As Figure 1 below shows, CDB’s BMCs have started to recover from the Great Recession, recording positive growth every year since 2011. However growth has consistently lagged behind the rest of the world. Since 2009 BMCs have grown on average 1.2% per year, compared to 3.7% globally, 1.8% in advanced economies, and 3.3% in other small island developing states (SIDS)3 – 2015 Caribbean Development Bank Review and 2016 Forecast
Two years adrift of general elections constitutionally due and the mouthings of politicians suggest election gearing is already in play. This is unfortunate because it means instead of being able to focus on the national priorities to improve the economy AND social wellbeing of the people, the politicians continue to dictate the narrative. This storyline is substance for national debate on its own because underpinning the democratic system as it was intended to work requires full engagement of civil society.
Lost in the current debate of the trivial kind is the crying need for a full blown national discussion about an economic plan crafted to move the country forward. The modus operandi of this government is to introduce a plan and the citizenry is expected to accept it. Dissenting positions, feedback, criticism of any government program is always dismissed as being politically motivated. We can cite several examples, tipping fee, solid waste tax, consolidation tax, increase in VAT, public expenditure read fireworks to celebrate 50th anniversary, the Republican issue, St. John Polyclinic, the change to the law to permit the sitting chief justice to secure the job etc..
Of concern to BU and many Barbadians has been the erosion of the reputation the Central Bank historically enjoyed under this government. Not since the establishment of the Central Bank in 1972 have we experienced what many perceive as that institution becoming politically exposed. Several decisions taken by Governor Delisle Worrell and the Central Bank have been questionable: departing from the protocol by rubbishing the unemployment statistics produced by the Barbados Statistical Service (BSS), the discontinuation of press involvement in the Economic Quarterly briefings, using politically charged language read repayment of the loan for Dodds prison, releasing funds from the Housing Credit Fund (HCF) to pay Mark Maloney?Grotto invoice.
The release last week of the 2015 Economic Review and forecast for 2016 presented by President Warren Smith and Chief Economist of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) makes for interesting contrast to presentations delivered by Dr. Delisle Worrell and the Central Bank. The sober analysis contained in the CDB report should have informed serious discussion in the media space in Barbados. Much of the analysis, assumptions and forecasts delivered by Smith conflict with Worrell and recent Central Bank Economic reports.
BU is of the certain view a light weight minister of finance is a big part of the problem.