Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) James Paul is placing blame for the island’s economic challenges squarely at the feet of the private sector.
The ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) parliamentarian, speaking yesterday at the rebranding of poultry processing company Star Chick, singled out “a core group” for reprimand.
Paul again criticized importers who, he said, continued to bring in foreign poultry products even though domestic poultry farmers had the capacity to satisfy local demand.
“We hear a lot of discussions in the private sector as to what it would take to right-size this economy. What a lot of them in the private sector do not tell you too is that by and large we are in this position today because of the behaviours we have in the private sector,” the BAS head said.
“The fact is that we have a core group of persons in our private sector who in spite of the challenges we face today; in spite of the fact that they are aware that they have contributed to the problem in no small measure, refuse to change their behaviours,” he added.
Paul said there were people in Barbados who preferred to sit on $1 million in the banks and get one per cent interest rather than use that money to employ some young people.
“This is essentially the problem in Barbados. The private sector can no longer sit around and expect the Government to go out there and borrow money to bring into the country. By and large, that is why the deficit is where it is,” he said.
At the same time, Paul lauded the economic contribution made by Chief Executive Officer of Star Chick Wendell Clarke who he said made the bold step not only of investing in the physical plant, but in providing gainful employment for young people who needed a chance to develop.
The DLP backbencher maintained that Government should not be borrowing money from international agencies to give to importers who then use these funds to import goods that create jobs for workers in other countries.
Paul stressed that local producers did not operate on a level playing field in international markets, pointing out that in some cases metropolitan farmers benefited from tariff protection of over 300 per cent.
In a brief interview with Barbados TODAY, Clarke contended that there was no excuse for the importation of poultry products since local chicken was cheaper than imported chicken.
The Star Chick CEO questioned why the state-run Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC) should be importing chicken after it had played a role in nurturing the local poultry industry.
He contended: “The BADMC should be at the stage of buying product from the local farmers and exporting it. It should also be buying the product from the farmers for distribution islandwide.”