Sunday, April 14, 2024

EDITORIAL: Govt, business relationship vital to economy


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Corporate and other business activity is critical to the survival of a modern Barbados. The current economic difficulties have shown this to be so as clear as one could wish such a demonstration to be.

Long gone is the time when some amongst us could argue that business was a bad word and the refuge of those who were not academically gifted. The successes of those here and abroad who were bright and also successful in enterprise has shown us that the business of business is important and not limited to those who were challenged by the books, if ever it was.

That is a political and economic lesson which we must all learn if we are to succeed in doing our best to help our country, because it is the business enterprises, large medium or small that form the backbone and foundation for the society in which we live.

We must therefore get the first lesson out to our students at secondary and tertiary levels that one of the most honourable and patriotic things a citizen can do to help his country is to release and exploit any business talents and ideas which might be lurking in his mind.

In these small, open economies a successful business that earns foreign exchange and employ people is as important an aspect of our democratic governance as are the political parties in our midst. We cannot do without political parties and neither can we do without business. At least not if we wish to maintain the kind of democracy we have.

In this context we note the recent statements of the Governor of the Central Bank in which he praised the efforts of the private sector to invest. We find this approach encouraging since it recognises the symbiotic relationship that must necessarily exist between business and the Government, if our economy is to be truly be put on a solid sustainable path for growth once again. Our Minister of Businesss seems to have his head in the right place, and he is proving to be a passionate advocate for the  partnership between business and government which is so necessary.

But with the winter tourist season approaching, we are bound to ask that the generous new proposals of the kind accorded to Sandals group be accorded as promised to the wider hotel groups operating here. With the model having been developed to the point where Sandals could be beneficiaries, one is forced to question the delay. Surely the Sandals concessions must have been carefully analysed before they were offered.

Similar concerns can be raised about the offshore financial sector. Like tourism, this sector can relatively quickly show results, and there is need for a heightened sense of priority to be given to amending enabling legislation.

We are sure that both the tourism incentives and the proposed changes in the finanacial sector legislation are in the pipeline.

Yet if we are to get the quickest benefits from these initiatives, Government must prepare the ground which business must exploit for the national good, giving the highest priority to preparing that ground by getting the relevant rules, regulations and laws in place.

In some respects the baton has not yet been passed to the private sector; and it must be passed, if we are to win the race back to economic growth.


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