The people of Barbados and the rest of the region have a sense of entitlement and a high degree of arrogance that get in the way of economic growth, according to an expert on strategy and innovation.
Compounding the problem, said Dr Miguel Carrillo, the executive director and professor of strategy at the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business in Trinidad and Tobago, are high levels of uncertainty, low value proposition, low economic value activities and high debt levels.
“We are stuck, we are not growing [and] we have huge debt levels,” Carrillo told a seminar on Barbados: Next Level of Growth at the Courtyard by Marriott Monday morning.
“We are fragile. Our smallness and geographic location make us fragile not only as an economy but country, and if we are not afraid of that, that is a problem. One of the biggest issues that I think is critical to address is to accept our own vulnerabilities. I am not going to come here to preach or give a psychological lecture, but this is an issue in the Caribbean – there is a huge sense of entitlement.”
The academic sought to compare the region with China, saying the Chinese possessed “profound values” of “self criticism”, a suggestion that the region needed to catch up in this area.
He added that unless the Caribbean “deeply and painfully” accepted its own vulnerabilities and flaws and “until we stop our sense of entitlement and start increasing significantly, our sense of accountability”, the region would not progress.
“When was the last time you found a Barbadian, a Trinidadian or Jamaican saying, ‘you know what, I am sorry, it was my fault?’ When was the last time you heard that?” Carrillo asked.
Carrillo said he had little faith in the public sector to create value for a country, adding that Barbados and the region “lack of a clear economic strategy”.
The strategy and innovation expert contended that “uncertainty is really taking over” the region, suggesting that this was because economic power rested with either the Governor of the Central Bank or the Minister of Finance.
“The reason is because power resides in whoever controls the biggest source of uncertainty. That is where power resides. Unpredictability is taking over. It is more difficult to predict what is happening tomorrow. Ambiguity is taking over and volatility is taking over,” Carrillo said.
The Mexican national, who has headed the regional institution since 2009, warned that Barbados’ position as a tourist destination was “eroding” as it continued to experience severe competition from other destinations, and that the island had difficulty attracting and retaining even more visitors because of a lack of attractions.
“Our value proposition is eroding, the attractiveness is eroding, and it is eroding fast. There are other contenders that actually have similar natural endowments like ours, but they have two critical advantages that we don’t – low wages and a very positive service orientation,” Carrillo said.
He charged that while Barbados and other Caribbean nations were experiencing increased cruise visitor arrivals, and were adding hotel rooms, this did not translate to greater economic returns.
Making it clear that he was not equipped to tell Barbados how to run its affairs, Carrillo said some important questions must be answered.
“What is Barbados’ innovative, unique and national value proposition? What is it that we can offer to the world that is unique, different, singular, rare, difficult to imitate and difficult to substitute, and maybe even more importantly, generates tremendous value for our customers? What is it?” suggested Carrillo.