A stagnating economy and difficulty with financing costs have placed Barbadian businesses “in a holding pattern”, making growth difficult, according to the man charged with overseeing the development of business here.
Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss said small and medium-size businesses were the hardest hit.
“Businesses generally speaking, particularly domestic businesses – micro, small and medium enterprises and larger businesses – have found themselves somewhat in a holding pattern challenged with an economy that is not growing, challenged with a market that is not expanding rapidly, challenged with financing costs and such like, but yet still a business that is pretty resilient,” Inniss said as he reflected on 2016.
The minister said he was optimistic that things would improve in the New Year. However, he said growth would only be achieved through more hard work and not mere talk.
“The truth of the matter is that we all expect 2017 to be better. But it is not going to be better because I wish it to be better or because I am hoping it to be better. It is going to be better because we have to get several things going in our economy.
“I am very optimistic about 2017, but not complacent. It is not going to turn around to the point we want it to unless we are all committed – public, private [sector] and the trade unions – to make it happen, and not just commitment in terms of words but in terms of action,” Inniss said.
The outspoken parliamentarian also called on Government agencies and departments to reduce the level of bureaucracy, become more customer-focused and more respectful of the private sector.
At the same time, he said the private sector needed to be more respectful of Government.
In addition, he repeated a previous plea for “much of the projects we talk about going off of people’s desks and get physically things happening”.
“The country needs to feel excited, motivated, stimulated and we have it in us. I think we have got to the point where things have been stabilized in that line and we need to really focus more on stimulation.
“2016 has been a challenging year, manifested in many ways. We haven’t gotten great growth we would all like in the economy, but we haven’t, at the same time, compromised many of the services the state provides and the overall social fabric of our society,” he said.