Sir Frank against any formal IMF programme at this stage
With a staff team from the International Monetary Fund [IMF] currently on island carrying out assessments, Government’s principal advisor Sir Frank Alleyne today issued a strong word of warning to the Freundel Stuart administration to stay far away from any formal reconstruction programme with the Washington-based institution.
At the same time, Sir Frank is urging Government to engage the country in the face of the current crisis.
“I think that everybody in Barbados should do whatever is necessary to keep the country from going into the hands of the IMF,” Sir Frank suggested minutes after presenting, during a ceremony at Parliament Buildings, a Green Economy Scoping Study On Barbados, which he co-researched with Minister of the Environment Dr Denis Lowe.
Coming on the heels of Moody’s three-notch downgrade of Government’s bond rating, Sir Frank said his concern was how the country could be turned around.
While arguing that the Government was the only entity that could institute changes in Barbados, the noted economist cautioned that the IMF could “come in” if an administration failed to manage its affairs.
“I don’t worry about the IMF, because nobody in Barbados voted for the IMF. The only people in Barbados who can institute changes is the Government. But remember, where the IMF will come in is if you fail to manage, because they are the last resort who you go to, to get interim support.” Sir Frank explained.
“My preference is,” he continued, “it’s better to manage your own house, than you be managed by somebody, who will set conditionalities. So I think that everyone in Barbados should do whatever is necessary to keep this country from going into the hands of the IMF.”
The Government’s principal economic advisor further warned that during a crisis, there were no “sacred cows”.
He was also of the view that Government needed to be more proactive in the current circumstances and take the masses into their confidence much more.
“They have to engage the public more. You can’t have a crisis and the people who are important to the crisis, this is the populace, the people who live here [are not engaged].
“What the Government has to do is find a structured means of engaging the public on an ongoing basis . . . not only the public, but particularly the business commuity, because they cannot have confidence.
“If they don’t have confidence they cannot invest. Most of them wil not invest,” Sir Frank argued.
He posited that the smart businessman might take the opportunity of the crisis to “jump in” and invest because things would be available at a lower price.
“What might very well happen, and I have no difficulty with it. You might find that the trend in terms of investment in Barbados in other parts of the subregion might accelerate. But, there is a problem. My concern is how do we turn around that problem,” stated the prominent economist.
“I live here. My children live here. I am very concerned when I see things are not going very well within a country and my focus is: how do we turn around [things]?”
Sir Frank also weighed in on the Government’s retrenchment programme. He believed it showed up weaknesses in the human resourcement management in the public sector.
“It is basically flawed. How can you have a work force of the size of Government, and you don’t have an electronic human resource database which is developed on the basis of annual assessments on a yearly basis? he asked.
“How can you manage that thing? So that all of this to and fro, over the retrenchment process is not good for the economy. It increases uncertainty,” he said.