Barbadians must stop relying on major international investors playing Santa Claus to lift the country out of its current economic crisis and strive for better service and greater efficiency, Minister of International Business Sandra Husbands has said.
“One of the most disheartening things children experience is when they discover there is no Santa Claus, because we picture him doing so many things that we cannot do for ourselves. And when you look at where we are as a country, in terms of our mental attitude and our perceptions as a people, we still do not understand there is no Santa Claus sailing into the harbour with great benefits for us. We must recognize that the only way we as Barbadians will eat every day is if we focus on efficiency and good service,” the St James South MP said as Government moved a bill to repeal the Fiscal Incentives Act.
The fiscal incentives, which originally encouraged foreign companies to set up shop in Barbados, had been beneficial and brought significant investors such as computer chip-maker Intel, garment factories and data processing firms to Barbados over the years. But now, given the state of the economy, Husbands said, “we must now ask ourselves, what will we do to attract people with money who will invest in the types of industries or businesses that will provide us with jobs for the long term that will give us the economic growth we need?”
She expressed concern about the bleak forecast her colleague, Minister of Tourism Kerrie Symmonds, gave for the industry he oversees.
“Given the levels of dissatisfaction reported on the quality of service in the sector, if we do not change our way of doing business in that industry, we stand to lose the 52,000 jobs associated with it. Barbados is now ranked 132nd in the world when it comes to ease of doing business; we have done this to ourselves because we are not creating a Barbados that really works and is ready for business in the 21st century,” Husbands said.
She continued: “The experience we have just gone through gives us chance to press a reset button and plan what the future Barbados will look like”.
This process will involve the leaders of Government, the civil service – who “have the power to make or break our economic strategy, and therefore must become more efficient, cover costs and resolve issues in a more timely fashion” – and the private sector, whom she urged to become more “innovative and pay more attention towards preparing their products for export”.