Small Business Development Minister Donville Inniss has called for the island to aim for a six percent economic growth per annum, with more opportunities made available to young entrepreneurs.
Inniss threw out the challenge one day after Central Bank Governor Dr DeLisle Worrell reported 0.5 percent economic growth in 2015 and made projections for 1.8 percent this year.
Dr Worrell also forecasted that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will expand by 1.7 percent on average over the next five years, peaking at about two percent in 2017 when major tourism projects are expected to be completed.
According to the Central Bank report, tourism and construction remain the main contributors to economic growth.
Addressing the official launch of the Enhanced Credit Guarantee Fund last evening, Inniss said small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)can also contribute to economic development, and there are a number of factors that could help grow the sector.
“I only [on Wednesday] said to the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation, ‘look, I am tired of all of the consultancies we have around here. Everybody hires a consultant to study the last consultant’s report that has not been read by the previous consultant. We really need to get things done and stop talking, so find a building somewhere in your industrial estate that we can renovate.
“We can get the partners in telecoms companies and industries in Barbados to provide the facilities where our young, entrepreneurial creative minds can come and function uninhibited. Where they can come and unleash their full potential, developing apps and doing whatever they wish to do, without having the burden of thinking about a couple thousand dollars in rent per month and all the administrative costs,” he said.
“If we don’t do things that are bold and creative then we are just going to keep drifting along and the government is going to keep saying we are aiming for two per cent growth of the economy, when we really need about six per cent growth per annum to keep it going.”
He said his ministry would be issuing a new policy guideline for the sector that would soon be laid “in the public domain”.
At the same time, Inniss told the gathering his ministry was working closely with industry partners including the Central Bank and the Small Business Association (SBA) to “bring clarity as to the definition of the micro and small enterprise sector” here.
“Preliminary indication to date is that this sector, as we currently define it, is contributing about 30 per cent to the GDP of Barbados, which is indeed significant. However it really does not get the level of recognition and respect that is needed,” said Inniss.