Special Committee to Find Solutions as Barbados Falls in Doing Business Rankings

Minister in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Investment, Marsha Caddle addressing a Stakeholder Review on the Planning and Development Bill 2019. (Credit: B.Hinds/BGIS)

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Friday January 25, 2019 – Government is expected to establish a “doing business” subcommittee of Cabinet to tackle how business is conducted in Barbados.

This disclosure came from Minister in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Investment, Marsha Caddle, as she addressed a Stakeholder Review on the Planning and Development Bill 2019.

She said once the subcommittee is approved by Cabinet, it would be supported by a competitiveness council, which would be a smaller subcommittee of the private sector, trade unions and other parties.

The Minister explained that the creation of a subcommittee was “not to have general discussions about productivity and ideological discussions about competitiveness”.

“These committees are to get to the business of improving these doing business rankings…and improving these indicators, so Barbados works for Barbadians and those who want to come and live and work here. And so we have made a commitment to get to the root…of what is impeding business and investment in the country and this reform and review of the Town Planning legislation is a very large part of that,” she said.

The recently released 2019 Doing Business Report showed that Barbados had fallen to 129 in rankings.  Caddle noted that in the area of dealing with construction permits, Barbados ranked very low.

The Minister told the gathering that the draft Bill represented a fundamental shift in how government sees the role of planning and development in the country; its role in growth and investment; and its role in social and economic development in creating the required Barbados.

“There are a few changes in the way we approach the idea of refusal and approval and one of those is the idea of provisional refusal – the notion that rather than just giving a yes or a no, rather than just acting as a regulator, that the Town Planning Office is now cast, through this new Bill, as a facilitator of development,” she pointed out.

“Information is important and it certainly is an economic good as it allows people to make key growth and investment decisions. So we believe the role of the Town Planning Office and the entire planning and development architecture is not simply to give a yes or no, not to withhold information that might help facilitate development, but to have a conversation with those who are interested in fostering development in this country.

“That is really the new orientation that you will see at different points throughout the Bill and that we think is a very important step forward,” she added.

Minister Caddle also stressed the importance of the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan, saying that it was not just about fiscal adjustment. Stating that Barbados could not adjust its way out of this crisis, she reiterated that growth and transformation were critical.

“What it means is that the powers of Government are not simply tax and spend, but we have to use all the powers of Government as regulator, facilitator, and legislator to be able to bring about the economic growth that we want to see,” she told the audience.

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