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Republic move not a cure all, warns economist

While noted economist Ryan Straughn has welcomed the idea of Barbados becoming a republic, he believes greater effort has to be made by Government to improve its efficiency across all its systems and give more of a voice to citizens.

He said today it would also require a lot more discussion and education to help the population fully understand and appreciate what the change would mean.

Straughn, who has been calling on the Freundel Stuart administration to implement its corrective measures for the economy in a timely fashion, told Barbados TODAY he believed if Barbados was to go the route of a republic, citizens should have a greater say in the country’s decision-making processes.

Ryan Straughn

Noted economist Ryan Straughn

“I think as we approach 50 years we should give serious consideration to it,” he said.

However, he stressed that “even more so than becoming a republic” an improvement in the way Government functioned would “definitely bring back a level of confidence to the economy”.

“Regardless of if we remain under the monarchy or become a republic I think what is important right now is for the administration, our judiciary and all of our systems and institutions to be revamped to actually meet the needs of the 21st Century,” said Straughn.

“I think that any drive for republicanism should be a drive to improve all of our systems, from education and health and everything.”

He said once the necessary institutional changes were realized then consumer and investor confidence should improve, as well as realization of greater economic, political and social stability.

“More importantly . . . we need to encourage people to speak more on more issues and under a republic type of governance the participation of the citizens should become more important rather than just every five years in an election. Those are some of the key things I would want to see in a republic,” he said.

Straughn added: “I think that once we take that to heart then the economy and by extension the society and everything else could be improved. So I fully support the idea. After 50 years you should be a relatively mature democracy and if we can improve in those areas then any move to a republic will have my full support and I think that most Barbadians will support improving our institutional capacity”.

Straughn said he didn’t necessarily see any negative implications to Barbados becoming a republic, as it should not affect the relationship the island has with the Commonwealth or other trading partners.

“We still have very strong ties with Britain and will continue to have strong ties with Britain. It is our largest source market for tourism business. I don’t think any of that will change because we become a republic,” he said, adding that such a move should be developmental.

“I don’t like the idea of changing from one ceremonial head to another and there is no actual change in the working of Government and all our institutions to improve the delivery of public goods and services to [residents],” said Straughn.

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