It is the month of January – the month that many people think of good practices they can continue; goals both personal and professional that can be accomplished; and things they need to change in an effort to improve their lives. This tradition of creating New Year’s resolutions is not new, as every new year holds endless possibilities that we can capitalise on.
Now, we can decide to make it the best it can be, or let the chips fall where they may. But being only into the second full week of this new year, it is not too late to make a conscious decision to do things differently, and to work towards actually achieving them. In respect of the latter, given the state of the world economy and predictions that it could again be headed for a recession, coupled with the challenges we have been experiencing locally, perhaps we Barbadians should make our new year’s resolutions a little less personal, and a lot more nationalistic.
To the Government, we say that while we do not have any control over matters such as Brexit, and the tensions between the United States and Iran, these are matters we must watch closely if we are to ensure that this country can withstand any shocks that may result from those types of situations. Certainly the powers that be must look in this year ahead, at how to minimise the impact that may be felt in this country, given our heavy reliance on imports and tourists to survive.
It is important, too, that we see in this year ahead, steps taken to reduce the high unemployment levels among Barbadians in general and certainly our young people – who if they are not finding productive ways to spend their time, may find themselves in bad company and resorting to crime and violence to help make ends meet. As one of our national resolutions, we would like to see even more emphasis placed on small businesses and entrepreneurship, giving persons additional opportunities to earn a legitimate living while contributing to the rebuilding of our economy.
Government should also resolve to find a way to reduce the impact of taxation on the people. Everyone appreciates that we are under an International Monetary Fund programme and it will not be feasible to cut all taxes, but efforts must be made to ease the burden, especially on those on the lower rungs of socio-economic ladder, who cannot afford to pay any more taxes.
Now on the matter of spend which is needed to help stimulate the economy, it is imperative that where possible, efforts are made to support the local productive sectors even more, particularly as it relates to manufacturing and agriculture. These sectors must re-evaluate themselves and try to find ways and means of encouraging the local consumers to recognise the value in what they have to offer. There are still too many Barbadians for example that have no idea the range of products that are made right here in Barbados, products that we
perhaps thought were imported from some country far away from these shores.
As a people, we have to recognise that there is a correlation between buying local products and keeping our fellow Barbadians employed. Manufacturing, while employing people directly, also supports perhaps more than twice the number that work in businesses in that sector. So what the stakeholders in the sector should have as one of their resolutions, is not only to attract interest from within, but outside as well. With talk of embracing the African continent and trading with countries like Ghana, there is an opportunity to take Barbados to new heights. Ghana for example has over 30 million people living there and Africa a whopping 1.216 billion people, that is a market that we cannot afford to ignore.