Delays a challenge
Businessman calls on govt to address approval processes urgently
Doing business in Barbados continues to be a challenge for foreign investors and a businessman wants Government to address the situation urgently.
The call came today from Nicholas Mouttet, president and chief executive officer of the Trinidad and Tobago-owned ANSA McAL Barbados Limited, as he warned that continued delays could hurt Barbados’ chances of bringing in and keeping much-needed investment.
Addressing the opening of the new Standards store in Wildey, he said his company has been waiting for almost a year to expand and invest in the island’s retail sector.
“Since the beginning of this year, it has been our intention to start reinvesting in our businesses, not just in this Standards flagship store but in a number of other areas. In fact, at the beginning of the year we finalized plans to invest over $10 million and create 100 new jobs before Christmas by investing in Standard.
“You may have heard me previously discuss a new Trimart store and the intention was that it would all be in place by Christmas. While today we are here to celebrate part of that plan with the opening of Standards, unfortunately, we have not been able to progress on the Trimart investment,” he said.
Mouttet said the “approval process for getting to that point has been a lot more challenging than we had anticipated”.
“I am not in a position, as a result, to talk about when that will happen. We would like it to happen as soon as possible because we are anxious to reinvest not only in Trimart but all other businesses,” he said.
“I would encourage the powers that be to work with us, to help us invest in Barbados to create jobs, to bring in foreign exchange. All these things that we talk about . . . to encourage Barbados to work hand in hand with us to allow these things to happen, we are committed to do as soon as possible.”
Meantime Minister of Commerce and Industry Donville Inniss expressed his disappointment that businesses eager to make meaningful investments were being frustrated by the public sector at a time when the country was struggling to get its fiscal house in order.
“If an entity like ANSA McAL who wishes to expand their Trimart investment in Barbados has applications before Government departments then the public officers tasked with dealing with those applications should not go home on evenings unless they are finished,” he said.
“And this silliness of one department sitting for weeks and weeks before passing a file on to another department needs to come to a screeching halt.
“People have options, they do not have to invest in Barbados. But when they make that commitment to invest in this fair land . . . we must act with a sense of urgency without diluting our professionalism to ensure that all such investments are treated to expeditiously,” Inniss insisted.
Despite the setbacks, Mouttet made it clear that ANSA McAL was in Barbados for the long haul, “to invest in more Standard stores if we can get over the hurdle of the first Trimart store.”