I’m no watchdog
Boyce warns businesses he won’t be a complaints body
The man given the responsibility by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to make it easier to do business here is making it clear he was not “a watchdog or complaint body”.
The Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS) announced in a release in late May that Stuart had designated Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Senator Darcy Boyce as the man to deal with business facilitation.
According to the BGIS release, Stuart had earlier announced the move at the end of a meeting of the Social Partners at Government Headquarters, telling those present that as part of his new designation Boyce would be required “to identify blockages in the system and have them removed or clarified where possible, or brought to the Prime Minister’s attention”.
“In some cases, Mr Boyce may be required to explain the operating systems to persons and suggest what improvements need to be made,” the release said.
However, in an address to members of the Barbados International Business Association (BIBA) and other private sector officials at a Let’s Talk Business Facilitation seminar at the Hilton Barbados Resort Friday, Boyce, said while he would try to make it easier to do business, he was not the last resort and he would not be able to give final decisions on certain matters.
“I want to make it clear . . . I do not intend to act as a hub for all private sector interactions with Government regulation thereby replacing my colleagues in the various other ministries, or worse yet, having another layer of bureaucracy.
“I see my role as that of trying to unlock the system as we see fit in a penultimate resort to help the system to improve so that need for my intervention to unlock it is very substantiate. Last resort before the Prime Minister,” he said.
Boyce stressed that there were sufficient complaint mechanisms through the existing private sector associations, the social partnership, the Fair Trading Commission and various appeal bodies to hear the grievances of the business community.
However, he promised to help bring cases “to the front of the queue”, even as he insisted he did not intend to “be keeping a service clock for constant review”, nor would there be a new business facilitation department in the Prime Minister’s office.
“My role is to ask to clear bottlenecks when they arise and to let the system deal with these matters on its own.
“Finally, my office will not act as a tribunal or arbitrator. I will not, and I cannot make binding final decisions on outstanding cases unless such cases pertain to my other duties . . . . What I will do in such cases is to press the officers to work expeditiously on the matters . . . and maybe also guide them in particular situations,” he added.
The new point person for the business community warned the private sector to maintain their current processes and procedures with Government departments, and urged them to make greater use of the office of Invest Barbados.
BIBA Director Connie Smith welcomed Boyce’s appointment, but said this was not Government’s first attempt to address issues affecting business facilitation. However, she said despite past efforts, things seemed to have gotten worse over the years.
Boyce said this was not just another attempt and he would seek to be an active intermediary between the private sector and Government in order to find mutually acceptable solutions to “the most pressing and extraordinary unresolved cases standing before the various Government divisions”.
He also gave the assurance that Government departments were working to improve service by either upgrading their software systems or through the sharing of information.
“Out of this initiative I hope that we can provide ample communication and necessary information, processes and reasonable timelines for reaching firm decisions with the appropriate reasoning that meets the national good – private and public,” he said.
During Friday’s event business officials also raised concerns about specific areas including immigration permits, and the need for e-commerce platforms in some Government departments to facilitate online payments and applications.