RIGHT OF CENTRE: Breathe life into permit process
By Connie Smith | Wed, May 23, 2012 - 12:00 AM
At the end of this week, public and private sector partners in international business across Barbados will gather for a one-day consultation to develop policy recommendations and action plans for the future direction of this critically important sector.
The Barbados International Business Association (BIBA) is pleased that the Ministry of International Business and the Cabinet of Barbados have recognized the need for such a consultation, as we have been calling for one since last year as we watched the sands run out on the 2007 to 2012 Strategic Plan for the International Business Sector.
When the members of BIBA go to meet with the Prime Minister and other public officials this Friday to engage them on ways in which our sector can be repositioned to remain competitive, one of the key messages that we will be sending is that in an increasingly competitive globalized business environment, Barbados has to be enhancing and not retarding the competitiveness of businesses which choose to reside here.
If Barbados is to remain attractive, we must ensure that there is agility and flexibility in the ease of doing business here.
Business facilitation is a key pillar on which Barbados can build on its path to becoming the premier international business centre in this hemisphere. Through commitment to improving the efficiencies of processes involved in doing business in Barbados – in both the private and public sectors, regardless of whether within or outside of the international business sector – Team Barbados can and must improve Barbados’ competitiveness and therefore our capacity to realize our true potential.
In the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report for 2011, inefficient Government bureaucracy was cited by respondents as the third most serious problem for doing business in Barbados. A poor work ethic among the national labour force and access to finance were first and second, respectively. These are very worrying statistics that need immediate rectification in the interest of domestic and international investors alike.
An important step in this direction is that we simply must be able to offer certainty of process, if not certainty of outcome. That is, for each and every process and application form required to be submitted, there should be a comprehensive list of all the documentation required to accompany that application, details of the process involved and expectations regarding the length of time it will take. This must all be available online and be kept current.
There is no need to reinvent the wheel on this initiative either, as there are a number of first-class country solutions that could be tailored for the Barbados scenario. Further, we absolutely must deliver on these expectations. We should not have situations where an application is submitted, then six weeks later a request made for additional documentation, and then three months later, another request.
Certainty of process will very positively affect the worryingly declining level of productivity in Barbados.
While I firmly believe that the private sector has to take a lead role in these initiatives, and I submit that we are willing to do so, I also believe that Government’s role is to facilitate and breathe life into these processes.
For example, the private sector can propose new legislation or changes to existing ones, but we certainly cannot bring it into force, neither can we control the length of time this takes. Hence, the urgent need for a firm consultative and productive private-public partnership.
By identifying these strategies for International Business, we identify strategies for the collective Barbados to win.
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