‘Redeploy, not retrench’
Scotland district solution to country’s economic issues, says Arthur
Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur believes that a solution to Barbados’s economic challenges, especially unemployment, lies in investment in and development of the Scotland District.
And he has blamed the current administration for neglecting such a venture that would be good for the country, simply because it was a Barbados Labour Party (BLP) initiative.
“Redeploy, don’t retrench. If you have to borrow in our name, borrow for capital development, not for current purposes. Let us take this gem in the Scotland District that could be our breadbasket, that could mean so much to tourism, and show that the Government of Barbados has not lost the imagination to dream big dreams, and to do big things,” he said at a BLP St Joseph branch meeting at the Grantley Adams Memorial School last night.
Arthur said that prior to his administration’s demitting office, it had made way for development of the Scotland District through legislation, but nothing else had been done since.
“It saddens me that because it was the Labour Party Government that put the Scotland District Authority on the statute books that they don’t understand the virtue of what that can do to the transformation of this country,” he said, as he insisted that the Scotland District was a gem that should be developed regardless of which political party was in office.
“If you needed to have a capital project that is meaningful at this time . . . in the context of dealing with unemployment . . . with food security, . . . also in the context of building a five-star society, it would be for us to invest in the rehabilitation and redevelopment of the Scotland District. I laid it out in my last Budget presentation,” he said.
Arthur’s contention is that, along with tourism, an enhanced Scotland District could do well for the island’s agriculture.
“The Economic Partnership Agreement that we signed with Europe, makes provision . . . for countries like the Caribbean, that want to transform their agriculture, to have access to resources to be able to do the transformation.
“You imagine what would happen to Barbados if this Government was to go out and look for every source of concessionary finance? Because there are many now that will invest in environmentally sustainable projects. There are agencies across the world that would be keen in giving a Government of Barbados concessionary financing to be able to pursue . . . the improvement and the enhancement of the environment, because that is one of the most popular things that people will now lend you money for,” the St Peter MP said.
Arthur believes if Government were to adopt such an approach, the ultimate beneficiary would be many of the public servants who were laid off in the retrenchment exercise earlier this year.
Sending a message to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, he said: “All the people who you had cutting down bush beside the road, don’t send them home. Fraser’s Plantation down there needs to be rehabilitated. All the Scotland District, bring it back into production, and we will rejoice that you know how to at least do one thing that can be of benefit to somebody in Barbados.”
Arthur added: “An entrepreneurial Government would recognize this attractive project that is just here waiting to be implemented. Rather than tell people go home, [they] can come and share in the dream of building this country.”