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Digicel Chief: ‘Stay away from business’

Digicel Chief: ‘Stay away from business’



One of the most successful international investors operating in the Caribbean Tuesday has challenged regional governments to step back and let the business community run many sectors now being controlled by state agencies.{{more}}

International entrepreneur, chairman and owner of telecommunications giant Digicel, Denis O’Brien, was at the time addressing regional business leaders gathered for the Caribbean International Leadership Summit at the Hilton Hotel in Barbados on Tuesday.

“First of all, leave business alone, stay away from business because government should be out of business.

“We need to totally deregulate electricity and governments should get out of transport, gas, airports and all these businesses because they don’t add anything to it.

“Government should be encouraged to get rid of regulation. The Caribbean is tied up in regulation just like the European Community is,” O’Brien added.

He also called on Caribbean governments to introduce radical policies to reduce CO2 emissions and urgently adopt “green” legislation.

“They all talk about it but they are not doing much,” O’Brien said, adding that “they should hold them in parliament and feed them food and water for a month until they bring in the legislation and not let them out the door and give them sun.

“Give them sandwiches and sleeping bags in every country in the Caribbean and in Europe until they bring the legislation in,” the business executive said.

The Digicel boss also called for innovation in education, saying the time has come to give laptops to every child over the age of eight and make broadband available to every Caribbean household.

He also said that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) should be expanded to make it more like the European Union.

“This idea of filling in forms on a 20-minute flight is just ridiculous at the end of the day,” O’Brien said.

He pointed to what he calls “real opportunities” for Caribbean businesses in green tourism, retirement tourism, medical tourism, plastic surgery, building and construction, the retail sector, call centre businesses, property development and financial services.

O’Brien is one of Ireland’s leading entrepreneurs with extensive international telecoms, radio, property, aircraft leasing, golf and other leisure sector interests.

He established Digicel and launched a GSM cellular phone service in Jamaica in 1994.

After six years of operation, Digicel has extended its operations to 23 markets with over four million subscribers in the Caribbean, Central and South America. (CMC)