Understanding and collaboration critical for Barbados’ survival
With the start of a New Year, we officially have moved away from 2020 which has been a remarkable year for every nation on this earth. Few nations, if any, have been spared the onset of the coronavirus since the United Nations declaration of the COVID-19 as a pandemic in mid-March this year. As we begin a new year, we would like to believe that we have left behind the ravages of this global health crisis which has wrecked much havoc not only on the health of persons and the health care systems but also on the economies and the livelihoods of many across the world. The reality is that the virus has not significantly abated, and our lives and economies are still under threat.
In looking back, we are so conscious that while our Barbados has not experienced a high tally of persons contracting COVID-19 locally, our country too has been negatively impacted especially with the demise of the tourism industry and its related services. A demise that has caused high unemployment figures and a general decline in business activities in all sectors across our island with the result that the anticipated economic growth and business resurgence that we all expected going into 2020 could not be realised.
However, as a nation, whether we look backward or look forward, we must always be thankful for spared life, acknowledging in our Bajan way “it could be worse.” Gratitude must cause us also to commend the leadership of our nation who have stayed focused during these unprecedented times. Indeed, this strong leadership has been the key to our present containment of the virus which has so far allowed some semblance of “normalcy” compared to other countries around the world. While some of our major trading countries have returned to “lockdowns”, Barbados so far has avoided this due to strong leadership and the outstanding contribution by those dedicated professionals working on our front line. We must therefore as a nation continue to count our blessings and maintain our strong commitment and responsibility to staying safe.
We at the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA), the umbrella body of private sector associations in Barbados, are well aware of the significance of 2021, given the state of global affairs and the uncertainty which now predominates. The gravity of the present local economy coupled with the expected role which the private sector plays in its’ development is not lost on us at all. It would be understandable if it was said that “this is a year when things can improve or things can get much worst”. We therefore must all aim for the much need improvement in our economy and our well-being that we all desire and ensure the commitment of our population to do what is required to bring us the necessary success in 2021. We are also fully aware of the importance of the private sector’s contribution to the livelihoods of all Barbadians. It is therefore so vital for us in the private sector to maintain a collaborative framework conducive to the advancement of the economic and social fabric of Barbados. Our communication with each other, as employers and employees, and with our social partners must be ongoing, meaningful and transparent so to redound to the benefit of all in our nation. The BPSA membership remains committed to working within the tripartite body and with other stakeholders for the promotion and maintenance of good social and industrial relations in this country.
The need for all to appreciate the challenges of the business sector in this current trading environment should be recognised as a key factor when trying to find that necessary balance between business survival and business contribution to labour relations in Barbados.
And so, we believe what-ever the circumstances we face in the new year somethings must remain consistent including, loving fellowship with our family, friends and loved ones, albeit being mindful of the now required COVID-19 protocols being in place, and caring for the most vulnerable in our society. A lesson well delivered to us in the past is that it’s in hardship that strength arises, it’s in adversity that new friendships can be formed, and it’s in a crisis that communities often break down barriers and bind together to help one another. We hope never to have to deal with hardship, adversity or crisis, but 2020 has served as a reminder as to “how quickly things can change.”
As we start the new year, we need to stay focused on our goals and be positive in our outlook, indeed it is also critical that each of us be ever mindful of the statement “hope deferred makes the heart sick“. In so doing we must all make a very special effort to keep hope alive not only for ourselves but for those around us. We pray the entire nation, with hope in our hearts, will employ the strength and faith needed to navigate this new year.
The BPSA will continue to work with the Government, our other social partners and the people of Barbados for the development and prosperity of our nation.
Blessed, peaceful and happy new year to all.