Shut up and drive, says Bizzy
A prominent businessman is calling on the Government to stop talking and start delivering.
Founder and chairman of Williams Industries Inc. Ralph ‘Bizzy’ Williams said for too long there had been a lot of talk about expanding the renewable energy sector and reducing the island’s more than $700 million food import bill through sustainable agriculture, but he complained today that there was still very little movement.
The outspoken businessman suggested that in addition to science and technology “discipline and work ethic is sadly lacking” in Barbados and the region.
He was participating in a science and technology panel discussion at the 3W’s Oval this morning on the topic Science and Technology Education: A Future Driver for Social and Economic Development in the Region.
Pointing to the island’s high food import bill and questioning why more Barbadians did not want to get into farming, Williams said recently some Guyanese approached him and wanted to lease some land to produce onions and other crops and he agreed to lease the land at “a very low rate” since it was looking “promising”.
“However, the project fell through because the farmers wanted to bring modern technology here and mechanize the farm and they were refused any sort of incentives. They were told they would have to pay full duty on the equipment and there were no incentives available. Now if we in Barbados are spending so much money on food and everybody is concerned about our foreign exchange position why would we not try to support the farming community to the extent that we could?”
The other area, he said, that needed “a sense of urgency” was the area of renewable energy.
The renewable energy advocate lamented that the island was spending “a tremendous amount of foreign exchange” to import oil for energy when it should be focusing on using energy from the sun and wind.
“We need to wake up and understand that these things are urgent and they need to be done and not talk about them all day long. We are very good talkers and not very good doers. It is time we wake up in Barbados and stop talking and get to doing,” said Williams, adding that there were job opportunities to be created.
Opting not to give details, Williams said he had applied to put a wind turbine on an area of land close to his BRC office but his application was “turned down”. He further disclosed that a German professor who recently visited Barbados had also given a proposal to the Government showing that the island could produce “all of its energy” from renewable sources.
Acknowledging that there was a “big problem” with energy storage, Williams pledged to offer the university “some funding” to carry out research into what storage capacities were available, those that were being developed, and which ones would be best for Barbados at the most reasonable price.
He pledged funding to help the university with research to determine “why Barbadians no longer wish to farm?”
Williams also suggested that instead of spending “so much money on imported oil to drive people around” the Government should be seeking to make it easier for people to own electric vehicles.
“The Government started to allow the [electric] cars in at a very concessionary rate of duty. All of a sudden now they put back 20 per cent on the duty. So it pushes the prices of the car beyond $100,000 for one of those little cars, which was about $65,000 when I bought mine,” he said.
“We need to get really serious about doing things and not talking about them,” added Williams.