Saturday, April 20, 2024

‘Cheap’ ways to revive economy

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There are several ways in which Government can trigger investment without spending money, says Professor Avinash Persaud.In pointing out that Barbados’ investment environment needed to be reformed, Persaud said: “In the broadest terms we need to revive inward foreign investment and we need to reduce the fiscal deficit in a package of measures that preserves or even boosts investment and jobs,” he said.Persaud noted that “the power of Government is not just in purse strings, but in nudging the economy in the right direction”.He drew reference to India’s burgeoning new medical tourism industry that was not dependent on Government expenditure, although Government helped with regulatory changes.Furthermore, he said Antigua’s new private university of medicine with 1 000 fee-paying students, and Grenada’s St George’s, did not require significant taxpayer investment, but a facilitating, activist Government.Noting that international finance was in flux, the economist said there were short-term opportunities to attract responsible businesses that were disenchanted with their home jurisdictions. This, Persaud said, could be done through a new business-savvy Financial Services Authority and a new, expert Regulatory Commission paid for by the firms that were being regulated. “Last year the G20 countries deliberately set aside funds to help developing countries recover and invest in a green recovery. “There are grants and concessionary loans available for investing in waste-to-energy, solar power [and] wind power that will boost economic growth and jobs without adding materially to the interest burden on debt,” Persaud said.   He charged that “too often our approach is to swing into action by setting up a committee and publishing a brochure”.He noted that doing business in Barbados was difficult with legal costs at “profit-crushing levels” and slow and ad hoc Government processes.“We need to internationalise our legal profession in the same way that our accounting profession is internationalised,” Persaud said. (NB)

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