1991 Replay

It is obvious the governance system of Barbados serves to frustrate citizens clamouring for change as a result of eight years of declining economic performance. We should add that the social landscape has been changing as well be it crime, road rage and other unbajanlike behaviours. The recent public falling out between former Governor of the Central Bank DeLisle Worrell and Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler clearly highlights the dire state of affairs.  What message does it sent to the domestic and international arenas? With a general election on the horizon it is difficult to fathom where the government will find  the political and financial capital to efficiently implement required and immediate policy changes to lead the economic recovery.

For many the economic and social fortune of the country eight years after the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) was handed the government  has not improved.  The government and the international financial and credit agencies appear to be at odds. Do we have the confidence that home based strategy is working out?

The recent downgrade by S&P Global to CCC+/C on Limited Financing Alternatives and Low International Reserves suggest the government will struggle to access funds on the international capital markets for the foreseeable future. And when in the few cases the opportunity exist to borrow, lenders will attach severe conditions as is the case with the Credit Suisse loan. The flipside to the challenge of being tagged with a poor credit rating is that Barbados becomes unattractive to foreign investors. This is important because the planks upon which the Barbados economy is supported requires inflows from  tourism AND foreign direct investment. Post 2008 Barbados has had to resort to selling profitable state assets- BLP a strategic asset  -to supplement to revenues. One does not have to be read in economics to appreciate that selling profitable state assets is an unsustainable approach to tackling the structural economic problems of Barbados. It also will eventually scare the identity of a nation by leaking assets to others what a people by dint of hard work have been able to acquire.

The protracted economic problems Barbadians have had to suffer has caused our mojo to disappear. No longer is Barbados regarded in the region as the model economy and country. Has the government achieved their mantra of building a society not an economy?

Whether at a personal or state level confidence is required to generate ideas, create projects from the ideas and to efficiently implement read timely. Clearly Barbados continues to suffer from what is commonly described as implementation deficit. Our inability to rollout project after project has affected economic recovery. Without being prolix there is enough evidence to legitimately question the performance of the government. It is important however to register that the structural economic problems of the country existed before 2008 when the DLP took office. It explains why they were booted from office. Successive governments have procrastinated to address the fault lines in the economy. Instead we have lived the easy live on the back of easy access to credit.

The question sensible Barbadians have been asking is how do we forcefully communicate to the political class the need for better representation to address the acute problems facing Barbados. Having to wait for five years to mark an X is not an efficient way to participate in a governance system. It seems ironic that ordinary citizens should have to ask the private sector; the chamber of commerce and other private sector agencies, to join the people to say to the government enough is enough. It is an admission that those with money control the decision making above those with economic authority. We are at that point where the business class must step up if the so called democratic system is to facilitate the change we require.

Anyone who listened to the Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler deliver a presentation at the DLP’s mid term conference were not inspired –at all. The lack of inspiration has nothing to do with the fact the recording was done with a hand held mobile phone.

Can we survive until the next general election? Will important stakeholders be able to save this once proud nation from sinking to a DDD credit rating? Will the Cabinet of Barbados agree to position country over politics? Will the social partnership for once grow  teeth? Will ordinary Barbadians see the wisdom to become immerse in the many activities that are designed to drive our system of government?

The late BU contributor Looking Glass wrote to BU many years ago to ask local UWI, Cave Hill and local academics to come together and in one voice communicate to the country what was required to negotiate a path from the economic. He wanted them to project an independent voice to reflect the high level of investment in education by Barbados. BU acted on his request by emailing a well known Cave Hill academic . We leave it to the BU community to evaluate if his request was acted out in the years since his death .

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84 Comments on “1991 Replay”

  1. David March 7, 2017 at 1:14 PM #

    @Simple Simon

    Use some commonsense here. The ask is for an efficient pubic service, not to do away with it.

    Like

  2. Bush Tea March 7, 2017 at 3:01 PM #

    LOL @ David
    Why is it, you think, that Bajans ALWAYS take the position that, “if it ain’t working, let us get rid of it”? no one ever seem to take the position of FIXING/ UPDATING/ REPAIRING / ADJUSTING/ MAINTAINING….
    It is always a matter of mash up and then look to build back….

    Whether it is Almond, the BNB, NCF, NCC, Transport Board, Snivil Service, the Globe, Empire, or the NIS Building on Fairchild Street…..

    Everyone seems afraid to default to meritocratic decision making that holds persons ACCOUNTABLE for the results that they produce.

    Bushie just returned from being ‘served’ buy a couple of government workers … three of the public service of which Simple is waxing sanctimoniously…..
    LOTTA SHIITE YUH!!!
    Umm mek Bushie LAUGH …with ‘vexness’..

    Like

  3. David March 7, 2017 at 4:28 PM #

    @Bush Tea

    It is so obvious we need to up our standards maintain those standards. You know what they say about doind the same thing and expect a different result.

    Like

  4. Simple Simon March 7, 2017 at 4:44 PM #

    Dear David: I was responding to this statement which you did not shoot down:

    @Tron March 7, 2017 at 7:33 AM Tron March 7, 2017 at 7:33 AM “Without the excessive taxes and duties, civil servants would sleep under bridges.”

    @David March 7, 2017 at 1:14 PM “Use some commonsense here. The ask is for an efficient pubic service, not to do away with it.”

    I am all for an efficient public service AND an efficient private sector.

    The question is: Do we have either???

    Like

  5. Tron March 7, 2017 at 5:05 PM #

    @Simple Simon

    We need a golden middle-path between the present status (large overhead of state agencies, ministries etc pp, public buildings too big for the need of a small island) and a model without public care and outsourcing everything.

    Surely, we need police officers, teacher, but not 51 parlamentarians, 18 ministries with many state secretaries and many consultants. Barbados copies big states instead of looking at other microstates. The purpose of an administration is to serve people, not to remedy unemployment in the private sector caused by overpopulation and lack of productivity.

    I am well aware that some IMF-recommendations are bull…, eg privatization of sanitation, water, healthcare and other goods were there is no competition in a free market possible.

    And last not least, since Barbados has only one major product to offer (namely tourism), public investments should focus to attract more tourists. Sadly enough, I do not see any success in making Barbados more attractive for tourists during the last fifteen years. We get all-inclusive-hotels, which is totally the wrong tirection. Also, the prices are simply by far too high. Barbados became the most expensive tourist destination in the western hemisphere without added value.

    Like

  6. David March 7, 2017 at 7:29 PM #

    An intersting parallel discussion in TnT.

    You got to read this! Stuff you never heard about bank fees, the Central Bank, possible collusion, bank oligarchy, what must be done, and with DATA!

    Finally, the Central Bank must promote bank competition within an appropriate framework of prudential regulation. Local banks have become comfortable, perhaps too comfortable with the sight of long lines of customers winding around their banking halls. Yet these customers are the ones who are literally paying the price for banks’ easy come attitude.

    Competition works well in banking when rival banks vigorously seek and woo one another’s customers with innovative products, lower fees and better service. This is more likely to be the case in Trinidad and Tobago if the Central Bank allows at least two more medium-sized (about $40 billion each in assets) non-Canadian banks to enter our financial market.

    Until more competitive banking conditions take root, the Central Bank should issue prudential guidelines on bank fees and service charges. These prudential guidelines would give the Central Bank authority to evaluate whether existing or new fees are reasonable and fair in relation to the customer, and to approve, modify or reject such fees.

    The Central Bank of Ireland, which is a mega-regulator similar to our Central Bank, provides the appropriate model we can look at for some inspiration on how to bring some fairness and balance to bank fees in Trinidad and Tobago.

    The Irish regulatory framework for bank fees seeks to promote competition and improve consumer protection while enabling banks to price their service costs efficiently. It shows how competition and prudential regulation can coexist comfortably, ensuring a stable banking system that adequately serves small customers, businesses and the economy.

    That was an extract, see the full article here:

    Bank Fees…The Good, The Bad and the Very Ugly

    Bank Fees…The Good, The Bad and the Very Ugly

    Do you know how much you paid your bank last year for the convenience of using its services? Some of us may have…

    http://www.jwalarambarran.com/bank-feesthe-good-the-bad-and-the-very-ugly/

    While you are it, read Michael Harris’ column on the same topic

    In defence of the big bad banks

    Mar. 5, 2017, 9:35 PM AST 0 Comments

    As one of those persons in the forefront of the campaign against the wide-ranging and exorbitant range of fees imposed on their customers by our commercial banks I have tried to pay attention to any articles or statements made in public which attempt to justify or at least explain the rationale for

    Like

  7. Simple Simon March 7, 2017 at 9:47 PM #

    Tron March 7, 2017 at 5:05 PM “We need a golden middle-path between the present status (large overhead of state agencies, ministries etc pp, public buildings too big for the need of a small island) and a model without public care and outsourcing everything.”

    Ahhh!!! A much more nuanced, more reasonable statement.

    Except for the over population bit. As you know Barbados’ population growth rate is actually significantly below replacement level, even while the population base is large.

    Like

  8. Tron March 7, 2017 at 10:10 PM #

    @Simple Simon

    If only the politicians would be reasonable too …. 😉

    Like

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