Having closed the Barbados Development Bank (BDB) at the end of 1996 as part of restructuring of the financial sector, former Prime Minister Owen Arthur today called for the establishment of a new and improved BDB “or whatever you call it”.
Arthur, a foremost regional economist, said international economic circumstances had changed making it necessary for a new development finance institution to fund new enterprises on the island.
He told the Lower Chamber that when his Barbados Labour Party assumed office in 1994 it found the BDB “trading as a technically bankrupt institution. We had to close it”.
The former Prime Minister said the Enterprise Growth Fund and Fund Barbados were subsequently created for financing of business ventures, but now was the time to build on their successes.
“There is a need to first of all integrate those two institutions that were created by the Barbados Labour Party and to be able to capitalize properly a new Barbados Development Bank, or whatever you call it to fund the creation of new enterprise in this country,” Arthur said in his contribution to debate on the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (Amendment) Bill 2016 aimed at increasing the size of the BIDC’s Board of Directors.
He suggested that the new funding agency should tap into a database of laid-off public sector workers who have no chance of regaining their former employment but possess skills and abilities needed for financing business ventures.
Arthur also gave the private sector a stern warning to stop looking for handouts and lead the island’s economy with its own business plan.
“The private sector of Barbados’ greatest skill has been to be to call for the Government to do things. But the time has come for the private sector of Barbados to be able to put in one place its own concept of a private sector-conceived, driven and implemented strategy. And that has been missing,” he said.
He called for a review of the manufacturing and industrial sector to determine whether it has the capacity to be the economic driving force, and an examination of the factors that have been retarding the progress of the industrial sector.
“We can only have industrialization in Barbados in the future if the private sector itself has a concept of private sector growth, central to which is fitting Barbadian private sector into the global supply and value chain,” he suggested.