Privatisation is the key to the improvement of service delivery in Barbados.
That’s the position of Chairman of the Private Sector Association, John Williams, as expressed last night while participating in a panel discussion on the topic: The Outsourced and Contract Worker: The New Road to Privatisation in Barbados.
He said he saw privatisation as an attempt to improve the quality of services offered, while at the same time reducing the cost to central government.
Williams said he believed that Government should focus its energy on core services such as law and order and the more vulnerable persons in the society.
“So I do not see privatisation as selling the family silver. Government needs to refocus. You will notice that on the international scene that companies that get very diverse they come back to focus on what is core to their mandate.
“I think it is important that Government considers that as well. Does the Government mandate include the importation of onions and potatoes? I would really question that,” Williams said.
Williams suggested that if state agencies were better run the current discussion on privatisation would not have arisen.
He, however, acknowledged that he had seen Government departments and agencies blossomed under good management and direction, but he still maintained that there were too many unable to make that transition.
The chairman of the Private Sector Association asked: “Can Barbados stay as is?”
“Today we started the Estimates. We have a deficit of $1.2 billion. We are collecting $2.6 billion in revenue, but spending $3.8 billion. To me that is not six or eight per cent — that is 50 per cent. We have to do something in this country,” he warned.
Addressing the sale of local assets, Williams argued that the country must avoid selling key national assets to non-nationals or to preferred persons.
Williams pointed out that as far as he was concerned a private monopoly with poor service was equally as bad as a public monopoly offering poor service.
Dismissing the current fear of being laid off because of privatisation, Williams argued that there were many avenues that can be exploited by an enterprising individual.
Referring to the upkeep of roundabouts and verges, Williams maintained that privatisation involved doing more with fewer people, rather than doing less with more people. (NC)†