New Minister of Energy and Business Senator Lisa Cummins has committed to building on her predecessors’ legacy and taking the Ministry to the next level.
After meeting with senior officials on her first day on the job on Wednesday, she underscored the importance of the work being done by the ministry and outlined some of the priority areas that will engage her attention.
“Barbados is at that critical stage where we have to be able to secure the wins that have brought us to this place so far but also to create new wins for where we need to go next. And that is going to be critical for both small business and business generally, the trade section of the ministry, as well as energy, which is especially critical for Barbados as we navigate rising oil prices and the increasing challenges globally that are pushing prices up,” Senator Cummins told the Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS).
“One of the critical things that I would want to be able to treat to as a priority will be issues relating to institutional reform, including CAIPO [the Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Office], and how we work with the business community.”
Senator Cummins highlighted the importance of international business, noting that the sector had taken “a beating” from entities such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
“So, what we now have to do is to rationalise what the current status of the sector is, and how do we mitigate against what we could only describe as a constantly shifting goal post from partners like the OECD, where we don’t sit at the table but we are affected by the decisions made at the table,” she stated.
The Minister also spoke about the importance of small business development, pointing out that during the COVID-19 pandemic, many persons who became unemployed had created their own businesses.
She added that it was now necessary to accelerate the performance of those businesses so they could evolve from small to mediumsized businesses to corporate entities and into export-oriented entities that would help to support the development and generation of foreign exchange and business expansion for the country, and the livelihoods of Barbadians in the small business sector.
With regard to energy, Senator Cummins said: “I know that there are a number of projects in the pipeline that were started, and I’m looking forward to getting a sense of where they are, where applications stand, and where the connectivity issues with our service provider, the Barbados Light and Power, in particular, stand.
“We want to ensure that Barbados moves forward aggressively with a renewable energy push that treats to mitigating the climate change crisis, while simultaneously creating new economic opportunities for Barbadians, and local businesses, and then finally have Barbados take the lead globally on issues relating to renewable energy, including solar and wind,” the Energy Minister said.
She said that even though it is “an exciting time”, it “is also challenging” because of the impact of external factors including increases in the prices of fuel and goods, and interruptions in the global supply chain on businesses and consumers in Barbados.
Senator Cummins committed to engaging extensively with stakeholders and members of the public over the coming weeks.