“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” – Psalm 133:1

As I write this column, I am engaged in deep introspection. My 92 year old mother Rita, normally the paragon of good health, experienced a stroke last Wednesday which caused her to be hospitalized. Indeed, she was such a stranger to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital that the medical records department called me for assistance when they could find no record of her previous visits, as a patient, at that institution. I may have helped when I told them that her only inpatient sojourn at the QEH was when she was admitted for a planned procedure in the early fifties. At the time of writing we await the prognosis.

Also, this column marks the beginning of the fourteenth successive year that I have presented this weekly offering as a service to the community. At the risk of sounding immodest, I must say that the positive global feedback which I continue to receive has been so gratifying that I have built up a reserve of determination to continue for yet another year, Deo Volente.

The third focus of introspection is that this week I officially become a pensioner, even though the start of the payment of the pension itself is seven months away. When I reflect on my image of a pensioner from a younger man’s perspective, and consider all the activities which continually create a demand for my time today, it does not compute. I rationalize it on the grounds of happiness. I enjoy what I do and I guess I will continue as long as good health prevails, again Deo Volente.

As I reflect on my thoughts and feelings regarding the world of business, I pose the question, “What can we learn from the most successful emerging nations?” Here are some extracts from reports pertaining to Singapore, Dubai and the Republic of Ireland.

The following extracts are from the East Asia Economic Summit 2003, the theme at which was “Beyond Corporate Restructuring: Recapturing Dynamism.”

Philippe Bourguignon, Senior Managing Director, World Economic Forum, opened the discussion, noting that Asian companies, once known for innovation, fast time to market, and low-cost, high quality products, are struggling owing to the economic situation. What role do governments play in supporting the corporate sector and establishing a sound environment for corporations? What are the best regulatory systems, and what else can be done to sustain entrepreneurship and investment?

Ko Kheng-Hwa, Managing Director, Singapore Economic Development Board, Singapore, spoke about Singapore’s experience in creating a conducive environment for the private sector. He pointed to the government’s role in fostering an “ecosystem” of companies large and small from which new market leaders and innovators could emerge. To do this, he noted that the government would first need to lower the barriers to market entry and exit, promote mergers and acquisitions, and ensure the mobility and efficient allocation of capital and manpower. “In Singapore, we seek to replace red tape with red carpets for businesses.”

It was reported in the press, Dubai, United Arab Emirates on March 1, 2006 that the International Finance Corporation and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for Young Business Leaders have decided to form a partnership to promote entrepreneurship programmes in the UAE. This partnership aims to increase awareness and demand for Small and Medium Enterprises management training amongst entrepreneurs and SMEs in the UAE.

Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO of Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment said, “The small and medium enterprises are one of the main foundations of economic growth and development, and this agreement with IFC, one of the leading international institutions to promote private sector development is to catalyze the development of this key economic sector. Our partnership aims to offer training programmes which would nurture entrepreneurial spirit through the enhancement of the skills and competencies needed to support entrepreneurs to successfully start and operate their business and hence activate their role in the development of the UAE.”

I guess that I shall be monitoring the progress in Dubai more diligently now that my elder son Kevin is resident there.

The Guardian reported on 20 June 2006, that President Mary McAleese of Ireland yesterday commended President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania for the emphasis he has placed on private sector development, which she said was critical to job creation.

“I know the challenges ahead of Kikwete’s government with regard to job creation are many,” McAleese noted. She expressed hope, though, that private sector development could help solve some of the problems.

“The rapid growth of the private sector in Ireland had helped speed up economic growth. She said her country now ranks among leading economies in Europe”.

She described education as a vital component that could enhance private sector contribution to job creation and economic development. “Tanzania needs to lay emphasis on education to produce competent and capable youths to accelerate development”.

As we reflect on the decline and foster the revitalization of the sugar cane and cotton industries in Barbados, let us recognize the respective roles of the private sector “to do business” and the role of the Government “To create an enabling environment”. Led us cut out the red tape and lay down the red carpet for the private sector to thrive thus fostering sustainable economic development.