There are several definitions of the word PRODUCTIVITY, the one that fits the bill to support this message is “the effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input”. Clearly if Barbados is to sustain a reasonable standard of living for our people we must adopt efficient processes to guarantee the quality of the production of goods and services for local, regional and international consumption.
A casual observation any day of the week in Barbados confirms that enough focus is not being directed at efficiently marshalling scarce resources (no this blog is not about the purchase of a luxury Mercedes Benz for the Prime Minister or is it two!). There are many visible examples, the long lines of people queuing from the early hours of the morning at the Licensing Authority in the Pine and the Barbados Immigration Office in Bridgetown, unemployed individuals who have to check-in at multiple locations to receive a ‘stamp’ on a document from a government department, inability to stagger opening hours to address traffic congestion and encourage flexibility to do business, a government apparatus that remains anchored to a paper based process to support how business is delivered.
Last year Minister Michael Lashley alerted the nation in the 2016 Estimates Debate that Barbados had allocated funds to implement an electronic system a la Bermuda to more efficiently manage the licensing of vehicles. With a general election rapidly approaching it is unlikely this initiative will be implemented in the current term.
For many years Minister Inniss has been touting the importance of improving business facilitation. Besides being able to download a few forms from the CAIPO website are we any closer to implementing egovernment in Barbados? Bear in mind Barbados has one of the highest Internet penetrations in the world. Given our high level of education it must be a disappointment that we have not been able to implement modern operating business models to drive productivity. We live in a world where newspapers are becoming obsolete by the minute as content migrate to the digital space. Many of us logon to websites to purchase our airline ticket consequently this has forced a change to how the traditional travel agency does business. This is 2017 and to read the Official Gazette and other important offiial documents one has to travel to the government printery on Bay Street to purchase copies. To pay monies owed to the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) the standard credit card is not accepted. As a key enabler of the Barbados space government must lead by example.
In most countries including the Caribbean, government agencies and officers own Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts to effectively disseminate information to the public. It was embarrassing to listen this week to the head official of the Meteorological Office urging Barbadians to listen to announcements from official sources i.e. via traditional media for legitimate weather reports. Why not open Twitter and Facebook accounts and post updates, social media subscribers would then be able to share ‘legitimate’ reports. Other government departments should heed the same advice.
One example of our token regard for productivity in Barbados is the Magistrates Court. A worker who has to appear in Magistrates Court to answer a routine traffic offense will experience the matter having to be rescheduled multiple times. Do the math as it relates to productivity for 200 Barbadians who appear at Magistrate Court at 9AM every day of the week to have 150 of that number having to be rescheduled. If we cannot efficiently manage routine processes to optimally drive national productivity how will we ever be able to move to the next level in in a competitive global market?
Up Dee Ting!