RIGHT OF CENTRE: United effort needed by all
The worldwide recession has brought to the fore many issues that we need to address as a nation, but I believe that not all of them were necessarily caused by this or any previous recession affecting our country, the region or the world.
There can be little advancement or progress with respect to our social and financial well-being without a strong and robust economic engine – but this all requires a national effort on the part of each citizen and led by the Government, the private sector and the trade unions in transparent and meaningful cooperation.
We must be clear that fiscal and monetary measures alone will not secure our future.
The state has found itself in a very unsustainable position of a high debt to GDP ratio coupled with a rising fiscal deficit and overbearing interest on debt commitments.
While it is clear that some reduction of expenditure and indebtedness on the part of the state is required.
Government needs to continue efforts to provide an environment for wealth creation, entrepreneurship and innovation within its ministries and agencies, but also within the economy at large.
Government should identify the areas of service and production that it need not be involved in, and create suitable engines for the provision of the good or service to the public, while still shielding the less vulnerable in society.
Government through its policies must encourage new and sustainable investments in our key sectors, nurturing them to success in the initial stages and thereafter matching.
Government must hold off any further taxation on incomes.
The private sector must be leaders and the providers of the vehicle that will accommodate major growth within our economy, and while concessions and incentives from Government are useful, the absence of such should not retard or prevent private sector initiatives.
The private sector needs to assess and change its core business models to suit the new economic realities – The new model for SuperCentre/ Dacosta Mannings is such an example.
It must focus resources on the creation of product variations and new products for export markets that will earn foreign exchange.
The private sector must seek opportunities to support and cooperate across industries and sectors to achieve real reduction in the consumption of foreign exchange for imports – greater linkages between manufacturing and tourism; agriculture and tourism; agriculture and manufacturing.
It must create and implement robust productivity and pay for performance schemes that will motivate employees to improve performances while reducing unnecessary labour costs;
It must also continue to promote the buy local campaigns, aided by efforts to improve the quality and variation of items available for sale.
Trade unions as the leaders and representatives of labour are critical to any process to take our economy forward during and beyond the current crisis.
They must inspire members to embrace the core objectives of their employers – whether Government or private sector – and ensure members understand that employment is not their right and to be kept must be earned through productivity and performance
They must devise collective agreements that ensure the security of employees, but do not threaten or retard business development or the ability to respond to business risks and challenges that arise.
We as the public often believe that there is little if anything at all that we can contribute to plan or action to take this Barbadian economy forward.
We must seek to reduce our dependence on central Government and its agencies to meet the full costs of several key services. We must commit ourselves to enhancing corporate performance through our personal performance, in return for a fair share of the resulting profits
We must actively contribute to the creation of a new inclusive culture within our workplaces, where we are all collectively responsible for corporate success and individual advancement.
We must also change our buying patterns and tastes to facilitate a reduction in our import bill.
• David Simpson is president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados.