Editorial: Step up to the plate
WITH the shrinking of the Government sector as a result of the plans to reposition the economy, the private sector in Barbados is being challenged to step up to the plate and play a more active role in economic growth and development.
he programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) calls for the scaling down of the public sector, a process that has already started with the shedding of public sector jobs. The Prime Minister, Honourable Mia Amor Mottley has told the country that no more than 1 500 persons will be released from the Government sector.
One does not expect that all of these will find employment in private sector. Even before this, and more so now after the start of the IMF programme, some analysts have been calling for the business community to undertake projects that will see them employing more people. This is the only way it can be done. A report from the Central Bank of Barbados news conference on the performance of the economy, quoted the Bank’s Governor, Mr. Cleviston Haynes as suggesting that the private sector should employ some of those who are being made redundant by the Government. He said that once the private sector companies come up with new investments, there is always the chance that some of the workers released from the public sector could find employment on those projects.
It is also a matter that for this to happen, the business community would want the hiccups facing companies, either reduced or eradicated altogether, so that they can get along with the task of making more meaningful contributions to the economy. Bureaucratic issues have always been a setback for investors looking to pursue opportunities in Barbados. This point was taken up recently by the Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, The Honourable Dwight Sutherland, when he addressed the annual general meeting of the Barbados Chapter of the Caribbean Institute of Certified Management Consultants (CICMC). Mr. Sutherland said that there are still too many delays preventing investors from going forward with their plans. He has remarked that because of these delays and other hiccups, this country was losing millions of dollars in investment which, if allowed, would redound to the benefit of the economy.
From the comments and the concerns raised by the Minister, it appears that we in Barbados are our worst enemies and only have ourselves to blame for this state of affairs. Over the years economic policy making has focused on promoting the start up of new private sector initiatives while companies themselves have look to expand in order to take advantage of demands in the market place. Incentives such as tax waivers and similar initiatives have been used to woo investments.
Right now there are a number of private sector projects waiting to get off the ground once approval is given, so that the investors can get to work in providing both the jobs and more economic output to benefit the economy. The Government has reminded us about the proposed Sandals project planned for St. Peter, and another to be undertaken by Sagicor Financial Corporation in the Boarded Hall, St. George area, as likely to get started in the new year. The private sector generally looks for opportunities and once they are there, then they will go after them.