Submitted by Yardbroom
I have headed this submission as a question, rather than a definite statement. Had I used a statement, some would immediately – they still might – disagree and launch into a myriad of things leading to an emotional discourse. The intention here is to discover what we disagree on and then drill down to the FACTS before hopefully arriving at sensible conclusions. . . . even then there will not be unanimity, of that I am sure.
Barbados’ indebtedness is now approximately 117% of GDP. In the Caribbean region that is not the worse, St Kitts & Nevis is 153%. In case you say they are our little cousins. I will then turn to Jamaica whose indebtedness is 139% of GDP. I will refer you to an insightful extract from an article published in the Jamaica Gleaner on the 16 November 2008:
“Although bookings over the winter season and in February from the United States, Canada and Europe are good, hoteliers are coming to believe that the impact of the global economic recession on the industry in the Caribbean will be severe . . . Caribbean tourism has of course, experienced downturns in the past, but these occurred for the most part when the regions economy was more broadly based.. . . . Moreover, a recession touching tourism will have the dangerous slow-burn effect of causing tax revenues and foreign-exchange reserves to fall, making it more difficult for government to fund social and other programmes and by extension, maintain present levels of employment in the public sector.”
Prophetic words indeed, permit me to fast forward 5 years to 2013. How does this world wide recession affect Barbados. Take for example the “key” tourists markets for Barbados, let us use 2010 as an example.
Tourists Arrivals By Country Of Residence:
Trinidad & Tobago 27,259
In one of our KEY markets – the major one – the middle classes in the UK are under pressure, unemployment is higher than the Government there would like, those who have jobs want to keep them and pay their mortgages, the holiday in the sun to far away Barbados is not high on the affordability list. A segment of that UK populace – those with Barbados connections – and money to spend have not been encouraged to visit Barbados by the welcome they have received in the past. . .a pity. In some quarters they are seen as a people to fleece, that attitude has worked to the disadvantage of Barbados.
A lot of talk – like poking fingers in the sky – is made of past years but a reality check establishes different thinking. Barbados’ tourism like other Caribbean countries have experienced downturns in the past but then our economy was more broadly based. The artificially high prices paid by Europe under preferential arrangements for commodities like sugar lessened the impact. That prop has been taken away, the situation now is completely different.
It matters not if the BLP is elected tonight, they coming to office will not alter the BASIC FACTS I have outlined. A change of government “on its own” will matter little. We should – will have to – lower our expectations as to what we should expect and what we can afford. Some politicians are being disingenuous, when they say all the fault is with the other Party, they have mismanaged and we can make it all better. In this economic climate . . they cannot.
Let us turn to Governance, on which there is more latitude and its effect on the quality of life experiences in Barbados.
There is a perception that some politicians have more integrity than others and that influences their actions. Those without integrity take actions to the detriment of Barbados. I will not venture into character assassination or enquire into the domestic arrangements of politicians, they are of little interest to me, it is for others to take personal positions.
I will touch briefly on POLLS. Just recently a poll asked is the Alexandra issue settled? When the question was asked Mr. Broomes was on sick leave and the BSTU was still in the process of having talks and many teachers – the transferees – had not returned to school. The high percentage of those who responded with NO caused some alarm. To my mind it was a “non question” it was evident to all that was a sensible response, in view of the circumstances at the time. If they were asked is Alexandra in a better situation now than it was when the teachers came out on strike and before the Commission Of Inquiry sat. The response would have been different. Polls should be designed not to guide opinion but to reflect opinions “independently held.” I believe given the cards the Government were left with – this was an old issue - they accredited themselves satisfactorily. Some will argue there was a quicker route, that is a moot point.
Barrack, not before time he is being paid. The Government has seen to that, there is a reasonable argument it should have been done before. . . that I will not dispute.
CLICO: As I understand it Legal action is being taken, now it it is best left to see what the courts decide as the facts will no doubt emerge in a court of Law and those responsible will no doubt be held to account.
Unemployment is still too high but successive governments have found this a difficult nut to crack, even in times of plenty. I fear it will have to be a holding operation.
There is still the vexed question of the Election Date, some here – clearly BLP supporters , they have said that – have suggested the longer the Prime Minister waits, it is to the BLP’s advantage. If that is the case, why are they so excited and full of angst. It is not as if something unlawful is being done.
If you look at the BLP’s Government over 14 years of favourable economic conditions and then look at the DLP during 5 years in a world wide recession. I am inclined to think this DLP Administration deserves another five years in Government. The last BLP Administration’s tenure in office is still too fresh for me to have a contrary position, but of course that is only a personal view.