Arthur: Low growth a sign of falling standard of living
Not only is the 0.3 per cent growth predicted for the next year not enough to pull Barbados out of its economic problems, but it is an indication that the standard of living is falling.
That was the contention of former Prime Minister Owen Arthur today.
Making his contribution to the Estimates debate this morning, he said while Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler had indicated there was 0.3 per cent growth for the last year and similar growth was projected for the next year, there had been no turnaround in the economy.
“What are the implications of an economy like Barbados’ growing at a rate of 0.3 per cent? If you were to draw from the legacy of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) you would have to say that the Government of Barbados now is presiding over an economy in which its major official policy is to preside over a decline of the standard of living of the people of Barbados. That is the implication of growing at 0.3 per cent,” the Independent Member of Parliament said.
“We as a BLP government set goals for the society and the goals were expressed in many forms but the key one was the growth rate. With the population growing at one per cent, you had to get the economy growing at an average annual rate of about three per cent if you going to simultaneously reduce poverty, reduce unemployment, and widen the scope of economic opportunity in this country. Growth matters . . . So if your population is growing at 1.0 per cent, and you economy is growing at only 0.3 per cent, then effectively your per capita income will be falling and the standard of living of the people of your country will be falling as well,” Arthur said.
The St Peter MP added: “It is not a desirable situation and the fact is Barbados needs to get back to a situation where, if we are going to be serious about reducing poverty, reducing unemployment, widening opportunity, that . . . we need to get back to growth. And we can only get back to growth if there are major initiatives that will enable us to get back to growth.”