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Push to widen financial literacy, says Symmonds

GOVERNMENT is pushing full steam ahead with plans to make Barbadians more financially literate, with concepts being introduced into the school curriculum from as early as the primary level.

This disclosure was made by Minister of Energy and Business Development Kerrie Symmonds, who said this would help to create a society which is financially intelligent.

He was delivering the feature address during the launch of his ministry’s financial literacy programme at Frank Collymore Hall on Saturday evening.

Bajan households

Symmonds said Government began to undertake the endeavour last December, with the target audience being the business community and micro businesses in particular, but they quickly realised that the next step needed to be the average Barbadian household.

“You (Barbadian households) got to manage your household, you got to manage the bills in your household. You have to set objectives for how you’re going to advance yourselves and your families. That requires a certain understanding and a certain flexibility in terms of dealing with matters of finance,” he said.

The minister pointed out that for an effective transformation to a financial literate society to take place, the process must also include the youth.

“We wanted this to be able to impact our children . . . . One of our principal objectives is to make sure that part of this financial literacy training is now in the curriculum of the schools – primary, secondary and university level.”

He expressed frustration at the fact that black Barbadians have not been successful in creating a culture of intergenerational wealth.

“It bothers me that there are businesses in this country that are in the large majority, black-owned businesses that do not see beyond the life of the founder of the business. In other words, that do not pass on to his son or his daughter. We leave our homes every day and find our way into Bridgetown and other parts of this country and support these businesses built on intergenerational wealth, but the people frankly do not look like us, those people who run and own those businesses. This is not being racist, this is being real; our people must be beneficiaries of intergenerational wealth.”

Regulations

He said Government will also be putting measures in place to regulate pricing of various products and services. He drew reference to businesses which utilise scales to determine the price of their products.

He pointed out that a recent study by the Barbados National Standards Institution (BNSI) for his ministry showed there were instances of this in the markets.

“There was an instance where eight pounds of dolphin was ordered and provided and it left the market and went to BNSI. [It] was put on a scale only to find out that it was actually four point something pounds. These are the things that we now have to, by way of intervention, guard against.”

He however pointed out that these situations do not always occur out of malice but in some instance due to the business owner needing assistance in quality measurements. (KM)

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