Gale: Private sector must lead
BARBADOS IS NO LONGER in recession, but our future economic growth must be private-sector led, according to Lisa Gale, executive director of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
“A recession is when a country has three consecutive quarters of negative growth and Barbados is no longer in that position,” Gale said.
“We are reeling from the effects of the recession, therefore it is now ‘how do we grow’, ‘how do we expand’, ‘how do we increase our inflows’ – those are the types of conversations we need to be having. How do we improve our competitiveness, what legislation do we need to helps us improve.”
Gale’s statements mirror the concerns that the International Monetary Fund has concerning the country’s ability to sustain itself especially with Europe bracing for another slowdown and the United States still buckling due to high unemployment.
Last week in his report on the Barbados economy for 2011, Central Bank Governor Dr DeLisle Worrell said we could expect growth of one per cent or less this year.
As the IMF also indicated that the country’s high level of public debt would limit the DLP administration’s spending on capital projects that would boost growth prospects, Gale is adamant that the private sector must lead the charge.
Gale, who had recently finished a meeting trying to sell Barbados to international investors, told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY that the private sector needed to be emboldened in the area of boosting exports.
“I would love to see businesses becoming more export-driven and increase their competitiveness – whether it is through a reduction in cost, whether it is moving the barriers and hinges that stop the success of business, that is where I see my role,” she said.
“I would love to see us more international-trade focused and not just looking inward. Barbados is too small by itself to really become competitive so we really need some international partners, we need strong joint ventures and that venture-capitalist approach and we don’t have that here in Barbados.
Private capital inflows
“We need to do those things if we want to become the entrepreneurial hub that we say we want to be.”
Recent economic reports reveal that private capital inflows which resulted in over $1.5 billion in 2007 are now less than half that amount. Those reports also indicated that the total local investment in Barbados is $500 million less than in 2007.
Many economic and financial experts like Gale have stated that the private sector must be the spark for the future development of Barbados.
Gale also said she wants the chamber to institute more programmes geared to the growth of small and medium-sized businesses and to help existing large businesses expand.
“What I would love my legacy to be for the private sector is that they move towards a more competitive business environment and one where growth is private-sector led and not Government-induced,” Gale said.
“If I can leave that legacy behind, that would be an accomplishment.”