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MANY ENTREPRENEURS HAVE talent and, given the opportunity, can excel. They require access to capital, enabling legislation, a skilled domestic workforce and, most important, limited bureaucracy to succeed. Indeed, too much bureaucracy can choke an enterprise while in its infancy.
The Messi(s) and Lara(s) of this world are exceptional and can transfer their skills to any stadia, both in the developed and developing world. This is possible only because the rules of the game are the same wherever they go. Only the officials change and their purpose is to enforce the rules of the game so that it flows fairly for both sides.
Never should there be a question of impartiality or the belief that the result is predetermined due to under-hand dealings. Similarly, the private sector in this country can only excel if they know that they are competing on a level surface, where their competitors have to play by the same rules and the outcome is never predetermined but shaped by market forces and enhanced by local knowledge!
When the officials blatantly miss a flagrant foul or do not give a batsman out, thereby altering the natural flow of the game, then the outcome is no longer the result of a fair contest between competitors.
In fact, the integrity and ability of all officials are called into question and forever their shortcomings will cast a dark shadow of uncertainty and low confidence. The private sector cannot exist in a vacuum, neither can any government or labour union. We must all coexist to ensure a better country and, by extension, prosperity for us all.
The members of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as others in the private sector, have exhibited maturity, patriotism and responsibility in maintaining their investments in Barbados as well as employment levels at well over 100 000.
This, however, has come at a cost of lower profit levels and reduced capital investment in new and existing ventures as our economic future is at best uncertain.
Businesses have to plan for worst-case scenarios, not the best case, as history has taught us to be prudent with our shareholders’ investments. So it is especially refreshing today when I’m reminded that there are areas in the Barbadian landscape where businesses can participate and achieve growth.
Technology, tourism and related services, international education, health care services and the international business sectors remain the low-hanging fruit that can and will deliver the greatest return for our investment.
These investments need to be nurtured and given incentives. Most important, bureaucracy should be kept to a minimum so as to ultimately provide our country with foreign exchange, quality jobs and a path to a sustainable future.
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry remains committed to brainstorming problem-solving solutions through the mechanism of the Social Partnership and to ensure full compliance of policy through a tripartite oversight committee.
We recognise that the hour is late and our options are limited, so national success can only be guaranteed with a fully inclusive approach.
Eddy Abed is president of the Barbados of Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He expressed these views in the latest edition of the Chamber’s monthly newsletter.