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NEW YEAR’S MESSAGE: A chance to turn ship around

Lalu Vaswani, president of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry

NEW YEAR’S MESSAGE: A chance to turn ship around

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The dawn of a New Year affords us the opportunity to transform hope into prosperity. Apart from material wealth or achievement, prosperity is defined more in terms of the preciousness of life itself, as represented by health, family, friends and even our jobs.
Like the start of a new chapter, we have the chance to shed our past mistakes and make changes that will help us to advance.
Businesses need to count their blessings, by further recognizing the invaluable worth of their staff in ensuring their ability to deliver value to customers and shareholders.
The members of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry have steadfastly sought to protect the livelihoods of their 30 000 employees despite the tough economic conditions of the past five or more years. The sacrifices borne by both business owners and their staff members (and workers’ representatives) are to be highly commended.
Business will continue doing everything possible to preserve jobs, but will definitely need to have a constant and adequate supply of confidence, to not only sustain itself, but also to grow. It is through growth and development that businesses can succeed and by extension the national economy will blossom.
Government’s current economic challenges are serious and severe; but they are not insurmountable. The key element to achieve success is for Government to exemplify “harmony in thought, word and deed”.  
Enunciating policies that have been carefully considered from the perspective of national welfare and sustainability will only bear fruit when they are implemented judiciously and with due sensitivity as well as in a timely manner. Making structural changes that will result in long-term benefit for the nation is essential to our economic recovery and our ability to reap the fruit, namely prosperity.
Even as our public sector is undergoing the necessary challenge of rationalization of services to achieve optimum results for the economy, their role in promoting greater efficiency and impacting national productivity cannot be understated. Many investment proposals are virtually ready to launch upon approval or resolution of processes. Let us work together to improve our delivery while protecting the integrity of our laws and regulations.
Foreign investment
Foreign investment which is essential to our economic recovery is also awaiting the rise of confidence to normal levels. Our ability to demonstrate that every small, medium and large project can be granted due process of approval with efficiency will be the key means to regain the confidence of overseas investors.
Let us also remember that while austerity measures have to be endured for a while as part of a national strategy, austerity alone will not ensure success in establishing economic recovery. The ability for local and foreign investors to identify and seize opportunities will positively impact our foreign exchange situation and provide jobs for our citizens who seek employment.
Barbados’ future is at a critical point. We have shown from past experiences that we have the ability to collaborate and counter any challenge through social dialogue. While the current situation may appear daunting, once we build on our established track record, then the BCCI feels confident that together, labour, Government and the private sector can rise to the occasion to preserve past gains and restore Barbados to prosperity.
Given Government’s recent announcement to take the important steps to contain the deficit, it is only necessary to continue implementing all actions to avoid further deterioration of our economic standing while seeking equity for all.
With the bountiful blessings of the Almighty, let us hold firm to our faith in ourselves to do what is right for our nation in all our actions.

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