Barbados’ growth and development will have to be essentially private sector led.
Former Prime Minister and parliamentary representative for St Peter, Owen Arthur, made this observation today while addressing members of the Press in Parliament Building, The City.
Arguing that Barbados is facing an economic challenge of unprecedented proportions, Arthur said: “The time has come when there has to be a multiplicity of actions. One of those essential actions must be that which has not yet happened. The private sector itself has to put before the country the elements which, if implemented, will allow for private sector growth and development. That has to be done. Rather than the private sector just responding to Government, it has to come forward and say these are the things that will at this time suffice to enable Barbados to have private sector growth and development.
“It is essential for another for another reason. A lot of the workers who are going home from the public sector will never again have public sector jobs. We need to see that in this adversity there can be an opportunity. I am not saying that it is a good thing thing that workers are going home, but in governing a country, you have convert disaster into opportunity. “The private sector, in addition to putting together a strategy for development, it must meet with the financial sector and come up with financial innovations.
All across the world a lot of the economic activity is being generated by small and micro-businesses,” the former Prime Minister added.
Arthur, who was the Minister of Finance for 14 years, recalled that during his administration he had created Fund Access and the Enterprise Growth Fund to provide capital for small business people.
“A lot of people who are going home cannot be expected to go home and suck salt.
“Many should be put in a position to use any severance money they receive as seed money for investment. There is now scope for an expanded role for Fund Access and the Enterprise Growth Fund. As the government is speaking about sending home people, it should be thinking positively of capitalizing these two agencies. There should be a working relationship between these institutions and the rest of the financial sector,” the St Peter MP explained.
Taking a look at the recent position taken by commercial banks as it relates to temporary public workers, Arthur said: “ I am very disturbed when I hear at least one commercial bank saying that it will not be extending credit to temporary workers. It should not be saying that at this time. It should be meeting with the private sector to look at financial innovations. Unless this happens Barbados is going to be in a very,
very terrible situation.”