If Barbados and other countries in the region want to enhance productivity and economic growth, new initiatives and strategies must be explored.
Director of Economics at the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Dr Justin Ram highlighted this point as he presented the findings of a recent survey carried out in the Bank’s member states.
He said the study, entitled Enhancing Productivity and Growth in the Caribbean, found that the region was pressed to find new ways of improving economic performance and productivity, adding that it was more urgent now than ever.
Ram made the comments in a presentation during a seminar at the CDB’s 47th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors in the Turks and Caicos Islands this week.
“There is an urgency to find new ways in improving total factor productivity and propelling economic growth in the Caribbean, with the region facing significant economic challenges associated with high levels of unemployment and underemployment and poverty; high fiscal deficits; high public debt; reliance on slow growing economic sectors; high levels of volatility; various economic and environmental threats; and the strain of maintaining adequate levels of foreign reserves,” he said.
The study suggested that the region could enhance productivity and economic growth by focusing on foreign direct investment, information and communication technology, research and development and innovation, as well as industrial clustering.
President of the CDB Dr Warren Smith said the areas highlighted by the study were intended to provide a practical set of policy measures to advance the growth agenda.
The study also put forward several recommendations to strengthen policy, institutional and regulatory frameworks around the four key areas mentioned.
It proposed the creation of a regional strategic plan for improving the ease of doing business, the provision of incentives and financial support to boost research and development and innovation, as well as development and access to ICT.
It also recommended strengthening of the human capital base through various human resource development strategies; engaging the Caribbean diaspora; reducing the cost of ICT services; and strengthening the regulatory framework governing research and development, intellectual property, tax incentives, access to finance and cluster development.