EDITORIAL: Right move to meet with REDjet
It seems clear from all the signs around us that the debate on the relationship between Government and business will continue to occupy attention for quite a while longer.
The completion of the Estimates Debate in the Senate and the news that Moody’s,
the international rating agency, has advised that the Barbadian economy will achieve the very modest growth of one per cent are not exactly music to the ears of local people, or indeed investors who may wish to come here to do business.
Clearly, the recession has not made it any easier to do business, and while we hold no brief for business as such, but rather for the public interest, we must applaud those entrepreneurial people who possess the special kind of skills which allow them to open business ventures even in this recession, described as the worst since the last great depression many decades ago.
And it is the public interest which occupies our focus first and foremost. In this context it is in the public interest for airfares in the region to be as low as prudent economics will permit.
It is equally true that the economic and social development of our people in this region requires travel from one island to another.
Equally so, it must be important for private sector ventures like REDjet and other businesses with a regional face to start up and to flourish, and to remain viable. The region needs businesses of these kinds.
As an example, REDjet brought to the table the possibility for a business model different from that of LIAT, and it is clear that there is room at the top for both these entities to exist. But our main point is that the regional and domestic economic landscape may not be as inviting as it should be and the private capital of the entrepreneur unassisted by the state may find its way into more immediately attractive ventures.
We therefore applaud the decision of Prime Minister Stuart to talk with the owners and operators of REDjet and leave it to his wisdom and that of his Minister of Tourism and the Minister Responsible For Aviation to reach whatever decisions they think the Barbadian public interest demands; but corporate operators and our Government should not be regarded as anything less than partners in a common enterprise aimed ultimately at the public good.
Sometimes some of the rhetoric coming from the political arena may give a different impression, but governments have a duty to lay the appropriate framework for businesses to operate and, if successful, make a profit.
For their part, corporate managers have a heavy social and public responsibility to use their private capital in a manner which recognizes their significant part of the governance peace and good order of this society.
The issues raised by the REDjet and CLICO calamities, as well as the Four Seasons problems, all highlight the symbiotic relationship that should exist between government and business.
Whether business fails or prospers is a matter of great concern to governments and all societies are the poorer when the relationship between government and business becomes adversarial and the public interest suffers.
Mr Stuart is right to meet with REDjet.