Barbados and Singapore: 50 years on

guest“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 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.

Leaders needed.

Peter N. Boos FCA

3 Responses to Barbados and Singapore: 50 years on

  1. Rawle Spooner
    Rawle Spooner November 8, 2016 at 11:31 am

    But Singapore has smart more progressive politicians than these clowns who have been running Barbados for the last 50 years so that is where comparison ends.Singapore is run like a 2016 country Barbados like a damm 1966 backwards country.

  2. Peter Thompson November 8, 2016 at 11:56 am

    The comparison of Barbados to Singapore is useful, but it’s a mistake to think that the starting points of our development were similar. The differences in “domestic values and cultures” are critical; in the case of Barbados the differences are deeply rooted in the “historical background of oppressive slavery.”

    The mentality which has crippled public services in Barbados is intimately related to that which has made the local private sector dependent on economic rent seeking rather than productive innovation. The legacy of slavery has damaged not only the descendants of slaves, but also the descendants of slave masters.

    Governance reform is indeed sorely needed, but this is only part of a solution. It is naive to pretend that productive investment will follow governance reform without accompanying structural reforms which change the way capital is deployed in the local economy.

  3. jrsmith November 8, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    Barbados history gave us a massive head start to most of the world, how could anyone compare Singapore with Barbados ..The white world took on the task of investing serious money to financially developed and industrialize Singapore , but just stick our Barbados with few hotels to keep us smiling……….


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