Barbados and Singapore: 50 years on
“Barbados and Singapore have quite a lot in common. Both are small island states of relatively similar size, though Singapore is slightly larger than Barbados. They share the same British colonial background and proceeded to Independence in the mid-1960s, one year apart, after their participation in a political federation with neighbouring countries did not turn out as they expected. Barbados and Singapore are also resource-poor countries. They have no natural resources, to speak of, to tap for development purposes. As a result, developing their people through education was given high priority.”Barbados TODAY 14 August 2015.
Reudon Eversley who wrote the article from which the above quotation is extracted, concludes that the separate developmental roads travelled by Barbados and Singapore were very much impacted by domestic values and cultures. Singapore was an informal dictatorship brilliantly led by Lee Kuan Yew, whereas Barbados under the guise of Westminster-style democracy, was being led by Errol Barrow from an historical background of oppressive slavery with a ‘Massa day done’ mentality.
It is hard to disagree with Eversley’s conclusion. Nevertheless, the results of the two approaches pursued are startlingly different. The charts below from the excellent resource http://theglobaleconomy.com tell the story graphically.
Few will argue against the notion that the Barbados economy today is stagnating. Little or no growth has been evident for several years with the outlook not significantly different. Our National Balance Sheet is distressed with few investors interested in owning Government debt.
Government Expenditures are chronically and structurally in excess of revenues. Many Government services are highly inefficient and productivity very poor. Several Government-owned properties are sitting idle and incurring maintenance costs or becoming derelicts.
The development approach we pursued in the last 50 years (but especially in the last 25) have not worked. We must smash the old mould and build a new model quickly.National Governance Reform needs to be at the heart of our new vision as we look forward to the next 50 years.
Barbados has all the attributes needed to become a model of excellence in all respects.
Peter N. Boos FCA