Project Bar­ba­dos – Vi­sion 2030

Daily Nation (Barbados) - - Comment -

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.

Trans­porta­tion

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.

Health care

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.

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