Arthur’s cure

Former PM again suggests IMF remedy in final House speech

In an emotional farewell speech in the House of Assembly this afternoon, former Prime Minister Owen Arthur left a major piece of economic advice which he said could save the country from further decline.  Arthur, who today ended 35 years as a legislator, told parliamentarians during his contribution to the debate on the 2018-2019 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure they needed to face up to the reality that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was the answer to their economic problems.

“There has to be a stimulus in the short term to stabilize and bring about growth while we go about the medium and longer term matter in trying to transform the economy,” the former political leader of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) said, adding that the immediate task was to get spending power of the kind that could be sourced from the IMF and other financial institutions such as the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

The noted economist said that once this was done, it would serve as an injection into the revenue stream that could “stop the body from being at rest and would be the factor that would allow you to be able to start to grow”.

Arthur, the country’s longest-serving Prime Minister, warned that if his prescription were not applied, “this body which is at rest will remain at rest”.

Strengthening his argument that the IMF was the preferred way to go, the respected retiring parliamentarian said the homegrown Barbados Sustainable Recovery Plan (BSRP), which he endorsed, should be the catalyst for funding from the international lending agency.

With a general election around the corner, he assured the Government it ought not be afraid of the IMF anymore, since the lending agency now had a flexible credit line that has benefited other Caribbean states, all with economies that are growing fast.

“The International Monetary Fund would have in the past related to countries entirely on the basis on financial quantitative targets. It has changed its ways and now enables countries to have what is called flexible credit lines,” he said.

“I sat with the Government of Grenada for a weekend when they had to prepare a programme with the International Monetary Fund and helped them to structure a programme with the Fund to fit into the new approach that the Fund has to lending countries . . . and you have a situation now where the countries in the Caribbean that are growing the fastest are those that are using flexible credit lines with the International Monetary Fund,” the former Prime Minister recalled.

He said the Grenada programme was based on a homegrown programme similar to the BSRP.

“The Government of Barbados now has a homegrown programme . . . that could be the basis of something to be put before the Fund as the Government’s approach to rescuing the Barbados economy to be tweaked after further consideration with the International Monetary Fund,” Arthur suggested.

Noting concerns by the House that the recovery plan had been presented to the Chamber at the last minute, the former Prime Minister advised the Freundel Stuart administration that if in fact it was using IMF special drawing rights or talking to the Fund about a programme, and if it wanted the recovery plan financed by that institution, a wide discussion should be held on the matter.

Arthur even hinted that he would be willing to assist.

“But I am begging the Government not to go the way of Jamaica,” he warned, adding that the IMF was considering a macroeconomic plan for Jamaica while a regional team was examining an emergency production strategy which bore no resemblance to the IMF programme.

He noted that the regional team was unaware of the IMF plan which did not turn out at all well for that country.

The former Prime Minister also placed the issue of privatization on the table, advising his former party colleagues in the Barbados Labour Party (BLP), that they ought not fear it.

He listed a number of BLP candidates who lost in 2008 when privatization was not a campaign issue, but won in 2013 when it was, to press home the point that the BLP should deal frontally with the topic.

The former BLP political leader reminded its members that dealing with major economic matters, no matter how controversial, was an important aspect of the party’s heritage from its first leader, Grantley Adams, through to himself.

“And I would want them to feel that they can join the great debate that is necessary in the knowledge that great causes as [former Jamaica Prime Michael] Manley said are never won by doubtful men,” he said.

Therefore, he suggested that the next election should be a great conversation about the future of this land.

“And those who served with me in Cabinet knew that I used to tell members of my Cabinet if we have a problem let us face it and let us fix it. And I want to say as I come to the close of this address to the House that what is before Barbados is nothing that Barbados cannot cope with. What is before us is the greatest challenge that we have ever faced,but that we must not fail Barbados,” the former Prime Minister advised.

16 Responses to Arthur’s cure

  1. Nathaniel Samuels February 14, 2018 at 12:21 am

    OSA needs to give sound advice to Solutions Barbados. How that group wants to make it seem so easy yet there is no one in that team that has the relevant experience. They believe that parading as men and women of God will bring them success but I know that God also loves this fair land and will ensure that the team that leads us will be a team that not only have the experience but also the expertise.
    After ten years the DLP has been found wanting and seriously so, thus they are out of the picture having eliminated themselves. The UPP and all those other fringe parties are wasting taxpayers’ money and need to get out of the road and let serious people deal with serious matters. At this juncture in our very serious situation, they too are immensely ill-prepared for the job at hand.
    The only team that can help us at this time is the one that has come to the rescue of this country on more than one occasion and performed well, so well that people up and down this region had great respect for this country. That respect has been lost. We need to get that respect back and also save this country from the certain catastrophe that will envelop us if we continue with the failure that is the DLP. Again I say the BLP is the only team that will make a difference in our lives, giving confidence, getting respect back and leading us out of our present predicament.

  2. Everick February 14, 2018 at 6:26 am

    Hear, Hear.

  3. Freeagent February 14, 2018 at 7:30 am

    Happy retirement Mr Arthur

  4. Carson C. Cadogan February 14, 2018 at 8:06 am

    This man is a real joke.

    I recall him saying that when he first became PM he found the IMF ocuppying a room in the PM’s office. With haste he showed them the door because he knew that Barbados didnt need them. We could solved our economic problem given time.

    Now he is singing a different tune.

    The IMF is now our friend.

    So it seems that his legacy is to put Barbados in the hands of the IMF forever like he did in Jamaica.

    • roger headley February 14, 2018 at 8:33 am

      At least he has offered a solution, what is yours?

      • Mar February 16, 2018 at 9:47 am

        @roger headley – I concur.

  5. Bajan February 14, 2018 at 8:27 am

    Hon Owen S Arthur. We thank you for your leadership and service to our beloved Country. We value your contributions to our development as a people. May God bless you and yours.

  6. Greengiant February 14, 2018 at 8:28 am

    @Nathaniel Samuels: The candidates of Solutions Barbados, The U P P, B L P, and D L P, like you, me and many others have benefited from the same state funded education. Several of us have gone on to higher learning, managed both at home and abroad, so we have a track record, qualifications and experience. When we apply for work we respond to a vacancy based on the job description, required qualifications, and required experience.

    Please tell me what’s the job requirements, and experience required for political office. All mature, experienced politicians were first time starters. The better ones made mistakes, saw mistakes being made, had international associations, are bolt, confident, are critical of others and can handle criticism.

    What you are saying about Solutions Barbados, and the U P P was said decades ago about the same B L P and D L P by some people in Barbados. So while you’re obviously a supporter of the B L P and believe they’re the only scientist capable of manufacturing the medicine needed for our economic recovery, the U P P and Solutions Barbados are the only parties who have given Barbadians a statement of intent on how they plan to manage our affairs. So if the B L P is your God, and you’ll vote by faith, we respect that, but you B L P and D L P supporters need to respect us educated citizens who want to see the game plan before we join the team.

    We can see the effects of our economic failings too, not recent as you have been blinded to believe, but the economic cataract disease that has gone unattended for decades. Both parties have contributed to where we are today, and they should first take responsibility, then offer their intended solutions if they want our support. The national swing thing don’t cut it anymore, thousands of us who have made the most of our educational opportunities, social and employment experiences will only support declared policies and not parties. Sorry.

    • Mar February 16, 2018 at 9:50 am

      Very true statement @greengiant

  7. Helicopter(8P) February 14, 2018 at 11:41 am

    A wonderful delivery! Streight drive off the back foot ! I thank you personally for those years of public service to the nation and wish you the best of health and happiness during your future years. We as Barbadians would still wish to have your input from time to time in our civic affairs. Good luck and God Bless!!

  8. Carson C. Cadogan February 14, 2018 at 12:19 pm


    “”Arthur even hinted that he would be willing to assist””

    When Arthur was asked by the Govt. to help, he said not him!!!!

    Then he jumped on a plane and went to Antigua to help the Antigua Govt. with their issues.

    Who is he trying to fool???

    Or maybe he thinks that all Bajans have short memories like the Bajan news media???

  9. Grenville Phillips II February 14, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    Under the DLP’s new plan that Arthur endorsed, they do not balance the budget until 2021 and with harsh austerity. The BLP said that they cannot solve our economic problems during their first 5-year term. Solutions Barbados returns us to investment grade and gives us a surplus during our first year in office.

    Our plans have been published for the past 2.5 years for rigorous public scrutiny. We have submitted our numerical analysis to highly qualified independent economists and accountants for critical examination. We recently received our first report from a Fellow of the Institution of Chartered Accountants of Barbados, who noted the following.

    1. Our assumptions are ultra-conservative.

    2. Our ultra-conservative plan clears the deficit in our first year and provides a surplus.

    3. Our plan provides sufficient foreign currency to start paying the national debt and not just the interest payments. This should reduce interest payments.

    4. Our plan allows all of the downgrades to be reversed to return us to investment grade in our first year.

    5. The other parties should seriously consider our plan.

    The questions that reporters need to ask are:

    a) Why won’t the other parties examine our non-austerity plans?

    b) Why has the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) barred us from presenting the only non-austerity plan to their members, but they are happy to entertain the BLPs and DLPs austerity, bitter medicine (for non-politicians and merchants) plans?

    c) Why are the media constantly reporting on the BLPs and DLPs high austerity plans, and the economists’ currency devaluation and IMF based plans, but have completely ignored the only workable non-austerity plan on the table?

    d) Why are we so desperate to suck the salt that Guyana and Jamaica were forced to experience?

  10. Alex Alleyne February 14, 2018 at 12:52 pm


  11. Jennifer February 14, 2018 at 1:54 pm

    This economic transforation should be interesting indeed. I believe economist were bred not to think for the majority but for the minority. Was it not Arthur who help put Jamaica into their hole of no avail??? When you start wrong you can only end wrong and all you you so called leaders started wrong and the new ones appear to be on the same path. EWB wanted the political operations of Barbados out of the hand of the planterclass, but what was the use if they control the economic basket and you got your peopl.
    grappling for crumbs. You leaders past, present and future are in the same position as that of MLk – dreaming, dead to most, and no where still or on any economic wise. Pole and stake phenomenon.

  12. sticks and stones February 14, 2018 at 3:58 pm

    But get real fuh real because i mention in one of my comments that OSA had played a definite role in barbados accumulation of unbearable debt and his advice of a quick fix scheme by the IMF which would plummet barbados socio -enviroment into darkness never seen or heard of before after Independence.Barbados today refused to publish my comment.
    So much for freedom of speech..but then again it must matter to barbados today whose corns are being mashed in the political arena.
    I wonder why

  13. Nathaniel Samuels February 14, 2018 at 9:41 pm

    Mr. Carson, the IMF of the past always demanded their pound of flesh but having seen that it did not work, shifted to encouraging the countries to bring solutions ( not Solutions Barbados) to the drawing board for discussion.
    From my limited position, I think that the IMF is the start of improvement for Barbados


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