Global hotel brand Sandals cannot be this country’s economic saviour.
That is the assessment of outspoken president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados, David Simpson, who is calling on the Social Partnership to stop all the talk and come up with comprehensive strategies that would move the country forward.
In an exclusive interview with Barbados TODAY this morning, Simpson warned that Sandals, which is investing millions of dollars in the economy through its operation of the former Almond Casuarina and Almond Beach Village, could not be enough to halt a declining tourism industry.
“The challenges remain. Tourism continues to be confronted by challenges; none of the sectors [are excluded] . . . . Government sits back and says, ‘Okay, things will get better’, and even if I take tourism as an example, we have the prospects of the Sandals coming to Barbados finally and so on. But that in itself does not say that tourism is now secure.
“There are other things that we need to do . . . to get the country moving again,” cautioned Simpson.
“I think we are at a point now where we are at a stalemate. We kind uh just sitting around the table and talking at each other, identifying problems and not able to move beyond that. The private sector is waiting on Government to do A, B or C, to improve facilitation, to provide incentives; Government is waiting on the private sector to take the lead, to take the country forward and to invest in projects; the unions are sitting back saying whatever you all do, don’t send home employees,” he noted.
However, he is suggesting that the time has come to ramp up the dialogue, where all parties come together, strategize and take the country forward.
“Save jobs, yet increase productivity, yet increase investment, yet increase overall competitiveness of the country as a whole. Until each individual realizes that they have a role to play, we are not really going to achieve that cohesiveness that we need going forward,” the ICAB leader argued.
Simpson said everybody “has to get out there and do”, but some people can come up with ideas.
“But it is left up to us at the end of the day. Just sitting an talking [won’t do it)] . . . . That is why these sessions [today’s annual general conference on moving forward –– productivity and competitiveness] are hopefully going to help to spur our membership to come up with ideas . . . . Some will then have to come up with the strategy to implement the ideas, and there are those who would actually get involved in the implementation.”
The chartered accountant was of the view that once all stakeholders looked inwardly and at the way they did things, they could find the best method of saving the country from further decline.
Simpson, who had minutes before addressed his institute’s 20th annual conference at Hilton Barbados Resort, told Barbados TODAY that Barbados had lost the hard work and innovation which citizens demonstrated years ago.
“. . . To be quite honest, in hindsight, it was not as critical as it is today, because in earlier years we were more assured of getting the tourists, getting to some extent international business from the Canadian jurisdiction, [but] in today’s environment, all of that is not guaranteed to us.”
As a result of this state of affairs, the ICAB president submitted, citizens now had to work much harder, to be more entrepreneurial, creative and innovative in how the problems are tackled in order to bring back that competitiveness to Barbados. He said the Government was not the one to be productive or competitive, but rather to lay the foundation and infrastructure by which sustainable growth and development could be achieved.