Government is on a mission to improve this country’s ranking on the Doing Business record in an effort to attract more investment.
Word of this has come from Minister in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Investment Marsha Caddle, who announced today that a Doing Business subcommittee is to be established in that regard.
Addressing the first Planning and Development Bill stakeholder review for 2019 at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Caddle said once approved by Cabinet, this subcommittee would work closely with a Competitiveness Council to ensure Barbados climbed the Doing Business ranks and measure up more favourably among the best.
“This is not to have general discussions about productivity and ideological and philosophical discussions about competitiveness . . . but these committees are to get to the business of improving the doing business rankings, not just so they look good on paper, even though that is important to help drive investment to the country, but improving these indicators so that Barbados works for Barbadians and those who want to come and live and work here,” said Caddle.
“So we have made a commitment to get to the root and the heart and nuts and bolts of what is impeding business and investment in the country,” she said.
Caddle said she was not satisfied with how Barbados measured up against its Caribbean neighbours in the latest Ease of Doing Business Report.
Barbados was ranked 129th out of 190 countries in the 2018 Ease of Doing Business Report, a slight improvement over the 132nd position in 2017.
“We looked across the indicators that were measured . . . and in the rankings, dealing with construction permits for Barbados, it is ranked 154, so it is the second worse after Haiti. Now my colleagues from Town and Planning will say it is question of how the data is collected, how it is compiled and that may be so.
“That is one of the reasons we are establishing a Doing Business subcommittee of Cabinet. Once approved, that will be supported by a competitiveness council, which is a smaller subcommittee of our private sector and trade union colleagues and other parties that will make up that committee,” she said.
Caddle said the review and reform of the Town & Planning legislation formed a major part of that plan which is tied to the overall Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) programme, which she insisted was more than just fiscal adjustment.
“It is, at its base, about transformation. And we cannot adjust our way out of this crisis that has been a longstanding one in this country, we have to grow and transform our way out. So what it means is that the powers of government are not simply tax and spend, we have to use all the powers of government as legislator to bring about the kind of growth that we want to see,” she said.
Also high on the agenda for the first half of this year, she added, was the establishment of a corporate registry to better facilitate individuals and companies that wish to live and invest in Barbados.
Caddle also revealed that Prime Minister Mia Mottley would soon be giving details about planned developments for the island’s southwest corridor – from Oistins in Christ Church to Fitts Village in St James.
The details could come as early as Friday. She said Government has identified some areas including buildings and properties that “something must be done about”.
“This is not just about the action that government takes, it is also about how we can develop public/private partnerships and encourage the kind of investment that is needed in particular in the City,” said Caddle, adding that plans were in the pipeline to make Bridgetown into a “work and residential centre” again.
Last month Mottley announced that her plans for the miles of prime real estate, at least from the Savannah Beach Hotel to the former Four Seasons development would include the construction of about a dozen new hotels.