A “new normal” in global finance and business is needed. This was the just one of the ideas put forward by the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Christopher Sinckler, when he delivered the feature address of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados (ICAB)’s 18th Annual Conference. This year’s conference focused on ‘Building the New Economy’.
In setting out his thoughts on the way forward for Barbados, the Minister identified the need for “a more balanced, responsive and creative economy”. Several areas were highlighted as having the potential to move the country towards such a position. Taking the traditional economic sectors of tourism and international business, he emphasized the need to improve the current way in which the country operates.
To assist with doing so, a National Business Facilitation Council, to be chaired by the Prime Minister, will be put in place by January 2012. It is expected that the Council will develop new protocols for engagement between the public and private sectors and oversee an overhaul of key agencies such as the Immigration, Customs and Town Planning Departments by 2015.
Regarding emerging sectors, cultural industries, sporting activities and alternative energy were touted as key in building the new economy. Frameworks for advancing the cultural industries and alternative energy have been completed and the Government expects to shortly sign a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank to assist in developing incentives and legislation for the latter sector.
For the cultural industries, Minister Sinckler informed those present that the Ministry of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth would soon be meeting with stakeholders to discuss the use of the $50 million investment allocated in the 2011 Budgetary Proposals. It is expected that the first $10 million will be disbursed in the second quarter of the upcoming financial year, 2012-2013. This, he stated, would carve out new opportunities for designers, musicians and those in the culinary arts.