Government’s new business minister has presented his to-do list to the local private sector, singling out job creation, earning and saving of foreign exchange, and a focus on innovation as among his top priorities.
But Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss, who invited members of the Barbados Chamber of Industry and Commerce to have candid and frequent talks with him, warned that these and other required improvements could falter if workers didn’t produce more and the island did not become more business friendly.
The official made the comments this morning while speaking at a “Meet the Minister” function organised by the chamber at Hilton Barbados.
“Generally speaking there are basically three tasks that lie ahead in this ministry in working with you in the private sector, and that is to work on expansion of job opportunities in Barbados, to bring to the fore greater opportunities for earning foreign exchange and also saving foreign exchange and of course the issue of innovation, which is one that we don’t talk a lot about, but certainly is very critical for us as we move this economy forward,” Inniss said.
He told business leaders that he was seeking “a partnership and a team approach to addressing the challenges confronting businesses in Barbados”, pointing out that “certainly in this reconfigured ministry I have been given the task of serving as Government’s … liaison between the state and private sector”.
“It cuts both ways because of course the private sector must use this ministry to get their message across. We will not agree on everything and we will have our differences but certainly … we must do what is considered to be in the best interest of Barbados.”
One of the minister’s biggest concerns was the impact of productivity on business success and what it meant for the overall economy.
“Human resource concerns must also be put on the table. At the end of the day we are a service oriented economy and we need to ensure that productivity is maximum wherever, both the state and private sector and this is an issue that we have to address,” he stated.
“I am very concerned as a minister about the level of productivity in this economy and society and it cuts both ways. It’s a matter of how we manage our businesses and state departments, it’s also a matter of employees recognising that if they don’t produce at the end of the day they are not going to be guaranteed an income.
“Let me say that I believe going forward there has to be not just a more robust discussion but a more enlightened discussion between labour and capital in Barbados. I think that our labour leaders are rational and therefore I expect that they will conduct themselves in a manner that is not harmful to this society.”
Inniss told the private sector representatives that he was also “mindful of the economic challenges that continue to confront this society and you are certainly the ones who are in the forefront”.
“It has not been an easy five years for any of us, either on my side – the state side – or your side – the private sector – but we have to move towards the future, and I am mindful generally speaking that some of the challenges that confront the business community in Barbados relate to the issue of business facilitation, which has to be addressed in a very frontal manner, no sense burying our heads in the sand on this matter,” he stated.
“The issue is also about bringing clarity to Government policies. It’s no sense saying one thing in Parliament and then finding out that you have major hurdles in achieving what the Minister of Finance or the Government may state in terms of [its] policies going forward. (SC)