Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 22, 2017 (SKNIS): Improving productivity for Small and Micro Enterprises (SMEs) is the focus of a national workshop being held at the Royal St. Kitts Hotel on Thursday (March 22).

The event is organized by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Caribbean Employers’ Confederation (CEC). The effort is part of a wider initiative being hosted throughout the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to effect productivity improvements across every sector to ensure businesses in member states remain competitive in a globalised environment.

During an opening ceremony, President of the St. Kitts and Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Jose Rosa, addressed participants drawn from private and public sector agencies. He said that small and micro enterprises represent about 60 percent of the total economy and need the appropriate tools to be competitive.

“For me, productivity is an attitude that we put in any action to drive meaningful results. The positive attitudes allow us to perform any task at the highest level. It is to look at the areas in which we create ways and approve such with the intention to minimize and eliminate the possibility of creating such waste,” President Rosa stated. “Management is responsible for promoting this attitude in the whole organization, however, all have to come onboard to promote a culture of inclusivity to engage the complete organization with clear direction and goals that foster an attitude to attain excellence.”

The one-day meeting is attended by representatives from various companies, as well as officials from the Department of Labour and the St. Kitts and Nevis Trades and Labour Union.  Topics to be explored include Productivity and Competitiveness indicators; and Measures to Improve Productivity at Organizational Levels. A panel discussion dubbed “Productivity on the Front Line” is also scheduled.

Vanessa Phala, Senior Specialist on Employers’ Activities of the ILO Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean, said the visit to St. Kitts and Nevis was the 14th session of the regional training. She remarked that at all of the prior workshops, a senior government representative was present which, signals the level of commitment that policy makers have for improving national standards in the world of work.

Honourable Vance Amory, Senior Minister and Minister of Labour in the federal government, made a link between increased productivity and national development. He cited a number of positives, including attracting or increasing investment from local and foreign sources. This in turn will expand the tax base for government, which will allow greater revenue collection and higher allocations to improve the public infrastructure and government services necessary to do business. On that same note, the minister of labour said that government must should improve efficiency in the public sector in order to provide adequate and efficient service to support a vibrant private sector.

“As the Ministry of Labour strives to engage with different businesses at all levels, we will strive to provide guidance in accordance with the law, to act objectively and professionally,” Senior Minister Amory said. “We will make sure as far as possible that workplaces are conducive to working for the employees and that there is that responsibility on both sides. The employer is required to provide conditions at the workplace, which are conducive for work that are ongoing in the workplace, and the employees also provide and have knowledge of their responsibility in the whole process.”

Carol Boddie, treasurer of the local Chamber of Industry and Commerce, said the information collected from the session will be used to help guide discussions on the local and regional level.