Time to Make a MOVE!
After hearing Prime Minister Mia Mottley speak at the Opening Ceremony of the Barbados Workers Union’s 77th Annual Delegates Conference this morning– Saturday the 25th of August 2018 — it motivated me to share that portion of the Peoples Empowerment Party’s comprehensive economic development programme (entitled “Time To Make A Move : Saving Barbados From Recession”) that most succinctly coheres with the inspiring message of shared and collaborative transformation that Ms Mottley delivered.
Here is the segment of ” Time To Make A Move : Saving Barbados From Recession” that I would like to share with Government Ministers, Trade Unionists, Private Sector leaders, and ordinary Barbadian citizens alike :-
“At the very core of our plan to save our country from the economic crisis that it currently finds itself in must be a strategy to re-energize production in Barbados’ agriculture, construction, manufacturing, tourism, and international business sectors!
It goes without saying that we have to be brutally realistic and practical, and that we must therefore start with the enterprises and production capacity that currently exist in these five crucial sectors of our economy, and bring to bear state sponsored initiatives that will lift them to higher levels of performance and cause them to multiply.
One of the state sponsored initiatives that we have in mind would consist of an effort by the governmental administration to establish a close and intimate ‘partnership’ between Government and these five sectors – a ‘partnership’ in planning; a ‘partnership’ designed to literally invent comparative advantage for enterprises in these sectors by extending to them a wide range of incentives, privileges, assistance and institutional support; and a ‘partnership’ in ensuring that the plans jointly constructed by Government and the representatives of these sectors are carried out and actualized.
And when we speak about a “partnership” between Government and these sectors of the economy, we are contemplating a relationship that is much more profound and intimate than the currently existing Social Partnership or than the Manufacturers Association or the Chamber of Commerce meeting with the Minister of Finance and presenting him or her with a wish list two or three weeks before the annual Budget presentation !
Rather, we are talking about a process of intimate and institutionalized planning, in which the two parties routinely sit down together and work out in detail an expansionary developmental strategy for each sector, under-girded by the deliberate and conscious use of the formidable power of the State.
In addition, we are especially urging that this Government / Private Sector collaborative approach be applied to all Barbadian produced “products” that are so much a part of our indigenous cultural heritage that they may be considered “national Assets”.
As far as we are concerned, the “national assets” of Barbados include our sugar, rum, Sea Island cotton, Black Belly sheep, beer, solar technology, classic Bajan furniture, Bajan pepper sauce, pottery, Cricket heritage, music heritage, literary heritage, processed flying fish, and the list goes on. And – sad to say – all of these assets are currently under-developed and under-exploited commercially!
What is required to properly develop and market these assets internationally is a systematic and coordinated programme based on the Government and Private Sector working together as partners and collaborators!
As indicated above, our Government possesses the unique power and capacity to literally invent “comparative advantages” for our Barbadian manufacturers and other relevant business-people by extending to them a wide range of incentives, privileges, assistance and support; and it must use this power to assist genuine Barbadian enterprises that are developing authentic national products!
There should therefore be such a close Public/Private partnership where these “assets” are concerned, and such collaborative Private/Public planning and coordination of efforts that no longer should we witness the head of — say–the Rum Producers Association, having to resort to a public forum to complain about lack of Governmental support for critical measures required to preserve the rum industry.
All of the newly industrialized countries that have successfully made the transition from Third World to First World status have done so on the basis of a close collaboration and partnership between the Government and relevant Private Sector entities.
Please note, however, that we are not making a case for Governmental largess for the usual Private Sector parasites that tend to be favoured in Barbados! Rather, we are advocating for truly productive enterprises (of all sizes) that are attempting to manufacture and commercialize products that are authentic components of our Barbadian heritage.
A Cooperative or People’s Sector
There is also no reason why the Barbados economy should not contain a full fledged “Cooperative Sector” comprised of a whole host of business enterprises that are owned and run by the trade unions, credit unions, churches, and other cooperative or people-based organizations of our country, in collaboration with the thousands of young Barbadian university degree and technical diploma holders who graduate from our University of the West Indies and Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic every year.
(Indeed, thousands of our young tertiary level graduates should be able to find good careers for themselves in such a “Cooperative” or “People’s” sector of our economy.)
And what we are proposing is not unprecedented! Take the example of Singapore. The trade unions of Singapore — facilitated by the Government of Singapore — were able to develop a chain of supermarkets, retail stores, a telecommunications company, insurance companies, a major public transportation company, hotels, and a country club and condominiums for workers.
Singapore is therefore but one example of how trade unions, credit unions, churches and other community-based organizations could collaborate in establishing a much larger and more developed Cooperative or People’s Sector of the economy. What is required, however, is that our Government systematically work with these institutions and consciously facilitate such a process of development!
And there can be no doubt that several commercial vacuums currently exist in Barbados and are just waiting to be filled by new indigenous business enterprises. There is, for example, not a single indigenous bank in Barbados! So why shouldn’t the Barbados Government facilitate the credit unions in their quest to establish a bank, or grant our credit unions the right to issue cheques so that they can expand their services and markets?
Why shouldn’t the trade unions of Barbados — in collaboration with such natural partners as the credit unions, churches, and university / polytechnic graduates — possess and run farms, supermarkets, medical clinics, mechanical workshops, garages, hotels, engineering firms, radio stations, a brewery , and other relevant business enterprises?
There is a whole new complex of cooperative enterprises waiting to be established through the joint, collaborative effort of Barbados’ trade unions, university and Polytechnic graduates, credit unions, churches and other community-based organizations!”