by Randy Bennett
Two main business community leaders appear to have given the Mia Mottley administration the thumbs-up for its first year in office.
As today marked the first anniversary of Barbados Labour Party’s sweeping into office by an unprecedented 30-0 seat margin over the Democratic Labour Party, both president of the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA) Edward Clarke and prominent businessman Eddie Abed have agreed that much has been achieved in Government’s first 365 days.
Clarke told Barbados TODAY that Mottley and her team of ministers had reached several of its targets.
He said: “Overall, I would say the Government has done a very good job. Certainly they have stabilized the economy and they have strengthened the foreign reserves.
“Obviously, the settlement of the local debt has been done and that has helped to reduce the cost of Government’s operations quite a lot.
“They’ve created a level of confidence back into the investment community.”
Clarke praised Government for fixing the South Coast sewage problem and repairing several roads.
He said that the BERT economic restructuring programme had been meeting all of its targets and Government now needed to ensure that the transformation aspect takes place because of the critical need to grow economy.
He said while Government had set expectations high, some people expected things to be done overnight and to be fixed overnight.
“We’ve had a number of years of taking Barbados in the wrong direction and it won’t be repaired overnight, so I think Government has to give people a more realistic timeframe for how things should be done,” Clarke said.
He pointed to some areas which needed to be addressed such as the foreign debt settlement, improving the ease of doing business in Barbados, as well as significantly improving operations at the Barbados Port.
He also pointed to the Re-Re programme, in which rentrenched Government workers are to be retrained and retooled.
Clarke added: “A lot of action has taken place and I think we need as Barbadians to sit back and think about where we were a year ago and all of the things that have happened since then.
“Yes there have been hiccups and there will always be hiccups with a new Government, but I think we need to give them an opportunity to make sure that it works.”
“So far I think they’ve done a good job overall, now the real work must be put to the test now. The next year is going to be a real transformational year I think.”
Abed told Barbados TODAY the business community expected the BLP to put tough measures in place, which the country’s dire economic situation demanded.
“Frankly it was a year where we knew the bleeding had to be stopped first, stabilization had to come into the country and of course confidence had to return before the bigger picture as to where we were short-term, how we get to the medium term and of course the vision for the country in the longer term.”
He said the business community was pleased at being invited to the Social Partnership where it was able to make a contribution to critical issues affecting the country.
“Businesses were pleased that finally not only were we being asked to participate in the Social Partnership, but we were being listened to and collectively the process worked,” he said.
But the fabric and textile merchant said one of his disappointments was that the economy was yet to see any growth.
Despite that, he expressed optimism about the future.
Abed said: “The important part that we in business were waiting on was the growth aspect and that has not come about as yet. We fully expect that with more disposable income due to come about in July and January that it will assist.
“Frankly, the business community is quite upbeat. We believe that better days are definitely ahead and we remain steadfast and focus and we will participate at every level to ensure that we have a better Barbados in 2020 and beyond.” firstname.lastname@example.org