EDITORIAL: Making commerce easy
IT HAS BEEN STRESSED so often and by so many people that by now all Barbadians should be familiar with the urgent importance of making it easier to do business on the island.
It is also obvious that the country must embrace commerce, especially in the current challenging economic circumstances where private investment is clearly the best vehicle to lead the country’s economic growth by providing good jobs and creating wealth.
In an ever-changing and increasingly competitive global business environment, Barbados needs to stand out as a domicile which enhances the development of business, regardless of size or origin, be it local or international.
This will necessitate three main actors – Government, the private sector and labour – ensuring that this country can move from talk to implementation of the vision.
It also means that Government cannot be just a casual observer in this process but must be the main facilitator for the private sector to stimulate economic activity. It must put meaningful measures in place and remove those which are both a burden and often punitive.
There is the need for major foreign direct investment inflows, which will be challenging, given the competition for these funds worldwide. There are also local investors, both big and small, willing to take risk.
The one common factor among all business people is to be able to avoid unnecessary red tape and bureaucratic hurdles. They simply want an easier pathway to conduct their business activities in a fiercely aggressive environment.
While the country must have strong regulation in place it must also guard against overregulation.
Understandably, there will be some unscrupulous people, both local and foreign, who will want to set up business with no regard for any rules and regulations. What is required is that businesses registered here be able to maintain confidence that their reputation will be enhanced and not tarnished by operating in this jurisdiction.
Legislation must be relevant to encourage those wanting to do business and take risks. So that the business sector must be able to reorganise in an effort to re-emerge especially during these difficult times. There is a need for laws dealing with issues such as bankruptcy protection similar to Chapter 11 in the United States. We must also change those statutes and conventions which impose unnecessary burdens on businesses, as are borne by our rum producers.
The objective of transforming Barbados into a world-class entrepreneurial hub by 2020 can still be realised. To make it happen will require not only Government and capital working together but for the labour movement to get onboard and be a major change agent.
The country needs to be recognised by organisations such as the World Economic Forum and its Global Competitiveness Report as among the best places to do business. Not only is Barbados’ reputation an issue here, but the country’s continued growth and development.