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Forum for concensus

Natasha Beckles

Forum for concensus

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A NON-PARTISAN NATIONAL consultation should be convened to chart Barbados’ social and economic course.
This suggestion has come from Barbados Private Sector Association president John Williams who said political parties, labour, the private sector, the church and the “man on the street” should reach a consensus on the future of the island.
“What I think is lacking is a forum for that consultation to take place and for that consensus to come out,” he said.
“Obviously, we have our institutions such as Parliament . . . the Social Partnership, even the call-in programmes. They’re all kind of bits of it.
“We have had, historically, what have been termed public-private sector consultations but they have not necessarily been designed in such a way as to come out with consensus on that key issue of where do we want to go, what we want Barbados to look like, how we want Barbados to function.
“If we want to be a competitive economy, if we want to be an entrepreneurial hub, we have to look and see what are the things that prevent us from either being there now or achieving it in that time frame.”
Conceding that the idea of a national development plan was not new, the chief executive officer of Cave Shepherd and Company Ltd said very often such plans only lasted the length of the administration which designed them.
Referring to the National Strategic Plan 2005-2025, Williams said while it was “an excellent document”, the consultation was not fully inclusive of the then Opposition Democratic Labour Party and therefore came to be viewed as a partisan document rather than a national document.
Williams noted that the Social Partnership was not being utilized to its fullest potential and could be used as the foundation for developing the proposed master plan.
“I believe that there is no reason why we could not put together the consultative part of the process as well as the preparation of the document within six months if we put our minds to it.
“A consultation of that scale in Barbados is something that can be organized very quickly,” Williams added. “There are no large distances to travel and the representatives are known.”

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