Ownership of local firms by foreigners is hindering the country’s progress towards alleviating poverty, argues President of the umbrella Barbados Co-operative Business Association Oriel Doyle.
Doyle said today it was necessary for the island to do more to alleviate poverty in order to meet the first of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on the 2030 agenda, which is to end poverty in all its forms.
However, he contended that Barbados was not doing well when it came to addressing poverty and ensuring that more men and women, especially the poor and vulnerable, had equal rights to economic resources and access to basic services.
“We need to demonstrate a greater effort in exercising control over our resources be it in financial or otherwise. There are those among us who believe that local entities must be owned and controlled by those who are foreign to this country. That thinking has led to massive layoffs [and] reduced personal savings. Eventually this will lead to a loss of capital either by way of dividends or earnings by various sectors or our economy not reaching our shores at all,” Doyle told the media at a news conference to announce the programme for the June 29 to July 2 International Co-operators Day on July 2, 2016.
The theme this year is Co-operatives: The Power to Act for a Sustainable Future.
“Just this week we were made aware of pending layoffs from a company that was once proudly locally owned and despite the fact that the same company recorded significant profits both at year end and first quarter. This begs the question, had this company remained in Barbadians hands would these layoffs have occurred?”
He did not name the company but he was thought to be referring to Banks Holdings Limited which announced two days ago that it would place 48 employees on the breadline due to “integration and alignment processes” by the company.
This came six months after the local brewery was acquired by Ab InBev, a subsidiary of Brazilian brewing company Ambev.
Doyle said it was fair to conclude that the impact of acquisitions of local firms by overseas ones “has not been as positive as we had hoped”.
“Because in most instances when we see foreign entities taking over local organizations, within months the first main activity is layoffs, followed by what they term as restructuring.
“But truth and in fact it is really creating an environment where people are losing jobs, unable to provide for their families and creating additional pressure on the social services. So we need to rethink the approach that is being pursued at the moment,” he stressed.
While he could not immediately say what the current level of poverty was in Barbados, Doyle maintained he was not satisfied the island was moving fast enough to alleviate poverty.
On International Co-operators Day participants will have the opportunity to learn more about the co-operatives on the island, as they take part in a parade through Bridgetown and a fair and entertainment at Pelican Village.