Managing our national economy is the most important job in Barbados. It also carries the greatest risk for us since failure at this job can send most of us into poverty. Remarkably, managing our national economy requires no qualification of competence.
Most of us are too busy working and managing our family and business affairs to pay much attention to how well our managers are performing. We have grown accustomed to the party in opposition accusing the party in government of mismanaging the economy, and the government’s response that they are doing a good job. We have learnt to treat it like a game, and approximately every 5 years, we get to decide whether to switch their roles and give the other party a turn at the top.
Both parties are similarly competent. They may have differing priorities on where to spend our money, but they both manage to over-spend it and accumulate massive debts in our name. We rarely check the books to see how they are performing, and most of us do not bother to understand terms like GDP and Deficits. We just want to believe that they know what they are doing, while we try to live our lives as best as we can.
After repeated IMF warnings and repeated downgrades by international rating agencies, perhaps the time has come for us to examine our books. Perhaps we should pay attention to the Caribbean examples of Guyana and Jamaica, who were recently the most prosperous Caribbean countries, but who over-spent and accumulated a debt pattern similar to our own. Much of the populations of these countries were reduced to poverty because of their leaders’ failures. If Barbados’ economy is not better managed very soon, then our children may be destined to read this part of our history with disgust.
There is another job that requires no qualification of competence, namely, the business owner. Successful business owners can confirm that they may experience years of failure before they attract enough customers to afford to employ more than one person. Employers are forced to learn from their many and inevitable failures because they are risking their own money.
Successful political candidates have to manage the nation’s business, including over 20,000 employees and over 2 billion dollars in revenues. However, 50 years of evidence reveals that the managers of our national economy have not learnt from their failures. The likely reason is that they did not have to, because they were not risking their money, but ours. The public is invited to a free public lecture on whether a case can be made for a third established political party in Barbados to properly manage the nation’s business. The lecture is scheduled for Thursday 7th April 2016 at 6:00 pm in the Combermere School Hall. All are welcomed.
Grenville Phillips II
Founder, Solutions Barbados