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RIGHT OF CENTRE: Keep beast in good pasture

Randolph Sandiford

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The Barbados economy is an aggregate of all business activities in both goods and services within the confines of Barbados. As such, what we refer to as the “economy” is derived and thus does not have a pulse of its own.
As a result, we need not focus on the economy but the parts or components that give life to it. A person on a cart being pulled by a donkey owes his forward momentum to the strength of the animal first and foremost. We could engage in many types of philosophical debates about the terrain that the cart is travelling in and we certainly would have great robust discussion.
We might even resort to strong muscular language, but at the end of the day we still have to acknowledge the beast of burden.
It is the animal pulling the cart and it does not matter what colour clothing the driver prefers.
The beast of burden is representative of each business in each subsector in Barbados. We should know by now what are the optimum conditions necessary to ensure forward momentum by this animal. Even if he is not feeling well at any given time, given our collective intelligence and experience, we should be au fait with the solutions.
It is a given that Government must have greater control over its spending, but the focus has to be on the beast of burden and its ability to pull. Most of the discussion has been on Government finances. Some of us actually wonder whether our economy would have any negative issues if the fiscal deficit was always at one to two per cent of GDP. We wonder whether unemployment would be an issue or indeed foreign reserves.
Let us focus on the beast. The experts have spoken on what are considered to be the major sectors of the Barbados economy. Indeed macro plans have been advanced for tourism and international business.
All of what has transpired between early 2009 and now has strong similarities to the post-2001 period. I refer to the positions advanced by the various interest groups.
The question that suggests itself is this: how is it that in the post-911 period we gave ourselves credit for embarking on a solution to the economic bad weather facing us then, only to realize that in the post-2008 period we appear to have greater problems?
Could it be that as blissful as it was between 2002 and 2007, that the solutions embarked upon were only partial solutions or temporary? Are the solutions being advanced today fundamental enough to ensure that regardless of the weather we face in the future or the terrain the beast of burden encounters we would be better able to continue a forward momentum?
I am not convinced.
The only way to move the cart forward consistently over time is to have a plan which is informed by knowledge at the level of the firm (the beast of burden) and where policies (terrain) support the opportunities for growth and good health of the firm.
In manufacturing, agriculture and agro-processing, we should not aim for that elusive “level playing field”, we should aim for advantage. We have to focus on the beast of burden. Do not sell him. Feed him well and keep him in good pasture.
• Randolph Sandiford is the managing director of Matrix Marketing.