It will take more than sweet sounding proposals and policies to transform Barbados’ current economic woes into recovery and sustained growth.
What the country needs and has been lacking in the tenure of the Democratic Labour Party administration, St. James Central MP Kerrie Symmonds said, was the ability to implement important measures.
The Barbados Labour Party Shadow Minister of Industry, Commerce and International Business pointed this shortcoming out last evening as he contributed to the Estimates Debate in the House of Assembly.
He said Government was facing the “dilemma” of not just being able to formulate programmes and policies but ensuring they were acted on and their intended target audience benefitted.
“I don’t think that there is any shortage of evidence that the Government is capable and competent to come up with the intellectual crystalisation of useful programmes, but the difficulty, Sir, seems to lie in the capacity to implement,” Symmonds said.
‘Teased and tempted’
“It is a reality from which I do not think we can easily shrink. It is not the first time that I have heard the Honourable Minister of Finance come to this chamber and regale this House with promises and commitments that Government is dedicated to Barbados’ long term economic growth, and by extension he has teased and tempted and I think also frustrated the listening public when he speaks to the issue of economic restructuring.
“There is no doubt in my mind that it is a fundamental concern for this country, but we have also to understand and accept that we can’t just persistently speak to it, but the time has come when we have to point to tangible deliverables.
“There is no doubt, Sir, that Barbados and more importantly the productive sectors of this economy and the enterprises making up the productive sectors, and the individuals who in their own right play a role in those enterprises, see themselves as standing on the tip of the toenail of time,” he added.
Time for action
The BLP representative said at this critical juncture in the island’s development no one could afford to “continue to just continue to talk about these things”.
To illustrate his point, the Opposition MP told the House that in the August 2011 Budgetary Proposals Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler said the Cultural Industries Bill “was now ready” and was expected to be debated by the end of that year.
Another example, was a promised $50 million funding due to start last year to “support promotional, marketing and distribution efforts outside of Barbados for Barbdaian musicians, artists, designers and chefs”.
“There can be no quarrel in the world with that in my judgment; I think, Sir, that the creative industries is a compelling and attractive sector, that it represents in a real way a new economy in Barbados, it represents in a real way the future of foreign exchange earnings for micro small and medium enterprises in this country,” Symmonds stated.
“It therefore cries out for the kind of financing that the Minister of Finance talked about. Now what I have been unable to find … is any evidence that suggests that this programme today has been implemented and the funds are attainable by practitioners.”
The parliamentarian said the above and other cases was “clear evidence” of “opportunities that have been discussed ad nauseam but that we have to come to the point of implementation”.
“That is not a partisan point, that is a point that says that Barbadian public out there, who in their wisdom created a virtual dead heat in this House are saying to us that we have to work together to make sure that obstacles and hurdles and impediments to their development, are removed,” he noted. (SC)