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News Report: Chamber chair calls for greater automation, optimization in doing business

Written Friday, April 8th 2022, by Paige McCartney, The Nassau Guardian

Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers' Confederation Chairperson Khrystle Rutherford-Ferguson said yesterday that while there has been great movement toward improving the ease of doing business as it relates to automation and optimization, more can be done within the public and private sectors.

Speaking at the University of The Bahamas Sustainable Grand Bahama Conference, Rutherford-Ferguson said the chamber is keenly aware of the issues impacting or stagnating business, stemming primarily from systemic inefficiencies which require change through automation or optimization.

“Bahamian businesses have to interact with the government and its services many times over in any given month and to the extent that these interactions can be faster, easier and more efficient, this will result in a more business friendly environment. When systems are not working well, we all feel the impact of it. In acknowledging the challenges, we can address the final question, which is what can we do about improving the ease of doing business in The Bahamas? This point was foreshadowed by my reference to automation and optimization. However, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the fact that as a country we have seen positive strides made by both the public and private sectors towards digitization. These strides have been highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for more digital services as we navigated lockdown, curfews and work from home mandates.”

Pointing to improvements in both sectors – with the expansion of government’s digital offerings through its MyGateway portal, and the agility of some businesses in embracing technology since the pandemic, Rutherford-Ferguson said there is room to foster more of a digital transformation in doing business in The Bahamas.

“There is an old adage that goes, ‘necessity is the mother of invention.’ This has certainly been the story for many businesses that have struggled during the pandemic. Those that were fortunate enough to prevail against the difficult environment have used digitization and technology to their benefit, besides savings and grit. I also acknowledge that notwithstanding the positive strides made, more can be done. The ease of doing business is not just a public sector/governmental issue,” she said.

“The private sector provides goods and services to other businesses and where necessary can also revisit its systems and management to see how best it can provide more efficient services to all. Although the government by far is the biggest actor in establishing an environment that is conducive to business, we all have a role to play. The chamber of commerce too has a role, and through our Ease of Doing Business Committee, we focus on the issues communicated to us by our members and the wider business community and see how best we can work with key stakeholders to remedy such issues.”

Rutherford-Ferguson added, “I wish to reiterate that the environment which is efficient and conducive to business will attract more external businesses and will also further encourage local entrepreneurship, thereby strengthening the private sector, which leads to a healthy and robust economy, one which benefits all and provides unique opportunities for many.”

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