in Barbados that they had made a number of changes to the aid with business development.
Explaining that Samoa had changed its time zone, he said they “moved that imaginary line from the west to the east … because most of our development partners are on that side of the international dateline”.
He said before moving the time zone, Samoa working days with its main partners like New Zealand, Australia and Asia was reduced to three-and-a-half days a week, whereas with the move they now enjoyed five working days.
“We do that because we know it is a big push for our private sector participation in many of the places where we know we have businesses. We are also planning, in order to enhance the capacity of the private sector, on returning home, I am expected to meet with more than 10 investors from Asia, mainly China for the establishment of our stock exchange. That stock exchange project will further enhance the capacity of our private sector participation and that will also create a lot of jobs for our people graduating from universities,” said the minister.
Likewise, Liuga told the meeting on Fostering Private Sector Partnerships for SIDS that as they created jobs, Samoa hoped to increase the population of South Pacific country from 200,000 to 500,000 in the next five years by enticing some of their citizen to return home and attract others.
Deputy Premier of the BVI, Kendrick Pickering told of his country’s “punching above our weight” especially in relation to its ability to attract financial services companies there. In fact, he noted that they were the number one domain for the registration of international business companies.
“When it comes to the whole concept of private sector/public sector partnerships, the British Virgin Islands though small in stature is punching above its weight in the international arena,” he said.
Outlining some of the initiatives the BVI had adopted which might be of help to other states, Pickering stated that there was a small and medium sized enterprise programme that was fostered and promoted through the Premier’s office.
“What the government has done is have a dialogue with the banks in the country to provide loans at concessionary rates to individuals, first-time business owners, individuals who otherwise cannot start businesses, with a specific interest on young people in the areas of fisheries, agriculture and renewable energies.
“So it is a partnership that is being built up between the Government and the private sector with the banks themselves playing a major role in the overall initiation of the process,” he said.
The deputy premier spoke as well about the Caribbean Challenge Initiative, which his country was involved in, spearheaded by Grenada and renowned businessman Sir Richard Branson and which had so far seen discussions started with several countries on fostering private/public partnerships.
So far it had resulted in businesses pledging over $72 million to protecting the nearshore and marine environment, and governments agreeing to the preservation of 20 per cent of that environment by 2020.
This connection had led to further discussions with Sir Richard to starting a solar and wind initiative on one of the islands as a pilot to promote the concepts of renewable energy and sustainable development, Pickering said.
He said they expected the pilot to blossom into a research project that could assist the entire region as an example of sustainable renewable energy development. (LB)