St Vincent Prime Minister suggests Errol Barrow model unsustainable

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines believes Barbados has what it takes to weather the current economic storm.

However, he has sought to caution the island that the Errol Barrow model of socioeconomic development, which includes free tertiary education is no longer sustainable.

His position is outlined in a detailed document entitled The Idea of Barbados, which he prepared back in February.

In the document, Gonsalves pays glowing tribute to Barrow as “the greatest leader that our CARICOM region has thrown up since universal adult suffrage”. He also states that “in national and regional impact and influence, Barrow compares with Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore”.

Gonsalves also makes the point that despite its problems, Barbados was still the most progressive country in all of CARICOM, adding that while other regional states – his own country included – aspire to being like Barbados, to date none had quite achieved its status.

However, he queried aloud whether “the socioeconomic model initiated by Errol Barrow, perfected by subsequent governments, and which came to maturation under Owen Arthur”, could be sustained in a period of prolonged global economic slowdown and continued economic uncertainty.

He went on to suggest that the answer was “no”, adding that “an appropriate strategic framework, balancing prudence and enterprise, coupled with specially targeted interventions” was likely to foster economic growth and fiscal consolidation.

In this vein, he said “a contribution from students to their own educational investment at the tertiary level is less likely to be opposed” and references to “Barrow’s legacy” or “Bajan’s birthright” would be seen as intellectually/practically untenable and demagogic”.

“I am grappling with similar considerations and policy/programmatic issues in St Vincent and the Grenadines.  Unless we have intellectual clarity ourselves, the pandering foolishness emanating from some quarters, that ought to know better, would gain currency.

“The issues at stake for St Vincent and the Grenadines, and probably for Barbados, include efficient public expenditure; the containment of recurrent expenditure; efficacious debt management; optimal tax administration; economic growth; job and wealth creation; social cohesion and a reduction in social inequality.

“These are very challenging and not amenable to quick fixes, particularly in small, open, resource-challenged economies in the context of a global economic slowdown,” Gonsalves warned. “The chatterati, with their feet firmly planted in the air, have all the facile answers, but no responsibility for their invariable wrong-headedness.”   

Please see full document on pages 14&15 of our digital ePaper –


2 Responses to CAN’T WORK

  1. Angel OfThunder
    Angel OfThunder April 3, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    I tell wanna so God is a Bajan hahahahajha……

  2. David Hall April 4, 2014 at 12:52 am

    With all respect due to Mr. Gonzales- I do not agree with you that the model used by Barrow cannot work. Your comments seemed more at supporting the DLP current stance on free tertiary education than anything else. If such a position, is intended to buttress support for moves you intend to take in your own sphere in the near future that is fine, but you seem not to grasp the Barrow model in the context of Barbados when you speak. What we have today in Barbados is simply an expanded Barrow model, which has worked wonders since Barrow. It’s a model of national development through investment in our people. How else do you think that lacking: natural resources, agricultural produce, and a vibrant ‘informal’ economy of the sort rumored to be at work in Saint Vincent and other places could we have survived the economic turbulence of the last 50 years .The Barrow model was based on sugar cane which was in decline, tourism limited primarily to UK, Canada, some USA visitors, and limited industry. Today sugar is gone, so too most of our industry – but the international business sector, the telecommunication industry, innovations in science, medicine, technology and entrepreneurship, bound up in the skill and ingenuity of our young people if well managed (including providing them with a world class education) brings untold wealth and prosperity to countries such as ours. This is all the more reason why we need to keep providing affordable and accessible education for our people. The simple facts are that government will always have to spend money; the question is on what things. When we in the region talk about how tough the outside world is and what people pay for education why don’t we also talk about the social benefits and high levels of government efficiency and accountability which many in these countries are privilege to experience; including their relatively low cost of living. Don’t forget the cheap food and for those in the USA who can’t afford the cheap food, the food stamps they get, and the multiplicity of donor agencies in those countries to help people out. Our comparisons when we want to chastise or shame our people are usually very shortsighted. Do we think it strange that after several decades of not providing affordable health care the US president Obama risked his presidency to make it possible for millions of Americans to have needed coverage? Obama’s’ stance is true of so many other things. In the USA While the lawmakers easily spend 10 billion a day on WAR and felt justified they balked at spending millions on healthcare for the less fortunate. In the region it’s the same. We spend billions on edifices and other nonessentials, including rewards, prize money, and kickbacks for friends, lackeys and party loyalist etc BUT balk at investing millions in our people’s development from which we stand to gain so much more. The harsh reality is this Government will have to spend money. They will have to spend it on free education, healthcare, development programs or they can spend it on arming the police and army, with riot gear to control a delinquent population or on building bigger prisons or fighting diseases. I think the more sustainable way to go is to bite the bullet and spend it now on education and health care.


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