RECENTLY LAID OFF public workers, especially from the Transport Board and the debushing programme, should form groups or co-operatives and approach Government to perform the same tasks as when they were salaried.
The suggestion came yesterday from president of the Small Business Association (SBA),?Dalton Medford, as he participated in a panel discussion that was part of the two-day 16th annual conference of the Human Resource Management Association of Barbados (HRMAB) at the Radisson Aquatica Resort.
Discussion was on the topic: The Economy – People, Problems and Perspectives.
Medford, owner of a printing firm, said opportunities were available to former Transport Board workers and those from the National Environment Enhancement Programme (NEEP), in particular.
“One of the things that the Government said that caused them to go towards the free bus services for the [school]children [was] because they wanted them off the minibuses,” he recalled. “Why can’t these guys at Transport Board, who are trained, set up something and say, ‘listen, just the bus services for the schoolchildren? The Government would pay for the fares but you buy a bus. You’ve got the gas, the diesel, the staff,
but every month the Government gives you ‘X’ amount of money for transporting just the schoolchildren. Because we said we wanted them off the minibuses.”
Medford said there were people formerly at the National Housing Corporation (NHC), the National Conservation Commission (NCC) and the NEEP programme who had all worked outdoors.
“We’ve got a food import bill that is killing us. Why can’t we put these people in a farming co-op? They already work outside, you are working outdoors. There are opportunities but everybody throwing their hands up in the air. We are a country that is ,tourist-oriented, so the [place] has to be cleaned. So you still have to weed alongside the road, do all the debushing and the drainage.
“Why can’t these people put themselves into groups and go to Government with a proposal? The thing still has to be done. But we will wait until somebody else does it and then we complain.”
Medford told the human resource practitioners their job was to wake up the people in the event they had to part with some staff.
President of the Barbados Economic Society, Jeremy Stephen, suggested that as part of a programme of diversification of the economy, Barbados could look to become a transshipment point, and also go after the new version of the high-end tourist market.
He added that with transshipment would be information technology (IT) companies coming into the region to help handle the logistics as well as health practitioners “because if you have transshipment, it means the goods per unit weight should be cheaper than they were before to land them domestically”.
“Further on from that, you can also get a new kind of tourism – the very high-end version of tourism.
“Why? You can land goods even cheaper and you could afford to re-market to more expensive economies, [and] also establish trade routes to Africa . . . ,” Stephen said. (AB)