One of the region’s leading economic growth and development partners is pleading with the Freundel Stuart administration and other regional leaders to make it easier for the private sector to invest and do business.
Director of Economics at the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Dr Justin Ram warned that unless governments put the necessary policies in place to improve the business environment, regional countries
would continue to lose out on significant investments.
“I can tell you without a doubt that this matters, that if you see an improvement in the doing business performance in an economy, it signals to the private sector and you subsequently see an increase in investment,” Ram said Tuesday at the opening of the Central Bank of Barbados’ 37th annual review seminar at the Radisson Aquatica Resort.
Speaking on the topic, Imagining the End of Slow Economic Growth, How to Deliver Economic Performance, the economist singled out Barbados, saying while this country had a number of “really good competitive firms” they were earning more of their income outside of the country because it was not as easy to do business here.
“Take for example the Goddard group. The Goddard group of companies is earning more of their income outside of Barbados than in Barbados,” Ram said.
“So what I want to say to you and to other policymakers is that the private sector will operate based on the environment which they are given . . . that allows them to make profit in the easiest way. What I am saying here is that . . . we need to transform our doing business environment. I think that is critical,” he insisted.
Using a recent example of “a major Caribbean conglomerate” seeing the improvements in the doing business environment in Jamaica and pledging major investment in that country, Ram said the doing business environment in a country was important to attract the kind of investment necessary for economic growth.
“These things send a clear message. It is like for example, credit ratings. Sometimes we hear ‘credit ratings are not important’. Well, they are. The doing business environment is very important. It sends a clear message to investors that you are serious about ensuring that . . . they can make a profit and that you will also protect their investment, and importantly that they can repatriate their profits if they so like. But these are important signals that we must send to the private sector to say that we are open for business,” Ram insisted.
Stating that the role of government was to facilitate and put the right policies in place, Ram said unless that was done countries in the region would not see the types of private sector outcomes they were hoping to attract.
Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss has repeatedly complained about the difficulty in doing business here, telling Parliament last year that too much bureaucracy and inconsistency in Government had been affecting both international and local investors. Inniss had also complained that business facilitation seemed like an elusive dream in Barbados’ economy.
In the World Bank Doing Business Report released in August last year, Barbados had tumbled 13 places to 119th out of 189 countries.