RIGHT OF CENTRE: Mutual support from private, public sectors
From my perspective, Barbados has the ability to pull through these challenging times but we cannot do it in silos. If our various sectors are going to survive and succeed we must be prepared to support each other.
The public sector needs to support the private sector; while the private sector must meet its obligations to the public sector. Tourism, manufacturing and the services sectors all have to commit to working and supporting each other.
If there is a tourism project, tourism must turn to the manufacturing sector to fill its orders and meet its needs. How will locals be able to support the tourism sector during the off-peak season if those in manufacturing and other sub-sectors are struggling because tourism may have opted to purchase its products from abroad rather that giving local manufacturers the opportunity to service their needs and make an honest livelihood.
Many have proffered a negative view on the sale of Almond Beach Village; what I see is opportunities and jobs for locals. There will be a need for paint, windows, doors, beds, all of which can be provided right here and can boost the economy. Many see the negatives while I see the positives.
The purpose and message of the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association (BMA) has been steady, and the reality is, Barbadians are gradually coming on board and realizing the importance of putting Barbados first.
Take a look at the Banks Holdings Limited Group and their recent decision and initiatives that promote local first. Their efforts are commendable. This company has made a commitment to purchase locally produced items in favour of foreign produced goods even in instances where the price may be marginally higher than the imports; and it has been working.
Additionally, BHL embarked on a programme using their Intranet where its staff members are eligible to win prizes over the next three months for buying local when shopping in the supermarket. Employees will take a picture of their cart and submit the receipt and staff members across the group will vote weekly on the most creative and best photos.
This is a company that values the importance of supporting local. What is impressive is their efforts to help staff make that change in their personal lives as well; that is commitment and understanding.
We don’t want to moan and groan, we want to celebrate the positive changes we see taking place across Barbados every day. We have to make the choice and we cannot sit and wait for government or any super hero to come save us, we have to put our hands to the plough and work together to safeguard our future.
There will always be the naysayers and those who prefer to complain and wait for others to dig them out of their hole. It’s time to take the shovel in hand and start digging yourself out or help dig someone else out who will be able to help you at a later date.
We all have to make a difference and we cannot discount the importance of the seemingly small steps. Banks Holdings has made a giant step and we encourage other enterprises to follow their lead.
• Bobbi McKay is executive director of the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association.