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BIDC cuts coming?

Minister of Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss has hinted at a possible cut in Government’s budgetary allocation to the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC).

What’s more, Inniss told reporters that he strongly supported the view that some statutory entities should be abolished, merged or privatised in the case of “highly commercial” ones.

Inniss comments came today at the opening of Portico, a furniture and accessory showroom set up at Building #8, Spring Garden Industrial Estate. Portico, an approximately $40,000 investment, is a BIDC initiative in collaboration with the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association (BMA) and the City of Bridgetown Co-operative Credit Union (COB).

Addressing the gathering at the Spring Garden location, Inniss said: “We are going though the estimates for the BIDC on Wednesday and the knives are sharpened”.

However, when pressed later by reporters on if there would be a cut or if entities under his ministry were likely to be abolished, Inniss declined to give specifics. He would only say that emphasis would be placed on making them more efficient.

“People are focused now on the budget and when the Minister of Finance [Chris Sinckler] will bring the budget, but what is more important to many of us is the programme of activities that ministries and statutory entities will have to embark upon next financial year, starting April 1, 2015.

“We are all endeavouring to put our documents together and programmes and budgets together [and] discuss them with the Ministry of Finance and other stakeholders over the next couple of weeks. And I assume some of this information would inform what flows from the Minister of Finance in terms of the budgetary proposals whenever they are announced,”
explained Inniss.

He said “for the longest while” his ministry had been identifying areas of duplication, gross inefficiencies and wastage, adding that such “must become something of the past”.

Inniss said in his ministry the focus was on job creation, foreign exchange earnings and savings.

“Certainly the BIDC has been given a mandate to identify the priority areas in the industrial sector and to find innovative ways in which we can enhance their work,” added Inniss.

Recently, the Minister of Finance indicated that cuts were coming for non-critical areas of the public sector.

Inniss said that was something he agreed with in principle, but said it was up to the Prime Minister and Cabinet to make the pronouncements as to which entities would be affected, even within his ministry.

“I agree in principle that we need to merge and in some instances even abolish some of the state agencies. I commend Minister [of Culture and Sports] Stephen Lashley who started some of it in his own ministry through the gymnasium, [the National] Sports Council and such like. That is the direction we have to go.

“The days of a large number of state agencies with all separate boards and CEOs and then not getting the level of productivity and output from them, must be something of the past . . . Sometimes we have to cut what we have and bring them together and I suspect that is what is going to happen going forward,” added Inniss.

While opting not to name any of the statutory agencies, Inniss said he believed there were some that the Government should divest. This, he said, would “relieve the state of a burden while at the same time ensuring that the consumer or the public get a good service in the most efficient manner”.

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