President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) Tracey Shuffler is warning authorities and business leaders to do all they can to restore the island’s reputation as a safe place to do business, in light of a recent spate of robberies.
“The people of this country may be under considerable financial and social pressures but our global reputation for civility, the undergirding of our economy and social stability, must not be squandered,” Shuffler warned in her BCCI October Newsletter.
She pointed out that some five years ago when it was noted that Barbadians underestimated the appeal of the island as a “relatively safe haven for business operations”, it did not occur that it would become necessary to protect that reputation some years on.
“Whatever the level of crime in a country, the public alarm seems directly related to how accustomed or unaccustomed we are to such incidents. Truly this recent level of gun related crime and robbery has come as a shock to many Barbadians, particularly citizens who have no other point of reference like those who may have lived in other countries in the region and beyond in which robbery and gun violence is a more common part of the landscape,” Shuffler said.
She recalled speaking with some regional investors earlier this year, who were looking to potentially invest in Barbados. Shuffler said they were aware of the “sluggish economy” and they knew the projected growth rates were not impressive but they felt they had a business formula that would work and which would allow them an acceptable return.
“Then came the discussion about security. ‘This is a stable country, it has its challenges but we feel safe when we do business here. We can’t say the same for home’. While I won’t say to which country they refer as home, the message is clear; in Barbados we have had a plus when it comes to security of business assets. Our staff, our customers and our physical assets are paramount to business growth and development and must be able to be kept safe,” Shuffler cautioned.
And stating that while the regional and global competitiveness indices do not often site security as a measurement component, Shuffler said it weighed “heavily” in the consideration of many investors “and we cannot afford to lose what has been a hallmark of Barbadian stability”.
She said the BCCI was doing what it could to help protect the island’s reputation as a safe place to do business, and pointed out that several partnerships have been formed including those with LED Lighting, to improve lighting especially in The City.
“We look forward to a launch of this initiative shortly so do stay tuned,” Shuffler said.
“The Chamber also continues to work with the Royal Barbados Police Force officials in advising our members to do all that they can within their control to minimize the security risks in their businesses,” she added.
Shufller urged business operators to, wherever possible, ensure lighting was adequate on and around their premises, use cameras in “vulnerable areas” and as required within the operations of the company, employ the services of well-trained security personnel both to protect people on the compound and the premises; use professionals for cash transport and deposits; train employees in cash and valuables handling in operations; as well as work with police officials to enhance all aspects of security related to their business.
The Chamber president also advised that where possible business operators participate in community activities and ensure that their business are allies to their security efforts.