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Xmas shopping shadow

Geralyn Edward

Xmas shopping shadow

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The economy’s anaemic performance in the first three quarters of 2011 is likely to overshadow the upcoming Christmas period.
And a top private sector head told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY that the one per cent growth reported by the Central Bank of Barbados was representative of what was happening on the ground.
John Williams, chief executive officer of Cave Shepherd & Co. and head of the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA), said the last three months of the year were most important to business activity and while the economy was expected to see a spike in spending, businesses were not expecting a “bumper season”.
If in fact it surpasses last year’s performance, Williams said, he would be surprised.
The Central Bank of Barbados has already cut back its growth predictions for the island for the year.  Economic activity is lagging one per cent behind the two per cent growth projected at the beginning of the year.
In an interview in Kingston, Jamaica, where he was attending the launch of Compete Caribbean last Tuesday, Williams said: “When it comes to growth, we know that it is very difficult for us to grow when our major trading partners – countries that are supplying us with visitors for the tourism product or international business – their economies are not performing well.”
Williams, whose company Cave Shepherd took the drastic action to temporarily cut the salaries of its senior employees by ten per cent in 2009 to prevent any lay-offs among its hundreds of retail staff, said he was concerned about the lack of concrete action by Government to reduce its ballooning deficit.
“What we are not seeing is the speed and decisiveness of action being taken in areas of Government expenditure where it is inefficient and where it is wasteful.
“It has been identified what reform needs to happen, and those reforms are not happening,” the private sector leader lamented.
Asked whether he was advocating job cuts in the public sector as a way of bringing down state expenditure, the BPSA boss said: “We are saying that you have to cut expenditure.
“We are also saying that there are ways of cutting those expenditures that come through reforming. It will not be painless – it will be painful.
“I am not saying that it is not going to be painful, that there would not be job cuts in some places. What we certainly are not advocating is the wholesale sending home of people.
“[Government should acknowledge that] there are a lot of areas where the expenditure is wasteful, rather than just saying to keep the same structure and the same system and keep pouring money into it”.
“That is our concern right now.”