Tony Walcott Executive Director of the Barbados Employer’s Confederation
As we come to the close of 2012, it is useful for us to take a retrospective look at the year and use any lessons derived therefrom to chart our path for 2013 and beyond.
By all measures, 2012 was another challenging year for most employers in Barbados as the protracted global financial and economic instability exacerbated the jobs crisis. Within the Social Partnership, efforts continued to minimise the amount of redundancies in the business sectors by developing creative solutions designed to keep as many persons gainfully employed as was possible.
While the most recent unemployment statistics reflect a level hovering around 12 per cent, it must be recognised that within the numbers officially classified as employed, there is an element currently on extended periods of reduced hours.
The Central Bank of Barbados review for the period ended September 30, 2012 was well ventilated and the release of the Moody’s Investor Service report just before Christmas 2012 have both generated robust public discussion; those discussions will not be repeated here.
As we move into 2013, the most significant national challenges to be addressed are:
1. The burgeoning national debt;
2. The need for tighter fiscal consolidation;
3. The need for aggressive national strategies to restore fiscal discipline;
4. The need for significant restraint in wage demands.
At the level of the organisation, greater emphasis needs to be placed on improving individual and corporate efficiency and productivity, if we are to lift national productivity and enhance our international, regional and local competitiveness; let us work smarter!
Current world economic outlook and forecasts suggest that sustained recovery is unlikely for another 18-24 months; this will have significant negative impacts on our key foreign exchange earnings sectors of tourism and international financial services. Foreign direct investment inflows are expected to continue at relatively low levels, further compounding our foreign exchange receipts challenges.
While the outlook remains challenging, we must approach the coming year with confidence in our own abilities to be the change we want to see! Innovation has to be a key pillar in our strategies as the environment around us evolves rapidly and it will be no longer “business as usual”. We must make greater use of and embrace the rapidly changing Information and Communications Technologies.
We must not fear change, but embrace it as necessary for our long term survival and prosperity.
We must adopt a “can do” attitude; nothing is impossible!
We at the confederation look forward to working with you in 2013 and beyond as we seek to support your efforts to get your organisations ready for the inevitable changes that lie ahead.†