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BPSA: We must change

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

BPSA: We must change

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Government has been told to look carefully at its spending and deal with those inefficient areas which were a burden rather than letting an external agency tell it what must be done.
This warning came from the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA], whose chairman John Williams said yesterday: “It is time for all Barbadians to face up to the fact that the successes that we have enjoyed in the past are in danger of being eroded if we do not change the way we do business – in Government, in the private sector, in the labour movement, and as a people.”
Williams’ comments came in response to the Central Bank’s Review Of Barbados’ Economic Performance For The First Nine Months of 2011 which highlighted the island’s vulnerable fiscal position.
He noted that the economic recession had gone on much longer than was expected with no clear indication of when it would end, and felt that while Barbados could not change what was going on in the outside world, “we could change what is within our control in Barbados”.
Speaking on behalf of the umbrella organization for the major local private sector bodies,?Williams cautioned against the continuation of Government borrowing at current levels.
“Over several years, Governments have been spending a lot more than the revenue they collect, and this has resulted in an extremely high national debt and a continuing annual shortfall that is making this situation worse. Although there has been some improvement in the deficit position, it has largely been driven by increasing taxes rather than fundamental changes to how Government spends money.”
In making a case against more borrowing, the BPSA noted that national debt was $2.5 billion in 1995; by 2007, it had moved to $5.6 billion and in 2010, it reached $8.2 billion, which works out at a debt of $30 000 for each Barbadian.
“The Barbados Private Sector Association believes that swift action is needed to avoid an external body or agency telling Barbados what to do, as has happened elsewhere.  
“We do not believe that widespread layoffs, whether in the public or private sector is the answer, but the Government of Barbados cannot get away from immediately taking serious and likely unpopular decisions on reforming those ineffective and wasteful areas f public spending that plague us.
Williams said Barbadians knew where money was being wasted and where service was unacceptable, as was evident from the discourse on call-in programmes and public debate.
“We must also grow our economy,” he said, noting that growth required investor confidence and making business opportunities attractive as well as tackling problems quickly and with purpose.
“We do not subscribe to the view that investor confidence will evaporate if we discuss these matters in a forthright manner. Indeed, we need greater transparency in our debate on important national issues,” Williams said, observing that likely investors, both local and foreign, were already aware of the existing situation – both the advantages and drawbacks of investing and doing business in Barbados.
“We must emphasise the former but demonstrate that we are willing to act on, not just talk about, the latter.”
The leading businessman said the private sector would do its utmost to encourage new investment and business and that the BPSA stood ready to do its part with Government and the Congress of Staff Associations and Trade Unions within the Social Partnership or other specially constituted task force to deal with the current issues facing the economy.  
“Together, we can seek to return our country to being efficient and offering great service.
“Together, we can chart a path for growth of the economy.  
“Together, we can demonstrate the strong leadership that is required at this time to return Barbados to the enviable position of a vibrant small island economy and a major business hub in this region.” (PR/ES)