Post Covid 19 World Demands New Approaches from Government and Private Sector

The Adrian Loveridge Column usually occupies this space on Monday mornings. The blogmaster takes this opportunity to thank Adrian for being a strident social commentator over the years and willingness to enter the BU fray, especially as it relates to promoting and defending the tourism sector he is very familiar. The BU household extends best wishes as he takes a voluntary timeout to ‘recharge’ – David, blogmaster 

The market certainly doesn’t know! The massive public financing in many places is nothing more than a band-aid, it is when that dressing is removed, we will see who has healed and can function, and who needs an amputation or worse. For Barbados, the acid test will be employment.


The raging COVID 19 pandemic has hammered home a reality- individuals, organizations, governments are being forced to change business model. Specifically as it relates to E-commerce and doing business in a digital space. The new way of doing business demands a reskilling and redeployment of the workforce that must be equally supported with reallocation of budgets. In a January report prepared by Hyun Song Shin titled E-commerce in the pandemic and beyond 3-takeaways are identified:

  1. E-commerce has ramped up during the pandemic around the world. The growth has differed across sectors and over different stages of the pandemic.
  2. The growth of e-commerce has been higher in countries where there were more stringent containment measures and where e-commerce was initially less developed.
  3. Some changes in consumers’ shopping habits and payment behaviour may be longer-lasting. This may have implications for structural change and the growth of the digital economy.

There has been robust discussion in this forum recently about how we foresee business being done in Barbados. The blogmaster sides with the argument supported in the report mentioned that even before the pandemic wrecked global economies and livelihoods, there was a push to shift business and other activity from bricks-and-mortar to the digital space. Covid 19 has accelerated the shift. Welcome to a view of what a post COVID 19 landscape will look like whether we like it or not.

Another forecast coming out of the pandemic is that people will have to coexist with COVID 19 AND other viruses likely to follow. It means in the future traditional supply chains and business related travel will be disrupted. Individuals, businesses and governments are already adjusting to a post COVID 19 reality with greater use of the digital space defined as the new normal.

As expected some countries start with an advantage in the new normal space- the so-called developed world. Barbados unfortunately has been lazy to rely on manual, redundant models not fit for purpose exposed in the current environment. Our private sector is not far behind if we accept reports of disruption to large companies being attacked by ransomware, supermarkets and essential businesses unable to efficiently manage spikes in demand for services and distribution during lockdowns and so on.

What is required is a nimble approach by public and private sectors supported by NGOs to strategise next steps how as a country we narrow the gap between existing and the new business model to sustains livelihoods in a post COVID 19 world. In fact the blogmaster will be disappointed if after a year of managing the pandemic this is not a work in progress.

The blogmaster is sympathetic to the current leadership of the country demanded to manage in unprecedented times. Let the blogmaster be clear, leadership is defined as government and private sector. For too long Barbados has relied on government to lead in all areas of managing the country.

The big question: what is the strategy to reposition Barbados to be able to compete in a post COVID world?


Notes From a Native Son : Digital Poverty is the Worst form of Poverty in a Technological Age

Hal Austin

Hal Austin

Today, Friday, is the 15th birthday of Google – Happy Birthday. It is hard to imagine that the new technology which drives our lives has only been around since the early 1990s. Almost everything we do, every activity we undertake, is now driven by some form of technology, in a way that was unimaginable all those years ago. It is only when we get in to silly conversations about having learned to type on a typewriter that we realise that not many young people in our offices even know what a typewriter is. When you tell them that, as late as the 1970s, to make an overseas call one had to book the call through the telephone exchange and the operator would call back hours later to put you through to friends and relatives in Barbados, people think you are making it up. Now our lives are dominated by smart phones, which are not just mobile (cell) phones, but are mini computers capable of doing everything that a personal computer can do. Land lines are now the reserve of the massive amounts of data that flow around the globe every second, doubling three years. It is only when you come to a society such as Barbados that you fully realise the hidden dimensions of digital poverty, and what this will mean for the next generation if the government and private enterprise do not make an urgent attempt to drag Barbados kicking and screaming in to the modern age.

Technological Efficiencies:
One of the great disappointments was that as the global and regional banking and economic crises impacted that a radical programme of digitisation did not take place across government. The initial cost may have been prohibitive, but the savings over the next five to ten years would more than have paid for any such spending. New technology would not only make government department with synergies work more efficiently together, but it would have transformed the entirety of government, reducing transaction costs, straight through processing for basic services, and improving the quality of service to the public in ways they have never experienced. I will give only two examples of these synergies and how technology could improve the quality of service: by linking the land registration department with the land tax office, staff and customers would have a service that in many ways would be reduced to seconds, rather than the system we have at present. By allowing staff and customers such facilities as read-only, to make only basic changes such as correct spelling of names and addresses, and with certain managers having appropriate permissions to alter data, would result in a massive improvement. Or, by linking the registry if births, marriages and deaths files with the Archives department (for older certificates) could mean a same day, or even an hourly service, for customers. Why should they have to make a special journey to a department in Black Rock, two miles from the Court buildings, to get hold of a certificate that could be accessed online and printed out within seconds?

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