Doing Business with Government gets easier!

The ease of doing business in Saint Lucia just got, well, a lot easier we would say. On Tuesday March 19, the department of Finance, Economic Affairs and Social Security, in collaboration with Bank of Saint Lucia, launched the point of sale system for the island. Through this system, as of today Wednesday March 20th business houses and citizens conducting business with various Government agencies and departments will have the ability to make payments using their credit or debit cards.
Addressing the launch, which took place at the Ministry of Infrastructure, Agosta Degazon, Director of Finance, said that the presence of several ministers including Prime Minister Kenny Anthony “signaled the high value placed on this initiative.”
In attendance was the Minister for Infrastructure Philip J Pierre, Emma Hippolyte, Minister of Commerce as well as a number of Government Department heads.
“The department of finance has significant expectations for this initiative in that we hope it will increase the efficiency with which revenue is collected. We hope as well that revenues collected will also increase,” Degazon said. “Certainly the recent events underscore the need for increased revenue and efficiency,” he added.
According to Dr Anthony who also spoke Tuesday, among the pronouncements made last year by the Government was that the hours of doing business at the treasury be extended and the introduction of a point of sales system.
The Prime Minister went on to explain that not only did the Government have to find the right partner for the system but a lot of training had to be done.
“Since the announcement by her Excellency the Governor General we have been in search of the right partner to facilitate the introduction of this point of sale system and after considerable evaluation and analysis, Government selected the services offered by the Bank of Saint Lucia,” the Saint Lucian leader stated. He went on to express the benefits of the system including an end to persons having to carry considerable amounts of cash to do business.
“It is also a secure way to make payment and it reduces incidents of fraudulent transactions due to the issuance of dishonoured cheques,” he stressed. “There will also be administrative savings enjoyed by the Government of Saint Lucia. Perhaps another benefit this venture will make one aspect of doing business in Saint Lucia much easier,” the Prime Minister said, adding “we trust that the business community will make full use of this facility.”
The point of sale system will be operational at the islands major ports including the Rodney Bay Marina, GFL Charles Baggage Hall, the Vigie Cargo Shed, Shed 6 in Castries, the Ferry Terminal Baggage Hall, Hewannorra air cargo shed, Hewannorra Baggage
Hall, Vieux Fort Container Park and the Vieux Fort main office. From an Inland Revenue Department Standpoint the main office of the department at the Castries waterfront will be point of sales compliant as well as the Vieux Fort and Soufriere offices.
Other departments on the list include the Accountant General Office in the Ministry of Finance, the Vieux fort and Soufriere sub divisions, the ministry of Infrastructure, licensing department, Ministry of Health, Victoria Hospital, Gros Islet Polyclinic Soufriere hospital, Ministry of Justice, civil status registry, first district court, attorney general chambers and the registry of companies.
“I hasten to add, that as we assess the operations of the point of sales system and interact much more with agencies and departments there is the hope that the service may be extended to create greater coverage,” Dr Anthony said.
Hildreth Alexander the Chairman of Bank of Saint Lucia describes the project as “international in scope and reach,” whilst Philip Dalsou from the Ministry of Public Service said there are great benefits and conveniences to the private sector and citizens.
Speaking on behalf of James Fletcher Minister for Public Service, Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology Information and Broadcasting, Dalsou described the Minister as being passionate about the initiative. He went on to quote Fletcher as saying about the project early last year: “I am not pleased at the pace that it is moving.”
According to him, the Minister felt it was ludicrous that persons could not use a point of sale system to conduct business with Government.
“The future now,” according to him, “is for the public to have the capacity to perform Government transactions at home.”
Tuesday’s launch was also addressed by Nigel Edwin of the Customs and Excise department who alluded to the fact that the processes which culminated in Tuesday’s launch started b
ack in 2006. “This has been long in coming and I do welcome it,” he said.
Hopefully it is a sentiment that will be expressed by many as of today, as the general public and businesses now have the convenience of swiping their preferred card when doing business with various Government departments and agencies.
And hopefully too, this will lead to greater productivity and efficiency in what has often been in times past, a frustrating and sore point in doing
business here.

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