Panellists at yesterday’s post-Budget breakfast. From left are BHTA chairman Roseanne Myers; president of the Barbados Economic Society, Shane Lowe; chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association, Charles Herbert, moderator David Prestwich of PriceWaterhouse Coopers, and acting president of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ezra Prescod. (Picture by Reco Moore.)
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CHAIRMAN OF THE Barbados Private Sector Association, Charles Herbert, has called on the business sector to respond with urgency to the measures outlined in Monday’s Mini-Budget.
Describing it as a “clever” package, he told a post-Budget breakfast meeting of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BCCI) at Hilton Barbados yesterday: “I think for the next six months at least we owe it all to really work as if this is really going to happen.”
Herbert urged buy-in from the BCCI membership as well as the support of all Barbadians.
He commended Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s prompt move to include the Social Partnership in the decision-making process from day one, and involving them in the extensive dialogue that would have informed most of the Budget’s content.
“We have been signalled that once again we are going to be seen as active participants in where Barbados goes and the challenge is on us to grasp it,” Herbert said.
Speaking as a panellist in the traditional BCCI/Pricewaterhouse Coopers post-Budget discussion, Herbert declared: “This is not a morning or a week to be glum. I personally have bludgeoned my head till it was bloody for two years trying to get dialogue with the Government of Barbados.
“We have a Government now that the first Monday in office, the first item on her agenda was to meet with the Social Partnership. In those three hours, we did more than we did in any eight-hour meeting with the previous Government.”
Herbert said it was the first time such a meeting had been held in an atmosphere in which “there was no hostility between labour and the private sector”.
Focusing on the Budget’s contents, the private sector leader said the heaviest burden in the first three-month phase of economic recovery was on tourism. He conceded some of the budgetary measures would dampen tourist arrivals, but suggested tourism was “just the first that has been asked to do heavy lifting”.
He maintained it was “not a Budget of austerity to the wider population.”
“Everybody in the population, almost, is going to have more income than they had before. It is one where the burden has been transferred so far to tourism and notice given to creditors,” Herbert argued.
Other panellists were acting president of the BCCI, Ezra Prescod; president of the Barbados Economic Society, Shane Lowe; and outgoing chairman of the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association, Roseanne Myers,
Moderator was David Prestwich, regional tax and legal services leader and a partner in PriceWaterhouse Coopers. (GC)