Minister of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Kerrie Symmonds. (FP)

Owners of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises have been advised to acquaint themselves with the tenets of corporate governance.

Minister of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Kerrie Symmonds, made this suggestion while delivering the feature address at the virtual Barbados Stock Exchange’s 9th Annual Conference on Corporate Governance and Accountability, recently.

The Minister told his virtual audience via Zoom that corporate governance was a key plank in transforming economies, and it was necessary to familarise entrepreneurs with the “esoterics and the expectations of what corporate governance is about”.

Mr. Symmonds also expressed his disappointment at the “stunning” level of unwilliness to confront the deficits in corporate governance practices in Barbados across all levels of the economy and in some firms.

He continued: “Instinctively, when we speak to corporate governance, we think of legislating laws; we think of rulings of the court; we think of rulings or directives of regulators, and that is fine.

“But there are, however, a number of other things which firms have direct and independent control over, and which the private sector sometimes seems to expect that they can stand sanctimoniously apart from and I would want to deal with that latter aspect of this concern that I have first.”

The Small Business Minister commended those members of the private sector who contributed to the existing anti-corruption legislation.

“The legislation, which we just passed, imposes penalties against both the public official and against the private person who sought to bribe a public official, and using the traditional example that raises its head in Barbados is the public official being bribed in order to get access to a government-funded contract,” he stated.

Mr. Symmonds contended that a culture of non-tolerance for bribery and corruption should be encouraged to achieve proper corporate governance practices. 

“I sincerely believe that we are at a stage in our development that we have to begin to accept that we have underestimated the capacity that we have to deal with and overcome some of the obstacles and challenges that are existing out there that impede our growth and development,” he said.

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