Lalu N. Vaswani President, Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry
As we welcome the dawn of a New Year, the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry wishes all Barbadians a year filled with opportunity, unity and prosperity. We have, as a country, been enduring a protracted period of economic difficulties which in part were sourced in external circumstances and some from within as well. The private sector has been endeavouring, along with the cooperation of its social partners, to sustain employment levels and foreign exchange earnings by seeking out opportunities for savings from productivity gains and improved management of its resources.
However, for many, accumulated reserves as well as profits are down as a consequence of the ongoing rise in energy costs and reduced demand for product and services. The BCCI urges all businesses to find innovative means of sustaining profitable business activity and avoid, wherever possible, reliance on reducing staff levels to contain costs. Equally to Government, we reiterate our recent advocacy to seriously consider the critical necessity, of phasing in over a reasonable time, any new legislation that will have the effect of raising operating costs at this difficult time. Presently, the overriding consideration to promote stability should be to maintain and sustain employment levels rather than making it more difficult for the businesses and professional firms to do so. In addition, judiciously stimulating economic activity will have the dual benefit of sustaining employment as well as enhancing Government revenues in terms of national insurance, income and value added tax from both individuals and business/professional entities.
Improved business facilitation in key agencies such as planning, immigration and customs would result in increased foreign direct investments and new jobs for our International Business and Construction sectors. Conversely, long delays result in investments going elsewhere. Support for our tourism sector on which the nation relies for vital foreign exchange is essential. Staycations and encouraging our Caribbean neighbours to visit can greatly assist in earning and conserving foreign exchange. Every person’s effort is invaluable. Our strength is in our unity. Let us all play our part. †