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Home > News > 2014 12 15 > TIME FOR AN ECONOMIC WAR CABINET

I have never believed in too much bureaucracy and I attribute this to spending 18 months in the Northern Ireland Civil Service as my first job before breaking in the world of finance and then self-employed for the last decade. However, I strongly believe in organization and productivity and feel these objectives can only be achieved by deeds rather than words.  That said, there’s a wonderful simplicity within self-employment that gets things done without undue bureaucracy and stress.

We are a nation of talkers. Everyone has an opinion, from cricket to Prime Ministers, and from garbage collection to ZR vans. We all like to sound off and little wonder the call-in programmes on radio are compulsive listening. Newspapers are full of Feature Columns and the writers have no problems on expounding their views on just about every subject under the sun. It is the land of milk and honey for correspondents as there’s so much to write and talk about these days.

But is anyone listening? 

Do our politicians read Facebook or follow the daily bulletins on radio, television and newspapers? Is our Prime Minister so consumed by reading everything being said about his Government that he couldn’t allot any more time to rare public appearances and are statutory bodies and their staff immune from everything and everybody?

Committees, sub-committees and consultant committees all add up to one thing-too much talking and too much bureaucracy. We laud the work of people who devote endless time to voluntary committee roles and ignore the fact that they do it during office hours and if they are employed, as most of them are, are they more productive on committees than at their place of work?

A wily old sage once told me the best committee was a committee of one and while I felt at the time his claim was self-indulgent and endorsed his dictatorial and dogmatic style of Chairmanship, 40 years later I can now see a lot of merit in what he was saying. Think of the money that could be saved with fewer meetings, less people involved and less documentation. If we paid bills quarterly instead of monthly would we cut the amount of work by 66% and if we limited flexi time, bereavement and sick leave would we get people to work more effectively? If employers and staff worked together and equitably within a Staff Association would we need trade unions, strikes and “garden leave?”  If we had fewer politicians would we have less expense, reduce the need for so many days spent talking at parliament and give politicians more time to make a meaningful contribution to national governance?

Have we not made sticks to beat ourselves with?

Barbados has reached an impasse where the talk greatly outweighs the action and it stretches across many sectors of society and everyday business. Our country has slipped into a talking mode and can’t produce solutions. We need to look outside the box and streamline as many talking-shops as possible to reduce costs, make better use of electronic communication and get on with the business of decision-making, action plans and results.

But it all has to start at the top and ironically that means appointing another committee!

Our country needs a small Task Force at the highest level to set in place an Action Plan that can achieve results in a short space of time and halt the economic slide. The Task Force should be across political boundaries and have no more that ten members. It needs equal representation from each party and is headed by the Prime Minister of the day because of his/her status. It also needs a strong presence from the Private Sector that is representative of our key industries and a Civil Service input. Above all, it needs the power and the will to act quickly and in the best interests of the country going forward. Some people might see it as an economic War Cabinet, but is this not the stage we have reached?

We need action not talking shops.

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