“Say to him: ‘Long life to you! Good health to you and your household! And good health to all that is yours!” 1 Samuel 25:6
According to www.bidc.org, the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC), now 50 years old, is the industrial development agency of the Barbados Government. It has special responsibility for promoting and facilitating the establishment and expansion of business enterprises in Barbados, and for export promotion of Barbados’ goods and services. The BIDC also administers the Government’s incentive program for industry. We hear tell that the BIDC is under review. Indeed, all business-like organizations review their vision and resulting strategic plan annually in the face of the changing world environment.
The Barbados Prime Minister said in a budget statement: “Barbados is one of the few countries in the world which faces a foreign exchange constraint to its national development, but which does not have a specialized institution to conceive of export promotion and development policies and programmes and to oversee the implementation of initiatives to constantly seek and exploit new export market opportunities.”
Indeed, the former Barbados Export Promotion Corporation was closed by another administration in the early 1990s and the export development function was subsumed in the work of the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation.
The Prime Minister concluded that this was a strategic and institutional error because it marginalized the function of export development and promotion, and resulted in relatively indifferent export performance. He proposed that a new institution, Export Barbados Inc., be created to spearhead initiatives to develop and promote exports.
The advent of the Barbados International Business Promotion Corporation was recently announced with Peter Boos as Chairman and Dr. Annalee Babb as CEO. It appears as though the strategy is to restructure the BIDC concept into three institutions BIBPC, Export Barbados Inc. and the BIDC itself with complementary but distinctive roles in terms of boosting net foreign exchange earnings.
Whatever distribution of export support services emerges from the resulting arrangement, my advice is that the timely access to appropriate finance as well as a comprehensive range of management advisory services are the critical factors which must be addressed.
I am currently working with the Blue Waters Productions team, led by script writer/producer/director Alison Saunders-Franklyn, which is engaged in the production and distribution of the cricket themed full length feature film “Hit for Six”.
While on a trip to Trinidad last week with Alison to promote “Hit for Six” to the T&T corporate sector, my colleague Jerry Blenman pointed out to us an article in the Daily Express, Lifestyle section on Tues 19 Sep 2006. Journalist Rhea-Simone Auguste reported that the Chairman of the Trinidad & Tobago film company- Ralph Maraj – last week applauded the University of the West Indies on the introduction of a Bachelor of Arts in Film.
Maraj indicated that the degree is a “much needed development in Trinidad and Tobago and in the entire region”. He went on to say “The programme is well conceptualised, seeking to develop the creative, intellectual and analytical talents in film art as well as the technical and pragmatic production skills. There is also the most impressive recognition and emphasis on the need to explore and develop the Caribbean experience through film. The fact is, notwithstanding the existence of the film medium for more than a century and in spite of some very significant individual efforts, Caribbean film making remains largely virgin territory”.
Maraj also lauded the new T&T cabinet approved incentives for film-makers as follows: (1) A fund to provide 50% of the cost of feature films produced in T&T; (2) Production expenditure grants from 12.5 to 50% of money spent in T&T whilst making the film; (3) The removal of VAT and duties on blank DVD’s, blank video tapes and raw film stock used by certified production companies as well as on recorded DVDs with programme material that has been mastered in T&T by nationals and permanent residents; (4) the reinstitution of 150% tax reduction for the sponsorship of film and TV products; (5) The introduction of an easy access, free of charge permit system for international productions filming on location in T&T.
The film industry is recognized globally as a service export industry with great potential. Mauritius has reported significant growth in net foreign exchange earnings which they attributed to the exposure of the highlights of Mauritius as a tourism destination in locally produced films, particularly in India. It is expected that films produced in the Caribbean will attract tourists from specific niche markets around the globe.
Whatever the final outcome of the restructuring of the BIDC, I think it is clear that the focus has to be on the service exports industries (Film, Informatics, Financial, Health, Consulting, Education, Entertainment and Sports); in addition to, the diversified use of the Sugar Cane plant, the West Indian Sea Island Cotton and other Agricultural Value Added industries; and the Tourism-Linkages, High-Tech Manufacturing and Renewable Energy industries.
Over the last two weeks, Blue Waters Productions Inc. had successful breakfast meetings introducing “Hit for Six” in Barbados and T&T. Anyone interested in sponsorship, product placement or investment opportunities, who was unable to make it to either of these meetings, is invited to visit http://www.sfacommunications.com/bw-film.cfm to partner in this exciting project.