With the Freundel Stuart administration struggling to regain economic stability and come up with a solid growth strategy, one of its own is calling for a “dose of frankness” in the analysis of the Barbados economy and about the path being charted for economic success.
Minister of Sport, Youth and Culture Stephen Lashley issued the call today while stating that entrepreneurship was one of the engines to help propel the struggling Barbados economy.
Addressing the official launch of Global Entrepreneurship Week 2017 (GEW) at the Cave Hill School of Business, Lashley expressed disappointment that Barbadians continued to spend “too much time importing goods and services and expanding other economies”.
This, he complained, was partially responsible for the island’s less than favourable fiscal position.
“That is really why we have continuing [high] fiscal deficits in Barbados. It is not an issue that only afflicts the current Government, but [one] we have had in Barbados over many years if we are going to be frank. Sometimes policymakers can be frank . . . but I think we need a dose of frankness too in our analysis of where we are at and in charting a path for success.
“The fact is that over many years in Barbados, we have failed to make some serious decisions about our structural economy. The structural aspects of our economy are in need of basically remaking, rebuilding,” he said.
And with Government still mulling over what state-owned agencies to privatize, merge or enter into a public-private sector partnership, Lashley recommended one aspect of the rebuilding should include an overhaul of some state-owned funding agencies.
He explained that the current state of affairs made it too difficult for entrepreneurs to access critical funding to help in their expansion efforts, while adding that there were too many funding and other developmental agencies offering the same services.
“Perhaps I can speak to this one. There is need, if we are going to obtain success in terms of our quest towards entrepreneurial expansion, to relook how all of the agencies both within the public sector and private sector, how they collaborate.
“My view is that we perhaps have too many of these agencies doing the same things, and then after doing the same things, asking to collaborate. Some of them exist in the public sector and perhaps it is time to look at bringing them all together, particularly those agencies whose responsibility it is to provide funding to entrepreneurs. There are many entrepreneurs who crave for funding but somehow the bureaucracy prevents them from accessing funding at the right time; at the time it is necessary for them to carve out critical aspect of their business agenda. So I believe that is an area in which we have to be real,” he explained.
Stressing the need for appropriate funding and technical assistance, the Member of Parliament for Christ Church West Central said it was envisaged that start-ups would develop and become the “driving force behind economic growth in Barbados”.
This, he posited, would help to create jobs, increase cross-border trade and contribute significantly to revenue generating activities.
“Of course, this is all extremely relevant, particularly today as we are grappling with looking at our economy in Barbados, reshaping our vision both individually and collectively and looking at how we can reposition the Barbados economy towards growth,” Lashley said.
At the same time, he urged entrepreneurs to show more passion about their work and become more innovative, adding that “Barbados, in terms of our economy, will not return to growth unless our entrepreneurs, our indigenous business class, see new visions and have new passion”.
GEW 2017 will be celebrated November 13 – 19 under the theme, The 3 Ps – Passion, People and Profit. The Barbados Youth Business Trust, in association with a number of partners, will host a range of activities geared toward empowering entrepreneurs and helping them to better develop their businesses.