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Gov’t urged: Find ways to create growth

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

Gov’t urged: Find ways to create growth

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President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados (ICAB) David Simpson has described as “disturbing” the projection that there will be no increase in the contribution of tourism and international business to the economy this year.
Referring to the Central Bank of Barbados’ prediction that gross domestic product was expected to remain flat, he expressed concern about the performance of the island’s two main foreign exchange earners.
Speaking last week during a news conference at ICAB’s Hastings, Christ Church office, he said Government and the relevant stakeholders had to find ways to create “at least minimal growth” in these sectors.
“We are aware we have lots of tax treaties in existence,” Simpson said. “There’s a lot of legislation in place to encourage investment from the international businesses around the world but one harsh reality even in terms of tourism, is that tourists and businesses alike are going to other destinations that ultimately are lower cost operating destinations.” 
Simpson said the high cost of energy and other inputs was also causing local manufacturers to lose bids to countries with lower production costs.
“They are offering what in our scenario is the lowest cost to produce the product or service. However, there are other destinations in CARICOM as well that are able to do it at an even lower cost and so we are losing in that regard.” 
The ICAB president said the country had to become more innovative.
“The stakeholders in tourism, international business [and] manufacturing need to determine what can we do differently and even if our costs remain high  . . . , what are the things we can do within our industries to make our products and our services more attractive,” he said.
Simpson also suggested that the island leverage its relationship with China.
“We have a resident ambassador in China. What is there, if anything, that we can learn from China in terms of manufacturing? What is it that they have been able to do to achieve low cost production that we may be able to borrow?” he queried.
The accountant said Barbados should also explore the possibility of securing Chinese investment to improve some of its processes and make the island more efficient and attractive. (NB)