Media Center



June 5, 2006 - Santo Domingo, República Dominicana

Mr. Chairman,

Let me begin by congratulating you on your election as chairman of this General Assembly. You have already justified our confidence in you with your effective management of this meeting thus far.

I would also like to thank the government and the people of the Dominican Republic for hosting this meeting and for the warm hospitality which has been accorded to our delegation.

The selection by your government of the theme “Good Governance and Development in a Knowledge Based Society” provides us with an opportunity to create a basis for the OAS to chart a course in which it aggressively pursues a development agenda complemented by good governance practices. It also heeds the call from the IV Summit of the Americas which was held under the theme “creating jobs to fight poverty and strengthen democratic governance.” It will be recalled that the Declaration of Mar del Plata called on Member States to incorporate new information and communication technologies in training of the citizenry in order to increase productivity.

In the 1980’s through the 1990’s, several countries have achieved sustained economic growth by cornering sectors of the Information Technology market. In most cases, if not all, the policies of the governments facilitated private/public sector partnership with the resulting benefit to the economies. In a paper “National policies for the information age”, Kenneth Kraemer and Jason Dedrick of the University of California list the initiatives used by governments in successful countries. These are the following:

1. Targeting specific sectors for development and creating industry clusters
2. Proactively seeking and promoting foreign and domestic investment
3. Providing positive incentives, both for initial investment and for reinvestment
4. Providing incentives for foreign Multinationals to partner with domestic firms
5. Providing incentives for private Research and Development investment, technical and managerial training, and developing foreign linkages
6. Avoiding coercive policies that require investment in exchange for market access or participation in government procurements
7. Promoting computer use throughout the economy

In this hemisphere, we have to work together to create a virtual workplace where, for example, a skilled labourer in St. Vincent and the Grenadines can effectively deliver services for a company in Brazil and ensure the flow of information is seamless. Outsourcing has proved an invaluable asset in leveling the playing field between rich and poor countries. Many countries from this hemisphere have benefited from providing services to countries in other continents several time zones away. The OAS has as one of its mandates the reduction of poverty. What better way can the OAS advance this cause than through the utilization of information technology to improve the human capacity in our countries so that we become suppliers of services?

St. Vincent and the Grenadines welcomes the opportunity to embrace information technology as a viable option in advancing the development of our country and alleviating poverty. For many years, the major contributors to the GDP in St. Vincent and the Grenadines have been agriculture, tourism, customs duties and income taxes. Of these contributors, the agricultural sector provided a rather substantial portion of the revenue being created and circulated within the country. Banana exportation to the EU had been the greatest provider of revenue to the agricultural sector. However with the loss of revenue due to the decline of the banana industry, accompanied by projected loss of revenue from taxes and duties which will occur through trade liberalization and free trade agreements, our economy has suffered and will continue to suffer tremendously.

This is why our government feels that it is incumbent upon us to solve the problem through the development of a diversified economy and embrace other sectors that show promise. IT-based initiatives and programmes have been developed and implemented to assist in combating the decline in agricultural output and slow down of economic growth
now plaguing our region.

Our government believes that by standing at the helm of the information technology vehicle being driven in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, it would inevitably be able to steer the development of the economy in the right direction. In doing so, the government has assisted in the development of numerous, call/data processing centres, established their very own ICT training facility known as the National Institute of Technology (NIT) that assists small businesses and investors with development and execution of their business plans through the Centre for Enterprise Development and the formulation of numerous European Union grant funding projects aimed at fostering the development of ICT in the nation.

Projects for the public sector intranet development have started with a view to enhancing the administrative capacity of the government to effectively and efficiently deliver public services which would facilitate economic growth and sustainable development. The strengthening of our institutions is vital as we strive to deliver good governance for our people.

Other government initiatives include the liberalization of the telecommunications sector to respond to national development needs and global opportunities. This liberalization has led to a phenomenal wave of mobile technology in our country. No longer is access to wireless telephones and internet the sole privilege of a wealthy few. The farmer in the remote countryside or the fisherman at sea can stay connected through mobile contact. The cellular, which has now become a basic tool, is very important to connectivity in our rural areas.

Our government’s plan to improve competitiveness and employment opportunity is one which is designed to leave no-one behind. Tomorrow, we will hear from the representatives of Microsoft Corporation and the Trust of the Americas about a project to start soon in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and other countries of the Eastern Caribbean which will help in the transition of young people suffering from physical disabilities into competitive industries centred on technology and other services in order to position them to compete in the modern world. We welcome this initiative as a reflection of the good work that the Inter-American Agency for Cooperation and Development is doing to expand the resources available for the OAS to be effective in addressing the development concerns for institutional strengthening and human capacity building.

Our government is indeed playing its part in ensuring that our citizens of this great hemisphere are kept informed and in pace with today’s world. The virtuous cycle is clear: an informed citizenry, of necessity, obliges good governance and vice versa. Our government’s move to achieve greater transparency in our affairs through the government’s official website serves as a key information link. A soon-to–be-implemented automated border-control and electoral database system will be vital in helping us better monitor the flow of persons across borders as well as give more credence to our elections.

Let me end by saying that this discussion today is an indication that we are very clear that the mission of this Organization is to strengthen democracy through good governance, human security, adherence to human rights and delivering the goods for all our people by strengthening our institutions and improving our human capacity through the use of modern technology.

I thank you.