“Believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father” – John 10:38
Barbados is certainly not blessed with an abundance of mineral reserves but yet historically it has been admired and respected, in regional and international circles, as one of the most successful countries in the Caribbean from many perspectives: (1) progress as a parliamentary democracy with a stable form of Government and respect for moral and spiritual values and the rule of law; (2) geographic location and favourable climate; (3) good foreign relations; (4) agricultural development built on the foundation of a sugar cane production culture; (5) tourism development (including heritage tourism); (6) human development index (ranked 38th out of 187 countries); (7) environmental awareness and coastal zone protection action; (8) achievement of the status of the 51st richest country in the world in terms of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) per capita, a well-developed mixed economy, and a moderately high standard and cost of living; (9) a population where each citizen and resident has the opportunity to climb to the next rung of the economic ladder; (10) diverse cultural industry (film, music, drama, fine arts, graphic arts, fashion, media and ICT) talent; (11) moderate levels of renewable energy conversion; (12) comprehensive national health care; (13) education and literacy; (14) pockets of sports excellence; (15) a good public and private sector transportation system; and (16) an evolving set of public private partnership protocols.
What a history of Pride and Industry! The above stellar facts notwithstanding, there is some wonder why, in the minds of many, Barbados is receiving so much press about economic decline. Last week, I personally received enquiries locally, regionally and internationally about the decline in the output of the Barbados economy. This led to thoughts about the management of change. We must collectively pursue, “Mind Set change, Skill-set change and Cross Cultural communication”. No less a person than Albert Einstein has defined “Insanity” as “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.
The consensus is that there is no point dwelling on the past but instead all energy should be focussed on the present not only to arrest the haemorrhaging of the economy but also to plan now for growth in the immediate future and for foreseeable prosperity. In order to do this there must be a collective effort of all Barbadians based on the fact that “Each Life stands under a beam of Light which draws its energy from an infinite pool of Love”.
We need to learn from the successful Economic Model led by Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, after he assumed power in 1959 based on the CORE values (Connectivity, Openness, Reliability and Enterprise). We need to learn from the successful 1982 Economic Model led by Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad, based on stakeholder bonding to speed economic development when he established Malaysia Inc. and ran the country like a business.
We need to learn from the successful Governance Model in Switzerland where you get the best resources in the country combining for the national good. The politics of Switzerland take place in the framework of a multi-party federal directorial democratic republic, whereby the Federal Council of Switzerland is the head of government and head of state. Executive power is exercised by the government and the federal administration and is not concentrated in any one person. Federal legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of the Federal Assembly of Switzerland.
We need to establish policies for establishing real growth in the Barbados economy based on existing and innovative productive sectors so that considerations of a devaluation of the Barbados dollar is removed from the radar. If, we do not aggressively grow the economy then it might well be that there is no alternative to devaluation to boost the foreign reserves.
It was reported last week that Peter Boos commented that “We need a governance model (one not based on self-serving political parties) that can deliver a recovery and growth plan that will ensure the economy recovers in a sustainable way and that will protect against similar future crises”.
Once we get our Governance right, then we have to focus on Marketing, including public relations and branding, to aggressively grow revenue. This could boost our foreign reserves and reduce the import bill by displacing imported items with locally produced items.
Then in terms of our production operations we need to innovate, innovate, innovate and focus on quality, standards and productivity while reducing our costs so that we can enhance our competitiveness.
Our people are our greatest asset and we must develop them to the fullest. THe activities of our training institutions must be rationalised and there must be manpower-needs driven education and training programmes.
We must be innovative in accessing the money that is available not only from Foreign Direct Investment and Diaspora sources but we must also unleash the sources of funds in the private sector for use in the development of the country for everybody to benefit. If Barbados wins we all win!
That is the basic structure of the Action Plan. Planning is the first function of the cyclical management process. We must then organise our resources, select the right people for the positions in the organisation chart and then LEAD. Great vision is the hallmark of a leader. When there is no vision the people perish. At this time it is paramount that leadership at all levels must perform at the highest levels to turn the economy around and embark on a steady path to prosperity.
(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET – Columns are archived at www.cbetmodel.org)