Doctor’s warning

Byer-Suckoo warns of negative side effects from harsh economic cuts

A Government minister is warning that the bitter medicine needed to heal Barbados’ ailing economy could erode its leading position in the Caribbean in terms of the United Nations (UN) Human Development Index.

The Human Development Report 2016, which was released at UN House yesterday, placed Barbados first in the region at 54 out of 188 countries – the same position as in the 2015 report.

Overall, Norway ranked first for the highest human development, while the Central African Republic was placed at the bottom of the global scale, with the Bahamas ranked at 58, Antigua and Barbuda 62, Cuba 68, Grenada 79, St Lucia at 92 and Jamaica at 94.

However, while agreeing that further progress was needed, Minister of Labour and Social Security Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo, who is also a medical doctor, cautioned that the needed corrective economic remedy could negatively affect the island’s social standing.

“Our development is not just about the economy but to also ensure that the society develops as well and it is also why we have articulated four pillars of our development, ensuring those four pillars – that Barbados is socially balanced, economically viable, environmentally sound and characterized by good governance. So all of that speaks to the multi-dimensional nature of the progress that we want to see,” she said.

“It is not just enough to talk about taking the bitter medicine – the harsh cuts in Government spending that many are prescribing for us – because that medicine may not only be bitter, but indeed it can be poisonous. If it improves our deficit but decimates the quality of lives, jobs, health, education, sanitation and other services at the same time, so it is one thing to talk about taking the harsh cuts, let’s see the budget balance, but we also have to ensure that our people’s lives that are being affected that we take that into consideration,” she said.

Byer-Suckoo said the island’s current ranking proved that tough decisions in favour of human development were made over the years, even if it delayed the needed fiscal improvements.

The Government spokeswoman assured that the Freundel Stuart administration remained keen on providing employment opportunities, access to clean water and sanitation, education development, transportation and other services. However, she agreed that progress was uneven, human deprivation still widespread and that much human potential remained untapped.

Also taking part in yesterday’s launch, Neisha Cave, an economist at the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology, highlighted a shortage of data and critical research needed to assist in human development.

Representative of the Barbados National Organization of the Disabled Sean Cooke also zeroed in on the challenges facing the disabled community, while agreeing with other officials to the need for greater communication among all stakeholders.

Presenting this year’s Human Development Report, Stephen O’Malley said while there was “steady” improvement over the years, there was the need for Barbados to brush up in a number of areas, including its measurement and analysis of data so that it could better determine who was being left behind and why.

“Moreover we need to look beyond quantity to the quality of development. Just because a child attends school does not mean they are getting a decent education,” O’Malley cautioned.

He also called for more opportunities for disadvantaged members of society and for greater focus by policymakers on measures to ensure resilience against natural disasters, which he said stood to wipe out years of economic and social gains.

“If you look at the data you would see a flattening out of that progress over the last decade and that is for reasons that everybody understands. While life expectancy has gone up, the amount of time in school has also gone up, the income tended to be flat. Those are the three things we use to build the index,” he said.

7 Responses to Doctor’s warning

  1. Sunshine Sunny Shine March 23, 2017 at 12:37 am

    It would be nice to hear you warn your parliamentary colleagues that they will be a reduction of the bloated cabinet that is now enjoying the sweet earnings with very little to show for it. Why don’t your government start the cuts with all of you first.

  2. Jennifer March 23, 2017 at 1:53 am

    Doctor dear, there is a pillar missing that needs to be added to your four, and that is, that the society is financially balanced. If we were not so puzzleized, white washed, strangulated in this top heavy society by the oppressor our people would be better off. And the education – white washed too. Vision is a very, very, serious issue to this brainwashed people and all of you lot has and still is perpetuating it. All of these Islands people was robbed and pillaged and set back by about 280yrs financially and should never be placed in the same ranking line up with those who did the damage. What do you think the result will be??? This is similar to IQ testing. It is like putting a donkey in a horse race. And the only people who will drink this bitter medicine is the same disenfranchised people.

  3. Jamar Haynes March 23, 2017 at 6:14 am

    The Human Development Index is not based on what the DLP does or does not do. So she cannot take credit. The HDI remains artificially raised because of the previous efforts of administrations (not yours) to make sure that developmental goals are achieved. It works something like the MDGs and SDGs.

    “The HDI was calculated in 2010 using the following indicators: Health – Life expectancy at birth. Education – expected years schooling for school-age children and average years of schooling in the adult population. Income – measured by Gross National Income (GNI) per capita (PPP US$)”. All of these are downward in Barbados.

    Note that income and education are part of the equation. You, doctor, want to change how UWI and tertiary education is now designed by making it “demand driven” aka the people have no choice and hardly any access. People have to pay to be educated so Bim is going backwards. You, doctor and your colleagues, have wrecked the island and put it inthe deep junk category. But the HDI remains once we have access to good infrastructure – internet, literate workforce , education, removal of poverty etc. for the purposes also of HDI. It also speaks to “potential” and not reality in some cases and is misleading You have to read this and I quote “It is misleading to compare values and rankings with those of previously published reports, because the
    underlying data and methods have changed. Readers are advised in the Report to assess progress in
    HDI values by referring to table 2 (‘Human Development Index Trends’) in the Statistical Annex of the
    report. Table 2 is based on consistent indicators, methodology and time-series data and thus shows real
    changes in values and ranks over time reflecting the actual progress countries have made. Caution is
    requested when interpreting small changes in values because they may not be statistically significant due
    to the sampling variation. ” Call UNDP and ask a question.

    Who are you trying to fool?? You guys do not give a cr*p. We are deeper in Junk at Caa3, poverty is increasing with a 30% rise in the cost of living etc. You need to report the truth to the agencies. That listing on the HDI index has not changed because development agencies continue to load Barbados money through their embassies to keep Barbados “punching above its weight” which it does not. Ask USAID, Canada, China, Japan, DFIF, UKAID etc. The downgrades will ultimately put Barbados at the bottom of the barrel and your mouthings are nothing but FAKE NEWS. Only the citizens will take the bitter pill. You are the worst Minister of Labour, self-agrandizing and do not know what you are doing. So I would advise that you say nothing.

  4. hcalndre March 23, 2017 at 8:39 am

    I said that by denying those access to UV education because their family could not afford the fees, would be just like in the 40s when you would hear men and women speaking of not being able to further their education because of poverty and they watch other kids that they were smarter than go on because their parents could afford the money. Education is the only resource that barbados has. The very ones that benefited from the free ed at UWI is the very ones than now deny others from the same opportunities with all kind of excuses, tell me what the $7m. that was spent on the Independence celebration achieved? I`m sure everyone knew that it was 50 years of Independence from Britain which I believe was a great relief for Britain.

  5. Donild Trimp March 23, 2017 at 10:04 am

    @ Jennifer – “All of these Islands people was robbed and pillaged and set back by about 280yrs financially and should never be placed in the same ranking line up with those who did the damage”

    I have to agree with you one hundred percent with the above statement.

    The question hoever is this, should we all turn a blind eye to what transpired in the past or should we all take steps to make an improvement.

  6. Helicopter(8P) March 23, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    Which one to choose Barbados ? Human development or wildlife development? We now have Bajan monkeys that observe the colors and recognize the sound of the motor of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ paddy wagon! They grab their young ones and scramble off into the woodland!

  7. Tony Webster March 23, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    It’s simply amazing the things that can happen to you, whilst walking to Damascus. The goodly doctor surely knows how to weigh options, against risks, and the relative associated outcomes. Difficult decisions….well….are difficult, but an inescapable component of life’s journey. One does not even need higher education to choose between losing a gangrene-infected toe, or amputating a leg.
    RX: get real doctor. Welcome to Damascus.


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