Compete Caribbean has significantly contributed to Public-Private Dialogue in the region through technical assistance to specific countries to strengthen formal PPD mechanisms such as competitiveness or economic development councils. The lessons learned from these PPD projects are worthy of note.
These include: Suriname – The Competitiveness Unit Suriname (CUS) – Launched in June 2012 to serve as the technical centre for the Suriname Competitiveness Council and the Suriname Business Forum. It takes the lead in actively promoting and coordinating business climate reforms in Suriname. The Compete Caribbean project assisted the government in establishing the CUS, identifying priorities for reform, and promoting the value of the Council to both the public and private sectors.
Over the life of the project, the CUS hosted two Competitiveness Forums and other workshops with more than 700 participants to disseminate and promote the competitiveness agenda; completed the preparatory work to establish a National Training Authority; developed a National Innovation Program; strengthened the Industrial Property Bureau; supported the National Education Conference; and initiated discussions for an industrial innovation plan.
Most importantly, with support from Compete Caribbean, the CUS developed an action plan for business climate reform priorities. The project enabled the modernization of the legal framework for private sector development in Suriname with the updating/drafting of a set of laws that include: E-publication, business and professional registration, competition law, limited liability companies law, electronic transfers, administrative principles, secured transactions, industrial property, financial statements, and trade registry.
Trinidad and Tobago – The Economic Development Board (EDB) and the Council for Competitiveness and Innovation (CCI) – The government of Trinidad and Tobago created the EDB and the CCI to lead economic diversification efforts with a particular focus on growing knowledge and innovation-related industries. Compete Caribbean provided technical assistance to strengthen their joint technical secretariat through knowledge inputs such as a strategy for the south west peninsula, a national innovation survey, and a national innovation study. These latter two activities led to the development of a national innovation policy which was recently approved by cabinet.
Notably, the work done by Compete Caribbean under the aforementioned projects has been a catalyst in the leveraging of other donor resources. The IDB is currently developing instruments to fund activities geared to implement the work started by Compete Caribbean in each of these two territories.
Saint Lucia – The National Competitiveness and Productivity Council (NCPC) – Established in August 2013 with assistance by Compete Caribbean, the NCPC has made significant progress in raising awareness of the importance of competitiveness and productivity to economic wellbeing in St. Lucia. In October 2014, the NCPC hosted the country’s first Productivity Awareness Week that featured six PPD forums focused on tourism, manufacturing, agriculture, wholesale and retail, construction, and financial services, attracting some 350 participants, boasting international speakers.
In St. Lucia, one of the main reforms that emerged from CGF consultations was the need to efficiently and effectively address commercial litigation. With the support of Compete Caribbean, the NCPC and the Ministry of Legal Affairs are spearheading the establishment of a commercial division within the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court. The aim of the division is to reduce the burden on the current court system, improve the efficiency and effectiveness of ruling on commercial matters, and enhance the business environment. In addition, Compete Caribbean assisted in the design of a national innovation fund and the drafting of modern insolvency legislation.
Belize – The Economic Development Council (EDC) – In an effort to advance economic diversification, identify solutions and build consensus between the public and private sectors, the Government established a formal dialogue with the private sector in October of 2011 in the form of a business forum. In support of this initiative, a steering committee, later formalized as the EDC, was appointed as the agency that would both maintain the dialogue between the public and private sectors. The EDC serves as the main mechanism for research and discussion, identification of approaches to solutions, and continued reporting to the Prime Minister and to the head of the main private sector agencies on the formulation and implementation of policies.
Compete Caribbean has helped strengthen the organizational structure of the Council and its technical unit, as well as to identify priority areas for reform. It has become the government’s main PPD mechanism in the country. With assistance from Compete Caribbean, the EDC completed the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey for the first time and is strengthening the reporting related to the Doing Business indicators. In addition to the work being undertaken with the support of the Program, the EDC has also contributed to the Quality Assurance/Customer Service Strategy, the Public Service Award Policy, the Human Resource Development Strategy, the Agriculture and Food Strategy Business Plan, and the Transportation Master Plan. The unit keeps track of all government policies related to PSD and proactively pursues policy creation and amendments to improve the business climate.