Prime Minister, David Thompson, (third from left), in discussion with members of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Caution will be taken to ensure that Government’s fiscal policy does not reduce the current level of employment and special attention will be given to protecting the essential social services.  

This assurance was given yesterday by Prime Minister David Thompson as he addressed the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s luncheon at Hilton Barbados, on the topic “The Economic Challenge – Riding the Waves in 2009”. 

Mr. Thompson explained that Government would be pursuing projects and programmes that would aid in job creation and stimulate the economy, but that would not compromise the external current account. “Special attention will also be paid to policies that support the balance of payments and protect the country’s foreign exchange rate,” he stated.

He added that Government would act to ensure that current programmes and micro-financing institutions, such as the Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme, and the Fund Access and Enterprise Growth Fund Limited, operated at their optimum as a means of realising maximum results.  

“Government will also seek to have those in established corporate business assist in the mentoring of smaller and emerging businesses to aid in their development,” the Prime Minister said.

Addressing the role of the private sector during the unstable economic conditions, Mr. Thompson urged businesses not to use the current global economic situation as an excuse to retrench workers.

“Wide spread unemployment is not good for business or for social cohesiveness and stability. It makes more sense to accept a smaller profit margin in these trying times and stay in business a while longer than to insist on maintaining current profit margins by laying off workers and then going out of business due to lack of demand,” he advised.

The Prime Minister also appealed to the trade unions to be cautious in their wage demands when negotiating for higher wages on behalf of workers. He suggested that they remain cognisant of the current situation and be sensitive to the capacity of the employer to pay and maintain current employment levels in the face of falling global demand.

“That said, we must never forget that our workers bore the brunt of that last major contraction in Barbados and they must not unreasonably bear the burden of this one,” he said.

Mr. Thompson called on producing entities to engage in intra-industry and inter-industry networking, rather than mere competition, and on distributors to find alternative and less expensive sources for their products.

“They may need to search out substitute generic products for the expensive brand name products that are of the same quality and perform the same way. Consumers too may have to change their buying patterns and look for products that get the job done at the least cost. Current economic conditions will not favour brand name loyalty and ostentatious buying on the part of consumers,” he observed.

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