Businessman calls for return of development bank

Co-owner of Doyle’s Offshore Sails David Staples has made a strong case for the restart of the Barbados Development Bank (BDB).

The state-owned financial institution, which provided loans for new business enterprises, was closed in 1996 as part of the then Government’s restructuring of the financial sector. However, while highlighting the importance of such a facility to the viability of the country’s business sector, Staples said he was prepared to put some of his own money towards its restart.

David Staples

Speaking during his company’s 30th anniversary celebration on Wednesday night, Staples told the gathering, which included Minister of Commerce Donville Inniss and parliamentary representative for St Philip West Dr David Estwick, that the BDB had played a key role in the start up of the Six Roads, St Philip business, which now boasts of close to USD$2 million in export sales.

“The Barbados Development Bank was instrumental in our getting started. We raised the princely sum of 265 thousand dollars mainly to buy equipment and after three or four years we paid the loan down . . .  Unfortunately it was an institution that was abused but today I would like to celebrate the Barbados Development Bank. I would like to put money forward to start a new Barbados Development Bank,” the businessman said.

He contended it was unbelievable that no such facility currently existed to cater to the development of new enterprises.

“We don’t have any locally owned banks and I think that the BDB as well as the YES [Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme] form the function that no one else can. So I will be the first subscriber and capital to that bank,” said Staples, adding: “I really believe it is good thing.”

A similar call was made by former Prime Minister Owen Arthur back in March last year. Arthur who oversaw the entity’s closure two years after the Barbados Labour Party [BLP] came to office, suggested in a session of the Lower Chamber, that a new funding agency should tap into a database of laid-off public sector workers who have no chance of regaining their former employment but possessed the requisite skills and needed financing for prospective business ventures.

At the time, Arthur had also warned the country’s private sector to stop looking for handouts, while urging businesses to take the lead in creating new economic opportunities.

“The private sector of Barbados’ greatest skill has been to be to call for the Government to do things. But the time has come for the private sector of Barbados to be able to put in one place its own concept of a private sector-conceived, driven and implemented strategy, and that has been missing,” he said.

3 Responses to Businessman calls for return of development bank

  1. Hal Austin January 13, 2017 at 11:31 am

    Barbados does not need a development bank; it badly needs a sovereign wealth fund, reform of the NIS system and a form of compulsory saving.

    Reply
  2. Mikey January 14, 2017 at 3:43 pm

    Hal, Why so much negative responses from every proposal ???
    The electorate of Barbados needs to get you elected to the position of Opposition Leader and see what can be achieved by you negative initiatives.
    I suggest that you organize a group to form a Third Party to run the affairs of our beloved country Barbados. You have an elaborate Ego where all wisdom resides. Good luck.

    Reply
  3. Hal Austin January 15, 2017 at 6:25 am

    Mikey,

    This is not negativity; it is thinking outside the cosy consensus. Development banks are post-war developments, the so-called Bretton Woods groups. In the new economic normal, sovereign wealth funds are more effective. If we are reforming, then let us go to the cutting edge.
    In the early 1970s, the Brits and Norwegians discovered North Sea Oil. The Brits spent theirs, and are now near bankrupt; the Norwegians put theirs in a sovereign wealth fund for future generations. It now has about US$1trn in savings. Which model do you prefer.
    We can have a SWF (by the way a Barbadian has written one of the most authoritative books on the subject|) by rolling all government assets such as land, the Transport Board, shares in LIAT, etc, in to it; hypothecate NIS contributions, placing the pension part of that contribution under SWF investment control; and introduce a programme of compulsory saving, similar to Singapore.
    This ill financialise the business sector, removing an over-dependence on foreign-owned banks, encourage more small businesses, leading to a hike in ta revenue and therefore more money for government to spend on its social programmes. A win-win situation for all.
    As I have said here before, I have no interest in elective politics. It is over-exaggerated in a small society because of the lack of other opportunities.
    Let us debate the issues rather than just follow the consensus.,

    Reply

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