Private sector promises to monitor government fiscal policy

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by Marlon Madden

In the absence of official opposition in Parliament, the local business community will not be silent on matters of economic importance.

The pledge was made by Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Anthony Branker on Tuesday, while Barbados Private Sector Association President Trisha Tannis raised several questions on the areas of the budget presented on Monday.

“I am committed to the business community and the people of Barbados to ensure that BCCI is heard on matters of economic importance.

This meeting this morning and the illustrious panel we have assembled to discuss the budget proposal is just one step in ensuring that the voice of Barbadian business is heard,” Branker said.

He was addressing a post-budget breakfast forum at Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Center. Branker said “BCCI stands ready to play its part in supporting government policies and programs focused on economic stability, growth and ultimately social and economic resilience by lending our voice, expertise and experiences to the benefit of our members and all Barbadians”.

Meanwhile, President of the Private Sector Association of Barbados, Trisha Tannis, said speed of implementation and clarity would be the private sector’s plea in the coming weeks. Commenting on sections of the budget proposals, Tannis said that while welcoming the water tariff relief for the agricultural sector, she believed the government should also have provided relief from the tax on the contribution to garbage and to sewers (GSC) for companies that disposed of their own waste. .

“As we know, there are several entities that take care of their own sewage disposal, etc. their cost of inputs,” Tannis said.

She also called on the government to provide details on the planned reform of public enterprises (EPs), saying this should be done in a way that improves the business climate.

“Despite the very incremental nature of the budget, I think we missed a fantastic opportunity [on Monday]. Other than naming the ten companies, which again didn’t surprise us, I think we kind of stopped to bring home what we absolutely must see,” she said. In her presentation, Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced that the reform of public enterprises would be seriously addressed during this year.

She singled out Barbados Agricultural Management Company (BAMC), Barbados Agricultural Development Marketing Corporation (BADMC), Barbados Agricultural Credit Trust, National Housing Corporation, Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation, Urban Development Commission, Rural Development Commission, the Board of Transport, Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Grantley Adams International Airport.

“I preferred to have seen a real deep dive to stop what I call the bleeding. There are hundreds of millions of dollars sitting in these public companies,” said Tannis, who agreed that governance needed to be strengthened. and that appropriate financial control systems should be put in place.

“I wasn’t very impressed that we were about to bring members into the board and try to train them to become board members. This would not happen in the private sector.

Either you have the competence to be an administrator and you can manage an entity, or you are not an administrator. So bringing them in and then trying to train them may have ended up where we are today,” she said.

Tannis also expressed surprise at the revelation that the government has been moved to the Transport Committee in the current financial year, saying it showed the urgent need to “take seriously the closing of these budgetary gaps and if we do, we could find a goldmine of fiscal space.” ”.

Acknowledging that the tourism sector “didn’t get too much love” in Monday’s budget, Tannis said there were however some legislative reforms relating to the Tourism Development Act and the Tourism Amendment Act. tourism development law which she was surprised not to mention.

The government should review these laws to make it easier for all tourism-related entities, including stand-alone restaurants, to access concessions in the same way as hotels.

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