Saturday, April 20, 2024

Public officers must not hinder our progress

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IF THERE IS one sure thing to be said of Minister of International Business, Industry and Commerce Mr Donville Inniss, it is his willingness to be frank in his comments regardless of whom is offended. It is a position which has won him many admirers who feel this type of forthrightness is necessary in public life.

His latest salvo last week against what he described as the tardiness in the public sector should be viewed with the seriousness it deserves. From the time of the late Prime Minister, the Right Excellent Errol Barrow, and his warning about “an army of occupation” to Mr Inniss, such complaints have been heard.

Many public officers provide excellent service, but there are some who work to the detriment of self and country. It is time that the recalcitrant public officers be dealt with and not allowed to hinder the country’s progress.

Mr Inniss’ broadside about the tardiness and the impact it is having on potential investors is also nothing new. It merely echoes the anger, annoyance and despair we hear every so often from an exasperated private sector. It is no longer an issue which we should pretend does not exist, nor is indeed the fault of a group of business people merely looking to achieve their own ends by any means.

There are certain requirements necessary to attract private investment – a stable macro-economic environment and an environment which makes it easy to do business. Despite our economic challenges, Barbados still has a number of positives; a fixed exchange rate being foremost. While we capitalise on our strengths and eliminate the weaknesses, we must not be misled into believing that investors will simply sit and wait while we daydream.

All Barbadians should note the results of the latest Global Competitiveness Index, which shows us slipping in the rankings. It should not be glibly dismissed, neither should we pretend it is a minor issue. If the reverse were true, then our politicians would be consistently echoing the achievement. The ease with which you can do business in Barbados does matter.

The fast-track systems established to facilitate business development must work, for both the foreign and local investor. Barbados must return to economic growth by earning foreign exchange and creating jobs. We cannot spend, borrow and tax our way out of the current economic malaise.

Public servants must understand that given the Government’s fiscal constraints, it is the private sector which must be the driver of economic growth. This country must therefore have a consistent, clear and unequivocal message. Barbados is open to business and welcomes private sector investment.

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