While Government is committed to guiding Barbados on a path to economic recovery, it is not prepared to relax the rules of competition nor lift the restrictions on anti-competitive conduct in order to achieve this objective.
Permanent Secretary in the Division of Trade, Industry, and Commerce, Bentley Gibbs, gave this assurance last Friday night while delivering brief remarks on behalf of the Minister of Economic Affairs, Dr. David Estwick, at the Fifth Annual Fair Trading Commission (FTC) public lecture. The event was held at the Hilton Barbados, Needhams Point, St Michael.
Noting that some countries had engaged in these practices, especially during recessionary periods, he said history had shown that they had done so at their own peril.
Mr. Gibbs further explained that “such policies that subjugate the importance of competition had been associated with longer and slower recovery periods and those countries have had to reverse such lenient approaches and reinforce competitive discipline”.
He said Government was committed to achieving robust economic growth.
"Government has no intention of being panicked into following this path; while we will be putting in place measures to stimulate our economy, inefficiency and indiscipline will not be supported. As one who is fully converted to the principles and objectives of competition law and policy, I believe that the manner in which we address the economic issues that confront us now will determine the robustness of our economic recovery in the long term,” Gibbs added.
In underlining the importance of preparing national and regional companies for the rigours of global competition, he said: “We will support critical industries; but, ultimately, the best defence against international competition is our own resilience and innovativeness, honed over time by the pressures of domestic competition.
Cognisant of the critical role which the FTC must play in the stabilisation of domestic markets, Mr. Gibbs urged the local regulatory body to learn from the mistakes that may have contributed to the global economic crisis.
“The Commission and other sector regulators must use the lessons learned from this present global recession. They must assess the mistakes of other regulators internationally which have contributed to this present crisis. They must also understand fully the critical role of their mandates, and recommit to them with greater determination and resolve. I would say that the FTC, in particular, has the responsibility for maintaining effectively functioning markets, and in so doing, it is an important guardian of our future."
Meanwhile, Professor Eleanor M. Fox, who delivered a lecture on the topic: Exclusionary Strategies of Dominant Firms – Do Small and Developing Economies Need a View of Their Own?, has advised local technocrats not to fashion economic policies based on those that had been implemented in developed countries.
“Some rules that are good for very developed economies are not so good for developing and small economies. It is for this reason, that Barbados needs a view of its own.” In fact, she urged the people of the Caribbean to have their own identity and not allow others in the developed world to dictate what that should be.