The business sector has welcomed the appointment of Senator Darcy Boyce as the Government assigned point man for business facilitation, saying their issues are well documented but they are eager to have them resolved.
President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) Eddie Abed said he was confident Boyce had the ability to tackle their issues head-on.
“We have already asked for a meeting with him and we are going to bring some issues that we have written to various Government ministries [and] Government ministers that have been ongoing for the past 12 months, [but] sadly there have been no results.”
While suggesting that Boyce had his work cut out for him, Abed said “we think he is an excellent choice”.
He also said the move by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to make the appointment was an indication that he too recognized that many issues, which required the cooperation of Government ministries, needed to be resolved.
“Therein lies the biggest problem. You may have one ministry willing to help but the other one dragging its feet. So we think it is a positive move,” Abed told Barbados TODAY.
Among the issues identified by private sector officials are the time it takes Government to pay Value Added Tax (VAT) and corporation tax refunds, as well as to settle payments for services rendered; the processing of applications by various Governmentagencies; and legislative and other matters that have been gazetted.
Business leaders also want to see greater use of technology within Government agencies and departments; a speeding up of the judicial system; and longer operating hours for Government.
They also want Government to resolve outstanding taxes owed by the private sector.
Executive Director of the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association (BMA) Bobbi McKay also welcomed Boyce’s appointment of Boyce as a point person to deal with business facilitation, adding that she looked forward to meeting him at his earliest convenience.
“I live this every day so whatever is put in place to make it easier I will be excited about,” said McKay.
Chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA) Alex McDonald also told Barbados TODAY his grouping was delighted to hear the news and he pledged to give Boyce whatever support he needed.
However, Chief Executive Officer of the Small Business Association (SBA) Lynette Holder pointed out that members of the private sector have been made to feel quite let down by Government in the past, despite several promises of “a significant” turnaround.
“I could only assume that maybe the Prime Minister has been getting some of the same reports and maybe he is of the view too that nothing has really happened or is happening and thus this change,” said Holder.
However, she is adopting a wait-and-see mode, given how things have been going over the years with respect to business facilitation.
“I can’t say there is any great confidence out there that you are going to see things improving rapidly. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. So it is now left to see if Senator Boyce can perform any better,” she explained.
“We really would like to see significant changes relative to the whole facilitation of business pretty much from the Government agencies and Government departments that have to interface with businesses,” said Holder, adding that key performance indicators should be developed for Government entities.
She also pointed out that the island needed to move with a degree of alacrity to improve its ease of doing business, warning that officials should not benchmark the country against other Caribbean countries that were doing better, but against other “high flyers” such as Mauritius and Singapore.