Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler has described the way international agencies carry out evaluation of economies as “disingenuous”. And Sinckler has made it clear he was not particularly pleased with the World Bank’s Doing Business 2015 Report, which ranks Barbados 106 with 60.57 points out of 189 countries.
This ranking, which is benchmarked to June 2014, has placed Barbados in a worse position than its Caribbean neighbours Jamaica which is ranked 58th; Trinidad and Tobago (79th); The Bahamas (97th); and St Lucia ranked 100th.
The areas measured included paying of taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts, resolving insolvency, protecting minority investors, getting credit, getting electricity, registering property, dealing with construction permits and starting a business.
Stating that the report was intended to be a measure of “how easy it is and how flexible it is to do business across different jurisdictions”, Sinckler said like other ministers of finance he had “some challenges” with the design and execution of the measure.
“We do have some challenges in the way in which that particular measure is designed and executed – the weightings and the comparisons and so forth and so on – because it is really a little disingenuous to try to have 180 somebody different jurisdictions and to try to apply some standard measure across them, when laws, norms, cultures and otherwise are different, without the appropriate weightings for the rating system you achieve,” argued Sinckler.
“But of course universal ratings is something that we have. We have it with the S&Ps [Standard & Poor’s] and the Moody’s and all these people who do their thing. And of course when you question them then they can’t give you satisfactory answers as to how they recalibrate the system to give recognition to the challenges which we are having,” he said.
Sinckler took specific issue with the measure of dealing with construction permits in the Doing Business Report, which looks at the “procedures, time and cost to complete all formalities to build a warehouse”.
The minister said he was “quite intrigued because when we had a conference call for the people who were responsible for it” they did not specify the type of warehouse.
The study does not cover some areas including security, state of the financial system, market size, macroeconomic stability, level of training and skills of the labour force, prevalence of bribery and corruption, among other areas.
Explaining that the time for approval of a warehouse to store shoes for example, would be different to that of a warehouse for storing chemicals, Sinckler argued that more factors would have to be taken into consideration for the latter including a longer time for evaluation.
“So how can you say that it takes this amount of time in Barbados to do a warehouse but do not say what type of warehouse? And then match it against another country and say ‘this country gets in done in three weeks but Barbados takes three months’, when you have not said what type of warehouse it is [and] where this warehouse is located,” he said.
Sinckler was addressing the opening of the two-day Public Sector Leadership conference at the Hilton Barbados Resort today on the topic, Overcoming the Implementation Deficit: From Planning to Performance.
At the end of the conference local, regional and international participants are hoping to identify best practices for implementation, challenges facing the region and possible solutions. (MM)