Issue greater than ownership
Accountant David Simpson believes that on the issue of privatisation there has been a lot of concern about a country retaining a national say in entities that were previously government owned.
Simpson expressed this view on Saturday night while speaking at the First People’s Forum on Privatisation: The Barbados Model at the Springer Memorial School, Government Hill, St. Michael.
He said: “I tend to have a different view because I do not believe that it matters who owns an entity, whether private, whether national, whether regional, whether international. The bigger question for us and will continue to be: what is the contribution that the particular entity is making to us as citizens of Barbados.
“In this regard therefore there are a range of approaches that can be used to the privatisation of entities. The one that tends to be put in the public domain more often is the 100 per cent sale of the entity. I think that is one of the approaches available to us.”
Simpson said his favourite approach was the one that focussed on the people “therefore we create entrepreneurial opportunities for the existing employees within agencies that you might consider privatising”.
“In that regard however, it takes us a bit outside the issue of high cost of privatisation because I believe that if we are to involve employees and citizens in the privatisation process, it will also require us to change and renew our focus on education from primary to tertiary.
“One thing is certain, if in privatising we want to save cost in terms of government, we also want to ensure there is still adequate and efficient access to services… So for privatised entities to continue to function well, there has to be some business management and understanding of what it will take across any particular sector.
“Understand that we are possibly looking at a privatisation exercise that will encompass health care, transport, eduction, maintenance, landscaping a whole range of services. Therefore, we need to ensure that any prospective owners – whether the existing private sector, employees or other citizens – are adequately equipped. So eventually this exercise will lead us to having to consider a serious revamping of our educational system and the approach we are taking,” Simpson said. (NC)