The current Coronavirus crisis has given ‘us’ a multitude of opportunities, if we choose to seize the moment and use this time to learn and improve conditions for growing our economy, when circumstances return to any form of normality.
As I have mentioned before, especially for the smaller investor on Barbados, this process is close to a nightmare and we can personally articulate that opinion, having been embroiled in the process for the last 31 years and intensely for the last seven.
Clearly, while many of our brightest minds, whether in the private or public sector, have spare time on their hands, we have to be able to develop a better way of doing business and particularly making it easier and more investor-friendly, both for locals and foreigners alike.
In a world of virtual reality, perhaps some sort of forum can be created where all the participating component partners come together with actual investors who have already navigated the hoops and hurdles and just maybe include some of those who simply gave up, defeated by or that succumbed to the seemingly endless obstacles.
Obviously, this should include financial and lending institutions, lawyers, accountants, investment organisations (of which there seem to be several) and representatives of the various ministries involved.
One simple solution, as has been often proffered, is a one-stop-shop investment agency where each applicant is given a unique registration online number with limited password controlled access to all involved.
All the necessary government requirements in terms of proof of payment of statutory obligations could be posted on this portal, ensuring that the potential investors or vendors are not endlessly chasing around the country to ensure this paperwork is valid and currently up-to-date.
There should also be reasonable time limits imposed on all the entities involved, ie: time taken to consider and approve a loan, contractual and property sale closing period by the attorneys on both sides and response time for any Government entity involved.
The suggested website should also serve as a single source complete reference point to enable those thinking of starting or acquiring any form of tourism business can research all available concessions available.
From our personal experience, it’s almost like a game of ‘mission impossible’, notably with Government departments.
Once you have sought out and waited for what you think are all the required documents and clearance certificates, some may then have expired and the lengthy and frustrating process has to start all over again.
If we have learnt anything from the ongoing crisis, it is that we have to fundamentally improve how we use online access to information gathering, to reduce the existing reliance on human dependence, with all its associated delays and physical stumbling blocks.