National productivity still way too low, warns Worrell

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Economist and former Central Bank Governor Dr DeLisle Worrell has warned that the level of productivity in Barbados is way too low, especially within the public sector where he says the level of service provided by Government employees has been on the decline for years.

And even though output from private sector workers has increased somewhat, Worrell further cautioned in his September newsletter that the record of Barbados’ labour force was really not very encouraging.

“Over the past decade, output per worker in Barbados appears to have increased very slowly by about $600 per year, no more,” he said, adding that “the value of services provided by the average Government worker has been declining by about $900 per year over that same period”.

The ex-Governor is therefore stressing the need to improve national labour productivity.

“This issue must take centre stage in discussions of the Social Partnership; measures to improve worker productivity are a sustainable way to ensure improved living standards for the Barbadian workforce. The gains made will be permanent, and will contribute to improved competitiveness, growing investment inflows, and faster growth of our economy,” he said.

With the island currently in need of more foreign currency, Worrell said public sector workers in general needed to produce more.

“Public services do not escape the iron law of productivity,” he said, while arguing that “public sector workers can share in the foreign currency inflow only to the extent that each worker provides more or better services”.

He also suggested that workers in general must be enabled, motivated and equipped to produce more, of better quality, with more variety and with better service since this improved productivity attracted further investment, created even more productive capacity, better transport services, upgraded public services, and greater efficiencies, while “creating a virtuous cycle of growth and prosperity”.

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