Time to move forward, says BCCI president

Veteran hotelier, Bernie Weatherhead (right), business journalist, Patrick Hoyos (centre) and a business executive at the review discussion.
Veteran hotelier, Bernie Weatherhead (right), business journalist, Patrick Hoyos (centre) and a business executive at the review discussion.

The head of this country’s business sector is suggesting that members give Government’s budgetary proposals time to work.

President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Lalu Vaswani, told the 2013 Post-Budget Breakfast Review arranged by his organisation at Hilton Barbados this morning, that Minister of Finance, Chris Sinckler, subscribed to the notion in his Budget, that the best way to solve a problem was to first acknowledge, that one existed.

Vaswani told a well-attended session, that the minister acknowledged Barbados had a problem and put forward formal proposals to solve it.

“The Minister of Finance did this on the floor of Parliament by actually acknowledging that they had a problem and actually put forward formal proposals to address the expenditure side,” he pointed out.

“Yes, we have some questions based on credibility of past performance, but that’s a different aspect. But they acknowledged it. That is a critical point.”

He noted that the emphasis of the solution contained in the Budget was making the lead sectors lead the solution. Vaswani identified tourism, international business as among those industries on which the measures focussed.

“That was a very fundamental point. For the last 32 years, the GDP fluctuations of the economy have worked in tandem with the tourism activity in Barbados; so it’s really a no-brainer that that’s where we get out income from, and that needs to be supported consistently, effectively and promptly, so that we can get the benefits,” the chamber’s head reasoned.

“The past is the past, we can’t change it. Let’s see how we can move forward,” he continued.

He said the Government recognised as well the loss of confidence and the lack of credibility in implementing previously promised measures. Vaswani suggested that the monitoring and monthly reporting systems proposed would answer the credibility issue.

However, he saw the Government proposals as a “dry run on a voluntary basis, that if we don’t succeed, it will be mandatorily done”. The business sector leader said it was critical the measures be implemented.

“It is positive that mechanisms be put in place, but they must be implemented; and it is our responsibility to hold their feet to the fire.”

Vaswani said he did not believe Government had to find all the solutions, but that the business sector also had a role to play. He referred to what he called the ethos of an organisation such as the public service, and drew from an earlier comment from President of the Bankers’ Association, Horace Cobham, that in order to fire someone in the Government sector, they had to be given 25 years notice. He called for a greater focus on productivity in each department. (EJ)


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