Great interest was expressed in Barbados??? Social Partnership when it was showcased recently at the Caribbean Growth Forum in the Bahamas.
Chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA), John Williams, said: ???The interest in our Social Partnership was very high??? There was great interest among some of the participants ??? [when they] realised that we have this more structured approach and it is not a recent invention, but it has been going on for 20 years.???
Mr. Williams was part of the five-member delegation led by Minister in the Prime Minister???s Office, Senator Darcy Boyce, who attended the meeting held on June 24 and 25. The other members included President of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados, Cedric Murrell; and Permanent Secretary with responsibility for Investment, Juanita Thorington-Powlett.
The Chairman of BPSA explained that the Caribbean Growth Forum promotes the sort of public/private dialogue that Barbados has almost taken for granted. He noted that a ???top down??? approach existed in some islands and dialogue took place on an ad hoc basis.
Permanent Secretary Thorington-Powlett agreed that the presentation on the Social Partnership, delivered by Senator Boyce, which was entitled ???Reforms in the Making???, was ???well received???. She said: ???We were able to show that there is a lot of work we have done and that we intend to follow through.
The presentation looked at the Social Partnership model for Barbados, gave background information and outlined the type of social dialogue we have. We also highlighted the Barbados Action Team, which was established last year, as part of the Social Partnership. It has three working groups ??? Efficiency, Growth, and Social Safety Net ??? which Minister Boyce, Mr. Williams and Mr. Murrell chair, respectively.???
According to her, it was explained that, in Barbados, short and medium-term solutions for economic issues were being developed. She added: ???Senator Boyce looked at some of the matters that are a priority for us. For example, he said with regard to the Efficiency Working Group, passenger facilitation, Town and Country Development Planning Office issues, payments to and from Government, Corporate Affairs issues, drafting of legislation, and the ability of Barbados to export agricultural products were examined.???
She stated that the Growth Working Group focuses on issues such as improving foreign reserves, job creation, contributions to Government revenue and improved performance in critical sectors, while the Social Safety Net Working Group examines issues pertaining to how to cut wastage, vagrancy, housing for the elderly and the Welfare Department, among others.
The Permanent Secretary added that the two-day meeting was informative, as it gave the nearly 300 participants an opportunity to hear about the problems being faced across the region. ???So, I would say that we walked away with a pretty good idea of the problems, similar and different, that we are facing in the region, and the kind of integration aspects that we can look at,??? she surmised.
During the summit, the participants discussed enhancing the logistics and connectivity of the Caribbean, how to improve the investment climate here, and skills for jobs in the region.
The Caribbean Growth Forum is an initiative supported by the Compete Caribbean/Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, and the Caribbean Development Bank, in collaboration with the United Kingdom Agency for International Development and the Canadian International Development Agency. It facilitated a platform for public/private dialogue on the growth challenge, with a view to identifying practical and implementable solutions that will inspire action in each of the 15 Caribbean countries.