The Saint Lucia Development Bank (SLDB), as part of its strategic development programme, recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Saint Lucia Export (formerly TEPA). The MOU will serve as a platform to build additional relationships, exchange ideas, transfer technical knowledge and collaboration on projects between Saint Lucia Export and SLDB.
Several initiatives which will enable the Bank to make a greater contribution to the business sector and the community in general are being developed.
On May 1, 2018, Mr. Vincent Boland, a banker with wide ranging local, regional and international experience, took up the position of Managing Director of the Bank, setting the tone for the Bank to develop new relationships and programmes. The MOU with Saint Lucia Export is the first step in building a core network of partners which will provide meaningful support to each other in a corelated manner to implement projects and programmes for the advancement of the island’s economic development.
The establishment of partnerships is high on the Bank’s agenda as it prepares a three-year strategic plan. The last strategic plan expired in 2016. A bottom-up approach to the preparation of the plan is adopted through consultation with staff at every level and the Board of Directors to ensure that everyone has an input in the final document. A series of meetings are being held with government officials and agencies and other stakeholders, so that the strategic plan would be in harmony with national development priorities and goals.
At a recently held housing symposium hosted by the National Housing Corporation (NHC), the Bank made its intention clear to provide finance and other support to contractors who want to undertake housing developments under the design, finance and build mechanism on sites identified by the NHC. The NHC has identified eleven sites for housing development and being aware of the acute housing shortage on the island, the Bank is poised to make a meaningful contributing in alleviating this situation. The Bank prides itself as offering the best mortgage financing programme on the island with its ease of access, favourable terms and the provision of technical support during implementation.
Recognising the devastating impact of climate change, the Bank has been sensitising the nation into taking action which would build resilience and the adaptation to climate change, through its Climate Adaptation Financing Facility (CAFF). The CAFF, a sub-component of the Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Programme (DVRP), provides low-cost loans to households, community groups, agriculture and general business enterprises including tourism, for any project which hinges on combating the effects of climate change.
Several community engagements have been held, initially in the more vulnerable communities of Anse-La-Raye, Bexon, Dennery and Soufriere/Fond St. Jacques. The community outreach programme will continue. The most recent being an open-air promotion at Independence Square, Vieux Fort. The Bank continues to urge the population to act now and not wait for after a disaster strikes because the pool of available funds is limited and is administered on a first come, first serve basis.
Since its re-opening in 2009, the Bank has granted over $160.0 million in loans to over 2664 clients in all sectors of the economy and has sustained and created over 5000 jobs, contributing to the reduction in unemployment.
The SLDB continues to play a leading role in providing finance and project support to contractors under the Constituency Development Programme and government’s infrastructural rehabilitation programme.
The Bank has recognised the need for quality standardisation in the construction sector and will spearhead the development of contractor’s certification programme in conjunction with other partners. The SLDB is of the view that certified contractors would not only help mitigate some of the recurring issues faced when executing construction projects but will also give customers the confidence when they engage contractors, that their projects will be executed in a satisfactory manner.
The Bank is also seeking to alleviate the lack of financial information associated with the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) sector by implementing a Quick Books training programme. It is expected that all business enterprises funded by the Bank would undergo this training. Special emphasis will be placed on young entrepreneurs funded under the Youth Enterprises Equity Fund.
Over the years, the Bank has earned great respect from major regional and international institutions including the World Bank, Caribbean Development Bank and CARICOM Development Fund, which have been sources of finance for the Bank’s lending programme. With a its new dynamic leadership and government’s strong commitment of support, the SLDB is well placed to fulfil its mandate – mobilising and providing finance for, and promoting and facilitating the expansion and strengthening of the economic development of Saint Lucia.