Service sectors boost

centralbankbuildingEconomic restructuring or not, Barbados will be dependent on tourism and other major service sectors for some time.

Government is facing up to this reality by teaming up with the Commonwealth Secretariat to formulate a Barbados Services Sector Development Strategy.

The project, which will be done via the Ministry of Finance, includes the hiring of a consultant by March 11 to come up with a plan to increase the benefits gained from service industries like tourism.

Implementation of the plan was expected to “result in increased contribution of services to employment, exports and investment”.

This included a rise in the service export sectors’ contribution to GDP by 2018, increased service export contribution to overall employment generation of new careers, technology intensive jobs and international partnerships, consolidation of and increase in existing service exports, improved performance of the agriculture and manufacturing sectors.

It was also expected there would be greater diversification within the service sector beyond tourism and financial services to include new export sectors, increased penetration and diversified service export offerings in existing market destinations and accessing new and emerging non-traditional markets, and heavy investment in information and communications technology to facilitate “borderless 24/7 trading”.

The official rationale for pursing the new services strategy included that there was an absence of “the strategic and institutional framework to underpin the realisation of these

aspirations”. The result was that “implementation remains fractured and uncoordinated with a consequential negative impact on the overall development of the sector and the country’s standing in international trade in services”.

It was also pointed out that while a number of initiatives were undertaken to support services trade, investment, export promotion, international marketing and distribution, “growth has been hampered by a range of supply side constraints and weak inter-agency coordination”.

The technical expertise expected to come from the upcoming consultancy would allow a review of the contribution services made to the country’s long term development, including employment, job creation, productivity enhancement, export and investment.

Added to this was the identification of the sector’s capabilities, opportunities and challenges in the context of current developments in the regional and international business environment, including those with potential for growth in the medium to long term.

There would also be an assessment of existing sectoral policies and strategies, and recommendations on “how they can better be aligned for increased trade and investment”.

Government will be presented with a number of documents starting with an inception report after the consultancy’s first six weeks, concluding with a final strategy and implementation plan to be submitted at the end of the assignment. (SC)

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