Instead of blaming global problems for the below par performance of international business, Government needs to deal with the fact that major problems facing that sector are located on shore in Barbados.
Shadow Minister of Industry, Commerce and International Business, Kerrie Symmonds, said chief among these challenges was the fact that Barbados was now without a strategic plan for the industry, with the most recent one expiring last year.
And while agreeing with Minister of Industry, International Business Commerce and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss, that there was a need for product development, the St. James Central MP said another big problem was that the main marketing agency, Invest Barbados, was a failure. He was speaking in the House of Assembly last night as members debated the international business portfolio budget.
Symmonds said while Prime Minister Freundel Stuart located the sector’s problems in the international market place “the truth of the matter is that if we are going to be candid with ourselves and make a useful exercise out of this head and the deliberations on this head, then we’ve got to begin with the realities which are inescapable”.
“Many of the challenges facing the sector are not only international, but rather are
homegrown and must be wrestled to the ground… One of the areas of concern for the Opposition … is the fact that the strategic plan needs to be replaced in order to give guidance to the sector,” he stated.
“That schizophrenia once corrected allows us to have a new strategic focus which will therefore enable Barbados to better recognise the goal of transforming the international business sector into one which drives the economy.
“We feel that while tourism obviously has its limitations there is boundless potential in the international business sector. The sector, however, Sir, has to develop a suite of products … which meet a constantly changing environment.
“But before we get there we have to deal with the structural issues located locally. It is clear that the first concern which we have to relate to is the way in which the Invest Barbados operates and has operated,” he added. The Barbados Labour Party spokesman said it was clear Inniss had made a number of casual and superficial observations and had not yet “come up to speed with the structural reform, which is necessary”.
“First of all it is necessary to understand that when the Barbados Labour Party was in office at every stage of the game there was a strategic plan to guide the sector, purely because it was felt and continues to be necessary that you had to have all of the stakeholders, investors and policymakers speaking or singing from the same hymn sheet…,” he stated.
“You have potential investors speaking to one set of concerns, stakeholders speaking to another set of concerns, policy makers trying to respond and, in the case of this Government, not satisfactorily responding to the concerns which are being raised domestically and internationally.” (SC)