Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has urged Barbadians to take the issue of productivity seriously and give their best to the country’s efforts to increase its output.
Mr. Stuart made the call while delivering the feature address at the January 2017 Business Luncheon of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry, at the Hilton Barbados Resort, on Wednesday.
The Prime Minister, who is also the Productivity Champion, said he was pleased the country would be focusing on productivity for the entire year 2017.
He noted that there had been a tendency to remain silent on the issue of productivity when the local economic environment had been favourable but to focus on it only when the economy was facing challenges.
“This is a matter of the utmost importance for both capital and labour; for both the Government and the private sector. As studies by NISE and others have shown, there is also a serious challenge with worker engagement.
“Every attempt must, therefore, be made to ensure that our workplaces are congenial places for all who go there from day-to-day. Employers and employees have an equal obligation to give of their best at the workplace and maximise this nation’s output of goods and services,” he told his large audience.
During the wide-ranging address, Mr. Stuart said Government’s policy on privatisation had not changed. He contended that in a mixed economy, Government must continue to play a role in the provision of goods and services for purchase by individuals.
He added that it would continue to invest in and promote the production and distribution of such goods and services.
“Government does not intend, however, to continue to support public enterprises which are not producing strategic goods and services where those enterprises are an unnecessary charge on the public finances.
“In the extreme case where complete divestment is the appropriate course, that action will be taken, but it cannot be taken with improper haste where the nature of the asset to be leveraged is thought to be strategic, with a potentially widespread social impact,” he insisted.
The Prime Minister said Government was very concerned about the expenditure column of its balance sheet, and identified those areas as Debt Service, Wages and Salaries and Transfers to state-owned and other entities.
Pointing out that those areas represented approximately 80 per cent of total expenditure on an annual basis, he gave the assurance that Government would continue to aim at reducing transfers.
Mr. Stuart noted that in the Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals for 2015, the Minister of Finance had promised that his Ministry would conduct a mid-term financial year review to examine current spending patterns of all Ministries and Statutory Boards, based on the allocations approved in the 2016-2017 Estimates of Expenditure.
He disclosed that the exercise had been completed in mid-December last year, and the Ministry of Finance had been able to identify $50 million in cuts across all Ministries.
“What we have to ensure now is that we control the level of supplementaries expected in this the final quarter of the financial year, while getting the maximum inflow of revenue due to the Government,” he stressed.
To download a copy of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart’s speech at the January 2017 business luncheon of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry, please click here.