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Call to fix implementation woes

SHAWN CUMBERBATCH, [email protected]

Call to fix implementation woes

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BARBADOS NEEDS TO drive into the project implementation fast lane.

Such acceleration would be helped by a commercial court that deals with contractual and other disputes.

Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados (ICAB) executive director Reginald Farley made the recommendations in an interview with BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY.

Farley, who held several business-related portfolios in the last Barbados Labour Party Cabinet, and who is a former Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry executive director, shared Central Bank Acting Governor Cleviston Haynes’ concern that delayed projects had hampered economic recovery.

The ICAB spokesman noted that some delays were obvious while others were subtle but just as harmful.

“Yes, we have the two per cent growth, good place to start. The question is how much more growth can we get, and how much faster can it happen if we actually have accelerated project implementation? It is a major problem.”

“There are some obvious symptoms that project implementation isn’t strong in Barbados and there are some that are quieter that you don’t hear about. For example, the difficulty in doing relatively simple things like renewing a driver’s licence, getting a police certificate of character and paying our taxes.”

Farley said this challenge was not a reflection on workers, but the system. Neither was it a public sector problem, since the private sector, too, was culpable.

“I think that we don’t do things in the most efficient way so that productivity and competitiveness can improve. And I think that as a country we have to commit ourselves and Government can do quite a lot,” he added.

“Not that the private sector is perfect. There are many private sector businesses in which there is weak management, where the systems are bad, where customer service is poor. So this is not private sector versus Government sector, but nationally. And I think Government can lead by example by committing to a culture of continuous improvement.”

Project implementation issues were at the heart of it, Farley said. He was, therefore, not in agreement with Government representatives “scoffing at” the Ease Of Doing Business scores produced by the World Bank, which showed Barbados had regressed in its annual index.

Even though some may view it as “non-business related”, Farley also said that a more efficient court system, and especially the establishment of a commercial court, would help with project implementation and related competitiveness issues.

“We have advocated, at ICAB, that we need to move to the point of having a commercial court that deals with commercial disputes. To have two businesses locked in a commercial dispute in the courts for ten or 12 years, and there are actual examples of that, how can the companies move forward?

“If they are fantastically wealthy and the money doesn’t matter, this is just a principle they are fighting, no big deal. But how about smaller companies whose very existence is threatened by the particular lawsuit or commercial dispute?”

He added: “Increasingly, we are seeing contracts being drawn up in Barbados – especially where it is between an overseas company and a local company – [where they] are opting to make the law of the contract the law of another country, rather than Barbados. And that’s not good for us as a proud, strong independent country.” (SC)