Minister of Economic Affairs and Empowerment, Innovation, Trade, Industry and Commerce, Dr. David Estwick, (fourth from left), in discussion with from left, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Trade Industry and Commerce, Ernesta Drakes; Chief Business Development Officer of the BIDC, Francine Blackman; Chief Executive Officer of the BIDC, Basil Lavine; a member of stafF of the BIDC and Chairman of the BIDC, Vere Browne.
Plans are in train to establish an Industrial Development Commission to remove the stumbling blocks that have been impeding the growth of the local industrial sector for decades.
Word of this has come from Minister of Economic Affairs and Empowerment, Innovation, Trade, Industry and Commerce, Dr. David Estwick, who disclosed that the academic community and the private sector would also assume a major advisory role to help Government to develop a policy that would lead to new areas of innovation. He was speaking today during a press briefing and subsequent tour of the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation’s (BIDC) Princess Alice Highway, St. Michael, operations.
In explaining the rationale for such a Commission, the Economic Affairs Minister said it would assist Government to effect legislative changes to boost the island’s export capabilities. “The Commission will look at the legislative framework that hinders our industrial development; it will also look at the type of policy matrices that needed to be put in place so that we can move our domestic production to the level of efficiency. You are not going to export effectively unless the domestic efficiencies are worked out,” he surmised.
Dr. Estwick, who highlighted the need to involve the academic community in the innovative process, said: “You cannot create innovation unless what you are producing is brought into the academic sector. So, we need to utilise the brain power at the Barbados Community College and the UWI, so that we can move our productive sector forward.”
In an attempt to deal with the challenges posed by the global economic crisis, the Minister also alluded to a re-branding of the BIDC and stability for the micro business sector. “It is important that we keep the micro business sector in operation because it provided protection for those big businesses that performed poorly during a recession. Once we can provide stability for the big business sectors – tourism, export manufacturing and export agriculture, Government would look at creating a balance of payment support to cushion the financial sector if the recession deepened,” Dr. Estwick stated.
The Economic Affairs Minister also said that the BIDC’s industrial development models of the 60’s and 70’s were no longer relevant to Barbados’ future development. He suggested that the emphasis must now focus on the development of an industrial businesses sector that was complemented by the importation of business opportunities to guide future growth in the sector.