Too much red tape

SBA blue over govt policies for small business

The Barbados Small Business Association (SBA) is unhappy with laws governing business, and the continuous red tape members face at Government agencies. Though such an opinion was previously expressed by various enterprises in Barbados, SBA president Dalton Medford has made clear that this is the view of the organization that has been providing advocacy for small and medium-sized enterprises since 1995.

SBA President, Dalton Medford, addressing the ceremony Saturday evening.
SBA President, Dalton Medford, addressing the ceremony Saturday evening.

He did not stop in expressing discontent with Government policy and legislation only, but said there must be a change in mindset to facilitate enterprises, and spoke of a need for a cultural shift in doing business, covering the whole spectrum of persons who interact and affect these company operators.

“Policymakers, financiers, business support, customers, and entrepreneurs need a paradigm shift in attitude to business, if we will ensure recovery from this sector of the effects of the economic decline,” he said at the Annual Small Business Ceremony Dinner on Saturday night.

“Some fundamental issues need to be urgently addressed.”

In the area of legislation, Medford was severe on the Employment Rights Act that came into force in January, 2013.

“Is it helping or hurting the business sector?” he asked, and answered on behalf of the firms credited with propping up national economies. “Our view is –– and has been when this act was being debated –– the small firms do not have the human resource departments or the HR executives.”

Speaking at Hilton Barbados, he pointed to a rule within that law covering layoffs: “Suggesting that a business must provide six weeks’ notice to terminate an unperforming worker is counterproductive to maintain a competitive small business sector.”

Pointing out the small business owner is often the proverbial “chief cook and bottle washer”, Medford said: “Legislation cannot be onerous, or enforce untenable burdens on small firms to comply . . . . The time has come for us to look critically at our legislative policies, and really determine if the framework is facilitating business. If it is not, the simple solution is to review and revise. We cannot expect to do the same things repeatedly and expect different results.”

Further criticizing the way Government facilitates the small business sector, he said that in spite of some business support services offered to small business operators by some Government agencies, “the cry of the average small entrepreneur or sole proprietor is that they cannot readily access capital. There is too much red tape in interfacing with agencies to access certain services, and there is some saturation in too many sectors”.

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