Government minister Donville Inniss says Barbadians need to grateful for small mercies, while comparing the island’s economic situation to that of neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of his Old Year’s Night house party on Saturday night, Inniss said nationals of the twin-island republic had recently been “scrambling” for much needed foreign exchange in stark contrast to what existed up to four years ago when oil-rich republic was “riding high”.
“Today, according to public reports, Trinidadians were scrambling to get foreign exchange.
“So had we [the Barbados Government] not done the things we had to do, perhaps we would have found ourselves in a similar position as Trinidad as far as the scarcity of US dollars,” Inniss said.
“Not to laugh at Trinidad because I hope that they will turn around as well, but when I look at this place, in Barbados we have to thank God for small mercies,” he added.
Against the backdrop of recent domestic difficulties, Inniss therefore called on Barbadians to “keep the faith” in his ruling Democratic Labour Party administration.
Inniss, the Minister of International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, also supported a recent call by the Chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association Charles Herbert for the Social Partnership to come together in the best interest of the country.
“I believe this is a year when public sector, private sector and labour will have to really and truly work more closely together,” Inniss said, adding he was satisfied all three partners wanted the best for Barbados.
“We may differ from time to time in terms of how we get there, but there is no denying the fact that all of us want what is best for Barbados and I expect that in 2017 we are going to see a renewed level of energy and commitment from all sides to really make things work a lot better.”
Describing himself as the “proverbial optimist”, Inniss also rejected suggestions that 2017 will be a worse year for the Barbados economy.
“If you say things are going to be worse, perhaps you will do everything to make it worse, but if you have faith that things can be better, you will work towards making them better,” he said, adding, “I’m not going to wallow in a cesspool of negativity all the time.”
Inniss also suggested a “minority” of persons did not wish for all to go well for Barbados in 2017, even though he again acknowledged the need for Government to communicate more with the public.
In this regard, he highlighted recent complaints levelled by lawyers, accountants and service providers who interface with the Corporate Affairs Department in his Ministry, suggesting that as a result of two-hours of “frank discussions” with the Bar Association and the Barbados International Business Association, things were beginning to improve.
“Simple things for example, if you have an urgent matter, don’t just complain and throw your hands in the air. Send one of us an email and we will look into the matter and get back to you in an hour,” he explained.
Inniss also said it was important “to remind people and show them some of the challenges we face.
“Not as a way of making an excuse, but as a way of getting people to come to an understanding of what our realities are –– staff constraints, money constraints, and such like — and then at the same time hearing from those who use our services as to how they think things can be done better.”
He promised that changes would be made in other areas of his ministry this year so they can be more customer-friendly, accountable and more accessible.
As for the matter of pending general elections, Inniss said he was ready to reclaim his St James South seat whenever the elections were called.