A former Cabinet minister has suggested to Parliament that Government may need a Central Project Management Authority to monitor how it is managing its many “moving parts”.
Member of Parliament for St Michael South Central Marsha Caddle who served in the first Mia Mottley administration as a Minister in the Ministry of Finance, specifically wanted to know from Minister of Energy and Business Development Senator Lisa Cummins how Government keeps track of how it’s doing.
“There are so many moving parts when it comes to business facilitation,” she said.
Caddle recalled that in 2019 the Ministry of Economic Affairs established a Doing Business Committee as a sub-committee of Cabinet and which partnered with a doing business private sector committee to set benchmarks and to check how the country was doing.
“How are we now managing the ‘fine work’? It is one thing to operate in a policy space but often there are all of these little things that you have to hear and know about and know that you have to fix. How are we doing that monitoring to know that town planning is sticking to its benchmarks, they are improving how soon you can get a water connection and all of these other things that are important for businesses to function?” Caddle queried.
In response, Minister Cummins noted that while the World Bank’s Doing Business indicators as a metric are no more, the measurements that it outlined remain critical for Barbados as a nation.
She said, “We have taken an approach in the ministry that on the trade facilitation side in terms of treating to what happens at our borders, and working in collaboration with all of the stakeholders under the umbrella of the National Trade Facilitation Task Force, that we are able to deal with the things which need to be resolved in terms of time for clearance…We are presently working on a time-release study that expedites how we are treating to inter-agency collaboration…”
Cummins said that work is to go simultaneously with a business facilitation mandate that addresses how the various ministries are “inter-collaborating”.
She recalled a recent experience when one ministry was not accepting clearance letters from another and asking the business community to repeat processes ministry-by-ministry “as though we were not all dealing with the same Government”.
“Those are the kinds of things internal to Government that frustrate people; that [make] interacting with Government frustrating and time consuming.”
Senator Cummins noted that the work of the committee is to be examined to establish the metrics by which the work of Government departments is to be measured.
“How do we take the lessons of COVID where much of what we did had to go online and then use that to facilitate business and in so doing make critical Government services available online on a 24-hour basis?”
She said that this is where Government is headed during the new financial year.
Addressing the issue, Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Business Development Sandra Husbands noted that a lot of energy and time have gone into fixing the challenges of working together instead of in silos and bringing systems into the 21st
“There are still a number of things that need to be addressed,” she added. “I think the CFRs (Commitment for Results) are probably one of the important elements that we need to focus on as ministries. I think if we work
diligently on making sure that we make the internal adjustments, it will go a long way to making us more efficient and more
Minister Caddle, in raising the question, also noted that there are multiple entities in Government dealing with vending spaces including Urban Development Commission, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Youth, Sport and Community Empowerment and the Ministry of Energy and Business Development which has responsibility for the vending zones.
“Do we need a centralized approach to the execution of this business of vending and of enacting the new vending legislation, of giving it life and reality and real expression in people’s lives?”
She suggested there is the risk of having a level of “inequality of experience” with so many different agencies executing the project. (SBP)