Why the haste with 10-point plan?
BARBADIANS COULD BE forgiven if they view with some scepticism Government’s presentation on Thursday of what has been dubbed a 10-point plan to restimulate the tourism sector in particular and, by extension, the national economy in which it plays a most crucial role.
Such doubts among the public would involve the timing of the announcement as much as the contents of the programme as outlined by Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy and supported by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler.
For in the midst of widespread grumbling that the political leadership was not keeping the public regularly and fully informed as to the state of the economy, people had been told that the grand national corrective plan would be detailed in the 2013 Budget, due to be delivered in a few weeks by Sinckler.
People are therefore wondering what then must have driven the Government, almost on the eve of the Budget, to break its virtual silence and come to the country with what could only be described as a partial action plan for the tourism section of the economy without it being indicated how this programme would fit into the long-term plan for tourism in particular and the economy in general.
Could this announcement then have been a knee-jerk response to the pressure of public opinion and what relationship,if any, its disclosure might or could have had with the revision by Standard & Poor’s of Barbados’ economic outlook to negative and whose public announcement occurred on the same day as the Government’s media conference.
Without going into the technical and other details of Minister Sealy’s 10-point plan for tourism, the overall perception of it is that it does not contain any exciting and potent elements that could in a short period breathe new life into the sector, whose continued stagnation, if not decline, is justifiable cause of concern for those directly involved in it and the rest of the society whose well-being is so heavily dependent on its state of health.
It is quite certain that the tourism practitioners will welcome the steps Sinckler indicated will be taken to assist the sector that is crying out for restoration to its former days of glory. However, they will also readily admit that the initiatives intended to bring them relief in operating costs are tentative and very limited and do not in any way begin to seriously address the overriding fact that the high cost of doing business here continues to make Barbados highly uncompetitive in a regional and international cut-throat environment.
So that while something is much better than nothing where tourism is concerned, both those intimately involved in its operations and the country as a whole must therefore be looking forward with anxiety to the contents of the promised August Budget with the hope that at long last the country will be provided with a comprehensive, convincing and coherent set of policies and programmes that will leave them with encouragement about their future.