No easy fix

Barbados and the region record decline in exports

With Barbados and other Caribbean states grappling with serious economic challenges, one regional academic is warning that no “standard, off-the-shelf solutions” will work.

Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill Campus, Dr Justin Robinson issued the strong word of caution this morning at the media launch of the
17th annual conference of the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES).

Pointing out that “the Caribbean is an extremely nuance place”, Dr Robinson argued that “standard off-the-shelf solutions are not going to work in this context”.

He did not identify any agencies by name but he also warned that while “the Caribbean is important to us because we live here, we are not important to anybody else!

“So it’s easy for the rest of the world to forget about us and it can be easy for us to accept that relative insignificance,” he added.

Despite the economic slump, Dr Robinson also suggested that the region could ride out the current negative tide. However, he said the desired turnaround would require “deep reflection, ongoing research, questioning and understanding the Caribbean reality”.

Also addressing today’s press launch, the Director of SALISES Dr Don Marshall said the region was in the midst of a set of interacting and converging crises”.  He pointed to historic rebellions, including the 1816 revolt in Barbados, the 1823 Demerara rebellion in Guyana and the Christmas rebellion in 1831 led by Samuel Sharp from Jamaica, adding that the SALISES conference which takes place from March 30 to April 1, 2016 under the theme Revolution, Socio-economic Change and Freedoms would also focus on “the urban industrial paradigm that we have grown up with, based on fossil fuels and the fact that [it] is leading to an increasingly deleterious and dangerous situation that is part of what we call climate change.

“That is one crisis,” said Dr Marshall.

“We are also in a long trough in relation to the global credit crunch of 2007/2008 that has extended to what people refer to as the great recession. And just when we are coming out of that it looks like we are doubling down on another kind of crisis in capitalism,” he added.

Dr Marshall said that as the crises “intersect and interact” in the region “we have a mushrooming debt challenge to face”.

He said it was therefore time for “critical reflection of self, society, ecology and economy in encouraging many persons to contribute papers and discussions in the conference, which will be held at the Barbados Hilton and is expected to attract over 90 delegates. (MM)

One Response to No easy fix

  1. Tony Webster December 16, 2015 at 6:12 am

    Dr.Robinson, My thanks to you for turning on the light…enabling many average, trusting citizens who …being led by other folks aspiring to mediocrity…can now better observe the elephant in the room: the world does NOT pivot on an axis fixed on 59.30’W. and 13.10′ N.

    Shattering news as this is…where is the child to lead us?

    I hope that your conference, having cleared the cobwebs off the nation’s eyes…will now get down to the real task: solutions please! These should include the mercy killings of cherished, sacred cows; vaunting political aspirations; the calibrated use of nasty-tasting medicines, and the facing of reality like a man; boldly and resolutely.

    You and Prof. Marshall have an immeasurably great task before you; being able to walk on water, I firstly suggest that in seeking to propagagte your messages to the common folk – both in and out of Cave Hill, please use “plain-speak”: even re-reading several times the summary here presented, there’s too much gobbly-gook making the message opaque. Just say that we have to actually DO something before the stuff hits the spinning fan, please! Like, “we have to re-invent oursleves before the tipping-point is reached, and we begin a long, slow slide to irrelevance”.

    Faith is a key ingredient: somewhere your audience, are several young people, who have the potential, the guts, the skills, and the ambitions, to help create a new economic model which will restore our place in the sun. Please, listen carefully to them. It is to them that the future belongs, not to wise old, experienced old, qualified old, heads like yours and Prof. Marshall’s: remember when YOU were a young under-grad? Did you let YOUR professors deflect you from your dreams?

    Change! Vive la Change! Or as the L.U. guard would bellow: “All change please”!
    And my thanks to you and your colleagues for convening a “Conference of The Future” . Bon Chance to you all.


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