With concerns being raised in both the public and private sectors about the level of productivity here, the Productivity Council is reporting that the situation is gradually improving.
“The productivity worm is incrementally going up,” Productivity Officer Jannell Arthur told Barbados TODAY at the recent media launch of the National Productivity Badge, a joint effort with the Girl Guides Association of Barbados to build a culture of productivity in the island’s school system.
Arthur did not disclose how she came to this conclusion or what might have been responsible for the improvement. However, she said after a period of decline the productivity level was slowly trending upward.
However, she said the levels were still low and needed to be addressed, although she stressed it would take time before there was any meaningful progress because of a pervading archaic mentality.
“Culture does not change overnight. The same way it did not take a day or night for us to reach a . . . declining position, it certainly will not be repaired and everything will not be fixed overnight,” she stressed.
“The behaviour of the persons, that basically is what furthers everything or puts a fetter on everything because . . . we can use the best of technology but if we have persons with the same mindsets who are in the old systems and we put them to man those new systems . . . they don’t have efficient mindsets, [and] you will wonder why has all my investment gone to waste,” she said.
A recent survey commissioned by the Productivity Council found that Barbados’ high level of taxation was proving to be a major hindrance to national productivity.
The study was conducted between April and July last year by Senior Lecturer of Management Science at the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies, Dwayne Devonish among some 150 local private sector organizations.
“Private sector managers admitted that the general business environment within the country is still not conducive to the promotion of productivity at a national level due [to] high levels of taxation,” the report said, adding that “low investor and corporate confidence, inefficiencies in certain government services and perceived lack of support from Government in the forms of incentives and other forms of technical support” were also factors.
Economist and former Central Bank Governor Dr DeLisle Worrell also warned in September of this year that the level of productivity in Barbados was way too low, especially within the public sector where he said the level of service provided by Government employees had been on the decline for years.
“Over the past decade, output per worker in Barbados appears to have increased very slowly by about $600 per year, no more,” he said in his newsletter, adding that “the value of services provided by the average Government worker has been declining by about $900 per year over that same period”.
In a bid to get the youngest Barbadians thinking about productivity, the Productivity Council teamed up with the Girl Guides Association of Barbados to introduce the National Productivity Badge.
The badge, which is being used to jointly commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Girl Guides Association and the Year of Productivity, will be awarded to the over
2,000 members of the Blossoms, Brownies, Girl Guides and Young Leaders groups after they have completed the necessary requirements.
“Every Barbadian needs to be on board in regards to productivity, from the youngest child to the oldest adult in order for us to see some level of improvement that would in turn aid in boosting the economic growth and development of our country,” explained Chief Commissioner of the Girl Guides Association Nadia Skeete, an economist at the Productivity Council.