By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
A Bahamian businessman yesterday said increased productivity is the only way to "save the country", and called on the Government to be "honest" with voters even if they lose an election for "doing the right thing".
Ethric Bowe, an engineer with multiple business interests including Advanced Technical Enterprises, an insurance agency/brokerage and a family farm, lamented to Tribune Business the challenges he and other employers have in finding staff with the necessary literacy, numeracy and work ethic that enable their ventures to function efficiently.
"The human resource issue is the biggest issue out there," he blasted. "I say that because I spent most of the morning trying to find some people to hire. You can't find people to hire. My advertisement said we are looking for people who can read, write and come to work. Is this a real place or what?
"I talk to business people all the time. They all have the same problem. It's not a matter of training. Most of the people I've seen, it's an aversion to training. They don't want to be trained, don't want to learn and don't want to acquire skills. How is the country supposed to move forward? That is a huge one, and it feeds into the same thing."
Mr Bowe said the economic climate as the country emerges from COVID-19 remains largely stagnant, adding: "I don't feel as if it's getting any better. It's not changing a whole lot, but right now it's not getting any worse." While not opposed to the recently-launched government initiative of providing Bahamians with free wireless Internet (wifi) access at public parks, he added that the country needs to be careful over the signals it is sending with other "free" promotions.
Indicating this could encourage a 'something for nothing' mentality, Mr Bowe added: "We need to give people support to earn, but we deny them opportunities and give them free stuff. We don't encourage people to learn. Where do we expect to go. If we don't get people productive, we will not get the economy to move.
"Our problem is really us. We need people to tell us the truth. We need to earn our way out of this situation. There's no magic. Every day I go to work at 8.30am, 9am, and there's a whole line of men at the liquor store. You can't run a society like this, standing around drinking all day, and spending all the money you earn at the bar.
"The Government has to be honest with the people even if it means getting kicked out of office for doing the right thing. We have to save the country. The Government needs to tell the people every chance they get, they have to be productive. If you do not come to work, we cannot pay you," he continued.
"There are a lot of people employed by the Government every day who provide nothing of value and get paid. Those that are doing something of value have to take their money to pay them. Any time there are a lot of lines in the country, it means people are standing on those lines and not working. If they're not working it's a drag on our gross domestic product (GDP).
"We have to be productive. We need to focus on our productivity, and for people to understand what productivity and service is." Mr Bowe recalled how he had to make three separate trips to the Road Traffic Department recently in a bid to licence one of his trucks after an employee there told him no more licence plates were available.
"I talked to the minister, talked to the director of road traffic, and they said there's no shortage of licence plates. Why was everyone telling us that? It cost us three trips, and if that's being repeated with other persons how is that impacting the GDP of the country? It was frustrating for me, but it turned out they had licence plates," Mr Bowe said.