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Enough talk!

Retired professor warns Government to get moving on economy

Worried that the Barbados economy is now in dire-straits, a retired economics professor last night called on the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) to stop the “talk”, and to take urgent “action” to both repair the island’s floundering economy and safeguard its future development.

Delivering the fifth lecture in a series hosted by the DLP at Almond Bay, Christ Church, former professor of Economics and pro vice-chancellor of planning and development at the University of the West Indies Andrew Downes warned that both structural and policy changes were critically needed.

Speaking on the topic, The Path to Economic Development: 50 Years After Independence, Downes acknowledged that though the island had come to be regarded as a developed Caribbean nation, it was now faced with serious fiscal challenges.

“All up to 2006/2007 we had situations where there have been surpluses on the current account and growing, but then bram! . . . we are now coming into a period where we now have to rein in the fiscal deficit. This is where the worrisome part comes,” he told the gathering, which included Minister of Education Ronald Jones and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Maxine McClean, as well as other ruling party members.

Members of the audience at last night’s meeting which included Minister of Education Ronald Jones and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Maxine McClean, as well as other members of the ruling party.

Members of the audience at last night’s meeting which included Minister of Education Ronald Jones and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Maxine McClean, as well as other members of the ruling party.

“We need to be more focused and disciplined and evidence-based,” the retired professor suggested, adding that a culture of “action, monitoring and evaluation” had to be developed.

“We are weak when it comes to this. If we had to export talk in the Caribbean we would be rich,” said Downes.

“I am saying therefore we need to be more action oriented.”

Presenting his “economic development scorecard” for the island, the retired professor highlighted a number of achievements, including increased income per capita, sector diversification, growth in the middle class and improvements in health and education.

However, Downes raised concern about the current economic growth rate, as well as its employment rate. He also said the shift from agriculture to services had created major economic challenges.

The retired professor also pointed to a rise in non-communicable diseases; high levels of youth unemployment; a high percentage of the adult population without certification; external shocks as well as long recovery periods for Barbados following recessionary periods, among the other issues that still needed to be addressed in order for the island to achieve sustainable economic development.

“So that means therefore [that in] the next 50 years, innovation, entrepreneurship and research and development will be critical to our story,” said Downes.

He also argued that it was about time that the Barbados economy was linked with faster growing economies through trade and other policies, instead of only slow growing ones. He also said the island must take advantage of both the “green” and “blue” economy, adding that the private sector must make greater use of export opportunities.

During his 90 minute presentation, Downes also suggested that the island needed to better manage risks and make faster legislative changes.

Andrew Downes

Andrew Downes

“We need to create an environment for business creation and expansion, which is the essence of sustained economic growth and job creation,” he said.

“We have to strengthen the institutional framework for policy action and building economic resilience,” he stressed, while pointing out that the Social Partnership should play a more critical role in the process.

His comments came on the heels of a similar warning sounded by UWI economics professor Winston Moore that the decline in economic activities experienced by Barbados since 2008 had been one of the deepest and one of the longest in the country’s history.

In a recent interview with Barbados TODAY, the President of the Caribbean Development Bank Warren Smith had also added his voice to the deepening chorus of concern, while suggesting that “front end adjustments” were urgently needed to correct the economic slide and to address the country’s worsening debt.

Smith had also described the island’s overall fiscal position as “unsustainable”, while cautioning that if left unchecked, it would do untold damage to the Barbados dollar. He had also called for the immediately privatization of the country’s air and seaports.

marlonmadden@barbadostoday.bb.

6 Responses to Enough talk!

  1. Tony Webster October 7, 2016 at 4:19 am

    Job Vacancy: requires someone wid back-bone and cojones, to bell de cat. Doan haf’ to mek pretty speeches, since we got a surfeitt of dem already. Better still….forget de bell t’ing; jes’ castrate de cat. Yes, use anaesthetic… (ol’ time vets used to throw a l’il turpentine when fixing-up over-sexed male dogs, and it worked better dan croton-oil cud clean your colon, till it did shinin’) True as John 3:16.
    Caution: two-three drops of croton cud clean-out a horse: so use with exceeding caution effin you is bung-up.

    Hmmmm…come to think of it as a half-Christian…we cud spare de cat …and just gi’ it a half-pint croton-oil…..ASAP.

    Reply
  2. jrsmith October 7, 2016 at 4:54 am

    If our government was people of integrity and trustworthiness, our island would be doing a dam lot better. Everything in Barbados which have political involvement seems very corrupt ..
    Lets have a look ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
    Collection of taxes , who is paying , indications more people is avoiding taxes than the ones paying, but the ones paying seems to be ordinary bajans, it seems as though lots of businesses don’t pay taxes because no real effort is made by the government to enforced the collections of taxes, we are coming very close to (Greece)…
    How could a country be manage efficiently when most of the departments is not audited for decades, which exposes the fact its corruption of the highest order in Barbados.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    I must ask ( Mia Motley ) a question ??????? she is always mouthing off about the failure of this wonderful government , the churches think so..
    ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
    Why we are almost broke ,,,, the Barbados treasury is owed could be hundreds of millions of dollars , why she herself said nothing and no politicians has broken sweat or uttered a word to the Barbados people .This relates to the last (AUDIT GENERAL’S )
    report….
    My take this present government , was put there to destroy our Barbados which is there but not for bajans……………………

    Reply
  3. jrsmith October 7, 2016 at 5:06 am

    All we hearing from the so call past and present educators just talk, talk , we could have, we should have, we need to but cant . Its a sorry state when an island small like (Barbados ) cannot find a group of decent educated people from our massive stock ,to manage and run this little island,,,,so,so sad … if this carries on the same government will have to build another (DODDS) for our young black people , you pay for what you get ,but what are we getting…..

    Reply
  4. Hal Austin October 7, 2016 at 6:17 am

    This is a bit late. The Barbados economy has been under-performing the region and the global economy since the end of the Second World War.
    Under Owen Arthur, the island enjoyed a relatively comfortable living based on debt because the global economy was awash with liquidity.
    Since 2008 it has got noticeably worst. I have said in my Notes From a Native Son that the government should use some of its foreign reserves to invest in infrastructural projects ie bulldozing the slums of Bridgetown and redeveloping the area.
    One reply I got from David Thompson told about the Fairchild Street/River Road development – but that was not enough.
    I also called the creation of a Barbados domiciled bank, after the reckless sale of the BNB to foreigners; investing a higher proportion of GDP in education, and radically overhauling the national curriculum; being cautious with this love affair with the Chinese.
    At one point 30000 vehicles on the road were uninsured – one third of all vehicles: overhaul the insurance sector, create a stand-alone traffic police service, use modern identification technology, improve traffic management, including car parking charges, introduce an inheritance tax regime, new property taxes based on the market value of the property, introduce technology across government.
    Further, the prime minister should establish in his office a small budget must delivery unit with the right to intervene across government; improve the criminal and civil justice systems, including better training.
    And introduce policy changes that at the end of each parliamentary cycle the current account balance.
    Finally, carry out an audit of state assets and sell off those not core to the business of government.s

    Reply
  5. Santini More
    Santini More October 7, 2016 at 7:15 am

    Talk is the only thing that we are rich in.

    Reply
  6. Phil October 7, 2016 at 8:36 am

    The comments posted are long and factual but seem to miss the point. We cannot have efficiency if we the government running it is internally fragmented, does NOT pay attention to the peoples’ needs, knows what that they are doing it, and bluntly refuses to fix it. It seems to me that our leader is afraid of his cabinet and has buried his head in the sand because other seemingly party stalwarts or so they think, are calling the shots. A classic example… The Mi8nister of youth and culture is calling on Authority to stem the violence amongst our youths. Indirectly he is telling the AG that he is not doing hi job. The P_M will do nothing because he’s AFRAID to discipline anyone or reshuffle his cabinet.

    Reply

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