Barbados Chamber endorses Green Technology & calls for Bajan business expansion for North American Markets – BCCI President’s Welcome of Sky Mall, Haggatt Hall

BCCI has for the last few years supported the Government’s vision of Barbados becoming the greenest economy in the Caribbean and Latin America as enunciated in Protocol VI.

{FILE IMAGE} "A few months ago, I had the honour to witness the launch of the 1.4 Megawatts of Photo Voltaic project launched by Williams EverGreen. This project is considered to be the largest harvester of electricity from the sky in the Caribbean, south of Puerto Rico."

{FILE IMAGE} “A few months ago, I had the honour to witness the launch of the 1.4 Megawatts of Photo Voltaic project launched by Williams EverGreen. This project is considered to be the largest harvester of electricity from the sky in the Caribbean, south of Puerto Rico.”

Consequently, over the life of the project, it will save Barbados millions of dollars in foreign exchange in terms of reduced dependence on fossil fuel.

Thirdly, it illustrates to investors, both local and foreign, that Williams Industries’ confidence in Barbados is immeasurable, limited only by the horizon of the next project its Chairman conceives. Such confidence is extremely important for Barbados. For confidence is the currency of the investing community.

We are aware that the last four years have been very challenging in economic terms for Barbados’ GDP. Real growth in 2009 was negative 4.9%; in 2010, 0.3%; in 2011, 0.8% and in 2012, flat or 0.0%. The frequent question that concerned business persons are asking is what can we collectively do to stimulate growth in our national economy?

"Members of the public sector including the Minister of Finance and Governor of the Central Bank have repeatedly advised Barbados that the correct approach is that of the Medium Term Fiscal Strategy as a means of reducing the fiscal deficit and ensuring adequate foreign exchange reserves."

“Members of the public sector including the Minister of Finance and Governor of the Central Bank have repeatedly advised Barbados that the correct approach is that of the Medium Term Fiscal Strategy as a means of reducing the fiscal deficit and ensuring adequate foreign exchange reserves.”

For the past two years and as recent as the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s New Year Message, we advocated to the Barbados Government that “…judiciously stimulating economic activity will have the dual benefit of sustaining employment as well as enhancing government revenues in terms of national insurance, income and value added tax from both individuals and business/ professional entities”.

Today, we witness Sixty Six small and medium sized businesses employing over 860 Barbadians.

This is illustrative of the type of activities that will stimulate the economy by promoting new businesses, creating new and sustaining existing jobs and CONTRIBUTING to national development.

This significant investment by Williams Industries has been the catalyst that saved the company NSR by assuming responsibility for repayment of over $43 million debt. In addition, renovating and expanding the premises in Haggatt Hall and Bridge Street at a cost of $30 million dollars.

The question is which approach – of the two mentioned is likely to result in stimulating growth in the national economy, generating new and sustaining existing employment? The Chamber is confident that expediting investment approvals and refunding VAT and tax refunds to companies will enable companies to invest in new projects that will stimulate growth of the economy.

To its outstanding credit the company has also demonstrated the foresight in further investments that REDUCE the use of foreign exchange, which would naturally offset any USE of foreign exchange necessitated by the expansion of business opportunities for 66 small and medium sized businesses.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry salutes the Chairman of William Industries and NSR Limited, Mr. Ralph “Bizzy” Williams, as well as its directors for truly innovative leadership, vision and skill to bring their vision into reality.

And, there is more. I am pleased to hear that NSR Limited has expanded both malls at Haggatt Hall and Bridge Street to include 75,000 square feet of state of the art office spaces for public sector accommodation. The Government of Barbados must be congratulated for its commitment in participating is this project as well. This level of participation is no doubt INTEGRAL to a substantial project of this size, particularly given the circumstances that gave rise to this investment.

This form of joint Public/ Private Partnership, similar to our Social Partnership speaks volume to the international investing community. Congratulations to Williams Industries, Government of Barbados and of course, your bankers, Bank of Nova Scotia! It is the desire of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry to see investment promoting legislation such as the Special Development Areas Act, as amended revised to expand the geographic areas that can benefit from new investments.

"The fundamental concept of this legislation is to support those investments that would serve as a catalyst for further investment and to lower effective cost of the project in order to achieve satisfactory rates of return for investors sooner. It is our view that the Sky Mall project including Bridge Street would readily qualify if Schedule 1 was amended to include Haggatt Hall, St. Michael."

“The fundamental concept of this legislation is to support those investments that would serve as a catalyst for further investment and to lower effective cost of the project in order to achieve satisfactory rates of return for investors sooner. It is our view that the Sky Mall project including Bridge Street would readily qualify if Schedule 1 was amended to include Haggatt Hall, St. Michael.

An integral part of the renovations of both locations was the addition of top class food courts for the convenience of their patrons. In particular, the facilitating of the introduction of world famous Burger King to Barbados to offer their patrons more choice.

Barbadian food brands should welcome the entry of Burger King and other like international brands. Within two years, the period for protective duties is scheduled to expire, and it is better to be prepared for international competition gradually rather than in one fell swoop.

"In addition, Barbados’ food and beverage and agricultural sectors can greatly benefit from the opportunity to secure long terms supply partnerships with franchisees. Equally, it is in the economic interest of franchisees to ensure a viable local supply chain since reinvesting in the local economy promotes economic growth and consumer demand."

“In addition, Barbados’ food and beverage and agricultural sectors can greatly benefit from the opportunity to secure long terms supply partnerships with franchisees. Equally, it is in the economic interest of franchisees to ensure a viable local supply chain since reinvesting in the local economy promotes economic growth and consumer demand.”

The Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry supports the creation of new avenues of foreign exchange and the indigenous food sector should actively consider expanding franchises overseas as a means of expanding their capacity.

Can you imagine the joy that the Barbadian diaspora in Brooklyn, Toronto or London would have in having their favourite Barbadian brands in their adopted homelands? Indeed, this could be part of the New Economy of services that will contribute to earning valuable foreign exchange for Barbados.

I therefore wish to congratulate Williams Industries group for being a shining exemplar of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and more importantly, of Barbados.

The approach of the Williams group is truly the path of true leadership. Namely, TO BE, TO DO and TO TELL. The ethos this group demonstrates is to be innovative, to demonstrate in action what they truly believe and only then to speak about their achievements!

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