Barbados would earn a “platinum medal” should there be a prize for bureaucracy, still Barbadians must be cautious about surveys that give the island a less than favourable score as it relates to the ease of doing business, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler has warned.
Sinckler admitted that the country had “a rich history” of bureaucracy, but advised that some of the surveys ought to be viewed with a hint of suspicion because of uncertainty over who conducted them or the methodology.
Addressing the Week of Excellence 2016 seminar yesterday at the Grande Salle of the Central Bank, the bank’s Governor Dr DeLisle Worrell expressed concern about the country’s ranking in the area of labour productivity and the impact on the ease of doing business.
Worrell argued that while the island had made some progress in becoming competitive, having been ranked 55 in the world and the highest in the English speaking Caribbean in the latest global competitiveness report for 2014/2015, there was still some concern in relation to productivity.
“We have not made commensurate progress in terms of labour productivity. We have seen increases in output for each unit of labour for the past decade, but they have been only sufficient to enable us to maintain our standings in the late 40s and early 50s out of a score of 100 in the competitive ranking in the report I mentioned,” said Worrell.
“Faster growth in productivity of our labour force is necessary if we are to further improve our relative competitiveness. Increasing labour productivity is also essential to improving the living standards of our workforce.”
The senior economist said it was an issue everyone should work to resolve, adding that the problem was “especially acute” in the public service.
“In the global competitiveness report the inefficiency in our Government bureaucracy is identified as the most damaging factor for doing business in Barbados,” said Worrell.
However, Sinckler warned that “we have to be extremely careful when we enlist these generalized assumptions based by whomever, designed by whomever and concluded by whomever about the inherent, either implicit or as some people say explicit negatives of bureaucracy in Barbados”.
He said while he was not defending public sector workers, those who complained about bureaucracy were often responsible for it.
“The people who complain most of the inefficiencies of the bureaucracy are the people who create the biggest problems that cause that bureaucracy not to function effectively. And this is not to blame anybody. This is to say that we all have to take responsibility for the system,” the Minister of Finance said.
Sinckler stressed that it was time the country moves away from “anecdotal evidence” and focused on “empirical and factual” information as it relates to efficiency, productivity and competitiveness.
He added that it was critical that the private and public sectors determine the key interventions needed to address the issue of productivity, and develop the relevant systems to achieve the highest levels of efficiency.
President of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados Cedric Murrell also addressed the event and called for a national assessment of the level of productivity on the island.
Murrell urged the National Productivity Council to work with the Central Bank and the Social Partners to organize a national symposium on the impact of the cost of labour and low productivity on doing business here.
“This matter is in need of exploration, exposition and discussion if we are to identify what we have to do to make ourselves competitive in the world of business,” insisted Murrell.
The Week of Excellence is being held under the theme Continuing the Transition: Growing & Sustaining Tomorrow’s Leaders.