Project Barbados – Vision 2030
LET’S MAKE BARBADOS “the world’s healthiest destination to live, work, vacation and recuperate”.
Let’s revamp the education system that has served us well, starting initially with the curriculum. If we are going to be a tourism destination, foreign languages cannot be taught as they are, like if we are all preparing to be professors of French and Spanish.
Every primary school student will be conversant in either Spanish, Chinese, Japanese or French. This will permeate through to secondary school. We will be equipping our workforce to speak to our new customers from the rest of the world.
Curriculum will be geared to opportunities for studying bushes, herbs and the food we grow. The curriculum will focus on healthy bodies, healthy minds and confident, productive citizens. The focus will be developing a citizen who is ready to create jobs and businesses for an economy that serves the health needs of the world. We will not give up the best parts of our system; we will still have our healthy dose of mathematics and English.
Barbados will become less reliant on cars and we will have a more reliable public transportation system which is private sector-led. In addition to the existing terminals, two terminals will be built in the central south of the country near The Belle and central north of the country, for example, Apes Hill/lancaster.
Therefore, a public service vehicle would not run from Bridgetown to Sam Lord’s or Bridgetown to Pie Corner, but we would have all short routes and people would take the connecting transportation. This transportation will not be fossil fuel-driven but will be solar-powered. It could be buses as we know it or it could evolve to some type of mass rail transport.
However, the more important aspect of the transportation policy is that bicycle lanes will be added to the road network and Government incentives will be put in place to encourage riding. Children will ride to school, adults will ride to work or ride to the nearest transportation terminal to catch their public transport.
This policy is a significant change for our country that will not only reduce our drain of scarce foreign exchange, but will improve our health. Critical to this policy is that Barbados will also become a bicycleproducing country – we will not be importing bicycles, we will be making them.
This is the type of thought process that we should be pursuing actively. It happens in Europe today, but we have a far better environment in which to make this work, especially with the 2030 vision. This country cannot afford incremental thinking if it is to make a quantum leap into reforming its economic fortunes. Remember, the vision is to be the healthiest country.
Let’s get at the core of the discussion. Core to the entire new economy, we will grow moringa, noni, manchineel, mandarin, mustard and other agricultural products. We will grow the best species of these crops, and we will study them and all the other natural herbs we have access to. We will make medicines from them, we will get smart and get ourselves in the value chain of healthy products and their production in Barbados.
Along with that, we will build a new health care facility that replaces our main hospital, and we will sell the skills of our health care providers across the world. We will encourage Airbnb and respite centres and we will develop skills for the treatment and caring for Alzheimer’s patients, and become the capital of the world for recuperation and palliative care.
Arts and culture
Barbados has a real opportunity to be a factory for the art and music industry for the world. The evidence is in Nicholas Brancker, Arturo Tappin, Robyn Rihanna Fenty, Dwayne Antrobus, Melvin Aleck and others who produce and make music for international recording artistes. This will be one of the key areas for growth and will continue to attract Government support and provide an outlet for the creative needs of our youth.
It will also be part of the economic landscape that cares for the health of the world through the arts. The outlets here for the nation are wide and varied – it is in production, staging, sound, lighting, film, promotion and artistes’ management. We are now only scratching the surface of the skills that our people can bring to the region first and then the world in this area.
The Ministry of Business and Government Facilitation
This will be one of the most significant areas of focus for the vision 2030 government. For those who were around and remember the 2007 World Cup model, you will recall that it was a very well-designed and executed project. It demonstrated high levels of bureaucracybusting. Critical permanent secretaries sat around the table to make decisions happen – customs, immigration, health and son on to get the cricketers and patrons around the Caribbean seamlessly. We need this type of approach and we need to be deliberative with it.
This arm of government will be set up to ensure the levers of government that facilitate business functioning will be housed under one umbrella, with the expressed goals of good governance and efficient execution. It would be operated similar to a privately run corporation. We have some of the brightest minds of our country in the Civil Service and they have served this country well over the years. We will be utilising the best of those driven, progressive, individuals to reflect the value and import of this arm of government to ensure its success.
The final piece of this puzzle is how we run the finances – the planning, the budgeting, spending, the allocation and the international lobbying.
Project Barbados – Vision 2030 is not starting in a vacuum and we will have lots of work to do to get to this goal, but at least we have a goal. All of the above require strong leadership and commitment to drive it through, and none more so than the financial leadership. I propose a select team of six people from our community with Project Barbados as their goal. It is important that these individuals are not serving a political interest or the interests of one or two corporates.
We are blessed to have had leadership that had the vision of free education and we have benefited from that to produce one of the most advanced societies in the world. We have a natural environment that is the envy of most. We have flat topography, a good road network, excellent communication systems, sunshine all year round and good ports of entry.
What we need now is not to be complacent, not to be incremental, not to settle, but to be strategic and seize the opportunity that is presented. Let’s not waste this crisis. Let us use this space in our development to shoot for that one single idea, that vision, and let’s make a quantum leap for Barbados. Vision 2030 and beyond.
Let’s change the conversation. Let’s demand a higher level of discourse. Let’s give our young people hope. Barbados – the world’s healthiest destination to live, work, vacation and recuperate.
The above article was submitted as a letter to the Editor.