Friday, March 1, 2024

We need all on board


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SHIP BARBADOS needs more visionary leadership and universal participation if it is to be jump-started out of the doldrums.

There is need to formulate a strategic plan on what is needed ten years down the road to take this country to a new level of development, and this plan of necessity has to involve the participation of all Barbadians, transcending racial, social, religious and cultural backgrounds. There is no room for selfishness or cliquishness in this exercise.

Barbados can only go forward when all stakeholders are on board. lt calls for the participation of mainly the private sector, putting their money where their mouths are and not being dependent on central government to be a virtual milch cow. All resources have to be put in place – human, physical, intellectual and cultural – and assembled to take Barbados on this forward and upward path.

It does not have to be as Mao Tse Tung coined “A Great Leap Forward”, but a systematic development for the good of all. A more caring society where each sees the other as equal and his brother’s keeper.

The educational system has a very significant role in this process of change, that is, gearing curricula to suit the necessary human resource needs within the context of this plan. How many professionals will be needed, how many skilled artisans and blue collar workers. The training of these must be to the highest levels of professionalism.

But, there needs to be change in the work ethic also. It needs to improve and by extension labour productivity, and efforts rewarded, a move away from the low wage syndrome which has always been the signal feature of most Barbadian employees.

Trained Barbadians should also be given priority of employment, call it nationalism, which is sometimes very healthy and expedient to stem the drain and foreign ownership of resources and foreigner domination in the workplace.

Like any strategic plan, there must be set objectives to be met within this ten-year time frame. What has to be done? Who does what? What resources are needed to achieve the stated objectives? How do we implement, monitor and control the plan? How can we guarantee arrival at our set objective? How can we adjust in the event of crises and contingencies? We must put in place a scenario plan. How do we know when we have arrived?

Detailed planning

It calls for systematic and detailed planning beyond a primarily economic plan which was attempted earlier. An economic plan now is a “species of lottery”, like a day at the races. We have to make provisions for growth in agricultural production, industrial production, growth in tourism arrivals, improvement of the quality of life for “average Barbadians”, improved service dispensation across the board. It cannot be a knee-jerk, patch-tyre exercise.

We cannot go forward unless we have a national vision. After a detailed and comprehensive SWOT analysis of what the country needs in the interim, a meaningful national strategic plan can be devised, without the usual power play of the rich, but concerned and truly nationalistic Barbadians.

It would be remiss to omit some of the visionary achievements of my time: Errol Walton Barrow, the father of political independence; free education et al; Tom Adams in his short stint with the ABC Highway which opened up central Barbados to economic development; and the Tenantries Freehold Purchase Act, which empowered thousands of Barbadians by allowing them for the first time since the settlement of Barbados to own a house spot.

We cannot move forward unless we have a vision in this harsh, competitive, uncompromising world, to steer us out of these stagnant times, out of this syndrome of underdevelopment where we take our place among big states. The example of Singapore and China is the most suitable. There are small horses and big horses but ideally all are horses.

Ship Barbados can be salvaged. People, get back to God. Stop selfishness, greed and corruption. Practise industry and thrift, though not frugality or prodigality, for the good of [all].



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