Delays still the norm
OVER THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS, Barbadians were told ad nauseam that “it cannot be business as usual”.
The Cabinet ministers and business people making this statement often sought to impress on citizens the urgency to strip away the bureaucratic red tape under which we operate in order for Barbados to get its economy firing on all cylinders again.
Despite this, much of the frustration in conducting transactions for businesses and ordinary citizens continues.
Examples abound. For instance, an official company document was rejected at the Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Office (CAIPO) because the company director who signed it did so with a blue ink pen and not a black ink one. Yet, nowhere displayed was a stipulation banning the use of blue ink. The transaction was delayed several days because of it.
A company director had to wait one and a half hours at CAIPO to get an official to witness his signature of a document. When the CAIPO staff member finally became available, the process took less than five seconds to complete.
A taxpayer was not allowed to pay $200 on his income tax arrears, as required in his signed agreement with the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA), because the cashier was unsure where to assign the money. The man thereafter spent over
These four experiences involving three citizens known to this newspaper are just the tip of the iceberg. We are aware of other stories of people being turned around and forced to waste inordinately long periods of time, sometimes having to expend large sums on consultants and lawyers, as they try to negotiate doing business with Government agencies.
Why such challenges continue to be the norm rather than the exception in dealing with Government agencies is anybody’s guess. What is clear, though, is that this substandard, archaic way of doing business only contributes to making Barbados an unattractive place for investment.
The public sector reform programme was started in 1995 to make Government more efficient by “assisting public sector organisations and officers to improve their performance towards developing a first-class Public Service”. Yet, over two decades later, incidents like these continue to happen. Why? Based on the continued difficulties to do business in Barbados, what has been achieved from this initiative?
We reiterate our call for a Cabinet-level minister to be appointed to champion efficiency and the ease of doing business at all levels in our society. Barbados cannot become a successful economy if we do not drastically improve the way we do things.