Strong nation needs strong economy

Opposition Leader Owen Arthur believes that central to nation building must be sustained growth and development of a strong economy.

He expressed this view yesterday while addressing the 74th Annual Delegates Conference of the Barbados Labour Party at the Queen’s Park Steel Shed, the City.

The former Prime Minister had earlier stated: “We fully understand that man cannot live by bread alone. We also fully understand that the task of building a nation must begin with the establishment of a secure national identity.

“It also requires the bringing together in an harmonious and coherent way, forces in the economic, social, cultural, political and psychological realms to forge a society that can progressively meet the needs and expectations of the broad mass of the people.”

The St. Peter MP however maintained that Government must provide a strong economy that presented the wherewithal to meet the material needs of the people, to create good jobs, and to enable the society to remove the vestiges of poverty from its midst.

“Managing an economy properly matters,” Arthur said. “The BLP therefore takes pride in our efforts to manage and develop the Barbados economy over the decades. We also treat as a badge of honour the accusation by our opponents that we pay too much attention to economic affairs.”

He noted that by contrast, the people of Barbados have come to feel in the most painful way the disastrous consequences of the current, which did not have to put the management of the economy at the front and centre of its attention.

Arthur pointed out that as a consequence, Barbados had been transformed from being among the best managed and performing economy in the Caribbean to being among the worst, not just in the Caribbean, but globally.

The veteran parliamentarian argued that all of the major indicators of performance had shown serious decline.

The Opposition Leader further argued that the concept of junk not only applied to the country’s credit rating, but to every aspect of the Government’s policies and its economic performance.

He said for the first time over the term of a Government, the economy has become smaller, with the value of what Barbados produced declining by six per cent since 2007. He further stated that the incidence of poverty in 2010 was 19.7 per cent of the population, compared to 12 per cent in 1998.

Similarly, Arthur noted that per capita income had dropped from $28,018 in 2007 to $26,222 in 2011. He stressed that this was a performance that amounted to junk.

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