“A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death is better than the day of one’s birth” – Ecclesiastes 7:1

Let us all put our shoulders to the wheel, deliver and garner a good reputation so that the day we depart, our sojourn shall be deemed to be worthwhile in God’s sight. Let us collectively do the “best” for Barbados so that our legacy shall stand proud in the eyes of future generations.

What is the “best” for Barbados? The recent United Nations Development Program‘s Human Development Report has placed Barbados third in the Western Hemisphere and 42nd out of 169 countries in the world when it came to quality of life indicators – health, education and income. That is “good” for Barbados, but it is not the “best” for Barbados. As a matter of urgency we must focus on the Budget, the next Elections, a Strategy for growth and the appropriate Training of our people. The resulting output would be BEST for Barbados.

The parliamentary Budget debate, before the general election due in less than eighteen months, is of supreme importance especially when the impact of a global recession forces one into recovery mode. There has been a major negative effect in terms of job losses, spending power and the deterioration of services. It gives the politicians on the Government side the opportunity to be visionary, creative and innovative and it provides an opportunity for the Opposition to constructively challenge the Government as they both prepare their manifestos for the next election.

The Election itself is made the more fascinating because of a number of marginal seats which could change if they were a swing against the Government. A large swing could be devastating even though the Government party has a large majority. Both parties have the power of the manifesto to create promises and strategies as to how they will be fulfilled, but the Government has the advantage to show that their policies will in fact work before the general election – not much time left. In addition, the Government has the opportunity to call an early election, if they can pull off a “magical” believable Budget, and/or if they think that the opposition is still in disarray and/or if their political gambling instincts are alive and well.

It is generally agreed that we need a dynamic Strategy for growth in Barbados. The expected imminent budget by the Government is anxiously and eagerly awaited.

In parallel, there is the vision of the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation (BEF) “Barbados – the #1 Entrepreneurial Hub in the World by 20-20”, a manifestation of which is to double the GDP per capita of Barbados by 2020. This is a facilitation body of volunteers which encourages the development of entrepreneurship and is supported by five pillars: Government Policy, Business Facilitation, Education and Training, Finance and Mentoring.

One of the most recent acclaims was presented by Sir Courtney N. Blackman, PhD, the first Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados, at a UWI lecture at the Central Bank of Barbados on June 30th 2011 and entitled “Economic Strategy in a Time of Crisis”.

Sir Courtney proposes the launch of a true strategic plan to support the aims of the medium-term fiscal strategy. His paper states: “I have identified five critical areas where significant productivity gains may be achieved, leading to economies in the management of our foreign exchange reserves within two to three years. They are: Energy conservation; Food production; Crime prevention; Technical support of statutory corporations; and Unravelling of red tape.” There is an implicit assumption that these thrusts would support the existing and potential sources of foreign exchange earnings, namely: tourism, financial services, selected high-tech innovative manufacturing, diverse sugar cane based products, sea-island cotton and the attraction of internationally operating companies to have their headquarters in Barbados.

Sir Courtney continued: “A Task Force should be established to deal with each strategic area. Each task force should be headed by a seasoned administrator or executive drawn from either the Public Sector or the Private Sector. However, it should operate outside the framework of the Civil Service, though its secretariat could be staffed by civil servants of proven initiative, and should not exceed a dozen people.    It should be mandated to come up with a programme to increase productivity in its respective area, and should possess both the legal authority and financial resources to make things happen. Each task force should report directly to Cabinet and have ready access to the Prime Minister.”

Then there is the Training of our people, our most important resource. Each person has 24 hours a day to be managed. The competing categories for this time are: sleep and exercise; personal time; community service; and productive work. The first two allow you to function effectively as a human being; the third gives back to the community; and the last helps to develop the country and earn a living. The cumulative impact of the time allocated to productive work will have a major impact on the sustainability of the growth of our country provided, of course, that these resources are well trained (academically, technically and culturally) on a timely basis driven by the manpower needs of the productive and support sectors.

Entrepreneurs and others, please plan to attend what should be an interesting interactive dialogue session at the BEF’s monthly Forum entitled “Harnessing the Power of Mentorship” on Thursday 28 July 2011 at 6pm at the Plantation Garden Theatre.