Greater Productivity Needed

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If this country is to continue to develop and to weather the economic challenges, then Barbadians need to do whatever is necessary to make productivity an intrinsic part of their everyday living.

This was the message enunciated by acting Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart today, as he addressed regional participants at an Inaugural Tripartite Productivity Conference at the Hilton Barbados.

??He said: "Our present circumstances highlight the need for reform and for working smarter through collective effort. The templates for effecting change in the public and private sectors are already established and need only to be modified for individual territories."

??The acting Prime Minister stated that for far too long, countries in the region had ??talked their way around the issue of productivity, with the result that "today, we find ourselves in difficult economic times which may threaten to undermine the optimism which drives what you are trying to achieve. Such vicissitudes, however, ought never to triumph over the pursuit of innovation, growth, or competitiveness. "

??Mr. Stuart told his audience of business persons and academics, that a commitment to pursuing standards of excellence, whether at a personal or national level was "not beyond our capability as a people and as a region" and endorsed the establishment of the Caribbean Association of Productivity Professionals for the transformational role it was expected to play in standardising productivity tools and initiatives across the region.

??He pointed out that data indicated that in 2008 ??productivity growth in Barbados stood at 1.8 per cent; as compared to that of Jamaica with -6.7 per cent, but lower than Trinidad and Tobago, which was 3.3 per cent; and Guyana, 2.7 per cent.

The acting Prime Minister, therefore, suggested finding the reasons for these levels and understanding what lessons could be learnt for the rest of the region in terms of tackling the issue of Caribbean productivity, competitiveness and innovation.

"Does the average Barbadian or Caribbean citizen understand the link between their consumption preferences and increases or decreases in the country’s GDP [Gross Domestic Product]? Does the average worker understand the implications of time efficiency for the workplace – getting to work on time, completing assignments within a particular timeframe, or, being able to deliver within a particular time frame? Do we practise productivity in our levels of service delivery – committing to standards of excellence and performance? Mr. Stuart queried.

He mentioned the systems being used by such countries as Singapore and Canada as examples of achieving high levels of productivity.?? "…Singapore can be cited again as a model of productivity excellence. Singapore’s Economic Strategies Committee report has placed productivity as the key growth strategy for Singapore’s economy and has been able to execute a phenomenal programme with enterprise development centres assisting over 36,000 small and medium enterprises.

??"Canada has certainly raised the bar as far as strategic planning and executions are concerned. Now, this country has been able to diffuse its strategic master document to the operational levels of ministries and departments to determine how objectives and priorities will be met and to respond in a focused, effective and innovative way to the challenges to be faced.

"Canada has also been able to weave performance and results-based management into its system of public governance. Strategic plans are used as the mechanisms for execution and implementation. This is buttressed by a reporting structure which promotes a refreshing approach to transparency, accountability and effectiveness."

Consequently, the acting Prime Minister maintained that it was, therefore, necessary to introduce the promotion of productivity initiatives which would "engage our employees to higher levels of effort, output and commitment; move our companies to use performance measurement data to promote profitability; radically transform the approach to ??how; [and the] pace at which and enthusiasm with which things are done". clashley@barbados.gov.bb

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