Donna Wellington (right) and Greg McConnie, at the news conference.
Business Monday: Barbados must see growth
GROWTH in the Barbados economy is not likely to happen in a hurry. This is the view of Ms. Donna Wellington, a member of the Monitoring Committee, which is a group keeping tags on the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transportation (BERT) programme.
However, her colleague on the Committee, Greg McConnie, is adamant that at the end of the day it will be economic growth which is going to bring the country out of its present economic predicament.
Wellington told the media that starting this year and going forward, the country needs to see growth although it won’t take place all at once.
Speaking at the Monitoring Committee’s first public forum on what has been achieved so far with BERT, Ms. Wellington said that whilst the growth is gearing up and there is a start to more construction activity, and people have started investing in the economy, there needs to be a constraint on Government expenditure.
“I know that even in the Estimates (of Revenue and Expenditure), which we are watching very closely, the Government understands that and what they are trying to do is to reduce expenditure whilst we are waiting for the growth to be ramped up,” she reasoned.
The economy, which is currently in recession, declined last year by 0.6 per cent on top of growth the previous year. Projections are that this year GDP will be flat, unless a number of construction projects, which are in the pipeline, get off the ground.
Ms. Wellington sees tourism, construction, renewable energy, foreign direct investment and international business and financial services as the areas that will fuel growth in Barbados. However, no mention was made of agriculture and manufacturing, still two important sectors, in the growth outlook.
“But it is going to take some time because you don’t just construct today. There must be planning, there must be attractions of businesses to the island and all of the things that have been talked about like improving the entry and improving the Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Office (CAIPO), are critical to really attract business to Barbados and to start the economic growth happening,” said Wellington.
Greg McConney, also a member of the group, said that the Ease of Doing Business is also important in attracting new businesses to Barbados.
He reasoned that government has to ensure that improving the Ease of Doing Business must be given priority. “That is important because without businesses being able to start and investors becoming impatient with the slow pace of processing business applications that would be very detrimental to any growth plan,” he told the media.
McConney said he was very glad to hear mention being made about the long mooted Electronic Single Window and the reforms which are to be used as a catalyst for improving Barbados’ rating in the Ease of Doing Business survey.
“They are the key gateways: the CAIPO, the Customs Department, Immigration Department, the International Business Unit, and taxation which would continue to play a big role in getting businesses here,” he added.