If hotel magnate Gordon Butch Stewart were in charge of the Barbados economy, one thing is certain, there would be less social entitlements.
Commenting briefly today on the domestic economic situation, the Sandals chairman expressed the view that the island was “weighing down” itself through its social welfare system.
In fact, he said while Barbadians traditionally enjoyed significant benefits under the island’s unemployment benefits scheme, this system needed to be addressed.
His comments come against the backdrop of recent warnings issued by former Prime Minister Owen Arthur and others that the era of the ‘welfare state’, in which citizens were guaranteed free social services and other entitlements “paid for by a plethora of taxes” was fast coming to an end.
In fact, while likening the Barbados economy to a speeding vehicle, Arthur cautioned late last year that it was fast approaching a dead end and therefore urgently needed to change course in order to avoid plunging into a calamitous “developmental trap”.
“I say to you that a developmental model based on protectionism, trade preferences, unique tax benefits and on economic sectors which do not make the fullest use of our human capital will lead Barbados into an economic cul-de-sac,” he told participants in the Innovate Barbados 2017 conference at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre last November.
His comments were echoed by Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss who also cautioned that due to the worrying economic challenges facing the country, the hour had arrived for Barbadians to look after their own welfare and not rely solely on the state.
“When I look at the adjustments that we are going to have to make to the social services in Barbados, I keep saying that the state cannot keep providing everything to everyone as they expect it. So I tell my children that they are going to have to start to save some money for their children’s insurance, I also tell them that they are going to have to get insurance. We are going to have to inculcate in our people’s minds that they are going have to take a greater level of responsibility for their lifestyle and of course the outcome,” Inniss had said.
Today Stewart did not elaborate any further on his economic concerns, but sought to offer a measure of economic hope as promised that an estimated 1,800 new permanent jobs and an investment of US$400 million would come to Barbados with completion of the Beaches Resort by Sandals.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY at the newly-opened Sandals Barbados Royal Resort at Dover, Christ Church, Stewart added that the Beaches, which will replace the existing Almond Resort in St Peter, was expected to create about 2,000 jobs during its construction, which he said should officially get off the ground by September this year.
The hotel magnate, who has been in Barbados meeting with industry stakeholders on other possible avenues for investment, said the construction of Beaches should take about 32 months.
“We are very advanced. We know what it’s going to look like. We know what the layout and the design is. It’s a huge development. It is easily the biggest development Barbados has seen. It is 540 keys. When I say keys, some of them represent four bedrooms suites, three bedroom suites, a lot of two bedroom suites and one-bedroom suites and all of the accommodation are family suites,” the hotel tycoon told Barbados TODAY, adding that there would be many restaurants and entertainment for children.
“We have had the best cooperation for this hotel in everything. We couldn’t ask for anything better,” he stressed.
Barbados will become the only Caribbean country outside of Jamaica and Turks and Caicos to have a Beaches Resort by Sandals.