A regional business magnate is confident that Barbados has what it takes to correct its “unfortunate” economic conditions.
President and chief executive officer of the Massy Group of Companies Gervase Warner said the island had some projects that could play a critical role in taking the country out of the current economic doldrums.
However, he said there was need for more aggressive promotion of the island in order to attract the needed investment.
Warner made the point in an interview shortly after Group’s rebranding exercise at the Dome Mall in Warrens last evening.
“We are trying to play our role in terms of attracting more investment into Barbados; we are trying to encourage some of the projects to get started. We are involved in at least two projects. We sold the [Almond] Beach Village property to the Government and the Government is now trying to sell that property to Sandals,” he noted, adding that “ if a project happens there, that would be a fantastic thing.
“It will not only bring capital investment in construction, but it will also bring a lot of employment. So I think that is a high priority project for Barbados,” said Warner.
“We own a lot of property at the Pierhead and it’s many years that nothing has happened at the Pierhead. I know the Government is intent on building a marina there.
“We are patiently waiting to see what will happen with that but I think that is another opportunity to attract investment,” he added.
Pointing out that those were long-term investments, Warner said there were many people who would be willing to get involved.
“There are people with a long-term view who would say ‘okay, in this downturn is a good time to build, I can get workers, I can get concessions on bringing in materials duty free and so on’. So it is a good time to actually look for projects like that that can attract foreign investment,” he said.
He added: “Because Barbados remains a gorgeous country [with] fantastic people, [and] its assets, environment is fantastic, it is a great place for people to want to come but we [have] to create a climate that is attractive to investment,” Warner stressed.
“That means we have to go out and promote Barbados as an investment destination that is serious. And a part of that is, I think, doing what we need to do here in Barbados to address the economic crisis and economic challenges that we have as a country.
“Clearly the Government has a lot of ideas, the Government is trying to do its best but I certainly do recognise that more has to be done and we have to do it faster. I say we because I feel I share ownership here in Barbados. We are a part of Barbados too.”
The businessman also called for greater collaboration between CARICOM member states, saying there was “thick bureaucracy” and too much “sovereign pride” in each territory that was not constructive.
Warner said the region should learn from what some Latin American countries have done in creating closer trade ties.
“We are just killing ourselves. We are behaving like we are so separate and independent and creating these walls up against one another and not realising that there are millions and millions of people around us collaborating with one another and growing and pushing their economies forward while we continue to have this sibling rivalry among ourselves and not finding a way to better collaborate with one another. It is unfortunate,” he said.
“What we are doing is that we are looking at some of these other territories and we are going out there and starting businesses and buying businesses in Central and Latin America and we think that is going to present an important growth opportunity, and perhaps the governments might follow us,” added Warner.