Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss is standing in defence of private sector investors, saying they should not be bashed but welcomed with open arms.
And he said he would continue to stick up for those investing in the island, even if his political friends and foes did not agree.
“I am not stating that we must allow developers to do as they please, but we certainly must not go to the other extreme in making their investments feel most unwelcomed,” he said at the opening of the One Welches building in Welches, St Thomas late last week.
Expressing his annoyance at “obstructionists” who seek to put stumbling blocks in the way of major physical development projects, Inniss added: “I note that most of the recent critics of significant real estate development projects have themselves never created a job for one person on this island.”
Speaking about the One Welches development specifically, the minister said there would have been detractors, noting that in 2016 no commercial building should be more than two storeys high and should be at least a mile away from residences.
He suggested that some may even argue that the development may hinder a UNESCO inscription some 100 years from now.
However, Inniss welcomed the project.
“On behalf of the architects, the builders, big and small contractors, the electrical team, the plumbers, the painters, window manufacturers, tillers, landscape designers, the truckers who delivered the building materials, the ladies who sold food from their vans to energize the workers and all who laboured here, I say thank you to the developers,” he said.
“I am not ungrateful. I fully appreciate that many families had their lives enhanced due to the opportunities presented to them from this project.”
One Welches, which is the first Regus Business Centre not only in Barbados but the Caribbean, has been designed to provide an elegant, modern, corporate image in a “barrier free” environment.
“Having done such an impressive building it is only fitting that you are able to attract equally fitting tenants,” Inniss said. “Anchored by world-class accounting and advisory services firm Ernst & Young, and supported by Tricor, Regus, First Citizens Investment and Carib LPG, this building well reflects a modern corporate Barbados that is island flavoured but internationally focused.”
His comments come in the wake of the recent controversy surrounding the proposed Hyatt hotel project.
The 15-storey luxury property is due to be built within the heritage site on Bay Street, The City. However, social activist and attorney-at-law David Comissiong has objected to its construction and has threatened to take legal action to stop the hotel if the project is not subjected to a comprehensive environmental impact assessment. Comissiong has contended that the hotel will have implications for the environmental well-being of the City of Bridgetown and its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Barbados National Trust (BNT), which is represented on the Barbados World Heritage Committee, has also objected to the project, fearing its construction would cause Barbados to lose its crucial World Heritage designation for the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison and put it on the “danger list”.