Sagicor Chairman: Consultation still relevant


“At this time when the tourism industry in Barbados is on the rebound, the fallout from the Panama papers may yet be felt by your international business sector. The need for consultation has long been clear at the regional and national level…” 
This was the view of Stephen McNamara, Chairman of Sagicor Financial Corporation, while speaking at the Barbados Employers’ Confederation (BEC) 56th AGM luncheon held at Hilton entitled ‘Consultation and Cooperation towards National Economic and Social Development’.
He affirmed, “In today’s knowledge economy, consultation has become even more relevant for business groups, for our individual companies and for our work teams. For us, the current economic and social development issues which we must confront are significant, complex and difficult.
“There is little doubt that the fiscal and debt challenges that face most Caribbean economies in an environment of sustained anemic growth are a major threat to the standards of living of our peoples. In Barbados and across the Caribbean, there are funding deficiencies for our social services, from health care to education to public transport to infrastructure maintenance. I too am aware of the difficulties a lack of funding present to your own hospital and to the University of West Indies at Cave Hill, but I understand that, in Barbados, you have started the consultations on health care funding, hopefully drawing on the lessons learnt when you made changes to university funding in 2014.”
At the same time, he identified, “the engines of economic growth in many of our countries are only sputtering along, with some probably running only on fumes. Even the country whose Prime Minister was quoted as saying that it had no intention of becoming the ATM of the Caribbean now finds itself under pressure to facilitate its own ATM withdrawals given the collapse in the price of oil”.
“The Caribbean is likely to continue to have economic challenges into 2016. To meet these challenges, each country in our region will need to focus on being both an economy and a society, where economic growth must fuel social development, especially as the ability to borrow at reasonable rates declines. The problem of low or no economic growth and reduced opportunity to borrow must therefore have a negative impact on social development. For Barbados, where economic growth is projected to be below the Caribbean average, these issues and, hence the test of Barbadian resolve, may be even more acute.” 
According to the Chairman, “there are two enduring challenges for us in the Caribbean and especially for Barbados, because you have enjoyed a high standard of living as reflected by your rating on the UN’s Human Development Index. These challenges are: In the aftermath of 2008, how do we improve – or even maintain – the standard of living of our people? And at the same time, how do we give hope to our people for achieving a vision of making the Caribbean a better place to live, work and raise a family?
“I believe that there are significant benefits associated with implementing and maintaining a national culture of consultation and cooperation. This is because stakeholder engagement often leads to greater productivity because of greater cooperation and collaboration, better and more informed decision-making and successful implementation of ideas and minimisation of stakeholder disputes. 
“However, to be effective, a consultation must: Effectively provide information to stakeholders about all key issues pertaining to the national development issue under consultation, enable different stakeholders to express their particular interests and points of view, realistically assess the socio-political and socio-economic context, and properly consider the interests of different stakeholders…” (NB)


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