Crime and the lack of ease of doing business are two of the major concerns of the local business community as they express cautious optimism about growth prospects in commerce this year.
Executive Director of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry Misha Lobban-Clarke told Barbados TODAY the business community was eager to see an injection of investment into activities that would start to stimulate economic growth.
“We need to see greater productivity as well, happening within Government and within businesses in general. Those are some of the things I think we need to see,” she said.
The economy declined by 0.1 per cent last year.
“Of course, we definitely need to address the issue of crime as it impacts business in terms of increased costs and even investor confidence. So it is something I know that is of great concern, not just to the private sector but also to Government and they have to look at how we can work together to address this issue,” she said.
She said the BCCI had already started discussions on how it could work closer with Government to address issues affecting the island’s economic and social development.
“Top of that for business is crime. There is also the ease of doing business – how can we make the business facilitation process easier? Of course, we will continue to identify the strategies to assist our members to navigate the challenges facing the business sector and ensure that the chamber becomes a more visible and engaged organisation with all its stakeholders,” she promised.
Lobban-Clarke said the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) programme has had a significant impact on commerce over the last year, explaining that it had contributed more stringent measures and increased cost of doing business.
However, stating that BCCI members were eager to see a turnaround in the country’s economic and social fortunes, Lobban-Clarke said the chamber was optimistic that things would soon improve.
“The outlook is optimistic for some and others are cautious. We do need to pay attention to how we can improve business facilitation and increase productivity in the workplace. Very integral to the increase in productivity is customer service. We have to become more aware of how a lack of customer service impacts business success and even the cost of doing business,” she explained.
Pointing out that the BCCI would be redefining its strategic focus to engage members more, increase advocacy and become more efficient, Lobban-Clarke, who took up the post six months ago, said Government could also expect greater lobbying efforts from the chamber as it seeks to get speedier movements in a number of areas.
“As part of that strategic focus we will be looking at how we can enhance the participation of the chamber in policymaking and influencing even, at a greater level than we are currently doing in relation to matters relating to the economy, the ease of doing business and increasing opportunities for trade and investment locally,” she explained.
“If we are to encourage business growth and investment in Barbados we have to look at how we can streamline the business facilitation and approval process with respect to the relevant agencies to be more efficient and reduce the waiting period and long delays that businesses currently experience,” she told Barbados TODAY in a recent interview.
Yesterday, Central Bank Governor Cleviston Haynes reiterated the need for quick improvements in the doing business climate here.
He told journalists that while this required a change in Government processes and greater use of technology, it would also call for greater efforts on the part of the business community and civil society.
“As a country we have to set ourselves goals. I would say at a minimum we want to be the best small economy as it relates to being able to attract business,” said Haynes.
“Therefore we have to see how can we modernize the delivery of services within the public sector generally such that we are able to make it a more friendly atmosphere for persons who want to do business with us,” said Haynes.