… AND WHEREAS this Human Resource Development strategy is aimed at empowering citizens to actively contribute to sustainable growth and development in a dynamic, global and competitive economy’…
We live in what is described as an increasingly global competitive economy which makes a tiny country like Barbados – with scare natural resources – very vulnerable to what economists delight in describing as exogenous shocks. To maintain our standard of living which strives on consumption expenditure, there is consensus we will have to rely on services for the foreseeable future; until Barbados is able to discover black gold or other eureka finds to reduce reliance on tourism and international business.
Singapore is held up as the model for service-based economies. The efficiency of its civil and private sectors along with the ancillary services is a key attribute to the competitive advantage Singapore has built over time. We must be honest and recognize that the discipline which exist for Singapore to achieve what it has is derived from a command and control approach operating in a ‘dictatorship-like’ system. If Barbados is to be able to compete draconian changes will be required both in the public and private sectors to improve efficiencies.
Barbados has made the financial sacrifice in the post-Independence period to educate its people from primary to tertiary at taxpayers expense. The strategy worked for us when we operated in a world of quotas, preferential agreements and excess capital from G7 countries searching for offshore tax havens to invest.
What a difference a decade makes!
If Barbados is to raise its game we must embrace a culture which has as part of its ethos a system of meritocracy. It seems the private sector understands the benefit of implementing a performance management system which has as its objective taking care of its employees while thriving to maximize productivity; a work in progress one must admit. Then there is the public sector which accounts for 30+% of government’s expenditure where there is no discernible performance management based approach to managing the civil service. It was interesting to observe the war of words in the media last week between the QEH management and BAMP about the need to implement a performance system in 2011.
Perhaps what epitomizes the challenge we face in Barbados to improve national productivity is aptly demonstrated by the results of the Barbados football team between 2008 and the present. It is no coincidence this period has been selected. From 2008 under the reign of Minister if Education and Human Resources Ronald Jones the football team has slipped in the FIFA rankings 25 places; from 122 to 147. Minister Jones under pressure in some quarters for holding on to the Presidency of the Barbados Football Association given his weighty ministry, has been given a good reason why he needs to resign. The fact the minister won re-election for four years during the slide in FIFA rankings speaks to the disregard Barbadians seem to have for performance.
The greatest irony of all is that Minister Jones is the person responsible for developing the human capital of Barbados. His refusal to resign as head of the Barbados Football Association is endemic of the culture of under productivity which pervades our island. Jones and his government are clearly not practicing what they are preaching.