Barbados has an excellent global lifestyle brand.
We must now build on that great asset to develop our Business Brand.
Our economy is floundering as characterized by a stressed National Balance Sheet and Bureaucracy (debt, deficits and delay), high unemployment, depressed business profits, shallow economic sector and markets diversification, weak exports, soft FDI, high costs of land and construction. This all adds up to an economy that is under-performing.
Some BIG ideas to ponder and plan to achieve. None of these ideas depends on recovery of the Global Economy and we can work on them immediately.
- Much faster and sustainable economic growth is what we need to get jobs and foreign exchange expanding. In addition the size, cost and productivity of the Public Sector must all be tackled now. We have ignored this for too long.VISION: create the #1 Civil Service in the World. Structural Reforms are required to deliver the right result. What steps would be needed and how long would it take? Selling underutilized Government property to pay some of the transition cost is sensible. Public Servants can be retired or retrained for the new economy. Retirement can be done with full benefits. Most taxpayers would pay a special temporary tax to fund the transition if the outcome is clear and for the common good. Civil Servants must be empowered to make decisions and their progress and compensation linked to performance measurement.
- We must invest heavily in ICT infrastructure and competencies and put Barbados at the heart of the new age economies. Making Barbados the most advanced ICT Country in the Caribbean by 2020 should be our VISION. An ICT Think Tank should be created immediately to help guide policy and determine investment priorities. Piers Linney, a UK based half-Bajan is a good candidate to help-he is a successful entrepreneur in Cloud computing. There are many others with the knowledge who want to help. Dr.Cardinal Ward at MIT is another resource we can tap. His focus is science and technology. Get the brightest and best brains involved and working together as a team. We must also target global ICT entrepreneurs to make Barbados their home base. We need to research what they would need to make the commitment to relocate.
- VISION: Barbados – The Greenest Island in the World by 2020. Alternative energy is vital for sustainability and to reduce business cost and foreign exchange usage.
- VISION: Barbados – the easiest country in which to do Business by 2015. We need to be bold and tackle the bureaucracies that stifle business expansion in a global marketplace. Immigration, Town Planning, CAIPO, the Judicial System etc. are early priorities.
- VISION: New Sectors for investmentand policy prioritization(all focused on global markets): Education - Barbados – The Education Centre of the Americas-language centre, secondary and tertiary and vocational sectors(music, culinary etc).
- Health/Medicine - Barbados-The medical mecca of the Americas-treatment and research
- The Arts and Heritage (visual, culinary, music, dance, voice, literary etc). International conferences, schools etc.
- Sports - tourism (events, conferences etc) and education and research.
- Professional Services - serving niche global markets-legal, accounting,engineering,architecture, construction,teaching etc.
- Global Services Hub for lifestyle industries (e.g.asset management) and Corporate HQs.
We must also do more business with Latin America,the Middle East Africa and Asia. These market opportunities need to be researched by Invest Barbados in partnership with private sector investors.
- Land use Policy. Develop one for the future that embraces – agriculture and green energy. We can’t afford for land to remain idle in a small country where land is a scarce resource and we are a solar haven. It will be impossible to transform and grow the Barbados economy without fully embracing the global economy. We must be willing and able to compete globally. Therefore we must:
- Eliminate exchange controls.
- Create an immigration policy to attract international entrepreneurs and their families to relocate to Barbados (this can be achieved with a strategic and sector specific strategy that will help develop indigenous sector entrepreneurs). This will bring FDI, skills, and export markets and will create jobs and critical industry clusters. Take a look at progressive immigration policies in the USA and Singapore that invite skills into those countries.
- Reform the Legal Justice System - vision – #1 in the Americas.
We also must find a private sector driven solution to the south coast hotels that are closed or on the brink.
With all of this we must establish clear performance benchmarks and measure and report performance regularly.
If we pursue the above Visionary Plan for Barbados and put in place the long-term structures to facilitate execution Barbadians can look forward to having an economy that grows rapidly and that is sustainable.
Wealth will be created for all and social stability will be maintained.
VISION: Barbados, the most successful small Nation in the World as measured by GDP per capita, happiness, health, stability, full employment, social justice, housing, security etc. Lets determine the measures that matter to Bajans (we did it in the Cricket World Cup Legacy Plan in 2007).
What is stopping us? Certainly not the global recession.