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Stuart: We must step up productivity

marciadottin, [email protected]

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ACTING PRIME MINISTER Freundel Stuart has urged Barbadians to step up productivity, saying it is one way of helping the island avoid economic disaster.Addressing a productivity conference at Hilton Barbados on Thursday, Stuart said the global economic crisis had limited Barbados’ development options, but getting people to be more productive remained key.He called for initiatives which “engage our employees to higher levels of effort, output and commitment.”He also spoke of the need to “radically transform the approach to how the pace at which and the enthusiasm with which things are done”.He said too that companies needed to use performance measurement data to promote profitability.According to Stuart, higher productivity in Barbados and elsewhere in the Caribbean must become the clarion call “if we as small, open economies are to survive the global challenge before us.”Stuart noted that part of the original protocol signed by the Social Partners called for the promotion of productivity initiatives.“For far too long, we have talked our way around the productivity issue,” he lamented.Stuart made the comments at the first regional tripartite productivity conference organised by the Productivity Council. The conference attracted economists and other productivity planners from Barbados, the Caribbean and the United States. Stuart, who estimated local productivity growth at 1.8 per cent in 2008, told the gathering productivity had to do with attitude and a state of the mind. While there was a need for a greater use of technology to increase output, “it is our human resource that will operate the technology”, he pointed out. He complained that Caribbean economies had lagged behind in the initiatives needed to boost productivity “to levels which would propel our trade competitiveness and economic development”.“Too many of our economies are characterised by labour intensiveness and insufficient emphasis on innovation,” he said. (TY)