BCCI sees potential
Shuffler predicts sectors will help to push economy growth
The council of the Barbados Chamber of the Commerce and Industry (BCCI) has identified several sectors, which it has predicted will help grow the economy.
BCCI president Tracey Shuffler made the disclosure during the chamber’s final monthly luncheon for 2014 held recently at the Hilton Barbados Resort.
Shuffler said members expected that the traditional foreign exchange earning sectors would continue to “evolve and reconfigure to meet new market demands”.
“Most of us anticipate that tourism will continue to lead the economy in the medium term with perhaps a greater emphasis on experience and lifestyle product offerings. Sports, entertainment and culture infused experiences along with emerging private medical and health-related services and retirement communities are likely to continue to evolve and perhaps eventually dominate as our tourism product expands,” said Shuffler.
She suggested that international business development was likely to move towards “having an area of specialization much like what has happened in some jurisdictions with mutual funds and insurance for example”.
Shuffler also said that waste and energy management should factor more prominently in the medium and long-term growth of the Barbados economy as a matter of necessity.
“We have a finite capacity for traditional processing of waste, proportionately large energy needs, and if properly developed, this sector has the potential to offer growth in our economy,” the chamber boss explained.
Additionally, she said technology, including mobile app development and usage, would offer opportunities that were not limited by geography and high manufacturing costs that continued to challenge more traditional businesses.
“It is left to us as a business community to work assiduously with relevant stakeholders to ensure our ability to participate in economies, which offers acceptable returns. Our greatest desire as we face another year of Independence is that Barbados will be amongst those economies,” she said.
At the same time, she noted that despite some gains there was ‘no doubt’ that the business community remained deeply concerned about the island’s economic state.
“We are facing stagnation, rising unemployment, soft demand in a number of sectors amongst other challenges. In our concern, however, we cannot allow ourselves to default to a neutral gear for a prolonged period. The BCCI continues to propose solutions to many of the business challenges facing our members and to advocate for an improved business environment,” said Shuffler.
She quickly pointed out that business operators were constantly looking at ways to cut cost while innovating, adding that despite some “unfounded comments to the contrary”, the local private sector continued to “fight heroically” to create value for their shareholders.
In that regard, she said a number of strategies have been employed including expansion of their customer base to include new export markets, product and service innovation to
grow revenues, divestment or right sizing of underperforming assets, and training and realigning of staff to allow for greater flexibility in responding to customer needs.
She said companies have also been employing energy saving and renewable energy solutions to curb energy costs which, she said, could be a significant drag on the profitability of some businesses.