Minister of Commerce, Trade and International Business Donville Inniss is calling for a shake-up at the Barbados Port Inc and the Barbados Water Authority (BWA).
And he has the backing of the private sector.
Inniss told Barbados TODAY this afternoon, he was not happy with some of the labour practices at the port and the BWA and believed that the line ministries – Tourism and Agriculture – should engage the trade unions with the aim of reviewing the way these entities function.
“Somebody has to bite the bullet and engage the unions, even if they defied us… and review the port and Water Authority. We should not see the unions as the enemy,” Inniss stated.
The government minister was speaking against the background of the ongoing challenges to business facilitation in Barbados and the high cost of living, which he suggested has a substantial part of its genesis at the port.
Minutes before a brief interview with this newspaper, he examined these issues during his address to the official opening of the first Neal & Massy combo store in Barbados and the Caribbean – the integration of the Super Centre food service and Dacosta Mannings Retail, electronic, appliances, and furniture outlet in Warrens.
“It is my considered opinion that a large, expensive and overly bureaucratic system, is an unsustainable option for small open economies, such as ours. I wish to see a vibrant, well diverse and successful private sector leading the way in this island,” added Inniss.
He noted that the government, through its “many” incentives and programmes especially targeted at the tourism, agriculture and general business sectors, is leading the process for change towards a more dynamic private sector and economy. However, he said there are some areas which had to be confronted quickly and must be done so without fear or favour.
“My ministry has continued to discuss and address issues related to Barbados’ seemingly high cost of living, and Barbados’ high cost of living high. There is undoubtedly an urgent need for us to have a national conversation about out direction as a society and as an economy,” the cabinet minister submitted.
“One of the most urgent things that we have to do in Barbados, in a relative short space of time, is to remove the high level of suspicion and distrust that exists between the public and private sectors in this island. There is really too much of an ‘us’ and ‘them’ attitude in this society, and too little of a ‘we’ mentality,” continued Inniss.
He “strongly” suggests that urgent mechanisms be found to facilitate an exchange of staff between the two sectors.
“You will be amazed at how relations will improve, once there is a better understanding of the roles on each side. An appreciation of the consequences of the private sector of public officers fearing to make a decision in a timely fashion, will help us on the public side to be more apt to work harder and in the interest of the private sector as well.”
Inniss argued that an appreciation of the rules and regulations of the state would help the private sector communicate more effectively with the government and show greater respect as well.
Chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association, John Williams welcomed the initiative announced by Minister Inniss for a restructuring of the Port and BWA.
“We have been calling for quite some time for a review of several agencies and entities in Barbados to look to get what changes are needed, to bring Barbados up to world class standards.” Williams stated.