Worrell wants economists to join him in speaking out

Former Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados Dr DeLisle Worrell has expressed disappointment in fellow economists, whom he said were not speaking out more on issues.

Worrell singled out the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute for Social and Economic Studies (SALISES) as one of the organizations that could easily influence economic policy decisions by presenting research and speaking with a level of authority.

“I am a little disappointed with most of my colleagues in the discipline because we don’t speak with authority,” he told Barbados TODAY in an exclusive interview earlier today.

“I am saying the reason I have value to add in terms of policy is because of the technical expertise that I bring to play. So I need to put out the recommendations in a straightforward manner that everybody can understand, but underpinning it must be sophisticated economic analysis, which the person who doesn’t have my training would not be able
to. So I am saying that the reason why SALISES and my colleagues in the profession are less influential than they should be is because they don’t do that. So their opinion is not founded on their technical expertise,” he added.

With the economy currently in the doldrums he further suggested that more economists needed to be in a position to tell Government that its expenditure is headed in the wrong direction.

“As a responsible economists that is what they should be saying. That is my problem with SALISES,” Worrell stressed.

During a generally relaxed interview, Worrell sought to make it clear that he was not political and that he had “studiously avoided political engagement” throughout his career.

However, Worrell, who was fired from the post of Governor back in February, suggested he had learnt the hard way to “communicate with everybody and not just politicians because politicians are going to be influenced by the climate of opinion.

“If the politicians don’t do the right thing, at least as economists our consciences are clear. You can’t say we never warn you,” he said, while acknowledging that nothing much was likely to happen before the next election, due the middle of next year, in terms of the required economic restructuring.

However, Worrell also called on Barbadians in general to join him in putting pressure on the next Government to do what was needed in order to shore up the country’s dwindling reserves, which fell to a meagre $549 million or just 8.6 weeks of import cover at the end of September.

He also said Barbadians must also insist on public sector reform, while complaining that despite calls over the past two decades for successive governments to address the issue, “nothing has been achieved”.

As part of its Medium Term Fiscal Strategy for 2010-2014, the Freundel Stuart administration had promised to embark on a process of public sector reform.

Government had also promised to retrench 2, 000 public servants in January of 2014, with another 1,000 in March, which would be followed closely by a further 500 through natural attrition, including retirement. However, only about half the expected numbers were achieved.

In his latest economic paper entitled The Barbados Economy: The Road to Prosperity, published last week, Worrell insisted that Government needed to shed 4,500 public sector jobs as part of much-needed reforms.

“I want all Barbadians to join me in insisting that the next administration of this country addresses that problem decisively. I have made recommendations as to how that should be done and that we enlist the oversight of the International Monetary Fund and other institutions because they can help us to ensure that we are serious and that we do achieve real public sector reform,” Worrell stressed, adding that “this is a democracy [and] a democracy is supposed to ensure that the voice of the people must be heard.

“The reality is that we are losing foreign exchange reserves. The reason we are losing foreign exchange reserves is because of the wastefulness and inefficiencies. It is costing too much to run the Government and our taxes are not meeting that bill. That is the reason we are getting the pressure on the foreign exchange reserves,” he insisted.

With the country’s reserves falling at “an alarming rate”, the respected economist also warned that the island’s $2 to $1 peg to US dollar peg must be protected.

21 Responses to Worrell wants economists to join him in speaking out

  1. luther thorne December 1, 2017 at 10:57 pm

    Some jokers asking why you did not speak out before but you did speak out and you were fired.

    The Minister cant walk in your shoes but play that he can fire a good man. This Minister is the greatest we have ever had.

  2. John Everatt December 1, 2017 at 11:25 pm

    With all due respect Mr. Worrell I believe that many economists have spoken out about this over the last few years however their suggestions have fallen upon deaf ears. This government has always insisted on secrecy and our finance minister seem to think he knows more than all these trained economists. Well now everyone sees what a path of destruction he has lead this country down.

    • Richard Johnston December 2, 2017 at 7:57 am


  3. Nathaniel Samuels December 2, 2017 at 12:49 am

    Is this the same man who presided over the Central Bank for so many years and at one time decided to stop the press conferences? That was when you would have been questioned so that you could explain the state of the economy to people like me. You also had people like Clyde Mascoll, Mr. Straughn, and other economists questioning and commenting on the economy but you did not speak up. Why, Mr. Worrell?
    Your call now seems like you have a gripe with the present Government and you want support. How sad.
    I think that if you had continued with the press conferences the people of Barbados would have been informed and you would have been considered as someone who had the interest of our at heart. Besides, if the recommendations you were giving to the Government we’re not being taken on board, you needed to, no, in fact it was your duty, as a professional, to resign.
    Your request is a little bit too little too late as you have participated in the wrecking of the Barbados economy.

    • andy g December 2, 2017 at 7:41 am

      I am guessing that you disobey your boss when you are told to, or not to do something and has no fear of being fired.Any one with plain common sense will know why he acted that way.

  4. Adrian December 2, 2017 at 8:26 am

    Now that persons have had their say on the motive of the good Doctor, my question is: does his recommendation has substance? I think it does. My other question to all Barbadians is: will the next Government have the political will to take the necessary action? My belief is that no Government (politician) wants to be at the helm for less than one term.

  5. Tony Webster December 2, 2017 at 8:40 am

    Dr.Worrell has every right…as well as a great obigation, to prescribe the necessarily bitter medication, for the nation’s well-being. Concurrently, as Govenor, he also carried a great responsibility, to act, where such prescriptions are ignored, or given pappy-show respect…and this involves resigning his office in need. A resignation, sends a much clearer, distinct, and telling message to both Minister and country, than being fired. Such sterner stuff also protects the dignity and public regard for the high office of the governor of C.B.B.

    Some reflection all round, by him, his successor, and his erstwhile boss, is greatly desired.

  6. Tee White December 2, 2017 at 9:27 am

    “During a generally relaxed interview, Worrell sought to make it clear that he was not political”. The idea that there is some economics which is not political is nonsense. To decide to deprive 4500 workers of their livelihood, rather than revoking government concessions to so-called foreign investors, or imposing a moratorium on debt servicing is an extremely political choice. It means choosing in favour of the rich local elite and the billionnaire foreign money lenders and against the working people of Barbados. So please, stop peddling this nonsense that economics is some kind of non-political technical field.

    • Ric December 2, 2017 at 12:02 pm

      Tee White, I’m sorry but while i understand what you wanted to say you are wrong in your thesis that economics is political. Economics is as much political as sociology or biology or theology. It’s the economists who are political and use the social science called economics for political purposes.
      It amazing though that while Dr. Worrell was governor of the Central Bank he did not see the need to speak in these tones. He carried out the wishes of his boss the Minister of Finance knowing the results and repercussions and when he finally decided to be an economist who was not political or used for political purposes, he was fired!
      Had he resigned on principle like others said, he would’ve been deserving of my respect. He should’ve refused to continually print money to meet the Government’s monthly wage bill, and should’ve warned them about the constant raping of the Social Security funds, but if he continues to speak out and be independent in his critiques, then I’m sure that the respect me and others lost for him will eventually be restored even if slowly.

  7. luther thorne December 2, 2017 at 9:55 am

    Tee White
    You are right on the button there with that comment.
    Let me just comment that professionals are weak and partisan so they are afraid to speak out.

  8. luther thorne December 2, 2017 at 10:08 am

    If bitter medicine is to be administered, lets just do it but talk to the patient (country) let information flow and reassure the country. That is the job of the PM as leader. Should be using CBC to talk to the country weekly address and townhall style debate as seen on American Networks.Stop being an ABSENTEE Prime Minister. Stop picking and choosing the easy jobs like opening a Road – steupsssssse ! Stop being like a VAMPIRE just sleeping and sleeping waking up only to suck the life out of the Country’s hopes and dreams. VAMPIRE PRIME MINISTERS have no place in a modern world

  9. Tony Webster December 2, 2017 at 11:44 am

    @Tee White: I have plenty of sympathy for those lulled into jobs which are politically useful, but economically unsustainable, but little time for those who think that the world pivots on an axis fixed on Bim. Are market forces irrelevant…or perhaps a figment of imagination?

  10. Belfast December 2, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    Dr Worrell a Bajan man recently won $1 Million on the Lotto. Thanks to mainly you, if he deposits that princely sum in any of the commercial banks in Barbados, he can look forward to a whopping $50 in interest payment next Christmas. On ya bike Doc! You have conspired to make Bajans paupers, and candidates
    for any re-established Almshouse.

  11. Mark Adamson December 2, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    “I am a little disappointed with most of my colleagues in the discipline because we don’t speak with authority,” he told Barbados TODAY in an exclusive interview earlier today.

    Economics is the most backward and untruthful of all the social studies disciplines wheresoever.

    So what speaking with what authority what!!

    I believe the discipline of economics was created by certain individuals many years ago to make many people believe that they could have really given advice and instructions to many other individuals or groups of individuals within European society at the time – on certain economic matters and – given their PROFESSION to having been, for however much long, studying these economic matters/ideas, and then so on the understanding that there were to receive revenues from the persons who were employed by them or contracted by them.

    Economics was therefore not founded on any authority of knowing about what was actually taking place in the so-called political economies of the European societies then (and since then), however much they philosophized, theorized or speculated about this and that.

    So, many Economists cannot seriously comment on things that they really do not know or know about, least they be made to look susceptible or vulnerable to doubt or disbelief in the eyes of very critical thinkers in this wider Barbadian society.

    And so many of them must keep relatively quiet on many things that ordinarily supposedly come within their academic and intellectual porfolios.

  12. Mark Adamson December 2, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    Correction –

    “……revenues from the persons who had employed them…”

  13. luther thorne December 2, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    Whats the matter with you Mark Adamson ?
    Create something to make yourself relevant.
    Oh ! You have already “did ”
    This is life. Create , develop and mek money. Stop envying others. Create. So if some people create the discipline of economics . Why knock it ? Sonebody created the phone tablet or PC you are using , the car you are driving, the letters you are using to write so just live and let live man. So create , procreate and enjoy life That is what life is about.

  14. MARIA Holder December 2, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    Don speak out? You really expect him to do so Worrell?

  15. Tee White December 2, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    @Ric You are quite correct that one aspect of the political nature of economics is that political decisions are taken on the basis of economic analysis and the advice of economists. However, this does not in any way, cover completeley the political nature of Economics. It is a reality that human beings form economic relationships with each other in order for society to survive and for its members to secure from nature their needs and wants. It is the way in which these relationships are understood that is political. For example, by examining two central concepts in modern economics, namely profit and cost of labour, we can clearly see the political nature of the subject. In a modern capitalist economy both capital and labour are necessary for production of wealth to take place. Those who bring these to the production process, namely capitalists and workers, make a claim on the created wealth via profits (for capitalists) and wages and salaries (for workers). These claims are distinct from cost of production, such as purchase of machinery, raw materials etc. It makes as much sense to describe the claim of the workers on the wealth they have created as a cost of production as it is to describe the claim of the capitalists on the created wealth via profits as a cost. However, this distinction is standard in Economic theory and reflects the political reality that current economic theory looks at the economy through the eyes of the capitalists and not the workers. This is political.

    This brings me to our current economic situation. As long as the economists, including Delisle Worrell, approach the problem from this angle, they will always come to the conclusion that economic measures should be taken which harm the workers and defend the interests of the local elites and foreign investors. Much of the current discussion of our conutry’s economic difficulties focus on the government’s income, expenditure, debt and fiscal deficit. However, the government claims only some 33% of our country’s Gross National Product in taxes. The question is why is the fate of the other 67% of our country’s GNP not part of the ongoing discussion of the economic situation in Barbados. In my view, this further reflects the political nature of Economics since its bias towards the interests of the capitalists blocks it from developing concepts, analytical categories and data sets to throw light on the functioning of the Barbadian economy in a wholistic way. Without such an understanding, it is impossible to determine whether we have to take bitter medicine or not.

  16. BaJan boy December 2, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    Mark Adamson who are your colleagues in the discipline a cun€ like you.

  17. pat December 3, 2017 at 10:26 am

    a) reduce prohibitions on cannabis plants
    b) reduce import taxes
    c) reduce nsrl tax back to 2%
    d) layoff gov employees

  18. Donald December 4, 2017 at 11:54 am

    If you put ten economists in a room, you will probably get 15 different opinions about each and every economic issue under the Sun.

    Which is not to say that their arguments are worthless, just that they usually depend on assumptions that cannot easily be verified or evaluated in any particular case. And that makes it hard to tell who is right and who is wrong.


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