Acting Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart????

How to improve productivity in all sectors of Caribbean development was the focal point of discussion last week, when the Productivity Council, hosted its two-day Inaugural Regional Tri-partite Productivity Conference.

Under the theme: Out of Recession! Productivity Initiatives to Enhance Growth and Development in the Caribbean, the conference, held at the Hilton Barbados on Thursday, July 15 and Friday July 16, brought together regional technocrats, who discussed the need for a renewed emphasis on productivity through innovation.

In the feature address, acting Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart, noted that while governments worldwide grappled with the effects of the ongoing global economic crisis,?? the region’s fiscal position could be improved through greater contribution to productivity "not only increases in labour productivity, but also greater acquisition and use of technology for domestic production and exports".

Mr. Stuart, who cited the founder of the Leading Edge Publishing Company in the USA, Paul Meyer’s thesis on productivity, urged the participants to focus their deliberations on the importance of cultivating productive attitudes and mindsets, as a means of stimulating productivity.

The acting Prime Minister stressed: "Productivity is never an accident; it is always the commitment to excellence, intelligent planning and focused effort.??

Therefore, training and productive approaches to what we do, is crucial at both the personal and professional levels."

He pointed out that most Caribbean economies had lagged behind in the initiatives needed to boost?? productivity levels, due largely in part to the application of labour intensiveness and insufficient emphasis on innovation.

To reverse this situation, Mr. Stuart suggested a re-look at the operations of Caribbean economies.?? "Productivity is concerned with finding new ways of producing outputs, outcomes and filtering work through the organisation, so that the result is an increased quantity that is cheaper, or more adaptable to market requirements."

He further stated: "If we are to be serious, and if this conference is to attack the issue of competitiveness in a serious way, then we need to table for discussion, a Caribbean Productivity and Innovation Index."

Mr. Stuart disclosed that the last available statistics on productivity growth in Barbados in 2008, was recorded at 1.8 per cent.?? This was higher than that of Jamaica which stood at -6.7 per cent, but lower than Trinidad and Tobago which was 3.3 per cent and Guyana at 2.7 per cent, respectively.

The acting Prime Minister challenged technocrats to work out these indices with the establishment of the proposed Caribbean Association of Productivity Competitiveness and Innovation.

In highlighting the need for such an association which, among other things, aims to develop public relations campaigns to promote productivity measurement and performance-related activities, Mr. Stuart urged the participants to take the discussions to another level.

"Our ability to move this conference beyond a discussion forum, will depend on our determination to do whatever is necessary to make productivity an intrinsic part of our everyday living…" he added.

Meanwhile, President of World Academy of Productivity Science, Thomas Tuttle, who spoke on the topic: Towards a Shared Productivity Model for Caribbean Economies, underscored the need for the removal of the barriers that have prevented the region from coming together.

He said: "If we are in the same boat now it makes sense for us to throw away some of the old things that have divided us and latch on to some new methodologies that will take us all to the future in better shape than we have been in the past.???? As we lean towards the creation of this Caribbean productivity model [it] will not be a success if it widens the gap between the ???haves and the haves’ not’."???? ????

Mr. Tuttle suggested that the productivity policy must focus on improving the services sector, since it contributed to 40 to 80 per cent of the region’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and job creation.

"We need to build policies that are favourable to productivity and hostile to unproductivity and this can be achieved by enforcing the rules equally for all firms but not letting companies escape taxation and regulation," he declared. jwilson@barbados.gov.bb

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