Managing the finances of the BU household requires adherence to a simple rule which cannot be broken. Do not spend more that is earned! It is the only way individuals can create a financial security blanket (creating wealth) for the family before retirement. We live in a world which has become addicted to consumption. It has become a place where the value system is securely anchored in love for things at the expense of people or what is commonsense.
The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) next talkback forum has as its topic ‘Putting Money Back in your Pocket”. The topic should provoke all Barbadians to think about what kind of country we want. We understand that political parties are in the business of winning elections, and the opportunity to promise what is often impossible or illogical is par for course at this time. It explains why the period leading into a general election is labelled ‘the silly season’. However Barbadians must be able to rationalize and force the best decision based on what is before us.
Barbados is an economy where we import most of what we consume, we produce little. If we do nothing or follow the trend of expanding our consumption, it means we have to improve the inflow of foreign exchange. It is a simple equation to balance which has implications for being able to defend the parity of the Barbados Dollar and avoid the clutches of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). BU’s simple analysis is that Barbados can continue to live above its means; we have been doing so for the last 20 years, and suffer the fate of many countries across the Caribbean and the world – OR – we can make structural changes to our social and economic model to be able to sustain a wholesome and practical lifestyle for Barbadians in the present and generations to follow, while at the same time build out mitigating options to buffer the exogenous shocks which will affect us from time to time.
We have a Democratic Labour Party (DLP) which has realized four years into its term that it has the reins of government. A scan of the Barbados Parliament website (BU assumes that it has been updated)reveals that several matters are before the House to be debated and even with an improved work rate by members of government, it is inconceivable that the Prevention of Corruption Bill, 2010, Holidays with Pay Bill, 2012 as well as many Resolutions will be completed. Note that the Cultural Industries Bill and the Freedom of Information Bill have not made it to the short list. BU is mindful that at a time when businesses are being asked to keep the belt tight and maintain employee numbers, the country is being presided over by the largest Cabinet in our post-Independence period. Perhaps if it had shown the same energy for the duration of its term….
In Opposition we have the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) promising to stop the economic haemorrhaging by privatizing key state assets and delivering tax cuts to the middleclass supported by a rollback of VAT to 15% 2016. In Opposition without sight of the big picture a little salt in close proximity is recommended. When the parties make their Manifestos public literally days before the election, Barbadians will get a better grasp of how they propose to guide Barbados in economic conditions which are expected to persist for several more years.
Billions of dollars later pumped into educating Barbadians if BU had to guess what would be the topic consuming national debate leading into a general election – PRIVATIZATION or PRODUCTIVITY – we would be dumbstruck that privatization has trumped productivity. Instead of building on the foundation which the Adames and Barrow have left us, we are about to take the easy route by dumping key state agencies (GAIA and The Port Authority and others) for cash because of our inability to build out a system of meritocracy.
If there was a time when Barbadians should demonstrate that we are an educated people, that time is now. Country first must be the cry. Instead at a time of unprecedented crisis we have a country divided on the issues and unwilling to build consensus on the issues. The BLP has not help the cause by showing political naiveté by committing the biggest political blunder for the season. Time will tell if it proves to be fatal.
It is unfortunate the national discussion is not focussed on the systemic issues affecting the country. This week we learned that the Eurozone slipped into double-dip recession, there is the volatility of the Middle East. Is it too much for Barbadians to be shocked into the reality about what is important? The decision whether to vote BLP or DLP, Arthur or Stuart is becoming less appealing by the day for a growing segment of the electorate but vote we must.